Following the furore that has greeted news that the Gomoa East Assembly spent 81, 000 on the funeral of a former District Chief Executive (DCE) of the area, the former Central Regional Minister, Thomas Aquinas Quansah, who doubled as the acting DCE at the time, has said that although he cannot remember the exact amount he signed off on, he believes it was less than the 90, 000 budgeted for the event.
He also suggested that the final amount which was approved was even less than the 81, 000 cedis that was eventually spent on the ceremony.
“The bill that came to me wasn’t [90, 000 cedis]. I don’t keep these figures in mind but I know it was less than 81, 000 cedis that was approved. But later on there were reports of budget overruns but I don’t think it was 90, 000. I remember signing off on the budget. All I could do was to approve for the Assembly to go ahead with the funeral,” he said on Obuoba News.
However, speaking earlier on the show the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in Parliament, James Klutse Avedzi, said the Gomoa East Assembly followed the correct procedures in setting the budget for the funeral expenses of the DCE, Kingsley Ahunu-Armah, who passed away while in office in 2015.
“The Gomoa East issue has been resolved. Our concern was the quantum of the amount involved. In the end we realised that it was confirmed by the District’s Finance Officer, Coordinating Director and Chief Executive. The expenditure for the funeral was a decision taken by the Executive Committee of the Assembly. The matter was brought to the General Assembly which also adopted the decision that because the DCE died while in Service, the Assembly should foot the bill of the funeral, so proper procedures were followed. Mr. Avedzi said on Obuoba News
Mr. Avedzi stated that the initial concerns raised by the PAC were in relation to the withdrawal of 51, 000 cedis from the Common Fund for the funeral.
He however stated that the Assembly had replaced the money which had been used with funds from its IGF but had not indicated it in its official logs.
“Initially, what was the auditors noted as the budget was 9, 700 cedis, but the DCE corrected that it was 90, 000 cedis. In the end what was actually spent was 81, 000. There was an issue of 51, 000 of this amount spent out of the Common Fund and we said the Assembly can’t use money from the Common Fund for the funeral, it should be the IGF. There was a project that was supposed to be funded by the Common Fund money so they used funds from the IGF to fund that project,” he said.
“But they did not make the entry to reflect that whatever was spent out of the Common Fund had been replaced, so we asked them to do the proper thing in order to correct it and explain that they replaced the money from the Common Fund with money from the IGF; so there is nothing before EOCO in this matter.”
When queried about whether the Committee did not consider the expenses on the funeral itself excessive, James Avedzi said that the PAC had “no basis” to determine whether the amount spent was too much.
“The committee has no basis to say that the 81, 000 spent was too much, we don’t have any basis to compare whether the amount was too much or too small”.
EOCO still investigating
The current DCE for Gomoa East, Benjamin Otoo, however stated that the matter was still being investigated by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).
He said a few officials of the Assembly, under whose tenure the expenditure had occured, had already been questioned by EOCO.
“Some portions are still under investigation by EOCO so we are waiting for the outcome of that and then we’ll be in a better position to say whether the expenditure was justified or not. They invited the then Coordinating Director, the Finance Officer and all those involved in the planning of the programme for questioning. They presented all the necessary documents to EOCO for investigation and at the moment, nobody else has been invited,” he said on Obuoba News.