Gov’t Blows GHC12bn On COVID-19

Ken Ofori-Atta

Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta has told Parliament that government mobilised a total of GH¢18.19 billion to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country for 2020 and 2021.

However, it spent GH¢12 billion out of the total figure generated within the period in question.

He explained that the amount of GH¢1.5 billion was disbursed under the Support to Households Programme, GH¢1 billion was allocated to health response-supplies equipment and relief for health workers, GH¢600 million was released to begin the construction across the country and a further GH¢763.92 million has been released to continue the construction of the 111 district hospitals.

He further stated that the government also programmed GH¢875 million for security operations, evacuation of Ghanaians stranded abroad, and coordination of MMDAs’ sanitation and disinfection exercises.

However, Minority disagree and called for committee to lead probe into COVID-19 expenditure.

The Minority has proposed the setting up of an ad-hoc committee to thoroughly probe the expenditure of COVID-19 funds.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, when the Finance Minister appeared in the house to answer questions on government expenditure, the Minority said the minister’s accounting was not thorough enough.

“We cannot sit here and say the Minister of Finance should be the only one accounting for the COVID amount. The minister responsible for Finance is only a conduit for releasing the money. But the monies were spent at various MDAs,” Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam MP, Cassiel Ato Forson, said.

He said the various MDAs heads and COVID entities needed to account in detail on how they spent the money because of the gaps in the Finance Minister’s statement.

“I cannot ask the Minister responsible for Finance to give me the details to the fact that they spent $100 million on nose masks and hand sanitisers,” Mr. Forson said.

Mr. Forson proposed the committee be chaired by a member of the Minority “so that we can go into the details and all of us will be able to get the facts as we need to.”

But the Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, pushed back against this call, saying the various committees in Parliament could scrutinise the expenditure.

He feels this situation is not exceptional enough to warrant an ad-hoc committee.

“Let us rely on the committees of Parliament. We don’t need a special committee. We don’t need an ad-hoc committee,” Mr. Afenyo-Markin argued.

By Vincent Kubi