Monday, 29 November 2010

By Halifax Ansah-Addo

Daily Guide of Monday November 29, 2010.

The Daily Guide newspaper has discovered that the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) is allegedly releasing confiscated motorbikes and cars to some constituency chairmen of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for distribution to selected party members and foot-soldiers.

While one of such NDC chairmen is in trouble for having received six of such motorbikes but keep them as hispersonal property, Daily Guide has seen a couple of documents in which government has allegedly written to the CEPS Commissioner that some more motorbikes should be released for NDC party work.

The NDC Chairman for Dome Kwabenya constituency, Alhaji Abdul Basit Mohammed, who was recently given six of such motorbikes purposely for party work, is currently being chased by his party members after reports went round that he had sold all six bikes and pocketed the money.

When Daily Guide contacted Alhaji Basit Mohammed, he confessed that it was the Municipal Chief Executive of the Ga East Municipal Assembly, John Quao Sackey, who gave him a letter to be delivered to the CEPS Commissioner so six motorbikes would be released to him for party work.

Alhaji Basit explained however that he did not give the bikes to the party because he had imported some six motorbikes but they got sized by CEPS officials so the Municipal Chief Executive forged the said letter for him so he could use it to get back his seized bikes.
The chairman said it was the same imported bikes that were confiscated that were eventually released to him so there was no sense in releasing them to the party. He promised to provide some documents to show that indeed he had imported some six motorbikes but they got confiscated by CEPS officials.

The NDC chairman conceded that though the wording of the letter said the bikes were to be used for party work, that information as only put there by John Quao Sackey to help him clear his seized bikes.
The letter that was addressed to the CEPS Commissioner was written on the official letterhead to the Ga East Municipal Assembly and signed by its Chief Executive on January 12, 2010.

It reads: “Request for the allocation of motorbikes. The Dome Kwabenya Constituency is a new constituency and therefore lacks facilities to enable it achieve growth and developmental programmes successfully. “Our main hindrance is transportation. We shall be grateful if you can allocate us with six (6) of the confiscated motorbikes for use in the constituency. “Alhaji Abdul Basit Mohammed is the Chairman of eh constituency and responsible for social affairs in the Constituency who will use the bikes for the benefit of the constituency.

“We have also discussed this with the Chairman of the Council of State Professor Kofi Awoonor. We count on your co-operation.”

Though Alhaji Basit Mohammed is insisting the letter was only forged to help him clear his personal bikes, Daily Guide’s checks for CEPS show that such an arrangement would have been criminal.
“When you import motorbikes, there is an amount of money you pay on it and it is higher than what you pay when seized bikes are being sold to you on allocation. What you are saying means that the person used the forged letter to invade tax on his seized bikes and that is equally criminal on his part just as whoever forged the letter for him,” CEPS sources explained.

Further checks from the Council of State revealed that Prof. Kofi Awoonor was not even aware his name was being used to clear confiscated motorbikes for selected chairmen of the NDC.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

By Halifax Ansah-Addo
Daily Guide of Friday Nov. 26, 2010

Spokespersons of the Mills Government yesterday hopped from one radio station to other denying a DAILY GUIDE report that President John Evans Atta Mills has ordered fresh investigation into the controversial $20,000 Alhaji Muhammed Muntaka Mubarak is alleged to have pocketed when he was Minister for Youth and Sports.

Alhaji Muntaka himself also told the media that the DAILY GUIDE report was an old investigation and not a fresh one.

However, DAILY GUIDE's checks revealed that indeed, the Civil Service Council, acting on the directive of President Mills, has opened fresh investigations into the matter and what the spokespersons of government and Alhaji Muntaka told the media yesterday was not the truth.

While Alhaji Muntaka claimed the DAILY GUIDE story was a rehash of an old investigations, the paper can confirm that he was not speaking the truth because barely a week ago, precisely on Wednesday October 17, 2010, the Civil Service Council sent out official information that they had been directed to constitute a fact-finding committee for the purpose of uncovering the mystery surrounding the 'missing' $20,000.

Indeed, the very first person the committee would meet with over the matter was Alhaji Abdulai Yakubu and that meeting was scheduled for Tuesday November 23, 2010. Alhaji Muntaka himself has been ordered to appear before the committee on Wednesday December 8, 2010 at exactly 11:30 am.

The Civil Service Council has also ordered all officers who worked at the Sports Ministry and had any dealings with finances during the period Alhaji Muntaka was there to appear before the newly-constituted fact-finding committee.

The invited officers include Alhaji Muntaka himself, Rashid Pelpuo; Deputy Majority Leader of Parliament and a former Minister of Sports, Prosper Apasu; the Chief Accountant, Shelter James Ocloo; Internal Auditor, Albert Ampong, Adim Odoom, Ebenezer Lomotey, Charles Aryeh, and Clement Aku.

