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Minister Fights Auditor-General Over GETfund Cash

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The Member of Parliament (MP) for Akim Swedru and Deputy Minister of Agriculture Kennedy Nyarko Osei has given the Auditor-General Daniel Yaw Domelevo a 24-hour ultimatum to retract and apologise to him for including his name in the list GETfund beneficiaries.

In a letter addressed to the Auditor-General by lawyers of the legislator Thursday, the legislator said Mr Domelevo should have known there was a problem with his inclusion because no money was attached to it.

The letter accused the Auditor-General of being unprofessional and malicious in his work.

It has emerged that some MPs and government officials were given scholarships from the GETfund scholarship secretariat to embark on courses abroad.

The mandate of the GETFund is to grant scholarships to brilliant but needy Ghanaians.

The list including some members of parliament and deputy ministers are contained in the audited report of the auditor general on the Getfund scholarship secretariat.

The Dome MP and procurement minister Adwoa Safo applied and obtained $12,800 in allowances with $17,004 in tuition fees to study at the Harvard Kennedy school.

The Executive Secretary of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA), Prince Hamidu Armah also received £38,400 for living expense in addition to £33,000 for tuition fees, While Education minister Mathew Opoku Prempeh, who listed at number 38, is receiving $12,800 for living expenses and $11,200 as tuition fees at security course at Harvard University.

The Education Minister and the Executive Secretary of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment have explained they secured the scholarship before coming into public office.

Meanwhile, the Graduate Students Association of Ghana (GRASAG) is surprised over the revelations in the report on the GETfund scholarship secretariat.

“The Performance Audit Report released by the Auditor-General on the administration of scholarships by GETFund, revealed a sad reality many Ghanaian students have known about the way scholarships are awarded by these state agencies over the past years. There are enormous evidence that many brilliant but poor students are denied scholarships because they lack political connections.

“It is really unconscionable that sitting Members of Parliament and other public officials will even put themselves up to be considered for scholarship meant for needy students. This is the evidence of impunity with which the political class has carefully been orchestrating against the masses in this country,” the student group said.

It added: “To the extent that these public officials did not go through any robust competitive selection process before receiving their scholarships is enough ground to ask them to refund the said amount and we call on the attorney general and the office of the special prosecutor to investigate circumstances that resulted in this malicious abuse of office by these public officials. There is definitely something untoward about how GETFund awarded scholarships to politically exposed individuals rather than brilliant but needy students as anticipated by Act 581 to study abroad, in subjects and programmes that can be handled by the many accredited tertiary institutions in Ghana. Allowing GETFund to continue awarding scholarships without recourse to the Scholarship Secretariat amounts to duplicity of functions and must be curtailed to the barest minimum.

“We want to remind the Government of Ghana that, the students of Ghana are following keenly and will not relent until we have seen reforms in the administration of Scholarships in Ghana. Public funds must not be used to the benefit of few individuals with political connection and influence, whiles the masses wallow in abject poverty and uncertainties.

“At this point, GRASAG stands by the recommendations of the Auditor General for GETFund to abide by Section 2 (2b) of the GETFund Act and give funds to Scholarships Secretariat for the administration of local scholarships and desist from administering foreign scholarships. We also call for the prosecution and sanction of public officials both past and present who have unfairly benefited from scholarships meant for brilliant but needy students as well as officials who approved these scholarships”.

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