Ghana's presidential candidate attacks government procurement

10 October 2012

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10 October 2012 | Anna Reynolds

The New Patriotic Party's presidential candidate in Ghana has accused the government of failing to comply with the Procurement Act and wasting public money.

Speaking at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said: “Public contracts are now routinely awarded by sole sourcing. Very worrying is the fact that this sole sourcing regime is most prevalent in contracts awarded from two key ministries, education and roads.”

Akufo-Addo revealed allegations had been made by MPs that over 80 per cent of public procurements are awarded by sole sourcing. He said: “The government has not bothered to contradict them. The blatant disregard of the legal requirement to subject public contracts to a competitive tender process is denying the people of Ghana value for their money.”

During the speech, Akufo-Addo read Section 13 of the Public Procurement Act, which stated the Public Procurement Board must submit a report to the minister of finance indicating the activities and operations of the board, including all accounts over the past year. According to Akufo-Addo “not a single such annual report has been submitted to Parliament since the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was voted back to office in 2009”.

In response to the accusations the Public Procurement Authority said: "Although there has been a slight delay in the publication of the 2011 edition, please be assured that the Authority is presently working assiduously to gather data on the performance of procurement entities across the country in order to publish it in good time.

"As far as allegations of single sourcing procurement is concerned, I am afraid that this does not amount to 80 per cent as it has been alleged. Rather at the last assessment conducted, this method of procurement only accounted for about 8.85 per cent of the total procurements undertaken. Moreover, the PPA reserves the right to approve such applications from entities in as long as they satisfy the conditions specified in Section 40 of Act 663. Since is method is less competitive, detailed information on such procurements are made available every year to the public through our annual reports in our bid to entrench the principles of integrity and transparency in Ghana public procurement processes."

Akufo-Addo also questioned the reasons behind the “inexplicable rises in the cost of government projects”. He gave the example of a school that had been built by the NPP four years ago, when it was the ruling party, costing around GH¢85,000 (US$45,000) and said the same project under the NDC has been priced at over GH¢240,000 (US$127,300). Furthermore, the difference in costs between NPP- and NDC-constructed roads highlighted the use of sole sourcing.

As a result of higher construction costs in the past three years, Akufo-Addo claimed that less than 1,000km of roads have been added to the network compared to the annual NPP average of 4,750km.

The candidate for the presidential elections, which take place on 7 December, ended his speech with a promise to “protect the public purse”. “This government has borrowed more money than all other governments put together in 52 years,” he said. “We need to protect our future. We need to change now and move Ghana forward.”

The NDC has not responded to SM’s request for comment.

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