Parliament of the Fourth Republic approves loans for rural electrification

Parliament has approved two separate credit facility agreements between the government and two financial entities for money amounting to $98,869,000 to finance electrification projects in 556 communities in the Eastern, Volta and Northern regions.

The first agreement was between the government and the Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) for $85 million while the second agreement was between the government and the Standard Chartered Bank, Ghana for $13,869,000.

According to a report of the Finance Committee of Parliament on the agreement, despite the successes achieved in rural electrification since the 1990s, some regions in the country were far below the national average of electricity access rate.

That state of affairs, according to the report, could be attributed to the inability of some of the communities to provide the low voltage poles to qualify for electrification under the Self-Help Electrification Programme (SHEP).

According to the report, as part of the government’s efforts to accelerate the pace of the National Electrification Scheme (NES) to achieve universal access, the Ministry of Power was undertaking many electrification projects in all parts of the country.

“This new project for which funding is being sought will significantly contribute to the achievement of universal access to the grid,” the report said.

Rush through Parliament
As usual with the Parliament of the Fourth Republic, important loans and financial agreements are rushed through Parliament on the last sitting days and this agreement was no exception.

It was laid on the same day and approved under a certificate of urgency.

But the Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, cautioned against the rushing of the agreement through the House on the last day, saying bringing a financial deal to Parliament on the last day did not allow for enough scrutiny.

Smarttys involvement
He alleged that Smarttys, the company involved in the rebranding of the 116 metro mass transit buses, an issue which had generated controversy recently, was fronting for a Chinese firm in the rural electrification deal.

He said since the company was involved in the alleged malfeasance and the case had not been dealt with, it was wrong to award another contract to that company or engage in any deal in which the company was involved.

In his view, Smarttys was involved in a scandalous GH¢3.9 million cedis rebranding contract and said the issue had to be thoroughly dealt with before any step would be taken with regard to the electricity deal since, according to him, the same company was involved.

He insisted that Parliament engaged experts and consultants to conduct a value for money audit before considering the agreement.

The Majority approved the loan agreements.

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