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PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE CAUSES UPROAR: NPP MPs SAY REVIEW OF GHC349,000 TRADE FAIR LOSSES THROUGH NDC CEO IS BIASED AGAINST AGNES ADU

Politics

Some Majority MPs are seething with anger over what they describe as “the bizarre manner” in which their colleagues on the public accounts committee (PAC) handled the Auditor General’s report on the alleged misappropriation of a sum of GHC349,000 by the former chief executive officer of the Ghana Trade Fair Company Ltd (GTFCL) during the last National Democratic Congress government.

Some Majority MPs are seething with anger over what they describe as “the bizarre manner” in which their colleagues on the public accounts committee (PAC) handled the Auditor General’s report on the alleged misappropriation of a sum of GHC349,000 by the former chief executive officer of the Ghana Trade Fair Company Ltd (GTFCL) during the last National Democratic Congress government.

The PAC met on Tuesday to examine the Auditor General’s report on the 2014 accounts of the GTFCL under the watch of Emmanuel Okpoti Konney, who ran the company for nearly ten years.

Dr Konney’s tenure was easily the worst decade in the history of the Trade Fair company for quality of management. According to the Auditor General’s report, he misappropriated GHC349,000 in just one year.

Uninterested?

Some MPs who spoke to the Daily Statesman say they were surprised that the chairman of the committee and Deputy Minority Leader, James Klutse Avedzi, appeared “not concerned about this potential criminality”.

“It looked like his goal was to concentrate on the current CEO, who has begun to turn the company around in barely two years, and make it a referendum on her tenure.

“The current CEO had inherited a company in a shambles, with no electricity, negative bank balances and court-ordered garnishments from creditors,” one of the MPs said.

In fact, the Daily Statesman can report that Dr Agnes Adu took over at a time when the salaries of employees were 18 months in arrears, due mostly to the former CEO’s inability to generate revenue and mismanagement of such revenue as was available.

No receipts or vouchers

The former CEO has not been able to provide payment vouchers and receipts for the GHC349,000 he allegedly misappropriated.

“At the PAC hearing it was made to appear that the chairman of PAC had orchestrated a plan with the previous NDC CEO to make the hearing a probe into the NPP CEO, who has managed to turn the company around and [it’s] finally heading in the right direction,” an MP complained.

“It looked like there was a plan, with help from the ex-CEO and a disgruntled ex-employee, to shift the focus from their role in the missing payment vouchers.

“Instead, the committee focused on salary arrears of ex-employees, including the former CEO, who presided over the infractions outlined in the report of the Auditor General.”

NPP fails?

According to one of the MPs, “What was even more frightening was the fact that the NPP MP and ranking member on the committee, Honourable Kofi Okyere-Agyekum, was willing to overlook the achievements of his own government appointee in the short two years in office, saying, ‘I don’t see what you have done as an achievement.’ ”

Mr Okyere-Agyekum was responding to the new chief executive’s assertion that she had managed to clear some of the company’s debts, restored electricity supply and paid 30 months of outstanding salaries.

“It was shocking to see that the lawmakers and custodians of the law completely ignored the Auditor General’s report, which clearly laid out a case of misappropriation of company funds and deception.

“This was the perfect opportunity for the NPP MPs on the committee to highlight the rot the Auditor General had clearly laid out, but instead they sat back and in many instances seemed to be helping the NDC chairman shift the focus of the hearing to make it a probe into the current CEO paying the ex-employees of the company, some of whom were part of the rot highlighted in the report of the Auditor General,” an obviously angry MP said.

Squandered

In the view of one of the angry MPs, “The NDC chairman of PAC came to the hearing to rather probe the sacking of an employee of the company, a known NDC member, and ignored the fact that the former CEO is getting away with squandering GHC349,000 in just one year.

“The Auditor General’s report has nothing to do with an employee who was fired in 2018 for legitimate reasons. The chairman allowed the ex-employee to bring a prepared statement full of unfounded allegations and read it in public without the knowledge of the company,” the MP lamented.

He wondered why the chairman “proceeded to read the termination letter of the ex-employee, which happened in 2018, without first verifying from the company if in fact that letter was authentic before putting it in public”.

“Though the ex-CEO who caused the financial mess sat in front of them, they instead focused on the disgruntled employee, accusing EOCO of locking him in a room without food, which was false, and accusing the new CEO of replacing him with her nephew, which was also completely false,” the MP added.

Payment ordered?

According to the angry MPs, the former employees were not paid their salaries because the former CEO misused the company’s funds.

The PAC ordered the current CEO to pay the salaries of the former employees, but the angry MPs question whether it is the committee’s job to order any company to pay its employees.

“Their job was to decide whether there are grounds to order that ex-CEO to pay back the money he misused and refer the matter to the appropriate office, like the Attorney General,” said one of the unhappy MPs, “but instead they chose to focus on a disgruntled employee who was part of the mess the company found itself in.”