National Cathedral: I’m not the first person to use funds from Contingency vault – Ofori-Atta
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has defended the process he used to withdraw money from the consolidated fund to sponsor the national cathedral project by saying former President John Mahama’s government used the same process to approve funds for Ghana’s participation in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Testifying before the ad hoc parliamentary committee that investigated some seven allegations against him in connection with a censure motion filed by the minority caucus in an attempt to remove him from office, Mr Ofori-Atta said: “Hon. Co-chairs, in preparing the annual budgets, the practice is that provision is made for indicative expenditures that have not been fully costed (sic) at the time of the budget presentation”.
“Provisions are made in the Contingency Vote [vault] to cater for such expenditures”, he explained, citing, for example, “in 2014, there was no specific allocation in the 2014 budget for Ghana’s participation in the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The Cabinet of President John Mahama, in March 2014, at the time, approved some $9.622 million for that tournament, including that amount which was flown to Brazil in a private jet for the players”.
“A more current example is Ghana’s participation in Qatar. The Black Stars qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, way after the 2022 budget, presented on 16 November 2021, was approved by parliament. No specific amount was budgeted for it but through the Contingency Vote, we have been able to provide funds legitimately for the team to participate in the competition”, he noted.
According to him, “expenditures in respect of the National Cathedral were made from the Contingency Vote under the ‘Other Government Obligations’ vote as has been the practice before my tenure (I have copies of several payments from the Contingency Vote dating back to 2015 to share)”.
Mr Ofori-Atta said “as finance minister, I am fully aware of the approval procedures for the use of the Contingency Fund and have not breached its requirement”, adding: “The national cathedral is 100% owned by the state and is not the president’s cathedral as described by the proponents”.
“Indeed, the Attorney General issued an opinion on 6 January 2022, that the national cathedral is a state-owned company limited by guarantee, under the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board”, he added.