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24.09.2005 Business & Finance

'Invisible' ¢27.6 Billion HIPC Projects

By Chronicle
'Invisible' ¢27.6 Billion HIPC Projects
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The Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Hon. Osei Akoto, has admitted that his Ministry could not establish a project or projects, for which an amount ¢27.6 billion from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) fund, was used at the time he presented the disbursement details to parliament.
He explained that as a result he provided a vain description "and others" as the detail of that particular amount to enable him balance his accounts and ascertain the projects that amount was used for.
He added that that was the only option available to him, since members would not have understood had he left the space blank and presented it to the Committee at the last day of the house's sitting.
Speaking on CITI FM, Dr. Akoto disclosed that he has since discover that about ¢6 billion was disbursed to the Ministry Manpower and Development and promised that he would unearth the other projects, which the amount was used, when parliament resumes October this year.
The minority spokesman on communication and Member of Parliament for Tamale South, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, had questioned the deputy minister on the details of the disbursement of the HIPC fund in 2004 when he presented it to the sub-committee of the house.
Hon. Iddrisu explained that the minister had stated in the document that an amount of ¢199.3 billion was set aside as 'contingency fund' and defined it as 'a fund set aside to cater for any unforeseen events, possibility or eventuality'.
"Based on this, I cannot understand why the minister, having set aside that huge amount of ¢199 billon for other events that could emerge within the period, decided to provide another amount of ¢27 billion, calling it "and others" with no specific project attached to it," Haruna Iddrisu stated.
The MP also alleged that the New Patriotic Party government, over the years, has reduced the HIPC fund to their campaign funds and as a result, could not even provide details of its disbursement.
He added that it was obvious that the ruling government had misappropriated huge chunk of the HIPC fund, thus his call for a probe into its disbursement spanning 2002 to 2005.
Readers would recalled that the disbursement of the HIPC fund in recent weeks, has come under serious question with the revelation that the director of the Ghana School of Law, Mr. Kwaku Ansa-Asare, had carried about ¢3.8 billion of such funds, in bags to his house.
The Chronicle's investigations this year, revealed also that the financial controller of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Mr. K.K. Bosompem, a close pal of the former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Hon. Osafo-Maafo, connived with a private company and pocketed about ¢1billion of the HIPC fund, meant for waste management.
Hon. Iddrisu, in his submission, appealed to the donor communities to take serious interest in the disbursement of the HIPC relief saying, "The funds were meant to better the lives of the millions of poor Ghanaians, however it appears that the money was been diverted wrongly".
He concluded by alleging that within the fiscal years of 2002 to 2004, the disbursements of the HIPC fund by the government were done at the behest of the Finance Minister to support their electioneering campaigns.

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