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02.07.2005 Crime & Punishment

"Audit Report Is Bogus" -Abodakpi

Palaver

HONOURABLE Dan Abodakpi, NDC MP for Keta and Minister of Trade and Industries in the NDC administration, last Monday described the audit report prepared by Messrs Bafuor Awuah & Associates that has formed the basis of his prosecution as lacking any integrity.

He told and Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by Justice S. T. Farkye that if the auditors had given him the opportunity to comment on their draft report, it would not have contained so many falsehoods, half-truths and dangerous assumptions.

Mr Abodakpi is on trail for causing financial loss of US$400,000 being consultancy fees paid to Dr Fred Boadu of A&M University for a study to create a Science and Technology Park/Valley in Ghana.

The prosecution was not present at last Monday's sitting.

Answering questions from his counsel, Mr Abodakpi said that it was false for the auditors to have stated in their report that Ghana Government provided US$63.88 million from the USAID under the TIP to selected financial institutions to the non-traditional export (NTE) sector to cover their pre-inspection requirements and financing needs.

Mr Abodakpi explained the TIP programme as well as its rationale and objectives, and confirmed that the total amount involved was in fact US$80 million, which was paid in five tranches of an initial US$5, US$13 million in 1994, US$17 million in 1995, US$13 million in 1996, and US$12 million in 1997 when the programme formally came to an close.

The former Minister explained the details of the procedures involved in the disbursement of the facility and denied that under the Agreement, the money was to be on-lent to non-traditional exporters as claimed by the auditors.

He said the facility was not extended to non-traditional exports till 1997, and savings that had been made on the grant held at the Bank of Ghana by the TIP Oversight Committee was used for the on-lending purposes.

He also corrected the audit report findings that the programme ended in 1995 by explaining that the programme ended in 1997 but was extended by six months at the instance of USAID to begin the implementation of the successor Trade and Investment Reform Programme (TIRP) whose implementation started in 1998.

When counsel drew Mr Abodakpi's attention to the evidence of Ms Eva Mends, the Schedule Officer at the Bilateral Desk of the Ministry of Finance to the effect that the TIP had not ended, he answered that the witness was either confused, was ignorant of the facts, or had forgotten.

Mr Abodakpi explained that a US$20 million component of the programme was used in part to set up the CEPA (Centre for Policy Analysis), the APDF (African Products Development Fund), the PEF (Private Enterprise Foundation), the FAGE and to procure the services of various foreign consultancy groups such as Sigma One, ATAG and others that have worked for both private and public sector bodies.

Mr Abodakpi denied receiving a copy of a letter from the Ministry of Finance to ECOBANK for payment for a feasibility study, explaining that such a letter, if received, would have been receipted and minuted.

He also said as co-Chairman of the TIP, he did not deal with banks. He stated that the study proposal was a baseline study for Gateway Phase II and explained the difference between that and a feasibility study.

He agreed with the MDPI Director, Mr Bibilazu, a prosecution witness who had given evidence that the baseline study undertaken by Dr Boadu was a genuine consultancy output which must be paid for.

Mr Abodakpi gave evidence about how he first met Dr Boadu, how he set about to confirm his bona fides and his satisfaction with what he found out.

Mr Abodakpi insisted that the TIP was not an on-lending facility to non-traditional exporters as claimed by the auditors but that it was the interest earned on the investment amount that the Oversight Committee in its discretion decided to channel into the sector.

The case was adjourned to Monday, July 4, 2005.

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