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General News Wed, 31 Jan 2001

Owusu-Adjapong's vetting deferred

The Appointments Committee on Tuesday deferred the public hearing of Mr Felix Owusu-Adjapong, minister designate for Transport and Communications to Wednesday to enable members to investigate his role in the sale of a Unilever property on government land.

Mr Freddie Blay, Chairman of the Committee had earlier asked members to retire into a caucus meeting for 10 minutes to resolve the matter, but after over an hour, members returned without a consensus and the chairman ruled for a suspension.

Mr Owusu-Adjapong's ordeal began when Mr Akwasi Osei-Adjei, NPP Ejisu asked him to enlighten members about a transaction his company undertook on behalf of Unilever.

The minister-designate, the only nominee whose vetting appears to have experienced a hitch, said he acted in his capacity as an estate consultant to Unilever to sell a property to Mr Sam Jonah for 250 million cedis.

He said there was a sitting tenant, William Ofori and Company on the property, who wanted to buy it but whose quotation of 190 million cedis fell short of the expectations of the owners.

"So I asked that the transaction should be advertised to attract more bidders", he explained. Mr Owusu-Adjapong said he went ahead with the advertisement and many more bidders responded including the sitting tenant whose bid remained at 190 million cedis.

He said Unilever turned down the sitting tenant's offer even though the property was not sold to the highest bidder. When asked by Mr Alban Bagbin, Majority Leader that type of hold the property was, Mr Owusu-Adjapong answered "government land".

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The minister-designate said he had some documents to tender to the Committee for their scrutiny on the transaction but regretted that he could not find the police report on the deal.

At that juncture, Mr Bagbin suggested that Mr Owusu-Adjapong's hearing should be suspended to enable him to gather all documents in connection with the transaction before he re-appears.

And when the caucus meeting failed to resolve the matter, the chairman ruled that Mr Owusu-Adjapong should furnish members with all documents relevant to the transaction for their scrutiny before hearing resumes on Wednesday.

While his hearing lasted, Mr Owusu-Adjapong told the Committee that as minister he would improve the performance of the telecommunicationsnetwork by ensuring that those in authority operate within the ambit of their licences.

He said he would also order a check on their equipment to identify the deficiencies they might have and rectify them accordingly.

On his role as a member of the Non-Performing Assets Recovery Tribunal, Mr Owusu-Adjapong said he gave a good account of himself as he made appropriate recommendations to curb the inhumanity in the operations of banks with the lending public.

Source: GNA
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