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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ghana@50 souvenirs were distributed free of charge

Justice Douse, Chairman of the Ghana@50 Commission is unhappy about why the Ghana@50 T-shirts were freely distributed by DCEs.
Justice Douse, Chairman of the Ghana@50 Commission is unhappy about why the Ghana@50 T-shirts were freely distributed by DCEs.
The Nanumba South District Coordinating Director (DCD), Mr. Alhassan Abukari, has suggested that private entities should rather be used in the sale of public paraphernalia and souvenirs in future because “assemblies are not buying and selling” institutions.

“The experience is that if the private sector handled such issues, like the CAN 2008 where they procured and sold soccer paraphernalia, the outcome is always successful, and in this case (Ghana@50), we would not have been here explaining ourselves”.

Mr. Abukari who was making the recommendation to the Ghana@50 Commission of Inquiry said assemblies have no "business doing business" because they are seen as places for gifts and there is also the tendency for politicians to use such occasions for political patronage.

“My lord I think this is the reason we are finding it difficult to account for the Jubilee celebrations”, he said.

Mr. Abukari, like most of his colleagues who had earlier appeared before the Commission, could not account fully for the anniversary souvenirs released to the assembly, saying, because of lack of patronage, a decision was taken by the then District Chief Executive to distribute the items free of charge to the constituents to whip up enthusiasm for the event.

This drew a sharp rebuttal from Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, member of the Commission who said: “How can this be? You received the items on February 26th 2007 and then on February 27 the next day, your DCE writes a letter to the Ghana@50 Commission that you can’t sell the items because of lack of patronage?”

“What kind of patronage are you talking about? This means that there was no intention to sell the souvenirs”, she said.

Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Justice Duose, said whether the people received T-shirts or not they would have gone ahead to celebrate the event.
“The decision to give out the items for free was wrong”, he said.

Mr. Abukari who could not produce documented evidence of distribution because of improper record keeping by the storekeeper, however, suggested that Higher National Diploma holders be recruited into the local government service to man their stores.

“My Lord, in the Northern region, very few storekeepers can deliver. Every government entity should have a trained storekeeper”, he added.

Officials of other district assemblies who appeared before the Commission were from East Mamprusi, Central Gonja, Karaga, West Gonja, Nanumba North, Bole, Bunkpurungu/Yunyoo, Sawla-Tuna-Kalba and Gushegu.

They accounted for the GH¢10,000 provided by the Ghana@50 Secretariat for the celebrations, yet, most of them could not account for proceeds of the souvenirs supplied to them.

Some blame former Chief Executives for dominating the process or officials of the assemblies for not keeping proper account of receipts.

“My Lord I am saying this because, all the projects that had been handled by various assemblies have not yielded any dividends in the past, I can mention projects such as Ghana Poverty Reduction programme and the sale of the Ghana@50 souvenirs, which assemblies are finding it difficult to account for now”.

The DCD said assemblies are sometimes compelled to succumb to political pressure to circumvent the rules governing such projects to satisfy their political favorites.

Mr. Owusu-Ansah said when private contractors printed and sold the CAN 2008 T-shirts and other paraphernalia, they were able to do it successfully, but anytime such projects are entrusted to public offices they fumble because of pressure.

Explaining why his district overspent during the Ghana@50 celebrations, he said people who attended the programmes organized by the district assembly outnumbered the number budgeted for and therefore stretched the GH¢10,000.00 account to GH¢1,420.00.

Mr. Thomas Ba-Innimayeh, East Akyem Municipal Co-ordinating Director, said the Municipal Planning Committee decided to distribute T-shirts and other souvenirs free to the people to whip up their enthusiasm to get involved in the celebrations.

“My Lord, I do not think that it is traditionally and customarily polite to go to chiefs to demand money for T-shirts supplied, so we decided to bear the cost of all those souvenirs that we gave out.”

He said private individuals who had taken their souvenirs on credit to sell are yet to account for them although several letters have been written to remind them of their indebtedness.

Justice Duose, however, stated he does not understand why T-shirts distributed to choirs and other identifiable groups were all placed under “Chiefs” declaring, “Chiefs do not sing in choirs, what are you talking about? I know that chiefs sing asafo songs, why do you say they were for chiefs when in actual fact they were for choirs”?

Source: GNA

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