September 1, 2011

The Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) has reacted to comments attributed to Kwesi Pratt Jnr, the Managing Editor of Insight Newspaper condemning the opposition for the failure of the STX Korea housing project to take off as planned.

Contributing to a discussion on Radio Gold’s ‘Alhaji and Alhaji’ at the weekend, Mr Pratt said the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) should not be entirely held culpable for the failure of the multi-billion dollar STX Housing Project to take-off.

“Part of the blame must be placed at the door steps of an irresponsible opposition, for their negative vibe towards the project,” Mr. Pratt said in a story posted on Peace FM online, accusing the NPP of deliberately opposing and sabotaging every initiative of the Mills-led administration.

Describing the comments by Mr. Pratt as unfortunate and palpable untruth in an interview with DAILY GUIDE yesterday, Minority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the NPP would not be deterred by statements made by “the uninitiated or people who want to give propaganda slant to anything that is said by the opposition”.

NPP, he insisted, could not be blamed by anybody for government’s failure to execute the STX project, asking Mr. Pratt to lay the blame elsewhere.

The STX housing project is an agreement between government and STX Engineering & Construction Limited for the construction of 200,000 housing units at the cost of $10 billion, starting with 30,000 houses for the security agencies at the cost of $1.5 billion.

According to Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Suame in the Ashanti Region, his side only did what Parliament was expected to do by scrutinizing any loan agreement or budget that government presented to the House for approval including the STX housing agreement.

He pointed out that although the Minority supported, in principle, government’s intention to reduce the housing deficit in the country, which is about 1.2 million, it would not support any agreement that was not in the best interest of the country.

“Parliament has the power of the purse and oversight responsibility. We will exercise that diligently. We will not be intimidated by whatever anybody says, in particular, the uninitiated or people who want to give propaganda slant to anything that is said by the opposition,” Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu emphasised.

The Minority, he noted, could only laud the NDC in its desire to reduce the housing deficit through the STX agreement “but we were saying that the documentation and the details were not in the best of shapes so we asked government to have a second look at it”.

He said if the Minority asking government to do the right thing by scrutinizing the STX agreement could be termed as noise, as claimed by people who were “uninitiated, then I am sorry to say it is unfortunate and palpable untruth”.

Mr. Pratt, a leading member of the Committee for Joint Action (CJA), a politically-contrived group with sympathies towards the ruling NDC, had indicated that NPP’s constant criticism of the STX Housing Project was one of the main reasons why the project could not take off, stressing that nobody would want to put his money in such a venture.

“I think part of the blame must be placed at the door steps of an irresponsible opposition deliberately intent on sabotaging everything that government does. I recall in the wake of the STX debate, the opposition (issuing a) warning (to) STX that they are coming to power and when they do, they will review the agreement. This then provided the justification for the political insurance company cover that the project have but the threat continued, so who is going to put his money in a country where elections has just ended on a head-to-head margin and the opposition is threatening to come back to power…and will review the agreement. Who will put his money in the STX project? That was one of the reasons or possible reasons why the project did not take off,” he remarked.

Mr. Pratt also attributed the failure of the STX to take off to the boardroom wrangling between the Korean Directors and their Ghanaian counterparts.

He described the bickering and internal strife associated with the $1.5 billion conflict-ridden STX Housing Project as “uninspiring” which could lead to anybody withdrawing their resources.

Mr. Pratt also slammed the NPP’s position on the US$3billion Chinese loan facility from the China Development Bank (CDB) to finance major infrastructural and industrial projects in various parts of the country.

To him, it was unfair for the NPP to relate the $3bn Chinese Loan agreement to the STX Housing Project deal, stressing that the two agreements did not have anything in common.

“Many of the people on the Minority side came out and said ‘look we’ve just had the experience of the STX agreement and we should be very careful that this ($3bn Chinese loan) does not become another STX fiasco’. And they were indeed telling the people of the Western Region that be careful, all the people who supported the STX project now have their hands burned and are ashamed because if its failure. There are no similarities between this agreement and the STX agreement,” he noted.

However, Mr. Pratt conceded that “the STX agreement is having some difficulties,” calling for its abrogation if necessary.

Source: Daily Guide