General News of Saturday, 17 November 2018
The Finance Minister says he has followed the debate about building the National Cathedral and the discourse makes him “extremely nervous.”
Ken Ofori-Atta says he has witnessed how judges and civil servants’ residences in the country have been given to the private sector to make money in areas like Labone.
He told Samsom Lardy Anyenini on Newfile Saturday that he does not understand why “giving a piece of this land of ours to God,” is causing a lot of disaffection.
Mr Ofori-Atta believes “for the 60 years of such a blessed nation, we missed Ebola, civil wars and we are the pillar of stability,” so building such an edifice in honour of God is the right thing to do.
The President cut the sod for the construction of a National Christian Cathedral for the country during the 60th year of the country’s independence on March 6, 2017.
The Cathedral will house impressive chapels and baptistery, a 5000-seat auditorium, expandable to 15,000 people for national events and celebrations.
But even before the first brick is laid, the project has been caught in a controversy.
Critics have questioned the rationale behind the state getting involved in building a National Cathedral for Christians.
It has emerged the state will have to pull down all buildings from the Ridge Circle to Scholarship Secretariat, Judicial Training Institute at East Ridge and Passport Office for the take-off of the multipurpose project.
Government has justified the decision to evict some nine judges from their current official residence to make way for the construction of a National Cathedral scheduled to be built in Accra.
The former Lands Minister John Peter Amewu told Joy FM government had no issues with the proposed site for the edifice per the proposal by the Rev. Asante Antwi-led committee.
“We want to build [the national cathedral] in a strategic place, something that befits this country…and that is why we’re looking for a very prime area that will fit the status of the kind of building that the committee envisaged, otherwise we can put it anywhere,” Amewu argued.
However, government’s decision to get involved with plans to build the Cathedral has hit a snag as a suit has been filed at the Supreme Court against it.
James Kwabena Bomfeh, a former Youth Organiser of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), wants an interlocutory injunction to restrain the construction of the controversial Cathedral.
Finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta
Kabila wants the Supreme Court to restrain government or any of its representatives “from being involved in or taking any steps towards the construction of the Ghana National Cathedral, including the demolition of residences of justices of the Superior Courts.”
Although the court is yet to rule on the matter, the Finance Minister said during the 2019 budget presentation that building of the National Cathedral will not put undue financial burdens on the state.
Mr Ofori Atta said it is a right thing to do and government is facilitating the “process by providing the land, the Secretariat, and seed money for the preparatory phase.”
“We have come out with a new budget and we have a certain direction, and this is what I have stated that is going to happen,” he said.
According to him, there is a “proposed a partnership between the State and the Ghanaian Christian community both at home and in the Diaspora” to fund the project.
He said government has not determined how much it is going to give as seed money for the preparatory works to start for the project but “there is nothing that will not come to parliament once the decision is done.