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30 June 2017

Scandal rocks MPs over lotto cash

Parliament
Parliament

It has emerged that some Members of Parliament (MPs) collected money from the National Lottery Authority (NLA) in order to facilitate the amendment of the National Lottery Act 2006 (Act 722).

There is currently confusion over how much was given to the MPs by NLA, as well as the purpose for which the monies were paid.

While James Klutse Avedzi, National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Ketu North, who was then chairman of parliament’s Finance Committee, has indicated that the MPs collected a total of GH¢100,000 from the NLA, the legal advisor to the Authority, David Lamptey, is reported to have sent email to the Director-General of the NLA, Brigadier General (Rtd) Martin Ahiaglo, in August 2016 requesting for the approval of GH¢150,000.

The issues played out on Joy FM yesterday when Mr. Avedzi admitted that the committee’s members indeed took GH¢100,000 but not GH¢150,000 from the NLA.

He said the money was given to the committee members as per diem/sitting allowance; and it contradicted claim by the NLA that it was used to pay for accommodation for the MPs.

Mr Avedzi said the NLA first presented GH¢50,000 to the committee “but when we looked at the provisions, we realised that the amount was not sufficient so they promised to bring another GH¢50,000.”

According to Joy FM, the NLA legal advisor sent separate emails to the then Director-General in August 2016, requesting the approval of a total sum GH?150,000 presumably to “push the bill for consideration” by parliamentarians.

According to Mr. Lamptey, the money was spent on accommodation and other resources when the NLA organized a workshop on amendments to the new lottery bill at the Royal Senchi Hotel before it was passed into law.

“We had to pay for the members of parliament to be accommodated,” he told Joy FM, adding, “Any payment made was to provide the committee the necessary resources they needed to be able to travel to the venue.”

More Pressure

Parliament is currently under pressure to investigate the issue without any delay. According to Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), the payment was done to influence the work of the MPs on the amendment.

Governance and Legal Policy Officer of CDD-Ghana, Kwadwo Pumpuni Asante, told Joy FM that the scandal justifies earlier calls for defining and wide investigations into parliament’s conduct and shaky ethics, noting, “A whole lot is wrong with it.”

He said investigations into the Ayariga bribery saga last January was “very narrow” and failed to address “bigger” concerns about the integrity of parliament.

Mr Pumpuni Asante noted that the GH¢100,000 is “basically payment to influence parliamentarian to perform tasks they are already established under law to do.”

He expressed disappointment in the NLA for showing ‘scant’ regard for corporate governance, saying, “The fact that a board can approve this kind of payment is worrying for public financial management. It seems like there is no respect for corporate governance.”

Head of Public Affairs at Parliament, Kate Addo, explained that parliamentarians are not supposed to take money from any institution to facilitate the passage of a law.

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