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07.07.2005 General News

Mass Freeloading At Diamond Board


...Chairman, members binge at state -owned enterprise ...Full subscription to DSTV, household allowance, etc Chronicle's investigations into activities of the Board of the distressed Ghana Consolidated Diamonds (GCD) Limited, have unearthed startling revelations of how some individuals on the board were enjoying 'strange' benefits at the expense of the dying company.

Notwithstanding the lack of success in efforts by government to secure a reputable investor for the once highly-prized GCD that had been on the divestiture list for over ten years now, the paper's investigations have revealed that some members of the Board, under the chairmanship of Mr. Joseph Godson Amamoo, were enjoying 'strange' benefits such as subscription to Digital Satellite Television (DSTV), household allowances, car maintenance allowances, and entertainment allowances among others.

Investigations reveal further that an amount of ¢2,484,581.60 was paid from the company's Barclays Bank account, with cheque number 239790 as subscription for DSTV for August and power purchase for July and August 2004 to the company's Board Chairman, Mr. Amamoo.

Also, an amount of ¢1,077,800.00 was paid from the same account for materials, labour, electrical works etc. at his plush Birim Lodge mansion, located at the Airport residential area.

As earlier reported by the paper, bills incurred at the residence were footed by the distressed company, which is gasping for breath. The investigations further dug out the fact that an amount of ¢5,245,628.60 was paid from the same bank account for power purchase for September, October, November and December 2004, alongside the provision of services for his DSTV bill for September and November 2004.

These payments were made by vouchers approved by the company's Chief Accountant and the Managing Director and totalled ¢8,808,010.20.

Again, by a cheque dated 21st January 2005, an amount of ¢650,000.00 was paid to the chairman, as January 2005 household allowance.

Investigations further revealed that on the same 21st January 2005, cheque number 239781 was issued for the payment of an amount of ¢1,200,000.00 “in full settlement of (Chairman's) car maintenance allowance” for the last quarter of 2004, which, like the other allowances, was not subjected to any taxation.

Strangely enough, as evident of milking the once national asset dry, information gathered by the paper indicated that all Board members of GCD enjoyed a substantial amount of entertainment allowance, at the expense of the troubled company, while workers whined for an upward adjustment in their salaries, which were paid close to the middle of each month succeeding the month in which they should have been paid.

The Chronicle has cited one of such payment vouchers issued to a board member who also doubles as a Member of Parliament for the Kade Constituency, Hon Ofosu Asamoah.

In the said voucher dated 21st January 2005, it was noted that a cheque was issued for the payment of an amount of ¢300,000.00 being payment for his January 2005 allowance, also without withholding any form of taxation.

Further, another board member, Nana Obiri Boahen, was on 21st January 2005 issued with cheque number 239785 for an amount of ¢500,000.00 as his share of January 2005 household allowance. Again, like his other colleagues, it was not taxed.

Meanwhile, Chronicle sources have hinted that the company had applied for a loan facility of US$5,000,000.00 from an Indian company called Messrs Balaji, which bought the company's products.

This was to enable the company speed up operations and probably settle its indebtedness to workers, it was claimed.

Information had it that GCD had already accessed $500,000.00 of the said amount, leaving $4,500,000.00, which would be released immediately government gave an official approval.

Indications were that, proposals on the said loan contraction had been submitted to the sector minister, seeking his approval.

Sources further disclosed that as part of conditions for the loan being sought, government would have to hold back any intent of divesting the company.

All efforts to reach the chairman to react to the issues were unsuccessful, as his wife told this reporter that the husband had said he would not like to speak with any journalist, especially with The Chronicle, saying “you people want to continue your lie; he won't speak on any issue,” then without any form of provocation, had banged the phone.

But that was not before she had assumed a Personal Assistant role, demanding to know the specific questions meant for the chairman.

As reported in our earlier story, the Senior Staff Association had, in the past, sent a memo to the Office of the President, calling for attention to their plight and also halt the extravagance of the chairman, but it had yielded no results.