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Women’s Ministry Denies Frustrating DWM

By Graphic

The Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MOWAC) has denied ever putting impediments in the way of the 31st December Women’s Movement (DWM) in the discharge of its work.

The ministry said it had neither stopped the DWM from executing the Women’s Community Development Project nor prevented cheques from being issued to the movement from loans provided by the African Development Fund (ADF). Reacting to comments made by the former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, on a Tema-based radio station recently, the ministry expressed shock at her comments and said she was economical with the truth.

It said the former First Lady failed to disclose to the public the role of the Ghana government/Ministry of Finance in the acquisition of the loan, the role and status of the National Council on Women and Development (NCWD) in the project and how the DWM became party to the loan agreement and also the executing agency for the project.

In a statement, the ministry said Nana Agyemang Rawlings did not also tell the public who received and disbursed the loan from the ADF, ADF Protocol (Grant) and the counterpart funding from the Ghana government and who was to repay the loan in case of default by DWM.Giving a background to the loan, it said reports indicated that the Government of Ghana, acting through the Ministry of Finance, took a loan of $2,482,007.67 and an ADF Protocol Grant of $601,451 from the ADF and as a condition of the loan agreement, the Government of Ghana provided a counterpart funding of $299,364.50.

The statement alleged that a total of $3,382,823.59 was given to the DWM under the loan/grant/counterpart funding facility for the Women’s Community Development Project but there was no record of repayment of the whole loan or any part of it.It said it was common knowledge that the DWM was the women’s wing of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and even if it was a non-governmental organisation as it claimed, it did not qualify to obtain loans from the government for its projects.

The statement said the NCWD was conveniently used as a decoy for obtaining the loan.It said the NCWD should have been a party to the loan agreement but the deal was crafted in such a way that the part that the NCWD played was to append its signature to cheques that were issued by the Ministry of Finance.

It said a Quarterly Report submitted by the Projects Management Unit (PMU) of the DWM stated that as a condition precedent for the disbursement of the loan, there should be evidence satisfactory to the ADF that an account had been opened in a local commercial bank into which the proceeds of the loan and government contributions would be deposited for the operation of the PMU.

The statement said an account was opened with the Ghana Commercial Bank and this was controlled by the DWM. According to the statement, another condition of the loan agreement was to provide evidence to the ADF that the loan was going to the NCWD.It said “an account was opened but not in the name of the NCWD and the NCWD did not receive the proceeds of the loan.

NCWD should have played the monitoring and supervisory role, but the NCWD had become so enmeshed in DWM that it had no teeth to bite.The statement said in a Project Quarterly Report from July to September 1999 by the PMU of the DWM, it was stated that the date of approval of the loan disbursement was July 22, 1993. The project completion date was March/April 1999.

It said in its revised implementation plan submitted by PMU the DWM mentioned the establishment and inauguration of management committees to operate community centres, income generating sheds, community water supplies and that this was to be done in May 1999, adding that all the money had been allocated and supposedly disbursed by the DWM, the implementing agency.

The statement said MOWAC was established in January 2001, long after the project should have been completed, saying that “if the reports issued by the PMU of the DWM were true or valid, then it was impossible for the MOWAC to halt the project or in anyway influence the implementation of the project as alleged by the former First Lady.

It said the former First Lady again alleged that the MOWAC had placed an embargo on a loan it contracted from the Chinese government to undertake a cocoa processing project. The statement said the former First Lady falsely accused MOWAC that it had stopped the release of the loan lodged with the Ministry of Finance on the pretext that the money, if released to the DWM, would be used for political activities.

It said although the former First Lady said that the loan, which was contracted by the DWM did not need a government guarantee, she added however that because the loan came from the Chinese government it had to be channelled through a government agency such as the Ministry of Finance.

The statement said upon the setting up of MOWAC, the NCWD and the Ghana National Commission on Children (GNCC) became departments of the ministry and stated that anybody who had something to do with these agencies relating to sub contracts should direct their grievances to the ministry for redress.

It expressed regret that the former First Lady had not done this but chosen to go public with her concerns and noted that the ministry would like to take the opportunity to invite anyone who had any question relating to the project to direct them to the ministry.