I did no wrong in releasing funds for National Cathedral project — Ofori-Atta

Ghana’s Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta says he did not breach any law in releasing funds for the National Cathedral project.

“I say with both humility and confidence that I have not breached the Constitution in making payments to support the construction of the National Cathedral of Ghana,” he told an ad-hoc committee tasked to probe a censure motion against him.

The Finance Minister also denied claims by the proponents of the motion that he made an unconstitutional withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund to fund the project.

The Minority in Parliament had accused Ofori-Atta of “unconstitutional withdrawals from the Consolidated Fund in blatant contravention of Article 78 of the 1992 Constitution, supposedly for the construction of the President’s Cathedral,” thus demanding his removal from office.

Ofori-Atta however denied the accusations when he appeared before the ad-hoc committee on Friday and insisted he did no wrong.

“It appears the proponents have confused the Contingency Fund with the Contingency Vote. Let me explain. There is a difference between Contingency Fund and Contingency Vote. The Contingency Fund, the Proponents refer to, is what is covered under the Constitution, specifically under article 177. This constitutes money voted by Parliament, and advances from this must be authorized by the Parliamentary Finance Committee. The Contingency Vote, on the other hand, is a line under the “Other Government Obligations” vote which is approved by the Finance Committee and passed as part of the annual Appropriation Acts passed by Parliament.”

“In preparing the Annual Budget, provisions are made in the contingency vote to cater for such expenditures. As a Finance Minister, I am fully aware of the approval of the procedures for use of the Contingency Fund and have not breached its requirements,” he added

A letter released in May 2022 by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to the Controller and Accountant’s General, directed that the sum of GH¢25 million be credited to Ribade Limited, for part payment of outstanding claims.

The letters in part said: “Authority is hereby granted to you to release the sum [of] GH¢25, 000,000.00 as additional seed money to the National Cathedral Secretariat for the construction of the National Cathedral for part payment of outstanding claims from RIBADE Limited.”