By Papisdaff Abdullah
The Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta says claims that government has not been transparent with its COVID-19 expenditure are baseless. According to him, all the funds mobilised and utilised in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic have been duly reported in line with government’s commitment to accountability and transparency.
The minister made the statement while addressing Parliament on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, on the country’s COVID-19 spending and other key questions raised by parliamentarians. The issue of COVID-19 expenditure was raised by the Minority MPs, who said there is a need to audit the government’s spending.
But responding to the concerns, Mr Ofori-Atta said government is transparent on its expenditure items and will continue to operate an open-door policy and welcomes any opportunity to engage in the national interest. “Mr. Speaker, at this juncture, I wish to dispel the notion that there have been inconsistencies in government data on COVID-19. His Excellency the President intimated during the State of the Nation Address on 30th March 2022, that we had mobilised about GH¢17.7 billion since 2020 to fight the pandemic,” he said.
“We have subsequently reconciled the data and I can report that as of end-May, 2022, we have mobilised GH¢18.19 billion to mitigate the effect of the pandemic. Again, when His Excellency the Vice President indicated on 7th April 2022 at the National TESCON Conference that government had spent GH¢8.1 billion on Covid-19, it was within the context of expenditures for 2020 as I have already indicated,” the Minister added.
Ken Ofori-Atta further explained that out of the GH¢18.19 billion expended to mitigate the effect of the pandemic, 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 said government also programmed a total amount of GH¢875 million for security operations, evacuation of Ghanaians stranded abroad and coordination of MMDAs’ sanitation and disinfection exercises. Additionally, he said, in line with measures to stabilise the economy after the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, government implemented programmes to revitalize the economy and protect jobs. This includes the GH¢600 million utilized under Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAPBuSS) by the NBSSI now the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA).
On vaccine procurement, the Minister indicated that GH¢929.30 million was allocated. A total amount of GH¢775.82 million was released for the purchase of Sputnik V, the Janssen COV SARS 2 COVID Vaccines and the Emergency deployment of vaccines in schools, among other key government disbursements.