National Cathedral: Government Spent 142 Million Cedis in 2021 – Auditor General

National Cathedral
Ghana's National Cathedral

The amount spent so far on the construction of the National Cathedral has been a subject of controversy.

Work on the project, which is estimated to cost $340 million, is already said to have been suspended due to inadequate funds as workers have halted activities on the site.

We have the contractors and their staff on site, but the work has been suspended. We are hoping that within the next couple of weeks, as part of our fundraising and other initiatives, we can begin work again,” Executive Director of the Cathedral, Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah stated on Tuesday, August 30.

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In the wake of this, it has come to light that GH¢142,762,500 was spent on the edifice as of December 2021.
This information is contained in the section of the Auditor-General’s report with regard to the Controller and Accountant-General’s financial statements of government operations that ended 31st December 2021.

The document was prepared in pursuance of Section 81 (1) of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) and Regulation 217 of Public Financial Management Regulations, 2019 L.I. 2378. The National Cathedral was captured under the government’s priority programmes and interventions for the said year.

Auditor General's report on National Cathedral

In all, initiatives under that category cost a total of GH¢9,197 million during the 2021 financial year. Another big-ticket spending in that year was on Covid-19 Activity & Vaccine which cost GH¢1,557,846,913.38.

Another GH¢1,409,997,719.41 was spent on Free SHS Programme-SHS/TVET, according to the report published on the Audit Service’s website.

National Cathedral Controversies

The populace started questioning the project’s source of financing when the North Tongue MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, put out documents showing that an amount of GH¢200 million has been dished out towards the construction of the project.

These monies, he said, were paid without recourse to parliamentary processes or strict public procurement practices.
According to Mr. Ablakwa, the Akufo-Addo administration first proclaimed the project as a private and personal pledge; however, public funds are now siphoned to facilitate the task.

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He added that the inclusion of the National Cathedral’s Executive Director on the roll of Presidential Staffers also flies in the face of the law.

When you go through the list of Board of Trustees, this gentleman [Dr. Paul Opoku Mensah] who has been enlisted here as the Executive Director of the Secretariat, a Secretariat presented as a private entity, has also been enlisted as a Presidential staffer and his position there is an overseer of the National Cathedral. Why is the Ghanaian taxpayer paying somebody who works for a private board of trustees?” he quizzed.

His revelations have since gotten many influential individuals and pressure groups questioning the transparency and accountability of government.

The genesis of the National Cathedral

The building of the Cathedral fulfills a pledge President Akufo-Addo revealed he made to God before winning the 2016 elections. In 2019, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, said the construction of the National Cathedral is estimated to cost over $100 million. It has since been amended to $340 million.

The government has already demolished all structures on the proposed site to construct the National Cathedral at Ridge in Accra. It is also scheduled to be commissioned on March 6, 2024.

Osafo Daniel
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