Time to sanction artificial delayed paymentsto contractors

The Government on Monday announced it had disbursed approximately GH¢668 million as part-paymentof outstanding debt owed contractors working on the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) projects.

It said the processes for the payments actually began mid-October 2022 and ended in November 2022 with the accounts of all contractors duly credited.

A statement issued in Accra by the fund disclosed that payments were in fulfilment of its promise made on November 8 during a stakeholder engagement forum held in Accra.

It is good news to learn about the payments and also an assurance by the GETFund that plans are in place to settle all outstanding debts owed to contractors in an effort to complete stalled projects in schools within the next three years.

However, it must be said that the delayed payments in the system is not anything anyone who wishes contractors and the nation well should rejoice about.

The practice seems to have become the norm, which is unacceptable.

We can give an example that in September 2009, the Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors of Ghana (ABCECG) accused the government and other contract givers of non-payments for projects of delayed payments.

When the contractors spoke, the government reacted by blaming the situation on lack of funds and unsatisfactory work done by local contractors.

What was curious at the time was that projects undertaken by foreign contractors had been fully paid for by the same government pleading lack of funds.

Why should that happen? Was this not a way to kill the local construction industry?

We agree that delayed payment can also be caused by contractors and others like subcontractors and professionals such as those in charge of drawings and supervision, but most of the blame can be heaped on the government because it has the power to force the others related to the contract to do the right thing for payments to be effected at the agreed time.

Is it not sad to learn that some of the GETFund projects being paid for now date back to 2017?

The impacts of delayed payment such as the bankruptcy of contractors, loss of job by contractors’ workers, rising interest on loans taken by contractors, shoddy work done by contractors, abandonment of projects and disputes arising thereby must compel the state to solve the problem.

Sometimes, projects are revalued for them to be continued and this brings about extra cost on the country.

Even though contractors agree that some of the causes of the delay emanate from them, they claim that most of the time state officials like those in charge of inspection of projects and honouring of certificates for payments artificially cause the delay in many ways.

According to them, these officials create situations to cause contractors to be handicapped and the only way to come out of their precarious web is to make the officials financial offers.

It is about time all artificial problems related to delayed payments to contractors, particularly bribery and corruption, are banished from the system through deterrent sanctions.

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