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09.11.2006 General News

State House Face-Lift At Standstill

By times
State House Face-Lift At Standstill
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RENOVATION work on the State House, popularly known as "Job 600", has come to a standstill following Parliament's inability to raise 23 million dollars needed for the project.

The building, after renovation, is expected to house the Debating Chamber, the Speaker's Block and a Tower Block, which is to provide offices for Parliament and Parliamentarians, Committee Rooms and a library.

Times investigations at Parliament have revealed that although work on the project stalled some time in 2003, Parliament still continues to pay for the scaffolds for the project.
investigations at Parliament have revealed that although work on the project stalled some time in 2003, Parliament still continues to pay for the scaffolds for the project.

President Kufuor, in his first State-of-the-Nation's address in 2001, promised the parliamentarians that the building would be rehabilitated within two years and turned into offices, committee rooms, as well as dining-halls.

However, Times investigations have revealed that since 2003, no budgetary allocations had been made for the project.

Sources say the government has asked Parliament to source a loan on its own to complete the job.

At present, it is only the Speaker, his two deputies and the leadership of the House who have office accommodation. None of the Parliamentary Select Committees has a meeting room to itself, and so deliberations are held in the foyer.

Ideally, individual MPs should have two rooms to serve as offices for themselves and their support staff, but they have not enjoyed these facilities since the inception of the Fourth Republican Parliament in 1993.

The "Job 600" was built by the Chinese originally to provide accommodation for delegates to the Organization of African Unity conference in 1965 hosted in Accra.

Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, in response to a questionnaire submitted to him by the Times said that the debating chamber and the Speaker's Block have long been completed and are in use, leaving the Tower Block.

The minister confirmed that work on the Tower Block has been suspended for the last two years for lack of funds.

He said that at the time of the suspension, extensive demolitions had been carried out in portions of the buildings by the main contractors, China State Haulong, and added that substantial electrical installation work had been completed.

Mr. Owusu-Agyeman said total value remaining is estimated at 23 million dollars, and that the ministry had initiated discussions with SSNIT for 24 million dollars loan for the completion of the offices for parliament and parliamentarians.

The minister said, the proposal went to cabinet for approval, which had requested him together with the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and Private Sector Development to examine in detail the costs and report to Parliament.

He said in the meantime the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs is also exploring alternative avenues to source funds for the completion of the project.

The Deputy Director of Public Affairs of Parliament, Kate Addo, also told the Times that Parliament is discussing with the presidency how best to secure funds for the project.

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