Gov’t must draw lessons from Ghana at 50 celebrations-Suhuyini
The Member of Parliament for Tamale North, Hon. Alhassan Suhuyini has cautioned the new government to take a cue from the previous over spending of state funds during the Ghana at 50 celebrations.
“However let the celebration not be used as an opportunity to dissipate public funds, reward political party loyalist or be a subtle means to celebrate an election victory at the polls.
[Mr Speaker] this caution becomes necessary because of the fresh experiences during the celebration of Ghana@50, a decade ago, “he said.
Although he commended the President for the 30 member committee he has formed to plan the celebration, he recalled that former President Kuffour formed the same committee which led to the misuse of state funds.
On the 20th of July 2007, Parliament approved US$20 million as the first tranche of the total amount of Ghs 29.31m which was approved for the celebrations. The second tranche of eleven million eight hundred thousand United States Dollars (US$11.8 millions) which was a loan from Fidelity Bank, was approved by this august house on the 30th day of July, 2007.
He also added that a government white paper on a commission of enquiry report, by 31st December, 2008, a total sum of ninety-seven million seven hundred and seventy-six thousand three hundred and eighty-eight Ghana Cedis and forty-four Ghana Pesewas (GH¢97,776,388.44) had been spent on the celebrations. Far in excess of over 300% of what was approved.
Mr Suhuyini explained that “Despite additional proceeds accruing to the planning committee through the sale of cars, land, furnishing, mansions and sponsorship totaling nineteen million three hundred and fifty-two thousand four hundred and ninety-eighty Ghana Cedis (GH¢19,352,498.00) only GH¢4,800,543.38 of that was used for its intended purpose of servicing the loan from Fidelity Bank which parliament approved, leaving an outstanding amount of fifteen million three hundred and seventy-four thousand and seventy-five Ghana Cedis and fifty-eight Ghana Pesewas (GH¢15,374,075.58) as at December 2008.
Aside this, non-cash donations were not properly accounted for, costly bridging finance and overdraft facilities were procured from banks because according to organizers there were delays in budgetary releases.
According to him, the government white paper several projects such as rest stops, toilets and the renovation of heritage sites were either left incomplete due to lack of funds or not started though paid for. Even a green Ghana project was commenced in the middle of October and at the start of harmattan and according to the CEO speaking before the commission 6million seedlings were planted.
“Mr. Speaker these and like happenings which fill our airwaves even now, breed cynicism which threaten the foundations of our forth republican democracy. Our citizens need a break, and it is my prayer and anticipation that this celebration planning committee will apply the brakes as they are guided by the ghost of the past celebration.
I hope this time around the budget will not be exceeded and the private sector, which after all is still very much alive and not collapsed will indeed support considerably.”