Government says it is open to discussion on how best to ensure value for money when it comes to the construction of the National Cathedral.
The relevance of the project, cost, and procurement breaches have been debated, with numerous calls for the suspension and subsequent probe into the utilisation of public funds for the project.
Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa wants a national debate on the relevance of the project, insisting that the lack of transparency exhibited by government leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
“What the government has to do is to come clean as the Christian Council is suggesting now. Be transparent with Ghanaians and Parliament. Tell us that ‘Look our fundraising has not been very good’.
“That itself should send you a message on what Christians are considering to be a priority now. If you don’t see that euphoria among Christians to support this project, that itself should communicate something to you,” Mr. Ablakwa noted.
In view of this, he called on government to “come clean” and consider having a national debate on the importance of the project considering the current economic crisis.
In response, the Deputy Finance Minister, Dr. John Kumah, said government is willing to listen to opinions that can better shape the project.
“Why are we going to spend 300 or 400 million dollars when we could do it for less?” he quizzed.
Mr Kumah further noted, “If there is a substance in that, I think, we can easily look at that and reshape it so that at the end of the day, we achieve the objective in our difficult circumstance.”
The building of the Cathedral is in fulfilment of a pledge President Akufo-Addo revealed he made to God before winning the 2016 elections.
In 2019, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, said the construction of the National Cathedral is estimated to cost over $100 million.
It has since been amended to $340 million.
Already, the government has demolished all structures located on the proposed site to construct the National Cathedral at Ridge in Accra, and work is progressing.
It is also scheduled to be commissioned on March 6, 2024.
The 5,000-seater auditorium project will also bequeath to the country a gracious national park for all Ghanaians, bring new skills, technology and jobs to the country and act as a beacon to national, regional and international tourists.
Two weeks ago, the populace started questioning the project’s source of financing when the North Tongue MP put out documents showing that an amount to the tune of GHS 200 million has been dished out towards the construction of the project.
These monies, he said, were dished out without recourse to parliamentary processes nor strict public procurement practices.
According to Mr Ablakwa, the Akufo-Addo administration first proclaimed the project as a private and personal pledge, however, public funds are now been siphoned to facilitate the task.
He added that the inclusion of the National Cathedral’s Executive Director on the roll of Presidential Staffers also flies in the face of the law.
“When you go through the list of Board of Trustees, this gentleman [Dr Paul Opoku Mensah] who has been enlisted here as the Executive Director of the Secretariat, a Secretariat presented as a private entity has also been enlisted as a Presidential staffer and his position there is Overseer of the National Cathedral.
“Why is the Ghanaian taxpayer paying somebody who works for a private board of trustees?” he quizzed.
His revelation has gotten many influential individuals and pressure groups questioning the transparency and accountability of government.
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