The Youth and Sports Minister, Mahama Ayariga was yesterday saved by the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho from being probed by the Minority over the country’s budget for the just ended 2015 Orange AFCON tournament in Equatorial Guinea.
Mahama Ayariga had told the House that the Government approved a total amount of US$4,774,519.19 and a further GHc3,242,580.00 for Ghana’s preparation and participation in the continent’s soccer fiesta.
He made an itemized breakdown of the expenditure revealing that an amount of US$932,740.00 and GH₵3,242,580.00 were spent on boarding and lodging, air-fair, per diem, friendly matches and other expenses of the team for its training camp in Seville, Spain.
Additionally, US$608,640.00 was approved for per diem allowances, boarding and lodging and other expenses for the players and officials of the tournament phase.
He also said a further US$3,224,139.20 was approved for the bonuses and honorarium for the players, technical and management teams as well as other officials of the team, indicating that the winning bonuses and honoraria of the technical team and other officials of the team were reduced by between twenty percent (20%) and thirty percent (30%) of the previous payment structure.
But the explanation did not go down well with the Minority who insisted that the information churned out by the Sports Minister was inconclusive.
The Ranking Member of the Select Committee on Youth and Sports and MP for Atwima-Mponua, Isaac Asiamah, commenting on the matter said the amount quoted by Mr. Ayariga lacked specifics and would have wished the Minister tells the House how much the country earned from the tournament and how much was spent on airlifting supporters to Equatorial Guinea.
“Mr. Speaker, I think the budget is inconclusive as far as some of us are concerned because income and expenditure was missing”, he noted.
He had earlier in the day demanded for the cost the nation incurred in the Black Stars’ preparation and participation in the AFCON tournament in a statement he made to congratulate the senior national football team for the splendid performance they put up in Equatorial Guinea.
He said the Youth and Sports Committee demanded for a copy of the budget as far back in December but the Minister declined in submitting it and wondered why he was now churning out such information, adding “we should have scrutinized it before they even went to the tournament”.
In a swift response, Mr. Ayariga said “nobody is running from accounting for anything. I am available and ready even today to respond to questions that they may present”.
But the Speaker intervened, noting that the platform given was not meant to provoke debate over the subject matter and urged Hon. Isaac Asiamah and any other Members interested in seeking for further and better particulars on the income and expenditure on the senior national football team to use other channels available at their disposal to do so.
“Hon. Asiamah, the information you needed was the cost. The Minister has provided the cost for now. We are making statements and not debating an issue. So he has provided the information – if you have problem with the information, there are other tools available to you and any other members in this House to pursue.
“But for now, that is the information the Minister has given to the House. And this is the information that you said has not been provided even though it was promised on December 18, 2014, and let us be very honest, that was very close to our rising.
“When we resumed, the minister was in Equatorial Guinea, he was not available. This is the opportunity he has had, and he has come to provide the information. I think that we should rather commend the minister at this stage for providing the information. You may agree or disagree but for…” explained Rt. Hon. Adjaho.
The Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul, commenting on the matter pleaded with the Speaker to accommodate the question posed by Mr. Asiamah since the statement made by the Sports Minister on cost of the Black Stars’ participation in the AFCON tournament was different from the congratulatory statement made by the Ranking Member of Youth and Sports.
No amount of pleading from the Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul, would persuade the Speaker to allow the Sports Minister to answer to the questions posed by Mr. Asiamah.
“There is no difference in substance from the statement made by Hon. Asiamah and the Hon. Minister. The only point he raised briefly not in a negative manner was that the minister made the promise of giving the cost on the preparation for the tournament which was not made available to them. The minister has provided that information. The rules still apply – we are not provoking debate,” the Speaker insisted.
Source: The Chronicle
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