The letter inviting the above persons was signed by the Secretary of the Civil Service Council, Noah Tumfo, on behalf on the Chairman of the Civil Service Council, Dr Robert Dodoo.

DAILY GUIDE has also gathered that the committee is chaired by Dr. Robert Dodoo; Milly Quansah, Justice E.D.K. Adjabeng ; all members of the Council and W.K Kemevor; the Acting Head of Civil Service.

Messrs Albert Ampong and Adim Odoom, who were then respectively Chief Director and Principal Accountant at the Sports Ministry, have already explained and insisted that the $20,000 was given to Alhaji Muntaka, aside other huge amounts of money that unlawfully went to him.

This new order for an investigation comes as a surprise because the missing money had already been investigated by National Security on the orders of the Presidency and detailed reports submitted to President Mills who asked Muntaka to resign. President Mills also asked for the interdiction of the two officers, Albert Ampong and Adim Odoom.

Whether by coincidence or by someone's machinations, this latest order for another investigations into the matter comes just after government was ordered by the courts to re-instate Messrs Albert Ampong and Adim Odoom to their original positions, after they were wrongly interdicted and given half of their salary for months.

By Halifax Ansah-Addo

The Health Minister, Dr. Benjamin Kumbuor, has made known his lack of faith in the ability of the Mills-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government to run a one-time premium payment for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

The disclosure comes at a time Sylvester Mensah, Chief Executive of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), has confirmed reports that the NHIS stands the danger of folding up as there would be no more funds to run the scheme by the year 2013 if government does not find ways of generating more revenue for it.

Dr. Kumbuor, speaking during his Ministry’s turn at the ‘Meet the Press’ series, said he was compelled to say that the one-time premium was workable because it was a government policy and since he was a part of government, he had to support the issue.

Dr. Kumbuor noted, “It would work…I have raised both hands and legs to show you that it would work and I am saying this because they are playing a drum and I am only dancing to it; when they stop playing the drum and I am still dancing, someone should tap me and say they have stopped playing the drum.”

The Health Minister then explained that despite his original position, government had explained that the amount of money currently being collected as premium constituted a paltry three and a half percent of the NHIS budget, thus its contribution was insignificant.

But DAILY GUIDE can confirm that the health scheme is crumbling and the NHIA, its administrator, has tried in vain to get government to accept the true state of affairs and do something about it.

Sources at the Seat of Government told DAILY GUIDE that on Monday, November 14, the Vice President chaired a Cabinet meeting at the Castle and one of the issues that came up was how to generate additional revenue to sustain the NHIA but the Health Minister appeared rather unconcerned about the subject.

“There were a couple of suggestions on board and what the NHIA suggested was that we raised the NHIS levy from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent but the sector Minister was not ready to push that proposal so it was not included in the budget and this raised a lot of tempers but every Minister has his Ministry and no one could speak for NHIA when the Health Minister was not the least concerned,” the Castle source noted.

As the situation stands now, the one-time premium payment as promised by the Evans Atta Mills government would remain a mirage as the NHIS itself would have no choice but to fold up by 2013 due to lack of funds.

Before the budget was read, confidential documents sighted by DAILY GUIDE revealed that the NHIA Board of Directors had met over dangers being faced by the scheme, and forwarded to Cabinet a couple of recommendations on how to sustain the facility, with the most plausible suggestion being to increase the 2.5 percent NHIS levies to 3.5 percent from January 2011.

The said Board Member explained further, “As you can see, year by year our expenditure keeps escalating, given that more people subscribe to the scheme and the cost of medication has gone up, but our revenue is not expanding and we cannot sustain the trend…in 2004 we had just about 1.3 million subscribers but currently we are a little over 17 million and we may have to fold up by 2013 unless something is done about the situation.

“We need to take a tough decision to sustain the scheme and as we continue to block leaks in the system and let the law deal with those found to have involved in financial misconduct and our clinical audits have been able to recoup something close to GH¢15 billion that would have gone waste.”

It is not certain whether government deliberately wants to collapse the scheme and blame it on the past administration, or whether the NDC’s own internal wrangling is having an adverse toll on the future of the NHIS.

What is certain is that the 17 million plus Ghanaians registered with the NHIS would have to return to the ‘cash and carry’ era by the year 2013 because the NDC government would have no funds to run the scheme.

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Halifax Ansah-Addo is a Ghanaian journalist living and working in Accra. Currently, he is Editor of THE PUBLISHER (, a private-owned Ghanaian newspaper with nationwide circulation in the country. He attended the African University College of Communications in Accra and an alumnus of the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ), Berlin, Germany. He was awarded the 2015 Best Entertainment Journalist/Writer at the GN Bank Awards. Halifax writes on politics, human rights, arts and social issues. He is a Christian.

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