The General Secretary of The Church of Pentecost (COP), Apostle Alexander Nana Yaw Kumi-Larbi, has recommended to the Government of Ghana some of the ways by which the state could construct projects at a lower cost, higher quality and have value for money using the COP model.
This, according to him, would enable the government to save more money for other useful projects for the benefit of the citizens of Ghana, thereby accelerating the growth and development of the country.
Presenting a paper titled: “Value For Money In School Construction: The Church Of Pentecost’s Experience With Constructing Cost-Effective Schools In Ghana” at the Value For Money Conference hosted by the Vice President of Ghana, H.E Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, on June 25, 2018, Apostle Kumi-Larbi outlined some cost-effective means adopted by the Church in constructing some of her educational facilities.
He drew insightful lessons from the construction of the 3-storey 30-unit Pentecost Preparatory School project and the 3-storey 18 unit Pentecost Secondary School building, both at Koforidua, as well as the 7-storey Pentecost University College Building at Sowutuom, by the Church.
In his presentation, Apostle Kumi-Larbi stated that COP places project cost-related factors under five generic themes. They are Procurement Related Factors, Design Value / Engineering And Technical Post-Contract Supervision, Cost Management Factors, Audit Monitoring and Evaluation of Projects and Strong Internal Organizational Culture.
According to him, the COP has always adopted the traditional system of procurement to her advantage due to its comprehensive procedures and competitive fairness which most invariably grants satisfactory public accountability.
“Again, with the exception of minor maintenance works, all new works are subjected to competitive tendering with the high potential of cost savings,” he added.
He also noted that the COP subscribes to strict adherence to policies on procurement procedures during tendering, hence there is promptness in the procurement process for the delivery of infrastructural projects.
“Averagely, within a maximum of two months after tendering, all review and approval processes should have been completed and the awards made,” he said.
The General Secretary, who is also a Civil Engineer, said that the COP is able to reduce the overall cost of its infrastructural project by 15-25% by procuring construction materials themselves and paying for labour.
“The COP procures material from very creditable companies for delivery to the project site; with materials received by a representative of the Procurement Advisory Committee. For the purpose of accountability, a Clerk of Works is appointed to manage the materials on site to prevent wastage and pilfering. The caution, however, is that the burden of risk on materials management is shifted to the client, and the role of the contractor is limited to supply labour and equipment for the execution of the project” he noted.
To ensure a successful project, he further noted that the project team always identifies and engages all stakeholders to determine their requirements and expectation and manage their influence in relation to their requirements. “For our educational projects, stakeholder consultation runs from the grassroots (students/pupils) through parents, teachers/ lecturers to the top level management, “he explained.
After stakeholder consultation for the project has been made, the National Estate Committee of the Church, led by Apostle Anthony Ahalivor, plays the role of a technical oversight control over consultants and see to it that the Church’s interest is protected and her needs are also fully met.
He said that: “one hallmark of The Church of Pentecost is the stringent supervision and post contract administration procedures delivered on our projects. The range of supervision includes the approval for works specification, quality of materials, workmanship, cost-related issues, and equipment and human resource related factors. From previous projects, it has been observed that the measure and quality of supervision is a critical factor which affects the total service delivery of the project.”
On the monitoring and evaluation of projects, Apostle Kumi-Larbi said that the Church has in place an Audit, Monitoring and Evaluation (AME) Unit to provide checks and balances for works supervised by the consultants and also provide controls for projects executed. The Audit division reviews financial submission, the Monitoring division provide quality control services and the Evaluation division is responsible for providing value engineering services.
“The AME department has saved the COP huge sums of money after reviewing submission made by the contractors and the consultants thus resulting in cost savings to the Church. With this, the leadership of the Church have always acted swiftly to sanction without delay where appropriate,” he said.
In order to prevent cost overruns, Apostle Kumi-Larbi said that the Church adds contingency sums to cater for minor changes in scope, design, construction technology, or other uncertainties in the project which may possibly affect the baseline cost.
Apostle Kumi-Larbi also emphasized the importance of an internal organisation culture to the entire process. He said that the COP has a strong internal organizational culture which ensures that the process of certificate preparation and processing for payment are done internally without external influence.
He explained that the system is such that the there is no room for kickbacks since the contractor does not need to push his or her certificates through nor play any part in the processing of his/her payment.
“Also, as part of the revised welfare policy of The Church of Pentecost, the Church does not expect anyone to pay gratuity to anyone, and officers of the Administration of the Church do not expect any thank you envelopes. Any such unwarranted gifts are refunded to the Church coffers,” he stated.
Concluding his presentation, Apostle Alexander Nana Yaw Kumi-Larbi stated that: “the Ghanaian economy is noted for its high unfavourable terms of trade. The economy again to a greater extent depends on imported inputs for construction projects. Any volatility in terms of the currency with respect to its main trading partners surges the cost of construction inputs upwards.
“Since we, The Church of Pentecost, have no respite or cannot control these external inputs, we can control our internal procurement mechanisms, cost control procedures, timely delivery of projects, manage scope creep, enhance value management, stern supervision and exploit our strong organizational culture to our advantage. In addition, integrity, commitment and applying appropriate sanctions promptly have helped us. These factors have resulted in the delivery of projects at lower cost, higher quality and higher value for money.”
According to the General Secretary, “The Church of Pentecost is able to undertake all the projects without any external support. The COP is a Church beyond aid; because we don’t receive grants or take loans”.
In his closing remarks, H.E. Dr Mahamudu Bawumia thanked all stakeholders who participated in the conference and commended Apostle Kumi-Larbi and all other speakers at the event for their insightful presentations.
The Veep described the “Pentecost Model” as a very interesting cost-effective approach to construction saying that it involves deliberate planning, risk assessment, as well as rigorous supervision and monitoring to ensure value for money on projects.
He hinted that a committee would be put together with members selected for the participants to come up with a comprehensive paper for the way forward. He further assured all stakeholders that their contributions and recommendations would be acted upon to ensure that the country gets more value on the cost of projects in the future.
The Value For Money Conference, which took place at the Accra Marriott Hotel, had in attendance various dignitaries including Hon. Yaw Osafo Maafo (Senior Minister), Hon Ken Ofori-Attah (Minister of Finance), Tony Debre (Head of Projects, Ghana Education Trust Fund), Mr Rajiv Aggarwal (World Bank), and Robert Kuzoe (MTN Ghana), among others.
Apostle Alexander Kumi-Larbi was accompanied to the event by the Projects, Development and Estate Manager at the COP Headquarters, Pastor Dr Joseph I.T. Buertey.