The state may have been cheated of more than $15,000 a day in overpayments to caterers alone during Brazil 2014.
That, multiplied by the two week period Ghana took part in the World Cup, adds up to more than $215,000.
Tuesday’s sitting was day 17 of the ongoing probe into Ghana’s participation at the tournament.
The Dzamafe Commission heard the testimony of Horace Ankrah, who chaired the Grounds, Events and Logistics Sub-committee.
Today we heard how officials paid caterers $35/supporter despite being charged 34 cedis each. More details on air @Citi973 now!
— Gary Al-Smith (@garyalsmith) September 9, 2014
34 cedis or 35 dollars?
Horace Ankrah, who bears no relation to the former sports minister Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, fumbled the entire time he was seated.
The punch came when the commission wanted to clear the discrepancies in how amounts agreed to pay for the feeding of each Ghanaian supporter airlifted to Brazil.
The anounts agreed to with caterers was 34 cedis, but the amounts pencilled in official documents was 35 dollars from how much was finally accounted for.
Horace: “My Lord we agreed on 35 dollars per head.”
Justice Dzamefe: “Is that what they proposed to you or you decided to agree on 35 dollars?”
Horace: “My Lord we had different scenarios, 35 [dollars] so that they could come forward with a menu that we could think a 35 per head budget could accommodate.”
Justice Dzamefe: “Was that in dollars or cedis?”
Ankrah: “Yes, My lord we quoted in dollars.”
Justice Dzamefe: “But what I see here is cedis, what Kenkey Boutique gave you was in cedis.”
Ankrah: “Yes my Lord we had a meeting and that was what was decided.”
Justice Dzamefe: “You had a meeting with the caterers and decided to quote in dollars when they had quoted in cedis.”
Ankrah: “No, my lord, some of them quoted in cedis.”
Justice Dzamefe: “Ok let’s take it one by one…Kenkey Boutique quoted in cedis how come it turned into dollars?”
Ankrah: “My lord we took that decision at the implementation level.”
Justice Dzamefe: “Give me the reasons why you changed it into dollars not where you took the decisions…I want the reasons [why you changed cedis to dollars].”
Ankrah: “My lord, my committee was actually to examine and get to a certain point, the true engagement was actually beyond my committee it was the Ministry of Youth and Sports.”
Ankrah could not answer.
Cheating the state?
It has already been established that 612 supporters were taken to Brazil by the government.
Per Horace’s testimony, each supporter scheduled to get 34 cedis in daily feeding allowances as originally agreed had the following breakdown: 10 cedis for breakfast, 12 for lunch and 12 for supper.
GHS 34 x 612 =GHS 20,808 = $6000
But with $35 now allocated, this daily total shoots up exponentially.
$35 x 612 =$ 21,420
This equates to a ‘profit’ of about $15,420 daily [$21,420 – 6000].
Since the Brazil 2014 effort lasted for a fortnight, this thus equates to a whopping $215,880 over the two week period as the potential to have been pocketed.
And the commissioners, having made these calculations themselves, became very incensed.
At this point, there was a palpable buzz at the venue of the sittings.
But there was more to come. Ankrah was unable to answer clearly as to who was responsible for approving the decision to price the feeding of each fan in dollars rather than cedis.
Justice Dzamefe: “You are on oath, don’t play with us Mr Horace Ankrah!”
Horace: “My lord, I, um, am not playing with the, um, commission. I’m saying whatI know”
Justice Dzamefe: “Somebody proposed 34 cedis per day. Then you changed it to 34 dollars for Ghana government to pay!”
Horace: “My lord i didn’t…”
Justice Dzamefe [leaning forward]: “Who did? Who did?”
Horace: “My lord, the Ministry of Youth and Sports”
This effectively places the falsifaction of figures at the doorstep of the former minister, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah.
Horace Ankrah also answered questions on why his committee could not facilitate Visas for some ex-Black Stars players who had been promised to be airlifted to Brazil to watch the World Cup.
His explanation was as follows:
“I nearly got into trouble but I explained. I started with this exercise on 23rd March and finishe don 18th of June.
“I had a list of the old footballers on the 14th of June. What happened was that it came without any letter from the ministry. It came without any confirmation ticket from the ministry and I said that I have strict rules to go by; either a letter from the ministry or tickets.
“At that time nobody could actually give my office any confirmation ticket to accompany those applications so at a point in time I had to return those passports.”
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Ghana Integrity Initiative, Vitus Azeem speaking on the Eye Witness News expressed shock over the revelation by the commission.
“It is fraud because you tendered cedis and then you change it to dollars. That’s about three times the value for which you used.
“You may have defeated the purpose of a competitive bidding, because some might have quoted $20 and others quoted 25$ but you quoted 34 cedis to be able to get the contract. And that is fraud.
“It’s like a connivance if that’s really what happened.”
The commission resumes on Wednesday, with the expected appearance of journalists Christopher Opoku, who was at one time on the Media Committee of the Brazil 2014 exercise.
By Ben Nketsia and Gary Al-Smith/citifmonline.com/Ghana