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Business News of Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Source: ghananewsagency.org

‘Delays cost the nation money’ - Osafo-Maafo cries out

Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Senior Minister, has expressed worry about undue delays by some public officials in processing project documents and payment of projects executed by contractors.

He said delays cost the nation huge sums of money through cost overruns and payment of high interest rate on projects.

‘‘Mr Minister of Finance, if you were to think through how much delays in payment has cost us, it’s phenomenal!

‘‘Our interest rate has been hovering around 25 per cent and so if you borrow US$10 million dollars equivalent to GHC10 million at 25 per cent, the cost of money is GHC 2.5 million or dollars per annum.

‘‘Assuming the money is available and they delay in the processing between the Minister of Education and Minister of Finance for one month, you’re adding one of 12 of the 2.5 million, which is GHC 208,000 or dollars depending on which currency you’re dealing with, ’Mr Osafo-Maafo observed.

The Senior Minister expressed those concerns at the ‘‘Value for Money Conference’’ in Accra on Monday.

The event organised by the Vice President’s Secretariat is intended to provide standardised cost for public projects and prevent financial wastage and brought together experts from academics, captains of industry and civil society organisations to find solutions to variations in project values in the construction of roads, schools and hospitals.

Mr Osafo-Maafo said the cost of every project worldwide depended on a number of factors including; capital, materials, labour of different types and time, therefore, it was imperative for the nation to standardise cost of public projects.

He urged the Committee set up to look into the matter to come out with recommendations that would ensure standard cost for public infrastructure projects.

The Senior Minister made reference to the World Bank’s Study, which revealed that project delivery inefficiencies cost the nation US$1.1 billion per annum.

He, therefore, asked all public officials to strictly apply the provisions in the Public Procurement Act, which required public officials to ensure judicious, efficient and economic use of resources.

The Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, said standardisation of the cost of public sector projects would curb corruption in the construction of infrastructure and ensure transparency and accountability.

He said delays and inefficient delivery of public infrastructural projects often destabilised the budget and resulted in re-valuation of inherited projects at the expense of the taxpayer.

It creates immense difficulty for budgeting when pricing is not right, and we failed to pay on time, leading to build-up of interest rate and re-valuation, which causes untold problems,’’ he observed.

He, therefore, called for fundamental change of the thinking of the Ghanaian in order to make a headway in the socio-economic development of the nation and untie the nation from donor dependency.