BOLGATANGA East Member of Parliament, Dr. Dominic Akuritinga Ayine, has accused the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, of misrepresentation in regards to the construction of the National Cathedral when he presented the budget statement and economic policy of government for 2019, a fortnight ago.
Dr. Ayine said after thoroughly going through the budget, he was yet to come across any expression in written in relation to the National Cathedral or how government intended to contribute to the construction of same.
Mr. Ofori-Atta reading an abridged version of the budget said in paragraph 153 that, “The state is facilitating the process by providing the land, the secretariat and seed-money for the preparatory phase of the construction of the National Cathedral.”
But taking his turn to debate the budget in Parliament on Wednesday, Dr. Ayine, who is a former Deputy Minister of Justice, said “after reviewing the budget itself, there is no statement whatsoever relating to the National Cathedral.
“In other words, there has been no request for any estimate to be approved by this House for the construction of the National Cathedral.”
According to Dr. Ayine, the absence of provisions for the construction of the cathedral smacked of opaqueness surrounding its construction which has raffled the feathers of the Trades Union Congress and some civil society organisations.
He also contended that the decision to put up the estimated US100 million project, according to a Financial Times publication, amidst the demolition of houses of judges, was a misplaced priority when the country was faced with more pressing needs.
“What in God’s name are we doing with a US$100 million cathedral when we cannot afford to feed the hungry amongst us? What in God’s name are we doing with a US$100 million cathedral when we cannot clothe the naked amongst us?
“What in God’s name are we doing with a US$100 million when we cannot provide shelter for the homeless? What in God’s name are we doing with a US$100 million cathedral when we do not have good roads or hospitals for the sick or when our children sit under trees to learn?” he asked.
He said as things stood now, there was no specificity in the roadmap to the construction of the religious edifice, government’s role and asked it to come clear as required by the tenets of democracy.
In his opinion, “the construction of the National Cathedral is not a priority and must not be a priority”.
But in quick response, a Deputy Minister of Justice, Joseph Dindiok Kpemka, said government was not going back on the construction.
“Let me state without equivocation that the cathedral will be done by the government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and we are going to ensure that due process is followed in executing for posterity to judge.
“I have no doubt that some 20 years’ time from now, Ghanaians will look back and all those who were skeptical will have a change of mind that it has indeed served its purpose,” he said.
On the fight against corruption, however, Dr. Ayine lauded government for estimating GH¢180 million to the Office of Special Prosecutor but bemoaned the ‘meager’ allocation of GH¢104 million to the Ministry of Justice.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI