Former Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture says the ministry under her tenure did not misappropriate GH¢200,000 as cited in the Auditor-General’s report.
According to her, the money drawn from the Marine Drive Project and later used for the Kundum Festival in 2018 was refunded.
Speaking to CitiNews, she explained that the money was used for the festival only because the budget allocated for it had been delayed adding that she sought approval from cabinet to use the funds.
“Festivals are time-bound so when it is getting closer and your approved allocation is not in, the Chief Directors have the mandate to do what they call virement, and when the approved funding comes for the specific line item, you put these things back. There is no such thing as malfeasance or misappropriation,” she said.
Catherine Afeku’s comment comes after the Auditor-General revealed that funds meant for the Marine Drive Project were misapplied by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture under the leadership of Catherine Afeku.
The amount, GH¢387,196, was used to celebrate the 2018 All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA), Kundum Festival, the Minister’s trip to Volta and Western regions, and other activities.
The details provided, showed that an amount of GH¢100,000 was paid to Palm Media Ghana Ltd. for the launch of AFRIMA 2018, held from May 17, 2018, to May 19, 2018.
Also, GH¢200,000 was released to support the Kundum Festival held from September 1 to 9, 2018.
The Auditor-General recommended that the Chief Director should ensure a refund from the operations account into the Marine Drive project account adding that “failing which the amount should be recovered from the Chief Director.”
However, Catherine Afeku said that the Chief Director at that time used the provisions in the Public Financial Management Act, which is called virement to allow such expenditure.
“As sector ministers, you know we are not the spending officers, we just guide policy. So I had approval from the cabinet for a certain line of expenditure,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Planning Committee for the annual Kundum Festival has denied receiving GH¢200,000 from the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture for the 2018 event.
In a press release dated August 19, the Committee revealed that in 2018, the Tourism Ministry officially donated GH¢7,000 to be shared between Axim’s two traditional leaders (Upper and Lower) during the celebrations.
In 2019, Catherine Afeku, who was the MP for the Constituency, also gave the Committee an amount of GH¢5000 to aid in the organisation, they added.
However, “no funds were received from either the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Arts or Hon Catherine Afeku’s office to assist with the aftermath of any of our Kundum Festival projects, including the Theatre Project,” parts of the press statement read.
The team wrote that they have no knowledge about the amount cited in the Auditor-General’s report as expenditure on the Kundum Festival.
Marine Drive Project
The Marine Drive Tourism Project is the single largest tourism investment project to be initiated by the Government of Ghana since Independence.
The 241-acre prime beachfront tourism enclave project is envisaged to position Ghana as the most sought after tourist destination and the destination of choice within the West African sub-region as well as provide job opportunities for many young people in Ghana within the hospitality industry.
The project is basically to plan and develop the entire parcel of land, stretching from the Osu Klottey Lagoon (behind the Christianborg Castle) to the Accra Community Centre, covering an area of 241 acres.
The project will see the stretch of land re-zoned into a Tourism Enclave. The enclave is expected to focus on four key categories of tourism in broad locations.
These are Business Tourism, which will be along the Accra High Street, Leisure Tourism – along the seafront, Cultural Tourism – existing Osu Castle, Black Star Square, Asomdwe Park, Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, Arts Centre and new performing arts facilities and lastly, Eco-Tourism thus, Traditional Fishing and related economic activities, including cottage industries and small scale sub-urban.
Other developments will include a mall, restaurants, sports clubs, health clinics, hotels among others.