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05.02.2006 Press Review

Editorial: Mr. Bintim, cut the noise

By Public Agenda

Ever since we carried the story about how the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Mr. Charles Bintim, opted to import 2000 tricycles from China when indeed these could be obtained locally at a cheaper cost, we have listened keenly to the series of interviews which Mr. Bintim has granted to radio stations and attacked our integrity, claiming that we lied about the deal. He has argued that he as a minister has no hand in deciding where the tricycles should be purchased and that it was entirely the contractor's prerogative to choose which market he wants to import the tricycles.

We have also heard Mr. Bintim suggesting that the contractor's decision to import the tricycles from China was because he (the contractor) needed to begin work on clearing the waste in Accra and Kumasi soonest and therefore could not wait to have the local manufacturer supply them.

We want to state that these spirited attempts by Mr. Bintim to defend his obvious unpopular decision are but ugly excuses and fly in the face of evidence. The deal smacks of kick-back, and must be exposed for what it is. First, when did he get to know that he has no power in deciding where the tricycles should be bought? Before we published the story, Mr. Bintim had granted interviews to the Daily Graphic and was quoted as stating “that the ministry would take delivery of 1000 tricycles from China by the end of January to enhance the collection of waste from all nooks and crannies of the two major cities (Accra and Kumasi) of the country.”

He also told the Daily Graphic that his “ministry would initially take delivery of 1000 tricycles from China by the end of the month, which would be put to use in Accra and Kumasi while another 1000 was expected in the course of the year.” According to the Graphic story the minister expects to have “one thousand unemployed youth recruited to operate the tricycles and collect waste from door to door.”

How then does he turn around and accuse Public Agenda of lying? This newspaper is acting on national interest and we will do everything to protect the interest of local knowledge.

If indeed after awarding the contract, he could not compel the contractor to purchase the tricycles from a local manufacturer, why didn't Mr. Bintim in the first place, ensure that the contractual agreement had clauses compelling any winner of the contract to buy the tricycles from Ghana? Because Mr. Bintim was already aware of the existence of the local manufacturer and indeed, the waste management Department of the AMA had dealt with the local manufacturer before. Clearly, the average Ghanaian can read something sinister in Mr. Bintim's behaviour. Bintim needs no reminder that as a minister in a government that sings loudly about the private sector being the engine of growth, policies must be seen to be in consonance with the slogan.

We believe that it is only and only Ghanaians who can build Ghana. And in doing that they will need the support of the government. This import-sick attitude will not serve our course.