GNPC Defends GH¢5.42 Million Gift To Okyenhene, First Lady & Others

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The General Manager-in-charge of Sustainability at the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), has justified the GH¢5.42 million allotted as sponsorships and donations to Okyenhene, Amoatia Ofori-Panin, First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo and others by the GNPC Board.

According to Dr. Kwame Baah Nuarko, the expenditures such as the GH¢120, 000.00  to First Lady’s Rebecca Foundation, the celebration of the Okyenhene’s 20th Anniversary,  the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the Ghana Boxing Association, including a GH¢400,000 towards the preparations for the Damba Festival, are not new as they are in line with GNPC’s vision.

“I can assure you [that], this is not the first time. This is not the first batch of sponsorship requests that have been received this year or have been approved,” Dr. Baah Nuarko told Citi FM’s Umaru Sanda Amadu on Eyewitness News, adding the budgeted donations and sponsorships, were mostly in response to requests made by various interest groups.

The Herald had chanced upon a leaked memo from GNPC, showing its Board has approved some outrageous amounts running into millions of Ghana Cedis as donation and sponsorship requests for various institutions, including the Rebecca Foundation owned by Mrs. Akufo-Addo.

The GNPC Board is chaired by the New Patriotic Party Chairman, Freddie Blay, but the Memo was addressed to the GNPC Chief Executive, Dr. KK Sarpong by the Board Secretary; Matilda Ohene, and it is dated October 29, 2019.

It was titled “Board Approval for payment of various sponsorship/support requests”, and shows the Rebecca Foundation allocated a colossal GH¢120, 000.00 from the coffers of the GNPC for the stated reason aside donation and sponsorship requests. There are, however, reports that this is not the first time, GNPC is sinking money into Rebecca Foundation.

However, the biggest amount, is allotted to Okyenhene, for his 20th Anniversary, to mark his ascension to the Ofori-Panin Stool.

On October 4, 1999, the Okyenhene was enstooled as the 35th Chief of Akyem Abuakwa, and state resources are to be used in celebrating that accomplishment.

Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panin, who is a cousin to President Akufo-Addo, is getting a total of GH¢1, 500,000 for the celebrations for over three years period, specifically for “environment and greening”.

The Okyenhene, also gets additional GH¢300, 00.00 to organize the Anniversary, bringing the expenditure to a total of GH¢1, 800,000 just on celebrations.

The Okyenhene’s20th Anniversary celebration, was launched on October 8, at a ceremony at the forecourt of the Palace at Kyebi in the Eastern Region, with the Guest of Honour being Kofi Dzamesi, Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, who described the Okyenhene as one of the respectable chiefs, who had brought honour to the chieftaincy institution.

It is not clear, which other state institution aside the GNPC is sponsoring the anniversary.

GNPC is also dishing out a massive GH¢400, 000.00 for the preparation of the 2019 Damba Festival for the people of Dagbon State of the Northern Region. It is not clear, how much the final expenditure will be.

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) is getting GH¢50, 000.00 of the GNPC cash, while the Ghana Boxing Association (GBA) is getting US$30,000.00 for no specified reasons aside donation and sponsorship requests as captured by the Memo, which has since gone viral on social media platforms.

The anti-corruption body; Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) is getting a whopping GH¢550, 000.00, also for no stated reason.

It is, however, not clear why EOCO, which is under the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General and allotted budgetary support annually, will be getting donations and sponsorship from GNPC another state institution.

The memo mentioned that “At the meeting of the Board of GNPC, held on 25th October 2019, the Board approved the recommendation of the Brand, Communication and CRS Committee for the following requests”.

The GNPC, has been lambasted for approving the outrageous donation and sponsorship, but Dr. Kwame Baah Nuarko, said the sponsorships are worth it, and that GNPC goes through strict processes before requests are approved.

“There is a very clear process at GNPC in determining what should be approved or not…The figures are huge, because the activities involved are huge,” he said.

He explained that the Rebecca Foundation is to receive the funds which will be given to two women’s groups in the Mpohor District of the Western Region for the setting up of an oil palm processing factories, which falls in line with GNPC’s vision of economically empowering people.

He said, some of the sponsorships create an opportunity for the GNPC to advertise itself and increase the visibility of its brand.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) Ghana, has called on the government to immediately halt and investigate the processes leading to what it describes as a wanton dissipation of monies at the GNPC.

Also, the Chamber wants government “to further take immediate action and sanctions against the Management and the Board of Directors of GNPC.”

