STX housing deal is fraudulent – Kofi Bentil

A marketing professional, lecturer and fellow at IMANI Ghana, Mr. Kofi Bentil has described the housing deal between the Ghana government and a South Korean construction firm, STX as fraudulent.

Speaking in an interview on the BBC Network Africa show which was monitored by Wednesday November 10, 2010, Mr. Bentil said the deal to build the 200,000 houses sounds to him as fraudulent.

According to him, the $1.5 billion financing for the project is not coming from the Koreans “as we have been told.”

“This deal,” he said “is overly securitized, too expensive.” He asked why the country is committing to such a deal when the financing is not coming from the external partner and especially when Ghanaians are capable of building affordable houses for the country.

In a response to the Vice President John Mahama’s argument that Ghanaians need housing and Ghana can not afford to raise the financing for the project internally, he said “I beg to differ, Mr. Vice President please check again. Ghanaians have built houses to house Ghanaians under very difficult conditions and still do.”

“How can you say that we can not build affordable houses to house our security services, that is very sorry,” he said.

News broke in December 2009 that the government of Ghana, the South Korean government and STX Group of South Korea have signed a deal for a $10 billion housing deal. Information emailed to from South Korea confirmed that the deal was signed Tuesday December 8, 2009.  The former Minister of Works and Housing, Albert Abongo signed on behalf of Ghana.

The deal however generated heated debates in Parliament and in the country.

Subsequently, the President, John Evans Atta Mills directed that the multi-billion dollar STX housing deal which had gone before Parliament for deliberation should be withdrawn for a review.

Parliament had met to discuss the Supplier’s Credit Financing Agreement Thursday July 15, 2010, but the subject drew so much controversy as the debate dragged on. The President directed that the agreement should be withdrawn and be sent to a Joint Ministerial Committee for a second look.

It was finally done and sent back to Parliament which ratified it under lots of acrimony.

Meanwhile, a signing ceremony for the deal which was scheduled for Monday September 20, 2010 at the Castle, Osu was called off following what the government simply described as “Legal issues that could not be resolved immediately at the last meeting before the ceremony.” But as it turned out, these “legal issues” is a clause in the final agreement which says Ghana’s oil will be used as collateral for the repayment of the loans for the construction of the houses.
The Attorney-General recently resubmitted the contract after amending it.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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