General News Wed, 30 Apr 2003

C600 Million Spent On Speakers Treatment Abroad

Minority Members of Parliament are grumbling over government spending of alleged $69,000 (about ?586,500,000) for the treatment abroad of its speaker, Mr Peter Ala Adjetey.

Chronicle sources indicate that a few weeks ago, the speaker was taken ill and had to be flown to Baltimore, in the United States, for special treatment. Mr Adjetey, whose expensive official car acquisition, recently met stiff public disapproval, was reportedly given US$23,000 (about ?195,500,000) as his per diem on the US trip.

Chronicle sources said soon afterward, an amount of US$46,000 was dispatched to him to settle his medical bills, making the two payments total $69,000. Since then opposition parliamentarians, aware of the transfer of the colossal money from the national kitty, have been grumbling.

Chronicle gathered that the majority members of Parliament, though equally peeved by the expenditure of the huge sum on just one member of the House, have kept quiet over the issue.

When reached to ascertain the veracity of the story, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, the minority leader, said he was aware of the indisposition of the speaker and the fact that he was receiving treatment abroad. He, however, could not tell whether Parliament was paying for Mr Adjetey's bills and if so whether it was to the tune of ?586 million.

According to Mr Bagbin, when chiefs, opinion leaders, public servants and other persons are so ill they require special treatment, a medical council is constituted by the Ghana Medical Board to determine whether he has to be taken overseas for treatment or not.

On his part, the clerk to Parliament, Ken Takyi, also confirmed that the speaker had gone overseas to receive medication, but explained that it was not at the expense of Parliament. He said it was sponsored by the central government, though he could not tell how much it cost.

Asked whether the speaker was the only beneficiary of such an arrangement, the clerk said the immediate past speaker, Justice Daniel Francis Annan, benefited just as some others before him did. Members of Ghana's Parliament have over the years been complaining of lack of resources at the House, and therefore news of the alleged transfer of huge sums of money for the speaker's medical treatment hit them like a bolt.

At the moment, Parliament is on recess, but the spending of such a huge sum is likely to become an issue when it reconvenes in a couple of months later, a parliamentary source hinted.


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