The Secretariat of the National Cathedral of Ghana says the Cathedral is a National Monument and Asset to the State and not a private project.
The Secretariat said it was, however, being developed in partnership between the State and the Church.
A statement issued in Accra by Dr Paul Opoku-Mensah, the Executive Director of the National Cathedral of Ghana, said the President in his first official announcement on the project on March 6, 2017, underscored the nature of the project as a national cathedral for interdenominational worship services for the nation.
Subsequent elaborations, led to three main reasons as the rationale for the project, namely, gesture of thanksgiving, symbol of the Christian presence and contributions to the nation, and a personal pledge to God.
The statement said of these three reasons, the personal pledge came to be associated with the Cathedral as a private project that needed to be developed without state support.
It said for “the avoidance of doubt, the National Cathedral is a National Monument, and thus a public, not private, project.”
Legally, the National Cathedral of Ghana is a state-owned company limited by guarantee, and was incorporated under the Companies Act, 1963 (Act 179) on July 18, 2019.
The Secretariat expressed the hope that that brought to a closure the seemingly vexatious issue of whether the National Cathedral was a private or public initiative.
On disbursements from the State, it said the President, in introducing the National Cathedral indicated that although it was a National Monument, he was determined that its building would not put undue financial burdens on the State.
Thus, the President proposed a partnership between the State and the Ghanaian Christian community, at home and in the Diaspora, to develop it.
It said within the partnership, the role of the State was specified.
The statement said the State’s role in the partnership was to appoint the Architect and the design team, provision of the land and its preparation, while setting up and equipping the Secretariat, and seed money.
It said the release of the seed money, as the finance minister indicated in his talking point discussion on June 13, 2022, was thus a practical response to the commitment made by the State to the project, which the Minister for Finance informed Parliament, and the Nation, in his Budget presentation in November 2018.
The statement said given the need for the public to understand this partnership, in particular the role of the State, all publications from the Secretariat, including the National Cathedral Update, sent individually to Members of Parliament, included the structure and the role of the state.
It said seed money for the National Cathedral, as part of the role of the State in the project, should therefore be public knowledge.
It said following a procurement process approved by the Public Procurement Authority, and with the input of the Attorney-General, a contract was developed and signed between the Office of the President and Sir David Adjaye and Associates in August 2019 for full Architectural and Engineering Services for the project.
The contract encompassed the payments to the consultants, Adjaye Associates, was therefore based on this contract signed in August 2019 between Adjaye Associates and the Office of the President.
These payments represented the fulfilment of the State’s commitment in the appointment of the Architect and Design team and was separate from the Seed Money for the construction of the edifice.
It said following the signing of a Letter of Intent between the Board of the National Cathedral and the contractors, negotiations for the release of part of the seed money promised by the State was concluded and the first tranche of the money, the cedi equivalent of $25million, representing 10 per cent of the total cost of the project at the time, was released on November 25, 2020.
Incidentally, Mr Ebenezer Kojo Kum, the Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, informed Parliament about the $25million seed money from the Government to the project during his vetting in February 2021.
“And this was reported extensively by the media (https://www.gna.org.gh/1.19938118),” he added.
It said the first tranche of seed money was used for the mobilization of the contractors to the site, site excavation, builders work, equipment and materials, the design of the integration of a Bible Museum and Biblical Gardens to the project, and operational issues related to the domestic and international fundraising activities of the National Cathedral.
The statement said the second tranche of the seed money of GHS25million was released in May 2022 to pay the contractors for work described in section IV.
“All the disbursements from the State to the National Cathedral, therefore, have been based on the framework for the State’s participation in the project,” it said.
The Secretariat said the procurement of services using these funds had all been within legal procurement practices.
Similarly, the establishment of positions at the Presidency for the National Cathedral of Ghana is a practical response to the state’s commitment to set up and equip the Secretariat of the National Cathedral.
It said the positions were used to coordinate and mobilize for the project.
The statement said these positions notwithstanding, the Secretariat worked to keep costs down, by operating with a very thin staff, and using volunteers, including national service personnel, and seconded personnel from the churches, whose remuneration were covered by the sponsoring Church.