The Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has asked the government to amend the 2020 Budget and Financial Statement policy document to include the Volta Region in the list of critical road projects to be worked on in 2020.
He believes this will calm the nerves of residents and chiefs of the Volta Region who are angered by the omission.
Following concerns over the absence of road projects for the region in the 2020 budget, Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo on Thursday said there was a mistake in the document.
“It was obviously a mistake,” the Minister explained, noting that he was also taken aback by the omission.
“When I also saw it, I asked myself, how could it be because there were 15 regions instead of 16 and I asked him [the sector minister] and he said we have a whole list for the Volta Region,” he said.
Mr. Ablakwa, however, rubbished Mr. Maafo’s explanation, challenging him to back his words with actions.
“It is not enough for the Senior Minister to say that it is a mistake. It is a mistake so much for those who say that they have the men? What happens to the Volta Region. It is a mistake so what next? First of all, we are saying that the government will have to amend its program and ensure that the Volta Region is captured and this must also reflect in the allocations that have been made because this will have a bearing on the final Appropriations Bill that Parliament will pass.”
While describing the omission as a contradiction of Ghana’s constitution, Mr. Ablakwa also emphasized the need for the government to apologize for excluding the region.
“We are concerned that if you have your flagship road projects and you have already allocated funds and we do not see Volta Region there, that clearly is an affront so far as the constitution of Ghana is concerned…. Our constitution is very clear that the government should ensure that they undertake development on an even and balanced scale. We want to see evidence that the new amendments have been done.”
“The critical roads for the Volta Region, these are the roads, this is how much it will cost so that when it comes to moving the Appropriation Bill, we will be sure that the Volta Region is adequately captured as the other regions have been captured. We are also saying that if you look at the agitations on the ground, the outrage from our chiefs and our people it will only be fair and decent for government to apologize to the people of the Volta Region and then we can move on.”
A Deputy Finance Minister, Charles Adu Boahen on Wednesday also said he was surprised about the omission of the Volta Region in the distribution of the road projects in the 2020 budget.
Year of roads
The government has already identified what it describes as “critical roads” across each of the 16 regions in the country.
The Finance Minister in delivering the 2020 budget statement stressed on government’s focus on fixing roads across the country in 2020 and beyond.
“To get the road sector moving and contractors back to work, government will pay 80% of all contractors,” the Finance Minister said.
Government has also declared 2020 as the “Year of Roads.”