Defence Ministry saddled with debt

Dr. BENJAMIN KUMBUOR  Minister of Defence (8)The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is currently facing serious financial challenges and saddled with a GH¢17.8 million debt.

The debt, made up of gratuity, outstanding rent, clothing and petroleum products, is likely to affect the Ghana Armed Forces’ (GAF) ability to respond to emergency situations, if not settled.

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Defence and Interior, made this observation when it presented its report on the budget estimates of the MOD to the House yesterday.

The committee, after receiving the draft budget estimates of the MOD last month, met with the Minister of Defence, senior officers of the Military High Command, as well as officials of the MOD and the Ministry of Finance to deliberate on the proposed GH¢880.4 million allocation made to MOD.

It came to the notice of the committee that the military would, next year, be engaged in training all year round, but would not be able to buy ammunition, food and other logistics to hold regular training sessions due to budgetary constraints.

In presenting its report to the House, the committee, chaired by Fritz Baffour (NDC Albekuma South), urged the government to, as a matter of urgency, take over all outstanding liabilities of MOD in order not to overburden the ministry and the GAF.

“The ministry will be confronted with serious challenges in implementing its planned programmes and projects for 2015. The low level of budgetary allocation will adversely affect operations and have negative long-term effects on its capacity and readiness to effectively respond in crisis situations,” it said.

The committee said there was undue delay in the release of funds for the implementation of programmes, and for the payment for food, fuel, goods and services obtained on credit and added that the time lag between the release of funds and the actual crediting of accounts led to losses, especially where foreign exchange components were involved.

“There are indications that the ministry will need GH¢40.7million extra budgetary allocation to procure ship and aviation fuel as well as fuel for land forces to operate. An extra budgetary allocation of GH¢11 million is needed to take care of utilities and GH¢25.7 million for custom’s clearing charges,” it said.

The Minority Spokesperson on Defence and Interior, Maj (Rtd) Derek Oduro (NPP Nkoransa North), said security is a very sensitive issue that needs to be of concern to every single Ghanaian because there cannot be any economic activity in the country when people are not adequately protected.

He, therefore, urged the government to resource the Defence Ministry and its various agencies to enable them to provide both internal and external security to the country.

Cletus Apul Avoka (NDC Zebilla), supported the call for the government to effectively resource the Defence Ministry to enable it to carry out its programmes and activities next year, and added that the relative peace the nation is currently enjoying should not be taken for granted.

He urged the government to award some of the major contracts in the country to the military to enable them to generate revenue internally.

Mr. Avoka said the military has the skill and equipment to execute some of the infrastructural projects in the country, and entreated the government to consider them when giving out contracts.

After minutes of debate on the estimates, the House approved an amount of GH880.4 million for the Defence Ministry.

In another development, the House approved an amount of GHC74.3 million to the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General to carry out its programmes next year.

By Yaw Kyei

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