Government Grabs More Loans

Parliament re-convened yesterday under emergency recall to consider some ‘emergency’ loans particularly a $24.5 million additional loan for the completion of the Job 600 (State House) to provide offices for Members of Parliament amid concerns from some minority members that the Job 600 project is ‘consuming’ too much money. Daily Guide learnt that about $100 million had so far been spent on the project which under the Kufuor’s administration, it was allegedly estimated to cost $30 million. The additional $24.5 million would be provided by the Fidelity Bank. The extra $ 24.5 million, according to the Majority leader, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, will be used for the provision of furniture, fittings and fixtures as well as other civil works remaining on the building. At yesterday’s sitting, most majority members wore white attire to signify ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC)’s victory in the Supreme Court petition and taunted their minority colleagues for being greatly disappointed in their aim to become ministers and deputy ministers of state. The parliamentary select-committee, chaired by James Klutse Avedzi , the NDC Member of Parliament for Ketu North, has been tasked to look into the knitty-gritty of the loan and members of the committee will plunge into full work this morning at about 9.00 am for the emergency consideration before the sitting officially comes to a close tomorrow. Some members of the committee, especially those from the minority side, led by Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, who is the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Old Tafo and a ranking member of the committee, have called for more time to be able to critically look at the knitty-gritty of the loan. Other loans laid before parliament yesterday for consideration by the Finance Committee were a preferential buyer credit loan agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Export-Import Bank of China for an amount of $123,406,273.10 to finance the Ghana Dedicated Security Information System Project (Phase II) as well as a request for waiver of customs duties, VAT, National Health Insurance levy, ECOWAS levy, Export Development Investment Fund, Destination Inspection fees, processing fees and withholding tax amounting to $670,949.00 on goods and equipment required for the implementation of the Rural Enterprises Programme (REP) under Republic of Ghana and the International Fund for Agriculture Development for an amount of $31.5 million. Semi-Annual reports of the Bank of Ghana on the Petroleum Holding Funds and the Ghana Petroleum Funds for the period between July 1 and December 30, 2012 and the period between January 1 and June 30, 2013 were laid before parliament for consideration by the Finance Committee. Annual reports of the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands for the year 2010 and 2011 were also laid before parliament while the annual report of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice for the year 2010 was also laid. Other annual reports from the Ghana Meteorological Agency for the year 2012 and the Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission for the year 2009 were also laid. Yesterday’s sitting delayed considerably starting at 1.00 pm because of a closed-door meeting by leadership of the house possibly on the delayed payment of the common fund to MPs. Welcoming MPs back for the emergency sitting, the speaker of parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, commended the MPs for promptly responding to the call for the emergency sitting. He used the occasion to congratulate President Mahama on being declared the validly elected president by the Supreme Court and also commended the flagbearer of the largest opposition party, Nana Akufo-Addo, for showing great statesmanship in accepting the judgement of the Supreme Court in good faith. He called for greater collaboration between the executive and legislature, saying that smooth running of government depended very much on parliament. The speaker appealed to President Mahama, as a former Member of Parliament, to see parliament as the engine of parliamentary democracy and, therefore, must be provided with the necessary logistics and funds to carry out its functions effectively.