An auctioneer who auctioned vehicles of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) was the centre of attraction at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament when he was grilled over the role he played to earn a commission of GH¢33,000.
Mr Alex Agyei of Alex Mart Auctioneering, who was engaged by the ministry, auctioned vehicles to the tune of GH¢491, 553 for which he was paid seven per cent as his commission from 2011 to 2013.
On the second day of the public hearing of the PAC yesterday, it came to light that the auctioneer played no role and, therefore, did not deserve to be paid such an amount since the vehicles had already been allocated and priced.
The PAC, which was considering the audit report of the Auditor-General for 2015 on the disposal of government vehicles by the MoFA and the Ghana Health Service, also indicted the MoFA for several infractions, including its failure to observe due process in its transactions with Mr Agyei.
His inability to answer questions satisfactorily, coupled with his spontaneous laughter to some questions, incurred the wrath of the committee members.
The auctioneer who came across as someone who was not serious was thus cautioned not to take the committee for granted and was told that he would not be smiling after the PAC concludes its report and recommendations.
The Minister of State at the MoFA, Dr Nurah Gyeile, who led officials from the ministry to the committee, conceded that procedures for the auction were not followed and, therefore, apologised and assured the committee that the ministry had taken steps to ensure such lapses did not recur in subsequent reports.
The acting Chief Director at the MoFA, Mr Benjamin K. Gyasi, who also acknowledged the lapses, said: “We have gone through the report and admit that we have faulted as a ministry. I can assure you that we have learnt our lessons and such things will not happen again.”
The Chairman of the PAC, Mr James Klutse Avedzi, expressed concern that Mr Agyei was paid a commission he was not entitled to receive.
Mr Agyei threw members of the committee into laughter when he pleaded for forgiveness after one of the committee members, Mr Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu, threatened to recommend the withdrawal of his licence for exhibiting crass ignorance in his responses to questions.
“Honourable chair, I am sorry for what happened. Please what happened has already happened and it won’t happen again. Please forgive me,” he pleaded.
Mr Agyei further pleaded for mercy when he was asked to deduct what was actually due him and return the rest of the money to the state.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram, Mr Sam Nartey George, reminded the auctioneer that he failed to follow the procurement Law.
The MP for Kumbungu, Mr Ras Mubarak, also accused the auctioneering firm for conniving with officials at the ministry to rob the state and wondered if Mr Agyei was familiar with the guidelines on the disposal of vehicles.
Another member of the committee, Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin, also wondered whether Mr Agyei had paid withholding tax on his commission.