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Govt Releases GH¢800m For Road Contractors

Government has released GH¢800 million to pay outstanding arrears to road contractors.

Minister of Roads and Highways, Kwesi Amoako-Atta, announced when he inaugurated the Road Fund Board in Accra on Thursday, August 5.

Accordingly, the minister said the contractors are expected to receive their cheques after completing the necessary documentation from Monday, August 9.

Assuring the contractors of their payment, he said, “the documentation to that effect is ready to be forwarded to the Finance Ministry, and the Finance Minister has made that money available.

We were waiting for the inauguration of this board. That is why in less than 48 hours, this board is being inaugurated.”

Touching on the issue of the delayed payment, Mr Amoako-Atta attributed the situation to the use of the fund as collateral and borrowed GH¢1.3 billion from UBA Bank in 2016.

The situation, he said, weakened the fund as the interest on the facility kept on increasing.

He, however, indicated that the previous board, together with other stakeholders, took a bold decision and approached three banks to pre-finance the debt.

He added, “They (the board) were fortunate to be given a 12- month moratorium which helped the fund to begin making payments regarding its debts.”

Turning his attention to the newly inaugurated board for the Road Fund, he said it was important for them to develop creative strategies to generate revenue to meet the payment schedule of the contractors.

Mr Amoako-Atta charged the board to focus on the task ahead to bring together the expertise, skills and knowledge at their disposal to meet the financial obligations of the fund.

On his part, the Chair of the Board, Afenyo-Markin, pledged the board’s commitment to ensuring that it engages all stakeholders in curbing the road carnage menace in the country.

Admitting that the task ahead is huge, he said ensuring road safety would not come easily as it would require more significant and strategic investments to construct modern roads and highway systems.

New Board Members of the Road Fund

Aside from Mr Markin, other members of the board are Godfred Boateng (President’s nominee), Azara Abukari-Haroun (Minister’s nominee), Prince Benjamin Aboagye (Minister’s nominee), Kwasi Kwaning-Bosompem (Controller and Accountant General Department) and Yvonne Quansah (Finance Ministry).

The rest are Anthony Selom Dzadzra (Energy Ministry), Frank Raji (Local Government Ministry), Nana Osei Bonsu (Private Enterprise Federation), John Ashford Afful Jnr (Road Contractors Association).

Lemuel Quarshie Martey (Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen), Alhaji Abdulai Abubakari (Ghana Road Transport Coordinating Council) and John Kwasi Danso (Ghana Institution of Engineers) complete the list.

Road contractors raise concern over arrears 

It would be recalled that some road contractors massed up at the premises of the Ministry of Roads and Highways to demand payment of monies owed them in the build up to the 2020 elections.

At the time, they said the money had been accumulated over a three-year period.

The contractors, who said they had executed contracts such as routine maintenance, construction of drains, cocoa roads and asphalting, complained that they had not been paid since 2016.

Later, a closed-door meeting was held between the aggrieved contractors, the Roads Ministry and the Finance Ministry.

After the meeting, the Chairman of the Ghana Chamber of Construction Industries (GCCI), Emmanuel Martey, explained that no concrete agreements were reached.

The Head of Corporate Affairs at the Ministry of Roads and Highways, Winifred Nafisa Mahama, said she could not divulge any information on the issues discussed with the GCCI leaders and officials of the two ministries.

READ ALSO: Promise To Pay 80% Debt Owed Road Contractors ‘Great News’ – Dr Adu Sarkodie

In February 2020, Mr Amoako-Atta explained that the delay was due to the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

He explained that the pandemic affected the government’s revenue mobilisation to settle contractors’ arrears on time.

Responding to questions during his vetting by the Appointments Committee, he said that outstanding payments, and efforts were being made as and when monies were released to the ministry.

In the 2021 budget, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, also said, out of the accumulated unutilised balance from the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) inflows, an amount of GH¢471.59 was transferred to the Road Fund.

This was to reduce the fund’s indebtedness to road contractors and creditor banks to avoid payment of interest on delayed payments.

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