|Audio Attachment:Listen to Hon. Asamoah Boateng (Asabee)and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa in an in terview on Peace Fm.|
Deputy Minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has hit back at a former Minister for Information in the erstwhile Kufuor administration, Hon. Asamoah Boateng (Asabee), for claiming that the swiftness he (Ablakwa) showcases in running to the defence of foreign companies demanding huge monies from government as liability is a sure indication that he is profitting from them.
The deputy information minister had hinted to Kwame Sefa Kayi on PeaceFM’s “Kokrokoo” that yet another judgement debt scandal with a Spanish Company, Isofoton S A, where the company is seeking damages of $1.3 million following a breach of its contract with the Ministry of Agriculture under the erstwhile Kufuor administration, is sure to become the next albatross of judgement debt to hang on government’s neck after the galloper vehicles controversy.
He also revealed that, in the coming weeks, government will be “serializing” by making public, more judgement debt issues.
Following his statements and other comments made on the issue, ‘Asabee’ accused the Deputy Minister of standing to gain from the payment of judgment debt to some of these foreign companies hence Ablakwa’s interest in serializing them and his penchant to readily hold brief for some of these foreign firms.
But reacting to the accusation in an interview on PeaceFm News @ 12, the Deputy Information Minister demanded that the former government appointee provides proof of his accusation, stressing that he only tables the issues for purposes of transparency.
“It is a very, very unfortunate and irresponsible statement. If you are making an allegation bordering on corruption, you have to provide evidence. What is the evidence of Hon. Asamoah Boateng to accuse me that me I stand to benefit from these matters? I have said that we are bringing out all these judgment debts for Ghanaians to see. For someone who is corrupt, I will be covering it up but I am the one who is rather disclosing these issues of judgment debt for greater transparency. These irresponsible statements are most unfortunate especially from a former official…” he said.
He accused Asabee of passing those comments to create the impression that the Mills’ administration’s sole aim of making the cases of judgement debt public was for equalization purposes.
“…how can judgment debts stand for corruption? I just don’t understand these people…the issue is that we can avoid most of the judgment debts; so all that I am saying is that the public officials should behave in such a manner that the country will not be incurring all these costs and liabilities; they know and that is why they want to shift the argument. It is not those paying the debts but those who caused the debts; that is the issue so we have to go to the genesis of the matter…” Ablakwa asserted.
Meanwhile, a former Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Martin Amidu says the Deputy Information Minister who also doubles as the NDC parliamentary aspirant for the North Tongu Constituency pleaded with him to pay the Spanish company the claims of $1.3 million due them, but he refused to accede to his (Ablakwa’s) request since no final verdict on the case, which was still in court, had been passed.
The former A-G stressed that that it was wrong for Mr Ablakwa to have usurped the powers of the then Information Minister, John Tia, by calling him (Amidu) directly.
He told Oman FM that the best course of action for him (Ablakwa) was to have pass the petition to his superior minister.
“Ablakwa has overgrown his wings. Due to such actions of his, he undermined the authority of his former minister John Tia rendering him (Tia) virtually useless,” added Mr Amidu.
However, touching on the issue during the Midday Bulletin on PeaceFM, the deputy information minister, who admitted placing a call to the then Attorney General on the subject matter, said as far he was concerned he did not see anything wrong with calling a colleague over the petition he had received.
He was also emphatic that he did not entreat Mr Amidu in any way to allow monies to be paid to the Spanish company.
According to Ablakwa, he had received a petition from ISOFOTON, expressing its grievance over the unfair manner in which the NPP government had handled their case following a breach of its contract with the Ministry of Agriculture under the former Kufuor administration.
“I was in the office in April 2011 and the lawyers for ISOFOTON approached me and said they have written a petition to the Attorney-General because he has frozen the payment of the judgment debt… so what you do as a responsible minister is to find out whether it is true. So the call I made was to find out if the AG has received a petition from the company. So I do not see why you should accuse me of being complicit in this matter. All I was doing was to find out if he had received the petition from Isofoton. It’s very strange that this is becoming an issue. Ministry of information, we don’t offer payment and it will be totally misplaced if you say that we issue payments…,” Okudzeto Ablakwa stated.
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