According to the Auditor-General’s report, Ghana benefited greatly from an unprecedented influx of funds from a variety of sources, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Africa Development Bank, the European Union, the Contingency Fund and the sale of Bank of Ghana (BoG)-COVID-19 Bonds, among others, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study calculates that these monies totalled GH¢21,844,189,185.24.
Despite these funds, the report noted that only GH¢11,750,683,059.11 of the total GH21.8 billion that accrued to the Government of Ghana was spent on COVID-19 operations, with the remaining – exactly GH¢10, 093,506,126.13 – being used for “budget support.”
It also revealed that the Head Office of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) used funds meant to be expended on Covid-19 activities to pay for security services, purchase of curtains and prepaid units, as well as other unrelated activities. The The Auditor-General’s report also details how the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Health, paid an amount of US$607,419.02 in the year 2022 for the supply of 26 Toyota Hiace Deluxe Ambulances valued at a total cost of US$4,049,460.12.
The Chronicle is of the view that funds released to help in the fight against the pandemic were supposed to be used exactly for that purpose. The institutions which violated their obligations should not be allowed to go scot-free, but rather be held accountable and made to make a full refund of the monies misapplied.
We are serving this notice, because anytime state officials are caught in the misapplication of funds allocated for an activity they are made to go scot-free.
It is important that the government must not whitewash this audit report and sweep it under the carpet. These state officials are seen as leaders and are, therefore, obliged to live by example for others to follow.
A similar situation occurred in Malawi when the President of that country dismissed his Labour Minister, Ken Kandodo, along with 19 other officials. The offense committed by Ken Kandodo was that he spent less than $800 of the COVID-19 Fund on travel expenses for the President and himself to South Africa.
According to the Corruption Perception Index 2022, Ghana is the 72 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries, tied with Hungary, Kuwait, Senegal and the Solomon Islands. Even though corruption in Ghana is relatively low when compared to other countries in Africa, businesses frequently quote corruption as an obstacle for doing business in the country. This is undebatable, because corruption has reared its ugly head in the country over decades.
We are not doomsayers, but advising that in future when money is given to government agencies to undertake any activity, there must be guidelines or instructions on how it should be spent. To make this successful, there should also be mechanisms in place to monitor that the funds are used for exactly what they are meant for.
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