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09.08.2005 Press Review

Hotel Kufuor: President speaks at last

Release Hotel Kufuor: President  speaks  at last

...Giselle was never a Govt Appointee ... Supports CHRAJ's Probe ... Zero tolerance of corruption is still ON Accra, Aug. 9, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Tuesday broke his long official silence over the series of allegations made against him and his Government by one Ms Giselle Yadzi, stressing that the Iraqi-American citizen was never an appointee at the Osu Castle, the seat of political authority as she claimed. President Kufuor was answering questions about alleged underhand dealings with Ms Yadzi, from journalists at the Castle, during his third media encounter since he became the Head of State in 2001. He said Ms Yadzi, who described herself, as a former Economic Consultant "was never appointed in the Castle here". He said the woman came to Ghana as an investor with connections in Spain and Kuwait and the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) decided to engage her services since she said she could gain access to the governments of Spain and Kuwait. He said the Government was eager to acquire a 120 million-dollar facility to provide canals for the Accra plains to modernise agricultural production and three million dollars to renovate the Peduase Lodge, one of the country's Presidential lodges, which was in ruins and the refurbishment of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. To facilitate the process the then Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo gave her an introduction letter that described her as a Project Advisor to give her the credibility to negotiate for Ghana. President Kufuor said although no agreement was clenched, Ms Yadzi was demanding a commission on a 15 million dollar credit facility; the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) Administration had negotiated from the Kuwaiti Government for feeding the power produced at the Aboadze Thermal Plant to the national electricity grid. There was no way the Government could justify the payment of commission to her since she was not part of the team that negotiated for that particular loan, President Kufuor said. President Kufuor said this degenerated into a bone of contention between the Government and Ms Yadzi although she was assured of a commission if the 120 million dollars loan for the Accra Plains irrigation project was to materialise. Touching on the controversy surrounding the acquisition of a hotel by his son, President Kufuor pledged his support to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for an unfettered probe into the venture. "On its own initiative, CHRAJ has commenced preliminary investigation into the matter. CHRAJ has my full cooperation in going about its legitimate mandate under our Constitution," he said. "It is to be hoped that all those concerned for the establishment of the truth in this matter, will cooperate with the Commission in its work." President Kufuor denied that he used his term as Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to divert a loan facility of one million dollars provided by the ECOWAS Bank for an entrepreneur in Kasoa in the Central Region to his son and his co-partners in the hotel project. He said the Bank was new "and to the best of my knowledge it has not given any credit to any business entity in Ghana". Responding to criticisms of corruption levelled against his Government by the media and civil society groups, President Kufuor asked journalists to expose people who were engaged in corrupt practices to enable the due process to deal with them. He said Ghana had undergone the African Peer Review Mechanism and the report of the Committee of the Eminent Persons was being studied by the Summit of the African Union for the final review to be pronounced later. "But even before this final issue, some individuals in Ghana are already focussing on some aspects of the report, and cynically posting uncomplimentary stories about the country on the Internet, claiming that there is a high level of corruption in Government." President Kufuor said on the contrary the report had commended Ghana for the various institutional mechanisms and laws that had been or were being put in plac to check corruption. "Some of these are the Procurement Act, the establishment of Internal Audit Agency, the new Financial Regulation Law, the Whistle Blowers Bill and the Freedom of Information Bill". He said the repeal of the criminal libel law was the initial step by the Government to enable journalist to expose and fight corruption. "The media should be first to acknowledge this as one first step Government took in its declaration of zero tolerance of corruption," he said.
"I dare say that additional to newspaper reviews, radio and television commentaries, the institutional approach to fighting corruption has even more promise. This is why the international community, including investors have commended us for our efforts.