The Trade Ministry has explained that some expatriate businesses paid $100,000 to sit close to President Nana Akufo-Addo at the recently held Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA) in Accra.
Spokesperson for the Trade Ministry Prince Boakye in an interview on Accra-based Starr FM said, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dream Realty and Inesfly paid $100,000 to sit at the table with the President.
Member of Parliament for Asawase Muntaka Mubarak earlier alleged that the fees charged at the Business Awards were not the kind of fees approved by Parliament, adding that the monies were also not accounted for in the Internally Generated Funds [IGF] of the Ministry’s accounts.
Speaking in Parliament, he said "I have worries about the IGF of the Ministry and how they go around, mobilizing resources on the IGF, and secondly Mr. Speaker, this item that I am going to mention in the breakdown of the Ministry’s IGF, was not included, yet they are bringing the budget excluding that collection. On 23rd September, 2017, the Ministry wrote to Ghana Expatriate Business Community for them to be informed that they are planning to organize an award ceremony for expatriate businesses that are in Ghana, and Mr. Speaker, shockingly enough, part of what was said was that, if you want to sit with the President, you have to pay 100,000 dollars. If you want to sit behind the President you have to 75,000 dollars. If you want to sit on another table called red circle, you have to pay 50,000 dollars. If you wanted to sit on the yellow circle, you have to pay 40,000 dollars, and if you wanted to sit on the green circle, you have to the 25,000 dollars."
"Mr. Speaker, this is very worrying because so far as I am concerned, the fees and charges that we approve in this house did not say that if we wanted to interact with the President you have to pay 100,000. Mr. Speaker, this gives credence to all that we have been hearing in the media that access to the President is very difficult," he added.
However, the Trade Ministry, in a statement denied the claims made by the MP.
The Ministry said "The Ministry of Trade and Industry has learnt with disdain the baseless allegations flying in the media (including social media platforms) that the Ministry charged expatriates between 25,000 and 100,000 dollars to offer them seats close to the President."
"The GEBA was the brainchild of the Millennium Excellence Foundation, an entity noted for its prowess and credibility in the organisation of world class events such as the Millennium Excellence Awards and the Accra Marathon," the statement added.
But Prince Boakye said even though monies were paid by the businesses, it didn’t influence who picked an award on the night.
"I’ll be a hypocrite to say that there were others who sat at the table with Nana Akufo-Addo and did not pay. As a platinum sponsor, you had to fulfill some obligations. If an event organiser decides to tag a category of an event as a Presidential Circle, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that,” he said.
He added: "The government partnered the Foundation so that the Private sector will know that the government is in full support of the event. We wanted to make sure that monies paid did not influence who won an award. The monies were paid into the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) account because we didn’t want post-event challenges.
"Mr. Saeed Fakhri , CEO of Dream Realty and Inesfly also paid $100,000 to sit at the table with the President. However, he paid and won on merit. In all the speculations and allegations going round, we are happy that the Ministry and organizers are not fighting. Nothing untoward went on during the event. Winning an award was not based on the highest bidder. There were some companies who did not pay anything but won awards."