Disbursing funds to construct Cathedral without Parliament’s approval; an issue of Accountability-Hon. Ayine
Former Deputy Attorney General and Member of Parliament for Bolga East Dr. Dominic Ayine , has stated that the attempt by the government to allocate a seed money for the construction of the National Cathedral is unconstitutional and an issue of accountability.
Dr. Ayine indicated that there is no lining item of seed money in the 2019 Budget Statement and Economic Policy with respect to the construction of the National Cathedral.
Debating at the Plenary on the 2019 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government, Hon. Ayine pointed out that there is a critical issue of accountability, and that the Minister cannot purport on behalf of Parliament to disburse funds for the construction of the Cathedral, without prior approval from the House.
The lawmaker also averred that any attempt by the government to release seed money for the construction of the Cathedral would constitute a breach of Article 174 of the 1992 Constitution.
“I have reviewed the 2019 Budget myself, and there is no statement relating to the National Cathedral. There had been no request of any estimate to be approved by Parliament for the construction of the National Cathedral.
There are some critical questions one may ask at this point in time. What is the value of the land to be provided by the State? What is the cost of running the Secretariat for the entire duration for the construction of the Cathedral? How much is the seed money to be provided by the State? We need answers.” Hon. Ayine demanded.
The Bolga also legislator reiterated that Twenty One (21) townhouses built to accommodate judges would be demolished, and that the cost of running the Secretariat was not found in either the Minister’s statement or the Budget Statement.
On the cost of the Cathedral, Dr. Ayine also disclosed that the Financial Times of London reported that the total cost of the National Cathedral would be US$100 million.
“What do we do with a US$100 million National Cathedral when we cannot afford to feed the hungry, provide shelter and educate our children?”. He questioned.
In moving for the acceptance of motion on the 2019 Budget Statement, he concluded that the National Budget is a mechanism of accountability that requires probity, the moral integrity of the person involved in the accounting, clarity and specificity.
Meanwhile, Article 174 in Clause (1) of the 1992 Constitution states that ” No taxation shall be imposed otherwise than by or under the authority of an Act of Parliament.
(2) Where an Act, enacted in accordance with clause (1) of this article, confers power on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax imposed by that Act, the exercise of the power of waiver or variation, in favour of any person or authority, shall be subject to the prior approval of Parliament by resolution.
(3) Parliament may be resolution, supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all members of Parliament, exempt the exercise of any power from the provisions of clause (2) of this article”.
The Seed Money and the 2019 Budget Statement
In paragraph 153 of the speech of the Minister for Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta on the 2019 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government, he stated that the State is facilitating the process of providing the land, the Secretariat and the seed money for the construction of the National Cathedral.
He further explained that there would be a fundraising by the State in partnership with the Ghanaian Christian community, both at home and in the Diaspora, to accumulate more money for the construction of the National Cathedral.
He indicated the formal launch of the national fundraising campaign is slated for December 28, 2018 in Ghana, and February 2019 in the United States.
The National Cathedral and a Court Suit
Former Youth Organiser of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Mr. James Kwabena Bomfeh, has dragged the government to court, seeking an interlocutory injunction to restrain the construction of the 5,000-seater National Cathedral.
Mr. Bomfeh seeks to restrain the government or any of its representatives from being involved in or taking any steps towards the construction of the Ghana National Cathedral, including the demolition of residences of justices of the Superior Courts.
He further wants the government prevented from commencing any civil works for the construction of the Ghana National Cathedral; and or taking any action, measure or step preliminary or incidental to the construction of the Ghana National Cathedral.
The Supreme Court has set January 16, 2019, to deliver its judgment on the lawsuit challenging the construction of the Cathedral.
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