In a press release signed by its Executive Secretary, Duncan Amoah yesterday, COPEC called for further steps taken “to consolidate all resources being held in trust by the corporation to forestall any further wanton dissipation of same as has been the case over the years with GNPC.”

Their comments, follow the release of a memo indicating the granting of approvals to some supposed requests received with some stated amounts. COPEC, wants government to halt and investigate the Board and Management of GNPC, on the utilization of generated oil revenue.

 The poor Ghanaian taxpayer, is once again confronted with another clear case of wanton dissipation of scarce nations resources by highly placed persons within the GNPC, which sharply contrasts Government’s earlier reason for increasing fuel taxes as it insisted it needed revenue, yet some in same breath are squandering the little available without any solid justification.

“Chamber of Petroleum Consumers Ghana (COPEC-GH) has taken notice of an internal Memorandum dated 29th October 2019 from the Board Secretary under the Signature of one Matilda Ohene to the Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum (GNPC) on the subject titled “Board Approval for payment of various sponsorship /Support Requests”.

“Our initial reaction was that of disbelief but the said memo has been confirmed by the manager for the sustainability of the GNPC with a justification that these are quite normal application of the scarce resources been held in trust for Ghanaians by the corporation.

To this, we call on the Government to immediately halt, and investigate the processes leading to wanton dissipation of these monies as contained in the memo, and to further take immediate action and sanctions against the Management and the Board of Directors of GNPC and to further take steps to consolidate all resources being held in trust by the corporation to forestall any further wanton dissipation of same as has been the case over the years with GNPC”.

It insisted “this abuse of resources being held in trust by these corporations at a time the Central Government seems to be in dire need of revenues for its developmental projects cannot be overemphasized and will need to be halted immediately to restore the needed confidence by the poor taxpayer who is squeezed every now and then to generate these revenues the government needs”.

The priorities of GNPC should be going forward clearly defined by legislation as the Corporation seems to be gaining notoriety for such acts which usually contravenes the posture of the State and Central Government within the economic context prevailing in Ghana.

For the avoidance of doubt we also seek clarity on the following: Does the Act and laws governing the operations of GNPC permit GNPC to on its own now finance and compromise other state investigate bodies such as EOCO who are expected to hold persons at the top of such corporations to account in the event of abuse of resources?

These state investigative Agencies such as EOCO  who currently are expected to be investigating the board chairman of the very same GNPC and all other potential corrupt practices in such public corporations also enjoys government budgetary allocation and funding and as such could attract private support but another huge state funding by GNPC leaves a lot to be desired and confusion in the minds of right-thinking society especially at the time EOCO is expected to investigate some highly placed officials of the said corporation.

Further, does such funding provision for Chieftaincy affairs in the country not constitute a pick and choose agenda which can lead to needless tensions and suspicions knowing very well how delicate the institution of chieftaincy is to ethnic and social matters as already, the chiefs and people of the Western Region of Ghana, where a larger chunk of our oil resources are extracted from are on record to have demanded a percentage share of the oil find but have till date not been given any, neither their roads fixed nor infrastructure improved by the oil money yet GNPC in an apparent show of some perceived biases is sponsoring other traditional areas in Northern and Eastern Regions of the Country by way of festivals and to also go green?

Will GNPC be in a position to grant all the traditional authorities same or similar funding upon request? If no, what justification will they provide for declining in the event all other traditional authorities now decide to seek their share of the oil cake?

Dispensing such amounts to individuals and private organizations will surely have a certain effect on the economy and central government funding as these monies could have been easily channelled to other very important needs such social amenities provision in deprived communities to ease the pressures on the central government.

The absence of funding to undertake these development projects often force the central government to now resort to imposing heavier taxes which has often lead to increases in fuel prices at the pumps in the petroleum industry.

“We believe that the public funds in the care of GNPC should be prudently invested and managed in building a robust upstream petroleum sector such that GNPC can in the very near future hold and maintain some of our oil wells without any foreign oil company taking a larger chunk of the shares of our own resources. And to complement in defraying incessant debts in the energy sector and ultimately relieve ordinary Ghanaians off these huge tax burdens as prevailing today”, COPEC said.

“We lastly note with deep concerns, that, this rather headless financial decision by the Board of GNPC to among other things, pay funds to EOCO which already enjoys government budgetary allocation could potentially compromise the investigative responsibilities of the state institution and further open the floodgates for all other traditional authorities within the country to also seek their share of the oil money and must be halted immediately forthwith”, it concluded.

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