…. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah Reveals
By Alfred K Dogbey
The Minister of Youth and Sports has given the biggest revelationinto in the infamous ‘chop chop’ at Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA) captured in the report of the committee, which investigated the state-run special employment programme.
Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, who raised doubts over media publications purporting to be excerpts of the report, said the original report fingered not only officials of the incumbent government, but also top notch officers in the erstwhile ex-President Kufour’s administration, under whose tenure the programme started.
The Minister disclosed that the committee’s findings captured the names of New Patriotic Party (NPP) stalwarts, such as Nana Akomea, Dr. Anthony Akoto-Osei who served under the Kufuor regime as Employment and Youth Minister and Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, respectively.
Apart from the two, he said the original GYEEDA report also cited many other officers of the Kufuor regime and wondered why the media reports have only focused on only elements of the present administration.
The Youth and Sports Minister, who spoke on Accra-based Radio Gold’s morning show on Wednesday, on several times during the interview, expressed deep doubt over what is being circulated in the media as being the content of the report.
Mr. Afriyie Ankrah who supervised the investigative committee and later submitted the report to President John Dramani Mahama insists that the original report is with President John Mahama.
He indicated that the original report went as far back as President Kufour’s era, when GYEEDA was the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP).
Mr. Afriyie Ankrah, however, expressed shock about those especially serializing the report, asking whether they did not find anything “dirty” about the NPP officials from what they are quoting in the supposed report.
He told host of the programme, Alhassan Suhuyini that government is studying the original report and without any delay would come out with certain steps to address the lapses in the GYEEDA programme as well as re-engineer it.
The Minister maintained that there would not be any cover-up on the findings published in the original report adding, that President Mahama meant well when he personally directed an investigation into the workings of the programme.
He punched opposition critics that the current government is not like the Kufour government where investigations into Cocaine and other matters were done, but it findings and recommendations were mysteriously covered up.
According to the Minister, all recommendations and findings in the report would be implemented, and insisted that the government will not be rushed into taking any hasty and irrational decisions.
Meanwhile, former Executive Director of GYEEDA, Mr. Abuga Pele who is said to have been indicted by the Committee report, has lamented the failure of journalists in not reaching him for his side of the story before rushing to publish.
He said, ever since the report was presented to the President, some media outlets began serializing the supposed Committee’s report damaging his reputation, however, no journalist from those media houses called him for his side of the story for clarification.
According to Abuga Pele, he met with the Committee during the investigation. And the issues being published by the media did not come up for discussion.
Besides, since the publications he has spoken with some members of the committee who assured him that the committee has no adverse findings about him in its reports.
The Accra-based Joy FM, last Wednesday reported among other things that the Ministerial Committee set up to investigate the activities of GYEEDA, has fingered three government officials and wants them to answer significant questions in the award of contracts it says, lack transparency.
The immediate past Minister of Youth and Sports, Clement Kofi Humado; immediate past National Coordinator of GYEEDA, Abuga Pele; and the Chief Director of the Youth and Sports Ministry, Alhaji Abdulai Yakubu are the topmost officials mentioned in the report as having questions to answer.
According to the report, the committee could not lay hands on contracts awarded between 2006 and 2009. It therefore based its scrutiny mainly on contracts signed between 2009 and 2012.
The committee said these officials “have significant questions to answer on the operations of GYEEDA particularly during the time of their mandate.”
The report says Mr. Humado and the Chief Director need to explain the “lack of any transparency in the choice of service providers, the award of contracts and the visible breaches of the 1992 Constitution, the Public Procurement Act, the Internal Revenue Act and the Financial Administration Act.”
They must also explain why they approved “significant sums in interest free loans without parliamentary approval.”
The committee also questions what it calls “hasty signing of numerous contracts” between December 12, 2012 and December 31, 2012, as the National Coordinator when he had at the time resigned.”
The Committee also wants Mr Pele to explain why he approved “payments of over $2.3m to Goodwill Consulting Limited for no work done” as well as “the lapse in leadership and effective management of modules during his tenure”.
Unlike the junior officials of GYEEDA who have been specifically cited for prosecution, the committee is not explicit on what should be done to Mr. Humado, Abuga Pele and the Alhaji Abdulai Yakubu.
But the first recommendation in the executive summary of the report states that “all cases of the violation of the laws of Ghana, particularly, in the contracting and procurement processes are referred to the Office of the Attorney General and Minister for Justice for necessary action.”
According to the radio station, government is also to recover over GH¢200 million, constituting unlawful payments, from service providers with GYEEDA.
it said that the investigative committee set up by the Youth and Sports Minister, Afriyie-Ankrah found that service providers took advantage of lapses within GYEEDA to overcharge the state and received payments they did not deserve.
Three companies from the AGAMS Group owned by Roland Agabire are to refund a total of GH¢55.5 million to the state. This amount is made up of an overpayment of GH¢5.5 million GYEEDA made to RLG Communications Limited.
The report says lapses in the finance department of GYEEDA are partly to blame for the overpayment. The three companies; Craftpro, Asongtaba Cottage Industry and Exchange Programme and RLG Communications also owe the state interest-free loans to the tune of GH¢50 million.
Officials of the AGAMS Group have confirmed to Joy News that some of the unpaid loans were due for payment two years ago.
The companies, according to the investigative report, have not paid a pesewa to the state.
The committee also said, the loans were illegal because they did not received parliamentary approval as provided by Article 181 of the 1992 Constitution.
Another company, which must refund money to the state, is the Goodwill International Group.
It is to refund an amount of GH¢2.4 million to the state. The company is also to refund over US$2 million it took from GYEEDA but did not render any service.
The Better Ghana Management Service, a subsidiary of Zoomlion Company Limited, is also to refund money to the state, according to the report. The two companies and others operating under GYEEDA are owned by Joseph Siaw Agyapong.
The company was paid GH¢58.1 million to train GYEEDA beneficiaries, a training described as unnecessary by the committee training but it failed to provide the service. It also overcharged the state by about GH¢9 million for garbage collection tricycles it purported to have supplied GYEEDA beneficiaries.
Better Ghana Management Service is also expected to refund GH¢67.1 million to government.
The worst culprit, according to the report, is Zoomlion Ghana Limited. The company is said to have overcharged the state for tricycle and motorbike to the tune of GH¢74.2 million.
The report says; “the management fee schedule provided by Zoomlion, suggests a serious misuse of the public purse and was based on erroneous mathematics”.
The committee blames the financial mismanagement partly on the incompetence of the Head of Finance at GYEEDA, Alhaji Sulemana Ibrahim.
According to the report, Alhaji Ibrahim admitted he is not capable of preparing financial statements.
The committee, therefore, recommended his removal from office.
In all the state will retrieve over GH¢203 million if the report is implemented.
The committee also suggested that the state would save huge sums of money every month, if government cancels the contracts with the service providers.