The Deputy Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Works and Housing, Hon. Rudolf Nsorwinne Amenga-Etego has expressed anger on the lack of commitment by the Akufo Addo government to tackle issues in the housing sector of the country.
According to him, the Budgetary allocation of GHS147,529,298, to the Ministry of Works and Housing shows that government lacks a firm commitment to the sector and has failed to prioritise it.
Hon. Amenga-Etego, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Chiana/Paga Constituency made these remarks in parliament when contributing to the debate to approve the 2020 Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Works and Housing last Wednesay.
He said despite the United Nations declaring the phenomenon of shelter (housing) as a human right and a humanitarian issue, the Akufo Addo government’s budget allocation paid mere lip service to this crisis.
He said Housing and Sanitation are a basic necessity of life, yet the government is doing little to mitigate the crisis where thousands of citizens could not afford a decent shelter.
Currently, more than ever before, housing is beyond reach for the majority of the population, in particular, the working population.
Ghana’s housing deficit stands at over two million, but government’s commitment to the sector remains minimal, making it highly impossible for the country to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)11 by the year 2030.
The National Democratic Congress(NDC) government under the leadership of former President John Mahama completed over 500 units of houses, while others are still under construction at Saglemi in the Ningo-Prampram District of the Greater Accra Region.
It is instructive to note that the Saglemi Housing Project has since been stalled since 2017 after the NDC left government.
The current administration stopped the Saglemi project to conduct value-for-money audit which has the tendency of increasing the construction cost, and thereby making the houses that are meant to be affordable rather unaffordable.
Hon. Amenga-Etego therefore expressed concern about government’s failed commitment to allocate adequate funds to the Ministry to undertake major housing and other related projects.
In his considered opinion, the GHS147,529,298.00 to the Ministry of Works and Housing to cover its operational cost for the year 2020, is a peanut and demanded that the annual estimates be returned to the Ministry of Finance for a top-up.
“In as much as I am concern, the estimates approved are so far inadequate that they don’ deserve our approval. Left to me, the budget should have been sent back for a second look and then more adequate figures should be brought for our consideration”, he lamented.
He added that the Committee was of the view that the planned programmes of the Ministry are very critical to the development agenda of the country, especially, in the pursuit and attainment of Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The GHS147,529,298.00 allocation for the implementation of the Ministry’s planned activities comprises of a Government of Ghana (GoG) component of GHS16,445,812.00 to be expended on Employee Compensation (wages and salaries) and goods and services.
The Internally Generated Funds (IGF) component of which is also expected to be expended on goods and services amounts to GHS364,786.00, with GHS120,000,000.00 being the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA).
An amount of GHS10,718,700.00 has been captured in the annual budget estimates as being Development Partners’ component to support capital expenditure.
Out of these amounts, GHS 8,548,860.00 has been projected to be expended on Management and Administration whilst GHS 27,931,586.00 is to be expended on Human Settlement and Development.
An amount of GHS 16,758,961.00 is expected to be expended on Housing Sector Management, GHS 5,910,854.00 on Urban Housing Management, GHS 1,479,900.00 on Rural Housing Management and GHS 3,781,871.00 on Management of Public Construction.
Additionally, an amount of GHS 111,048,852.00 is expected to be expended on Infrastructure Management whilst GHS 47,474,928.00 will cover the Works Sector Management.
Again, GHS 8,765,001.00 is budgeted for General Maintenance Management, GHS 21,283,923 for Drainage Management, GHS 33,500,000.00 for Coastal Protection Works with the remaining GHS 25,000.00 covering Operational Hydrology.
But Hon. Amenga-Etego said the GHS 147,529,298.00 budgetary allocation, is woefully inadequate, for it represented only about 10% of the amount the Ministry of Works and Housing requested for its 2020 fiscal year activities.
He explained to the Media in parliament that, the Ministry had made a request of GHS 1,423,000,000.00 out of which it had earmarked GHS 523,900.00 for Flood Control, GHS 600,000,000.00, for Coastal Protection, GHS 220,000,000.00, for Security Services Housing and GHSb79,100,000.00 for other programmes; but these were not granted.
He further pointed out that, we could build nice schools and good roads, but if at the end of the day the Ghanaian worker has no place to lay his head after work, it rounds to ground zero.
The Chiana/Paga lawmaker added that the situation has culminated in a problem resolving approach (fire-fighting) instead of a holistic approach that could fully deal with the various challenges that confront the sector.
He reiterated the need to prioritise the work of the Ministry and top-up the budgetary allocation for it to carry out effective and efficient work.
“Furthermore, the Ministry’s Human Settlement Programme detailed to roll out a number of housing projects aimed at reducing the housing deficit of the country would seriously be undermined with this meagre allocation”, Hon Amenga-Etego noted.
He said considering the heavy capital requirement of the planned programmes and the fact that they cover important social infrastructure facilities which are critical for the socio-economic development of the country, it would require additional resources outside the budgetary allocation in order to meet expectations.
The Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, who presided over the sitting was equally not happy with the budgetary allocation to the Works and Housing Ministry.
“We’ve just celebrated fundamental human rights today and shelter is one of them. Apart from air, water, food, clothing, the next is shelter. It is so key but truly the budget allocation to the Ministry is completely next to nothing”, he said.
He said parliament has resolved to raise additional funds to support critical Ministries including Works and Housing given the important role it plays in the socio-economic development of the country.
The Second Deputy Speaker said this calls for the need to set up a ‘Ways and Means’ committee to assist the Executive to raise revenue to support the national purse.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Nyaaba