The Administrator of Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), Richard Ampofo Boadu, yesterday disclosed that the Akufo-Addo government has cleared 96 per cent of debts inherited from the Mahama administration.
He added that the government has also saved GHC41.2million as a result of due diligence undertaken on claims by contractors for past projects.
This, according to him, was achieved due to the strategic measures put in place to bring back sanity to a ‘chaotic Fund’.
He indicated that as part of the measures, his outfit instituted a ‘no contract document, no payment’ policy, which has saved the Fund several millions of cedis.
“As a result of the loan that came in, we’ve been able to pay 96 per cent of the liabilities that we took over. Also, of 21 contractors that took GETFund to court, 13 of them have pulled out because of the evidence that the others have been paid,” Mr Richard Boadu stated.
Mr Boadu further disclosed that 409 inherited projects have since been completed, disclosing that at the time of transition in January 2017 a total of 7,201 projects were reported, out of which 3,897 were ongoing.
He pointed out that “1,666 new projects were authorised for construction between 2017 and June 2020 to address urgent needs, particularly arising from the Free SHS policy.”
“A total of 424 of these projects have been completed and the rest are at various stages of completion; 39 dilapidated structures were also renovated. Nine new model school projects (V-Blocks) were also awarded in 2019. Two out of 10 Centres of Excellence for the Council for Technical, Vocational Education and Training are actively ongoing,” he added.
Mr Boadu’s disclosure follows accusation by former President John Dramani Mahama that the government is misusing proceeds from the GETFund.
The former President alleged that the government has depleted the Fund, thus making it difficult to pay contractors working on school infrastructure projects.
He added that the government has mortgaged the GETFund due to lack of funds, and that Parliament in November 2018 approved a $1.5 billion facility towards educational infrastructure in the country.
However, speaking at a media encounter, the Administrator dismissed the claims.
“We went to Cabinet and an amount of $1.5billion was approved for us but in three tranches. The first was geared towards completion of the secondary school projects; the second tranche is aimed at doing projects at the tertiary level; and the last tranche for projects at the basic level.
“At that time, the conversion was about GHC7.2billion. Out of that, we just received GHC1.3billion so it is not a fact that we received $1.5billion and we have not utilised it,” he said.
“In actual fact, if you look at the fluctuation component that we’ve taken out, we are doing more projects with less money. So for every 100 schools that we do, we get 40 schools in excess and that is basically savings,” he added.
Mr Boadu further disclosed that from 2017 to date, a total of 9,449 payment certificates have been received at GETFund, adding that after due diligence, it was found out that of the total certificates passed, 1,404 had errors while 8,823 certificates were vetted and processed for payment.
He noted that certificates with various technical issues pending resolutions amount to GHC21.52 million while “82 certificates have not been attended to because they have no contract documents.”
“These amount to GHC15.5 million,” he said.
The GETFund Administrator further stated that upon assumption of office in 2017, the audit became apparent because more than 70 contractors per day, on the average, visited his office demanding their claims.
“For us to be able to deal with that, we instituted an infrastructural audit to know the actual project that were ongoing and planned on how to execute the project and in turn pay the contractors. The audit report revealed 7,195 projects with GPS data. Out of the number, 45 could not be traced while projects yet to commence were 158, with 325 recorded as critical projects,” he revealed.
However, no financial commitments were made towards these 45 projects because GETFund projects are not pre-financed.
According to him, prices of projects were also going up because of fluctuation, citing an instance where a project at the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, with a contract value of GHC1.85million, which was started in 2005, had escalated to GHC16, 666 in 2020.
The GetFund Board, therefore, decided that all projects that were awarded in the last quarter of 2016 were to be put on hold and reviewed, considering project cost rationalisation, subsequent new awards based on non-fluctuation contracts, more due diligence on certificate vetting, securitisation of loan facility and more controls on new project awards.
Source: dailystatesman.com.gh/Isabella Agyakwa