Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has defended the process he used to withdraw money from the consolidated fund to sponsor the National Cathedral project by saying the government of former President John Mahama used the same process to approve funds for Ghana’s participation in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Testifying before the parliamentary ad hoc committee which investigated seven allegations made against him in connection with a motion of no confidence tabled by the minority caucus seeking to impeach him, Mr. Ofori-Atta said: “Hon. Co-Chairs, when preparing annual budgets, the practice is to provide indicative expenditures which have not been fully costed (sic) at the time of the budget presentation”.
“Provisions are made in the vote for contingencies [vault] to meet these expenses,” he explained, citing, for example, “in 2014, there was no specific allocation in the 2014 budget for Ghana’s participation in the FIFA World Cup. FIFA in Brazil. President John Mahama’s cabinet in March 2014 at the time approved some $9.622 million for this tournament, including the amount that was flown to Brazil on a private jet for the players.
“A more current example is Ghana’s participation in Qatar. The Black Stars qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, long after the 2022 budget, presented on November 16, 2021, was approved by parliament. No specific amount was budgeted for this, but through the contingency vote, we were able to provide funds legitimately for the team to participate in the competition,” he noted.
According to him, “Expenditures for the National Cathedral were made from the Contingency Vote under the “Other Government Obligations” vote, as was the practice prior to my tenure (I have copies of several payments from the vote for contingencies dating from 2015 to share)”.
Mr Ofori-Atta said “as Finance Minister I am fully aware of the procedures for approving the use of the Provident Fund and have not breached its requirements”, adding: “The National Cathedral belongs 100% to the state and is not the presidential cathedral as described by the promoters”.
“Indeed, the Attorney General issued an opinion on January 6, 2022, that the National Cathedral is a state-owned company limited by guarantee, subject to the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board,” he added.