By Nana Ama Agyemang Asante

Somebody within the ruling NDC government has clearly gone mad. No, really. The party has announced plans to pursue the STX-Korea housing deal by sending the flawed contract back to parliament. Yes, it is the same $1.5billion for 30,000 houses that Imani Ghana warns will rack up our debts so high that our ‘ecomini’ might never become an economy again.

In case you missed it on TV or radio, the Minister for Water Resources, Works and housing who withdrew the agreement from parliament citing inaccuracies held a press conference alleging that those who disagree with the terms of the deal are only doing so out of “naked jealousy,” and are being “mischievous”.

Really! That’s so rich, coming from a member of a party which walked, ranted and raved about the Vodafone deal, even though they knew that Ghana Telecom was in dire straits and needed to be sold off. According to Alban Bagbin and the government anyone who disagrees with the terms of this deal because it contains too many freebies for STX-Korea belongs with the opposition. Suddenly the swing voters who ensured their slim win do not have a mind of their own after all.

Then again, it is just like the NDC to place anyone who disagrees with them in the ‘opposition’ box. Because in their warped minds Ghanaians are a bunch of idiots who cannot tell a bad contract at first glance. Now, my legal knowledge is minimal but even so, this contract reeks of poor negotiation skills and bad planning on the part of government of Ghana.

How else does one explain the exclusion of GREDA from this project?
In spite of what Alban Bagbin says GREDA sure ain’t getting part of this deal. Never mind the fact they can do it for half the STX-Korea cost.

Somehow the ‘better Ghana’ folks who hate profligacy of any kind prefer a deal with STX-Korea which only benefits the Koreans. They will offer the credit facility to build 200,000 houses at the cost of 10billion dollars and at an interest rate of 4% per anum. I hear there are cheaper ways to raise that much money (like the capital bond market) and that way we can avoid mortgaging the oil which is not here yet as the Koreans want with their commodity trading clause in the contract.

For some reason the government is obsessed with giving STX-Korea more than just the high interest rate they are charging for the loan. They also get serviced land, tax exemptions, and infrastructure such as roads, electricity and drainage systems. Did I mention that the government must pre-finance 90,000 of those houses before the project can begin?

Isn’t it obscene for a responsible government to force this kind of deal on its citizens and brand discerning minds as “mischievous” and consumed with “naked jealousy.”

Now I know there is a housing deficit that must be closed and soon, But $1.5billion for 30,000 houses, after which the government intends to sell the houses between $12,510 for a one-bedroom house and $73,000 for a four bedroom house with an outhouse? Underpriced huh? Why not? It is only our economy that will go up in flames.

And get this, 51% of the houses will be one bedroom houses. Brilliant isn’t it? Because ninety percent of those houses will be bought ‘again’ by the government for the security agencies. Anyone passed by Nima police barracks recently? It is not for decorative purposes that they put their refrigerators outside their rooms – one bedroom apartments are just not spacious for even a family of two.

What’s with barracks anyway? The British who built them have moved on. Police men live amongst the people, and contrary to what Edem Asimeh, the Vice Chairperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Water Resources, Works and Housing says the police do not require any special training before they can be integrated into local communities. It’s not like they live on Olympus.

The plan sounds so stupid that even Members of parliament (who signed off on the ex-gratia) couldn’t believe it and it must surely be commercial suicide for a government that claims to be running a country that is broke. And only someone who is acting out of “naked jealousy” and is being “mischievous” will settle for such a contract.


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