SEND GHANA has called on government to make public how much has been accrued to the COVID-19 Trust Fund.
In order to complement government’s efforts to combat COVID-19 pandemic, the national trust fund was established through an Act of Parliament, Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) National Trust Fund Act, 1013. This was meant to provide an avenue for well-meaning individuals, groups and corporate bodies to contribute or donate money and resources which may be required to combat COVID-19.
However, according to Send Ghana’s synthesis research report on COVID-19 inflows and expenditure, information on contributions and disbursement of the COVID-19 trust fund remains low. Available data shows that a total of GH¢19.3billion has been received as inflows for COVID-19 and outflows amount to GH¢18.19billion.
“Information on contributions and disbursement of the COVID-19 trust fund is low; hence, government should make public how much the fund has accrued. In addition, and as with other countries, Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI’s) should be brought into the conversation to allow for the initiation of speedier investigations in procurement, contracting (especially supply contracts) and managing suppliers,” it added.
To deepen transparency and accountability, SEND Ghana suggests that the Ministry of Finance publishes, on a regular basis, the budget performance reports without delay.
“To aid proper citizen monitoring and ensure value for money, the Ministry of Finance should provide quarterly briefs on COVID-19 spending from all funding sources.
“Also, MoF should publish regular reports on policy monitoring and the financial impact of government’s COVID-19 response programmes, procurement contracts monitoring, including disaggregated spending data,” it added.
The advocacy group, again, recommended the need for the Auditor General to conduct special audits into COVID-19 related spending, in line with the mandate of the Audit Service, and to ensure value for money in the emergency fiscal policy interventions.
“CSOs in Ghana should assist in pushing for transparency and accountability in COVID-19 revenue and expenditure monitoring by partnering with the SAI’s in terms of stakeholder engagements and citizens sensitisation on the critical importance of the audit function in improving transparency and accountability.”
SEND Ghana has conducted a series of studies relating to the life experiences of citizens in the early period of COVID-19, and how various government COVID-19 policies and/ or interventions have impacted on citizens, as well as COVID-19-related inflows income and expenditure, with the view to enhancing implementation of similar policies/interventions in future pandemics.
Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted economic activity and threatened economic growth and the progress made in poverty reduction in Ghana in recent years.
In response to the devastating social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, government outlined a series of policies which aimed at alleviating the impact of the pandemic on the Ghanaian population, particularly the poor and the vulnerable. The Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) was introduced to mitigate the immediate impact of COVID-19 on households and businesses by addressing the disruptions in economic and social activities.
The government again launched the Ghana CARES – ‘Obaatanpa’ programme in November 2020 to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, and provide the framework to recover quickly with a stronger and more resilient economy.