Parliament’s approval of the budget estimates for the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources has left a bitter taste on the tongue of Ranking Member of the Committee on Works and Housing, Hon. Sampson Ahi, who claims the estimates, is fraught with duplicate expenditures.
He lamented that besides duplication of expenditures, some of the cost items in the budget estimates approved by the House are simply outrageous and complete mockery of utilization of scarce resources.
According to the Bodi Constituency member, budgeting GH¢18,000 for entertainment is not only ridiculing the ordinary Ghanaian but an insult to all those who still struggle to get potable water.
Current statistics, he said, indicate sharp decline in urban water coverage by 5% from 76% to 71.1% while that of rural communities has also declined by 7% from to 76% in 2016 to 69% in 2018 with indications of further decline because of inadequate investments in the sector.
This, he said, demonstrates the number of people who have access to potable water has reduced significantly in the last two years.
Hon. Sampson Ahi spoke to journalists after his objections about the Ministry’s estimates were ignored and the House subsequently approved it.
He said, “When we were discussing the estimates we demanded these details but they conveniently presented them just few days ago.”
“If you receive funds, you do not use it for entertainment allowance and other such expenditures that add nothing to water supply for Ghanaians,” he said.
A cursory observation of the documents indicate expenditure items such as official vehicle maintenance/repairs GH¢45,834 and then oils and lubricants GH¢80,000; watchman allowance GH¢4,584 and watchman extra day allowance 13,752; refreshment item GH¢2,000; utility GH¢14,040 and the electricity charges GH¢16,000 and water GH¢1,525; recruitment into security GH¢81,000 among many other duplicating and odd expenditures.
Chairman of the Works and Housing Committee, Hon. Nana Amoakoh, however, defended the estimates and even argued the entertainment allowance, which the ranking member had serious reservation against, was not adequate.
According to him, if the amount is divided by 12, it would mean the Ministry would have barely enough to spend on entertainment in a month and therefore the amount allocated for the purpose, in his opinion, is reasonable.
Readers would recall the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) shut down the Accra Desalination Plant, which supplies water to residents within Teshie, Nungua and surrounding communities in January claiming the company is incurring losses as a result of the operation of the plant.
Incidentally, however, the Water Resources Ministry has enough to budget for entertainment, refreshment and clothing but does not have enough to invest into provision of water.
By Osumanu Al-Hassanfirstname.lastname@example.org