The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, ISSER, has asked government to monitor its spending necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the institute, any amount expended to support businesses because of the pandemic, must be tracked to ensure that they are going to the right firms. This, ISSER believes will curtail corruption and the misapplication of public funds.
These concerns were made at a post-2020 Mid-year budget review press briefing on August 6, 2020.
The Director of ISSER, Prof. Peter Quartey, said government’s spending must be thoroughly tracked to reduce corrupt acts. He let out his fears about the possibility of government’s interventions to businesses being wasted through misuse if the application of these funds are not properly followed up.
“What government needs now is to do more of expenditure tracking because the last time we did one was in 2007, so we need to do expenditure tracking to track the various expenditures right from the disbursement stage to the internal beneficiary.
“Once we are able to do that, perhaps we may not need to be borrowing at the rate at which we are borrowing now. We will have value for money for every item of expenditure. In this COVID era, if you are not careful people will hide behind COVID and misuse the public funds and we want to avoid that so let’s do more of expenditure tracking.”
The largely negative impact of COVID-19 on the global economy is becoming almost like a cliché. As a result, governments around the world have been forced to initiate several fiscal measures to mitigate the impact on businesses, individuals and households by providing different relief packages with the sole aim of reviving economies.
The government of Ghana has, therefore, rolled out several initiatives to cushion businesses and individuals.
From April to June, this year, the government, depending on the nature of consumption of citizens, absorbed part and full payments of consumers of water and electricity tariffs in the country.
During the Mid-year budget Review; government announced additional measures to sustain the gains as the country continues to record more COVID-19 cases.
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta announced a $100 billion plan to lift the country out of the economic throes the pandemic has shoved the country into.
Prof Peter Quartey also raised concerns about the funding sources of government’s $100 billion plan to revitalise the country’s economy.
“The point is that we are getting 70 percent of the funding from the private sector. And already the private sector is struggling. So, not until you revive the private sector, it will be difficult to get the 70 billion from the private sector.”
In addition, life line consumers of electricity are to enjoy free consumption of electricity till the end of the year.
However, A Senior Research Fellow with the Institute of Fiscal Studies, Dr Said Boakye has cautioned government to refrain from engaging in “fiscal populism.”