US Bank Puts Bagbin & Duffour In Trouble

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Ridge Hospital Project Cost Overblown By Whopping US$2.1 Million

The Herald’s ongoing investigations into the cost of expanding and refurbishing the Ridge Hospital in Accra, continue to reveal some rather interesting findings, with the latest being that the Ministry of Health, might have misled both Cabinet and Parliament with regards to the true cost of the project.

Details of several documents available to The Herald, including a “Confidential” Cabinet memo, Parliamentary Service reports and official communication from the Export-Import Bank of the United States of America, reveal that both Cabinet and the Parliament of Ghana, approved a loan far in excess of a whopping US$2.1 million.

The documents, showed that Cabinet and Parliament, did not do proper due diligence on the sources of funding for the US$250 million Ridge Hospital expansion and refurbishment project, which is to add 220 beds to the existing 200-bed capacity hospital.

For instance, the Cabinet memo dated August 3, 2012 and signed by one Ben C. Eghan, a Secretary to Cabinet, had considered, approved and recommended the “Credit facility between the Government of Ghana and the Export-Import Bank of the United States for an amount of US$157, 500.00 (One Hundred and Fifty-Seven Million, Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars).”

But the Office of Communication of Exim Bank in Washington D.C, on January14, 2013, discounted the US$157, 500 million mentioned by the Cabinet as jointly submitted by the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffour and the Minister of Health, Alban Bagbin. The two men are no longer in office as ministers.

The US-based bank revealed that “in keeping with its focus on sub-Saharan Africa, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has authorized a $155.4 million direct loan to the Republic of Ghana to finance the design and construction of a hospital expansion in Accra, Ghana”.

The $155.4 million and not US$157, 500 million, was boldly displayed in press statement issued and hoisted in the bank’s official website on the internet.

The Exim Bank’s US$157, 500.00 million, was considered together with another Credit facility between the Government of Ghana and HSBC Bank for an amount of US$92, 500.00 (Ninety-Two Million, Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) to finance the design, construction, procurement and installation of equipment for the Upgrading and Major Rehabilitation of the Regional Hospital at Ridge, Accra.

The two loans, brought the total cost of expanding and refurbishing the Ridge Hospital to US$250 million. This according to the Confidential Cabinet memo, were discussed at its thirty-sixth meeting, held on Thursday, August 2, 2012, and approved for deliberations by Parliament.

Indeed, additional documents, gotten from the Parliamentary Hansard; the official record of Parliamentary proceedings, showed that The House debated on the US$250 million and subsequently approved it on February 28, this year.

This was in spite of the heated and opened disagreements on the floor of the House between Dr. Richard Anane, Ranking Member of the Health Committee of Parliament and his colleague Minority member, Dr. Anthony Osei Akoto on the cost of the project.

Dr. Anane, is captured in the February 28, 2014 Hansard as describing the Ridge Hospital Project as the most expensive health facility in the country, adding he had been informed that the country could have made savings “of Eighty-Eight million or Twenty-seven million United States Dollars”.

He also had problem with the fact that the construction project, did not go through a competitive tender procedure, but rather sole sourced and awarded to the Bouygues Batiment International, a France-based company to execute and suggested that value could not be derived from the colossal amount the Government was pumping into the project.

The whopping US$250 million, according to the Ministry of Health, will lead to Ridge Hospital, move from a 200 to 420-bed capacity hospital with departments, such as Imaging, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Accident and Emergency, Neonatal Intensive Care, Burns, Pharmacy and Laboratory to be expanded.

Curiously, however, is that while Ghana is paying a colossal sum of US$250 million for the expansion of the state-owned hospital, a private Nigerian businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote who knows value of money and profit, is set to construct a state-of-the-art 1000-bed capacity hospital in Kano, a commercial hub in northern Nigeria at an estimated of US$12.38 million (N2 billion).

Attempts by The Herald, to get some clarification from the Office of Communications of Exim Bank in Washington D.C drew blank.

A certain Lawton King, who had given 202-565-3200 as his contact number, could not be reached as all phones calls did not go through. He had identified himself as the Media Contact at Exim Bank office in Miami, Florida in America.

Exim Bank is the 85percent financier of the Ridge Hospital project.

Crown Agents Ghana Limited, an internationally recognized audit firm, has also raised issues with the cost of the project. This, was after it was engaged by the Ministry of Finance to carry out a Value for Money (VFM) assessment of the project.

Attempts to get Mr. Bagbin and Dr. Duffour to seek some clarifications on the discrepancies in the figure churn out by the Exim Bank and what they both jointly submitted to Cabinet for approval and later ratified by Parliament, did not yield any results. Both men did not pick their phones when they were called.

Text messages to their individual phones also went unanswered, yesterday.

More to come!

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