Regional News of Friday, 11 July 2014
Source: Listowell Yesu Bukarson
The Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly says its administration is opened to an immediate forensic auditing, even today. This is because its office is open, transparent and alive to constrictive criticisms and therefore has nothing to hide.
The Assembly made the call at a press interaction in Kumasi to respond to calls by some disgruntled members of the Assembly for the immediate removal of the Mayor Kojo Bonsu from office.
Seven out of the over 145 Members of the Assembly in a 13 point petition to the President John Dramani Mahama and copied to the Ashanti Regional Minister, the Asantehene Otumfour Osei Tutu II and the Ashanti Regional Police Commander raised the litany of accusations against the Mayor.
The accusations include, indiscriminate re-zoning of lands in the City, disbursement of the Assembly’s Urban Grant without approval by the Assembly, breach of the Procurement Act, wrongful sitting of a fuel station close to North Suntreso Hospital opposite the Prempeh college, huge sums of money involved in maintain security at the Kejetia lorry park, lack of tranperancy in the budgetary allocation for the “Green Kumasi” one million tree planting project, embarking on what they called “reckless spending spree” by exceeding the Assembly’s approved budget of Gh3.5 billion for the Rattary Park fencing to a whooping Gh8 billion without the consent of the Assembly, embarking on various foreign trips without notifying the Assembly among others.
Addressing the press, the Spokesperson to the Mr. Samuel Gyemfi, indicated that the response has become imperative because, “the Assembly is a democratic institution which respects the opinions of its members, no matter how varied they are”.
He stressed that, Management sees the issues catalogued in the petition as not only false but, “a calculated attempt to tarnish the image of the Mayor and the entire Assembly”.
Addressing the accusations in specific details, Mr. Gyemfi said on Re-zoning, the accusers got it wrong because, to re-zone a piece of land, an application is put in by land owners through the town and country planning Department and the Lands Commission for approval by the Kumasi Planning Committee. “It’s therefore not the sole duty of the Metropolitan Chief Executive to re-zone lands as alleged”. “Therefore the allegations that the Mayor is arbitrarily and indiscriminately re-zoning lands are misplaced” He added.
According to him, the General Assembly of the KMA has fully approved the implementation of various projects under the Urban Development Grant, UDG I, UDG II and UDG III “and these funds do not require the assent of the Presiding Member of the Assembly again as questioned in the petition”.
Responding to the question of breach of the Procurement Act in respect of the Rattary Park Project, the spokesperson explained that, the project has gone through “all the procurement processes as demanded by law, since it has been approved by the General Assembly”.
On the Kejetia Lorry Park, Mr. Gyemfi emphasized that the takeover of the Kejetia Lorry Park Terminal had the approval of the Executive Committee and consequently the General Assembly of the KMA.
“All financial records of proceedings from the terminal can clearly be seen in the monthly trial balance of the Assembly, which is usually discussed by the Finance and Administration Sub-Committee monthly”, he added.
On the question of the sitting of the filling station, he explained that a host of institutions and various assessments come into the exercise. , “For instance, a Traffic Impact Assessment is done, Fire Service, Environmental Protection Agency all have roles to play. And ones these agencies clear permission; the KMA has little or no questions regarding the sitting of a filling station in the City”.
Regarding the Tree Planting project, Mr. Gyemfi explained that the idea was part of the Mayor’s Sessional Address upon assumption of office which was adopted by the Assembly. “As part of procedure for the implementation of the project, the Executive Committee of the KMA was part of a planning process. The project is being funded from the beautification budget of the Assembly with support from private institutions and individuals such as the KNUST, GIZ, Prudential Bank, CRIG-FORIG among others.
He lamented the fabrication of a whooping sum of Gh 8 billion as figures already spent of the Rattray Park Project. Describing it as “outrageously ridiculous”.
“Its worthy of note that the whole annual budget of funding sources of the Assembly is about Gh 40 million. The Assembly approved a budget of Gh650, 000. Gh300, 000 under the IGF and Gh350, 000 under the DDF. The KMA has so far spent an amount of Gh616, 674.84 which is within the approved budget. It’s therefore impossible for management to have spent the amount of GH 8billion as raised in the petition”. He stated.
The spokesperson explained that the Mayor travels outside the country only with the expressed permission of the Chief of Staff through the Local Government Minister and the Regional Minister. “On all travel occasions he has had permission from the said quarters” he added.
Whiles encouraging Members of the Assembly to use appropriate channels at the Assembly to address their grievances instead resorting to the media to throw dust into the eyes of the public, Mr. Gyemfi assured that the KMA will continue to work in an open and congenial atmosphere with open doors to the public.
“We want to finally assure the good people of Kumasi that the Mayor and his team are focused on discharging their responsibilities so as to improve the living standards of our people” he added.