Ghana at 50


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.

Advertisements
Ghana textiles

Ghana textiles

Runoff election results here

Today is election day in Ghana. This is the final runoff election for president. I spoke briefly to people back home. I heard a lot of anger about electoral cheating, stuffing ballot boxes, ballot boxes stolen, voter intimidation, and other dirty tricks. I can’t really tell how bad it is, as tempers are running high. It sounds very like what has been going on in US elections, particularly the presidential elections in the last 9 years. I am praying that the person who actually gets the most votes is declared the winner, and that all the votes are counted. I heard the security forces voted early so they will be available to work on election day, and that they were subjected to voter intimidation. Many government workers are unhappy because they have not been paid, in some cases for several months.

The current Ghana government has treated Ghana very much like the current US government has treated the US. It has been asset stripping the country, selling out Ghana and shipping jobs and resources overseas. It has undermined Ghanaian agricuture, encouraging agricultural dumping by the EU, and some from the US as well.

The latest incident that angered me was this blow to the textile workers:

Floodgates opened to foreign textiles
The speed with which the government has temporarily lifted the ban on imported textile has drawn the expected reaction from the category of Ghanaian workers who would be hardest hit.
… the decision was taken in total disregard to the survival of the local textile industry.

Even before the lifting of the ban, smugglers had outwitted the security agencies at the entry points and got their cheap imports into the country. The sight of Nigeriens and other non-Ghanaians selling foreign textiles on the streets of Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi etc is common. In their place are the numerous Ghanaian textiles workers who have lost their jobs due to the closure of textile factories or the reduction in production capacity by the few factories struggling to stay in business.

A report in 2003 by the Revenue Agencies Governing Board titled “Practical Measures to Combat the Menace of Under Invoicing and Smuggling into Ghana” pointed out that the “local production of textile which peaked at 130 million metres per annum in the 1970s has dropped to under 39 million metres per annum currently; and the labour force in the industry consequently reduced from 25, 000 in the 1970s to under 3,000 as of now.”

The report identified under invoicing in import duties, laxity in the performance of valuation and monitoring functions of the destination inspection agencies etc as some of the acts hampering the growth of the local textile industries. The report further pointed out that as a result of under invoicing there are rampant contraband goods dumped on the market. “This kills competition and also does not give any protection to the infant manufacturing sector because the smuggled goods sell cheaper than the locally produced goods.”

TGLEU wonders if anything has changed regarding local production to warrant the lifting of the ban on cheap foreign imports. ‘Since the reasons for Government’s action was not stated, the NEC considers the timing of the lifting of the ban as politically motivated aimed at influencing the votes of the electorate.”

These jobs are going to China. Ghana needs these jobs.

I was most discouraged in 2007 when I heard that the textiles for the Ghana@50 celebrations were ordered from China. If there was ever a time to show national pride by displaying national talents and products, that was it. That was the time to showcase the country and the people and the work they produce.

As I’ve watched the governments of both the US and Ghana over the past 8 years, I have been struck by the similarities, particularly by the rapacious exploitation and contempt with which the governing elites treat the vast majority of the citizens they govern.

The US has given itself a new chance. I hope Ghana gets the same opportunity.

Ghana’s President Kufuor reminds me of the United State’s President Bush. Both preceded their presidencies with a series of unsuccessful businesses. Both appear comfortable with looting the treasury for themselves and their cronies at the expense of the people in their countries. Both countries will likely survive these presidencies. But both will be damaged, and will the voters in both countries have the wisdom and the will to choose better leadership?

In many areas where Ghana was a leader 50 years ago, she has fallen behind. The most critical of these areas are education and health care. A healthy and educated population is the foundation of successful business and development. The best thing Ghana could do to improve her position in the world is bring back free universal public education. As an article on GhanaWeb points out:

Socially, Ghana’s government says the country has made strides in both health and education.

KSP Jantuah, disagrees.

“A child from a poor family had a better chance of going to a good school then than now”, he told AFP.

“We made (primary) school free and compulsory.

After the coups people had to start paying again”, he said, insisting that the same applies to health care.

If Ghanaian businesses wish to grow and expand, the best thing they can do is work to restore and expand access to education and health care.


Ghana celebrates her 50th anniversary amid both joy and controversy. At least 24 heads of state will be attending. There has been much criticism of the amount of money that is being spent on the celebration, when public sector workers have not been paid and education and health care badly need investment. Deforestation has caused environmental problems, including causing more drought. There is a list of ways the present government has sold out Ghana to foreign interests for the sake of a big party.

The former President Rawlings sent his congratulations to the Ghanaian people, but declined to attend. He explains his reasons in a press release here.

The present President Kufuor, is a member of the party who worked against independence, saying Ghana wasn’t ready, and was the person who refused to let Nkrumah return to Ghana when Nkrumah was dying of cancer.

Nevertheless, Ghana’s independence is a wonderful thing, and worthy of celebration by everyone who cares for Ghana and for Africa. Ghana has led the way in self government. And if she can invest in herself, and preserve her democracy, she can continue to lead the way. Martin Luther King was in Ghana on March 6, 1957, and preached a sermon one month later on what he saw and felt, that still resonates.

All of us who love Ghana, her people and her promise, should put our hands together, raise our glasses, and send all our best wishes and our love to Ghana on her 50th anniversary.

Martin Luther King was in Ghana on March 6, 1957 on the day Ghana became independent. Above is a picture of Dr. King and Nkrumah, taken on that visit. One month later Dr. King preached a sermon about that visit and that day.

There seems to be a throbbing desire, there seems to be an internal desire for freedom within the soul of every man. . . To take from him his freedom is to rob him of something of God’s image.
. . .
Freedom is never given to anybody, for the oppressor has you in domination because he plans to keep you there, and he never voluntarily gives it up. And that is where the strong resistance comes. Privileged classes never give up their privileges without strong resistance.
. . .
Ghana teaches us that. It says to us another thing. It reminds us of the fact that a nation or a people can break loose from oppression without violence. Nkrumah says in the first two pages of his autobiography, which was published on the sixth of March – a great book which you ought to read – he said that he had studied the social systems of social philosophers and he started studying the life of Gandhi and his techniques. And he said that in the beginning he could not see how they could ever get loose from colonialism without armed revolt, without armies and ammunition, rising up. Then he says after he continued to study Gandhi and continued to study this technique, he came to see that the only way was through non-violent positive action. And he called his program “positive action.” And it’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? That here is a nation that is now free, and it is free without rising up with arms and with ammunition. It is free through non-violent means.