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General News of Sunday, 30 March 2008

Source: GNA

MiDA deplores Nduom's comments

Accra, March 30, GNA - The Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) on Sunday expressed dismay about comments made by Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom concerning the implementation of some aspects of the Ghana Millennium Account (MCA) Programme.

A statement issued in Accra by MiDA's Chief Executive Officer, Martin Eson-Benjamin said by these comments, Dr. Nduom had cast a serious slur on the integrity and reputation of members of the MiDA Board, the Management of MiDA and the integrity of Millennium Challenge Compact's very stringent procurement and approval process.

Dr. Nduom, presidential candidate of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) told the media that, he had heard recently that, "MiDA was embarking on the process of rehabilitation of schools; which action goes against the Plan in the Compact to build new schools. He went on to say that he was not the type who will agree to the so called misapplication of MCA Funds for the 'wrong things', like school rehabilitation. "What is untrue and unfortunate about his accusation from Dr Nduom is that the decision to undertake the 'fast-track' school rehabilitation project, which he refers to as 'the wrong things', was taken during his tenure as chairman of the board and approved by MCC and the board of MiDA.

This decision enabled MiDA's Procurement Agent to include this activity under the General Procurement Notice No. 3, published on the MiDA website on May 8th, 2007 and also enable management to plan for its implementation.

"It is important to stress that this project sub-activity, the rehabilitation of schools, has been brought up and discussed at every meeting of the procurement committee of the board, which then also had Hon. Paa Kwesi Nduom as the chairman. The last of these discussions was on the 11th of July, 2007, with three other ministers in attendance. "The board and management of MiDA and MCC, indeed stand by the laudable decision to 'fast track' rehabilitation work on the 35 selected schools ahead of the strategic environmental assessments, which must precede any plan to construct a 'greenfield' school in the farming communities.

"Again, to ensure that farming communities in the northern agricultural zone of the Ghana MCA programme, whose schools were washed away by the recent floods, were not handicapped as participants in the new educational reform programme, MCC has given approval to MiDA to rehabilitate 30 of these schools. Funds for rehabilitation are therefore not being misapplied.

"The import of these explanations is that, at all times, MCC approved MiDA's plans, which they considered to be supportive of the Compact's goal of poverty reduction. What Dr Nduom ought to have added is that, the well-thought through rehabilitation of these 65 schools, will form part of the over 520 new schools to be built in the 31 districts. The 'fast-track' schools to be rehabilitated under phase one, will also benefit from additional infrastructure in the second phase of the schools project, making them responsive to our plans."

The statement said, "MiDA will like to assure all Ghanaians, that the chances of funds going back to MCC on account of alleged mis-procurements are very low indeed. MCC's funds disbursement process seeks to provide funds for only projects that have been approved by the MiDA board and MCC. MiDA cannot apply funds fraudulently or frivolously, not with the well spelt out procurement guidelines ad the over six audits of the programme activities in each year of the Compact, besides a strict regimen of monitoring and evaluation activities. "Dr Nduom's insinuation that 'some persons' want to claim credit for some activities and are therefore pushing to have specific activities done quickly, is also surprising.

"As a five-year project, it is considered necessary for senior and responsible persons in government to feel uncomfortable about the apparently slow pace of work on some of the project activities, in particular, MiDA's inability to get the N.I Highway Project underway, some two and half years after the Compact was signed. This eagerness to deliver the programme must not be misconstrued for any other motive. "The board and staff have serious work to do as implementers of the Compact. That is the hardest part of the challenge, for which we need undivided attention. MCC is appreciative of good work the MiDA team is doing to meet the programme goals and MiDA has the MCC's fullest support in our forward push.

"So far, nobody has played politics with Ghana's MCA programme and therefore, Dr Nduom must not drag MiDA into it. He played a useful and key role in putting the proposal together under his watch, but there were several others who equally assisted the process and it is important that Dr Nduom does not continue to claim credit for the success of a process he inherited from Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfo, who, under President Kufuor's leadership, initiated the process towards Ghana's Compact.

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