The Auditor-General has released a report on the government’s expenditure made during the COVID-19 pandemic from the period between March 2020 to June 2022.
According to the report, some monies purposed for mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be accounted for.
Giving an overview of receipts and utilization of the COVID-19 funds, the Auditor-General revealed that records at the Ministry of Finance, Controller and Accountant-General and Ministry of Health indicate that “the Ministry of Finance mobilised a total amount of GH¢19,112,318,205.12 in 2020 to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The records showed that an amount of GH¢1,978,551,137.46 was mobilised in 2021 and GH¢753,319,842.66 (up to June 2022) to finance the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme and the implementation of the Ghana COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan. In all, a total amount of GH¢21,844,189,185.24 was mobilised to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana”.
The over GH¢20 billion was sourced from the Contingency Fund, the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Union (EU) and the sale of BOG-COVID-19 Bonds for “the 2020, 2021 and 2022 fiscal years to finance the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme and implementation of the Ghana COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan as well as provide support for the budget”.
The report also gathered that “the Ministry, without the approval of the Central Tender Review Committee, increased the cost of five contracts with total contract sum of GH¢24,256,500.00 by GH¢4,017,000.00 through variation orders” and recommended that the “Chief Director should seek retroactive approval to avoid disallowance of such variation amount”.
“The Ministry of Health entered into a 25-year Finance Lease Agreement at a total lease value of GH¢15,265,000.00 in 2020 to be used as a holding and isolation centre in Adaklu in the Volta Region. The works, we noted, include remodelling the existing buildings to be used as holding, treatment and isolation centres but could not use the facility for the intended purpose which resulted in an additional cost of GH¢20,382,247.70. We recommended to the Chief Director to consider outright acquisition of the buildings”, it added.
The audit further disclosed that the “Ministry of Health on behalf of Government of Ghana paid an amount of US$120,192,379.80 to UNICEF/AVAT for the supply of vaccines. However, 5,109,600.00 doses of vaccines valued at US$38,322,000.00 were supplied to the National Cold Room leaving a difference of US$81,870,379.80 with UNICEF/AVAT”.
“We recommended that the Chief Director of the Ministry of Health should renegotiate with UNICEF/AVAT to recover the outstanding amount”, the Auditor-General further demanded.
Are We Cursed?
Reacting to the auditor-general’s revelations on Peace FM’s “Kokrokoo” Tuesday morning, the Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr. was overwhelmed by the financial misappropriation stated in the report.
He charged the appropriate State authorities to take punitive measures against those through whom this misappropriation was done.
Mr. Pratt wondered why the Ministry of Health has till date not recovered the over 80 million dollars paid to UNICEF/AVAT without receiving any vaccines.
According to him, the person who led this deal must be sanctioned for failing to retrieve the money nor the vaccines.
“This is simple. Who procured the drugs? Did you pay for the drugs? Why do you know that the drugs you asked for haven’t arrived but yet you have already paid for it? Okay, if you have paid for the drugs, what are you doing for us to receive them? Simple!…You don’t need special knowledge to be able to do simple things like that.
“You must resign and go home . . . We won’t send you to the Police. We won’t jail you but you have done something costing the nation that money and if you have done this, why do you remain in the office? Whether you are a Minister, Chief Director or what, why are you still there? What else should we say? Just stop work and let us replace you with someone who can competently manage our finances,” he emphasized.
Further analyzing the Auditor-General’s report and the matters arising, Mr. Pratt believed there may be no sanctions to offenders to serve as a deterrent as this is not the first time an audit of this sort has come to the public.
Feeling tired of discussing these issues, he asked; “Is this a disease or we (Ghana) have been cursed?”