W/R: CoST launches second assurance report

The assurance report gave an outline of how government funded projects worked within timelines specifications or otherwise and profess alternative for transparency

The Sekondi-Takoradi chapter of the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative, (CoST) has launched a second Assurance Report on eight projects within the Western Region.

The project covered the construction of 25 blocks of garages and two storey skills centre at Kokompe in the Sekondi/Takoradi Metropolitan AssemblM (STMA), Rehabilitation of 1.6 kilometer Wamco Effiakuma road within the Effia/Kwesiminitsim Metropolitan Assembly (EKMA), one out-patient Department at Atobiase in Wassa East District and upgrading of two pay parking lots in the Tarkwa Municipality.

The rest of the project include a cassava processing factory at Bokro in Nzema East District, construction of 100 capacity dormitory with ancillary facilities at Shama District among others.

The launch was on the theme, “A New Dawn in Infrastructure Transparency, Citizen Participation and Accountability” and highlights the need for a fundamental change in governance at all levels to embrace and put into practice tenets that promote openness in the delivery of public infrastructure.

The assurance report gave an outline of how government funded projects worked within timelines, specifications or otherwise and profess alternative for transparency, citizen participation and accountability.

The eight assured projects accounted for over GHC11.7 million covering an average overall disclosure of 47.56%

Of the eight projects, 50% incurred time overrun and 88 percent supervision by internal consultants.

Other findings revealed that the lack of comprehensive feasibility studies, non-adherence to health and safety, low participation of local or indigenous contractors and the lack of clerks of work to ensure compliance, as indicated by Matthew Somuah, the lead assurance consultant.

Isaac Aidoo, the manager of the CoST Initiative, said the assurance process was to help stakeholders to generate objective information that helped to identify and address any areas of concern.

Eugene Fredua Ofori-Atta, the CoST chairman, commended participating district for their commitment to openness in the delivery of public infrastructure.

He said national and subnational governments across the world recognized that in order to avoid a crisis of trust and gain the confidence of their citizens, they needed to create an environment that promotes trust and demonstrates transparency in realizing their mandate.

“This recognition is even more pronounced when delivering on public infrastructure; not only because of the large capital outlay involved, but also due to the significant multiplier effect on the economy and on the lives of beneficiaries.”

The 2017 Auditor Generals’ Report on the utilization of the District Assemblies’ Common Fund (DACF) revealed that close to GH¢70m (USD$ 14m) was lost as a result of contract irregularities and the sheer number of abandoned publicly-funded infrastructure projects bedevilling all local governments in Ghana.

With these inefficiencies with infrastructure delivery in mind, the commitment by stakeholders to use CoST as a platform to promote transparency and social accountability in the delivery of public infrastructure was well-placed.

The chairman said the CoST approach presented was therefore an excellent opportunity for all stakeholders to commence dialogue and implement reforms to reverse the crisis of confidence plaguing citizens, the private sector and government.

“This is meant to create awareness on CoST and build citizens and stakeholder interest in using disclosed infrastructure information to influence performance and promote transparency in the delivery of infrastructure projects…I entreat all stakeholders to continue to join us, as we begin on a journey meant to change the status quo and bring lasting and life-changing benefits to the people we serve,” he added.

Kobena Okyere Darko Mensah, the Western Regional Minister, said embarking on a journey aimed at enhancing transparency in the delivery of publicly-funded infrastructure projects was even more critical.

He stated that the COVID-19 pandemic, had revealed the stack reality of infrastructure deficit.

The Minister said the Ministry of Finance estimates that an injection of GH¢30 billion was needed to bridge the infrastructure gap in areas such as the provision of roads, water, bridges, electricity, hospitals, and sanitation.

This, according to him, were among the many interventions being rolled-out by the government to reduce the deficit.

“In ensuring there is value for money and best benefit derived from investments made into infrastructure provision, unrestricted access to information throughout the project-cycle is critical because of the significant multiplier effects of infrastructure to the economy,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ghana’s obligation under the Open Government Partnership (OGP) since 2011 had seen the implementation of a series of concrete commitments aimed at promoting access to information, citizen participation and use of technology and innovation in service delivery.

At the subnational level, Shama District Assembly followed the pioneering steps of the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly, after they joined the 70-member global OGP Local Program in 2020.

The Local Programme was a way of giving meaning to the tenets of OGP at the grassroots-level through the efforts of local reformers from governments, civil society, and most importantly, the involvement of citizens to spur change.

The programme, he added, would complement and strengthen the operationalization of existing legislations such as the Public Procurement Act, 2016 (Act 914), the Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936) and the Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989). The approach was also in line with Ghana’s Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitment to promote open contracting initiatives.

“I wish to use this opportunity to re-echo the commitment made on my behalf in January, 2020 by Gifty Eugenia Kusi, the former Deputy Western Regional Minister to bring on-board the remaining districts in the Western Region to be part of the CoST programme,” Kobena Okyere Darko Mensah said.

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Ghana News Agency
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