Confusion Over €13M TB Loan

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A new loan of €13,112,601 from ABN AMRO N.V Bank of The Netherlands which was intended to replace an earlier one approved by parliament in July last year became a bone of contention recently among the Speaker, minority members and majority members as to whether the loan should be seen as a completely new loan.

The figure was revised from over €14 million to the new €13.1 million and is meant to help finance the ‘Accelerating Tuberculosis (TB) Case Detection’ project, but, the revised figure together with a new report by the Finance Committee generated confusion in parliament, with Speaker and some minority members thinking that after approving the earlier one and coming to rescind its decision, it could put the new loan in jeopardy.

After back-and-forth arguments on the Floor, the Speaker said he will give consequential orders for the Table Office to notify the Ministry of Finance about parliament rescinding its earlier decision and adopting a new one.

The total cost of the project, € 20,173,233 is financed by the loan facility from ABN AMRO Bank N.V and supplemented with a grant amount of €7,060,631.55 from the Netherlands government through ORIO.

The facility is a mix credit facility with relatively concessionary terms. It has a grace period of two years and a tenor of 12 years. The interest rate is 1.95% and a grant element of 58.15%.

According to the Finance Committee’s report that was presented to parliament on Friday, HIV has been identified as a driving force behind the escalating TB epidemic. It said the most widespread forms of tuberculosis are simply contracted by breathing in the air of the person with active TB, who can then infect on average 10-15 people.

The report said despite the tuberculosis finding treatment programme referred to as ‘functional DOTS programme’, there is a gradual increase in the tuberculosis case notification rates, hence the need for the loan to support funding in that area.

According to the Chairman of the Finance Committee, James Kludze Avedzi, the loan will pay for itself because patients would be asked to pay levies on x-rays, but the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Tarkwa-Nsuaem, Gifty Kusi, said that most TB patients are from the lower class and, therefore, the levying of x-ray must be looked at again since it will become too expensive for the patients to afford.

The loan was subsequently approved by the House.
Moving the motion for the adoption of the Finance Committee’s report for the approval of the facility, Mr Avedzi said it was estimated that 95 percent of TB deaths occur in the developing world.

He said in 2007, it was estimated that death resulting from tuberculosis in Ghana was over 12,000 people though TB treatment success rate has increased to 84.7 percent for the 2007 cohort.

“If people infected with TB are detected early, the trend of TB in Ghana can be reversed. Indeed, Ghana has been cited as one of the few African countries that might attain the TB related target for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG 6, Target 3) with accelerated efforts. It is in line with this that the facility is being secured for the implementation of the “accelerated Tuberculosis (TB) Case Detection Project in the country,” the chairman said.

By Thomas Fosu Jnr