Minister Blows US$370, 043.17 On Useless Us Trip

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….Ignores GIMPA’s Affordable Leadership Courses; And Ras Mubarak Goes Angry

It is finally out that, the Executive Secretary of the National Service Scheme (NSS), Mustapha Ussif, used a whopping US$370, 043.17 for a 3-day workshop at Boston-Massachusetts in the United States of America (USA), contrary to his earlier claim that he only spent US$150, 000.

The Minister of Education, Mathew OpokuPrempeh, who made the disclosure on the floor of Parliament yesterday, said fees for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT Sloan) programme alone, cost the tax payer, US$300, 000, while other expenses such as travel, boarding and lodging fees also cost US$70, 043. 17.

This brings the total amount spent on the educational trip to a colossal US$370, 043. 17, for a poverty-stricken Ghana.

The Minister of Education’s revelation, hugely contradicts what was announced by the NSS boss in October 2017, after The Herald first broke the news.

According to the acting NSS Executive Director, the programme was to equip participants, including John Kumah, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP) formerly Youth Employment Support (YES) with leadership skills, governance, among others.

But this paper, also found out that, the said courses that they were out to study at US$370, 043. 17 to Ghanaian taxpayers, are being offered at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) which is under the Flagstaff House; the seat of government.

GIMPA, runs the same subjects – leadership skills, governance – at its School of Public Service and Governance here in Accra.

This implies, they could have gotten the same training done for them at a cheaper cost to the Ghanaian taxpayer, if there is a need for it, aside spending money and creaming huge allowance and acquiring US visas.

An invitation letter from the training institution sent to US Embassy in Accra and dated September 15, 2017 from MIT also seen by The Herald, had revealed that some members of the Ghanaian delegation, particularly the Minister of Education “will only be attending the welcome Reception on Day 0”.

Indeed, in a press statement last year, Mr.Ussif, claimed that he was on that expensive 3-day workshop with Stephen Amoah, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), but The Herald’s findings, established it was false.

Mr.Amoah, was found rather in Ghana, whereas he was claimed to be on the trip.

Again, John Kumah, the CEO of NEIP, whom the acting Executive Director of NSS, mentioned was also on the all expenses paid trip, The Herald was informed, was also not on the trip.

Checks also revealed that, the Education Minister, Matthew Opoku-Prempeh, who was listed in the invitation letter from MIT Sloan, “will only be attending the welcome Reception on Day 0”., this means he had no business traveling to the US, apart from going to eat and drink at the reception.

The Herald’s information was that, Matthew Opoku-Prempeh, was on an official trip to an African country.

The NSS boss, released additional names of people, who he said were on the US$150,000 3-day workshop at Boston-Massachusetts, meaning the country is paying more.

It was not clear, why the NSS boss mentioned these people as being part of the trip, whilst they were still in Ghana.

The Minister, who underscored the importance of the Ghana Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (G-REAP) with the MIT, failed to mention specifically attendees of the programme, except to call out youth agencies that made up the team.

He said “There are currently 17 officials involved in this programme as Team Ghana for this G-REAP, however, 13 out of the 17 officials, were actually able to attend the October, 2017 session.

These officials are all representatives from the various Youth Agencies within the country. Notable amongst them are: NSS YEA, NEIP, COTVET, NYA, MASLOC and NBSSI etc”.

Meanwhile, Ras Mubabrak, Member of Parliament (MP) for Kumbungu, has accused Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh of blowing GHS1.3 million of state funds on what in his view, was a needless programme outside Ghana.

According to Mr. Mubarak, the amount could have been used for something beneficial in the country, but was rather spent on a needless education programme at the MIT.

Speaking to journalists after parliament’s sitting yesterday, March 1, 2018, Mr. Mubarak, indicated that the amount for the entire duration of the programme as explained by Dr. Prempeh, did not meet value-for-money standards “because GIMPA organises similar programmes in leadership and governance here in Accra and instead [the minister is] spending more to register 13 people to go to the United States of America for three days”.

He said the expenditure was “outrageous and scandalous” because to him, the NSS is struggling to pay allowances of national service persons, yet “NSS can come up with $300,000 for a three-day programme in the United States of America. You tell me whether or not, if this is a sensible way of spending your hard-earned taxpayers’ money”.

Ras Mubabrak, has since last year pursued this matter seeking answers over the wanton dissipation of national resources under the nose of the Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh.

 

 

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