General News of Sunday, 24 December 2017
Editor-in-chief of the New Crusading Guide Newspaper, says the Finance Committee of Parliament did not do a thorough job at scrutinizing the budget of the Special Development Initiatives Ministry.
Kweku Baako said if it did, many of the grey areas which have become a subject of great controversy in the country would have been averted.
The Special Development Initiatives Ministry has been sternly criticised by the public after details of its estimated budget for 2018 was made public.
The Ministry in the estimated budget intends to use GH¢800,000 to build a website and a further GH¢10 million will be spent on purchasing 20 four-wheel drives.
The Ministry has also budgeted to build a six-unit classroom block at the cost of GH¢770,000 each, while it looks to controversially spend GH¢6.5 million on furniture and GH¢15 million on renting an office space in 2018 alone.
In the midst of the controversy, the Sector Minister Hawa Koomson explained the GH¢800,000 figure given as estimate for the website was an error and that it was GH¢80,000 instead.
But Kweku Baako Jnr says although the ministry should be made to take part of the blame for the error, he believes a proper interrogation of the budget estimate by Parliament’s Finance Committee would have averted the uproar.
“It appears the committee did not do diligent work by asking questions that some of us are asking as media people. Because if the committee had asked questions and it reflected in the report, you will see that the GH¢15 million is not for a single office
“The offices are targeted at the three development authorities to that extent that is GHS15 million for me it is not extraordinary,” he added.
He also explained that the GH¢500,000 budget for each four-wheel drive is not out of order.
For a ministry that has three development authorities under it, the veteran journalist believes that the specification is not unusual.
“When you look at it from that perspective, you realize that 20 vehicles at the cost of GH¢500,000 for this sector ministry and three development authorities, then it is not out of the ordinary in my candid opinion,” he said.
He said if the Finance Committee had taken time to ask stringent questions and asked for a proper breakdown of the figures, maybe clarity would have been brought to the issue.
In his view, an appropriate discussion on the focus and coverage of the ministry, the things it is supposed to do will provide a better understanding.
Until that is done, people’s emotions are only being played on, “and that one, once it is thrown into the street the ministry and government loses.”
Host of Metro TV’s Goodmorning Ghana programme, Randy Abbey who also contributed to the discussion said the change in figures from GH¢800,000 to GH¢80,000 was an afterthought.
He said the Special Development Initiatives Ministry stood by the figures it presented when it appeared before the Finance Committee and that the change was only triggered after the public outburst.
“Checks suggest that at the level of the Committee, only two Ministries had to come back – the Special Development Initiative Ministry and Business Development Ministry – all others came just once and on all occasions, the GH¢800,000 was there and they stood by it.
“It was only when this issue was raised that [the figures were changed], it is clearly an afterthought,” he added.