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General News of Monday, 15 May 2017


Praise me for underspending Rattray Park budget - Kojo Bonsu

The former Mayor of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly ( KMA) Hon. Kojo Bonsu has rejected claims that his office inflated costs of the historic recreational facility, the Rattary Park his administration built in Kumasi.

He deems those reports captured in the sessional address of the new Mayor, Hon. Osei Asibey Antwi as merely populist and one of propaganda.

Last Thursday, Hon. OSei Asibey Antwi his maiden sessional address indicated that US$1,267,241.00 was used in the construction, not US$4.5 million, quoted earlier by Kojo Bonsu as the cost of the project.

The new Mayor therefore gave hints of plans for a forensic audit to help ascertain the actual cost of the Rattray Park, which was commissioned by former President John Dramani Mahama, the Asantehene, Otumfou Osei Tutu II among a host of dignitaries in June 2015.

But the spokesperson to the former Mayor, Sammy Gyamfi has criticized the motive behind the new mayor’s approach to the figures insisting that, “the former Mayor rather saved the Assembly lots of money because it spent less than the initial budgeted cost of $4.5million”.

“Despite the $4.5m initial budget, the cost became less eventually, because other factors made the project cheaper and should rather be praised” He said.

Adding “for example, it no longer became necessary to pay for the cost of the land because it was “eventually gotten for free”.

Mr. Gyamfi stressed that, “in view of some of these cost-saving, cost-slashing developments, the former Mayor ought to be commended and not vainly condemned”.

“Is it a crime to spend less than the estimated and budgeted cost for a project? Shouldn’t that rather be a positive achievement”, He queried.

He further explained that, “the technical experts for the project somewhere in 2013 truly estimated the Rattary Park project to cost $4.4m at the time the dollar to cedi rate was about 2 cedis”

“Those estimations of $4.4m actually included the cost of the land on which the project is currently sited. The land was eventually gotten for free. And this coupled with other factors made the project cheaper”, Mr. Gyamfi added.

The former Mayor’s spokesperson elaborated that, “this estimate notwithstanding, the assembly, due to budgetary constraints, only budgeted a commutative amount of about 5.3 million Cedis ($1.2m) for the period between 2013 to 2016 in various budgets and under various sources of funding for the project”.

“Up to this point, the assembly has so far paid an amount of about 5millon Cedis for the project with few outstanding debts”, he claimed.

“It is therefore instructive to note that what has been paid so far, that is the GHc5m, is lower than what was budgeted for the project which was GHC5.3m” he said.

“Now the question again is, is it a crime to spend less than the estimated and budgeted cost of a project? Shouldn’t that rather be a positive achievement? Mr. Gyamfi questioned once again.

Lets us remember that, “the Rattary park is not only a recreational and tourist destination for many who visit Kumasi now, but also one of the biggest sources of internally generated funds, IGF, for the KMA”

“As of now, proceeds from the park alone stands at about 2.3m cedis in only a period of 2years. And this must be a huge vindication of the bold step Hon. Kojo Bonsu took in undertaking this historic project. He firmly stressed.

Judgment debts:

Regarding issues of judgment debts as were also raised in the sitting majors’ sessional address, Mr Gyamfi said, “none of those astronomical increments in the assembly’s judgment debts, occurred during his boss’ tenure of office”.

“Hon. Kojo Bonsu’s administration never incurred any legal liabilities for which judgment debts can be awarded against the assembly”. He challenged.

Adding that, “as was rightly identified in the mayor’s sessional address, these judgment debts arose from cases instituted against the assembly between of 1992-2012, during which Hon. Bonsu was not the Major”.

Regardless, Hon. Bonsu did his best to help the assembly put up a defense to some of these actions the best way he could. That is why at some point he engaged local external solicitors like Sory@Law to help the assembly defend some of these cases. And it was through such initiatives that the assembly won its case against FREKO FD LTD over the Kejetia take-over case”. He revealed.

According to Mr. Gyamfi, his boss cannot verify claim by the sitting mayor that, between October to December 2016, the judgment debts of the assembly astronomically increased from about 6million to 50million Cedis since he was not at post then.

“Hon. Kojo Bonsu resigned in July 2016” he noted.

“Notwithstanding, he finds these claim strange and would want the mayor to provide further and better particulars regarding this jump so as to trace the history and causes of those unimaginable judgment debts.

“This is because he deems these judgment debt claims as a worrying national phenomenon which must be checked dispassionately devoid of any partisanship whatsoever”. He said

“To him, the legal department of the KMA which has just a lawyer must be strengthened with more lawyers and resourced to enable the assembly scrutinize the administrative actions of the assembly which creates these liabilities as well as defend some of these cases most of which prove to be fraudulent sometimes”. Mr. Gyamfi proposed.

“It must be put on record that the former Mayor finds nothing wrong with the decision by the current mayor to undertake investigations into the affairs of KMA in relation to the Rattary Park project and the many judgment debts that the assembly is currently saddle with.

“He sees it as a normal process and therefore very necessary for every responsible mayor to embark on such a path so as to understand and appreciate the legal and financial positions of the assembly” He added.

“Almost every past mayor including Hon. Bonsu did same upon assumption of office; hence this is not a new phenomenon. Hon. Bonsu would like to encourage his successor and indicate his willingness to help the process by providing any explanations and clarifications he may need in relation to these issues. Because to him, t he interest of Kumasi and Ghana is what is ultimately supreme.