The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has said the National Cathedral project will rake in more revenue for the state upon completion.
Speaking on GTV’s current affairs show Talking Point on Sunday, 12 June, 2022, Mr Ofori-Atta said once completed and fully operational, the National Cathedral was projected to raise at least US$1.8 billion within the first five years of operation.
“With a conservative estimate of 300,000 to 400,000 attendees per year, we expect the project to bring in at least $1.8 billion over five years,” the minister said.
Mr Ofori-Atta spoke on GTV, alongside the Chief Executive Officer of the National Cathedral Project, Dr Paul Opoku-Mensah.
Mr Ofori-Atta noted that the national edifice would attract a lot of religious tourists that would help bolster the economy as it happens in Israel, Saudi Arabia and other countries with similar projects.
“Constructing such a facility secures a steady arrival of religious tourists. Israel hosts more than four million people annually with an associated $6 billion contribution to the economy. The Hajj pilgrimage on the other hand brings in 2.5 million attendees, with an associated economic impact of $8 billion.
“These are all annual visitors. Essentially, by tapping into the pilgrimage space, you secure an additional eternal rate of return on our initial investment,” he said.
“Christians all over the world, particularly Africans in the diaspora, will be encouraged to celebrate their faith here with us in Ghana on an ongoing basis. Viewed from that lens, it is evident the returns from the project will outlive all of us,” he added.
Mr Ofori-Atta said through the cathedral, the country would be well-positioned as a gateway “back to Africa” and a first point of entry for religious tourists to the continent.
“The proceeds from the project can then be redistributed to support social expenditures for the disenfranchised and working poor,” he stated.
Glory to God
Mr Ofori-Atta urged Ghanaians to support the project to the glory of God.
He said as a Christian-dominated country, it was in the interest of the country to have a monument that glorified God and provided a tourist attraction and investment to the economy.
He observed that while Ghana had achieved tremendous success on the political and economic fronts, with tangible monuments to show, it lacked a symbol of spirituality, hence the need for the National Cathedral.
Value for money
Mr Ofori-Atta said the state was not funding the project entirely but would support the Christian community and benevolent institutions and individuals to raise funds for the project.
He, therefore, urged the public to donate towards the project to help enhance the spirituality of the country.
He said the attempts to politicise the project was inappropriate as it was the government’s effort to enhance the spirituality of the country while making Ghana the only country in Africa with a cathedral that could attract tourists.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the project was well crafted to double as a tourist attraction to Christians in Ghana, Africa and the world at large.
He mentioned the planned Bible museum and the inclusion of trees and artifacts of biblical background to the cathedral as avenues to attract tourists.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the current economic challenges should not deter the state from fulfilling its responsibility of building a monument that had huge investment potential.
“At any point in time when these buildings were built in Europe, was it ever the right time? How do we fund it will become the question," he quizzed.
" Is the Executive mindful of the current situation? We shouldn’t snuff out our religiousness or spirituality because we are poor. The Lord will understand if we put our widows mite in there”, he said.
Mr Ofori-Atta said concerns about the cost of the project to the taxpayer were genuine but should be constructive and conscious of the facts to help enrich the discourse.
He was of the belief that the raging debate on the financial prudence and relevance of the National Cathedral was misguided.
“That question being asked is that are we spending money from state coffers? Is that too much to do because we are politicising it? Do we really want to stop it? That is going to be my question.”