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29.01.2009 General News

$12m needed to complete Jubilee House

$12m needed to complete Jubilee House


The country will require a minimum of $12 million to fully complete the Golden Jubilee House, Ghana's new seat of government.

When fully completed, therefore, the edifice, which was originally estimated to cost $36 million, would have cost the taxpayer between $80 million and $135 million.

Nana Ato Dadzie, a member of the Executive Asset Declaration Committee of the Government Transitional Team, dropped the hint in his contribution at a workshop organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (lEA) to discuss aspects of the Presidential Transition Bill put together by the institute for the consideration of Parliament.

He said so far money sank into the first phase of the project had hit $68 million.

From the initial estimation, the Indian Government made available $30 million as grant, while the government was to provide a counterpart funding of $6.9 million.

Other sources within the transitional team had told the Daily Graphic that the extra money spent on the project did not go through Parliament, as was the case when approval for the original project was sought.

Nana Dadzie said those revelations were being made in public without malice but to give taxpayers a true reflection of what was being done with their money.

He said when money had been spent way above what had originally been budgeted for and placed in the public domain, there was the need for questions to be asked for issues to become transparent and also for the same public to know the true state of affairs.

Nana Dadzie said in 2001 there had been issues with expenditure and the declaration of government assets, saying that the same had arisen this time around.

He used his submissions to justify the need for a special unit, as proposed by the IEA Transitional Bill, to independently take charge of all government assets.

"There is so much acrimony and suspicion when it comes to the declaration of government assets when there is a change of government and this can be halted when there is such a unit," he said.

The bill proposes that: "There is established by this Act, a Presidential Estates Unit (PEU), the functions of which are to procure, secure and keep an inventory of the assets and properties of the government which are assets and properties not vested in the Lands Commission established under Article 258 of the Constitution."

Nana Dadzie said lessons from the past should serve as a guide during future transitions and noted that the PEU, as proposed, would solve a lot of problems and allow concentration in other areas and also save people from answering questions.

Mr Kwamena Ahwoi, a resource person to the government transitional team and senior lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPM had earlier supported the need for the special unit to handle government assets.

"We should move away from the days when one government spends taxpayers' money to acquire assets for the state and then when another takes over it decides not to use those assets for some funny reasons," he said.

According to him, there was a lot of suspicion with regard to the work curently being done, as issues were being brought to the fore concerning expenditure made by the previous government in respect of the acquisition of assets.

The proposed IEA Transitional Bill suggests that the PEU will be "under an Administrator-General, who shall be appointed by the President, in consultation with the Council of State".

That, according to Mr Ahwoi, was necessary to ensure that the administrator was raised to the level of an Appeal Court judge, with the same tenure of office as the Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC).

Mr Ahwoi said the issue was critical and asked Parliament to give it critical thought and pass it as a way of making the practice of democracy in the country profound.

Issues concerning the day for general elections, the swearing in of the President, among others, also came up strongly for discussion.

Speaker after speaker proposed ways of ensuring that the power vacuum created between the hours of January 6 and the time when the new President was sworn in needed to be critically looked at.

On the appointment of ministers, it was proposed that there should be a clear definition of the role of caretaker ministers prior to substantive appointments and their subsequent approval by Parliament to ensure that there was no doubt about their authority, as was the case presently.

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