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Minority fears Ghana would be cheated if STX agreement is approved

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Kyei-Mensah Bonsu

Minority Leader in Parliament, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, on Wednesday said that the people of Ghana would be cheated if the agreements on the housing projects were agreed upon.

He said “as at now parliament has not received the designs of the houses to be able to determine if there would be value for money, so what houses are we expecting to build?”

Mr Kyei Mensah Bonsu said that though the country’s current housing deficit estimated at over one million units would be reduced by this STX, looking closely at the agreements “we are of the opinion that they are not in the interest of Ghanaians.

Giving the implications of the agreements at the press briefing in Accra Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the 45 percent of the 200,000 units alone would amount to 4.5 billion, the largest ever single transaction in the country’s history.

“It is equivalent to 30 per cent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product, 150 per cent of our gross international reserves and over 50 per cent of our current stock of debt now estimated at 9.2 billion.”

He said only one Ministry would increase public debt GDP ratio from about 60 per cent to 90 per cent with interest payments alone at 2 per cent per annum amounting to 90 million dollars per annum or 1.8 billion over 20 years.

He said the government would pay 400 million dollars to pay principal and interest on the loan for 15 years.

He said currently the country had to confront the delivery of portable water, electricity, health facilities, food, education, roads transportation, employment, justice among other pressing needs of the people.

“Do we as a nation have the ability to make payment in a single transaction relating to one department in one Ministry?” he questioned

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said aside the financial and architectural issues, there were other legal, technical and procurement issues that would need to be addressed before the project could move further.

He mentioned similar situation with the previous government where a decision to go for a sovereign credit rating to access funding on the international capital market without a sovereign guarantee and questioned why the government was asked to provide such a guarantee to a private company, adding “this is unacceptable.”

He said Ghana’s records with the issuance of sovereign guarantees had been jerky and bumpy recalling past guarantees which at worst were crystallized and government had to pay through its teeth – citing GNPC, and La Palm as examples.

He said the government more ominously was being asked to waive its Sovereign Immunity meaning should there be a default, STX Engineering and Construction Ghana could be attacking our properties all around the world.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsah said apart from all these, the off-taker agreement of 90,000 units further agreed to provide among other things exemption of tax, duty, withholding and impost when applicable on specific machineries and equipments, spare parts and personal effects and materials to be used for the execution of the housing projects as well as income tax exemption for contracts and specific expatriate personnel.

He said the state required to pay over 250 million dollars as insurance on the facility, and queried “so what then is the use of the Sovereign Guarantee when it is to insure against future problems including default.”

He said according to 2000 Population and housing census there were 3.88 million dwelling units in Ghana. Less than one-half are classified as houses, 58 per cent of them were poor quality made of mud, laterite brick, wattle and daub and earth.

He said it was wrong to average the size of the bedrooms at two bedrooms since 20,000 out of the 30,000 to be built were single room structure whilst 8,000 were 2-bedroom units with only 2,000 as 3 bedrooms with average units size then was about 1.7 bedrooms at a cost of 5,000 Dollars which to them was by any description not affordable.

Minority in parliament disagreed on the approval of a motion to adopt the Suppliers Credit facility of 1.525,443,468 dollars for the construction of 30,000 housing units for the security agencies.

This resulted in a heated debates culminating in the withdrawal of the deal by President Mills from parliament for a re-look by a Joint Ministerial Committee.

Source: GNA

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