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15.12.2005 General News

Minority says loan for presidential edifice is wrong

By GNA
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Accra, Dec. 15, GNA - The Minority in Parliament on Thursday said the government has gotten its priorities completely wrong by going in for a 30 million dollar Indian loan for the construction of presidential offices and residence. A statement The Minority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin signed said, "we sincerely believe it is a classic case of misplaced priorities to spend over 270 billion cedis on presidential offices and residence complex at this time.

The Minority said: "We were constrained not to participate in the vote on the approval of a 60 million dollars Indian Exim facility for rural electrification and the construction of office and residential facilities for the President. The statement said; "we believe that the two projects, rural electrification and presidential office and residence should have been disaggregated and considered on their separate merits in Parliament. "We do not believe the assertion by Government officials on the floor of the House that in the agreement with the Indian Government the two projects could not be disaggregated and that the people of Ghana could not request to use the 30 million dollars earmarked for the Presidential office and residence complex for any purpose other than that.

"The project requests us to approve 30 million dollars for the construction of offices and residence for the President with absolutely no project appraisal document or design and costing of the project." The statement said: "We are told in the memorandum that the design for the office and residence complex is now to be done in India and presented to the Government of Ghana for approval. It asked on what basis, therefore, should approval of a loan of 30 million dollars be given as being sufficient or insufficient for execution of the project. The statement said: While this is a sole sourcing project and, therefore, not usually subject to the usual rigours of tender and other procurement procedures, the usual value for money evaluation that guarantees that the public purse is not short changed has not been carried out."

The Minority said: "We just got some vague assurances by former Minister of Finance and at present, Minister of Education and Sports, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo that in the course of time, after the designs and the quantities have been received a value for money evaluation will be conducted. We find this unacceptable." It said: "As the government that commenced the rural electrification programme, we totally support the 30 million dollars allocated to rural electrification and believe that the aspect of the loan facility is fully justified." The Minority said the loan was misplaced because it was being contracted at a time when Ghana had deteriorated in the quality of life in some of the world human development indices. It said it was also misplaced after an amount of 16 billion cedis was spent between 2001 and 2002 on renovating the Castle.

After such a colossal expenditure, the Minority said it found "it a waste for government to declare the Castle not fit for the presidency and, therefore, seek to build a whole new complex at this present time". It said: " The issue of misplaced priorities is made worse by the NPP Government's allocation of an additional 129 billion cedis, to in their own words "restore Peduase Lodge to its past glory". "The argument advanced by our colleagues on the floor that comfortable Presidential office and residence will promote tourism and good governance is fallacious", the statement said.

The Minority contended it was insensitive for the Government to spend 276 billion cedis on presidential offices and residence when the annual capitation grant for Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) was still inadequate to meet the needs of underprivileged school children and the cost of education had disabled many from pursuing higher qualifications. It said the Minority believed that there would eventually be the need to build appropriate structures to house the Presidency. It, however, said that at "this present time this pursuit is not at the top of the list of national priorities".

The Minority said there were sectors with more pressing needs where such investments were better spent such as in "education, health, modernization of agriculture, industry, roads, railways, ports etc". It said while the NPP could always use its majority in Parliament to ram such agreements down the throats of Ghanaians they, however, believed that the good people of Ghana were the better judges and dared able to discern whether the apostles of the ideology of property owning democracy represented their best interests.

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