Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has called on the finance and health committee of parliament to probe the total receipt and application of COVID-19 funds.
According to him, it is vital for parliament to investigate the expenditure provided by the finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, during the height of the pandemic between 2020 and 2021. He indicated that the probe will give parliament a more detailed insight of the use of these funds.
“We need to go beyond the Minister and get in touch with the COVID-19 National Trust Fund to be able to unearth [the expenditure], and therefore there is the need for further investigation. With this, I direct that the Committee of Finance, ably supported by the committee on Health, should investigate and inquire into the total receipt of [COVID-19 Funds] and how those funds were applied for the betterment of the people of this country.”Alban Bagbin
Prior to this, the Member of Parliament for Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam, Cassiel Ato Forson, from the minority proposed the setting up of an ad-hoc committee to thoroughly look into the expenditure of the funds. This, he indicated, was necessary due to concerns that the finance minister’s accounting was not thorough enough and in variance with some figures put across by some government officials.
Mr Forson emphasized that the Finance Minister cannot be the only one accounting for the funds. As such, he called on the Speaker to form the committee to probe the spending at the district levels.
“We cannot sit here and say that the Minister of Finance should be the only one accounting for the Covid amounts. The Minister responsible for Finance is only a conduit of releasing the money but the monies were spent at the various MDAs, and that is why Mr Speaker, I call on you to set up an ad hoc committee so that we can bring the various heads of the MDAs that spent the money to account for this in detail. I cannot ask the Minister responsible for Finance to give me the details to the fact that they spent $100 million on nose masks and hand sanitizers.”Cassiel Ato Forson
Reacting to this, Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo Markin, stated that it is needless to set up a committee to look into it since the Finance Minister has provided the answers.
“We are here to receive the facts and when the facts are given to us we should be fair and acknowledge it.”Alexander Afenyo Markin
Finance Minister’s address to parliament
Addressing parliament today, June 22, 2022, the Finance Minister announced that a total of GHS 12.04 billion has been expended so far on Covid-19.
In explaining how the funds were spent, Mr Ofori-Atta told Parliament that in the area of free water and electricity for instance, an amount of “¢200m was made available for free water and electricity for lifeline consumers” and out of this, GHS 143m was utilized. He stated that although government’s response was bold, decisive and compassionate, it has also been costly.
On the expenditure side, he disclosed that an amount of GHS 11. 16billion was programmed for Covid-19 related expenses and the “difference of GHS 8.14 billion was programme to provide for shortfall in revenue”.
“In 2021, the budget programme of a total amount of GHS 4.6 billion for Covid-19 related expenses. It is worth noting that the Ministry of Finance mobilizes the needed financial resources, whiles the various Covid-19 interventions and related expense were implemented by the relevant sector ministries and agencies.”Ken Ofori-Atta