Trade Minister Alan, Ayine Clash Over Benefit Package
It was a merry-go-round affair between Trades Minister, Alan Kyeremanten, and Committee member Dominic Ayine in day two of the cash-for seat probe currently underway in Parliament.
For several minutes Dominic Ayine sought to find out from the witness what benefit packages were promised expatriate businessmen in an October 23, 2017 letter written by Trades Ministry informing the business personalities about an impending Awards event.
The letter in part was to invite expatriate businessmen and women to sponsor the December 8, Expatriate Business Award and promised the prospective patrons some benefits.
Ayine wanted to find out from the witness what the benefits were but Alan Kyeremanten took a while with both men going round in circus till an assumed answer was accepted by both parties.
Alan Kyeremanten is the third witness to appear before the Speaker’s ad-hoc committee set up to investigate if something untoward happened in what is now popularly referred to as the cash-for seat scandal.
They provided a sponsorship document which showed positions available to the expatriate businesses and how much they were to pay for each area if they were to attend the event.
There was the presidential circle area, ministerial area all of which came with how much the expatriates would pay as sponsorship.
The Minority averred the payment was highly unethical and breached sections of the country’s financial regulations.
The president, Nana Akufo-Addo after being briefed about the scandal by his minister cleared him of any wrongdoing but the Minority was never impressed.
They applied the motions of Parliament, forced an urgent sitting and appealed to the Speaker to set up an independent inquiry into the scandal.
After some drama in Parliament during the urgent sitting, the Speaker announced the formation of a five-member ad-hoc committee to investigate the scandal.
On Thursday, two witnesses who moved and supported the motion in Parliament, Muntaka Mubarak who is the Minority Chief and the seconder of the motion Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa were the first to appear before the committee members.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
It was the turn of the Trades Ministry to appear before the committee and the Minister came prepared in his colourful African print with a promise to take responsibility for all that had happened in his Ministry.
Alan Kyeremanten said the Expatriate Business Awards is a Millennium Excellence Foundation organized the event with the Ministry playing a facilitation role.
He also talked about an MoU which outlined what roles the two parties to ensure a successful organisation of the event.
Ayine referred to the October 23 letter: “We invite you to support and hosting of this laudable programme with the benefits attached. Can you explain what the benefits were," he asked the witness.
“...The benefit does not make reference to a physical attachment. The only physical attachment that is being referred to is in paragraph two on that same page that the honorable member is referring to. It says expressly kindly see the attached criteria. The same words are not being used in the phrase the honorable is referring to,” he responded.
Completely confused by the response the learned lawyer accused the witness of trying to be smart with his response.
“I am saying what benefits were contemplated or anticipated that you were announcing to these companies from your communication,” he repeated his question for emphasis.
“Mr Chairman I think it will be useful to consider the various components of the documents that are before us,” Alan attempted a response but Ayine again intervened asking the witness to go straight to the point and not talk about documents.
“…This letter which was issued on the 23rd of October is referring to be benefits accompanied by the sponsorship. At that point in time I am not even aware whether the entire sponsorship package has been done,” he stated.
According to him, it was the first stage of the awards organization and the Ministry’s letter only promised anticipated benefits to the prospective sponsors. It was the duty of the private company, Millennium Excellence Foundation the organizer to design the necessary packages.
Ayine concluded by assuming the promise of benefits could be linked to sponsorship package, an assumption Alan Kyerementen agreed to.