21
Sat, Jul

STATESMAN OPINION: STANDARDS ARE THE KEY TO EFFECTIVE PROJECT EXECUTION IN GHANA

Business & Economy

The Vice-President stirred controversy this week when he sought to query the cost of a public hospital facility. Since he raised the question, controversy has raged, particularly among commentators and spokesmen across the political divide, each interest group seeking to justify costs or not.

The Vice-President stirred controversy this week when he sought to query the cost of a public hospital facility. Since he raised the question, controversy has raged, particularly among commentators and spokesmen across the political divide, each interest group seeking to justify costs or not.

 

To us at the Daily Statesman, the crux of the matter is what we need to do from here. We believe that is exactly the reason for raising the debate, and the rationale behind the Vice-President’s advocacy for standards.

Standards are based on policy and structure in line with a framework. Without standards, any organisation, institution or small/medium-sized enterprise in the private sector can raise any delusional estimate or invoice and procure ashes for sugar, like Abdul in the colonial Oxford Readers’ Series that children used to read in primary school.

 

                                           Ghostly invaders

 

For lack of clear standards, even the military and the police have been found guilty of procurement irregularities which drain the nation’s kitty and benefit the public official, the politician and the private-sector middleman providing services or supplying equipment and goods.

A lack of standards allows private schools and health facilities to charge exorbitant fees for laboratory services and use of hospital beds by patients, even where those beds are in wards riddled with bed bugs and mosquitoes that suck patients’ blood.

For lack of standards, the national identity card programme would run the risk of becoming mired in controversy over ghostly invaders of our system, filtering into Ghana from neighbouring countries, who benefit from our innovative healthcare protection programme.

And without clear standards, our government would be paying contractors who build our state-funded local authority schools different rates for the same design – at the whims and caprice of both government and service provider.

 

                                                 Plunder

 

Over the past decade, we have raised instance after instance of corruption, the sums plundered ranging into the millions of cedis.

The cases include underwhelming bus branding at exorbitant costs and Savannah Accelerated Development Authority cash to ghosts who failed to produce evidence of services rendered or commodities supplied.

We are still wasting scarce resources going to court to fight Alfred Agbesi Woyome, with no indication that the case will wind up today and the defendant pay the cash back into government coffers tomorrow. This is in spite of court orders that have frozen his accounts, and seizure of his personal and company property.

Cost efficiency is at the heart of good governance demands and obligations on any public official or politician, as well as citizens and CEOs. Standards mean a kilo of a certain quality of tomatoes or onions at Agbogbloshie is the same as in Makola, the same at Race Course and Gyenyase in Kumasi, and the same at markets in Techiman and Tamale.

 

                                                 Ghana first

 

As far as we at the Daily Statesman are concerned, the war against corruption will be meaningless unless we institute the standards necessary to judge people, and ensure value for money in public life and our governance systems.

We recall that during the tenure of President John Agyekum Kufuor, official estimates for a certain road construction project were scaled down by almost 100 per cent, the contractor politely and patriotically obliging and proceeding with the works.

It is time for our politicians who initiate programmes, as well as our public officials who implement them, to begin to think about Ghana first, rather than their own comfort and convenience.

Of course, no one is saying that governments should go for cheaper goods and services or compromise on monitoring because of the perceived moderate costs involved in any project. We are simply saying that we must begin to interrogate costs as well as quality – based on standards that we will have to put in place – for our own national benefit.





 



 



 


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