Parliament has by majority voice votes approved the Additional Financing Agreement between the Government and the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group for an amount of $150 million.

This is to finance the Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development (GARID) Project.

The approval came amid strong opposition from the Minority.

The facility is for the construction of storm drains within the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) as part of efforts by the Government to address the perennial flooding situation in the nation’s capital, Accra.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentary Minority, which voted against the approval of the facility said they had concerns about the application and utilisation of the mother loan facility of $200 million so far allocated to the same Project.

They claimed that out of the $200m approved, only about $65 million had been awarded on contract for works, and only $8 million disbursed in these works out of a draw of $127m.

therefore, took the position that the solution is not extra resources but the accelerated implementation of works and speeding up of disbursement of the project funds to warrant the approval of additional funds for the project.

Mr Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng, Chairman Finance Committee of Parliament and New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Obuasi West, in his report to the House noted that in the aftermath of the June 3, 2015 floods in Accra, there was renewed commitment by the Government and all key stakeholders to prioritise issues that were crucial for resilient urban development and flood mitigation.

He said the commitment to reduce the vulnerability of people, livelihoods, property and the economy at large to flood related risks led to the development of the Greater Accra Spatial Development Framework (2017-2037) and the City Strength Diagnosis (2017).

He reiterated that the flooding in the Greater Accra Region (GAR) was usually severe along the Odaw River Basin due to the impact of Clim
ate Change, poor solid waste management, informal settlements and low income communities along the banks of the Odaw Raver.

He said the flooding situation along the Odaw River Basin was exacerbated by Weak Integrated Planning and Coordination among Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the project area.

‘To address these challenges, the Government of Ghana, among other interventions, initiated the GARID Project in 2020 with a financing of $200 million from the Bank,’ he explained.

‘However, in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, an amount of $65 million was reallocated to finance COVID related expenses.

‘Additionally, the original financing does not include compensation for affected persons.’

Mr Kwarteng said this additional financing had, therefore, become necessary to reinsure the $65 million and to make funds available for the payment of compensation to the affected persons.

The Chairman said by a majority decision, therefore, the Committee, having examined the financing agreemen
t for the GARID Project, recommended to the House to adopt its report and approve the Additional Financing Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the IDA of the World Bank Group for an amount of $150 million to finance the GARID Project in accordance with Article 181 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

The Minority also stated that the refund of $65 million re-allocated from the project to support COVID-19, if refunded by the Government, would augment the resources to the project, and should be prioritised.

The NDC Minority, however, expressed their concerns about the extent of borrowing by the Government, saying that the Government should rather deepen measures to maximise domestic revenue.

They strongly objected the approval of many the tax exemption applications before Parliament, which they cited as as avenues from which domestic revenue could be mobilised.

Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah, a Member of the Works and Housing Committee of Parliament and NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for Ho West, in his s
ubmission said a visit by his side of the Committee to the project areas indicated that one of them was at 25 per cent completion stage, while another was at 20 per cent.

The project development was initiated in 2020.

He said for two years now the Odaw drain had not been desilted, adding that on their way to the Project site at Nima, they called the contractor on phone, and that the contractor, who had already been paid $2 million for mobilisation, had informed them that he was yet to move to site and that he (the contractor) did not know the Project site.

Mr Bedzrah, therefore, urged the House to conduct a forensic audit of the Project to ensure value for money.

Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, the Minister of Finance, in his remarks, noted that the Government would address the concerns raised by the NDC Minority.

He said, he would be providing the House with an update report on the state of the project within two months.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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