There was a baptism of fire for the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Emmanuel Kwadwo Agyekum, when he stood in for the substantive minister to answer questions for the ministry last Tuesday.
Questions flew from both sides of the House with the Minority especially asking the deputy minister a flurry of queries.
This was after Mr Osei Bonsu Amoah, the Member of Parliament for Akuapim South, posed a question on what measures the ministry was putting in place for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Aburi Botanical Gardens.
After the deputy minister had read out the response from the Local Government Ministry, the follow-up questions from Mr Amoah made all those present aware that the deputy minister was not well informed about the issues concerning the Aburi Botanical Garden, while certain statements in his responses only brought out more questions from the Minority in Parliament.
In Mr Agyekum’s original response, he said the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) was considering two options to rehabilitate the Aburi Garden.
That, he said, were a public-private- partnership arrangement with a viable private sector institution to upgrade and ran the facility, and restructuring and upgrading of the Department of Parks and Gardens to become resourceful to enable it to effectively manage all parks in the country, including the Aburi Botanical Garden.
According to the deputy minister, in connection with that, the Ministry had drafted a memo to seek approval from the Cabinet for any of the options. He, however, said the memo was yet to be forwarded to the Cabinet.
In subsequent questions on whether 15 acres of the Aburi Garden had been given to the Akuapim South Assembly to build its offices, and whether the assembly had been given a permit to build in the garden, Mr Agyekum replied that he was not aware and would have to cross-check and furnish Parliament with the details.
He also said he could not give a picture of the current state of the Aburi Botanical Gardens, as he had not visited the site himself.
Mr Amoah, however, presented to the Clerk of Parliament the President’s last sessional address in Parliament, in which he indicated that 15 acres of the Aburi Garden had been given out to the assembly.
The Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu insisted that the MLGRD must be aware of the release of 15 acres to the Akuapim South Assembly but Mr Agyekum replied that the ministry was not aware of any such release.
He, however, said the ministry would stop any slashing and burning occurring in the Aburi Botanical Gardens if that happened.
Re-targeting of schools under feeding programme
Mr Agyekum told Parliament that over the period 2009 to 2013, the Ghana School Feeding Programme had embarked on a re-targeting programme.
“In this regard, 22 new schools benefited from the re-targeting exercise. Only four of the old schools were retained in the Offinso South Municipality, bringing the total number of beneficiary schools to 26,” he said.
This was in response to a question posed by the MP for Offinso South, Mr Ben Abdallah Banda, as to how many schools in the constituency had been added to the School Feeding Programme since January 2009 to December 2013.
46 new districts to get offices
He also informed Parliament that the MLGRD had, after awarding the contract, begun the procurement processes for the construction of office buildings for the 46 newly created districts since 2013.
This was in response to a question posed by Mr Philip Basoah, the MP for Kumawu, as to whether there were any such plans for the districts.
“So far, procurement processes for 18 district assemblies have been completed. Award letters have been issued and contracts have been signed to enable contractors to commence work,” he said, and added that other processes were ongoing.
He mentioned the beneficiary district assemblies as Dormaa West, Asutifi South, Ayensuano, Upper West Akim, Kpone Katamanso, Tatale Sanguli, Pusiga, Binduri, Builsa, Nandom, Daffiama-Bissie-Issa, Afadzato South, North Tongu, Bia East, Jomoro, Banda, Akuapim South and Bodie.