Journal of Building Construction and Planning Research, 2017, 5, 58-70
ISSN Online: 2328-4897
ISSN Print: 2328-4889
DOI: 10.4236/jbcpr.2017.52005 June 15, 2017
Investigating Challenges in Financing
Contractors for Public Sector Projects in Ghana
Prince Abrokwa Ofori, Kwadwo Twumasi-Ampofo*, Joseph Agyei Danquah,
Ernest Osei-Tutu, Safowaa Osei-Tutu
CSIR-Building and Road Research Institute, Kumasi, Ghana
Contractors working with the Public sector encounter numerous challenges in
financing projects in Ghana. The challenges which have persisted over the
years are both financial and managerial. This paper seeks to ascertain the e
tent to which contractors’ challenges in acquiring funds to execute public se
tor projects have been solved. The study involved both qualitative and qua
titative methods to ascertain the various
strategies the contractors go through
to obtain public sector projects focusing on the challenges associated with the
project execution. The study revealed that delayed payments and inadequate
cash flow on the part of government, lack of credit worthiness
collateral security from contractors are key determinants to challenges ass
ciated with financing public sector projects in Ghana. This paper recommends
the establishment of a Construction Development Authority (CDA), within
the Ministry of
Works and Housing to develop financial plans, policies and
laws for this important sector of the economy.
Public Sector, Project Financing, Delayed Payments, Performance and
Contractors in Ghana have encountered many challenges over the years which
affect performance and delivery. What is prominent among these challenges is
financing contractors for public sector projects. A number of studies have been
conducted on the success of projects and factors affecting contractors’ perfor-
mance in Ghana;    . However, these studies show poor performance
by both large and small scale contractors. Other authors also claim that perfor-
mance is greatly hindered due to managerial inefficiencies   . Most gov-
How to cite this paper:
Ofori, P.A., Twu-
-Ampofo, K., Danquah, J.A., Osei-
, E. and Osei-Tutu, S. (2017) Investi-
gating Challenges in Financing Contractors
Sector Projects in Ghana.
of Building Construction and Planning
March 19, 2017
June 12, 2017
June 15, 2017
Copyright © 201
7 by authors and
Research Publishing Inc.
This work is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution International
License (CC BY
P. A. Ofori et al.
ernment contracts are poorly planned in the mist of government’s fiscal con-
straint  while managerial issues affect contractor performance . Financing
public sector projects continues to play a dominant role in the delivery of infra-
structure development in Ghana. Financing is an arrangement to ensure that all
demands on an institution for money to support expenditures and repayment of
loans that are due can be met . Financing is therefore an attempt to coordi-
nate economic decision making to ensure that all payments are made on goods
and services without debts or outstanding payments to be made. The govern-
ment of Ghana is the main client (Employer) for public sector projects with
most funding through the Consolidated Fund, Ghana Education Trust Fund
(GET-Fund), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), District Assembly
Common Fund, Donor Agencies and International Partners. Public sector
projects in Ghana are usually designed and supervised by either private or public
consultants who help in the contract documentation, monitoring and evaluation
. With interest rate comparatively high at 25.32% as at January, 2016BoG,
 coupled with enormous collateral requirements from financial institutions
make it extremely difficult for contractors to access loans and therefore rely on
informal and ad- hoc financial services. The most prominent constraint faced by
contractors in Ghana is the difficulty in obtaining funds for the acquisition of
construction equipment which form the basis of collateral for project financing.
