NDC calls on Auditor General to probe COVID-19 expenditure

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The opposition National Democratic Congress, (NDC) has called on the Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo, to probe an amount of GH¢280.3 million that was allocated by the Akufo-Addo led government for the provision of food, water and sanitation to the ordinary Ghanaian under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme.

According to Ranking Member of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Cassiel Ato Forson, the media also owe it a duty to the country to hold the government accountable for every penny entrusted into its hands during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

In a bid to cushion households against the novel coronavirus pandemic, the government set up the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme(CAP) with funding of some GHS1.2 billion to mitigate against the socio-economic impact of the viral outbreak.

Out of that amount, an allocation of GHS40 million was earmarked for the provision of food packages and hot meals with an additional GHS40 million being set aside to the Ghana Buffer Stock Company for the provision of dry food to support vulnerable communities in lockdown areas.

Also, GHS200 million was allocated for the provision of water and sanitation, including the mobilisation of all publicly and privately owned water tankers to ensure the supply of water to all vulnerable communities.

But the opposition party wants a detailed breakdown of the expenditures under the programme.

Addressing the media at the maiden edition of the NDC’s weekly Press Briefing in Accra on Monday, June 1, 2020, Mr. Ato Forson said even though the partial lockdown lasted for just three weeks, and ended over a month ago, the government has still not provided any information to either Parliament or the general public on how the funds were utilised.

Defending his call for probity and accountability, the Ajumako Enyan Essiam MP said it is important given the “unprecedented levels of profligacy, waste, and corruption Ghanaians have witnessed under the Akufo-Addo government in the last three and a half years.”

“The low coverage and haphazard implementation of these interventions during the lockdown period, specifically the distribution of free hot meals and dry food to the vulnerable, as well as the supply of tankers of water to deprived households, give us cause for concern that these funds were not judiciously utilised by the government,” he added.

Explaining further, he also added that the special audit into government’s expenditure was important to get to the bottom of media reports that COVID relief items meant for the vulnerable had been diverted onto the market by functionaries of the governing NPP.

“Indeed, we have in our possession, an audio recording from Kumasi based Silva FM, in which Market women at Tafo Pankrono have confirmed that eggs meant for the vulnerable under the CAP have been diverted and sold on the market by persons associated with certain government functionaries in the area,” he said.

Mr. Ato Forson also accused the government of hiding behind the coronavirus situation to engage in reckless borrowings and wanton dissipation of the nation’s scarce resources.

“Only last week, we found out that the government is printing GHC10 billion through the Bank of Ghana to finance the budget on the blind side of Parliament and without any legitimate justification.”

“Indeed, Governor of the Bank of Ghana has confirmed that the first tranche of GHC5.5 billion has already been advanced to the government in clear violation of the Bank of Ghana Act, 2002 (Act 612) and the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921),” Mr. Ato Forson added.

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