The Member of Parliament for Kumbungu Constituency, Hon.Ras Mubarak has made a passionate call to the President and all agencies dealing with corruption in Ghana to probe the Minister of Education, Matthew Opoku Prempeh on an amount of Gh¢1,635,590.78, equivalent to US$370,043.17 spent on purported officials of the National service Secretariat on a two (2) year training program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, as part of training and capacity building.
The program, which cost Gh¢1,635,590.78 equivalent to $370,043.17 is under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and is with the objective of building the capacity and knowledge of related officers for enhanced efficiency at the National Service Secretariat.
The lawmaker, who is alarmed by the amount of expenditure on the project, is therefore calling for investigation into circumstances that led to the spending of that exorbitant amount of the tax payer’s scarce resources for that course, adding that even though it is good to build capacity of personnel, it should not be at that unimaginable cost to the nation.
He revealed that, the National Service Secretariat in collaboration with MIIT organized a training program in Massachusetts in the United States which thirteen (13) personnel were drawn from other institutions to participate.
He added that, normally one would not have any problem with any form of capacity building, since it needs to be done for public officials, but his problem is with the cost.
According to him, he even initially thought the program cost the nation US$150,000.00, since he got the payment voucher from the Bank of Ghana, only for the Minister to inform the House that the program actually cost more than twice of that, indicating that they have actually made the payment twice for the same program, which needs to be investigated.
The Minister, He said, had further stated that the personnel would have to attend the program only four times within the period, and wondered why that should cost the nation that much, asking “why should the Ministry pay for all the cost of the program upfront”.
The Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP), a capstone global initiative that helps regions to accelerate economic growth and promote social progress through Innovation Driven Entrepreneurship (IDE); and in Ghana, it is championed by the Ministry of Education.
The Minister of Education, Mathew Opoku Prempeh who was in Parliament to brief members on the progress of the program, in an answer to a question from the Hon Member for Kumbungu on the amount spent on the program indicated that, as part of the two-year program, officials traveled to Cambridge Massachusetts in the United States of America to participate in a number of activities designed to advance the objectives of the Ghana REAP team.
These included a four-day workshop, benchmarking and best practice learning programs.
A question filed by the Kumbungu Legislature, Ras Mubarak sought to find out how much government spent on course fees, travel expenses and per diem for officials who took part in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Program on Leadership, Governance and Entrepreneurship in Boston in October 2017.
In response, the Minister explained that “there are 17 officials involved in the program as Team Ghana for the G-REAP, however 13 out of the 17 officials were able to attend the October, 2017 session.
These officials were representatives from the various Youth Agencies across the country, notable amongst them being the National Service Secretariat, the Youth Enterprises Authority (YEA), NEIP, COTVET, NYA, MASLOC and NBSSI etc.”
He also indicated that the two-year program costs Gh¢1,635,590.78 equivalent to $370,043.17, and comprises MIT program fee of Gh¢1,326,000.00 equivalent to $300,000.00 and Travel, Boarding and Loading Expenses of Gh¢309,590.78 equivalent to $70,043.17.
The Member who is dissatisfied with the level expenditure is therefore calling for an independent investigation into the matter.