Large sums were misappropriated, and just plain stolen by the people managing the celebrations and observances for Ghana@50 in 2007, Ghana’s golden jubilee celebration. On June 17 2009 President Mills established a 90 day Commission to look into what happened, and deliver a report.

Ghana@50 scandal over vanished funds

Ghana@50 scandal over over stolen property and vanished funds

Quite a few, though not all, of the relevant articles can be found in this list: Ghana@50 Dossier
[Nov. 18, 2009:  That list appears to have been removed.  But you can get a good selection of relevant articles by going to the GhanaWeb Search the News Archive page, select the year 2009, and search for Ghana@50.  It is not comprehensive, but you’ll get a good overview.]

From Commission of inquiry into Ghana@50 inaugurated the Commission is to provide:

… an objective, fair and just enquiry that establishes the cold hard facts of all transactions and activities related to the 50th anniversary celebration.

Reports and stories of malfeasance have been trickling out for some time. They really gathered steam after the election, though it was obvious well before then that something was seriously wrong. I gather from people watching the hearings of the Commission on tv, that it is breathtaking how much money just disappeared, and how those responsible appear to be totally unprepared for any reckoning. Those being questioned are twisting and squirming, and many of the major players are yet to be interviewed. I understand a few have fled the country to avoid being held accountable.

From Ghana@50 Cost US$60m:

… another irony of the situation was that while GH¢12 million was raised and used for the procurement of Jubilee Souvenirs, only GH¢318,417 was realized as proceeds from the sale of those items.

Ghana@50 in arrears; already spent $60 million:

Accra, Jan. 26, GNA – The Ghana@50 Secretariat charged to organize Ghana’s Golden Jubilee celebrations two years ago is in arrears of more than GH¢18 million to contractors.The Secretariat has reportedly already spent US$60 million and with the arrears, the expenditure so far incurred stands at US$78 million against the US$20 million which Parliament approved for the celebration in 2007.

Government auditing officials on Monday told the sub-Transition Team on Executive Assets sitting in Accra that only one out of 25 toilets for which an amount of GH¢19 million was allocated had so far been provided.

Auditor General, Mr Edward Dua Agyemang … said neither staff nor records to assist in the auditing were available, and the Auditor General’s Department had to put receipts and payments together to determine whether there was value for money.

“We just had to put things together to be able to form our opinion. There wasn’t any account over the $60 million account,”

Ghana@50: More Revelations!

27 January 2009 The interim report of the Auditor General on the Ghana@50 celebrations reveals dinner wear for 48 houses at the AU Village in Accra was procured in excess of GH¢108,000 ($100,000) and were not used.

A company was overpaid in excess of GH¢43,000 for the supply of 288 decanters or flasks and sample count of items costing over GH¢1million revealed that items valued at over GH¢467 were missing.

A loan of approximately GH¢1.3 million granted by the Secretariat to the Ghana Trade Fair Company has not been refunded.

The Secretariat is said to have overdrawn its bank account with Prudential Bank in the sum of GH¢1.2 million.

The report noted that management of the Secretariat could not provide invoices and receipts covering procured receipt books and so the omission prevented the audit team from determining missing receipt books

Ghana@50: No trace of 139 vehicles – CEPS

Jan. 27  One hundred and thirty nine vehicles imported for the office of the President by five motor firms in the country cannot be located by the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS).

CEPS has also described the mode of disposal of the vehicles as questionable, as no records on them can be traced.

The 139 saloon and 4×4 vehicles were imported on behalf of the Office of the President …

Giving a breakdown of its finding in the letter dated January 19, 2009, the CEPS commissioner noted that 968 vehicles were imported by the Office of the President between 2003 and 2008 with the value of tax forgone on the said vehicles amounting to GH¢7,892,935.67.

It explained that imports made on behalf of and for the Office of the President were tax exempt.

On PHC Motors Ltd, CEPS indicated that its current records and enquiries did not disclose the current location or mode of disposal of the 35 Chrysler vehicles imported for the Office of the President. It said Fairllop International Ltd imported 40 Jaguar X-Type, 40 Rover 75, two Rover 75V6 and one Rover 45 for the Office of the President.

Out of the number, Fairllop bought back 35 Jaguar X-Type, while CEPS’ enquiries did not disclose the location and mode of disposal of the remaining five Jaguar X-Type and 43 Rovers.

With regard to Mechanical Lloyd, CEPS said the company imported 50 BMW 730 LI, two Land Rover Discovery, two BMW 745 Li high security, 13 Ford Ranger pick-ups and one Ford Explorer.

