The Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has claimed that the National Cathedral project will cost the taxpayer a total of $1 billion and not $400 million as claimed by the government and members of the board of trustees.
Mr Ablakwa who has on several occasions raised issues with the relevance of the National Cathedral said on Face to Face on Citi TV on Tuesday that the $400 million being bandied around by the government as the total cost of the project completely ignores several other factors that shoot the total cost past $1 billion.
“We were told by the Finance Minister that the project will cost $100 million, then the figure rose to $150 million. The Chairman, Opoku Onyinah later mentioned $200 million but now based on fresh documents, I have realized the project is going to cost the Ghanaian taxpayer about $1 billion.”
“The same amount former president Mahama used to set up the Ghana Gas project which is earning us about $400 million a year,” Mr Ablakwa told Umaru Sanda Amadu.
The North Tongu MP noted that the estimated $400 million does not include the cost of relocation of the Judges’ bungalows, the $50 million needed for the relocation of the Judicial Training Institute and the $10 million to relocate the passport office.
He added that Waterstone Complex which had its offices demolished to make way for the cathedral is also in court suing the government for $120 million and also millions of dollars needed to relocate the Comsys office and the residence of the Malian Ambassador.
Mr Ablakwa indicated that the total cost of all these amounts including modifications to the project such as the Biblical garden and the museum will shoot the total cost from $400 million to over $1 billion.
The National Cathedral project has been engulfed in several controversies and has also faced stiff opposition with a section of the public being of the view that the project is not relevant considering Ghana’s economic woes.
He also alleged that the project had stalled in the last ten months due to funding challenges.
But President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has on numerous occasions stated that he will build the cathedral regardless of the opposition from the public.
The Board of Trustees of the National Cathedral on Tuesday resolved to subject the project to a “normal statutory audit”.
This follows what the Board says are recent nagging issues that have enveloped the construction process.
It has engaged the services of audit firm, Deloitte for the audit work to begin.
“The Board is already in discussions to engage Deloitte, which accepted to be the auditors when the National Cathedral was registered, to commence the normal statutory audit”, the Board through its Chairman, Apostle Prof. Opoku Onyinah said in a statement.
The Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Rev. Kusi Boateng has also been fingered by Okudzeto Ablakwa for having multiple identities and receiving some 2.6 million cedis for no work done.
Two members of the Board of Trustees – Founder and Leader of Action Chapel International, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams and Rev. Eastwood Anaba, President of the Eastwood Anaba Ministries have called for an immediate suspension of the construction of the National Cathedral pending an audit of the project.