Ex-Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur was “alarmed” and questioned “overpayments” made in connection with the construction of the Vice President’s official residence and had all payments stopped until the anomaly had been resolved, former presidential staffer Dr Clement Apaak has said.
Reacting to Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia’s recent revelation that the Mahama administration spent $13.9million on the project, which is yet to be completed, the Builsa South MP said on Wednesday that: “The point to make is that it is truly by virtue of the fact that the then-Vice President also becoming aware of what it was going to cost, caused him to say that no more money is going to be paid before the completion of the said building, but to suggest that we have spent $13.9million, which is what is dominant in the public domain, is simply not right. Perhaps the current Vice President may not have chosen his words properly.”
Dr Apaak said as far as he was aware, $5.9million rather than $13.9million was the amount allocated for the project. He told Nii Arday Clegg on Accra-based Starr FM’s morning show on 1 February that Dr Bawumia had created a false impression that the Mahama administration paid all $13.9million for the project.
“Let me emphasise that it was even the then-Vice President who briefed the current Vice President on this issue, who made him aware of the fact that he [Amissah-Arthur] became alarmed about the overpayments, so much so that he queried the development and ordered that no more payment be made until the issue was resolved between the contractor and AESL, so, I think that the current Vice President needs to provide further and better particulars and those further and better particulars can be obtained from AESL,” he said.
Speaking at a Good Corporate Governance Initiative event at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra on Tuesday, 31 January, Dr Bawumia said he was “shocked” when he was told of the price for the house, which, in his view, was “most likely sole-sourced”.
He, thus, said it was important to enforce the Public Procurement Act “strictly” so as to avoid such blatant abuse of the Public Procurement Act to safeguard the taxpayers’ purse.
“Very importantly, we want to ensure the strict enforcement of the Public Procurement Act, Act 663; it is an Act that in my opinion and in the opinion of many, has really been abused recently, the resort to sole-sourcing of contracts has been more the rule rather than the exception,” Dr Bawumia said.
“The way the Act was designed, sole-sourcing was not supposed to be as rampant as we are seeing it today and I think that we will have to enforce this Public Procurement Act.
“I’ll give you one example which I found out recently: there was this brouhaha about the vice president’s residence, I’m sure you heard about that, so in the context of discussing this issue, there’s supposed to be a vice president’s residence under construction, official, so to speak, so, I asked the question: why is this project being delayed, why hasn’t it been finished? And they said: ‘Well, the contractor is owed a lot of money.’ I said: ‘Well how much is this money?’ And then I’m told it is actually a lot of money. How much is this house actually costing? And I was shocked when I was told. Can you believe in Ghana we are building a house to house our vice president and this house is supposed to cost $13.9million? I mean what sort of house is this supposed to be? I mean, is the gate made of gold, the pavement of gold, the blocks of gold? [A] house in Ghana for 13.9 million dollars? I couldn’t believe it. How many boreholes couldn’t we have done [with such an amount?]. Of course I’m 100 per cent sure it didn’t go through competitive tender otherwise we would have known about it. It was most likely sole-sourced and there it stands uncompleted, but this is just an example of many contracts that we don’t have value for money for …”
According to him, if Ghana is to achieve accelerated growth and development through transparency and integrity as the theme for the event suggests, then such practices must be got rid of in the country’s governance.
Dr Bawumia noted that the theme coincides with President Nana Akufo-Addo’s vision to build a new Ghana founded on the pledge of value for money and economic opportunity for all irrespective of their background. “A new Ghana in which hard work pays and cutting corners does not,” he added.
“We cannot achieve this vision unless we promote good governance, accountability and transparency,” he said, adding that “leadership plays an important role in good governance”.
In line with this, Dr Bawumia said the Akufo-Addo government intends making corruption a felony rather than a misdemeanour while seeking to quickly have parliament pass the Right To Information Bill so as to enhance transparency.
“We are going to have to push parliament to make the necessary amendments and if I had my way, it should be passed within these first 100 days of this government,” the Vice President said, adding: “It brings transparency in our governance.”