Appoints Faulty Ex-GMA Boss GRA Board Chair
The immediate past Director-General of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Kwame Owusu, who came under intense pressure for using GHS1 million of the state agency’s funds to transform his two-bedroom official residence into a sprawling five-bedroom property with 13 air conditioners, has been given another lucrative appointment by President Akufo-Addo– as Chairman of the Governing Board of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
A letter dated June 18, 2019 signed by Nana Asante Bediatuo, the Executive Secretary to the President, said: “Pursuant to section 4 (1) (a) of the Ghana Revenue Authority Act, 2009 (Act 791), the President of the Republic, in consultation with the Council of State, has appointed you as Chairman of the Governing Board of the Ghana Revenue Authority”.
The correspondence asked Mr Owusu, to confirm his acceptance of the new appointment within 14 days.
As D-G of GMA, Mr Owusu, among others, was alleged to have used – per a memo of the Authority signed by Rhoda Atiah – GHc66,835.00 to construct a high-quality hardwood standard kitchen cabinet complete with drawers, Corian worktop and wall hanging unit and all the necessary accessories.
Mr Owusu, was also investigated by the Ministry of Transport for spending GH¢135,000 on an end-of-year dinner party in 2017, and also GH¢10,000 on lunch for eight people at a meeting – services provided by his own Luxe Suites Hotel.
The Herald in October last year in a publication titled; “Akufo-Addo’s Friend Caught In Massive Chop Chop”, revealed how two documents, found their way into the public space, exposing the then Director-General of the GMA for outrageously spending a whopping GHC135, 125. 00 on food on a single night.
Mr Owusu, who had also spent another GHc10, 652 covering food for eight officials of the Authority, was involved in a case of conflict of interest, because the hotel that supplied the said food, belongs to him. He is said to be a very close pal of the President.
The name of the hotel receiving the amount totaling GH¢145, 777.05, was captured in two separate memos to the D-G dated November 8 and December 28, 2017, as Luxe Suites hotel.
The Herald’s independent checks at the time, revealed that Luxe Suites Hotel, is at Cantonments off the Switchback Road in Accra.
On the official website of the GMA, Mr Owusu, had written among his achievements that “as the Group Chairman of LUXE Hotels, he oversaw the expansion of the hospitality group from one location to six others in Ghana”.
Additional reports are that the GMA boss, owns the Obama Hotels in parts of Accra and some video houses, where people pay to go have sex under the pretext of watching movies.
The documents obviously leaked from the GMA, had sparked outraged, especially among social media users and most of them are questioning what has happened to the President’s campaign against corruption and pledge to “protect the public purse” in the wake of the numerous corruption allegations?
One of the two memos, sighted by The Herald written by Rhoda Atiah, Director of Administration, to the Director-General himself was titled “Payment for Food, drinks and music for end-of-year dinner party” dated December 28, 2017.
It read “Sir, I write to request for a release of an amount of One Hundred and Thirty Five Thousand, One Hundred and Twenty Five Ghana Cedis (135, 125. 00) to pay Luxe Suites Hotel for the cost of food, drinks and music provided for stuff and protocols during the end of year dinner party on Friday, 22nd December, 2017”
The second memo with the subject, “Payment for food supplied during meetings at head office”also signed by the Director of Administration read,“Sir, I humbly write to seek your authorization for a release of an amount of Ten thousand six hundred and fifty-two Ghana Cedis, five pesewas (GHC 10, 652. 05).”
It said the amount was “to pay Luxe Suites Hotel for the cost of food supplied to the Authority during the Management meetings and stakeholders meetings on Maritime Security fees and charges at the Head Office”.
From the memo, The Herald, gathered that while the management and stakeholders’ meetings were held at the Head Office of the Authority, and only food provided amounting GHC 10, 652. 05, the other memo did not indicate where the end-of year dinner party was held.
The memos which were splashed on social media by musician-turned politician, Kwame AsareObeng popularly known as Kwame A Plus, have left many in shock, wondering what food was served at the said meetings and dinner party.
He said “Charley me I still don’t understand how 8 people spent GHC10,652,00 on food during a meeting. Ah how? It means each person’s food (just one meal) cost 1,335.00 Ghana cedis. Really? If you own Ghana as your private company will you spend this amount on a meal for just one meeting?
If we complained during the campaign that NDC spent 20 dollars on Kenkey in Brazil, how then can we support this? 20 dollars is just 100 Ghana. This is 1.335.00 per person per meal. Did they chew golden sausages or the elephant itself came to the meeting?”
While, a few say the invoice should have been provided to see the actual details from the hotel, others say the price tag for the eight stuff of the Authority costing GHC 10, 652. 05 were inconceivable.
This comes in the wake of several corruption allegations against a government which won political power on the back of corruption allegations against it predecessor.
When musician-turned-politician, A Plus, also commented on the scandal accused him of conflict of interest, Mr.Owusu parried the allegations at a press conference in which he described the accusations as “below the belt”.
He told journalists in November last year that the media had been mischievous and unprofessional in reporting the matter.
Regarding accusations that he fitted his new property with eleven air conditioners, MrOwusu said thus: “Also, an issue has been raised with the Director-General having eleven air conditioners. That, I consider mediocrity. In a two-bedroom house? Where would I put them?” adding that:“The places [rooms] that I listed to you, [for] each one of them to have an air conditioner, it would be 13, so, the eleven is even not enough”.
“By the way, we don’t put them all on together”, he added.
