Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, has urged government to be sober and truthful in its financial activities with the Ghanaian public and declare loans it contracts as such.
Hon. Haruna Iddrisu made the call while contributing to debate on the Master Project Support Agreement (MPSA) between government and Sinohydro Group Limited for US$2 billion for the construction of priority infrastructure projects.
Government has insisted the US$2 billion infrastructural deal is essentially a barter arrangement and not a loan facility and that refined bauxite would be used for the barter arrangement, which would not add to public debt.
Hon. Haruna Iddrissu, however, argued that this is not the first time government of Ghana is borrowing from China for the purpose of infrastructural development and cited examples of loans that were contracted on similar basis in 2007 and 2011.
He cautioned government not to attempt, through deception, to claim the deal is not a loan and that it is not a buyer’s credit agreement.
The Minority, he said, would not stand in the way of government in its effort to address infrastructural development of the country because it recognizes the country faces infrastructural deficit of US$2 billion annually.
Appropriate investment in infrastructure, he said, would manifest in roads, bridges among others and stimulate growth, which will ameliorate poverty but stressed that government needs to come clear and say it is borrowing.
He argued that there was total conformity in the past that agreements of this nature where natural resources were used for repayment were loans and wondered what has changed that the current administration is tagging similar borrowing venture with a different term.
“This government is struggling to change the leopard’s skin. You cannot change the skin of the leopard. In 2007 and 2011 they were loans so today too it is a loan.”
The Minority leader noted that the supposed barter agreement where alumina would be used as payment breaches Article 268 (1) of the Constitution, which require transactions, contracts or undertakings involving the grant of right or concession for the exploitation of mineral, water or other natural resource of Ghana to be subject to ratification by Parliament.
“There is mineral resource involved in this ratification and yet I don’t see any ratified decision of Parliament granting a mineral right to Sinohydro,” he stated.
He argued that if government wants loan of US$500 million and wishes to use natural resource as collateral to borrow, it has been done in the past under both NDC and NPP governments but warned the minority will not approve an open cheque of up to US$2billion when it is $500 million that is being sought.
“We demand to see the subsidiary agreements of the US$1.5billion and what each of them would be used for on behalf of the people of Ghana.”
“We shall and will not stand in the way of government to expand infrastructure but we will stand in the way of government if it wants to come through deception that it is not borrowing,” he stated.
By Osumanu Al-Hassanfirstname.lastname@example.org