Ghana@50 spends $60m and still owes

ghana50It has now emerged that after spending US$60m to celebrate Ghana’s 50th independence anniversary, the country still owes an unknown amount of money to some companies, the Daily Graphic newspaper has reported.

According to the news item in the Friday January 23, 2009 issue of the newspaper, GH¢60,179,481 an equivalent of US$60 million was spent for the celebrations in the year 2007.

And in spite of the amount that was spent, the report mentions that the nation still owes huge sums of money to Fairloop Company, the motor firm which imported luxury vehicles for use during the celebration.

Quoting sources within the government’s transition team, the Daily Graphic revealed that five accounts, four at Prudential Bank and one at the Bank of Ghana were operated by the authorities in the name of the project.

The sources indicated to the newspaper that in view of the debt, the motor company had demanded that a certain number of cars should be returned to it to cover the amount owed it by the state.

“The state paid only 50 per cent of the total cost of the vehicles purchased by the motor firm and had since defaulted” the sources told the Daily Graphic.

According to the sources, when Dr Charles Yves Wereko-Brobby, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the project, appeared before the committee, he indicated that he had reported all transactions on the project directly to the former Chief of Staff, Mr Kwadwo Mpiani, who was the supervising Minister for the Ghana@50 cel­ebrations, the newspaper said.

According to the newspaper, the sources added that Dr Wereko-Brobby said he acted on behalf of the former Minister of Presidential Affairs at the project secretariat and for that matter if the committee wanted further explanations on some of the issues which did not go down well with it, it should direct them at the former Chief of Staff.

They added that when the Auditor-General appeared before the committee, he denied knowledge of the committee of the estimates on the project, since his out­fit did not have a report on them.

Quoting the sources, the newspaper gave the following figures as the breakdown of the revenue and expenditure of the project; Release from Government of Ghana Treasury, GH¢34,596,013; Funds from African Union Consortium, GH¢12,790,000, and Overdraft Facility from the Prudential Bank, GH¢1,226,645.

Others were; Direct Payment from the Bank of Ghana to Jospong Company Limited, GH¢5,585,000; Proceeds from hiring of vehicles, GH¢773,236,75; Sale of Land, GH¢1,028,485;, and Sale of Souvenirs, GH¢318,417.

The rest were; Proceeds from Sponsorship, GH¢1,882,530; Sale of Vehicles, GH¢1,881,602; and Sale of Household Furnishing Items, GH¢97,572.

The sources told the Daily Graphic that there is an irony in some of the transactions citing the fact that an amount of GH¢12 million was raised and used for the procurement of Jubilee souvenirs but only GH¢318,417 was realized from the sale of those items.

The Ghana@50 Secretariat, ever since it was set-up to organize the celebrations had been caught up in so many controversies.  The secretariat has been cited for nonpayment of fees by actors, car hiring companies and so on, leading to calls by some individuals and pressure groups for an audit of the secretariat to be done by government, but non of these calls were heeded by government.

It is yet to be seen if any audit of the secretariat would be done and the monies spent on the celebrations two years ago properly accounted for.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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