Former President John Mahama has promised to ensure that all debt owed Ghanaian contractors is paid to ensure economic stimulation. He made this known when he had a meeting with some members of the Association of Contractors to understand their plight and outline plans that will be put in place to better their lives if he is elected into office.
“We understand the interlinkages between construction companies and the rest of the economy, and the stimulus effect that it has on other sectors. So, government is a continuum; there shouldn’t be the case that every four years if it turns out there is a change in government, there is a disruption; it shouldn’t happen like that.
“The countries which have developed have not developed like that; when there is change of power, Ghanaian enterprises have to come to a halt and you have to stimulate the economy again and again. That is not what will grow the economy,” Mr. Mahama said.
Some members of the association noted that due to government’s indebtedness to them – which they say in some cases spans up to three years – they are struggling to stay in business.
“We are losing a lot of our members because of the debt they owe. We had a meeting at the Conference Centre and all the relevant ministers were there. We were promised that GH¢1billion out of the GH¢2.2billion debt owed contractors was ready to be paid, but many of us have not received the payment,” said James Ato, a contractor.
“Some of us were asked to stop work for investigation to go on into our contracts. We are still waiting for the results so that we go back and continue the work. We have been home and nothing seem to be going on, but we had invested in these contracts. I have a loan to pay and how can I do that when I am home?” Alhaji Mbia Nuhu said.
Mr. Mahama accused the current government of stifling many other sectors as its indebtedness to contractors linger.
“When they stopped contractors from working, it affected fuel station owners because they were giving the contractors fuel on credit; knowing that when government pays them, they would come and pay. It also affected cement suppliers; and equipment suppliers also suffered.
“When contractors stop work, they lay-off workers; and we anticipate that job losses in the construction sector will amount to some 100,000 people. They include civil engineers, mechanical engineers, excavator operators, steel-benders among others. Some of the banks also collapsed because of the outlay they made to contractors with legitimate government of Ghana contracts and had executed the job awaiting payment.”
Former Minister of Roads and Highways, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, and Former Minister of Finance Seth Terkper who were at the meeting assured the contractors that a financial plan has been drawn up and will be followed to ensure all contractors who have duly executed jobs for the government of Ghana will be paid to help propel the economy.