For example, in United States of America (USA), the financial growth rate of
construction firms is exactly related to the quantum of collateral that a company
can produce when seeking for funds . There have been difficulties in acquir-
ing funds, especially, bank loans in Ghana which have been a major setback to
the development of small-scale businesses in developing countries . The
success of obtaining loans largely depends on the conditions of contract, condi-
tions of the local financial market and the degree to which the design of the ar-
rangements is adapted to the local circumstances . Contractors eligible to
execute projects in the public sector must first be registered with the Registrar
General Department and also be of good standing in terms of personnel, equip-
ment and fulfillment of all tax obligations. According to the Ministry of Works
and Housing (MWH) , contractors are selected for specific projects based on
their classifications for building and civil works. The classification register is
solely for the use of Government Ministries, Departments, Agencies and Corpo-
rations, National, Regional, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Tender Boards
and other Institutions which require the services of Building and Civil Contrac-
tors for the execution of projects. The Classification exercise aims at the proper
grading of contractors into categories and financial classes (
. D1/K1, D2/K2,
D3/K3 and D4/K4) with K1D1 being the highest on the classification scale. The
aim of this study is to ascertain the extent to which contractors’ challenges in
acquiring funds to execute public sector projects have been solved.
2. Literature Review
Performance is the behavioral competencies to achieving the goals of project-
P. A. Ofori et al.
based organizations . The definition suggests that performance entails the
output and outcome of all activities of an organization in relation to the organi-
zation`s set goals and objectives. The performance of the public sector contracts
in relation to effective and efficient financing of public sector projects has been
the challenge of the sector over a period with successive governments. The po-
tential reasons for construction delays of public projects has been due to un-
timely honoring of certificate by client, credit inaccessibility by contractors and
price fluctuations . Badu
.  confirmed this by stating that both large
and small-scale contractors experience difficulty in accessing funds. It is en-
shrined in the general public contract conditions of the Public Procurement
Authority (PPA) , that certificates be honored within 28 days of issuance of a
claim but this barely happens especially with contracts involving local contrac-
tors. It is therefore difficult for local contractors to compete with foreign firms
both in terms of financial and material resources and as a result fail to win most
of the major projects in Ghana . Also, the contractors revealed challenges
such as delayed payments by government, inadequate cash flow, change of gov-
ernment, and bureaucratic processes involved in acquiring funds from financial
institutions hinder the successful execution of public sector projects leading to
eventual abandonment of projects . Memon
.  claim that payment
difficulties are a major issue confronting contractors in construction projects,
causing delays and a consequent cost overrun. Access to credit, a lack of capacity
to compete with foreign contractors, low technology, poor project preparation
and contracts awarded based on political considerations had the greatest effects
on the performance of Ghanaian contractors . Major factors affecting con-
tractor performance is cash flow among others .
Every construction project needs to be regularly financed for its successful
completion. Most common sources of funding for construction projects are as
follows: Firstly, through trade credit where a contractor receives credit from a
supplier of goods in the normal course of business. In practice, the contractor
does not have to pay cash immediately for material purchase to be made. A sup-
plier sends goods to the contractor on credit, which the contractor accepts and
therefore agrees to pay the amount due on a future date. Trade credit is a spon-
taneous source of financing, easily available and flexible . This source of
funding is largely dependent on the personal relationship between the contractor
and the supplier. Secondly, accrued expenses is another spontaneous source of
short term financing and is a natural source as it allows the contractor to receive
services before paying for them. This represents spontaneous, interest-free
source of financing. Thirdly, deferred income is when the contractor receives
funds for the services he has agreed to supply in the future. These receipts in-
crease the contactors’ liquidity in the form of cash. This advance payment made
by clients constitutes the main item of deferred income . Finally, Bank bor-
rowing is when construction firms borrow from banks, which happens to be the
main institutional source of working capital finance. Contractors receive funds
in the form of overdraft, cash credit, and discount of invoices, letters of credit
