SADA In Danger As Remaining Ghc74m Now Used To Pay Salaries

It may sound unsurprising given the recent media exposures of high level corruption and mismanagement in its affairs, but the stark reality today is that, the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) is not only on its knees financially but is virtually bankrupt and has to fall on the remaining seed money of GHC74.5m to meet it immediate recurrent expenditures including salaries, vehicle maintenance, travelling expenses, and many others.

The Remaining GHC125.5 of the GHC200m seed money had already being lost to corruption and mismanagement, according to the audit report from the Auditor General that was serialized by the Accra-based Joy FM recently.

The initial plan was for SADA to use the seed money of GHc200m and the annual injections of GHC100m into their account for infrastructural or developmental projects in the SADA zone, which is hugely disadvantage in terms of infrastructure and social services.

Government, through the Ministry of Finance raised the GHC200m for SADA in July 2012 through a 3-year bond for purely infrastructural purposes.

Around the same time, government organized a donors meeting at GIMPA to solicit the financial support of the development partners for the Authority, to augment what has been domestically advanced to the SADA.

According to sources present at the meeting, the development partners (DPs) were very optimistic with the work of SADA and had given a firm assurance of financial support to help bridge the gap between the northern and southern parts of the country.

They were actually pleased by the government’s initiative in taking the lead to source for funds and all indications are that the Savanna zone enjoyed massive goodwill from the international community.

However, the recent reports of mismanagement and corruption emanating from the activities of SADA had dampened the enthusiasm of the donors who are now reticent in bringing the needed funds to support the Authority citing corruption and general lack of transparency and accountability in the affairs of the Authority.

Their fear is that whatever they will dish out to support SADA will be misappropriated just as what has happened to the initial seed money of GHC200m that were secured by the government of Ghana.

However, they believed that if the President is able to deal with the corruption and mismanagement at SADA and also give a firm assurance of accountability in future, then perhaps they might get some confidence that their tax payers’ money will not be frittered away should they decide to provide financial assistance to help develop the northern part of the country.

The Ministry of Finance, on its part has so far failed to advance any resources to SADA in both 2013 and 2014 fiscal years because of the raging austerity policies brought about by the fiscal challenges of 2012 and 2013 and possibly 2014.

An official of SADA who spoke to the Al-Hajj on condition of anonymity said, the Authority is on the verge of collapse because of lack of funds.

“The Ministry of Finance has failed to advance one penny to us since the middle of 2012 when we had the GHc200m seed money,” the official disclosed.

He said overheard expenses alone are taking all what is left of the remaining GHc 74.5m in the call account at Stanbic Bank. According to him, given the rate at which management is “misusing this amount on frivolous expenses, very soon activities of the Authority will come to a standstill for lack of funds”.

Again, SADA has failed to do recoveries of the amount spent on farmers in the provision of fertilizers, seeds, tractor services and many others thereby bankrupting the Authority.

The Al-Hajj has gathered that another area of concern is the travelling expenses by high level officials of SADA who shuttle between Tamale to Accra almost on daily basis and are accommodated in very expensive hotels.

“It is worrying the kind of money our officials are spending on flights and accommodation from Tamale to Accra almost on daily basis. If you see the figures, one may think that they are going to trade in gold and not to work to alleviate the poverty afflicting our people.

The monies are too astronomical and something has to be done”, the sources said on condition of anonymity.

Another official of SADA told the Al-Hajj that he has lost faith in the capabilities of SADA to execute its mandate effectively given the corruption and the mismanagement and therefore calling on President Mahama to either cleanse it or scrap it so that the available resources could be channeled through the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to help build infrastructure in the Savanna zones just as Rawlings did in the 1980s and 1990s for especially the regions’ road sector.

The Al-Hajj has gathered that scores of Members of Parliament (MPs) especially those from the Savanna zone have vowed to do everything within their authority to ensure that all those who took part in the looting of SADA coffers are severely punished by the laws of the land no matter how long it will take.

They identified some key areas of concern in the audit report in their encounter with the Al-Hajj. These include the Afforestation and Guinea fowl programmes and the butter nut squash project. According to those MPs, if they are able to at least secure a refund of the monies wasted in these projects, then SADA will be richer by some GHC60m.