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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Presidential Palace: Mills given December deadline

Government needs additional $15 million to complete the palace
Government needs additional $15 million to complete the palace
The Ghanaian Observer (GO) newspaper reports that the Indian government which offered a $30 million grant to the previous Kufuor-led administration to start the project has started mounting pressure on the Mills-led government on the issue.

The Indian government officials, the paper said, have issued a December ultimatum to the Mills-led government to occupy the $82 million mansion christened Golden Jubilee House or they take the necessary actions against the government.

One of the consequences to be suffered if the Mills-led government refuses to occupy the Presidential Palace, GO sources hinted, will be that "the Indian government will stop any further assistance to this nation."

"The Indian government officials’ current position on this issue is that at least the money they have pumped into this building should not be useless. They do not stand to benefit from this building but they believe that it makes no sense for the government to abandon such project," one of GO's sources said.

The Indian government, GO sources said, have problems of accommodation, poverty, education among other things in some of its areas just as "we have in Ghana but they sacrificed to give the country such amount."

The NPP government secured a $60 million loan from the Indian government, part of which was used to kick-start the project. But the start of the project sparked a new debate on government spending priorities.

While the then NPP extolled the construction of the project as Ghana's Presidential Palace, the NDC dismissed it, and its members rather called for such funds to be used to solve the nation's energy crisis, alleviating poverty and providing accommodation on the country's university campuses.

The NDC had threatened to convert the edifice to a hospital but Prof Mills at a later date described it as an imposing building amid broad smiles.

The former Chief of Staff and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, told Parliament in July 2007 that the cost of the project at its initial stage was $36.9 million but the total cost could only be known after completion.

Although figures flying over the cost of the building put it at $82 million, the Chairman of the Executive Assets Committee of the NDC government transition team, Dr. Don Arthur, said some $12 million more would be needed to complete the state asset.

Now it is not clear when the President will move from his Castle office to the Palace but there are doubts on whether at all he would go.

Lately, a new controversy started when a tour was organised for the media and together with the Project Consultants from the Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL) and the Project Manager, S. K. Singh and Deputy Ministers of Information to get details of the project, where it was announced that government needs an extra $50 million for landscaping and accommodation for the presidential guards to fully complete the building proposed to house the seat of government and official residence of the President.

But later, Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa in press statement explained that what is required to complete the Jubilee House is $15million which includes payment for $6.5million arrears owed the contractors, unpaid consultancy fees, completion of work on the General Services Building (which is supposed to house a clinic, fire service post, restaurant, post office and a bank), a garden, landscaping, helipad area and other required security installations.

Source: Ghanaian Observer/Ghana

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