General News of 2014-01-17

I owe Mahama no apology – Minority Leader

Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, says government's reasons for overspending by 2.8 billion cedis in 2012 are not cogent enough to displace his accusations that the money was appropriated to prop up the president's flagging campaign.

He said calls on him by the government to apologise for his claim that the money was embezzled are therefore unfounded.

He told Joy FM’s Top Story Friday that his use of embezzlement in an interview with Myjoyonline.com on Thursday was even a “milder” word.

The Member of Parliament for Suame constituency had said: "Now the country knows that 2.8 billion of hard currency was utilised to project the cause of John Mahama; monies that were not given to him by Parliament. Clearly embezzlement of state finances to reposition himself. That is what happened."

But in a statement, government vehemently denied the Minority Leader’s claim, accusing him of peddling total falsehood and dabbling in “anti-government propaganda of the most undesirable kind”.

“The 2013 Budget which was debated and passed by the Parliament of Ghana clearly outlined and quantified the causes of the fiscal slippage in 2012,” Deputy Minister of Information Felix Kwakye Ofosu noted in the statement.

Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu however, defended his claim on Joy FM's Top Story, saying the kind of expenditure made by government outside the budgetary allocation was “unprecedented” in the history of the country.

According to him, if government goes borrow from banks as well as dip its hands into the consolidated fund without parliamentary approval, it would be “charitable” for one to accuse it of “stealing”.

When pushed to substantiate his claim, the Minority Leader said even though he was not saying that President Mahama necessarily used the money to erect billboards, he insisted it was curious that the government stated in its financial report on 2012 to Parliament that huge expenses were made by the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO). “What disaster happened in 2012, in the last three months?" he asked.

Responding to him, Mr. Kwakye Ofosu said the allegations by Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu were “unfounded and malicious” and calculated at making President Mahama and his government look bad.

He found it difficult to appreciate why the Minority Leader would make such claims when he sat in Parliament when the Finance Minister accounted for government expenditure for 2012.

He said the Minority Leader had gained notoriety for accusing the president without a basis.

He, therefore, demanded an apology from Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.

“I believe strongly that it was just an attempt to attack President Mahama unjustifiably, and he should acknowledge that he erred and apologise to the president and government so we move on. I don’t believe that the explanation he is giving right now really suffices.”

But the Minority Leader said he would fully study the government’s statement to advise himself. He however noted that he was not convinced that he erred to warrant the apology the deputy minister was demanding.

“Given what you have read to me (portions of government’s statement), I do not think that at this stage it calls for an apology at all. And I told you if you don’t own something and you go and take that property and say to yourself that I was in some difficulties so I had to use it'; if you have to be charitable, you will say that it is even stealing. So what do I have to apologise for?” he told host of Top Story, Evans Mensah.

Source: myjoyonline.com
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