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Press Review of Friday, 19 December 2008

Source: Chronicle

Editorial: Ghana@50 Still Owes?

For some months now, the contractors who executed Ghana at 50 projects have been complaining about the non-payment of money due them. According to the contractors, they used banks loans to execute the projects, which they have to pay back with interest.

Unfortunately, they have not been able to settle their indebtedness to the banks, because despite their persistent pleas, the government has refused to pay them.

The Chronicle finds the attitude of the government to be very unfortunate, because all the monies that were earmarked for the celebration was approved by Parliament. Initially, $20 million was released to the Ghana@50 Secretariat which was later increased to $31m following approval of an additional $11 million by Parliament.

The Chronicle believes that before arriving at the above mentioned figure as budget for the celebration, the government took into account the various projects that were being executed as part of the celebration.

We are, therefore, at loss as to why up to date some of the contractors have still not been paid when the contracts they executed was factored into the overall budget. The most worrying aspect of it is that neither the government nor the Ghana@50 Secretariat has come to explain why some of the contractors have still not been paid.

The only period the government has come close to saying something about the subject under discussion was when Mr. Daniel Osei, Coordinating Architect at Ghana@50 Secretariat went to Cape Coast about six months ago, and quoted the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani as saying that his outfit was collaborating with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to raise funds to pay the contractors.

The fact that the contractors are still complaining despite this assurance means that there had never been any collaboration to raise funds to settle the contractors as Mr. Mpiani was quoted to have said.

The Chronicle contends that the behaviour of the government has the potential to kill the desire by Ghanaians to have most government projects to be executed by local contractors. As a government that prides itself as the promoter of the private sector as an engine of growth, this is not the attitude that it should be exhibiting.

We admit that governments all over the world owe both locally and internally, but in this particular case they budgeted for the money and which was approved by parliament, so there is no way one would accept any excuse.

We, therefore, appeal to the government to take immediate measures to settle all the contractors so that they can also go and pay back what they took from the banks to finance the said projects.