As Executive Director seeks reprieve from AUDITOR GENERAL REPORT
But former board member threaten to take court action to retrieve the money
By Kelvin Nana Adu
The accounts department of the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) has had difficulty in explaining the circumstances surrounding the expenditure of some GHC 65,500.00 by its Executive Director, Mr. Daniel Baffour – Awuah. This has generated a lot of mistrust among some staff of the council as well as the general public.
Investigations conducted by this reporter has revealed that on 25th February, 2011, a memorandum was sent from the Head of Accounts of COTVET, Mr. Atsu Kpewu to the executive Director, Mr. Baffour – Awuah requesting the submission of payment vouchers totaling Sixty-Five Thousand, Five Hundred Ghana Cedis (GHC 65,500.00) for auditor’s verification.
The break – down is as follows:
P.V. NO. 006/01—GHC 5,300.00 (auto mechanics workshop at Kumasi)
P.V. NO. 022/01—GHC 10,000.00 (out of Koforidua workshop)
P.V. NO. 027/02—GHC 5,500.00 (auto mechanics workshop at Kumasi)
P.V. NO. 062/03—GHC 7,000.00 (Implementation of National Apprenticeship Board)
P.V. NO. 066/03—GHC 10,000.00 (out of Tema workshop)
P.V. NO. 097/04—GHC 5,500.00 (Tema workshop)
P.V. NO. 130/05—GHC 20,000.00 (Leaning materials)
P.V. NO. —GHC 2,200.00 (SDF Launch –Alisa Hotel)
The GHC 65,500.00 in contention forms part of a 70 million dollar loan secured by the government of Ghana for COTVET to inject into its Skill Development Fund (SDF) to enhance the capacities of technical and vocational institutes to provide the skills needed for the development of the country.
The fund has the Government of Ghana, the World Bank and the Canadian International Development Agency as the contributors and is being disbursed over a period of five years. It was aimed at l offering specific incentives to companies to undertake worker training in areas relevant to the economic development of Ghana but this is being undermined by current developments.
According to a former Board member of COTVET, Mr. Acquah-Harrison about eight months after Mr. Baffour-Awuah received the memorandum, he never produced the voucher covering the expenditure..
When the investigative team contacted Mr. Baffour-Awuah , he said, “the Auditor General Report of 2010 exonerates me in all the allegations brought up against me”, “everything is false”.
“I have set up the offices of COTVET in about 15 African countries therefore why should I be engaged in malfeasance,” Mr. Baffour – Awuah queried.
Further investigations reveal that months after Atsu Kpewu wrote the letter to Mr. Awuah requesting receipts for the expenses on the money Mr. Awuah went to the Controller and Accountant Generals Department to request for the transfer of Atsu Kpewu for disobeying his orders. Based on that, Atsu Kpewu was moved from COTVET to the Controller and Accountant General’s department. Mr Acquah Harrison, the former board member in an interview, regarded this as an attempt to prevent Mr. Atsu Kpewu from ensuring accountability in the use of the funds.
He also regarded the attitude of Mr. Baffour- Awuah towards Atsu Kpewu as a move by the executive director to cover up the huge corrupt activity he has engaged himself in.
However, when the investigative team contacted Mr. Charles Kotoku, the present accountant at the Council for Technical and Vocational Training (COTVET) on the issue, he confirmed that, since assuming his new position, “I have not seen any document covering these expenditures. It is new to me. It’s the first time I m seeing this. It is not captured in any of our record documents here,” he stated.”
Mr. Acquaah-Harrison, who believes that the Auditor’s General report of 2010 may have been massaged, alleges that, the transfer of Mr. Kpewu may have been to cover up the malfeasance. Mr. Baffour-Awuah however denies this.
“Mr. Baffour-Awuah masterminded the transfer of Mr. Kpewu in other to cover up the malfeasance”Acquah Hariison stated and said he is ever ready to defend his claim in court . However, Mr. Baffour-Awuah denied the allegation
On his part Mr. Atsu Kpewu, the former head of Accounts of COTVET, has said he would not comment on the issue. When he was asked why he would not comment, he referred the reporter to COTVET for answers to the issues because he felt his life and that of his job is under threat from people’ whose name he would not mention.
“I am not aware of these expenditure or allegations”, Mr. Asamoah Duodu, who was Director of Technical and Vocational Educational and Training (TVED) in 2011, also said .
Mr. Baffour–Awuah has denied ever engaging in any financial mismanagement or false accounting. However, this document (that’s the memorandum) cited by the investigative team indicates that he had requested for the funds, used it and did not provide receipts to that effect.
A further irregularity according to Mr. Ebenezer Acquah Harrison is that the Skills Development Fund is being chaired by Mr. Charles Coffie without the board’s approval. Investigations reveal that Baffour Awuah is a member of all the sub committees of COTVET and takes allowance at every sitting of the sub committees in addition to the usual allowances he takes during general board meetings amounting to thousands of Ghana Cedis.
Mr Acquah Harrison indicated that, the transfer of Mr. Atsu Kpewu was as a result of Kpewu’s effort to expose Mr. Baffour-Awuah’s corrupt practices, especially his involvement in the GHC65, 500.00 unaccounted expenditure.
Mr. Acquah Harrison claims that, the previous Apprenticeship Committee’s Chairman was awarded consultancy to write Apprenticeship Strategy contract to the tune of ¢ 31,000.00 without approval from the board and he ended up plagiarizing other people’s works .
. Baffour-Awuah was also accused of being on all the Sub Committees of COTVET, a practice Mr. Acquah Harrison claims is unusual
In response to these allegations, the Public Relations Officer of COTVET, Mr. George Ferguson Laing admitted that, Mr. Baffour-Awuah serves on all Sub Committees of COTVET to serve as a bridge between very busy members of the committees and COTVET.
In spite of all the mishaps, further information gathered indicates that Baffour Awuah is in discussion with the African Development Bank (AfDB) for a 100 million dollar loan to embark on what he termed “a massive infrastructural development” in addition to the World Bank loan. However critics fear the money will end up being misused or misapplied or diverted.
Meanwhile a tour of some parts of the country depicts that the skills development fund is not having an impact on the lives of vocational training students. At places like Kumasi in the Ashanti region, Koforidua in the eastern region, HO in the Volta Region Tema and Accra in the Greater Accra region not one single person could boast of training from COTVET’s skills development fund. At Kumasi Magazine, an industrial and auto engineering centre in the Ashanti region not one person out of the numerous people interviewed had had training from the skills development fund. Meanwhile, what the project is resorting to now is the distribution of items like computers, sewing machines and other facilities to vocational and technical centers that are already operating without any technical expertise on how to operate these facilities.
The fact is that most of the equipment cannot be used by the schools due to lack of technical knowhow and they are beginning to rust. As a result, the government has been called upon by Ebenezer Acquah Harrison, the , the former board member of cotvert to investigate the issue again and take a second look at how this project (the skills development fund is being handled.this story has been legally screened and sponsored by PAIR