Finance, Health C’ttees to present report on Covid spending in October; Speaker explains why this timeline

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin on Wednesday June 22 directed the Committees of Finance and Health to interrogate further the Covid-19 funds utilization despite the breakdown given by the Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta in the House.

This was after the Minority expressed dissatisfaction with the accountability provided by the Finance Minister.

Mr Bagbin said after the debate on the Finance Minister’s presentation that “The directive is for the Committee on Finance, supported by the Committee on Health to investigate and inquire further into the application and utilization of all the revenues received, referred to as Covid-19 fund and to report to the House.

“The time lines, because we are going on recess and in view of the agenda of the rest of the meetings, I will want the report to be presented by the first month of our next meeting. First month of the next meeting will be in October. By the 27th of this month the House will be on recess but the committee will need more than just these few weeks to do the week.”

Explaining how the funds were spent, the Finance Minister told Parliament that in the area of free water and electricity for lifeline consumers, for instance, that an amount of “¢200m was made available for free water and electricity for lifeline consumers, out of this, ¢143m utilized.”

He further said “Though our response was bold and decisive and compassionate, it has also been costly. Mr Speaker, you will recall that on 30th March 2020, I made a statement to Parliament that the economic impact of Covid 19 pandemic on the economy of Ghana following the implementation of the coronavirus alleviation programme commenced.

“Furthermore, during the presentation of the 2020 mid year budget fiscal policy, I indicated that the supplementary request included the programme funding of ¢19.3billion from various funding sources to support the budget both directly and indirectly. On the expenditure side, an amount of ¢11. 16billion was programmed for Covid-19 related expenses. The difference of ¢8.14 billion was progarmme to provide for shortfall in revenue.

“In 2021, the budget programme of a total amount of ¢4.6billion 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.”

But the Minority asked the Speaker of Parliament to set up an ad hoc committee to further probe the Covid spending.

Commenting on the presentation, Member of Parliament Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam Casiel Ato Forson said the Finance Minister cannot be the only one accounting for the funds.

“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 money we spent at the various at the 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,” he said on the floor.

He also raised concerns against the failure of the Minister to touch on the Covid-19 Trust Fund.

However, reacting to him, the Member of Parliament for Okaikwei Central, Patrick Yaw Boamah said there was no need for the creation of the committee because all the answers regarding how the funds were utilized, have been provided.

“it is an after thought, it will be waste of time because the Minister has given the break down,” he said.

Deputy Majority Leader Alexander Afenyo Markin also said it is needless to set up a committee to look into it because 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,” he said.


Source :|Ghana