The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has called on the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC) to expedite its public hearings on the Special Audit Report into COVID-19 expenditures.
It suggested that the hearing should be televised live for the Ghanaian public to follow and be apprised of how the government expended COVID-19 funds.
This comes following the report of the Auditor-General on a special audit conducted by his office into the COVID-19 expenditures of the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government for the period, March 2020 to June 2022.
The Auditor-General’s report revealed that, by the kind courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana benefitted immensely from unprecedented inflow of funds from various sources, such as the World Bank, the International Monitory Fund, the Africa Development Bank, the European Union, the Contingency Fund and the sale of BOG-COVID-19 Bonds among others.
These funds, the report estimates to amount to a total of Twenty-One Billion, Eight-hundred and forty-four million, One-hundred and eighty-nine thousand, one-hundred and eighty-five Ghana Cedis, twenty-four pesewas (GHS 21,844,189,185.24).
This amount excludes other COVID-related funds such as the $1 Billion facility from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), being Ghana’s share of the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to boost post-COVID economic recovery of member countries.
The Auditor-General’s estimate also excludes the over GHS62 million that accrued to the COVID-19 Trust Fund which was established by an Act of Parliament to help mobilize funds to complement government’s fight against the pandemic.
These notwithstanding, the report observed that out of the total amount of GHS21.8 billion that accrued to the Government of Ghana, only GHS11, 750,683,059.11 was spent on COVID-19 activities, while the rest of the money (precisely GHS10, 093,506,126.13) was spent on so-called “budget support”.
Speaking at a press briefing held on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, the National Communications Officer for NDC, Sammy Gyamfi ESQ, said,”The animal call “budget support” as we would later realize, was the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government’s euphemism for their reckless and wasteful election-driven expenses which resulted in an unprecedented budget deficit of 15.7% in the year 2020.”
Sammy Gyamfi noted that the Auditor-General’s report details how the Ministry of Health paid a total of US$120,192,379.80 to UNICEF for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines but only received vaccines valued at US$38,322,000.00, with a whopping $81.8 million of the transaction unaccounted for.
That, he said raises serious concerns, given the history of the current Minister of Health, under whose watch Ghana entered into the dubious Sputnik V vaccine contract and paid a colossal amount of money for vaccines which were never supplied.
“It would be recalled how the government of Ghana, led by the Health Minister, Kweku Agyemang Menu, chose to pay $19 per dose of Sputnik V vaccine through a phony middleman called Sheik Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum of the UAE, when Ghana could have easily bought these vaccines directly from the Russian government at a unit cost of $10 or less.
“Fellow countrymen and women, we in the NDC are very concerned, that despite the dire economic crises confronting the nation, the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government has neglected and/or failed to retrieve the outstanding amount of $81.8 million, which could have been channeled into other developmental ventures to ameliorate the plight of suffering Ghanaians,” he said.
The NDC therefore urged Parliament to compel the Auditor-General to exercise his power of surcharge and disallowance to retrieve all COVID-19 funds that have been misapplied or misused through various infractions and veritable acts of criminality.
The NDC then called on the Special Prosecutor to investigate all Ministers and public officials who have been cited in the report for wrongdoing and bring them to book.
“President Akufo-Addo must immediately fire the Minister of Finance, his Health Minister, Kweku Agyemang Menu, the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the CEO of the National Food Buffer Stock Company and all other officials who have been cited in the report for violating the laws of the country in their expenditure of COVID-19 funds,” the NDC stated.