Some international finance institutions are putting pressure on President John Evans Atta Mills and his administration to ratify some agreements they entered with the erstwhile Kufuor-Administration.
This is being done even though the new government is yet to study the agreements.
Against this backdrop, Mr. Samuel Zan Akologo, Country Director of the Social Enterprise Foundation, Ghana Chapter (SEND-Ghana), has urged the government to proceed with caution.
According to him, “The speed with which our governments sometimes rush into agreements is worrying They will sign and sign away their birth rights.”
The country director was speaking to Public Agenda last Thursday during the opening of a two-day workshop organized by SEND-Ghana with support from the Office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, an independent body of the World Bank Group.
Mr. Zan Akologo expressed the desire of civil society organisations (CSOs) to be involved in pre-contract negotiations between governments and the finance institutions in order to ensure a representation of community interests.
The World Bank Group, the African Development Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation of the US Government all have significant portfolios in Ghana. They lend to either the public sector or the private sector for project execution. But where the projects impact negatively on the supposed beneficiary communities what mechanisms are available for redress?
The workshop therefore gave CSOs an opportunity to learn more about how communities impacted by projects of the development banks could raise concerns and seek solutions.
More than 30 participants representing (CSOs) from across Ghana took part in the workshop which was under the theme: “Improving Access to Accountability Mechanisms of the International Development Banks.” Officials and staff of “Independent Accountability Mechanisms” of the World Bank Group, the African Development Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation of the US Government also participated.
According to Mr. Zan Akologo, “We think that bringing this information to all the actors, especially those with different levels of power, is very important to broadening local accountability.”
He added, “The opportunity being offered to Ghanaian Civil Society to understand both the framework of these independent mechanisms, as well as how citizens and communities can better access them, is the answer to accountability.”
Having been introduced to these mechanisms and the procedures, some of the participants describe the information as “very useful.” However, they had concerns about the bureaucratic nature of the mechanisms.
“I see the mechanisms to be too slow and sometimes very bureaucratic,” a participant observed.
“I don’t think it’s bureaucratic. All you do is to write a letter. It doesn’t say you should know the processes,” responded Meg Taylor, Vice President and Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank Group.
On the workshop, Ms. Taylor said the goal was for the international finance institutions to share information about the involvement of the banks in Ghana and “about the various options for raising concerns when communities believe those investments may be causing harm.”