Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah, on Tuesday clashed with the Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto in Parliament over the recent Ghana Expatriate Business Awards event, where the government was accused of charging expatriates between $25,000 and $100,000 to sit close to the President at the event.
The two, who are also Members of Parliament, were engaged in a strong exchange of words with Mr. Ahenkorah describing Okudzeto Ablakwa as a “big liar” making baseless allegations against the government.
The Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, alleged last week that the Ministry of Trade and Industry, charged the expatriates between $25,000 and $100,000 each, to offer them seats close to the President at an awards ceremony.
The Asawase legislator argued that the fees charged at the event were not the kind of fees approved by Parliament, and that the monies were also not accounted for in the Internally Generated Funds [IGF] of the Ministry’s accounts.
The Ministry however in a statement challenging the claims, said it played no role in determining prices for seats at the event.
It added that, it only facilitated the implementation of the new initiative [GEBA], by the Millennium Excellence Foundation, an entity noted for organizing world class events.
“As a Government that believes in the private sector as the engine of growth, the Government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry welcomed the initiative to collaborate with the Foundation to see to the birthing of the initiative. The Ministry consequently signed an MoU with the Foundation that spelt out the roles of both parties. Resource mobilization to ensure that the event was organized at no cost to the taxpayer was the sole responsibility of the Foundation”
“The Ministry only wrote letters to introduce the Millennium Excellence Foundation to sponsors and solicited support whilst the Foundation prepared the sponsorship package kits and presented it to potential sponsors at a later date. It is very worrying for people who are expected to know better (especially if some happen to be leading members of the august House of Parliament) to conveniently join the streets wagon in pursuit of petty partisan parochial interests to churn out deliberate falsehood to perpetuate the fallacy that access to the President has to be secured with financial inducements,” excerpts of the statement said.
But Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa in a statement reacting to the Ministry’s response, called on them to apologize to President Akufo-Addo for embarrassing him, insisting that the incident indeed happened and that the government is culpable.
“The least the Ministry of Trade and Industry should be doing at this point instead of seeking to justify their shameful conduct, is to apologize to President Akufo-Addo, that is, if he did not grant his blessings for this desecration of the high office he occupies, apologize to Ghanaians and refund the extorted sums to the expats,” he said.
However, when he met with the Deputy Trade Minister in Parliament for a media interview on the matter, the two were almost engaged in fisticuffs as Carlos Ahenkorah claimed Mr. Ablakwa was churning out baseless information to denigrate his Ministry and the Minister.
“You lied all your life through politics…You are a big liar. Where are your facts. Show me the documents you have. You don’t have anything because all that you are saying is just coming from your mind… Don’t touch me… Let him know that he is a thief. You have stolen through your life. You have even lied through your education,” Carlos Ahenkorah remarked during the altercation.
His utterances subsequently forced Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa to walk out of the interview, noting that the Deputy Minister was reacting harshly because he was uncomfortable with the revelation.
“You can tell from the Minister’s attitude that he is clearly uncomfortable with this matter and he stands exposed… I think as a public officer he has to behave himself,” he said.
Listen to what happened below: