Scandals Loom At Youth Enterprise Agency

…As FDYEA prepares to release dirty files

The recent suspension of salary payment to over 60,000 employees of the Youth Enterprise Agency (YEA), and the removal of directors are nothing, but a small part of choreography of lies that the new management of the YEA is staging to create room for grand cronyism.

Forum for the De-Politicization of the Youth Employment Agency (FDYEA), a group which says it is in pursuit of the de-politicization of the agency, has said this is so, and that it has hard evidence to show that there is a diabolic secret agenda behind ongoing internal audit exercise at YEA.

According to the group, it will in the coming days reveal recordings of strategies being cooked by the new leadership of YEA, headed by Justin Kodua Frimpong, to find fault with the district staff of the agency so as to form the basis to replace all district directors and staff who served under the former government with NPP youth operatives.

The group promises evidence of political cronyism at YEA that permeates every aspect of the agency, including its audit department.

“We will show to Ghanaians documentary proof of the relationship between the Internal Auditor of YEA and his Godfather, the Head (Director General) of the Internal Audit Agency, and how that relationship is being deployed against the wellbeing of the agency.

“We shall show to Ghanaians and seek answers (from management) on why the YEA Internal Auditor and Payroll Unit Head, who both resigned in 2015, were reinstated without complying with the Public Service rules on reengagement. We shall show copies of letters written by the Head of the Internal Audit Agency on this matter.

“FDYEA will in the coming days engage and show to the Ghanaian public reasons why payments for the current Audit Exercise being undertaken by management are made in cash (table top) instead of the cashless system operated in YEA over the years (Payment directly to the Internal Audit Agency’s Account).

“We shall show evidence of the fat-fat salaries being paid to the internal auditor and some identified party operatives outside the approved salary structure of YEA sanctioned by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission and the YEA Scheme of Service approved by the Public Services Commission.”

The promises formed the footnotes of a statement that FDYEA had issued on recent happenings at the YEA, where salaries of staff have been withheld, directors have been asked to proceed on leave and an internal audit is ostensibly bringing about the purging of YEA’s payroll of ghost names.

In the statement, the group makes the point that YEA is a public service institution, and not a wing of any political party, established with the Public Services Commission Act 1994 Session 7(b) and YEA Act 887 (2015).

Underscoring that YEA is an upgrade of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA) by YEA Act 887 (2015) the statement alleged that the new management of YEA has turned the agency into an extension of the ruling NPP.

It claimed that Justin Kodua Frimpong, who is the Ashanti Regional youth organizer of the NPP, is using his new position as YEA CEO to ask staff of YEA to proceed on leave while replacing them with NPP activists.

The group said, in doing this, Lawyer Kodua Frimpong has adopted a strategy to give a dog a bad name and hang it.

According to the group, the new management is systematically bastardizing the old management of the agency.

“As if the forceful removal of several of the staff of the Agency (who are public servants) from their positions through the baseless ‘proceed on leave’ directives and replacing them with NPP Party Operatives who do not even have the requisite qualification and experience is not enough, the Justin Kodua Frimpong-led management is now renting the media to cover up their inefficiencies and blatant disregard and abuses of the laws governing the agency.”

It notes that on the 19th of April 2017, management of the Agency issued to the media and the general public, a statement with the heading, YEA SUSPENDS PAYMENT OF BENEFICIARIES ALLOWANCES, signed by the Acting Deputy CEO (Operations).

In the said statement, management had made a claim and used same as basis to make the claim that the former administration had superintended over fraud.

But the FDYEA points out that, “While the Ag. CEO says the problems identified are anomalies, the Deputy CEO (Operations) and subsequently the newly appointed PRO of the Agency have continued to argue and stress that they have discovered serious fraud in the system ranging from over bloating of the Beneficiaries Payroll with over 60,000 ghost names to the new management having saved the State a whopping One Million cedis a month from actions they have undertaken since they assumed office some few weeks ago.”

The group explains that, The YEA Beneficiary Engagement Cycle has four major stages under Business Process and Monitoring, which comprises recruitment, training, employment and deployment.

It continues that he YEA Act and LI mandate YEA to develop a database of all its beneficiaries. Consequently, all beneficiaries were recruited online through a YEA web portal and their details stored on the SQL Server database online.

All the data, it said, is available on the system for any verification purposes.

”YEA engaged Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to go to all the training centres and made sure that every single beneficiary was registered biometrically and an ADB account opened for them during the training phase. So each and every YEA beneficiary is registered biometrically, have all their fingerprint details with ADB and GhIPSS (Ezwich).

“In addition, before anybody is paid, YEA sends the list to the E-zwich Service Providers (GHIPPS, a subsidiary of the Bank of Ghana). Under the YEA and GHIPPS arrangements, GHIPPS validates the list against what they received from ADB before requesting from YEA for the “Go Ahead” authorization to pay the Beneficiaries.”

FDYEA submits that nobody at YEA, including beneficiaries, are paid cash as salaries. All beneficiaries, it said, are paid through the Ezwich biometric system – 10% of the money is put on their Ezwich cards while the remaining 90% is put in their ADB bank accounts.

“In a nutshell, when leadership of YEA use the term Ghosts, FDYEA wonders what basis they have for making those claims. How can there be ghosts when one requires a unique fingerprint authentication to access money from e-zwich accounts?”

