Businessman and alleged financier of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Alfred Agbesi Woyome, who was ordered by the Supreme Court to repay GH¢51.2 million that he fraudulently received from the State as judgement debt, has so far paid a total of GH¢4.6 million out of the amount.
However, this was not captured in the Auditor-General’s 2016 report on the Consolidated Fund, which revealed that Woyome’s GH¢51.8 million had been completely omitted from the accounts for 2016.
The issue came to the fore yesterday at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament sitting when a member of the committee and NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak, asked the Controller and Accountant-General, Eugene Asante Ofosuhene, who was before the committee with a Deputy Minister of Finance, Abena Osei-Asare, about steps he was taking to retrieve those state funds from Mr. Woyome.
In answering the question, the Controller and Accountant-General said that Mr. Woyome paid the GH¢4.6 million in two tranches; the first one was GH¢167,565 and the second was an amount of GH¢4.5 million.
He, however, could not disclose the settlement terms reached between Mr. Woyome and the Supreme Court for the full payment of the money in a specified time.
He added that the Auditor-General’s Office can disclose the terms for the payment of the remaining GH¢46 million.
At yesterday’s sitting, another contentious issue that popped up was the government’s intention to write to Parliament to write off GH¢97.5 million debt owed the State by about 170 defunct state companies and other private companies, including the State Fishing Corporation, Ghana International Airways, Bonsa Tyres, State Hotels Corporation, Ghana National Trading Corporation, Kumasi Brewery.
Interestingly, public companies such as State Housing Companies, Ghana Cocoa Board, and New Times Corporation also owe the government huge sums of money.
The Deputy Minister, Abena Osei-Asare, said that the debts of some defunct companies have been on the books for so long and that a consultant had been engaged to look into the equities of the affected companies and advise the government on the ones to write off.
A member of the committee and MP for Keta, Richard Quashigah, said he could not fathom why the supposed government agencies, which are to ensure the payment of the debts by those companies, should sit aloof for the debts to accumulate to this level.
According to Richard Quashigah, the government must ensure that these companies abide by the law and that officials of the state-owned companies who flout the laws are punished.
Richard Quashigah said the state cannot continue to offer financial assistance to such ‘struggling’ state institutions for them to accrue bad debts.
“We should avoid this lackadaisical attitude as a people when it comes to protecting state resources and not just sit aloof to allow such resources which could have been used for other purposes to just go waste,” he added.