Ofori-Atta Accounts For COVID Expenses

Ken Ofori-Atta

Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, will appear at the dispatch box in Parliament on Thursday to brief the House on the expenditure incurred by the government since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country in 2020.

He is expected to be quizzed on the amount taken from the Ghana Stabilisation Fund (GSF) after the House approved a request from him to lower the cap from US$300 million to US$100 million to support the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP).

The government also sourced some US$100 million facility and US$1 billion facility from the Bretton Woods Institutions as well as established the National COVID-19 Trust Fund, which individuals and institutions have made donations into, and Mr. Ofori-Atta is expected to account for the use of those funds.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Minority in Parliament has been demanding accountability of all expenditures made in relation to the COVID-19.

Recently, Speaker Alban Bagbin placed a moratorium on the approval of a €75 million loan by Parliament for COVID-19 Response Programme being contracted from the European Investment Bank, demanding accountability from the Finance Ministry.

“The Ministry of Finance must give an account of all the monies that it has gotten for the management of COVID-19. Only after that will this House consider approving or otherwise another loan,” Mr. Bagbin stated on May 27, 2022.

However, the Majority Caucus noted that the Finance Minister was not shying away from accountability as portrayed by the Speaker, intimating that Mr. Bagbin failed to communicate the sense of the House, having misread the mood.

For him, the Speaker has no persona of his own, and therefore cannot communicate his own decision without recourse to the House.

Last Year Accountability

On July 22, 2021, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, apprised Parliament on expenditure made on the COVID-19 evacuation of Ghanaian migrants.

According to her, the government spent GH₵8.725 million and US$1.867 million in repatriating Ghanaians in China and the United Arab Emirates respectively.

She said the expenditure involved quarantine and air tickets, and added that an additional US$475,895 was expended on evacuating those in West and Central African countries and a further GH₵44,460,530 spent to quarantine evacuees in eighty five hotels spread across Accra, Prampram, Bolgatanga, Takoradi and Kasoa.

The minister told the House that some private individuals also made donations, including the Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central Kennedy Agyapong.

She said the MP alone mobilised some US$428,000 and personally donated US$ 200,000 to support evacuation from Lebanon, whilst the Sethi Brothers also donated GH₵200,000 to subsidise the cost of quarantine of some evacuees from the United Kingdom.

She disclosed the cost included hotel accommodation, three-square meals and water per day for the fourteen-day quarantine period.

By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House