Parliament by a resolution yesterday unanimously approved the US$895,433,941 Pwalugu multi-purpose dam project.
It was preceded by a debate between the Majority and Minority leaders to round up Parliamentary scrutiny which had started earlier before the approval of the project.
The EPC/Turnkey contract agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Powerchina International Group Limited comes with a US$366 million 60 megawatt hydro power plant, a US$474 million 24,000 hectare irrigation scheme and a US$55 million 50MWac Solar Power Plant project.
The approval had to be referred earlier following a disagreement between the Majority and Minority caucuses over procedures as to which Committee has the mandate to consider the contract document and report to the House accordingly.
Speaker Aaron Mike Oquaye on February 6 this year had to defer the approval and directed that the Mines and Energy and Agriculture Committees worked with the Finance Committee to peruse the contract document and report to the House.
The Minority had contended that per provisions of Chapter 20 of Parliament’s Standing Orders, Committees were mandated to handle a contract which is under their purview and that overlooking the Energy and Agriculture Committees in considering the contract was a breach of the processes.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, arguing out the case of his caucus though welcomed the project maintained that the hydro component of the project was above the prevailing cost of constructing hydro plants.
According to him, the project cannot qualify as one which had stood the test of value for money because it was sole sourced.
“This project can’t be said to be competitive. You (majority when in opposition) said sole sourcing is bad but when it suits you, sole sourcing is good,” he pointed out.
He questioned the decision of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to cut the sod for the project even before the agreement came before the House and asked what would have been the fate of the project if Parliament had rejected same.
To him the irrigation aspect of the project would support all-year-round farming in the area to support the food basket of the country.
Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader, on his part said the project would not only provide the stated components but as a means to stop the perennial flooding that hits the northern part of the country anytime the Bagre Dam was spilled.
The Bagre Dam spillage, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said costs Ghana US$6.9 million annually and with the dam, Ghana would be saving that amount.
He said it was “too simplistic” for the Minority to argue that the project was too costly when they haven’t “looked at the components.”
Of the 24,000 hectares irrigation project, 12,000 hectares would be used for the cultivation of sugarcane, 3,000 hectares for tomatoes and 10,000 hectares for rice cultivation.
When completed and the sugar cane irrigation plan rolled out, the Suame lawmaker said a sugar manufacturing company would be established in that part of the country to help reduce Ghana’s import cover in the area of sugar.
“This is indeed a life and game changer for the people in the north in particular and the country at large,” he stated.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI