General News of Monday, 3 July 2017
As the Finance Ministry readies to take the recently signed $15 billion Chinese loan deal to Parliament, Minority MPs have promised to launch a vigorous scrutiny of the agreement when details of the specific projects the funds intend to finance get to the House.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia announced the $15 billion loan package from the Chinese government after a four-day trip to China recently.
The Vice President said the loan agreement will be for the mutual benefit of the two nations.
Dr Bawumia explained that the loan agreement with the Asian country is not based on the traditional model of borrowing and aid.
The new model, the Vice President said, is based on the bargaining power of the country’s natural resources such the 2.8 billion metric tonnes of iron ore deposits, 960 million metric tonnes of bauxite, 413 million metric tonnes of manganese as well as the huge gold reserves and cocoa.
However, the Minority is predicting that government will not be able to secure the entire $15 billion promised by the China Development Bank (CBD) because the Chinese government’s penchant to set unbearable conditions for accessing their money.
It is not clear when the loan agreement will reach Parliament but predictions are that it will get to the House for debate this month.
The stance by the Minority on the loan agreement resonates with concerns raised by civil society organisations and notable Economists about the deal.
Economist, Dr Joe Abbey, has urged the House to scrutinise the deal properly to avoid a repeat of Ghana’s inability to access all of the $3 billion loan agreement under the immediate past National Democratic Congress regime.
The Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) has also warned that Ghana risks losing more than it will benefit from the deal with the Chinese government.
The Campaign Coordinator of ISODEC Dr Steve Manteaw has said the cost of the deal far outweighs the benefits.
Deputy Ranking Member on Parliament’s Trade and Industry Committee, Kweku Ricketts Hagan, told Joy News the concerns being raised about the loan agreement are credible and the Minority will ensure the country does not lose.
“We don’t expect [government] to come to parliament with the MoU but when they are going to do a draw down on a particular project, then they should bring that project…and give us a brief,” said Mr Ricketts Hagan.
He mocks government for getting ‘excited’ about the loan and promising the Chinese things it cannot deliver.
“Because they say they are not borrowing when they go and do any borrowing, they don’t want to call it borrowing, they want to find a different technical jargon to call these things. It is a loan, whether we will pay with cash or we will pay with bauxite, we will pay for it,” the Ranking legislator on the Trade and Industry Committee said.
But the Majority sees the Minority’s posture as an attempt to cause a stir when there is none.
Majority Parliamentarian for Bantama, Daniel Okyem Aboagye, says contrary to the Minority’s pessimism, there has been renewed confidence in the Ghanaian economy and the loan agreement serves as evidence.