The Minister for Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, says members of the Minority who championed the recall of Parliament culminating in the setting up of a bi-partisan Committee to probe the cash-for-seat allegations, have caused financial loss to the state.
He said the emergency recall of the house to discuss the matter was unnecessary.
“It may be possible that the associated cost for recalling this may be a case of causing financial loss.”
The Minister’s comment comes after a committee set up to investigate the infamous cash-for-seat saga exonerated him in its report.
The Committee, chaired by the Member of Parliament for Sunyani East constituency, Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh, presented its report to the house on Tuesday after taking evidence from all witnesses in the matter.
Alan Kyerematen in a statement after the House considered the report, despite a minority walk-out, said the minority could be cited for causing financial loss to the state since all their evidence turned out to be false.
He chided MPs such as Muntaka Mubarak, Dominic Ayine, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa for peddling falsehood.
He further called on parliament to investigate the case of the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, who he said presented a fake document as an exhibit before the ad-hoc committee.
“If an Honourable Member submitted a document which has been proven to be fraudulent and this was submitted under oath, it may be a case that needs to be properly investigated. Mr. Speaker, it is also on record that during the session of Honorable Muntaka, he submitted evidence of a document that has been proven to be fraudulent because an invitation that was supposed to have been authored by the Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry now had photocopies on that back of that letter, a sponsorship package.”
“The recipients of this document have given evidence on oath that they received the sponsorship package separately from the letter of invitation.”
While commending the Committee for the “excellent” and “comprehensive” work, Alan Kyerematen expressed regret about what the brouhaha over the matter had done to Ghana’s image to sink.
Minority stage walkout
The Minority has staged a walkout from Parliament over the “cash for seat” committee report on the probe into claims that the Trade Ministry extorted $100,000 from expatriates to allow them to sit close to the President during the Ghana Expatriates Business Awards in December 2017.
They said the 148-page document was not made available to MPs for prior reading before it was put before the House for debate.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, held that under the circumstances, his side could not take part in the deliberations.
Background of “cash for seat” saga
The Ministry of Trade, which partnered the event organizers, Millennium Excellence Foundation, is alleged to have charged between $25,000 and $100,000, to enable expatriates to sit close to the President at the awards ceremony.
The allegation was first made by the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak in Parliament in December 2017.
Mr. Mubarak said the fees charged at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards were not approved by Parliament, adding that the monies were also not accounted for in the Internally Generated Funds [IGF] of the Ministry’s accounts.
The allegation was further reinforced by Mr. Ablakwa, who suffered verbal assaults from Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah over the matter.
The Ministry of Trade said it played no role in determining prices for seats at the event, and clarified that it only facilitated the implementation of a new initiative by the Millennium Excellence Foundation.
But the Ministry after an order from the President to probe the matter clarified that an amount of GHc2, 667,215 was realized from the event. This was made known only after the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had asked the Trade Minister, Alan Kyerematen, to investigate the matter and report to him.
The organizers of the Awards had also explained that no one paid to sit close to the President and that the amount was raised from sponsorship through a fundraising at the event.
Parliament subsequently formed a five-member bi-partisan committee to investigate the matter.
The Committee held several public hearings and a few in-camera sessions that featured all parties named in the allegation, and those who made the allegation.
The Trades Ministry and the Foundation maintained their innocence in the matter and insisted that due process was followed in soliciting funds for the awards scheme.