2021 Budget: Agbodza questions Akufo-Addo’s commitment to road construction
“We defined last year as the Year of Roads; this year  will be the second year of roads. As we continue in our focus of dealing with the deficit in road infrastructure,” President Akufo-Addo stated while presenting his inaugural speech on January 7.
However, Member of Parliament (MP) for Adaklu, Mr Kwame Agbodza, is questioning the government’s commitment to road construction, looking at the amount of money it has allocated to road construction in the 2021 Budget.
According to the MP, the less than US$1 billion allocated to road construction in the 2021 budget is nothing to write home about, and shows how unserious the government is about his “Year of Roads” agenda.
“Mr Speaker, in the 2021 Budget, we are told it’s the second year of roads, but the amount of money government has provided in the budget for it is less than 1 billion.
Where is commitment of this government toward funding roads in this country?
“There is nothing in the budget that shows that all the road infrastructures captured in it will be funded.”
Mr. Agbodza made these comments in the Chamber yesterday.
The MP was contributing to the infrastructural aspect of the debate on the 2021 Budget.
As is the practice, before the House approves the budget, the members are usually given the opportunity to debate and comment.
Last Friday, after the caretaker Minister of Finance, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, had presented the 2021 Budget to the House, the Speaker indicated that the debate on the budget had been segmented into various sectors of the economy.
This is to enable the members give their best in areas where they are good at.
The debate kicked off on Tuesday with a focus on the economy and finance.
The members including Mr Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, Minister for Information, Cassiel Ato- Forson, MP, Ejumako, Mr. Isaac Adongo, MP, Bolgatanga Central, and John Abdulai Jinapor, MP, Yapei/Kusawgu all who are knowledgeable in the areas were called upon to contribute to it.
Tuesday was the debate on infrastructure and other members, including the Adaklu MP, also took their turn.
Mr Agbodza, while making his comment, noted the Akufo-Addo-led administration declared 2020 as the “Year of Roads,” and yet couldn’t complete any road project.
He attributed the failure to inadequate funds given to the Ministry in charge to execute the projects, and indicated that same had been done in this year’s budget, hence the narrative on uncompleted road projects won’t stop.
“Last year, the government indicated it was a year of road, but yet, the amount of money provided by the government to execute these projects was 1.2 billion cedis.”
He called on the government to not just talk, but walk the talk.
“For years you have come to the House to seek approval for roads to be constructed, and you haven’t completed a single one, and you are touting that as an achievement.
“Mr Speaker, the sloganeering must stop. A year of road” doesn’t build road. You haven’t provided enough funding in the budget for roads, so it doesn’t matter how much you sing “Year of Road, Year of Road. You can’t use slogans to build road.”
In a sharp rebuttal, the MP for Akim Swedru, Mr. Osei Kennedy Nyarko, said that the members should stop politicising issues pertaining to road infrastructure.
“Mr Speaker, one thing I want to make clear is that until politicians stop politicising issues on road infrastructure in this country, we will never move forward as a country.”
He said roads are of utmost importance to every Ghanaian, so the conversation should be geared towards how to develop it and not who has developed how many.
He questioned how many kilometres of road Ghana has developed out of the 78,000kms of road it has.
“How many of these roads are in good condition? This should be the concern of every politician. This is what we have to avert our minds to, and ask ourselves how we are going to fund it.
He said the country should have a conversation and build consensus on how to fund road projects.
He said there are so many ways of mobilising money to fund roads, hence, a national conversation on finding road construction will be very helpful.
He said when the government said it will introduce an upward adjustment in the road toll, Ghanaians including MPs made so much noise about it.
But if MPs want good roads to be constructed in their constituencies, then they should throw their support behind the government.