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Friday, July 31, 2009

Former Minister & Deputy took Ghana@50 clothes for free

By Charles Takyi-Boadu

Questions have started emerging about the ‘strange’ circumstance under which the Director of the Eastern Regional Coordinating Council (ERCC) shared eight bales of Ghana @ 50 cloths among the then Regional Minister, his Deputy and the staff of the Coordinating Council.

This came up at the ongoing Ghana @ 50 probe yesterday, when the Director of the ERCC, Mr. Samuel Awini-Bawa appeared before the Commission to answer questions relating to the disbursement of funds and souvenirs allocated to the region, before and during the country’s 50th anniversary celebration. Though Mr. Awini-Bawa gave a vivid account of the various activities and programmes undertaken by his outfit, he was unable to give reasons as to why he gave out three bales of the cloths to the then Minister and his Deputy.

Asked why he decided to give out the bales for free to the aforementioned individuals and group of persons, Mr. Awini-Bawa noted that he was directed by his former boss who was the previous Director of the RCC in his handing over note to make such allocations, since according to him, the cloths and other souvenirs had outlived their relevance, considering the fact that the celebrations was over.

He also denied that he was given instructions by the Ghana @ 50 Secretariat or the National Planning Committee to sell the cloths and other souvenirs to defray the cost involved in producing them.

He noted that the RCC was given an amount of ¢7.4billion (old cedis), out of which they used ¢6.2billion (old cedis) on projects, programmes and activities, leaving a balance of ¢1.2billion (old cedis), which is currently lodged in an account opened for that purpose.

Out of the said amount, he noted that the RCC gave ¢100million each to the 17 District Assemblies to organize programmes and activities to mark the celebration. That notwithstanding, he noted the various Assemblies have not accounted for their individual and collective expenditure.

Earlier, the Director of the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council (ARCC), Samuel Okyere Appiah-Kusi, who is barely one-month old in office, also appeared before the Commission to answer questions on how the region expended its part of the Ghana @ 50 funds.

He was, however, not able to give a vivid and detailed account of the expenditure, since according to him, there was not enough available documents to enable him give a proper account of the activities and operations of the RCC on the celebrations. Mr. Appiah-Kusi attributed the situation to the lack of proper structures at the RCC, which according to him, does not give room for record keeping, stressing that he could not get the needed information which would have enabled him to prepare a detailed account.

According to him, this was because one Mr. E. Y Kwakye, who was the Director at the time, had retired whilst one Mr. Taylor, who was also in-charge of the RCCs stores have also passed on.

This explanation did not go down well with the Chairman of the Commission, Justice Duose, who expressed his grave concern about the poor existing administrative structure at the RCC.

He, however, gave indications of his willingness to subpoena the said Mr. E.Y. Kwakye to come and account for his stewardship.

Mr. Appiah-Kusi virtually ended up complicating matters when he attempted to answer questions relating to the cost incurred on the celebrations by the RCC, which compelled Justice Duose to question his professional competence.

Before he was discharged for the day, Mr. Appiah-Kusi was asked to go and prepare a detailed report on the expenditure to reappear on a yet to be fixed date to give an account of the RCC during the Ghana @ 50 celebrations.

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