Alexander Afenyo Markin
The Majority in Parliament has rejected a call by their colleagues in Minority for an ad hoc committee to interrogate the Covid-19 spending by the government.
According to the Majority, the Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has adequately furnished the house with all the necessary information on how the funds were utilised in Parliament on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.
This follows red flag raised by Minority members with the explanations of the Finance Minister, asking for the Speaker of Parliament to set up the committee to further probe the Covid spending.
Giving vivid explanation on how the funds were utilized, the Finance Minister told Parliament that in the area of free water and electricity for lifeline consumers, for instance, an amount of “GH¢200m was made available for free water and electricity for lifeline consumers, out of this, GH¢143m utilized.”
He continued that “Though our response was bold and decisive and compassionate, it has also been costly. Mr Speaker, you will recall that on 30th March 2020, I made a statement to Parliament that the economic impact of Covid 19 pandemic on the economy of Ghana following the implementation of the coronavirus alleviation programme commenced.
“Furthermore, during the presentation of the 2020 mid year budget fiscal policy, I indicated that the supplementary request included the programme funding of GH¢19.3billion from various funding sources to support the budget both directly and indirectly. On the expenditure side, an amount of GH¢11. 16billion was programmed for Covid-19 related expenses. The difference of ¢8.14 billion was progarmme to provide for shortfall in revenue.
“In 2021, the budget programme of a total amount of GH¢4.6billion for Covid-19 related expenses. It is worth noting that the Ministry of Finance mobilized the needed financial resources whiles the various Covid-19 interventions and related expense were implemented by the relevant sector ministries and agencies.”
But the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam, Cassiel Ato Forson in his submission mentioned that the Finance Minister cannot be the only one accounting for the funds.
He called on the Speaker to form an ad hoc committee to probe the spending at the district levels.
“We cannot sit here and say that the Minister of Finance should be the only one accounting for the Covid amounts. The Minister responsible for Finance is only a conduit of releasing the money but the money we spent at the various MDAs, and that is why Mr Speaker, I call on you to set up an ad hoc committee so that we can bring the various heads of the MDAs that spent the money to account for this in detail,” he said on the floor.
He also raised concerns against the failure of the Minister to touch on the Covid-19 Trust Fund.
But the lawmaker for Okaikwei Central, Patrick Yaw Boamah, reacting to the submission said there was no need for the creation of the committee because all the answers regarding how the funds were utilized, have been provided.
“it is an after thought, it will be waste of time because the Minister has given the break down,” he said.
Furtherance to that Deputy Majority Leader Alexander Afenyo Markin also maintained that it is needless to set up a committee to look into it because the Finance Minister has provided the answers.
“We are here to receive the facts and when the facts are given to us we should be fair and acknowledge it,” he said.
By Vincent Kubi