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[email protected] Probe Begins   
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The Enquirer newspaper says it has learnt from credible sources that all is set for the Presidential Commission, instituted to investigate the grandiose waste of scarce national resources on the [email protected] jubilee to begin sitting Monday in the Old Parliament House building, opposite the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra.

The paper said however that there are very credible indications that the sitting will not be opened to the public until Thursday. Deputy Information Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, confirmed to myjoyonline that the committee will begin with its work sitting in camera to organize data and other materials before opening up to the public on Thursday. The decision not to open the venue to the public until Thursday is to allow workers setting up the auditorium to finish their job, which includes fixing a public address system to ensure that the public get a feel of the verbal exchanges between the Commissioners and the witnesses.

The Enquirer said the three-member Commission of Enquiry will spend a greater part of the day interacting with some officials of three prominent banks whose names have come up strongly in the debt-ridden Golden Jubilee celebrations, and also put final touches to what it is expected to do in the next three months. The banks are the Prudential Bank, the National Investment Bank (NIB), and the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB). The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) might also appear, The Enquirer learnt.

The Commission, headed by Justice Isaac Duose of the Court of Appeal, with Mr. Osei Tutu Prempeh, former Auditor General, and Ms. Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, an Accra-based lawyer, as members, wrote to the banks to provide details of their transactions with the [email protected] Secretariat with regard to the celebrations reported to have registered lots of financial malfeasance. Insiders disclosed to The Enquirer that the Commission has received volumes of petitions from private individuals and organizations seeking to appear before it owed monies by the [email protected] Secretariat, led by Chief Executive Officer Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby and ex-Chief of Staff and Minister for President Affairs, Kwadwo Mpiani as Chairman. The two, with others who manned the secretariat, are alleged to have contracted huge loans without parliamentary approval, and left behind colossal debts necessitating an in-depth investigation into the expenses incurred.

They have both denied causing any financial losses to the state. An Auditor General's report on the celebrations puts the total expenditure at GH71.70 million with only a total of GH31.00 million receiving approval from Parliament, the paper said. The Auditor General's report on the accounts of the [email protected] Secretariat indicated that payment vouchers and supporting documents were not properly arranged for easy cross-reference. It said: "The Secretariat did not maintain complete records on receipts of revenue and payments for expenditures on all its transactions." The report said contrary to Article 179(2) and (8) of the 1992 Constitution, the National Planning Committee and the Office of the President failed to prepare and submit budget estimates in respect of the activities of the Secretariat for approval by Parliament.

It said in the absence of this, it could not establish the basis for the allocation of two separate sums of US$20 million and US$11.8 million by Parliament to the Secretariat for its activities. According to the report, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning did not exercise budgetary control over the activities of the Secretariat in accordance with the Financial Administration Regulations, 2004 (LI 1802) before, during and after the approval of US$31.8 million to the Secretariat, subsequently, the expenditure of the Secretariat exceeded the amount approved by Parliament.

On the issues of cars, the audit report said the [email protected] Secretariat bought 300 vehicles at the cost of 14,606,727.60 Ghana cedis for the celebration of Ghana's Golden Jubilee, some of which were sold out to individuals and institutions while a few others were at the Presidency. According to the report on the accounts of the Secretariat from May 2006 to December 2008, the breakdown of the vehicles was as follows; 35 VW Passat; 35 Chrysler; 25 Zonda Bus and 40 Jaguar. The report said the rest of the cars were 25 Mercedes MCV 260; 40 Peugeot 607 Model; 50 BMW and 50 Mercedes Benz S350. The ex-Auditor-General, Edward Dua Agyeman who signed the report said that the ex-Chief of Staff, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, wrote to him that 24 of the 35 VW Passat vehicles were sold to the public and that monies realized from the sale of the vehicles were lodged at the Bank of Ghana.

"The remaining II vehicles are with the Office of the President." The report said 27 of the 35 Chrysler vehicles have been handed over to the State Protocol, the remaining eight are with the Office of the President. The ex-Auditor-General, said; "The accounting and administrative staff who were engaged by the Secretariat were on contract basis, and for that matter most of them were not available at the time of the audit to readily explain unclear accounting and administrative issues to the audit team." It said: "Management did not provide cash books for the seven bank accounts maintained by the Secretariat." The report has since been placed before Parliament and the Accounts Committee of the House is expected to peruse details of the expenses incurred in the celebration.

President John Atta Mills appointed the three-member Commission of Enquiry to look into the activities of the [email protected] Secretariat which planned and implemented the celebrations two years ago. It has the powers of a High Court, and could subpoena witnesses to appear before it. It is mandated to inquire into and report on allegations of improper use of funds and the use of movable and immovable property by the Secretariat, and will also enquire about any other matter which appears to it to be incidental to, or reasonably related to the celebrations which in its opinion ought to be probed.
Source: The Enquirer

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