Debt Restructuring and Saglemi Housing Project

The global economic crunch, which severely affected Ghana, was staged mocked by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), which solely blamed the ruling government for messing things up. Maybe, the government could have done things differently to ease the strain on Ghanaians, but trust the NDC, whatever the government did was all wrong.

The Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) policy was yielding great results in the farming communities, to the extent that a dye-in-the-wool NDC guru and former Member of Parliament (MP) for Ejura Sekyere-Dumasi in the Ashanti Region, Alhaji Mohammed Issifu Pangadu, was full of praise of the policy from which he greatly benefited, but his comments did not please his party.

While food was in abundance in the production areas, in the urban areas, even though food was available, it was at cutthroat prices.

People, as usual, started to complain and the government found a way of bringing down foodstuffs and sold them at very affordable prices. The NDC convinced Ghanaians that it was not the best and came out with all kinds of reasons to demonise the operation which was led by Dr. Afriyie Akoto, former Minister of Food and Agriculture. “Government is not addressing the plight of the poor,” they claimed, meanwhile food was available and cheap.

When fuel prices zoomed into space and cost of doing business was getting more and more expensive and with the Ghana Cedi depreciating at an astronomical rate against the world hard currencies, government was condemned.

Government introduced Gold-for-Oil where instead of using USD to buy oil, Ghana started using gold. Even as the ex-pump prices kept falling week by week, and the Ghana Cedi started appreciating, the NDC told Ghanaians it was the worse ever arrangement.

And in all these it could never offer any alternative.

In its True State of the Nation Address, the NDC swore that the current government is the most over-bloated with ministers and deputy ministers. When the NDC was in power, Ghana had ten regions and with at least 84 ministers and deputy ministers. Now, we have sixteen region and going by the simple arithmetic principle of “if-more-less-divide,”we should be having 135 ministers and deputy ministers in Ghana today, however we 85 ministers and deputy ministers.

If the NDC were to be in power, with sixteen regions, Ghana would be having at least 100 ministers and deputies.

In its True State of the Nation Address, the NDC wondered why our neighbouring countries were enjoying sound economy with no hardship. Then only recently La Cote d’Ivoire suddenly crumbled down and had to rush to the IMF for help.

Having stated the above, one very interesting development is coming out strongly from the camp of the opposition. It has got to with government’s intention to sell off the Saglemi Housing Project to a private investor.

Instead of appreciating this, as one of the ways of debt restructuring and reduction, the opposition decided to wave red flags.

The Minority NDC in Parliament kicked against the idea, stating that the Saglemi Housing Project was not a failed one, and adding that it will do whatever it takes to compel the government to look for funding to complete the project.

Then another group, ‘Team Saglemi Not For Sale,’ led by one Nana Otu Darko, would not want the project to be sold, because the group did not understand how government would like to sell the project and use its proceeds to build from scratch, 12,000 affordable housing units from the sales proceeds.

It is not surprising that the NDC is defending the project. During the NDC, John Mahama regime, $200 million was budgeted to build a 5,000 Housing Unit Saglemi Housing Project at an average cost of $40,000 per unit. In the end, however only 668 housing units were completed and the NDC government stated that $196 million was spent. Experts came out to say that the completed houses were not habitable and the project on site worth $64 million.

Now assuming without accepting that $196 million was used to build 668 housing units, the average cost per unit will be over $293,413.00. The NDC in Parliament is saying it going to force government to find money to complete the project. As it is, if 668 units cost $196 million to build, then to complete the remaining 4,332 units will cost almost $1.3 billion. Is that what the NDC wants? To spent such a huge sum of money to cover up its inefficiency and corruption?

As for ‘Team Saglemi Not For Sale,’ the group does not know what it is about. To the group government should go and find money to complete the 5,000-housing unit project is its priority.  It just wants to be recognised in society.

If this group thinks well for Ghana, then it should rather support the idea of selling off the project and using the money to build more than twice the original housing units.

Government is seriously engaged in debt restructuring and reduction and the best way to make money at no cost is to sell off these scams and build more and better units.

By the way, which unit is more affordable, a $40,000.00 or a $300,000.00 of the same type?

The Saglemi Housing Project, at its current state, will cost the ordinary Ghanaian $300,000.00 to acquire one. Where will he get the money from?

Hon Daniel Dugan

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Chronicle’s stance.


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