P. A. Ofori et al.
and working capital loans. After trade credit, bank credit is the most important
source of working capital requirements for contractors. As reported by the
American Institute of Architects, , funding problems have been the primary
factors stalling commercial real estate construction. There was cancellation of
many construction project contracts at the beginning of the economic recession
in 2008 due to lack of funding . The Immigrant Investment Program (EB-5)
was set up in 1990 to help stabilize the economy of the USA through job creation
and capital investment by foreign investors. Construction Investors benefited as
this provided them a source of funding and succeeding or remaining on the
,  further state that, although there are benefits to the
EB-5 program, industrial projects proved rather challenging, especially high-tech
projects that employ few people. Deloitte,  suggests that government should
investigate into mechanisms to stimulate market interest and make infrastruc-
ture asset more attractive so that a relatively small investment by government
(for example through co-funding or a guarantee) could leverage into a much
larger increase in total financing as private sector financing is increased by a
multiple of government investment in the United Kingdom (UK). Under
co-funding, government provides a proportion of about 50% of the total funding
requirement as loan at a low rate of interest reflecting the government’s cheaper
cost of funding. This by Deloitte, a UK private company, is advantageous since it
reduces cost of funding and increases the pool of funding available; financing
large projects and involve government lender to encourage additional finance as
the market is more confident in the projects. In the United States, as public
budgets continue to tighten at all levels of government, innovative financing is
becoming increasingly important. In September, 2014, a U.S. department of the
Treasury, office of the economic policy, reported an alternative financing which
include Public Private Partnership (PPP), the Transportation Infrastructure
Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), bonds (such as Build America Bonds),
tax-exempt qualified private activity bonds (PABs), and credit enhancement.
Nesan,  reported that, critical factors responsible for increased rate of busi-
ness failures among the small contractors in the United States include; liability of
newness, smallness and adolescence, pace of growth, and unplanned regional
growth. Nesan  further explains that the line of credit system predominates
construction financing and that collateral intensive of companies become the
commonality among them when they seek for fund. Cushman
.,  make
mention of refinancing, mortgage, and transaction loans as other forms of credit
Financial Institutions in Ghana usually request documents from contractors
as evidence before granting any form of support. These documents include con-
tract award letter, contract document, letter of undertaking, audited accounts,
management structure, source of funding, size of the project and collateral
property. Most importantly is the financial standing and Ministry classification.
In Ghana, two main ministries are responsible for public construction namely;
Ministry of Works and Housing (MWH) and Ministry of Roads and Highways
P. A. Ofori et al.
(MRH). Eligible contractors are classified under either ministries. They classify
the construction firms from K1D1 to K4D4 where K1D1 is the highest classifica-
tion level eligible for large contracts while K4D4 is the minimum level eligible
for small contracts. There is a direct connection between financial institution
and the construction industry. The issue of funding cannot be left out in the op-
eration of a construction company in every country. Each party has a role to play
in ensuring a successful completion of construction projects. Commercial banks
are mostly seen to be collaborative with contractors so that, they are mentioned
frequently in signing of contracts. Kibodyo,  agrees that some of the most
common internal problems attributed to liquidity in construction firms are poor
cash flow. Most of these contractors in Ghana have been classified under Small
and Medium Scale Enterprise (SME) category of businesses. One of the most
pressing challenges of SMEs is obtaining the working capital required for
projects . Where collateral security and other documents are available to se-
cure loans, there is a further inhibition of high interest rates. It is very difficult
for small scale contractors to work on several projects simultaneously due to
unavailability of funds . Some factors considered critically which includes
liability of newness, smallness and unplanned regional growth could be held re-
sponsible for the increased rate of business failures among construction firms
. To handle these factors effectively, appropriate construction financing sys-
tem needs to be instituted for small scale firms so that, the liabilities and risks
associated with them can be efficiently addressed.
