General News of 2013-12-13

Empty structures, burnt trees are testimonies of SADA projects - MP

Minority members on the Finance Committee of Parliament are livid over what they claim is the misappropriation of funds by Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) in the controversial investment into tree planting and commercial guinea fowl production.
A member of the committee Mark Asibey Yeboah says over a year after millions of cedis was invested into the two projects, nothing in substance can be pointed to as returns on investment.
SADA entered into a partnership agreement with the Asongtaba Cottage industry in December 2012 to plant five million trees with the aim of greening the areas and fighting climate change. A seedling was quoted at 6 cedis 60 pesewas.
SADA also entered into another agreement with the same company for commercial production of guinea fowl for consumption to which another 15 million cedis was invested.
Media reports on the two investments sparked a huge public debate with critics accusing SADA and Asongtaba of embezzling the funds. The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice was then petitioned to investigate the two projects.
Even before the investigative body will complete its probe into the allegations, Minority members of Parliament's Finance Committee say SADA cannot account for the investment made
According to Mark Osei Asibey, only empty constructed structures are there to show for the 15 million cedis investment into the guinea fowl project.
"If SADA had taken a loan from a bank, would they still be putting up structures, one year after taking the loan?"he asked in an interview on Joy FM newsnight programme.
According to him officials of SADA who appeared before the committee on Finance do not even know when commercial production will begin.
"With the tree planting project, the least said about it, the better," he said.
He reported officials of SADA as saying that after a long dry season and bush fires the trees have been destroyed.
They did not say how many trees were destroyed, even though admittedly they have contacted the University of Development Studies to conduct an audit into how many trees were planted.
Asibey maintained the conduct of SADA officials raises serious questions about their ability to protect meagre state resources.
A report on the Finance Committee is due to be presented to the House on Friday with a looming debate expected by members into the SADA investment.
Asibey said he will lead the cause to have officials of SADA return to the committee to explain further, how these monies were misappropriated.
When the chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament was called for a response, he declined comments into the details of the two projects, saying the issues will be discussed on the floor on Friday.
He was however upset with his colleagues on the minority side who are impugning corruption into the whole project.