CEPS’ “current records and enquiries did not disclose the location or mode of disposal of two Land Rovers, 10 BMW 730 Li; two BMW Li 745, 13 Ford Ranger pick-ups and one Ford Ranger”.

The letter noted that Universal Motors imported 36 VW Passat (Comfort Line) for the Office of the President and subsequently released 35 of the vehicles to the custody of the Ghana@50 Secretariat.

… under the CEPS Law, although items bought for the Office of the President and the Diplomatic Corps were tax exempt, anytime they were to change hands into private hands the new owner was made to pay the appropriate taxes.

Some of the cars were allegedly sold, although CEPS law also requires any sales of vehicles acquired by the government in this way to be open for public bid, and there is no record of any public bid for the vehicles that were “sold” or disappeared.

Spending by Ghana@50 Secretariat questioned

[From] a statement, issued and signed by the Executive Director of NGYL (Next Generation Youth League, an NGO) Benjamin Akyena Brantuo, a former Junior Common Room (JCR) President of the Commonwealth Hall of the University of Ghana, Legon …

“Whilst we are equally alarmed, and concerned about the horrifying revelations coming from the report – the total cost of the celebrations (¢60,172,251.8400), fraud in the form of over-invoicing (¢432,000,000), purchases in excess of budget (¢1,080,000,000), failure to account for VAT deductions (¢3,796,575,000), failure to pay withheld taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (¢1,396,400,000), etc, financial recklessness, lack of proper cash books, no stock register of value books, no contract register, technically incompetent financial officer, etc, the total debt owed to contractors and suppliers ¢184,439,340,000 and the lack of priorities in spending, we are far more disturbed about the limited scope of the public debate, which has confined itself to the ability or otherwise of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations Secretariat to provide adequate documentations to support expenditures they have engaged in.”

… accountability should not be limited to the ability of public servants, to legally support their whimsical and impulse actions with documentations, but the extent to which such actions have satisfied ethical requirements, which includes adding value and bringing improvement into the living conditions of the people they work in trust for.

… anything short of this, is a proper case of causing financial loss to the state …

“For the sake of argument, let us concede that indeed, the findings in the report amount to witch-hunting, and is a ploy by the NDC-led regime and the Auditor-General to persecute their political rivals. Does that assumption change the fact that the whole concept of Ghana@50 was a fraud by a few political elites to enrich themselves?

Ghana@50 report -Mpiani Milked Ghana

The main concern raised in the report is the total expenditure incurred GH¢71.70, which is almost twice the original allocated amount of GH¢31 million.  Also, out of the 25 much-talked-about jubilee toilets only one has been completed.

For a sample of the proceedings: Prudential Bank boss grilled:

In what could be described as teacher-pupil session, the Managing Director of Prudential Bank, Mr Stephen Sekyere Abankwa, was on Thursday quizzed when he took his turn at the Presidential Commission mandated to investigate the activities of the Ghana @50 secretariat. …

Mr Abankwa had to constantly consult his counsel before giving any answer, attracting the attention of media cameras.

The first hefty punch which was thrown to Mr Sekyere Abankwa by Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah- Oppong- a member of the Commission was that : Did he (Mr Abankwa) sought to enquire whether the Ghana @50 secretariat was a corporate entity when it approached his outfit for loan?

In a shivering mood, the veteran economist (Mr Abankwa) directed the question to his counsel, Akoto Ampah who was sitting beside him to handle the question after sipping some water.

Interestingly, Mr Akoto Ampah’s response to the question was that, “Mr Chairman, my client is not a lawyer so therefore; he can not answer legal questions.”

The answer which obviously made the Commission members to wonder why then did Mr Sekyere Abankwa responded to their invitation since he was aware that the Commission had the powers of a High Court.

And more revelations continue as the Commission of inquiry continues.  There has been much discussion of vast amounts of souvenir cloth that was given away rather than sold, with no accounts kept.  And there are other items missing, houses built, home furnishings that disappeared, and more.

It is obvious that no one ever expected any accounting to be required for any of this.   I hope these proceedings serve as a warning to anyone who joins Ghana’s government who might be planning to chop and go.

On the plus side, because democracy worked in Ghana, these crooks may be held accountable.  In many countries the government would be able to get away with this, no questions asked.  It is obvious the previous government was expecting to continue in this fashion, with no accountability.

________

You can find a more comprehensive list of related stories by searching GhanaWeb here.  Enter the search Ghana@50, and specify the year.  I check the following areas to be searched:
General News
Business News
Politics
Crime & Punishment
Diasporian News
Regional News
You can also choose Feature Article, for opinion pieces.