It is worth noting that the construction industry is very important as it con-
tributes between 5% and 10% of most countries GDP including Ghana . Its
contribution to GDP has shown an increasing trend from 8.5% to 11.8% from
2010 to 2013 respectively and various attempts have been made to boost this
sector over the years. Some of the solutions include the establishment of finan-
cial institutions to sustain the construction sector. For instance, the Bank for
Housing and Construction (BHC) and the First Ghana Building Society were es-
tablished to fund and support contractors and other players in the construction
industry between 1957 and 1987. These outfits, before they were closed down by
government in 2000 due to liquidation, sought to mobilise savings for project
financing. The Supreme Military Council I (SMC I) regime financed the Low-
Cost Housing project in the 1970s. This led to establishment of estate housing in
some districts and regional capitals . The structural adjustment programme
in 1983 saw the formation of a national housing policy committee. This com-
mittee had, as part of its mandate, to find alternatives in solving the problems
associated with public project financing. There still exists a huge infrastructure
gap despite various attempts by successive governments. To close this infra-
structure gap, the government of Ghana has since 2001, encouraged Build-Own-
Operate and Transfer (BOOT) system through Public-Private Partnership (PPP)
; where a private entrepreneur finances public projects, operate/own for an
agreed period of time and transfer it to the government upon expiry of the pe-
riod as has been the case with the provision of students’ accommodation in pub-
P. A. Ofori et al.
lic universities. These BOOT system of financing has been a success in the stu-
dent hostel projects. On the other hand, institutions such as Building and Road
Research Institution of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-
BRRI) and Construction Industry Development Institute (CIDI) has been estab-
lished to research and offer strategic leadership respectively to the built envi-
ronment. Clearly all these attempts need to be well coordinated by an apex body
to provide funding, and regulate activities of this sector of the economy and re-
lieve the Ministry of Water, Resources, Works and Housing (MWRWH) from its
numerous functions. Examples elsewhere, of such apex bodies are as stated by
Ofori , as follows: Ministries of Construction in China and Vietnam, the Na-
tional Construction Council in Tanzania, the Construction Industry Develop-
ment Board in Singapore and the Construction Industry Development Council
of India. These agencies manage and fund construction firms and organsations
dedicated to the continuous development of the industry.
3.1. Study Area
The study was conducted within the Kumasi Metropolitan area which is one of
the thirty (35) districts in Ashanti Region, Ghana. It is located between Latitude
6.35˚N and 6.40˚S and Longitude 1.30˚W and 1.35˚E and elevated 250 to 300
meters above sea level. It is approximately 270 km north of the national capital,
Accra. Kumasi, the second largest city, in Ghana and is the administrative capital
of the Ashanti region of Ghana. It is a centrally located nodal city with high
concentration of economic activities and an annual population growth rate of
5.4% (KMA, 2017). The respondents for the study are located in suburbs in-
cluding Adum, Ahodwo, Asafo, Ashanti New Town, Asokwa, Ayigya, Dichemso,
Kwadaso, Patasi, Suame among others.
This study employs a mixed approach to ascertain the extent to which contrac-
tors’ challenges in acquiring funds to execute public sector projects have been
solved. Data was collected using a combined research approach which includes
the review of pertinent literature, interviews and administering of survey ques-
tionnaires . The questionnaires are grouped under three sub-headings. The
first sub heading inquired as to the contractors’ classification and sources of
funding. The second sub-heading asked questions about the management chal-
lenges the contractors face in financing public sector projects while the third
sub-heading asked questions about some financial challenges. The questionnaire
used a three-point Likert scale (where 1 represents strongly disagree, 2, neutral
and 3 represent strongly agree) to ascertain whether these issues still persist as a
challenge to contractors. The level of agreement by a respondent indicates un-
derstanding as to the extent to which the challenges have been solved. The re-
sults obtained are analyzed using frequency clustered charts and bars . Pur-
posive sampling technique was used to select fifty four contractors within the
P. A. Ofori et al.
Kumasi Metropolis. 54 contractors were considered for the study but 49 firms
representing 90.7% responded. Data was collected for a period of 20 days. Enu-
merators targeted owners or management members of the firms making use of
drop-off and pick-up method . This allowed respondents the options to ei-
ther self-complete the questionnaire or interviewed in order to obtain high re-
4. Findings and Discussions
4.1. Source of Funding Public Sector Projects
The survey indicated (Table 1) that, 43% of the construction firms were classi-
fied under K1D1 with 39% and 18% remaining classified under K2D2 and K3D3
respectively. This shows that a total majority of 57% firms were small-scaled and
this is evident in the current situation of the construction industry in Ghana as it
is dominated by small-scaled firms.
