Accra, Feb. 20, GNA - Members of Parliament on Monday complained about huge the disparities between the cost of projects undertaken by the Social Investment Fund (SIF) and that of District Assemblies. The MPs observed that projects undertaken under SIF cost about half of what the District Assemblies were paying for similar projects and commended SIF for doing a good a job in its effort to reduce poverty. The MPs made the observation after Mrs Ama Serwaa Dapaah, Executive Director of the Fund, had briefed members of the Financial Sub-committee of Parliament on the performance of the Fund since 1998 in fighting poverty.
Mr Abuga Pele, MP for Chiana /Paga, raised the initial concern when he noted that the cost of projects by the Fund seemed to be far lower than what was presented by their assemblies as costs for school building projects, "even though the school projects by the Assemblies do not include furniture as is the case with that of the SIF".
He, therefore, urged the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and other State organs to ensure that costs of projects did not vary so much considering the fact that prices of building materials did not vary so much across the country.
He said the differential was too much and must be brought to the attention of those in charge.
Mrs Grace Coleman, MP for Asokore, said it was important for this anomaly to be rectified as a soon as possible to save the country the millions of cedis that was wasted or was misappropriated every year at the District and Municipal levels.
Others also called for caution since the prices of building materials vary from one part of the country to another, saying, the matter must be examined thoroughly.
Mrs Dapaah said the Fund aimed at facilitating access to basic economic and social infrastructure and services to improve their viability and sustainability.
She said the SIF, which was in 80 of the old 110 districts, had to date implemented 1,049 sub projects at a cost of 183.5 billion cedis out of which 140.6 billion cedis had been disbursed impacting on the lives of 1.1 million people.
This represents 16 per cent of the 38 per cent of Ghanaians living under the poverty line.
Mrs Dapaah said the Project has put in place a training programme for class one to four contractors in the rural areas, saying the Project had completed 871 sub projects including 445 classroom blocks and 46 teachers' quarters. The Project has also sunk 161 boreholes and put up 16 libraries, 79 nurses' quarters and clinics and 37 early childhood development centres.
Giving the breakdown of funding for the first phase of the project, Ms Dapaah said the African Development Bank provided 14.9 million dollars of which 99 per cent had been received.
She said only 20 per cent - 340,000 dollars had been provided by the UNDP out of the 1.7 million dollars promised.
"Fifty per cent of the 1.8 million dollars being the matching fund from the Ghana government is yet to be received while all the OPEC Fund of 2.3 million dollars has been disbursed," she said. 20 Feb. 06