Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, has stated that GH₵12.1million was spent on the free food distributed during the initial stages of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to him, this amount was used to pay for the distribution of packed hot meals to people in Accra, Tema, Kasoa, and Greater Kumasi.

Addressing Parliament on Wednesday, June 22, the Minister stated that a total of 2,744,723 persons benefitted from the free food that was distributed during that period.

Giving a breakdown of the figure, he stated that it included the cost of transportation of packed food in some suburbs of Greater Kumasi by NADMO.

“The expenditure for the provision of hot meals during the lockdown served about 2,744,723 persons for the period of the lockdown at a unit cost of GH¢4.32,” he added.

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He further debunked claims that government has not been transparent about its COVID-19 expenditure.

He said all programmed, mobilised and utilised funds pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic have been duly reported in line with the government’s commitment to accountability and transparency.

His presentation comes on the back of the Minority NDC MPs’ demand for an audit into all Covid-19-related expenses over discrepancies in government’s expenditure data.

Responding to questions, Mr Ofori-Atta said government has been transparent about its expenditure items and will continue to operate an open-door policy and welcome any opportunity to engage in the national interest.

“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 March 30, 2022, that we had mobilized about GH¢17.7 billion since 2020 to fight the pandemic.

“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. Again, when the Vice President indicated on April 7, 2022, at the National TESCON Conference that government had spent Gh¢8.1 billion on Covid-19, it was within the context of expenditures for 2020 as I have already indicated,” the Minister said.

The Minister explained that, out of the GH¢18.19 billion expended to mitigate the effect of the pandemic, 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.