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Wereko-Brobby Punches Auditor General

Charles Wereko Brobby

Charles Wereko Brobby

THE CHIEF Executive of the defunct Ghana @ 50 Secretariat, Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby has disagreed with the Auditor General’s report on the Secretariat saying the report gave an erroneous impression about the true state of the Secretariat’s account.

Supporting his reaction during cross-examination with figures, Dr. Wereko-Brobby said the report fell short of the Escrow Account, monetized value of 130 vehicles and Jubilee toilets, which he said though they have not been completed, constituted solid cash.

He gave the break down as follows; Escrow Account Bank of Ghana, GH¢3,220,224.38; construction of toilets and rest stops GH¢664,203.80; vehicles by debtors GH¢1,209,600 and vehicles at the presidency GH¢12,582,658.13.

In this respect, he said the A-G’s reports were not supported by fact, praying the Commission to refer the report to the Public Accounts Committee. Punching holes in the CEO’s presentation, a member of the Commission and former Auditor-General, Osei Tutu- Prempeh said although Public Accounts Committee will look at the financial statement of the Secretariat, the Commission did not intend to confront him against the A-G’s reports, but would want to point out to him that the financial statement did not have a time frame and did not follow the Financial Act 2003.

Mr. Prempeh said if the Secretariat indeed followed the Act, some of the procurements made would not be as it stands. But Dr. Wereko-Brobby said the financial statement took into account the first day of the Secretariat’s operations till the 30 July 2009, including the transition period. Nevertheless, Mr. Prempeh insisted, saying, “That is the heading”.

Dr. Wereko-Brobby, who made his third and last appearance before the Commission to give the financial statement of Ghana @ 50 Secretariat, also dismissed Counsel of the Commission, Mrs. Evelyn Keelson’s question on how the Secretariat had no proper records, no receipts of revenue and payment of expenditure on all transactions according to A-G’s report.

Explaining, he said every transaction that was carried out by the Secretariat is available at the Office of the President, which the Secretariat worked with. “Every single payment was audited by the Office of the President, Chief Internal Auditor at the office of the President and passed on to us”, he stressed.

Directing the Commission’s question to the Chairman of the National Planning Committee (NPC) and former Chief of Staff, Kwadwo Mpiani, the CEO said  the A-G made mistakes because it  assumed that the Secretariat was a body on its own and not prepared to accept the fact that it was a small vehicle operating under the Office of the President.

According to him, the Secretariat made enough money to defray its debt. He called on the Commission to make recommendations to the government for the immediate payment of all outstanding debts owed contractors and other service providers who rendered services during the celebrations of Ghana’s 50th independence anniversary.

Dr. Wereko-Brobby said there was no justification for contractors not to be paid up till now, since according to him; there was enough money in the secretariat’s kitty to pay them. He said he had prepared pay vouchers, which had been pre-audited and finally audited in readiness for payment of the contractors as at 31st December.

Those pay vouchers, he said, should be vetted and the nominal sums owed the contractors paid so that reasonable interests on the money owed them can be calculated and paid later. A Commission member, Mr. Prempeh, drew Dr. Wereko-Brobby’s attention to the fact that some of the contractors had taken the state to court over their unpaid money and had won, piling up huge judgement bills on the state as a result of the secretariat’s failure to pay them in time.

Reacting sharply, Dr. Wereko-Brobby insisted that there was money to settle most of those debts as at the transition time, but an embargo was put on payments from public purse. “What I’m telling the public is this; before the 31st of December 2008, every single contractor that I know of, who was owed, was prepared to be paid the nominal sum that they were owed. It was for that reason that we prepared all the payment vouchers and sent them for pre-auditing and auditing”.

He explained further saying, “That embargo was not put by me, that embargo went on for a long long time. In my view there has been absolutely no reason why those contractors have not been paid since the beginning of January and therefore those contractors who felt that the chances of getting their money back was very little or nil decided to resort to the courts”.

According to him, no attempts were made to involve him in the legal processes. “My contention is that these delays need not have happened and they are not of my billing”, he concluded. The CEO’s demand of outstanding payment owed him for working as the CEO for the Secretariat for 38 months was challenged by the Commission that only 29 months was due. But he insisted,

“I am ready to provide documentation to the Commission that I was still at post and worked for 38 months. The Director of Budget approved of 29 months, but I continued to work for 9 months as CEO, even during the transition period”.

Responding to queries from Commission Chairman, Justice Douse, as to why he paid his staff regularly while he had not been paid himself, Dr. Wereko-Brobby said he felt that he owed it to the contractors who pre-financed the activities of the Ghana@50 celebrations, and who had not been paid, to make sure their monies were paid before he would think about himself.

He said if he taken his pay, he would have been accused of paying himself when people he had engaged to provide services to the Secretariat had not been paid. Using the opportunity on his last day of appearance before the Commission, Dr. Wereko-Brobby said he had been summoned to appear before the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to answer charges with regards to Ghana @ 50 activities.

In his view, it was not proper to appear before another inquiry to be examined when the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the activities of Ghana @ 50 Secretariat had been set up to properly deal with activities relating to the celebration.

Justice Douse, in response, directed the CEO to refer the matter to his Counsel, Akoto Apaw for advice, saying, “You don’t have to respond through us”. Sittings continue on Monday with the former Chief of Staff and Chairman of the National Planning Committee, Kwodwo Mpiani.

Source: dailyguideghana

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