Politics of Thursday, 21 December 2017
The consideration of GH¢1.2 billion as budgetary allocation for the new Ministry of Special Development Initiatives yesterday generated heated debate in parliament, with the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) members accusing the government of deliberately creating that ministry for ‘chop chop’ or to loot and share.
The majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) members, on the other hand, also said that when it comes to ‘create, loot and share’ or corruption tag, it is an indelible mark on NDC government that can never be erased.
The ranking member of the Finance Committee and National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ajumako/Enyan/Essiam, Cassiel Ato Forson, raised serious concern about the cost of the various projects that would be undertaken by the Ministry, which he said are too outrageous and costly.
He said for instance that the cost of procurement of 20 four-wheel vehicles for the use of the Ministry is too expensive.
According to him, each of the vehicles would cost the state GH¢500,000 while each of the 275 ambulances that are to be procured for all the constituencies will also cost the nation GH¢380,000.
He said six-unit classrooms blocks that are to be built in communities will each cost GH¢750,000 which he said are too outrageous and smack of ‘create, loot and share’ by the NPP government.
The minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, on his part, said the budget for Ministry of Special Development Initiatives is a show of profligacy by the government.
According to him, NPP officials, including the president, when in opposition always criticized the NDC government for allegedly inflating the cost of projects and always called for value for money.
He said that budgetary estimates for the Ministry of Special Initiatives did not talk about estimates for the three development authorities that were created under the Ministry to spearhead development in the northern belt, middle belt and the coastal belt.
He said most of the projects that would be undertaken by the Ministry, which include provision of water, building of classrooms, construction of CHIPS compounds and toilets could have been undertaken by the traditional ministries instead of ceding them to the new ministry which creates some sorts of duplication of work.
The Minister for Special Development Initiatives and NPP MP for Awutu Senya East, Mavis Hawa Koomson, explained that the NDC MPs are only being mischievous because for the construction of 1,000 mechanised boreholes across the country, solar panels would be provided to help power those mechanized boreholes.
She also said that the classrooms that would be constructed in all the communities will have ICT centres and ancillary facilities.
According to her, all the projects that would be undertaken by the Ministry were selected by the communities themselves after 10-member committee visited each of the constituencies to interact with the people and learn about their specific needs.
She said the Ministry will definitely ensure value for money in the execution of all the projects.
The deputy majority leader, Adwoa Safo, said the minority members know very well that when those facilities are provided in each of the constituencies, they would take political advantage of them while the people living in those constituencies will directly benefit from the provision of those facilities.
She said the government must rather be applauded for establishing the new ministry which will help accelerate socio-economic development in the constituencies and also ensure balanced development at the constituency level.
The Majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said parliament, which is the keeper of the public purse, could again look at all the costs components brought before parliament to see if something can be done about them to ensure value for money.