Business News of 2014-03-20

Controversy in Parliament over CAL Bank loan facility

A Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, on Tuesday failed to tell Parliament how many six-unit classroom blocks and two-storey dormitory blocks had been constructed with an GH¢85 million loan facility from CAL Bank.

The loan was approved by Parliament on March 17, 2011 for the construction of 161 six-unit classroom blocks and 55 two-storey dormitory blocks in senior high schools (SHS) across the country.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Bosomtwe, Mr Simon Osei-Mensah, had demanded from the deputy minister the number of six-unit classroom blocks and two-storey dormitory blocks constructed from January 2009 to December 2012, their locations and their sources of funding.

In his supplementary question, the MP reminded the House of the CAL Bank facility and sought to know from Mr Ablakwa what the money had been used for.

In his answer, Mr Ablakwa said the government had provided a number of dormitories and classroom blocks from the GETFund and other sources within the period and added that a document which contained all the details had been submitted to the Table Office of Parliament.

Mr Osei-Mensah shot back, saying he had sighted the document but the number provided in it did not exceed 60 six-unit classroom blocks.

“What has the money been used for?” he asked, adding that if the government had used the GH¢85 million or part of the money for the project, it needed to tell the House where the dormitory and classroom blocks were located.

Mr Ablakwa replied that if he had prior knowledge of the fact that Mr Osei-Mensah wanted figures relating to the CAL Bank facility, he would have prepared adequately.

He said if given time, he could provide the answers, adding that he had seen documents in his office last Monday which pointed to the fact that 425 six-unit classroom blocks had been provided in SHSs across the country during the period.

But Mr Osei-Mensah was clearly not satisfied with the answer and sought to “grill” Mr Ablakwa more, saying the educational facilities mentioned in the document submitted to the table office did not exceed 40.

After some arguments, the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Ebo Barton-Odro, who presided over proceedings, intervened, saying the best way forward was to give Mr Ablakwa time to provide the information to the House.

The MP for Old Tafo, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, urged Mr Barton-Odro to direct Mr Ablakwa to prepare adequately to provide the answers on a later date.

Mr Barton-Odro subsequently directed Mr Ablakwa to appear before the House to brief it appropriately before the end of the current session of Parliament.

Mr Osei-Mensah, however, still appeared not satisfied.