4.2. Source of Funding
Table 2 represents the summary of the responses on the “Source of funding” for
execution of public projects. The highest ranked factor was the ‘difficulty to ob-
tain funds from bank to finance public projects with an average response value
of 2.4, followed by pre-financing through internally generated funds (2.3).
However, these two highly ranked factors were within the neutral response rate
Table 1. Classification of contractors.
K1D1 21 43
K2D2 19 39
K3D3 9 18
TOTAL 49 100
Table 2. Source of funding.
1 2 3 Sum
(N) ΣW Mean Rank
Projects are pre-
Internally generated fund 14 5 30 49 114 2.3 2
Use of bank credit facilities to
finance public projects 35 3 11 49 74 1.5 3
It is difficult to obtain funds from
bank to finance public projects 12 4 33 49 119 2.4 1
Interest on loans for public
projects is low
(Bank Lending Rate)
44 1 4 49 58 1.2 4
Source: Authors’ Field Survey, (2017).
P. A. Ofori et al.
and therefore did not agree. Two other factors including pre-financing through
the use of bank credit facilities and low interest rate were not agreed upon with
average values of 1.5 and 1.2 respectively.
It is obvious from Table 2 that obtaining funds to finance public sector
projects is a challenge which goes a long way to delay the projects and affect
performance. This confirms a study by Ofori-Kuragu
.  in which they
mention among others, difficulty in accessing credit facilities by contractors. The
results show a continuous trend of funding challenges as state earlier by Badu
. . Internally generated fund (IGF) as a solution to financing public project
seems very critical to the respondents. An interview with some of them indicated
that investment which could help secure IGF is low due to high operation cost.
Moreover, high bank lending (interest) rate as emphasised by Ugochukwu, 
makes it difficult to generate IGF in the sense that a larger part of their profit is
used to service loans if a company manages to obtain one. Lending rate is rela-
tively high at an average 28.11% per annum making it difficult to access loans
from banks in Ghana by the respondents.
4.3. Managerial Challenges
Managerial challenges have been spelt out in Table 3. Respondents did not agree
on any of the factors with 1.6, 1.9 and 1.9 mean values for “qualified personnel
sections”, “functional management structure” and “difficulty in documentation
for funding” respectively. Only one factor (difficulty in obtaining records) had a
mean value of 2.6. The study reveals four factors that make up the managerial
challenges including “functional management structure”, “qualified personnel
handling various sections of the company”, “records keeping and documenta-
tion”. Every credible organization needs a well-structured management system
in place to progress. The firm must be able to have a well-defined and organized
management structure in place. Respondents, in an interview, agreed that, their
management structures are non-existent and therefore encounter challenge in
financing public sector projects, claiming that the most companies (D2/K2,
Table 3. Managerial challenges.
1 2 3 Sum
(N) ΣW Mean Rank
Your company has a
23 6 20 49 95 1.9 2
Records on projects are
difficult to obtain 9 3 37 49 126 2.6 1
Every section is headed by a
qualified personnel 31 6 12 49 79 1.6 4
Preparing documents for
funding is difficult 21 10 18 49 95 1.9 2
Source: Authors’ field survey, (2017).
P. A. Ofori et al.
D3/K3) are managed by the Chief executive officer without permanent adminis-
trators and accountants. Respondents claimed that lack of proper documenta-
tion is a challenge to the firms’ acquisition of funds for public projects. This con-
firms studies by Ahadzie and Amoah-Mensah  that most contractors fail to
obtain financial assistance due to poor managerial practices. Local contractors
require technical training as well as assistance in business management and con-
tracting procedures in order to strengthen capacity of small scale firms in the
construction industry Deelen and Bonsu . Moreover, this confirms Laryea
 study which highlighted difficulty in obtaining qualified personnel by con-
tractors. It is therefore not surprising to realize the establishment of the National
Artisan Training Centre in Kumasi by the Building and Road Research Institute
to train personnel for contractors.
