Foreign Minister debunks claim of inflating cost of building

Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has debunked claims by the Minority that the Ministry has inflated the cost of a building it bought to house Ghana’s new mission in Oslo, Norway.

“No money has exchanged hands. We don’t have a contract that will bind us to the purchase of that property and it is on hold and I have instructed and directed that we look for other property.”

Madam Ayorkor Botchway said this in response to claims by Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa that the price of a new mission building in Oslo had been inflated.

Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, the Ranking Member on Foreign Affairs, during the approval of budget estimates for the Ministry, had accused the Ministry of inflating the cost of the property to 12.1 million dollars instead of 3.5 million dollars.

He said the Minority’s investigations uncovered that 16.5 million dollars presented to the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament as the budget for the new mission in Oslo, the chancery and the ambassador’s residence was too high.

Mr Ablakwa said in 2014 the building was bought for NOK 25.2 million, which was equivalent to 2.9 million dollars and per a Norwegian financial newspaper in 2017, the property was sold to an unknown buyer for NOK 31 million, which was equivalent to 3.5 million dollars.

“Then our Foreign Ministry is buying this at NOK 105 million, which is equivalent to 12.1 million dollars. A property that was sold for only 3.5 million dollars, August last year. Where is the due diligence?” he asked.

Ms Ayorkor Botchway, in response, said the Ministry had, so far, not spent any money, not even a cent on that property.

She said the Ministry had suspended the planned purchase of the property and that she takes responsibility for everything that was done in the Ministry under her watch.

She gave the assurance that she would not superintend over any act of corruption or wrong doing or outrageous inflation of figures.

“I’ll not superintend over any act of corruption or wrong doing or outrageous inflation of figures or fraudulent activities that would end in the loss of funds to the Ministry and by extension to the state,” Ms Ayorkor Botchway said.

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