Tamale North MP Alhassan Suhuyini has cautioned the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) against reckless spending of funds earmarked for the Ghana@60 celebrations.
According to Mr Suhuyini, he is not one of the “cynics who think we have nothing to celebrate at 60”, stating: “I believe we do, and, so, I think we should.”
He was quick to add: “However, let the celebration not be used as an opportunity to dissipate public funds, reward political party loyalists, or be a subtle means to celebrate an election victory at the polls.”
He made this comment when he read a statement on the floor of parliament on Thursday, February 16.
Mr Suhuyini has also cautioned the government against spending beyond the amount allocated for the anniversary celebration.
According to him, the Ghana@50 celebrations a decade ago resulted in an over expenditure of the budget in excess of 300 per cent and this must not be repeated during this year’s diamond jubilee celebrations.
He said the Ghana@50 celebrations, a year-long affair, “had a total amount of GHS29.31m approved by parliament for the celebrations. The first tranche of 20 million United States dollars (US$20 million) was approved on 20th July, 2006. The second tranche of US$11.8 million, which was a loan from Fidelity Bank, was approved by this august house on the 30th day of July, 2007.”
“However, according to a government White Paper on a commission of enquiry report, by 31 December 2008, a total sum of GHS97,776,388.44 had been spent on the celebrations, far in excess of over 300% of what was approved.”
He revealed that “despite additional proceeds accruing to the planning committee through the sale of cars, land, furnishing, mansions and sponsorship totalling GHS19,352,498.00, only GHS4,800,543.38 of that was used for its intended purpose of servicing the loan from Fidelity Bank, which parliament approved, leaving an outstanding amount of GH¢15,374,075.58 as at December 2008.”
“Non-cash donations were not properly accounted for, costly bridging finance and overdraft facilities were procured from banks because according to organisers there were delays in budgetary releases.
“According to the government White Paper, several projects such as rest stops, toilets, and the renovation of heritage sites were either left incomplete due to lack of funds or not started though paid for. Even a Green Ghana project was commenced in the middle of October and at the start of harmattan and according to the CEO speaking before the commission, six million seedlings were planted.”
For these reasons he feels Ghanaians “need a break and it is my prayer and anticipation that this celebration planning committee will apply the brakes as they are guided by the ghost of the past celebration”.