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26.07.2005 General News

Chief Exposes Minister

By Chronicle
Chief Exposes Minister

... For holding up Panafest cash Cape Coast -- The Chief of Edina Essaman, Nana Kwesi Tandoh IV, who is co-chairman of the National Executive Committee of the Pan African Historic Theatre Festival (PANAFEST), has exposed the Tourism Ministry for secretly withholding monies donated to the Panafest Foundation.

The visibly angry chief, who was speaking to The Chronicle in an interview on Monday, last week, said sponsors had donated these monies towards the celebration of the international cultural festival.

According to him, the whole revelation came out when the paper published last Tuesday that, the Foundation was facing a serious financial crisis, as a result of government's inability to provide the ¢200million it had promised the Foundation.

According to Nana Tandoh, following the publication, the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, quickly convened a meeting, to inquire about the situation, with regard to financing the festival.

It was during that meeting that the conspiracy to withhold funds realized from the sponsorship package was exposed. The vice-president was very annoyed at the officials and asked them to promptly release the package to the Foundation, the Co-chairman said.

He explained further that, soon after that meeting, Mr. Kojo Yankah, Chairman of the Foundation, came down to Cape Coast and held a meeting with them, during which the Omanhene of the Oguaa Traditional Area, Osabarima Kwesi Atta II, was asked to contact the Tourism Ministry, which boasts of integrating the festival into the tourism calendar of the country, for the release of the package to enable them prepare for the event scheduled for July 24 to August 1, this year.

According to the chief, that awkward problem of cash crisis had occurred because certain key figures in government were bent on taking the celebration of the event from the Central Region and for that matter, from Cape Coast and Elmina.

He noted that this attempt was halted by Kojo Yankah, who sees the event as the “brain-child” of the region, therefore, should not be taken away.

Nana Tandoh lashed out also at Tour Operators for not fulfilling their obligation with respect to payment of token sums as percentage of income earned from the celebration of the event, which could have helped the Foundation provide good services to its clients.

He therefore prevailed on the government to impress upon the association to fulfill its obligation, adding that government should not underestimate the socio-economic importance of the international cultural event that places Ghana high on the globe.

Despite all the problems, Nana Tandoh has assured Ghanaians and the international community of a big celebration.

Efforts to get the minister or his special assistant, Mr. Ferdinand Ayim, to confirm or deny the chief's allegation, proved futile, as their office told the paper that the two men were not in.

Repeated calls to their cell phones indicated that they had switched them off.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Tourism last Monday released ¢100 million to the Panafest Foundation, which has come at a rather late hour.

All attempts to get the Special Assistant to the Minister for Tourism, Mr. Ferdinand Ayim for his comments proved futile.