Ghana reportedly budgeted $8.5 million for AFCON 2023 tournament – Ablakwa

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Ghana reportedly budgeted $8.5 million for AFCON 2023 tournament – Ablakwa

In a stunning revelation that has sent shockwaves through Ghana’s sporting landscape, Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, recently took to social media to expose what he claims is a controversial budgetary allocation for the Black Stars’ campaign during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d’Ivoire.

According to Ablakwa, both the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ghana Football Association collaborated on a budget that amounted to a staggering $8.5 million.

This disclosed budget stands apart from the GHS27.9 million previously spent on the qualifiers, bringing the total financial commitment to GHS133 million. A letter, reportedly intercepted from the Ministry of Youth and Sports and dated January 2nd, 2024, addressed to the Minister of Finance, adds another layer to the controversy.

The letter, signed by Chief Director Mr. William Kartey on behalf of Minister Hon. Mustapha Ussif, requests a partial payment of $5,071,840.36 from the total Black Stars budget of $8,506,450.00.

The timing of this revelation is significant, as it comes in the aftermath of the Black Stars’ underwhelming performance at the AFCON 2023 tournament.

Exiting in the group stages with only two points from three matches, including a defeat against Cape Verde and two draws, led to their unexpected first-round exit. As a consequence, coach Chris Hughton has been relieved of his duties, and the search for a new coach has commenced.

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Ablakwa’s revelation sheds light on the financial intricacies of the Black Stars’ campaign, raising questions about fiscal responsibility, transparency, and the allocation of public resources. It is essential to delve deeper into the details of this budgetary controversy to understand its implications on both the sporting and economic fronts.

Firstly, the $8.5 million budget for the Black Stars’ AFCON campaign is substantial by any measure. In the context of Ghana’s economic challenges, citizens are questioning the necessity and justification of such a significant financial commitment to a football campaign.

With pressing needs in sectors like healthcare, education, and infrastructure development, the allocation of GHS133 million for football raises concerns about resource allocation and prioritization.

Ablakwa’s claim of having “unimpeachable” documentation supporting the budget figures adds credibility to his assertions. The public’s demand for transparency in financial matters is crucial, especially when public funds are involved.

The intercepted letter requesting a partial payment of over $5 million adds another layer of complexity, prompting citizens to scrutinize how these funds were utilized and whether they align with the intended purpose.

The $5,071,840.36 partial payment request, signed by Chief Director Mr. William Kartey on behalf of Minister Hon. Mustapha Ussif, raises questions about the decision-making process within the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

What specific expenses are covered by this partial payment, and why was it deemed necessary at this particular juncture? These are queries that demand answers to ensure accountability and responsible financial management.

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Ablakwa’s emphasis on the fact that the winner’s prize money for the AFCON is US$ 7 million adds a critical dimension to the controversy. Even if the Black Stars had emerged victorious, the proposed budget would have resulted in Ghana making losses exceeding US$ 1.5 million.

This revelation calls into question the prudence and financial responsibility exercised by those responsible for formulating and approving such budgets.

The call for a parliamentary probe, scheduled to commence on the 6th of February, 2024, underscores the urgency and importance attached to this matter. Ablakwa’s insistence on a thorough investigation reflects the public’s demand for accountability in public spending, especially when it comes to high-profile events like international sporting campaigns.

Ghanaian citizens, grappling with economic challenges, are keenly awaiting the outcome of the parliamentary inquiry. The probe will likely shape future budgetary practices within the sports sector and contribute to a broader conversation on fiscal responsibility in the country.

The controversy surrounding the Black Stars’ AFCON 2023 budget serves as a wake-up call, highlighting the need for greater transparency, accountability, and responsible financial management in the allocation of public funds.

As the parliamentary inquiry unfolds, it will be essential for the government and sporting authorities to address the concerns raised by citizens. Clarifying how the allocated funds were utilized and ensuring that future budgets align with national priorities will be crucial in rebuilding public trust.

The outcome of this investigation has the potential to set a precedent for financial accountability within Ghana’s sports sector and beyond.

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