A Non-Governmental Organisation, SEND Ghana has recorded some inconsistencies in the government’s Covid-19 related-expenditure report.

On Tuesday, July 27, SEND Ghana and the International Budget Partnership (IBP) held a Covid-19 accountability workshop on how government managed its initial Covid-19 fiscal policy response between March 1 and September 30, 2020.

In the presentation, Project Officer at SEND Ghana, Sandra Kwabea Sarkwah noted that, “there are inconsistencies in COVID related budget implementation reporting. On water subsidy, although a sum of GH₵560 million, was allocated in the 2020 mid-year review, the 2021 budget provided updates on water and sanitation covering only three months (April to June 2020) amounted to GH₵276 million.

Also, she bemoaned government’s failure to capture the cost of electricity in the 2021 budget although an amount of GH₵1.1 billion was approved in the 2020 mid-year review, while no update was provided in the 2021 budget.

The report indicated that, “this situation makes it difficult to compute the actual execution rates for some specific COVID-19 interventions for 2020.”

The 2021 budget statement presented by then-interim Finance Minister, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu reported that government spent GH₵1.2 billion on the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP).

On the matter, Country Manager of International Budgetary Partnership, Abdul Karim Mohammed indicated that in times of emergency, countries worldwide have recorded some unscrupulous spending and Ghana is not an exception.

He, therefore, called for a special audit into Covid-19 related expenditure such as the procurement of vaccines being probed by a committee chaired by Majority Chief Whip, Alexander Afenyo-Markin and other expenditures to reconcile the numbers and lay the matter to rest.

Speaking to JoyNews’ Manuel Koranteng, he said: “We acknowledge the fact that we are operating within an emergency situation and during such periods, the priority is to save lives and livelihoods. So most institutions resort to single-source procurement. But there are laid down regulations and processes institutions must go through. If you heard about how we went about trying to acquire Covid-19 vaccines and how we even procured the services of some service providers, a lot must be done.

“It is a right call. If you look at what other countries did, real-time audits were being conducted, so that it keeps an eye on this expenditure so the people don’t worry. Because during emergency times, it has been observed and in several countries that it is the time some unscrupulous persons and public officers take advantage, to do their own thing. So it will be useful for us to institute this special audit to understand fully how these resources have been used.”

Already, the Minority in Parliament is demanding a full-blown forensic audit into government expenditure in its fight against the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the two groups have entreated the Ministry of Finance to publish regular budget performance reports to deepen transparency and accountability.

They also called on the Auditor General to “conduct special audits into Covid-19 related spending in line with the mandate of the Audit Service to ensure value for money in the emergency fiscal policy interventions.”

On the other hand, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta Atta is expected to present the Mid-Year Review of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of government and Supplementary Estimate for the 2021 Financial Year on Thursday, July 29, 2021.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.