President Akufo-Addo has rejected reports that a substantial amounts of COVID-19 donations has been misappropriated under his watch.
The government was heavily criticised after the Auditor General released a report on the Covid-19 donations which revealed some infractions in the government’s expenditure for COVI-19 from March 2020 to June 2022.
Delivering his address on the State of the Nation in Parliament today President Akufo-Addo said his government cannot be cited for any wrongdoing.
“It is precisely because the economic fallout from the pandemic is so widespread and long lasting that it is important to show clearly that the COVID funds were not misused. It is critical that we do not lose the confidence of the people that a crisis that they were led to believe we were all in together was abused for personal gain.”
He added: “It was Government that asked for the COVID funds to be audited, and I can assure this House that nothing dishonourable was done with the COVID funds. The responses from the Ministers for Health and Finance, on January 23 and 25, 2023, respectively, have sufficiently laid to rest the queries from the Auditor General’s report, and I believe any objective scrutiny of these statements from the Health and Finance Ministries would justify this conclusion.”
After Senegal, Ghana is the latest African country where officials have been called out for misappropriating or mismanaging funds dedicated to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Ghana audit service report on the government’s covid-19 expenditure for the period going from March 2020 to June 2022 is widely commented on social media. In all, GH¢21,844,189,185.24 (over a billion US $) was mobilised to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana.
The 119-page long report highlighted irregularities in the management of some tranches of the funds.
Among them, the payment of unapproved risk allowance at the ministry of information. It appeared that “senior management staff and other supporting staff” of the ministry paid themselves a total amount of GH¢151,500.00 as COVID-19 risk allowance for coming to work during the lockdown period.”
That went against “presidential directives and without approval from the office of chief of staff.”
Indeed only frontline health workers were to receive an additional allowance of 50 percent of their basic salary per month for March, April, May and June.
Failure to take delivery of vaccines
According to the report, the authorities failed to take delivery of some COVID-19 jabs it paid for. The Ghanaian Ministry of Health paid an amount of US$120,192,379.80 to UNICEF/AVAT for the supply of vaccines.
However, just “5,109,600.00 doses of vaccines valued at US$38,322,000.00 were supplied to the National Cold Room.”
The chief director of the Ministry of Health explained that the amount was paid in anticipation of receiving all the vaccines within a short space of time for vaccination in the country.
He cited “unexpected vaccine donations into the country, coupled with limited vaccine storage capacity and the slow uptake by Ghanaians to be vaccinated” as factors that made it impossible to receive the Janssen “vaccines that had been paid for”.
This was leaving a difference of over 81 billion US$.
Some Ghanaians took to Twitter to voice their disappointment and tagged the report #NPPGrandCovidTheft.
The Ghana audit service carried out the audit in accordance with its statutory mandate and following a request by the Minister for Finance.
Many officials in sub-Saharan Africa are suspected of misappropriating or mismanaging funds dedicated to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, including in Cameroon, Guinea and South Africa.
Some of the infractions that were uncovered include; paying a total of US$607,419.02 out of US$4,049,460.12 for the purchase of 26 ambulances that were never delivered, paying unapproved GH₵151,500 by the Information Ministry to its own staff as Covid insurance, and paying for $80 million worth of vaccines by the government that was never delivered, amongst others.
The development sparked calls on the on the Auditor-General to use its powers of disallowance and surcharge to retrieve the monies to the state.
SOURCE: DAILY MAIL GH