Don’t hide behind people for your failures and deal with me – Commissioner of Customs to ‘small boy’ Special Prosecutor
The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority has cast doubt on the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s claims of corruption against some of its officials in the case of Labianca Company.
The Special Prosecutor recovered an amount of ¢1.074 million from the company owned by a member of the Council of State, Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh.
The OSP contended that Ms Asomah-Hinneh used her position as a member of the Council and member of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to get a favourable decision from the Customs Division of GRA.
A Deputy Commissioner of Customs in charge of Operations, Joseph Adu Kyei was also cited by the OSP for issuing what it described as an unlawful customs advance ruling.
This, according to the report, reduced the benchmark values of the goods imported by Labianca Limited translating to reduced tax obligations of the company to the state.
Speaking at the Customs Division Management Retreat at Kumasi, the Commissioner of Customs, Col. Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd) insists the report of the Special Prosecutor was released with malicious intent.
Col Damoah (Rtd) believes it was meant to discredit the Customs officers adding that the OSP “is trying to indict the deputy and myself.”
“And anyone of you who has read that report, very well, will know the basis of that.”
According to him, prior to the release of the report, there were unsuccessful attempts to dishonor his name.
He suspects that this action emanated from his [Col Damoah’s] refusal to allow one Mr. Akrugu to second Kissi Agyebeng’s office.
“He wanted Mr Akrugu to be seconded to his office and I said ‘no’, Mr Akrugu is a customs officer, primarily employed to do customs work. And he is to partner Mr. Akoto Fakyin in that office, Africa Continental Free Trade Area.”
He further said, “I am ready for any prosecution, that is what you must be doing, not to say, if you do further investigations up to 2017. Up to 2015, I had debtors written by Deputy Commissioner, Sandra Agorhu granting similar things and I produced them when he called me.”
“Don’t disgrace me, don’t hide behind people for your own failures and incompetency and deal with me,” he stressed.
Earlier in November 2021, the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, was petitioned to launch an investigation into the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority and La Bianca Company and its subsidiaries for alleged evasion of import duties since 2017.
La Bianca Company is involved in the importation of frozen foods into the country.
According to the petitioner, Frank Asare, the owner of La Bianca Company, one Eunice Hinneh, who also serves on the Governing Board of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and the Council of State, has used her position to influence an arbitrary markdown on import duties.
“Complainant says that grant of the 10% markdown on legally prescribed benchmark values to the La Bianca was done arbitrarily with this known process,” the petition reads.
He revealed that this is not the first time La Bianca has been granted an illegal markdown on imported frozen products.
“On 20th April 2021, the Company was granted a 5% to 10% markdown on similar imported products contrary to the dictates of the law,” he said.
However, in August 2022, a report signed by the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng read that the Office has consequently recovered ¢1.074 million from Labianca, as part of the shortfall in import duties the frozen foods company had paid to the state.
Pastor closes church after winning bet
After winning 100 million Ugandan Shillings from sports betting, a pastor in a local church in Uganda abandoned his church members by closing the church.
Explaining his motivation, the overjoyed pastor revealed that the lottery was a gift from God and a quick way to get him out of poverty, which he had been experiencing.
He also revealed that he established the church as a source of income rather than through anointing.
“I must admit I opened this church due to greed but not anointing. I saw how several pastors make money by having large crowds and making false prophecies to attract more,” he opened up.
He stated that running a church without a calling became extremely difficult, resulting in sleepless nights. Burdened with guilt, the pastor chose to close it and seek other sources of income.
“As time went on, I realized this was not right; I started having sleepless nights and I would always have weird dreams.
“Before I opened this church, everything was normal on my side. Even without money, I did not have any strange dreams. So I decided to abolish this and look for other ways of making money” he said.
The pastor stated that he tried his luck at gambling, putting a whopping Ush1 million on the line.
“I had to pay for these games and surprisingly it took me about a month to receive them. They told me they had issues with their system and the process of securing games takes time. I almost gave up and called them scammers but they contacted me with the details and wow! I went full swing and got odd of 700,” he said.
He stopped going to church after discovering that he made far more money gambling than he had ever made operating a church in his entire life.
The Energy Ministry has not been disconnected from the power grid – ECG
The Managing Director of Ghana’s Electricity Company, Samuel Dubik Mahama, has denied reports that the Ministry of Energy had been disconnected from the national grid due to unpaid bills for power supplied.
