US$40m state property wastes away in Pakistan

Shirley Ayorkor-Botchwey

Ghana is on the verge of losing a large stretch of land valued at US$40million in Islamabad, Pakistan, if urgent steps are not taken to protect it.

The land, given to Ghana in 1973 by its counterpart Pakistani government in a prime area of the capital, still lies fallow after 45 years.

Addressing members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing at Parliament House in Accra on Tuesday, Ms. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey – elaborating on the 2016 Auditor General’s report on Consolidated Funds – said Canada and France are attempting to annex the land.

According to her, to avert annexation of the land, Ghana needs to cough-up €160,000 to finance walling the land.

The said piece of land was given to Ghana for the establishment of a mission in the Asian country, but the Embassy in Tehran, Iran, has concurrently served the Ghanaian community in Pakistan.

Asked why the Ghanaian government failed to secure the land over the years, Ms. Botchwey, MP-Anyaa/Sowutuom, said: “That is the ideal thing to do, but unfortunately it will cost us €160,000 which we do not have at the moment. I believe we could lose the land if we do not take steps to secure it one way or another”.

According to Ms. Botchwey, the ministry had some financial challenges and “will have to use its limited resources to [support] the countries where we have missions”.

She said it is time a decision was taken on the land. An option available, she said, would be to engage a developer who would develop the land on a Build, Own, Operate, Transfer (BOOT) arrangement.

Asked by the Chairman of the Committee if Ghana was too poor to find the money for securing the land, Ms. Botchwey said: “I will look for the money someway somehow. If it is €160,000 to secure a US$40million land, I will find the money,” she assured.

Ms. Botchwey, meanwhile, expressed concern about the frequent issue of Ghanaians being stranded in other parts of the world.

The phenomenon, she said, puts unforeseen pressure on her ministry as there are no budgetary provisions to cater for such cases.

To address this, Mr. Avedzi said the Committee, as part of its report, will recommend that government makes budgetary provisions to cater for stranded Ghanaians.