The recent report that the ruling NDC government is seeking to build houses for the country's security forces has got everybody talking. The government according to media reports is contracting STX, a Korean firm, to build 200,000 housing units at the cost of ten billion dollars. While the government is claiming the contract represents value for money, the opposition parties, think tanks, GREDA (Ghana Real Estate Development Agency) and many Ghanaians believe it is not value for money. GREDA has argued that it could produce the 200,000 housing units at a cheaper price. Many have also argued that incurring ten billion dollars debt will amount to mortgaging the nation and sink her into perpetual debt crisis. But the ruling government is not budging insisting that Ghanaians in general and the security forces in particular will benefit.
Nobody is saying Ghanaians will not benefit when 200, 000 housing units are built, the issue is about the cost of the contract, the terms of the contract and the fact that the government is sidelining local companies in favour of Koreans. First of all, there seems to be serious anomalies which I believe the opposition parties and Dankwa Institute have done well to point out, forcing government to withdraw it from parliament. But while listening to Joy FM's Newsfile on Saturday 31/07/2010 hosted by Kwaku Sakyi Addo, I was shocked when Mr Edem Asimeh, Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Water Resources, Works and Housing could not mention just one change that has occurred in the new document that he and Bagbin want to present to parliament.
There is nothing in the contract that points to the fact that government is putting the interest of Ghanaian businesses, the nation and the people first. Nobody knows why President Mills and his lieutenants are hell bent on giving the contract to the Koreans. Analyses of the government's argument suggest that some individuals within the government and the NDC have personal interest in the contract hence their insistence that it should go to the Koreans at all cost. Why is President Mills and the NDC leadership putting their interest above the interest of Ghana and Ghanaians?
I am of the opinion that government should give the 1.5 billion dollars contract to the army. Throughout the world the armed forces are engaging in direct business as way to generate funds to help strengthen their tactical and strategic capabilities. Evidence of armed forces directly engaging in direct businesses abound in China, the US and Britain. For example the Defense & Foreign Affairs Journal reported in 1997 that “China's top 100 military enterprises reported profit growth for 1996 of 9.2 percent. Their output value grew by 8.2 percent while turnover rose by 10.9 percent. Chinese figures in 1993 show that the declared profit of the People's Liberation Army (China's Armed Forces) was $ 1-billion on turnover of $ 6.9-billion, but military analysts believe its real profits were at least double that”.
The advantages of the Ghana Armed Forces building its own houses are many fold. One is that any profit that STX Korea is intended to make could go to the Armed Forces which could be used to support the funds provided to them by the government through the budget. Again the armed forces know their housing problems far better than anyone else and therefore it will in order if they are allowed to design and build the houses themselves. I am sure that the Engineering Unit of the Ghana Armed Forces has the engineering capability and technical know-how to adequately and efficiently execute the housing project if given the opportunity.
Myjoyonline.com on Tuesday, 27 July 2010, reported that Ghana's Navy has acquired two second-hand navy ships from Germany at the cost of 37 million dollars. I strongly believe that profit from the $1.5 billion housing contract could go a long way to provide the Armed Forces with the needed funds to develop or buy new equipments to better provide security for our country.
I am of the opinion that the government should reconsider its decision to award the contract to STX. Government should listen to GREDA and the people of Ghana who have made their voices heard through radio discussions and phone ins. Government must do what is best for us and not serving the interest of foreign corporations. Whatever happens it is Ghanaians who are going to pay for the cost of the contract and it will be inappropriate for government to refuse to listen to the people and other views in the country.
We need to support and sustain our military and awarding them this lucrative contract could be a gesture in the right direction.
Author: Lord Aikins Adusei