Members of Parliament across the county have been recalled from break to sit today over the alarming allegation that expatriate businesses in the country were asked to pay up to a $100,000 each so their representatives could sit beside President Nana Akufo-Addo during a recent awards ceremony under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Minority Chief Whip, Mubarak Muntaka Mohammed, MP for Asawase first put out the allegation on the Floor of Parliament and it sparked a general public condemnation and outrage amidst calls from civil society for investigations.
In the midst of the public outcry, Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry Carlos Ahenkorah, gave a jaw-dropping revelation on Peace FM’s ‘Kokrokoo’ morning show that that at the said awards ceremony, wo of the expatriate companies that had representatives beside President Nana Akufo-Addo actually paid money to be there.
Carlos Ahenkorah insisted it was a very normal practice that should not raise any eyebrow.
The Minority has labeled the development as pure extortion and called on the Trade Ministry to return monies collected from the expatriate businesses. The Minority has also questioned why the amounts received were not put into the Internally Generated Funds (IGF) of the Ministry.
The organizers of the awards ceremony and the Trade Ministry have also given rather contradictory explanations into the circumstances and conditions under which the said amounts were charged on the expatriate
Parliament which was originally scheduled to reconvene sitting later this month for the commencement of the 3rd meeting of the second Session of the 7th Parliament of the 4th Republic of Ghana was recalled for today’s in accordance with a constitutional provision and Standing Orders of Parliament.
The Minority Members of Parliament filed a motion requesting for an investigation to be conducted into the seeming bribery saga and this compelled the Speaker to summon today’s sitting.
The Speaker of Parliament acted in accordance with article 112 (3) of the 1992 constitution and Standing Order 38 of the House which demands that 15% of Members of Parliament can request the Speaker to summon a sitting of Parliament to consider a pertinent issue.
The motion was signed by Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka Mohammed, and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa MP for North Tongu.
Mr. Muntaka Mohammed who first raised the issue on the floor of Parliament during the 2018 budget estimate approval debate for the Trade and Industry Ministry last year alleged that per a letter signed by a Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah, expatriate businesses were requested to pay various sums of money ranging US $25,000- US $100,000 depending on the closeness of their chairs to that of President Akufo-Addo during the Ghana expatriate Business Awards ceremony last year.
The incident nearly got out of hands when Deputy Minister Ahenkorah, Member of Parliament for Tema West, threw caution to the wind and openly rained insults on his colleague MP Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa with rather unprintable words.
Okudzeto Ablakwa was granting an interview to journalists on the matter when Carlos Ahenkorah barged into the interview uninvited, rudely interrupted the encounter and started misbehaving in front of the cameras.
The shocking drama was captured on video and has since gone viral, sparking a growing public condemnation and an embarrassment for the Office of the Deputy Trade Minister.
The Deputy Minister has however expressed regret and rendered a public apology for his lack of self-control and public misconduct
The Minority has insisted that the fees charged the expatriates were not approved by Parliament and that the monies were not accounted for in the Internally Generated Fund (IGF) of the Ministry’s accounts.
The Ministry of Trade & Industry, however in a statement signed by its sector Minister denied the claim, saying that it played no role in the determination of prices for seats at the event.
By: Christian Kpesese/ thePublisher