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24.08.2004 General News

Unconstitutional use of HIPC funds criticised

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Accra, Aug. 24, GNA - Dr Nii Josiah Aryeh, General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), on Tuesday said the NDC had seen that the manner in which the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) funds were being allocated, disbursed and spent was unconstitutional.

The NDC is, therefore, taking measures to ensure that the unconstitutional approach to the management of the country's finances is brought to a halt.

As part of the measures, the NDC was in consultation with its Lawyers to decide on what constitutional actions to take in defence of the constitutional provisions assigning to Parliament the responsibility for the allocation and disbursement of public funds.

Dr Aryeh, who was addressing a press conference in reaction to the Finance Minister Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo's periodic updates on how the HIPC fund was being spent, said the Party was also making a formal demand on the Auditor-General to institute immediate forensic audits into the utilisation of all previous allocations and releases of the HIPC funds.

The Party would again formally write to the country's Development Partners to notify them of the abuse of the constitutional processes and provisions in the allocation and disbursement of the HIPC funds as well as the unconstitutional use to which the power of the Minister of Finance was being put in relation to the allocation and disbursement of the funds.

Dr Aryeh said: "The NPP government and the Minister of Finance have the responsibility to explain to Ghanaians under what law or authority the Minister disbursed the HIPC funds.

"Until that was done, we view the allocation and disbursement of the HIPC clearly unconstitutional act, an abuse of power and a very good case for the Fast Track High Court either now or in the future.

"We of the NDC, however, do not intend to wait until the harm has been done before we cry foul, we wish to take this opportunity to notify the NPP government of the measures we intend to take", he said. Dr Aryeh said HIPC funds constituted public funds as defined under Article 175 of the Constitution, which stated: "The public funds of Ghana shall be the consolidated Fund, contingency Fund and such other public funds as may be established by or under the authority of an Act of Parliament". 24 Aug. 04

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