Mr Mustapha Ussif, Minister of Youth and Sports, says the Ministry has taken measures to curb the high cost of booking air tickets through travel and tour companies, incurred during travels for tournaments.
The Minister, who made the disclosure at the sitting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament in Accra, said the Ministry had with the approval of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to ensure value for money, contacted over 15 travel and tour companies, which were to provide the Ministry with their quotations of the cost of air tickets bookings; adding that the one with the least quotation would be selected.
Mr Ussif was at PAC to respond to issues raised in the 2019 Auditor-General’s Report concerning his Ministry.
The audit report revealed that the Ministry of Youth and Sports June 2017, paid Kenpong Travel and Tours Limited, an amount of GH¢705,495 for the procurement of various air tickets for the National Football Team and other officials of the Ministry.
The report said the audit team’s market survey conducted within the airline industry in May 2019 proved that Kenpong Travel and Tours Limited’s prices were much higher than the prevailing market prices.
“Our survey showed that whereas a return flight by KLM, Madrid – Accra – Madrid was GH¢6,279.18 (€1,075.00) in March 2019, Kenpong Travel and Tours Limited for the same route two years ago (in June 2017) charged GH¢32,313.00, which was more than 328 per cent above the market price.”
The report said the Management of the Youth and Sports Ministry agreed with their observation, however, they argued that the original prices of some of the tickets which went up occurred owing to changes in flight bookings.
It said the Audit Team, however, disagreed with Management on the grounds that in their view, such changes should have only attracted penalties.
To ensure effective cost control on airline tickets, the report urged Management to acquaint themselves with knowledge in the procurement and rescheduling of airline tickets.
Mr Ussif said the practice of booking air tickets by the Ministry because sometimes the Technical Team of the National Team would present the selection of the team members or the players late since they would have to do scouting of the various players to see who was fit to be selected for a particular tournament, which sometimes leads to delays and at a short notice of one or two weeks to the event, they would be requesting for booking for airline tickets.
He said if one was booking an air ticket three months in advance one would get it more than when one was booking an air ticket just within two days to an event.
“And sometimes too, even when the Technical Team had submitted the list of players there can still be changes because of injuries to the players.
“For example, if the Technical Team submits 26 or 30 players to the Ministry that we are taking to Qatar, then just two weeks or one week to the tournament there is an injury during training time, you have to replace (the injured player) very quickly,” he said.
The Minister said in a replacement one needs to book a ticket for whichever player the Technical Team or the FA (Football Association) would recommend to the Ministry, and that in such a circumstance one gets the ticket at a high price.
He said since assuming office, he had been engaging the FA on measures to ensure value for money.