“We are challenging the Leadership to produce the names, Ezwich Numbers, YEA Numbers, Modules, Districts and Regions for the Ghosts names and let the public check whether they cannot be traced to beneficiaries that had gone through the four phase beneficiary engagement business process.”

FDYEA also pointed out that financial matters at YEA are very easily traceable through both digital and paper trails.

“At YEA, there is a complete digital audit trail of all monies from the Bank of Ghana (consolidated fund) account, to the bank accounts of all the youth engaged on the various modules. GHIPPS has the fingerprint details of every single recipient of Government monies from YEA. ADB has the bank account details of every single recipient of Government monies from YEA.

“YEA run a totally decentralized system. YEA District Directors in conjunction with their colleague District Directors of Education, Health, Police, Fire and Prisons, interviewed each of the beneficiaries. And there is a paper trail as well. So if anybody wants to identify any beneficiary, they can be easily traced. EOCO has direct Administrator (Key) access to the YEA online system as well.”

According to the group, the new management’s recent declaration that there are many ghost names on the YEA data base is a confusion brought on by the ruling NPP.

It said, as part of the payment authorization process, periodic monitoring exercises are undertaken to identify and suspend payments to all beneficiaries who have exited the programme.

“In January 2017, while the then management had begun this all important exercise, a call was received from an NPP party operative claiming to be speaking from the NPP Party Headquarters. The caller ordered the then management to suspend the monitoring exercise immediately. Eventually, EOCO was hinted of the allegedly illegal activity (Monitoring Exercise) and the YEA Head Office was “raided” by officers of the EOCO taking away everything from plain papers to computers for investigation.”

Even so, the group said, In February, this year, the Monitoring Team eventually managed put together a comprehensive report which was submitted to the then Acting CEO, Lawyer Justin Kodua Frimpong.

“The report contained information on beneficiaries who have exited the Programme. The Acting CEO should tell us why he did not act on the report to sanction the immediate and effective removal of the exited beneficiaries (alleged ghosts) before authorizing payment in March/April 2017. Leadership should explain to Ghanaian who authorized the payment of the “2999” ghosts without going through the required “due diligence.”

Accusing the new management of trying to throw dust into the eyes of Ghanaians, the FDYEA statement pointed out that the freeze placed on the salaries of beneficiaries by the new management has accounted for some of the beneficiaries being constrained to stop going to work. It pointed out that the categorization of such employees as “ghosts” by the new management was unfair.

“One easily verifiable fact is that some of the beneficiaries may not have been very regular (in recent times) at their work places while some may not be attending at all due to the non-payment of their allowances for several months. A lot of the beneficiaries spend not less that 2 cedis on transportation to and from their working places each day. These beneficiaries have been extremely committed to their jobs since their engagements, hence their temporal absences arising out of challenges with their allowances cannot be said to be cases of the erstwhile management having over bloated the beneficiary payroll with ghosts.”

The statement said the FDYEA believes strongly that the ghost names story that the new management is using as excuse to suspend the salaries of beneficiaries and to paint a picture of fraud under the old administration was a deliberate sell as part of a grand political agenda.

It said the Lawyer Justin Kodua Frimpong-led management is just preparing the grounds for an agenda to forcefully push out all the current staff so they can be replaced with constituency youth organisers of the ruling NPP.

“This is a statement of fact corroborated by the latest outburst of the Gender Minister, Hon. Otiko Afisa Djaba, who in a reaction to an accusation of tribal bigotry leveled against her by the Northern Regional Chairman of the NPP, Mr. Bugri Naabu, said the Youth Employment Agency had been given to the NPP’s Youth Wing just as NADMO has been given to the party’s Organizers.”

It said, as part of reasons for the current happenings at the YEA, the Justin Kodua Frimpong-led management had made a disclosure that someone among the previous management authorized GhIPSS at the time that fraud had been detected.

“Funny enough, neither the Acting CEO nor any of his deputies has been able to name this person whom they claim caused such a fraud to happen neither have they put anyone up for investigation regarding this wayward claim. We challenge Lawyer Kodua Frimpong to respect the laws of the land and take action on the person he claims authorised such an absurdity.”

Otherwise, the statement said, “we expect an action on this within 7 days or the good lawyer must render an unqualified apology to the staff of the Agency and the Ghanaian public. We also challenge GhIPSS to come clear on this claim by the YEA management as it affects the credibility of their platform.”

Amidst the bastardization of the former management, the statement also noted that the new management has taken serious decisions that could affect the agency badly.

Among others, it said the YEA Conditions of Service which was approved by the YEA Board and signed into force by the immediate past CEO, Mr. Kobina Obu Beecham, in December, 2016, has been suspended by the Justin Kodua Frimpong-led management.

The statement accused the new management of political interference and double standards, saying “it is doing some of the things that it says it is fighting.”

“Is it not interesting that while the Justin Kodua Frimpong led management is accusing the current staff of the Agency as being NDC apparatchiks, he himself and his two deputies are all Regional and Chapter Youth Organisers of the NPP? Again,  is it also not interesting that the new management within 24 hours appointed ten known NPP Regional Executives on contract basis (without the involvement of a Board or Public Services Commission) to replace the ten Regional Directors (public servants) of the Agency who were forcefully made to proceed on leave by the same management?

“It is instructive to note that the Interim National Chairperson of the YEA staff union (a chapter of the PSWU) who was the Secretary to the Director of Administration was removed and made to proceed on leave weeks back.”



Source: / Fiifi Samuels

The Republic News Online

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