Mr Mahama hinted that reports of the Ministry’s disconnection are just a few of the innuendos thrown into the media sphere in an attempt to divert attention away from the power distribution company’s revenue mobilisation drive.
Mr Mahama revealed on Citi TV’s Point of View that government establishments owe 15% of the GH5.7 billion he hopes to recover within a month.
He emphatically disclosed that “The Ministry of Energy doesn’t owe us and the Ministry is exclusively on prepaid meters and that is the case with most of the MMDAs and state-owned enterprises.”
“We are not going to favour anybody and our main debtors are industry, they are not doing what they are supposed to do, and they are pretending not to know that they owe us,” Mr Mahama further lamented.
The power distribution company is currently on the ground, attempting to recover debts owed to it in order to improve its operations.
Mr Mahama also stated that the company is putting in place the necessary processes to digitalize power vending in order to increase revenue inflows and eliminate long lines at vending points.
“Hopefully, in the next month or two and with my digital process, queues will be a thing of the past because very soon consumers will be able to purchase ECG credit with their mobile devices with NFC connection.
“Very soon there will be no queues, and we are going to be customer-driven and even now postpaid customers are able to sit in the comfort of their homes to pay their electricity bill.”
Pantang Hospital employees put their lives in danger by living in a dilapidated structure
Several squatters and Pantang hospital employees are forced to occupy unfinished and dilapidated buildings at the risk of their lives.
The Ministry of Health declared the structures unsafe following a structural integrity test in 2021.
The structure was originally built to house hospital staff, but nursing students and other community members have turned the dilapidated and worn-out structure into their home, despite hospital management’s warnings to vacate the building.
A visit to Pantang on March 16, 2023, revealed that the structure was still in use despite its deplorable condition.
There were various types of cracks and leaks, exposed and rusted iron rods, and exposed wires.
All of the stairs connecting the ground floor to the other floors were completely destroyed. One of the stairs in the Okonkwo Building was made of rotten wood, and the structure was crooked, but the building’s occupants continued to use it unconcerned.
Delali Tomegah, an environmental officer with the Pantang hospital, said he was given the accommodation by the hospital when asked if he came to live in the building of his own free will.
“The walling of the hospital affected my accommodation, so the hospital authorities asked me to move into the building.”
He has lived in the building for two years and believes the structure is sound.
“The structure is very strong, but from the outside, it appears weak. It only appears to be old; with a little TLC, it will look brand new.”
A resident – name withheld – stated that, while she is terrified that the building will collapse, she has no choice.
“I am scared the building may collapse on us one day, but we have nowhere to go”.
Doris Attiogbe, a mother of two, told Citi News about her dangerous living conditions.
“The building soaks the water anytime it rains, I don’t know about the other tenants though. The cement component along the stairs has recently begun to fall off.”
She added that after 5 years in the building and numerous evacuation notices, she is now ready to leave.
Dr Frank Baning, the hospital’s Medical Director, denied that the hospital’s management had authorised their stay.
“I can tell you for a fact that none of them, at least not that I am aware of, will be able to show you that they were given a letter to go and live in such a structure, and I have been at the helm of affairs since 2016.”
He also stated that the hospital is situated on an earthquake fault line in Ghana.
“I am the one pushing for it to be demolished because I’m afraid that if you are not careful, one of these days it will collapse on staff and that’s been one of my fears. You know we fall within the fault lines. Anytime there is one of those earth tremors, we at the Pantang Hospital usually feel it here, so you can just imagine if the scale goes up a little what will happen to that building. So those are some of the fears, and we won’t ask staff to live in a place like that.”
Dr Baning went on to say that the fact that residents live in the building rent-free indicates that their stay was not approved by hospital management.
He added that they were unable to evict them as planned because the occupants had filed an appeal with the Ministry of Health.
“They petitioned my bosses, that is the mental health authority and the Ministry [of Health] so as far as I’m concerned, it’s been taken up by a higher institution than Pantang hospital and [it is] being dealt with. So I would say the best people to talk to would be the Ministry because they went to petition them”.
“The minister delegated the Deputy Minister of health to come here and resolve the issue, they all saw it and said no it must come down. The municipal assembly put together a team made of engineers and security people to come and take a look and the conclusion is that it should be pulled down.”
Mahama and three other NDC flagbearer candidates to be vetted next week
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