THE Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PAIC) has discovered that oil revenue allocated to three projects in Upper West and Northern regions might have gone into private pockets as a visit to the project sites reveal that no such projects exist.
The missing oil-funded projects are: rehabilitation of irrigation dam at Douri in the Jirapa District of the Upper West Region, rehabilitation of irrigation dam at Nakori in Wa Municipality, also in the Upper West Region, as well as the construction of 6-unit classroom block at Farikiya Islamic Institute in the Tamale Metropolis of the Northern Region.
A total amount of GH?99,196.70 was allocated to the three projects that PIAC could locate at the project sites.
The projects in question are funded with proceeds from the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) in the Upper West and Northern Regions.
The exposé followed visits by PIAC to monitor the existence of ABFA-funded projects and progress of work done as well as state of completion.
An amount of GH?52,950 was allocated from the ABFA in 2014 toward the rehabilitation of the irrigation dam at Douri in the Jirapa District of the Upper West Region.
The rehabilitation of the irrigation dam at Nakori in Wa Municipality, also in the Upper West Region, received GH?15,970 from the ABFA in 2014.
In 2015, an amount of GH?30,276.70 was disbursed from the ABFA for the construction of 6-unit classroom block at Farikiya Islamic Institute in the Tamale Metropolis of the Northern Region.
Dr Manteaw calls for probe
Dr Steve Manteaw, a member of PIAC, has, therefore, called on the Auditor-General’s department to audit all oil-money-funded projects as well as establish value for money in all the projects.
He said if the Auditor-General confirms that the monies went into private pockets, the monies should be retrieve and necessary sanctions meted out to those who misappropriated public resources.
“We need to decentralize the implementation of projects funded with oil money.
“Everything is centralised. So, what we found is that at the regional level and also at the district level, authorities were unaware of that there were projects being funded with oil money in their jurisdictions.
“Involving them will make for proper supervision in ensuring that the work is done to specification,” Dr Manteaw told The Finder on the sidelines of an Editor’s Liaison organised by Penplusbytes.
It was on the topic “Amplifying Oil and Gas Issues, Ghana Elections 2016”.
Dr Manteaw stated that the Finance Minister is supposed to provide update on the state of implementation of various projects but because he is not providing them and “we are unable to know whether the projects are being implemented or not.
“The minister should be called to order to comply with the law,” he stressed.
PIAC abandon press conference on the loot
A planned press conference to make the findings public by PIAC was called off at the 11th hour.
And my information is that the Vice-Chairman, with the support of the Chairman, preferred that PIAC wrote to the Minister of Finance for a response to the findings before going public.
The Finder understands that line of action was consequently taken and the minister was given up to August 18, 2016 to respond but, as at today, there has been no response.
Rehabilitation of Irrigation Dam at Douri, Jirapa District
Community members revealed that no work had taken place at the site since 1998 when a Japanese Grant was released for the construction of the existing irrigation project.
It came to light that opinion leaders and local authorities in the community were unaware of the release of funds for the rehabilitation of the dam, even though GH?52, 950 of ABFA was earmarked for the project in 2014.
Rehabilitation of Irrigation Dam at Nakori in Wa Municipality
It is learnt that the rehabilitation of the dam was being undertaken by Alhaji Adamu, a local contractor but, since 2006, only a bridge had been constructed over the dam and two holes which had been dug are yet to have pipes fixed to convey water through canals for irrigation.
The dam when completed will be of immense benefit to the community and a sum of GH?15,970 from the 2014 ABFA was allocated to for it but the PIAC team was unable to tell what it was used for.
PIAC is calling on the Ministries of Finance and Water resources, Works & Housing to provide further information on the project in order to determine what the funds have been used for.
Construction of 6-Unit Classroom Block at Farikiya Islamic Institute in the Tamale Metropolis
According to PIAC, this project, with an allocation of GH?30,276.70 from the 2015 ABFA could not be traced in the school.
Authorities at the school had no knowledge of the allocation of the cash for the construction of a six-unit classroom block for the school.
According to them, the most recent project undertaken at the school was a Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND) project which was completed in 2014.
Having been unable to identify this project, PIAC called on the Ministries of Finance and Education to provide further details on this project, including the date of award of contract, the contractor(s) for the project, other source(s) of funding for the project and other relevant information to enable PIAC and the citizenry to trace the whereabouts of the project or the allocated funds.
3 Other projects visited
The PIAC committee also found that three projects funded from ABFA were in various stages of completion but the team was not impressed with some findings.
Construction of two-storey dormitory block at Zebilla Senior High Technical School
This project, which began in 2012 by the Ministry of Education, was stalled in 2014 due to lack of funds.
In 2015, the government allocated GH?85,606.48 of ABFA to the project in order to resume construction.
During the committee’s visit, it was found that as beneficiaries, authorities of the School and the District Assembly did not know about the sources of funding, contracting process and implementation of project since there was no sign post detailing the funding and contractor executing the project in accordance with regulations.
The committee also noted that earlier work on the building was already showing signs of deterioration, with leakages in some parts of the roof, a clear sign that the structure would require re-roofing.
Payment for the Rehabilitation of Science Resource Centre at St. Francis Girls Senior High School (SHS), Jirapa District
This project was allocated GH?44,086.97 from the 2015 ABFA and involved the tiling of the floors, renovation of the ceilings and painting of the laboratories. The science resource centre serves St. Francis Girls SHS and five other adjoining Senior High Schools in the region.
School authorities told the committee that they had other pressing needs which could have been funded and had they been consulted in the choice of projects to be undertaken they would have made the necessary input.
They noted that rehabilitation of the resource centre without provision of laboratory equipment as well as relevant resources and other facilities in the laboratories for the learning of science, would be of little impact.
Payment of Electrical Works for Upgrade of Electrical Power Supply at Bagabaga College of Education, Tamale Metropolis
This project, according to the authorities at the Bagabaga College of Education, became necessary as a result of the low and unstable power supply to the institution.
An amount ofGH?248,245was allocated from the 2015 petroleum funds for the upgrade of electrical power supply.
PIAC found that new electrical cables had been fixed alongside old cables, a transformer which was meant to be installed to step up the voltage supplied to the College of Education was left at the administrative block of the College whilst the school still suffered unstable power supply.
In addition, the technician, who conducted the team around the project, could not explain why the transformer was not installed since the college was not involved in the project execution.
By Elvis DARKO, Accra