4.4. Financial Challenges
Summary of the responses on the “financial challenges” for execution of public
projects is shown in Table 4. The highest ranked factor was the “delays in ho-
nouring certificates” with an average response value of 2.7, followed by difficulty
to meet collateral requirements for loans with a mean value of 2.6 and savings
with more than one bank (2.0). Continuous cash flow for projects was the lowest
ranked with an average of 1.8 which indicates respondents’ disagreement with
this factor. Similarly, the three highly ranked factors were within the neutral re-
sponse rate and therefore not agreed upon. Respondents agreed that, delayed
payments (honouring of certificates) on the part of Government (The Employer)
is a significant hindrance to financing public sector projects even though some
contract documents available indicate up to 90 days for employers to honour
certificates. The study revealed some reasons for delayed payments to include
poor planning and bureaucracy on the part of the employer. This confirms ear-
lier studies by Fugah and Agyarkwa  and Badu
.  about untimely
payment of certificate by clients. The survey indicated that cash flow is a major
challenge based on the contractors experience in an interview. Table 4 shows
Table 4. Financial challenges.
1 2 3 Sum
(N) ∑W Mean Rank
There are delays in honouring
of certificates 4 5 40 49 134 2.7 1
Cash flow for public projects
is continuous 24 9 16 49 90 1.8 4
It is prudent to save with
more than one bank 24 3 22 49 96 2.0 3
It is difficult to meet collateral
requirements for loans 7 4 38 49 129 2.6 2
Source: Authors’ field survey, (2017).
P. A. Ofori et al.
that respondents agreed that poor cash flow from contractors is a challenge fac-
ing contractors financing public sector projects. As stated by Kibodyo,  some
of the most common internal problems attributed to liquidity in construction
firms is poor cash flow. Akomah and Jackson  reiterated that major factors
affecting contractor performance is cash flow. Furthermore, savings habits (sav-
ings with more than one bank) with the aim of taking advantage of different fi-
nancial products simultaneously as revealed in an interview is seemingly, not
prudent. This survey again brings to light inadequate collateral security as a ma-
jor challenge in obtaining funds from financial institutions for public sector
projects. An interview with respondents indicated that it is difficult to procure
equipment to serve as collateral due to high import levies and taxes.
5. Conclusions and Recommendations
Majority of the sampled public sector contractors were small-scaled in nature.
Contractors in Ghana continue to experience financial and managerial chal-
lenges and not much has been done to solve these challenges. At the design stage
of a public project, an assessment has to be made for possible ways to finance the
public sector projects contractors. Negotiations with private partner institutions
have to start at an early stage to allow the institutions enough time to peruse the
legal and financial details. Government and her agencies (Employers) must en-
sure prompt honoring of certificates as enshrined in the contract conditions.
Regular and timely payment will eventually help contractors to service loans ob-
tained from financial institutions and ultimately boost contractors’ credit wor-
The study recommends that credit worthiness of contractors, in terms of ma-
terials and equipment procurement, could be enhanced if they are allowed to
import with a tax waiver to help maintain and increase good equipment stand-
ing of contractors. Qualified construction professionals should be employed by
construction companies to aid in carrying out proper planning towards a suc-
cessful project. Employees already employed need further training to ensure
better management of the firms. Government should also ensure timely honor-
ing of certificates for contractors to complete projects on time; adequate finan-
cial standing of government for construction works is significant in honoring
certificates to contractors to maintain constant cash flow throughout the entire
duration of the construction. Private Sector should continue to partner govern-
ment in order to generate adequate funds for timely completion of projects
through PPPs. Ultimately, this paper recommends the formation of a Construc-
tion Development Authority (CDA), within the Ministry of Works and Housing
to develop financial plans for public projects, policies and laws to improve this
important sector of the economy.
Authors are particularly grateful to Emmanuel Ampofo Twumasi, and Sampson
Kusi, National Service Personnel for their assistance in the data collection exercise.
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