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Ofori-Atta addresses COVID-19 expenditure inconsistencies

Source The Ghana Report

The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has provided Parliament with the details of COVID-19 expenditure after failing to honour three consecutive meetings to provide accountability.

On Wednesday, 22 June 2022, Mr Ofori-Atta explained that GH¢12.04 billion has been spent so far to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic between March 2o20 and May 2022.

The Minority in Parliament had been vocal in demanding a breakdown of the expenditure, accusing the government of embarking on a hidden agenda.

Earlier, on 30 March 2022, President Akufo-Addo, in his State of the Nation Address (SoNA), said a total of Gh¢17.7 billion from the COVID-19 Trust Fund had been spent.

However, the Finance Minister has clarified in his latest address.

“Mr. Speaker, at this juncture, I wish to dispel the notion that there have been inconsistencies in government data on COVID-19. The President intimated during that State of the Nation Address on 30 March 2022 that we had mobilized 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 mobilized Gh¢18.19 billion to mitigate the effect of the pandemic,” he added.

Out of the Gh¢18.19 billion out of a programmed GH¢19.3 billion in 2020 from various funding sources, Mr Ofori-Atta said GH¢1,550 million was disbursed under the Support to Households Programme, GH¢1,049 million 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.

In his State of the Nation address, President Akufo-Addo also said an amount of GH¢1.9million had been spent from the COVID-19 funds for the mass reopening of schools.

“It took an unbudgeted GH¢1.9 billion to ensure that our children and teaching staff went back and stayed in school safely,” the president said.

However, the minister noted that an amount of GH¢1,119.73 million was allocated for Mass School Reopening in January 2021.

“An amount of GH¢1,119.73 million was allocated for Mass School Reopening in January 2021. This was to ensure that all students and teachers were provided with infection prevention and control items,” he reiterated.

In the past, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia also talked about the COVID-19 expenditures while addressing a gathering at the National TESCON Conference on 7 April 2022.

Corroborating Dr Bawumia’s statement, the Finance Minister indicated that a total of  Gh¢8.1 billion was spent within the year 2020.

Dispelling claims that the government was not been transparent on its expenditure items, the minister assured the House that government would continue to operate an open-door policy and welcome any opportunity to engage in the national interest.

 

 

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