The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has re-echoed its recommendation to government to use proceeds from the sale of the country’s petroleum revenues to fund ‘legacy projects’.
Such projects, PIAC believes, will give better value to the country and have more impact than the current trend of spreading the revenue across so many projects.
This recommendation, has been enumerated in semi-annual and annual reports of the committee, which has oversight responsibility of the prudent management of petroleum resources in the country.
This re-emphasis of this recommendation has become necessary again after PIAC led a team of journalists to tour some oil funded projects in the Volta Region last week. One of the projects was the construction of the Faculty of Basic and Biomedical Sciences building, student’s hostel and staff accommodation.
Dissatisfied with work done at the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), with respect to this particular project and others that were visited, PIAC is urging the government to target a few major projects and execute it totally rather than the current piecemeal approach.
“Instead of channelling the funds to support numerous projects thus spreading it thin and having minimal impact, a few major projects should be targeted, and executed to finality. These projects would not benefit only the present generation but the unborn. Such projects would also be on a large scale, clearly ascertainable as projects for which oil revenue has been chanelled, and make a significant and lasting impact on the general populace,” the committee noted as part of its recommendations after the visit.
The committee also recommended that UHAS be made a priority project, making it a completely built university with all the ancillary needed facilities and not just a hostel and staff accommodation.
“A completely built university would not only be an asset to Ghanaians, particularly the sciences, but will be able to generate funds to wean itself off the heavy reliance on government subvention and further, transform itself into a centre of excellence,” it further noted.
The field visit
The PIAC-led team visited the UHAS campus on May 23, 2017 to inspect projects for which funds from oil revenue had been allocated. There were three main projects to be inspected, that is, the road leading to the university, a student’s hostel, as well as staff accommodation. A total of about GHC34million of oil revenues was allocated to the projects in 2014.
The road leading to the university was in a deplorable state when the team visited. It was bumpy and very dusty. Members of the team undertook a physical inspection of the student’s hostel which had been constructed by Chinese conractors but without any fixtures and fittings as per the contract.
The building had to be fitted with later and as at the time of the visit, the kitchen was basically without any utilities. The hostel itself was constructed for 32 students but university officials had through ingenious means, had the facility catering for 68 students. With a student population of over 3,000, accommodation for 68 students could best be described as a drop in the ocean and the other students have to fend for themselves by finding accommodation in town.
The staff accommodation simply consisted of eight two-bedroom units which were constructed for senior members (lecturers and senior administrative staff). Apart from the fact that the university has about 260 senior staff, junior staff also had to commute from town as there were no residential facilities available to them.
UHAS needs attention
The Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor John O. Gyapong, did not mince words in pouring out the frustrations of the university with respect to funds.
He said the university was cash-strapped and was in no position to generate internal funds to cater for itself.
Government subventions, he explained, had also been grossly inadequate and in some instances, they received none for the year.
Through interactions with authorities at the school, it became evident that developing the University as a whole where significant amounts of the oil revenue would be channelled towards constructing the university within the shortest time possible would be more prudent as opposed to the current piecemeal manner.