My 'dramatic infrastructure' won't add to Ghana's ¢173.2b debt – Prez

Nana Akufo-Addo [R] and his vice, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia[/caption]President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has assured Ghanaians that the massive infrastructure his government is embarking on in the next two years will not add a pesewa to Ghana’s debt stock which stood at 173.2 billion cedis at the end of 2018. Critics have argued the 2 billion-dollar Ghana-Chinese barter arrangement under which the projects will be financed, will add to the country’s total debt stock. Figures from Bank of Ghana showed the government added 30.6 billion cedis to the debt stock that was 142.6 billion cedis at the end of 2017. The Minority in parliament which has been critical of what government has described as a barter arrangement wrote to the International Monetary Fund last year to stop the deal on grounds of it being “illegal”. But the Fund held the Master Project Support Agreement for priority projects cannot be classified as a loan as claimed by critics. Speaking on the matter Wednesday at a sod cutting ceremony in Tamale to signal the commencement of phase one of the various infrastructural projects across the country, Nana Akufo-Addo described the deal as innovative and first of its kind in Africa. One of a kind deal “This innovative arrangement, the first of its kind on the continent, is not going to add to our country’s total debt stock,” he stated. He indicated that the much talked about agreement will ensure the country witnesses what he described as “a dramatic and very welcome change” in its infrastructure, especially in the roads sector. The President said with the establishment of the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation to oversee the development and exploitation of the full value chain of bauxite resources, Ghana will be able to live up to its part of the bargain. “We will have a vibrant aluminium industry in Ghana and ensure that we live to our end of the barter transaction,” he noted. Ghana is required under the agreement, to deliver manufactured aluminium products to Sinohydro of China to repay the 2 billion dollars. Meanwhile, each of the 16 regions will benefit from the arrangement in the form of hospital projects, extension of electricity to rural communities, and construction of court and residential buildings for the judiciary, landfill sites and industrial parks. Phase one of the project has already been approved by parliament. The first phase of the project will among others see Accra inner city roads, over 80 kilometres, improved; over 100 kilometres of Kumasi and Mampong inner city roads upgraded and construction of interchanges in Tamale and Sekondi. The traffic- prone Adenta-Dodowa road will be dualised while several kilometres of feeder roads in the Ashanti and Western North regions will be upgraded. A total of 39 kilometres of roads within Sunyani and Berekum in the Bono Region will be upgraded under the first phase, while Prestea township roads will also be upgraded. The various projects, Nana Akufo-Addo said, will create “thousands and thousands of jobs” for the youth, adding it will also open up Ghana for “sustained growth and development” that will put Ghana on the path of progress and prosperity. “Government is also ensuring that, in accordance with the local content law, a minimum of 30% of works will be undertaken by Ghanaian contractors, and supervised by Ghanaian consultants,” he said.

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Competition within 30 months On the back of several government projects failing to meet completion deadlines, President Akufo-Addo said he would not entertain delays from contractors on the various projects to be undertaken, stating they will have “30 calendar months” to complete each single project. “These projects are to be implemented on engineering, equipment, procurement and construction basis and will be completed within 30 months, within 30 calendar months after commencement,” Akufo-Addo stated. By Stephen Kwabena Effah||Ghana]]>