Mills' $3 Billion Stinking Loan

Sat, 27 Aug 2011 Source: Yawose, John

From recent happenings, in terms of contracting loans from World Bank , African Development Bank, BADEA, KfW, JICA and other foreign credit sources, I have now come to understand or accept that these foreign creditors have actually helped developing countries, including Ghana, over the years. They mean well, after all. These credit institutions, have risked being shamed, lambasted and being called names like-- ‘neocolonialists’, ‘exploiters’, ‘foreign rapists’, ‘economic butchers’ etc, etc, ironically by the same beneficiaries. Such name-callings and innuendos have even been extended to the nations who really control these institutions USA, Britain, France, Germany, Italy etc.

But bravely and conscientiously, they have stood firm and performed diligently and scientifically according to the rules and regulations governing loan procurements, however stringent and rigid they may be.

Word Bank conditionalities in giving out loans to needy governments, include , giving out the loans for specific projects, well defined and shaped i.e project specific loans. In that case, governments or government agencies putting out proposals for advancement of loans will be required to do proper and well thought out homework on the projects. The processes will invariably entail prefeasibility, feasibility, detailed designs and drawings, contract documentation including costings and itemised projections. Local or foreign Consultants are often times engaged to undertake these complicated scientific analyses and projections. All these go on under their direct supervision, such that they monitor practically every stage of the work from the studies through tendering and throughout the implementation period to completion to ensure compliance to the agreed conditions. The result is that the loans given out are insulated from inflation, diversions; misapplications, plain misuse or embezzlements pre- implementation and during implementation of the project. Of course, the processes appear long and time wasting, but the acts, have checked diversions and misuse of scarce foreign monies, have ensured value for money and smooth delivery of projects. Projects for Health Sector, Education, Roads, Water Supply, Electricity etc and for short, developmental projects funded by World Bank and other foreign donors follow the same pattern explained above.

It seems the NDC government has realised that the time honoured processes of contracting foreign loans from the traditional sources could be time wasting and complicated. They are thinking of their 4-year mandate which has barely 16 months to go. Coupled with the fact that they have nothing to show and they have do something before the D-day, Mills/NDC are doing everything frantically and desperately to circumvent the processes to get huge loans into the system by hook or crook without regard to the consequences. NDC/Mills, now backed by OIL and probably GAS economy, have found a willing partner or donor in China whose regulations on loans are just not as systematic as the World Bank and other traditional donors. So NDC/Mills are chasing a staggering $3b loan for developmental work in the country under any circumstances. The salient issues about the loan is that— 1. It is not project specific 2. It is bulked or global in nature 3. The projects involved are sketchily presented. 4. The project components are not properly defined 5. The projects have not gone through prefeasibility, feasibility and detailed designs. In other words, there are no engineering , economic and scientific analyses of the projects 6. The projects are not properly valued or costed

The Chinese don’t insist on the proper scientific, project management requirements and NDC/Mills want Parliament and Ghanaians to accept and contract $3b loan under these loose and nebulous conditions. This is proper AWOOF money. The consequences are that, the $3b loan is almost supervision -free and projects will be varied, contract figures are going to be inflated, funds diverted and misapplied-- all at the whims and caprices of Ministers, politicians and party hacks. Docile and nervous civil servants and technocrats and even contractors are surely going to be pushed around to comply with irregular directives concerning contract awards and implementation—because Word Bank rigidities and conditionalities in project management, supervision and implementation are absent. The Chinese will just wait for repayment of their loan without much regard to how the funds are used. Mills should have stuck to the World bank where proper and methodological things are done i.e if he still had to contract the loan. The Chinese loan is not in Ghana's interest . Mills must listen

The principle of ‘Value for Money’ is now buried in Ekumfi seas, under Mills administration, as far as this Chinese loan is concerned. What have Ghanaians done to deserve such grave deficiencies in this $3b loan acquisition, from a democratic government led by a law Professor who has been Vice President for 4-years and has seen it all before?

I am saddened by those NDC activists and commentators who are labelling NPP and some well meaning Ghanaians, as ‘ anti-Western Region’ and ‘anti-development’- just because the latter are patriotically and scientifically criticising the form of the loan, as outlined above. These unrepentant propaganda bigots are doing a great disservice to Ghanaians and humanity. How I wish the electorate are able to discern that these spins and populist talks to win votes are deceitful, wicked and sinful

The $3b loan is stinking. Parliament, consisting of such intellectuals- accountants, enginners, lawyers, project managers,, valuers, quantity surveyors, planners, economists, technocrats ---- must do the right things. They must discuss the objectionable loan document patriotically and passionately. They must eschew sentimentalism and parochialism and finally repudiate it to save our future children who are destined to be saddled unfortunately with the cost of any mediocrity and recklessness, about the loan, well over a generation JOHN YAWOSE

Columnist: Yawose, John