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Business News Sun, 14 Apr 2019

GhIS not qualified to do value for money audit – MP

The Minority’s spokesperson on the Roads and Transport Committee in Parliament has questioned how the Ghana Institution of Surveyors (GhIS) was made to conduct a value for money audit on the $2 billion Sinohydro deal.

Kwame Agbodza is surprised at the turn of events because GhIS as a regulator, in his view, has no business offering such services, therefore, their involvement is problematic.

“Under which provisions in the Procurement Act of this country is a regulator given a contract to carry out a service,” he queried on MultiTv/Joy FM’s news analysis show Newsfile, Saturday.

“The Ghana Medical Association cannot take a contract to treat a patient. It will be unusual if Ghana Bar Association begins to take on cases. They are a regulator so if somebody gets aggrieved by the conduct of a member where do they go?” the Adaklu MP asked.

President Akufo-Addo has launched the $2 billion Sinohydro deal – an agreement between the government of Ghana and the Sinohydro Group Limited of China – to provide infrastructure in exchange for Ghana’s refined Bauxite.

Roads, bridges, interchanges, hospitals, public housing, among others are some of the construction projects under the deal which has been described as a barter deal.

Unhappy about the manner in which government has handled the deal, the Minority who wrote to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) requesting for a determination on whether or not the deal is a loan or barter, had wanted the launch of the project suspended until a value for money audit was done.

The Information Minister says value for money audit has been conducted

But the Information Minister, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah at a press conference debunked the Minority’s claim describing it as disingenuous.

The Minister said the GhIS had conducted the audit on the deal, a report was available and all the Minority members needed to do was a request and copies would have been given to them.

This revelation only worsened the situation. For Mr Agbodza, said the GhIS’ involvement is troubling because they cannot regulate and engage in the rendering of services.

When reminded that the professional body conducted similar audits for the previous Mahama-led administration the MP said two wrongs don’t make a right.

“It is just like saying that if something happened wrongly in the past it can happen again,” he noted.

No value for money audit needed to begin project

Mr Agbodza disagreed with government’s claim that value for money audit is not prerequisite for the deal to be approved.

Referencing portions of the deal which states that the contract can only come into force when conditions like a full value for money audit is conducted by the Finance Ministry, he said it was illegal for government to go ahead without one.

“In other words, this contract is not in effect until a full value for money audit is completed. So when you hear me saying that the president is embarking on illegality, I am basically saying that the contract is not in effect, ‘why are you taking contractors to site’.”

Senior Vice President of policy think tank, IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil shares the MP’s views on GhIS conducting a value for money audit.

Conducting the audit, in his view transforms the regulating body into a Survey Company which it is not known for, making their involvement problematic.

“So I am not surprised that nobody signed it because a surveyor has to do the work,” he said.

He urged the Minority, instead of complaining about a lack of value for money audit, to conduct one themselves, put it out in the public domain and leave it for further interrogation.

Commenting on the whole project, Mr Bentil was of the view the country is in dire need of infrastructure and while there is the need for requirements like value for money audit to be adhered to, in this instance, some urgency is required.

“This country is a country in need of infrastructure badly and to that extent, we cannot sit down and perfect everything before we move on.

“If you are the president of this country and people just died because of floods, you are in a hurry to do things. I am not excusing him but I can understand why he is in pushing so this thing will happen,” the private legal practitioner added.

Source: Myjoyonline.com