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Minister Grilled Over GYEEDA Cash
 
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28-Jun-2016  
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Cassiel Ato Forson
 
 
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A deputy minister of finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, was yesterday grilled by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament over the bloated budget of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) from GH¢20 million to GH¢199.3 million in 2012, which the ministry endorsed and provided funds for.

GYEEDA, which was then under the Ministry of Youth and Sports, overspent its budget by close to 1,000 percent, impelling PAC to invite officials of the ministry of finance to explain the rationale behind the payment, which was not sanctioned by parliament.

The deputy minister said the payment was made from the ministry’s Centralised Votes Fund which the minister has the exclusive power to disburse, in certain emergency situations

He said the Fund is similar to the Contingency Fund meant for certain unforeseen expenditures in other areas of the economy, and that it is the minister of finance who has been allocated this fund and has the exclusive power to use it for the good of the country.

He explained that after the budget in 2012, GYEEDA, through the ministry of youth and sports, approached the finance ministry claiming that it had given out some important contracts to some companies like ZEERA, Cashpro and Asongtaba and needed money to pay for those contracts.

Mr Ato Forson told the committee that if the minister then had not resorted to the Centralised Votes Fund to pay for those contracts, there could have been judgement debts and the subsequent fiscal implications for the economy would have been very huge.

Asked if the ministry did the necessary verifications on those contracts before payments were made, Mr Ato Forson said indeed the ministry asked for every evidence on the contracts and all reports were verified and authenticated before the necessary payments were made.

The deputy minister was again asked by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Asunafo North, Robert Osarfo-Mensah, why the minister did not deem it prudent to ask the internal auditors to do their own independent investigations on those companies before the green light was given for those payments, but Ato Forson said that since he was not at the ministry at the time, he would not be able to tell why the then minister opted not to engage the internal auditors to do that work.

He later indicated that that authority invested in the minister for his exclusive use of the Centralised Votes Fund had been abolished by the government and that the various ministries are now to exercise such a  discretion.

The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu, was to have appeared before the committee yesterday with officials of GYEEDA to explain some outrageous expenditures by the Agency in 2012, but the minister at the eleventh hour, said he had been urgently engaged somewhere else and needed to be given another time to appear with officials of the agency.

Officials of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) also appeared before the committee to answer queries in relation to unearned salaries by former employees to the tune of GH¢53,974 and unaccounted use of fuel and lubricants in 2013 for operations of the office amounting to GH¢200,623.
 
 
 
Source: Daily Guide
 
 

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