World Cup Committee Inflated Food Prices

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…Witness Tells Dzamefe Probe

The Chief Executive Officer of Ambar Quality Foods Limited, Mrs. Gertrude Quashigah, has said that figures produced by the World Cup Committee said to be cost of foodstuffs she bought in Brazil, were inflated.

The Committee, had indicated in a report to her and two other caterers that food items she bought from a shop in Brazil to prepare food for Ghana’s supporters during the tournament on one particular occasion cost $37,720.

But testifying before the Presidential Commission investigating Ghana’s participation in the 2014 World Cup Thursday, September 11, 2014, Mrs. Quashigah said, the figure was outrageously high.

“It’s too high because that [currency] had to be transferred to the local currency there and there is nowhere in the world you can go and purchase [foodstuff] in that quantity in dollars,” she told the Commission chair, Justice Senyo Dzamefe.

“The figures are not realistic, not at all,” she added.

According to her, even though she demanded receipts covering the items she bought from the shop, the attendant told her the receipt would be sent to a member of the organizing. That response, she said, made her suspicious but she kept her suspicions to herself.

She told the Commission that ordinarily, she would have bought the same quantity of items from the same shop at maximum, half of the amount quoted.

“My Lords, if you send me to that market I can get that at half the price or even lower,” she stated.

Mrs. Quarshigah’s company was contracted by the World Cup Committee to provide feeding for about 300 football fans airlifted to the South American country, to cheer the national team, the Black Stars during the tournament.

She received a total of $19,200 for the service rendered but the experienced Caterer said that was way below her expectations because, the workload she handled while in Brazil, was “too much” and the contract was also varied from purchasing foodstuffs and cooking for the fans, to rendering services which was originally discussed in Accra.

Competency of Organisers
She and the other two catering companies- Monee’s and Kenkey Boutique- decided to continue to offer their services and continued cooking for the fans even as late as 2am “out of patriotism”, the witness said.

“Most of the time those supporters…some of them even drink so they need to eat…they can be eating and eating. We were cooking pots and pots of rice. We delivered. We were on top of our job,” she stressed.

The witness also questioned the competence of some of the people who coordinated the trip to Brazil.

“You must have that kind of transparency, you must also have competence in your job delivery [but] we were not seeing all that and you know, before you can be a coordinator or an event’s organizer you must have everything on your fingertips.

“This is not just a child’s play; it was an international assignment that had to be delivered internationally [and] all that I said, fell on deaf ears,” she lamented.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Events, Grounds and Logistics Sub-Committee of the Brazil 2014 World Cup Committee, Horace Nii Ayi Ankrah on Wednesday accused Justice Senyo Dzamefe of the Commission investigating Ghana’s participation at the World Cup of being judgmental on the issue of the cost per meal of football fans airlifted to Brazil.

He made the statement in reaction to negative media reports generated from his accounts at the Commission’s hearing Tuesday, which suggested that the Committee deliberately changed proposed quotations from caterers for feeding supporters airlifted to Brazil from Ghȼ34 to $35.
“My Lords, I don’t think that I was given any fair chance because you were insistent that a 34 [cedis] had been changed to a 35 dollars and then My Lords, you went on to say that ‘I have more questions for you tomorrow; you’ll see’.

“You kept on saying that this is a fact-finding Commission but yesterday, at the tail end of what happened you were judgmental and that is my pain,” Nii Ayi Ankrah argued on his second appearance before the Commission.

The former UK/Ireland Chair of the governing National Democratic Congress said: “I was judged straight away of changing 34 cedis to 35 dollars”.

When the Chairman of the Commission, Justice Senyo Dzamefe enquired why he could not provide answers to questions he was asked on Tuesday as he did today, Nii Ayi Ankrah retorted: “Respectfully, it’s your attitude”.

But the Chairman demanded an immediate withdrawal of the statement. The witness immediately withdrew the statement and apologised.
“My Lord, I sincerely apologise but I’m trying to get over what I went through yesterday,” he pleaded.

A member of the commission, Kofi Owusu Anokye said the commissioners could not be faulted for the wrong impressions created on Tuesday because they only relied on documents and facts available to them.

The documents available to them, he stressed, indicated clearly that even though one of the caterers contracted to provide catering services for the football fans in Brazil had submitted quotes of 34 cedis person, the organisers of the trip had paid $35.

Mr. Ankrah took the opportunity to explain that two other caterers – Monees Foods and Amber Foods – presented proposals for cost of $62 and $68 respectively, to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner to each of the fans each day.

According to him, the planning committee realised that the 34 cedis proposed by Kenkey Boutique was not realistic and therefore decided to strike an average of all the three proposals and settled on $35 per fan a day.

The Commissioners raised issues with the fact that even though this $35 was agreed between the caterers and the organisers as the cost of daily feeding of one football supporter in Brazil, the money was not paid to them; the organisers bought the food items allowing the caterers to just cook and serve.

Mr. Ankrah said he could not speak to that because he was not in Brazil

Meanwhile, Nii Ayi Ankrah revealed, he received a pay of “only Ghȼ1,200”, the equivalent of $324 dollars, for the six months that he served on the committee.

“I got paid only 1,200 for the four months of my hard work and dedicated service to the committee,” Nii Ayi Ankrah said on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 on his second appearance at the sitting of the Commission investigating Ghana’s participation at the tournament.

Thus, he received just Ghȼ200 or a little over $54 a month, for his work on the Committee from January to July 2014.

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