The Ranking Member on Parliament’s Finance Committee, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, is demanding that government focuses on capturing the perpetrators who caused financial loss to the state instead of hunting innocent people.
Addressing the press on Friday, he claimed that the Attorney General’s recent action against him shows that government is on a witch hunt.
“Clearly, this is witch hunting. Let me tell the government I am not a witch that they should hunt. They should look for the witch. The witch is the person who allowed the ambulances that came in to rot.
“He is the witch that should be hunted,” Dr Forson said.
According to the former Deputy Finance Minister, all indications show that government’s attack is purposely to silence him over his strong opposition to the electronic transaction levy (E-levy).
“The timing speaks volumes. After four years, government never felt the need to ask me for another statement until when I started raising issues on the 2022 budget. My job as a fiscal economist is to look into government policy and advise same. I may oppose or support it and you have worked with me in this House and know how I do my work.
“It clearly shows government thought it wise that this is the time for them to take me on to keep me quiet but I won’t be quiet. I can’t be quiet.”
The Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam MP added that the 1992 Constitution of Ghana guarantees freedom of speech, hence he should be able to speak his mind as the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee.
His comments come as a response to criminal charges filed against him by the Attorney-General for causing financial loss to the state in relation to the procurement of 200 ambulances by the Prof. John Evans Atta Mills and John Mahama led government.
The charges also named Sylvester Anemana, Chief Director at the Ministry of Health at the time of the contract and a businessman, Richard Jakpa, as persons of interest.
Documents filed by the AG’s office traced the events culminating into the alleged crimes to an announcement made in the 2009 State of the National Address regarding plans to procure ambulances for the country.
The AG said following this address, the Ministry of Health (MOH) initiated action to acquire more ambulances. The 3rd accused person, Richard Jakpa is said to have used his company, Jakpa at Business, to present a proposal and Term Loan to the Ministry of Health which he claimed to have arranged from Stanbic Bank to finance the supply of the 200 ambulances to the government.
Cabinet, according to the AG, gave an Executive Approval for the project. However, it emerged later that the ambulances had some defects which render them not fit for purpose.
But Dr Cassiel Ato Forson says he played no role in the state losing monies.
Dr Forson told the press he was not a part of the procurement since he was not a Minister of State in 2012.
“I was a backbencher in this House. I wasn’t part of the administration at the time,” he stressed.
He revealed that his involvement was when a letter was written on the authority of the Finance Minister requesting the Controller and Accountant General to work with the Minister responsible for Health in establishing Letters of Credit.
“Even when the Letter of Credit was established, they did not write to me. I had no knowledge and have never been part of it only until I left office before they called me. I have no knowledge about the matter. I don’t even know the other people they have charged.
“Let me say that, yes, it is not about me absolving myself, but to let the people of Ghana be aware the role I have played.”
According to the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Finance Committee, the government could have intervened to ensure the said ambulances were not left to rot. Thus, might consider dragging the government to court for causing financial loss to the state following consultation with his lawyers.
“There is something known as mitigation of losses. If the ambulances had come to the state, the government could have spent probably some small amount to fix it other than allowing it to rot.
So if I’m in a position, I could also file charges against the person who allowed it to rot but I’ll have to check with my lawyers if a private citizen can sue someone for causing financial loss to the state.”
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