ATJAG – Scandals in the Construction of Affordable Housing by Successive Governments –

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The Alliance for Truth Justice and Accountability Ghana-ATJAG in a press release yesterday the 24th of May, 2021 said Government should stop crowding out the private construction industry with so-called ‘Affordable’ Housing and cause an audit into multi-billion Dollar spend.

The Alliance for Truth, Justice and Accountability Ghana has been studying with some disquiet news that the government of Ghana is again contemplating the construction of between 100,000 to 250,000 new ‘affordable housing units every year to provide ‘affordable residential accommodation’ for the public and civil servants.

The news of the new construction was made known by Mrs. Freda Prempeh, Minister of State in charge of Works and Housing in April this year when a delegation from the State Housing Company (SHC) inspected acres of land secured by the SHC to start the ‘affordable housing project’ in the Ahafo Region

The information has since been repeated by the Minister for Works and Housing, Francis Assenso Boakye. The Alliance for Truth, Justice, and Accountability is firmly opposed to the news for a number of good reasons.

First and foremost, housing in this country has traditionally been provided by the private sector, at no cost to government. Even though government has made a number of interventions in the sector since colonial days, the effort comes nowhere near the stupendous industry demonstrated by individuals and companies who largely provide housing for the populace with their own resources.

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ATJAG believes that any interventions in the housing sector should therefore be aimed at improving the abilities of the private sector in that direction.

According to the Alliance for Truth, Justice and Accountability Ghana-ATJAG, their second reason for opposing the idea of the new government construction is that, without doubt, the adventure would be fueled by yet another public debt and are at odds to understand the rationale for accumulating further public debt for an industry that people engage in without loading government with further debt. The so-called ‘housing gap’ in the country has always been filled by the private sector according to ATJAG

The ATJAG objects to these because, the public debt that Ghana keeps accumulating is to be paid for by the private sector, through taxes.

This in effect, means that the private companies in the housing sector would have to pay for the activities of the public sector. In effect, the private housing sector is going to have to pay government so that government can go into competition with it (the private sector) In their view, the duty of government is to create an enabling environment for the private sector, including the private construction industry. Over the past decades, going
back into the era of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and right up to the present under President Akufo-Addo, there has been a systematic lack of governmental interest in helping the private sector in the housing industry to grow.

Government has not been heard, across the period, on what policies and programs it intends to implement to help the private sector in the housing industry to grow and acquire the strength to provide adequate housing. Rather, government across the period is constantly heard competing with the private sector space and crowding out the private industry. Though Government is in competition with the private sector, it is the private sector that has to pay for the funds of government in this unprovoked competition.

They disclosed that the so-called ‘affordable housing projects’ can never be said to be affordable. Many of the units are priced in the tens of thousands of dollars, well beyond the means of the ordinary teacher or nurse. Unlike units provided by the private sector, these ‘affordable units’, from day one, have been priced, due to inherent corruption, out of the pockets of the people who have to patronize them. A direct result of these points raised is that virtually all the Alliance for Truth, Justice and Accountability Ghana-ATJAG wants government to do the following

* Cause an immediate halt to the 100,000 housing project in the Bono Region
* Investigate the cause of the white elephant at SAGLEMI and Sokore MAMPONG
* The financial feasibility of the AMASAMAN project
* Immediate financial audit of all ongoing affordable housing projects
* Tell Ghanaians the complete facts on the $5.3 billion UNOPS project, where the money is coming from, and what are conditions attached, and whether it has received parliamentary approval
* Cause an immediate value-for-money audit of the UNOPS project, since the money allegedly being spent should be able to build tens of thousands more houses
* Complete abandoned affordable housing projects
* Immediate engagement with the relevant real estate associations on how government can assist the ordinary Ghanaian to produce economically, viable, Affordable houses in Ghana. Such engagements should not move beyond the area of policy assistance and certainly not include a cedi of taxpayer’s money, said ATJAG

 

Source: Franklin Cadwell

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