Explaining how the house expansion and renovation started, Mr Owusu said: “This Authority has been renting apartments, houses, whether its $5000 or whatever it is, over the years, paid by the Authority. When I took over these affairs, I decided to go and chase the Works and Housing Ministry to see if the Authority can have a residence. In my quest, I was able to secure a property. That property was a 2-bedroom wooden structure in the old colonial style. If you are going to renovate that structure, you would have to put a memo and say: ‘A renovation of a 2-bedroom residence’. Even if it becomes 10, the initial one will not be renovating a 10-bedroom house. So, the topic of 2-bedroom, which some of you [media] including Mr. A Plus, the Citizen Vigilante, has made this to become like the Director-General has actually increased an amount just to do ‘chop chop’ as one big TV station says: ‘Let us ‘chop chop’’. The man at the bar is my friend, I cannot imagine when the above, Mr Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, I’ll be chopping GHS8,000 and say let’s chop before he’s my friend. Oh please!
“I have to let you know that when I secured the land, normally, this has to be done by the Ministry’s PWD Prestige and then they hand it over to you as an individual. I wanted it for the Authority. So, in their bid to go and do the renovation, they did the first phase. It took some while so the Deputy Minister of Works and Housing said: ‘Look, it’s going to take a while for us to find the money, so, if the Authority has money, we’ll rather give you the Bill of Quantities that has been designed by PWD Prestige and you’d be able to use that and do the building.
“So, we took that Bill of Quantities, which as you see here, and you can go to PWD, over here, they are the ones that gave all the Bill of Quantities for the first phase, and as you went along, they do the second phase and the third phase. When this was submitted to me, I brought it to Administration and we went through a tendering process which three people have been given this to do, the selective tendering.
“The tendering was done without my involvement, awards were given to various things which you have published anyway with the amounts that were associated with those individuals. Tender process went through Administration. The Bill of Quantities was done by [PWD] Prestige. So, the Director-General could not have influenced the outcome and given it to my friend and said: ‘Increase the money so that when they do it, I can do your so-called ‘chop chop’. I took this from PWD, it was supervised by them, our auditors were so thorough, they even went through all the construction period pictures, the auditors were there day and night taking pictures of construction; and then came out the building.
“And let me tell you: That building is now made up of four bedrooms of the main structure, a living room, a dining room, kitchen, a family room, a library and a basement. That is the main structure. We also have a guest house which should befit a Director-General for that matter, where you can have a guest of your counterparts that they can stay, that one is a one-bedroom, a dining room, a living room, and a kitchen and a porch that has also been erected. And an outhouse was done and a whole floor of grass has been concretised with this same amount of GHS1 million.
“We have taken consultants there, Management has been there, all other people who know value-for-money and that is an understatement. So, if you are going to go around and do blackmailing and say the Director-General has renovated a two-bedroom which you have not gone there to see, it is amazing how we can kill people before they die.
“Also, an issue has been raised with the Director-General having eleven air conditioners. That, I consider mediocrity. In a two-bedroom house? Where would I put them? The places that I listed to you, [for] each one of them to have an air conditioner, it would be 13, so the eleven is even not enough. By the way, we don’t put them all on together.
“And if you sit, some Director-Generals have a house allocated to them, and have even a separate guest house for entertainment. If this Director-General or any other Director-General of Ghana Maritime Authority, who superintend the Maritime Authority in Ghana cannot have a four-bedroom or five-bedroom, then I say it is mediocrity in their mindset. We must think big. The plot that was allocated to me was one acre. And I wasn’t going to put a two-bedroom [on a one-acre property] and I think that not only that, when this investment is made, 20 per cent of my salary or any others who will come to take over, 20 per cent will be taken, so over a period it is going to pay for this stuff, I am paying rent for the structure that I’ve put there and I thought that you would even appreciate that for the effort of saving”.
The GMA is under the ministry of Transport, with Kweku Ofori Asiama, as the sector minister.
The then GMA boss’ profile captured on the official website of the GMA had said “Mr Kwame Owusu, who has earned a reputation as an accomplished management expert with over 30 years of public and private sector experience in finance and accounting, was appointed by President Nana Akufo-Addo as the Director General of Ghana Maritime Authority.
He held various Senior Management level positions, including the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Supply Company and Special Advisor to the Ministry of Energy in Ghana. Whilst at the Ministry, he also served as the Director of Financial Monitoring of the Energy Sector Institutions.
As an active advocate of strategic thinking, he used public policies to develop effective financial controls for budget, tax and accounting delivery performance. He facilitated various training workshops in sound financial management practices for public sector audiences.
He also worked extensively with three out of the six largest international accounting/tax firms in the world (KPMG, Deloitte &Touche and Pricewaterhouse Coopers), leading assignments in tax advisory services, corporate mergers and acquisitions, transaction advisory services, financial and forensic audits, budget planning and corporate restructurings. engineering.
During his time with the Ministry of Energy, he oversaw the energy crisis and resolved critical issues facing the Government of Ghana. An accomplished businessman and entrepreneur, Mr Owusu has developed and built varied businesses from Start-up to maturity. As the Group Chairman of LUXE Hotels, he oversaw the expansion of the hospitality group from one location to six others in Ghana.
Mr Kwame Owusu, hails from Asotwe, in the Ashanti Region. He was educated at Rutgers University, where he obtained a BA degree in Accounting & Economics with Honours and became a Chartered Accountant and was awarded the Phi Beta Kappa and Beta Gamma Sigma Honours.