The Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF) has finally come to the full rescue of the Trade Ministry over the trending GEBA fees controversy and allegations.
In a press conference held by the Foundation yesterday [Wednesday, December 20], Board chairman of MEF, Victor Gbeho clearly admitted that donations were actively solicited for the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA), but gave explanations on how it was done.
Remember that the minority accused the Trade Ministry of collecting monies ranging between $25,000 and $100,000 from some expatriate companies to enable them sit in close proximity with President Nana Akufo-Addo at the GEBA gala held on December 8 at the Movenpick Hotel in Accra – an action they labelled described as corrupt, thereby sparking outrage from some officials of the ministry. Read full story…
But speaking at the press conference Wednesday, Mr. Victor Gbeho explained that the gesture was only a means of raising funds for the event, pointing out that there was no indication that the monies were meant to earn the payers access to the President of the Republic of Ghana.
Explaining how the Ministry of Trade came into the matter, Mr. Gbeho said that they requested the ministry to partner them and give them introduction to the business community which they they did.
“All our ceremonies are based on funds that we realise. We have no other source of money except what we raise for each occasion and in this case, we asked the Ministry of Trade and Industry if it was going to be our partner, and give us an introduction to the business community,” Mr. Gbeho explained.
He further explained that since some donors paid higher than others, special treatments were given to them. According to him, the ‘presidential circle’ thing which has caused a stir, is similar to normal procedures that are common at awards ceremonies where treatments given to guests are categorised based on their contributions.
“In some of the awards [ceremonies], there is the platinum, then gold and then the silver [categories], all for protocol, if we come to you and you give us GHc 20,000 and somebody else gives us GHc 150,000, it will be the highest form of perversion of principles if the one that gave GHc 20,000 is going to be given more special treatment than the one who gave GHc 150,000,” he pointed out.
Concluding, the MEF Board Chairman made it clear that none of the donors were compelled to pay, rather, they gave out of their free will.
“President” NOT referring to Akufo-Addo
In addition to the above explanations, President of the Millennium Excellence Foundation, Ashim Morton who also spoke at the press conference, completely refuted claims that the foundation collaborated with the Trade Ministry to use President Akufo-Addo to make unathorised money at the GEBA event.
According to Mr. Morton, the special seats were reserved for distinguished Ghanaians and expatriate CEOs who were carefully selected for contributing enormously to their development and not necessarily those who paid or won awards. He further pointed out that although some the CEOs agreed to pay $100,000, “no one paid before the event.”
To further buttress his defense, the MEF president also pointed out that the “President” in the $100k presidential Gold table offer was actually referring to him and not Akufo-Addo as he [Akufo-Addo] was not initially billed to attend the awards event.
According to Ashim Morton, he only relinquished the position to President Akufo-Addo after he indicated enthusiasm to attend the awards event, adding that their letters to the expatriates never stated that the “president’s table was designated for the president of the Republic of Ghana.”