Award-winning investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni, has added his voice to the raging public debate on the relevance of the National Cathedral and the cost involved in its construction.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, the ace investigative journalist doubted if God would live in a Cathedral built on vile virtues.
Manasseh Azure therefore wrote, “God will not inhabit in a Cathedral built on lies, fraud and insensitivity”.
Manasseh Azure’s comments come in the wake of the revived public concern over government’s plans to construct a National Cathedral and the subsequent disbursement of GH¢25 million Ghana Cedis by government to support the project.
Meanwhile, touching on these concerns, a Ranking Member on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa has disclosed that Parliament has not approved any funds for the construction of the National Cathedral.
According to him, the purported release of GH¢25 million Ghana Cedis by government as seed money for the project is on the blind-side of the Legislature.
Addressing the press on Thursday, the NDC lawmaker therefore expressed his reservations about the lack of transparency and insincerity that has characterised the construction of the Cathedral.
In this regard, he stressed that the Minority is unhappy with the circumstances surrounding the funding of the project.
“This letter is confirming today that contrary to the claims of the President, the National Cathedral Project apparently is being heavily funded by tax payer resources.
We as members of Parliament have not approved all of these colossal sums of money that are being released to companies we are seeing for the first time. We are not even aware of the procurement processes that were followed for these companies and these consultants, who are today at the receiving end of hundreds of millions of Ghana Cedis”, he said.
He added that, “the other concern we have is that on the scale if priorities, looking at the current economic crisis, that we all find ourselves. The President himself has admitted that we are facing an economic crisis of our lifetime.
As we speak, NABCO trainees have not been paid for more than seven months. National Service personnel are owed. School feeding caterers are agitating. They’re on strike. They have not been paid. National Health Insurance is owed. The last time we looked at their arrears, government owes National Health Insurance more than two billion Ghana Cedis”.
He continued: “GETFUND is in arrears. District Assembly Common Fund is in arrears. We are here as Members of Parliament. The Common Fund has not been released. A country that has all of these pressing challenges. For 3 years, the government has not been able to provide textbooks to basic schools. Capitatuon grant is in arrears.
So if you have all for these challenges. Obligations that you’re not able to meet, and you’re asking everybody to tighten their belt to bear with you that there’s no money. How is it that you’re releasing these fantastic sum?”.
Earlier, a document from the Ministry of Finance showed the release of GH¢25 million to the National Cathedral Secretariat through the Ministry of Finance as additional seed money for the construction of the Cathedral.
The money was to be credited to RIBADE Limited for part payment of outstanding claims, according to a letter signed by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to the Controller and Accountant’s General.
However, the Deputy Finance Minister, Dr. John Kumah has accused the Minority in Parliament of crying wolf where there is none in relation to the release of seed money for the National Cathedral project.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story on Thursday, Dr. Kumah stated that the misinterpretation and the spin that Minority is putting on the National Cathedral is what is creating the issues.
“This GH¢25 million contribution is also a payment to the priority project of government and they [Minority] don’t determine what is priority for President Akufo-Addo and his government”, he told host Evans Mensah.
Dr Kumah also added that there is nothing illegal about the letter signed by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to release GH¢25 million as seed money for the construction of the National Cathedral.
According to him, “government has already been transparent and accountable to the people of Ghana on all occasions when this National Cathedral had come up. Government has stated its seriousness about that project and that it remains a priority to the government and that we are committed to build and we will do so in partnership with the private sector”.
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