I have for umpteenth time now, quite religiously followed the heated controversy that greeted the budget estimates scribed in the budget of Ministry of Special Development Initiatives. This brouhaha has hazardously put madam Hawa Koomson, the honourable Minister of Special Development Initiatives, in a position of reproach. Many elements particularly from the propaganda machinery of the NDC have somewhat brainwashed Ghanaians into thinking that irredeemable damage has been inflicted on the sacredness of the Ghanaian well-kept coffers under the NPP.
I have known Madam Mavis Hawa Koomson from Adam and my heartwrecked when the issue cropped up. My heart sunk because the allegations of overbloated figures goes against the grain of her character. The honourable Member of Parliament is unquestionably a bona fide daughter of the Zongo to which my umbilical cord is attached. The chemistry I share with her is more of siblings than people who share uniform political ideology and wavelength. She is a woman of substance, character, finesse and anything that occasioned may be at her fallible moment. In the realm where common sense rule, a person will be insane to peg the cost of a website at Ghc800,000. It could simply be seen as an institutional oversights that could be rectified at the Finance Committee level or the plenary as it was done. The narrative the minority sends to the political market is as though the estimate is a sunk expenditure like they wantonly did with SADA, GYEEDA, SUBA, Woyome and the host of others.
In this country, we cherry-pick events which titillates our jaundiced political palates. In 2011 budget allocation document of the Ministry of Finance, a whopping Ghc43m was allocated to a then newly created division named as “External Economic Relations Division”. When the policy Think Tank Imani Ghana smelled something fishy, they queried the Mnistry why such amount of 23% of the MOF budget that year to a rather infant division. The Ministry retorted that the allotment was Ghc430,000 and not Ghc43m. Meanwhile at the time parliament had already stamped an approval. The narrative was taken without any protest because the NPP by then understood that such a mishap will once in a while happen in a line duties. Today, the minority is on roof tops crying foul but hypocritically remained tight-lipped when same happened in 2011. I am convinced that crime has no expiring date under our constitution and if Mavis Hawa head is being called today for a humanly blunder then Fiifi Kwertey and Dr. Kwabena Dufffour heads should also be visited.
As a country I think we embrace analyses which is hinged on facts and not one which is clouded by our emotions. I have painstakingly dug deep and have made these findings on all the dicey and touchy issues.
1. The Ministry of SDI has a mandate to oversee the Three Development Authorities; Coastal Development Authority, Middle Belt Development Authority, Northern Development Authority. The Ministry is set to execute half a dozen campaign promises of the NPP including One-Village One-Dam, One-District-One-Warehouse, One-Million per constituency. There’s no doubt therefore that the budget will be humongous.
2. The entire budget estimates cover the three development authorities and the Ministry; the budget includes the development authorities because they are not fully set up. All funds allocated to the authorities will be managed by them. The allocation will be done pro-rata.
3. GHS 800,000 for the website development was an error. The figure was corrected as GHS 80,000 before the appropriation was passed. This amount will be used for development of four (4) websites for the three authorities and the ministry.
4. 20 vehicles estimated in the budget are to be shared amongst the three authorities and the Ministry. The ministry is not using all the 20 vehicles.
5. The projects budgeted for are the outcome of assessed needs across the 275 constituencies.
6. The projects will be implemented by the development authorities when they become fully operational.
7. The Ministry is not just drilling ordinary boreholes, as being put across. But a sophisticated community based water system. Solar mechanised with reservoir tank, 10000 ltrs capacity, with a number of distribution points, amongst others. This system is capable of serving about 2400 people in a community per day. Completely different from the NDC/PURC boreholes, which can only serve a little over 1000 people per day.
8. UNICEF did similar projects, in 2016 at a cost of GHS167,000. MSDI estimates to spend about GHS 132,000. This is indeed protection of public purse.
9. The projects will be awarded through the competitive tendering process to ensure value for money. This may further push the cost down. Note that NDC /PURC sole sourced the 2012 boreholes.
10. The 10-seater institutional water closet toilet facility will have a
a. mechanised borehole
b. solar powered lighting system
c. water tank
d. Environmentally friendly bio-digester waste storage, which can generate bio-gas for domestic and other use.
11. On the allotment for the budget preparation on 27th item, it must be put on record that the Ghc2m is not exclusively for the Ministry’s budget but for all the Development Authorities. There will hundreds of budgets that will be prepared for every constituency according to their needs.
With these, I am sure it will cure the fictitious mist hanging around this issue. The NPP is not a gang of crude thieves who will milk Ghana( which they will ever shudder to do) in such a cheap, unclever and daft fashion of obviously overbloating a budget as claimed by the NDC.
The level of credulity I have in the incorruptibility of Madam Mavis Hawa Koomson is unassailable.
It is excruciating that people will choose to walk the path of lambasting the government without painstakingly digging true to find the truth. We should not celebrate intellectual dishonesty and make ourselves very gullible. The NDC is bent on painting the government of the NPP black and such red herrings will never distract the government from delivering on its promises to the Ghanaian populace.
Ali Suraj- Your Next National Nasara Coordinator, Insha Allah.