General News of Thursday, 21 December 2017
The Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs says estimates for projects to be executed by the Ministry of Special Initiatives are on a high side.
Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu insists the bloated figures must be interrogated even though the house reluctantly but unanimously approved the budget for the Ministry.
The estimated figures for projects to be executed by the Ministry in the 2018 financial year have been mind boggling and have attracted some huge public criticisms.
The Ministry is looking to develop a new website at a cost of ¢800,000, a cost higher than what they budgeted for buying a brand new four wheel drive. The Ministry is seeking to buy 20 of the four wheel drives at a total cost of ¢10 million which means one vehicle will be bought at a cost of ¢500,000.
That is not all. The Ministry is also seeking to spend ¢6.5 million on furniture with the construction of 100 markets estimated at the cost of ¢110,000,000.
For a government that has made education, key on the agenda, an amount of 770,000 has been budgeted for the construction of a six unit classroom block, with an ICT lab and other ancillary facilities.
The Ministry also gave controversial budget estimates for the construction of dams, under the One Village, one Dam project, ambulances etc.
The estimates have left many surprised. The Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Ato Forson says the government cannot sublet these purchases and execution of projects to a new ministry when there are substantive ministries equipped to handle and execute them.
He said the Ministry of Special Initiatives cannot pretend to have competencies in purchasing ambulances when the Ministry of health is better equipped to do so.
The Ministry cannot oversee the construction of classroom blocks when the education ministry already has the logistics to do that.
His concerns, especially the cost element involved, were largely agreed to by the Majority Leader who called for an audit into the projects.
The budget estimates were approved with the only consolation that the Finance Ministry will never release monies for the execution of such projects at such exorbitant cost.
The Majority Chief Whip Mathew Nyindam has however defended Parliament’s decision to approve the bloated figures.
Even though he conceded that the figures were problematic he said Parliament was constrained and had to approve it.