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Cash-for-seat probe: Trades Ministry faces investigative committee Friday

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The Trades Ministry will today, Friday, January 12, 2018, appear at the ongoing Parliamentary probe investigating allegations of extortion during the recently held Ghana Excellency Business Awards (GEBA).

The Ministry is alleged to have charged expatriates up to $100,000 for access to President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during the awards event.

Although the Presidency has said the Trade Ministry did no wrong in commercialising the Presidential Table at the event, Minority legislators have accused the Ministry of preying on the expatriates and charging them huge sums of money at the same event that is aimed at honouring them.

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According to them, the fees charged at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards were not the kind of fees approved by Parliament, and that the monies were also not accounted for in the Internally Generated Funds (IGF) of the Ministry’s accounts.

On the December 29, 2017, an application by the Minority-led by its chief whip, Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka filed a motion, calling for investigations into the levy and collection by the Ministry of Trade and Industry of the Ghana cedi equivalent of various sums of money in US dollars, from expatriate businesses and related matters during the recently held Ghana Expatriate Business Awards in Accra.

Committee sitting

The five-member committee began sitting yesterday with Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mohammed, being the first witness to appear before the Committee sitting.

He vehemently defended his claim that the Presidency was used to make profit for private individuals.

The Asawase MP built a case that it was unethical for the Trade ministry to partner a private organisation that promised to give its sponsors a dinner opportunity with the president if they paid up to $100,000.

He showed inconsistencies in the Trade ministry’s responses which first denied playing any role in designing the sponsorship packages but later admitted it collected monies from expatriates and Ghanaians on behalf of the private event body, Millenium Excellence Foundation (MEF).

The second witness to appear before the Committee,  North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa urged the Trades Ministry to explain some “curious payments” made by the expatriate business community in the controversial cash-for-seat-scandal.

Presenting his case before a parliamentary committee set up to probe the scandal, Samuel Okudzeto Ablawkwa, questioned how a private event organiser, Millennium Excellence Foundation, had access to Trades Ministry facility for its activities.

The Trade Ministry will be providing answers to these and more questions Friday.

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