A Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP), Seth Tekper, yesterday told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the ministry had the legal authority to pay judgement debts without approval from Cabinet.
He explained that once the budget had made provisions for the payment of judgement debts, such payments did not require any approval from Cabinet to be deemed legal.
Mr. Tekper’s comment was in reaction to accusations that the MOFEP, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, had paid 94 million euros to Construction Pioneers (CP) without Cabinet approval.
He appeared with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Dr Benjamin Kunbour before the Committee, which was investigating the controversial 94 million euros settlement agreement with CP captured in the Auditor-General’s Report on Consolidated Funds in 2009.
The committee, chaired by Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, Member of Parliament for Afigya-Sekyere West, has, for the past four months, held 18 public enquiry into the issue and had invited witnesses from the MOFEP, the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General, the Ministry of Roads and Highways, the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), among others.
Mr. Kunbour engaged in a heated disagreement with the committee on issues regarding the processes that led to the liability.
He defended the processes that led to the payment of the liability, but refrained from commenting on whether or not the decision by the former Attorney-General, Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, to enter into the settlement agreement with the German construction firm was right.
Earlier, the Ranking Member of the Committee, Alhaji Amadu Seidu, expressed displeasure about the decision by the Minority Group to hold a press conference on the issue, calling on President John Evans Atta-Mills to initiate an independent enquiry into the matter.
He said the act by the Minority Group was not only unfair to the committee, but prejudicial to the outcome of its findings.
“The work of PAC is expected to be non-partisan, and I personally think that so far, we have demonstrated just that.
But this press conference and subsequent statements made on radio appear to create confusion in the minds of the public as to who is really speaking the truth,” he said.