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General News of Monday, 31 October 2016


MPs caution Mahama against $1bn last minute borrowing

Some Members of Parliament (MPs) are not happy with the rate at which the legislature is considering and approving loans for the Government of Ghana some few weeks to the general elections.

They do not understand why the government is sourcing for about US$1billion to pursue some developmental projects within the last days of the tenure of office of President John Dramani Mahama.

In their view, the timing of the loans which are expected to fund the Accra urban transport project, Volivo Bridge, UMaT, Komenda sugar factory, railway line, Kumasi Airport, Tamale Airport, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Ghana Audit Service among others is wrong.

The House has so far approved over 16 loan agreements between the Government of Ghana and some other international financial bodies within the past two weeks some of which include €13million for the construction of three regional and twenty-two district offices for the Ghana Audit Service; US$83.4million for the Accra urban transport project (AUTP); ¥11.239million for the construction of a new bridge across the Volta River on the Eastern Corridor road at Volivo; US$922,371.00 for the rehabilitation and expansion of the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital; €1.3million for the construction of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development at Somanya; US$24million for the design and construction of Tamale International Airport – Phase 2 and €7,762,500.00 for the development of the Kumasi International Airport.

More of such loan agreements are expected to be approved by the House on or before Thursday, November 3, 2017 where the legislature is expected to adjourn sine die.

Minority Leader and MP for Suame, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu contributing to the debate for the approval of the loan agreement for the construction of the University for Environment & Sustainable Development on Friday cautioned why the House was in hast to approve several loan agreements some few days to the elections.

“We should be very cautious and circumspect about what we are doing within these last days. Growing up in the secondary schools, we were told that last days are very dangerous and last days within this election year could be very dangerous. We should be very careful. What is worth doing is worth doing,” he cautioned.

MP for New Juabeng South, Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah on his part said given the time before the House rises, it makes no sense for the government to contract loans for projects that cannot begin before the elections.

The New Juaben South lawmaker insists the action demonstrates President Mahama’s desire to just pile debt on Ghanaians.

“I’m surprised all of these have come by executive approval. This means the President failed to even engage his team of experts in Cabinet”, Dr. Yeboah said.

He added “Most of these loans were signed by the President on Monday, brought to Parliament on Tuesday and were referred to the committee on Wednesday and we are expected to approve them. Can a thorough job be done?” the MP questioned.

Some MPs on the Majority side who spoke to on the sidelines of the parliamentary debates agreed that the timing of the loans was wrong.