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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ministry of Tourism, GTB denies bribery allegation

Juliana Azumah Mensah 02.09

Accra, Dec. 11, GNA - The Ministry of Tourism and the Ghana Tourists Board, on Friday, denied allegations by an Accra based newspaper that the sector ministers had taken bribe from Zakhem limited, a company developing a hotel at the Accra Race Course.

Mr Julius Debrah, Executive Director of the Ghana Tourists Board who addressed a press conference in Accra to react to the publication explained that Zakhem's local representatives Cascade Development Company Limited, entered into an agreement with the government of Ghana on January 11, 2007 for the re-development of the 14.16 hectare site in Accra previously owned by the Government.

The agreement stated that the Accra Race Course would be developed into a five- star hotel with a shopping mall, office and residential buildings. He said as part of the agreement, the government had 10 per cent share holding in the company.

Mr Debrah said the ministers were invited to the premises of the company by the management to familiarise themselves with the operations of the corporate entity.

Mr Debrah who was flanked by the Minister, Mrs Juliana Azumah Mensah and the Deputy Minister, Mr Kwabena Akyeampong, said the company used the opportunity to present a certificate indicating government's 10 per cent share in the project as outlined and approved by Parliament.

He explained that no money exchanged hands during the visit, although Zakhem Limited at a later date paid cheques of three thousand and two thousand dollars respectively following an appeal made by the Ministry for the production of a post-Obama visit video document and in support of the United Nations World Tourism Day hosted by Ghana earlier this year. "These amounts were paid into the Ministry's accounts and receipts duly issued to cover the said payment," Mr Debrah said, stressing that the cheques paid by Zakhem was a donation in support of the above events. He however said: "if anybody has evidence that the sector ministers collected monies they should let the public know. As far as the Ghana Tourists Board is concerned the Ministers did not receive any cash payment as alleged."

Mrs Azumah-Mensah expressed surprise at the story and reiterated the availability of records to show that the cheques were paid into the Ministry's account.

She said similar donations were made by the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel and other local organisations that supported the World Tourism Day celebrations.

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