The Ministry of Trade and Industry’s decision to collect various sums of money from expatriate businesses for seats close to President Akufo-Addo during the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards ceremony last year amounts to extortion, Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has told the five-Member Adhoc Committee investigating the matter.
He indicated that it should not cost money for the public to have access to the President who has been elected to serve the people and is being paid by the tax payer for that role.
Mr. Ablakwa said with his experience at two the Ministries where he served as Deputy Minister, Ministries only write letters to endorse the such events as the one organized and should therefore not be allowed to pay or receive any money as in the case of the cash for seat saga.
According to him, since the expatriate businesses were going to be honoured for their contributions to the country, they should not be made to pay money in order for the nation to honour them.
Mr. Ablakwa who is also the Minority Ranking member on Foreign Affairs also said he does not understand why an office will be set up at room 308 at the Ministry of Trade and Industry and people directed to go and deposit their cheque with Mr. Martin Ayanga at the office.
The collection of cheques from the expatriates, he said, was a clear case of extortion meant to know which company was paying big to deserve big government contracts.
“It was a clear case of extortion. How can you direct people to go to the famous room 308 and deposit their cheques with Mr. Martin Ayanga. Big brother wanted to know those who are paying big to deserve big contracts”, he said.
Mr. Ablakwa had appeared before the five-member Adhoc committee chaired by the Majority Chief Whip, Kwasi Ameyaw Cheremeh as one of the principal witnesses in the alleged levies collected by the Ministry of Trade & Industry of the Ghana Cedi equivalent of various sums up to US$100,000.00 from expatriate businesses and related matters during the awards.
On January 5, 2017, Mr. Samuel Ablakwa seconded a motion moved by the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka calling in the House to investigate the alleged cash for seat saga.
Officials of the Ministry of Trade and Industry are expected to appear before the committee today.
By: Christian Kpesese/ thePublisher