US$35 Million World Bank Facility Approved For Covid-19

Ken Ofori-Atta

Parliament has approved a financial agreement that enables government to access US$35 million as Special Drawing Rights from the International Development Association (IDA), a member of the World Bank Group, to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease.

The money is to finance the Ghana COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response with US$21.5 million expected to be expended on case detection, confirmation, contact tracing, recording and reporting as component one.

Sub-component of the money would be used to strengthen disease surveillance systems at points of entry, public health laboratories, and epidemiological capacity for early detection and confirmation of cases.

Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, during a presentation of a report of the committee for adoption of Parliament on Wednesday, said a US$12.7 million of the total sum would also be spent on containment, isolation and treatment.

According to him, the focus will be to support the leasing, renting, establishment and refurbishment of designated facilities and centres to contain and treat infected cases in a timely manner.

He disclosed that US$700,000 would be used as social and financial support to households, particularly families of those who are isolated or quarantined.

Dr Assibey-Yeboah explained that the support will include psychosocial counseling, food-baskets and feeding during the isolation, quarantine and treatment period.

A sum of US$3.6 million is meant for the training and capacity building for preparedness and response as well as priority of service delivery, he disclosed.

He added that US$3.4 million of the fund would be used to strengthen multi-sector national institutions and platforms for policy development and coordination of prevention and preparedness using “one health” approach.

Some components of the fund will go into community engagement and risk communication (US$7.4 million), and implementation management, monitoring and evaluation and project management (US$2.7 million).

The project management activities will include the recruitment of additional staff/consultants responsible for overall administration, procurement and financial management under the project and financing of project coordination activities.

The Special drawing rights (abbreviated SDR, ISO 4217 currency code XDR (numeric: 960)) are supplementary foreign exchange reserve assets defined and maintained by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

So far, the World Bank Group is making available an initial package of up to US$14 billion in immediate support to assist countries coping with the health and economic impacts of the global outbreak of COVID-19.

Deputy Minister of Finance, Abena Osei-Asare, on behalf of the Minister of Finance, presented papers for the Parliamentary approval, which the Speaker, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, referred to the Finance Committee for consideration.

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta apprised Parliament that the government was in discussion with the World Bank to tap into a US$12 billion World Bank Group fast-track COVID-19 facility to help the nation close its financing gap in the 2020 budget.

This was after he had told the House that preliminary analysis undertaken by his ministry showed that the novel coronavirus would negatively impact on the nation’s petroleum receipts due to the collapse of international crude oil prices, custom receipts, expenditures and financial conditions on the fiscal front.

By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House