Minority objects to "pad" loan
Accra, July7, GNA - The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Minority Caucus in Parliament has repeated its objection to the 156 million dollars International Development Association loan that government last Wednesday submitted for legislative approval.
It said its protestation stemmed from the fact that there is too much borrowing, poor value for money, while the scholarship scheme under the loan agreement is fraudulent.
The side also disagreed with the creation of a parallel scholarship secretariat aside the existing one, adding that such a loan should rather be used to address problems at the basic level.
They objected to the 15.9 million dollar component of the loan which is meant for monitoring and evaluation.
At a news conference at Parliament House in Accra on Monday, the Minority registered its support for any initiative or project that improves secondary education and churns out quality products.
They side said they was not happy by what they it called 'the unfortunate attempt to use secondary education as an excuse to misappropriate public funds'.
'The NPP Minority Caucus opposed and continues to oppose the said loan,' it said.
Mr Kwaku Agyemang Manu, MP for Dormaa East and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, flanked by Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, Ranking Member on Finance and a section of minority MP's were at a loss on the explanation by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) on the loan meant for the construction and improvement of some senior high schools in the country.
Recalling the problems government had with financial facilities like the STX Housing loan and the Chinese Development Bank three billion dollar Loan; the Minority called on Ghanaians to request value for money and queried whether the scholarship aspect of the project could be sustained after the loan amount is exhausted.
Describing the scholarship scheme as fraudulent, Mr Agyemang Manu said: 'We are told, ladies and gentlemen, that 15.6 million Dollars (the equivalent of GHâ‚µ 50 million) would be used to run a scholarship scheme for some 10,400 senior high school students for just three years.'
Over these three years, the money will cater for pencils, notebooks, sandals, sanitary pads of the beneficiaries
'It is strange to recollect that last Friday Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Education) stated on Peace Fm that the Scholarship Scheme would last between 2014 and 2019. This is patented untruth. The scheme is for three years.'
The Minority described the inclusion of sanitary pads in the list as an insult to Ghanaian womanhood, arguing that it is better for government to improve the financial conditions of parents to buy such items for their wards.
'Already, the Mahama administration is unable to provide for students who are already on government scholarship, this initiate is completely and disturbingly unsustainable,' Mr Agyemang Manu said.
He said: 'It is obvious that the real motive of government is something else, otherwise how can a government take a loan to run a three-year scholarship programme for only 10,400 students'.
The NPP condemned the proposed creation of a parallel scholarship secretariat which is completely independent of the Ghana National Scholarship Secretariat to manage the transient scholarship programme.
It said staff at the scholarship secretariat have very little work to do because government cannot provide them with funds to administer students on state scholarship.
'But we pay their salaries every month. Their salaries are part of the wage bill on which the Mahama government has blamed all the problems of this country.
'So how can government justify the use of a parallel scholarship secretariat to run this transient scholarship programmes for just 10,400 senior high students for a period of three years'.
Mr Agyemang Manu damned the government for what he called: 'This irresponsible misuse of public funds', adding, 'Government is pursuing this create loot and share agenda to put state resources into the pockets of their cronies and party foot soldiers.'
The NPP called on the government to address problems at the basic school level, such as the provision of chalk to teach pupils, pay the capitation and the school feeding grants, which are in arrears for some time now.
'Yet the hypocrisy of this administration (is that) it has no difficulty by-passing all these problems at the basic school level to cater for school uniforms, sandals and sanitary pads for students in senior high school.'
The Minority described as shocking the allocation of 15.9 million dollars for research, monitoring and evaluation of which 40 per cent of the amount would go to supervising consultants.
'Do we not have outfits at the Ministry of Education that monitor and supervise the provision of educational infrastructure. Is the way we build the capacity for our educational institutions? Obviously no. It is all a dishonest strategy to create avenues to siphon public funds.'
The Minority urged the World Bank to relook at the project and bring good governance consideration to bear so as to maintain the bank's credibility.
'This project as it stands is bad. We believe that an important initiative to improve senior high education is being contaminated by the greed and illegitimate interest of people in government. For the sake of the national Interest, it must be stopped,' the Minority said.