GH¢22m Blown On MPs Chinese Chairs

There is an unfolding drama in the controversial acquisition of chairs and other items from China by the leadership of Parliament for the reconfiguration and refurbishment of the House.

It has emerged that the actual cost of the project has now ballooned to GH¢21,950,855 (¢220 billion) from the initial GH¢16 million which Parliament insisted was ‘reasonable’.

The Parliamentary Service Board chaired by Edward Doe Adjaho caused a publication in the media last Saturday, seeking to end the debate on the cost of their infamous decision to acquire chairs from China, which has now come to be ridiculed in local circles as ‘Chinese Toys’.

The publication justified the quantum of money spent on the ‘toys’, ballooning from the initial GH¢8,704,325.48 to GH¢21,950,855 within one year, which raised questions of ‘chop chop’.

The chairs and other gadgets have already suffered some setbacks, with some falling apart in the House as MPs question their quality.

Sole Sourcing
Per the publication, the whole contract was ‘sole sourced’ on the approval of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) on the basis that some of the items listed for procurement were supposed to be offshore and also due to time constraints.

‘As per the PPA’s requirements for sole sourcing, the Service caused an independent search to be conducted by M/Sampah, Sekyere & Associates, a professional quantity surveyor, which ascertained  and validated the reasonableness of the amount of GH¢21,950,855 as the total cost of the project.’

The publication showed that China State Hualong Construction Limited, which is said to be the main contractor on the Job 600 Tower Block project, was given the reconfiguration and refurbishment job as the sole source contractor.

‘The works were accordingly packaged as an integrated single contract and awarded on a sole source basis in order to meet the maximum completion period of three months inclusive of the pre-contract processes,’ Parliament explained.

Changing Figures
The contract sum was said to have jumped from GH¢8,704,325.48 to GH¢21,950,855 and Parliament blamed the astronomical cost on the free fall of the Cedi.

According to Parliament, at the time the contract sum of GH¢8,704,325.48, which was equivalent to $4,352,162.74, was approved by PPA and authorisation granted by the Ministry of Finance on July 26, 2013, the exchange rate was $1 equivalent to GH¢2.

There was then what they called ‘upward adjustment’ on July 15, 2014 when the exchange rate hovered at $1 to GH¢3.85 and said that occasioned about 92.5 percentage increase in the cedi/dollar exchange rate in favour of the dollar, adding, ‘that led to an escalation of the original contract sum to GH¢16,755,826.55.’

Parliament explained that the difference of GH¢5,701,520.92, an equivalent of $1,349,358.18 of the contract sum of GH¢21,950,855, was accounted for in the provision of all the items under the contract.

‘Items for the execution of the works were procured from a variety of sources including the UK, China, Spain and Ghana. To ensure that items were delivered to specifications, trips were made to the respective countries for factory acceptance tests by representatives of the leadership, some MPs and the consultants and staff.’

The publication further said that ‘the project has been delivered to time, cost and quality specifications. Residual works are ongoing.’

Interestingly, the letter from the PPA granting Parliament the power to sole source a contractor for the project was written on Tuesday, August 14, 2014 even though the PPA reportedly approved the deal and the authorisation was granted by the Ministry of Finance as far back as July 26, 2013 which could have allowed local contractors to do the supply.

Furthermore, it was in the chamber of the House in February that President John Mahama launched his ‘Buy Made-in-Ghana goods’ campaign.

But when the time came for Parliament to join the campaign, the leadership under Speaker Adjaho betrayed the cause and rather went to China.

Nature Of Products
The contractor was expected to provide 290 Imported Hardwood Desks/Tables (Ergonomic workstations with anti-scratch surfaces), 290 executive swivel chairs (leader based, adjustable with castor wheels), electronic installations (electronic touch screen displays with monitors, giant display screens, video and camera) as well as electrical installations (electrical re-wiring, power and enhanced lightening within chamber).

Air Cargo
Sources said the items were brought into the country by air cargo, which is more expensive compared to sea freight.

Public Uproar
The decision to acquire chairs and other gadgets from China for 275 MPs caused massive public uproar, with the majority of Ghanaians arguing that there were companies in Ghana capable of doing the same job given to the Chinese.

The MPs have been criticised for their lack of commitment towards patronising made-in-Ghana products which is often trumpeted by the President himself, while others have even expressed worry about the quality of the chairs in the House, wondering why the board could not find any other country to execute the project apart from China.

By William Yaw Owusu

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