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‘Chop Chop’ At Agriculture Ministry
 
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30-Jun-2014  
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Mr. Clement Kofi Humado, Minister For Food and Agriculture
 
 
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Public Agenda inquiries have uncovered that some officials of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) have schemed with some officers at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) to misappropriate millions of dollars that external donors have contributed for Ghana to improve the capacity of public servants.

Documents available to this paper reveal that a senior official of the MOFA (whose name is withheld since our investigations continue) has used underhand ways and means to take some monies from the Capacity Development Mechanism (CDM) project which has its secretariat at the MoFEP. But our search indicates that though the accounts of the CDM is being audited and a report will be released soon, the auditors may not be able to detect the misappropriation because of the connivance and condoning by some MOFA and MoFEP officials.

A letter from MOFA dated 2nd June, 2013 with the heading: ‘REQUEST FOR FUNDS WORKSHOP ON GENDER MAINSTREMING FOR MOFA STAFF’ sought to obtain GH¢15,000 for the workshop. The letter said “The HRDMD [Human Resource Development and Management Directorate] of MOFA is organizing a Gender Mainstreaming Workshop for twenty-five (25) officers …, as part of its CDM programme of activities, at a total cost of Fifteen Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢15,000.00) as per the attached budget and invoices.”

The letter, addressed to the Co-ordinator of the CDM secretariat at MoFEP, went on: “The Directorate would be very grateful if you could release 50% of the amount for initial payment for the running of the workshop.

“Request would be made for the remaining 50% of the amount after the completion of the workshop. Submitted for your approval.”

Attached to the letter is an official invoice from Grand View Hotel located at Katamanto in Accra which listed items such as accommodation and supper for nine persons, refreshment, lunch and others which cost GH¢9,480.00.

Another letter from MOFA dated 27th June, 2013 with the heading: ‘REQUEST FOR FUNDS WORKSHOP ON MOFA DATABASE’ in the possession of Public Agenda read like the first letter. This second letter also asked for GH¢15,000.00 for the workshop. It had the same invoice from the same hotel, and quoted the same amount.

Public Agenda, however, gathered from the manager of Grand View Hotel, Samuel Boateng, who cross-checked the receipts, that MOFA did not hold any workshop, or had its staff lodge, at the hotel. Further investigations revealed that the workshops were held in MOFA’s own structures.

Insiders at MOFA told this paper that the workshop for the database had no one from outside Accra attending. Yet accommodation budgeted was for it. And not all officials who attended the workshop on gender mainstreaming came from outside Accra. Furthermore, stationery was budgeted for the two workshops but MOFA’s own stationery was actually used.

When this paper contacted the MOFA top officer involved in organizing the workshops, he said we were not auditors to come and audit him, assuring us that the audit of the amount for CDM programme would exonerate him. He did not deny that the CDM money was released to MOFA.

Yet when this paper visited the CDM secretariat, Louis Amoh, who is the Co-ordinator, told us there were no records showing that the secretariat released money to MOFA. Amoh claimed some journalists came to his office to inquire about the MOFA allegation. He told one of our reporters that the MOFA official at the centre of the alleged misappropriation had threatened to sue this paper when we publish the story. He said there was an audit of the CDM money given to the various beneficiaries going on and it would bring the case of allegations of misappropriation to closure.

But when it was put to him that our informants told us that the person who was originally in charge of the programme at MOFA was manipulated out of it, and replaced by another officer, Amoh contradicted himself by saying that the money was available and the first official and others were not utilizing it, so the Agriculture Minister or the MOFA Chief Director asked the current official managing the programme to take over. When he was shown the two letters, he made photocopies of them and informed us that he would get back to us.

But for over three weeks, this paper heard nothing from Amoh. Last Friday, when we called Amoh on phone to find out what information he had for us, he told us he had finished providing us with the information we requested for. He declined to give us the total amount of the CDM project, saying we should come to his office for that information.
 
 
 
Source: Public Agenda
 
 

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