The Director of Administration responsible for Budgeting of the Government Machinery, Mr Azu Sam-Aziakor, yesterday told the Presidential Commission probing the activities of the [email protected] Secretariat that $75,000 had been paid to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the defunct secretariat, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, as salary advance.
Making his submission at the final public hearing of the commission in Accra, Mr Sam-Aziakor said the payment had been approved by the former Chief of Staff and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Mr Kwadwo Mpiani. The Chairman of the commission, Mr Justice Isaac Duose, asked the basis for which that amount had been paid to Dr Wereko-Brobby since it had been stated that his salary had not been determined when he was engaged.
Mr Sam-Aziakor responded that although Dr Wereko-Brobby's salary had not been determined up to date, the CEO had sent a memorandum to him some time in 2008 asking if a process could be initiated to pay him his salary. He said Dr Wereko-Brobby further stated that he had to seek medical attention abroad and would need some money from his salary to undergo treatment. According to the director, the request was approved by Mr Mpiani and the CEO was subsequently paid $75,000.
Mr Sam-Aziakor told the commission that at the moment money available at the treasury which could be used to settle debts owed contractors was GH˘7,448,028.56. He said GH˘I,163;499.50 was owed to contractors; while payment vouchers which had not been pre-audited at the treasury amounted to GH˘7,522,115.97 He said as of December 31, 2008 there were no funds to settle the outstanding debts of the contractors and that the funds had been released in the early part of 2009, by which time the government had placed an embargo on such payments. Mr Sam-Aziakor said no funds had been released to any Ghana mission abroad for the celebration of the Golden Jubilee.
A member of the commission, Mr Osei Tutu Prempeh, asked Mr Sam-Aziakor whether or not he had raised any queries in respect of claims brought before him by the secretariat.
In his response, Mr Sam-Aziakor said on a few occasions he had raised queries in respect of some vouchers, explaining that that occurred when the vouchers did not include some requirements, such as award of contract letters, offer and acceptance letters arid evidence of the execution of contracts. He said his office instituted rigid control measures before it effected payments because it knew the implication of payments as far as celebrations of that nature were
concerned. Mr Prempeh again asked Mr Sam-Aziakor whether the secretariat had handed over fully to his office.
Mr Sam-Aziakor said there was nothing to indicate that the secretariat had handed over finally. Asked about the measures he had taken to ensure that the secretariat handed over fully to his office, Mr• Sam-Aziakor said he had not taken any measures to that effect.
Mr Prempeh said it was unfortunate for him not to have ensured that the secretariat properly handed over to his office. Asked what role he had played in the preparation of the budget of the [email protected] Secretariat, Mr Sam-Aziakor said he had played no role. Mr Justice Duose asked him about the one who had controlled the escrow account of the secretariat, to which he responded that it was the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning which had done that.
In his remarks to round off the work of the commission, Mr Justice Duose said 238 witnesses had appeared before it to give evidence and make submission of statements on the activities of the secretariat. He said any member of the public who wished to submit a statement in response to the abuse that had been exposed during the sittings was free to do so. He thanked all Ghanaians who had supported or disagreed with the establishment of the commission and its work.
Mr Justice Duose also thanked the media for their reportage, whether positive or negative, and expressed the hope that the commission's report, which would be submitted to the President in a few weeks, would cover everything that had transpired at the sitting and help push the country forward.
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