General News of 2013-12-18

NPP descends on govt over Media Development Fund

The New Patriotic Party says it is alarmed by how the Media Development Fund established by the government is being managed.

The party suspects that the fund is yet another avenue for the government to misappropriate public funds.

“We call on all media professionals and well-meaning Ghanaians to seek Justice and fair distribution of the media fund. Finally government must come clean on the disbursement of the fund and constitute a board of trustees to administer the fund moving forward,” a statement signed by NPP Director of Communications Perry Okudzeto has said.

NPP ON THE MEDIA FUND

The New Patriotic Party is alarmed by reports of the abuse of the Media Fund by the Ministry of Information.

What seemed to be a good idea, when the government in year 2011 announced the creation of a Media Fund, with an initial Ghc 1 million to help the development of the media in Ghana, is now turning to be one of the many avenues for misappropriating public funds, which has become characteristic of the Mahama led NDC administration.

Initially, the Government response to media reports was that the Media Fund was uninitialized. But when answering questions in parliament on it, the Minister of Information said that the budget money for the year 2011 was used to purchase laptops for journalists.

Further explanations by the Information Minister and his Deputies are at variance and also to the effect that though the laptops were purchased, only 140 were given to the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) and the rest were distributed to information service department workers, parliamentary assistants etc.

What is even more worrying is the denial by the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) of receiving any money or laptop from the Ministry of Information.

The problem with the handling of the media Fund raises a number of serious issues;

1. What happened to the constitution of the board to administer the fund? How come one year after the set-up of the fund, a simple board has not been constituted?

2. Who did the purchase of the laptops and at what price and was the procurement law followed? Random checks indicate that the laptops are available on the market for about 50% less than the alleged value. So who took that decision?

3. Who decided on the modus of distribution? How come GJA got about 140 and the rest were distributed to who the Ministry deemed fit?

4. How do we prove that the laptops actually did get to designated recipients if any?

The fetish of spending every available resource government has on laptops must stop.

It is becoming a ritual in our country today what our resources will be expended on at the least opportunity when some resource is made available to government.

The fetish of Laptops irrespective of quality, durability, cost etc, is becoming rampant. The process of such purchase is shrouded in secrecy. It's either through sole sourcing. Irrespective of the needs of journalists or students, there is a seeming magic on the part of government in determining that everyone needs laptops.

The New Patriotic Party believes in among other things the development of the media. A strong and efficient media in Ghana will not only serve as a check but will also help strengthen our democratic credentials.

We call on all media professionals and well-meaning Ghanaians to seek Justice and fair distribution of the media fund.

Finally government must come clean on the disbursement of the fund and constitute a board of trustees to administer the fund moving forward.

Signed

Perry Okudzeto

Ag Director of Communications