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General News of Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Source: Myradio360.com

NDC must account for GHC147.5m school funding project - MP

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Bosomtwi, Simon Osei Mensah, is demanding accountability from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on some GHC147.5 million borrowed for additional educational infrastructure for already existing schools.

According to him, government said there was the need for the loan because the classroom and dormitory blocks were inadequate to meet requirements of the number of students and additional intake for the then current academic year.

“Consequently, a loan agreement of GHC85,000, 000.00 was laid in Parliament and approved on 17th March, 2011 with maturity period of 60 months and a grace or moratorium period of 12 months. The purpose of the loan was to obtain funds to support the provision of infrastructure for Senior High Schools in the country”, the MP observed in a release issued yesterday.

Out of the total amount, the MP said government explained that GETFund secretariat was to provide GHC45.00 million and GHC85.00 million facility from CAL Bank Ghana Limited but the source of funding for the remaining GHC17.5 million was not indicated in the Finance Committee report.

“The GETFund component of GHC45.00 million was to provide 214 eight-unit classroom blocks at an average cost of GHC210, 000.00. On the other hand the GHc85, 000, 000.00 was to provide 161 six-unit classroom blocks and 55 two-storey dormitory blocks. The source of the remaining GHC17.5 million was not disclosed to Parliament”, he added.

Besides the classroom and dormitory blocks, he said, the GHC85, 000, 000.00 CAL Bank loan facility had a component of GHC9.048 for the provision of classroom furniture and bunk beds for the dormitory blocks.

However, the Bosomtwi MP has reasons to believe that the loans contracted by the NDC was not used for the intended purpose.  

“I am at this point challenging the Minister of Education to provide the whole country within seven days of this publication all 6-unit, 8-unit classroom and two-storey dormitory blocks constructed between January 2009 and 31 October, 2016, their locations and sources of funding”, he dared.   

Mr. Osei Mesnah indicated that failure to provide the information confirms the positions of ‘majority of Ghanaians’ that most of the loans contracted by the government have not been utilized for the purposes for which they were contracted.

Full statement below:

WHERE ARE THE CLASSROOM AND DORMITORY BLOCKS: WHERE IS THE GHc147.5 MILLION?

In 2011 the NDC government decided to source funding to provide additional educational infrastructure for Senior high school. According to the government the classroom and dormitory blocks were inadequate to meet requirements of the number of students at the time and additional intake for the then current academic year.

Consequently, a loan agreement of GHC85, 000, 000.00 was laid in Parliament and approved on 17th March, 2011 with maturity period of 60 months and a grace or moratorium period of 12 months. The purpose of the loan was to obtain funds to support the provision of infrastructure for Senior High Schools in the country.

According to the government total funds required for the project was GHc147.5 million. GETFund secretariat was providing GHc45.00 million and GHc85.00 million facility from CAL Bank Ghana Limited. The source of funding for the remaining GHC17.5 million was not indicated in the Finance Committee report.

The GETFund component of GHc45.00 million was to provide 214 eight-unit classroom blocks at an average cost of GHC210, 000.00. On the other hand the GHc85, 000, 000.00 was to provide 161 six-unit classroom blocks and 55 two-storey dormitory blocks. The source of the remaining GHc17.5 million was not disclosed to Parliament.

Actually, I realised the average project cost of the CAL Bank facility was problematic. The simple reason initially was that the GETFund funding of GHC45.00 million was providing 214 eight-unit classroom blocks at an average cost of GHC210,000.00, whilst that of the GHC85.00 million was at an average of GHc261,000.00 for a six-unit classroom block. The eight-unit classroom block was therefore cheaper than the six-unit classroom blocks.

Observing these differences in costs of the projects, I asked an urgent question in Parliament on the average unit cost of the 6-unit classroom and two-storey dormitory blocks, which was answered on 8th June, 2011 by the then Minister of Education, Mrs. Betty Mould Iddrisu. It came to light that 6-unit classroom block which cost about GHC80,000.00 in Ashanti region in 2008 then cost  averagely over GHC261,000.00, even when we were informed the country had enjoyed single digit inflation for almost two years and the cedi was even appreciating against the US dollar. Actually, this depicted very high inflated project cost, since the amount that could be used to build three similar 6-unit classroom blocks in 2008 was being used to build just a single block.

Notwithstanding, the inflated cost a question asked by Hon Simon Osei-Mensah, which was responded to in Parliament on 18th March, 2014 by the Deputy Minister for Education, Hon Okudjato Ablakwa exacerbated the doubts and suspicion I had in the integrity of the project implementation process. The simple question was; To ask the Minister for Education the number of two-storey dormitory and six-unit classroom blocks constructed between January 2009 and December 2012 indicating their locations and sources of funding. With such a simple question the Ministry displayed it incompetence by deviating from the question and added educational infrastructure that were neither six-unit classroom nor two-storey dormitory blocks and added all sorts of non-related items. If the whole Education Ministry is deviating on such a simple question how do you expect JHS and SHS students to perform? In the response of the Deputy Minister of Education he could not provide the number of the projects executed, their location and sources of funding. That was a big shame for the country, which would have required the dismissal of both the Minister and Deputy.

When the Ministry appeared before the Public Accounts Committee hearing in August 2016 they could not provide information on even 30 of the 6-unit classroom blocks that have been constructed. The Ministry was represented by the Minister, Naana Opoku Agyemang, her Deputy, Mr Okudjato Ablakwa and other high ranking officers at the ministry. Surprisingly, the Minister new next to nothing about the project, so the Deputy Minister had to do what he knows best - propaganda.

Besides the classroom and dormitory blocks the GHC85, 000, 000.00 CAL Bank loan facility had a component of GHc9.048 for the provision of classroom furniture and bunk beds for the dormitory blocks. The total amount required for the supply of classroom furniture and bunk beds is GHC34.9 million. As we speak as to how the difference of GHc29.852 has been raised is not known.

I am at this point challenging the Minister of Education to provide the whole country within seven days of this publication all 6-unit, 8-unit classroom and two-storey dormitory blocks constructed between January 2009 and 31 October, 2016, their locations and sources of funding.   

If this information is not provided it confirms the positions of majority of Ghanaians that most of the loans contracted by the government have not been utilised for the purposes for which they were contracted.

The question is where are the 6-unit classroom, 8-unit classroom and 2-storey dormitory blocks and the funds for furniture and bunk beds? Where is the GHc147.5 million? Has the money been embezzled? The Ghanaian tax payer must be informed what their money has been used for!!! Change this corrupt government.