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20.07.2005 General News

Ministry smells corruption at AMA

Ministry smells corruption at AMA

... As assembly fails to provide disbursement details of ¢8bn HIPC funds The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLRD) has scented malfeasance and misappropriation of the recent ¢8 billion HIPC Fund released to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to pay 50% of Solid Waste Contractors (SWC)s debt owed them by the Assembly.

The acting Director of the Ministry, Mr. D.A Nyankamawu has hinted The Chronicle that he has dispatched internal auditors of the Ministry to verify the disbursement of the amount.

This, he explained, has come as result of the Metropolitan Chief Executive Mr. Stanley Adiri Blankson and his financial Director, Mr. K.K.Bosompem's failure to provide details of the disbursement, three weeks after they were instructed to provide that simple information.

He added that the action of the Ministry was to expedite action to process the remaining 50% payment to the SWCs.

On the 29th June, 2005, the MLRD wrote to the AMA, instructing them to furnish the Ministry with the disbursement list of the ¢8 billion released to them to pay the SWCs.

The said letter was specifically addressed to the MCE, Mr. Adjiri Blankson and signed by Mr. Nyankamawu. Part of the letter reads, “You are requested to furnish this Ministry with the disbursement list. This will enable the Ministry expedite action on the payment of the remaining 50% to the SWCs”.

However, officials of the Local Government Ministry who spoke to The Chronicle asserted that for whatever reasons, the MCE had refused to provide that information after persistent reminders to the MCE about the urgency of the information.

They maintained that the action of the MCE was causing the delay in the release of the remaining 50%, and this was impacting negatively on the operations of the SWCs.

The Executive Director of the Waste Contractors Association (WCA) Mr. Michael Boahene, not happy with the actions of the AMA, told The Chronicle that the Assembly was responsible for the huge gabbage scattered throughout the city.

This, Mr. Boahene maintained, has come as result of lack of transparency in the disbursement of HIPC Funds meant for the management of solid waste in the city.

“The central government, as result, usually delays or refuses to release accumulated funds meant for these poverty-related activities because the Assembly did not properly account for such monies released previously.”

On the current huge refuse taking over the city, Mr. Boahene asserted that the non-transparent nature of the AMA in the disbursement of HIPC funds to their members and the Finance Ministry's subsequent delays and refusal to release accumulated funds have adversely effected their operations.

He said further that the phenomenon by the AMA has reduced their operation capacity to about 20%, due to lack of operational capital which is usually locked up at the central government due to indiscretion on the part of the city authority.

Several investigation by The Chronicle had established that for the past four years, part of every HIPC Fund released by the Ministry of Finance to AMA for these poverty-related activities, went into private pockets.

For example, The Chronicle investigations revealed that in May 2002, an amount of ¢5 billion was released by the Finance Ministry to AMA to pay debts owed to SWCs.

However, by the discretion of the Regional Coordinating Council RCC under the chairmanship of Sheikh I.C.Quaye, the Regional Minister, over ¢2 billion was deducted from that amount to pay for the construction of the Oblogo road where the landfill site is located.

The said contract was awarded to Yiadom Company Limited, however after only 10% of the work was done and it was abrogated for no explanation.

The paper gathered that the Oblogo road was abandoned for over three years though monies had been deducted for that purpose.

The Oblogo people, due to the deplorable nature of their road, had within one month, blocked refuse trucks from using the road to dump refuse at the landfill site.

The outcome of that action is the huge refuse taking over the city.

In March, this year, The Chronicle's investigations established that the AMA had deliberately overpaid one Solid Waste Contractor, J Stanley Owusu to the tune of over ¢1 billion for no work done, and this was admitted by Mr. K.K.Bosompem, financial director of AMA.

A document available to the paper indicates that should any irregularity be detected in the Assembly's disbursement details, it would spell doom to the Assembly's future sourcing of funds from the HIPC Fund.

The deputy Financial Minister, Mr. Kwaku Agyeman Manu, in releasing the money to AMA in a letter dated 19th May 2005, warned that they risked being suspended from enjoying the HIPC Funds if they failed to properly account for the money given them.

Neither Mr. Adjiri Blankson nor his Financial Director, Mr. K.K.Bosmpem could be reached for their comment as they were said to be in a meeting.