• Even though the lockdown, which was imposed on Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Greater Kumasi lasted for three weeks, and ended over a month ago, the government has not provided any information to either Parliament or the general public on how the funds were utilised.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) wants the Auditor-General to undertake a special audit into the GHS280.3 million that was allocated by the government for the provision of food, water and sanitation under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP).
Addressing journalists at the party’s weekly press briefing in Accra on Monday, the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Cassiel Ato Forson, said the media must hold the government to account for huge financial resources entrusted into its hands during the COVID-19 period.
He said this is important in view of the “unprecedented levels of profligacy, waste and corruption Ghanaians have witnessed under the Akufo-Addo government in the last three and a half years”.
On 8th April 2020, the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, presented to the Finance Committee of Parliament the government’s Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) in which he indicated that the government was going to spend GHS1.2 billion to cushion Ghanaians against the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The breakdown of the GHS1.2 billion included an allocation of GHS40 million for the provision of food packages and hot meals and an allocation of GHS40 million to the Ghana Buffer Stock Company for the provision of dry food to support vulnerable communities in lockdown areas.
A further GHS200 million was allocated for the provision of water and sanitation, including the mobilisation of all publicly and privately owned water tankers to ensure the supply of water to all vulnerable communities. All the three allocations amounted GHS280.3 million.
Information on expenditure not yet provided
Mr Ato Forson said even though the lockdown, which was imposed on Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Greater Kumasi lasted for three weeks, and ended over a month ago, the government has not provided any information to either Parliament or the general public on how the funds were utilised.
“The low coverage and haphazard implementation of these interventions during the lockdown period, specifically the distribution of free hot meals and dry food to the vulnerable, as well as the supply of tankers of water to deprived households, give us cause for concern that these funds were not judiciously utilised by the government,” he added.
He stated that a special audit into government’s expenditure under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme was imperative given media reports that state-sponsored COVID relief items meant for the vulnerable, have found their way onto the market.
“Indeed, we have in our possession, an audio recording from Kumasi based Silva FM, in which Market women at Tafo Pankrono have confirmed that eggs meant for the vulnerable under the CAP have been diverted and sold on the market by persons associated with certain government functionaries in the area”, he said.
Mr Ato Forson, therefore, called on the Auditor General to carry out a special audit into the expenditure of the said GHS280.3 million allocated under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme.
Government hiding behind COVID-19 to ‘borrow recklessly’
Mr Ato Forson accused the government of hiding behind the coronavirus situation in the country to engage in reckless borrowings and expenditures, which portend great danger for the country’s economy.
He said, “only last week, we found out that the government is printing GHS10 billion through the Bank of Ghana to finance the budget on the blind side of Parliament and without any legitimate justification”.
“Indeed, Governor of the Bank of Ghana has confirmed that the first tranche of GHS5.5 billion has already been advanced to the government in clear violation of the Bank of Ghana Act, 2002 (Act 612) and the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), Mr Ato Forson added.