BudgIT Ghana, a non-governmental organisation, and other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are demanding for a greater accountability for COVID-19 expenditure from government.
Country Director of BudgIT, Ray Nkoom said the demand for transparency and accountability during COVID-19 outbreak in Ghana tracks government spending of funds drawn through loans and grants to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on lives and livelihoods.
“We need a forensic audit into the COVID-19 expenses to ensure that the funds were not misappropriated as being alleged in the public domain. This will engender confidence in the government and boost credibility in the eyes of development partners,” he added.
COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project (CTAP) report by BudgIT Ghana observed that the delay in conducting a comprehensive audit on expenditures of the country’s COVID-19 management is fuelling a perception of embezzlement in the country.
According to the report, much of the spending occurred through expedited processes due to the nature of the pandemic and as a result, the risks of corruption, mismanagement and waste were heightened.
While the country signed up to processes such as open contracting and beneficial ownership in accessing the funds, the report shows much has not been done to ensure transparency and accountability in the expenditure.
The report recognized that the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta had appeared before parliament to give details of pandemic-related expenditure, but still requires forensic audit to ensure full disclosure. “We found that commitments under the International Monetary Fund (IMFs) Rapid Financial Loan Instrument to publish procurement plans, notices, and awards related to the emergency response were largely not complied with,” the report said.
Several contracts for the supply of food and medical products and services were awarded at the height of the pandemic, but details about a few could be found on the government’s electronic procurement platform created to facilitate public procurement processes and reduce human involvement which breeds corruption.
During the launch of the CTAP report in Accra, BudgIT Ghana together with Global Integrity, Economic Governance Platform among other partner anti-corruption civil society groups discussed ways to demand transparency and accountability in public financial management with focus on COVID-19 related expenditure.
“We call on the government to facilitate a forensic audit of all COVID-19 related expenses to help promote transparency and accountability in the country,” Dr. Yeukai Mukorombindo, a Research Manager at Washington-based NGO, Global Integrity appealed.
The National Coordinator of the Economic Governance Platform, Felix Ankrah, also called for open and transparent dialogue with CSOs in taking decisions related to the government’s response to the pandemic. He added further that, tracking government will help all stakeholders know exactly what the monies are being used for.
“Tracking the expenditure basically help us to account for what government is doing, to know whether we are getting value for money or not. We have set the status quo, we will keep pushing to ensure that Ghana keeps on going,” he said.
Project officer for SEND Ghana, Jonathan Dery who made a presentation on COVID-19 incidence and resource management bemoaned the inadequacy of information from government and stressed however that, more information will help Ghanaians interrogate the gaps in how the COVID-19 funds are being utilised.
“We look at the information available and see how we have been able to manage the resources. So that we will provide civil society the basis to be able to engage and demand more accountability and transparency as far as the utilisation of COVID funding is concerned,” he noted.
Representatives of civil society organisations in a group photo