Ghana spends GH¢176 million on Jubilee House
When Ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor cut the tape to commission the presidential palace complex, which was to become one of his legacies, many Ghanaians were still in a limbo as to how much of their tax money was to be been pumped into the monstrous edifice.
Contrary to suggestions by many of the then ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) government spokespersons that Ghanaians should be grateful to them for the complex, since it was largely being funded by a benevolent Indian Government, it has emerged that the project is costing the Ghanaian taxpayer GH¢176 million.
This figure represents three times the cost given to Ghanaians by the government.
Official correspondence from the Indian Consultants to the project, STUP Consultants Limited, put the cost of the Golden Jubilee Presidential Palace complex at $135 million.
According to the consultants the project covers an area of 16,750sqm, consisting of a ‘presidential and vice presidential offices, the president’s palace, ceremonial public spaces and allied service buildings.’
The cost of the project, which was originally estimated at 36.9 million dollars, was said to have shot up with the provision of additional facilities to enhance external and internal security. The new cost was however, never disclosed.
The new figure would certainly come as a surprise to many Ghanaians who have believed all along that the project was principally being funded with a $30miIlion Indian grant.
The amount was part of a $60m facility that has a 50 per cent grant element, at an interest rate of 1.75 percent, repayable in 25 years, including a five-year moratorium. Shapoorji Pallonji of India is undertaking the construction of the project, which started in 2006.
Since the terms of the facility allowed the donors’ home companies to execute the project, it means the Indians had used their $30million grant bait to win a $135million contract for their people!
On November 10, 2008, when the former President hurriedly commissioned the complex in order to get his name inscribed on it, the government could still not tell Ghanaians how much the project was costing the taxpayer.
Describing the concept of the Palace the consultants, STUP, said the complex design is “a monumental form which depicts African culture in a progressive and contemporary manner and to incorporate symbols of the aspirations of the people of Ghana,’ adding that it communicates power; stability, democracy and freedom.”
Even though both the offices and residential complexes take the shape of a stool, which could be described as depicting ‘African culture,’ none of the designs in the outer wall, which is most visible to commuters and pedestrians alike, depict any of the well-known Ghanaian adinkra symbols.
Former President Kufuor attracted a lot of criticism from minority parties and sections of the Ghanaian public, when commissioning the project, for not seeing to the priority needs of the people, such as addressing the acute water shortage and lack of capacity to deal with sanitation in the cities, and described the choice as amounting to a misplaced priority.
The former President stated while inaugurating the first phase of the project that the Government at every stage of the construction had been sensitive to the financial implications of the venture as well as the conditions of life of Ghanaians.
He received further flak for deciding to use the offices even as the complex was uncompleted, against an earlier statement he had made that he was not going to be the first to occupy the premises.
The criticisms followed government announcement that Presidential staffers were moving into the uncompleted premises to await the President’s arrival.
Mr. Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, President Kufuor’s Minister for Information and National Orientation had told Voice of America’s (VOA) Peter Clottey at the time that Ghanaians should be proud of having a historic national monument befitting a seat of government after half-a-century of political independence.
“The president and of course the government today commissioned the new seat of government for the Republic of Ghana. And within it we have the Nkrumah heritage house, which is the old flagstaff house that housed the first president and his family and now has been turned into heritage, where we would exhibit some of the monuments and things that we used to have.
“But today is very significant and it is a day that we have all welcomed the arrival of the new home for the seat of government and for the first family and the second family. It also houses a very imposing administrative structure that you can see from anywhere in Accra,” Asamoah-Boateng pointed out.
“Today we did the unveiling or the christening and also the naming of it, but the work is not complete. What we’ve completed is the administrative block for the offices to run. What I know is that some sections of the staff of the president from the castle would start moving in today. They were packing away from the castle last night and they would be there from today. So we need to have a gradual movement of the staff. But of course, the staff would have to settle down to know where everything is and then the president also moves in. I know he would move in but the time I cannot tell you.
Sometimes, President Kufuor keeps things to himself for a while, so I think I would give him that as the president to keep those things close to his chest. But we’ve discussed it and I know he would move in,” Asamoah-Boateng revealed.
“The other thing is what this new building brings to us is the efficiency of work. Here, we have enough space and in most of the offices there are stretches of room where there are only small partitions where at least managers or directors would see their staff and work with them. It brings that kind of culture of togetherness and every office or organization needs that culture to hold people together,” he said.
At the commissioning of the project, President Kufuor explained that the mansion was being named ‘Golden Jubilee House’ because the construction started around the 50th Anniversary of Ghana’s Independence.
The commissioning ceremony was attended by the Minister of State of External Affairs of India, Anand Sharma.
Facilities within the complex include a Clinic, Bank and a Fire Service Post. The then Chief of Staff and Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani indicated that the second phase of the project was expected to be competed soon.
The Archbishop of Cape Coast Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson conducted the consecration ceremony, after which dignitaries were taken round to inspect the edifice.
As at press time, transition team members were still unable to put a cost to the edifice, as they said they were still scouting for information.