The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has called for standardisation of the cost of public sector projects to curb corruption in their construction and ensure transparency and accountability.
He said delays and inefficient delivery of public infrastructural projects often destabilised the budget and resulted in revaluation of inherited projects at the expense of the taxpayer.
‘’It creates immense difficulty for budgeting when pricing is not right, and we failed to pay on time, leading to build-up of interest rate and re-valuation, which causes untold problems,’’ he observed.
Mr Ofori-Atta made the call at the Value for Money Conference, organised by the Vice President Secretariat, in Accra on Monday.
The platform is intended to find standardised programme design and delivery for all public sector infrastructural projects to ensure value for money.
It brought experts from home and abroad including; academics, ministers of states and captains of industry as well as policy makers and civil society organisations, to discuss the way forward towards finding solutions to variations in project values in the construction of roads, schools and hospitals.
Mr Ofori-Atta made reference to some construction projects the government inherited from the previous administration in Kumasi and Accra, and price differences it created upon revaluations of the costs.
He said, for instance, in 2014 a two-storey building unit in Kumasi was estimated to cost the government GH¢600,000 while a similar building in Accra was estimated to cost GH¢1.2 million.
He said when the project was re-valued in 2016, the Kumasi project jumped to GH¢2.5 million, while the Accra one increased to GH¢2.08 million.
However, in early 2017, the contractor came up with other charges and the cost for the building moved up to GH¢3.6 million in Kumasi with the Accra one moving up to GH¢2.8 million.
The Finance Minister, therefore, expressed misgivings about how those price build-ups occurred, saying; ‘‘When you speak to the chief directors of the ministries and ask them…’’would you build your own houses for that amount and the answer is no’’.
The explanations the chief directors often gave was that it was the estimates from the Engineering and Architectural Services Limited (EASL), Mr Ofori-Atta said.
Mr Ofori-Atta observed; ‘‘That becomes the paradox in which we live with, and almost an ecosystem in which the public space or public purse is not under anybody’s consideration and shows absolute lack of care and wonder where we’re going as a people’’.
He, therefore, called for fundamental change of the thinking of the Ghanaian in order to a make headway in the socio-economic development of the nation and untie ourselves from donor dependency.
‘‘I know a lot of you professionals are uncomfortable about it, but we’re all caught in the web where we continue this unsoarable drive towards potential self-destruction,’’ he observed.
He cited the Ridge Hospital and the University of Ghana Medical Centre, which the government had to commit additional USD$50 million for continuation of those facilities.
The Finance Minister noted that if the trend continued, it would be extremely difficult for the nation to attain the ‘’Ghana beyond aid’, and urged the participants to come out with honest and workable solutions.