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Tracker for COVID-19 response funds launched

BY: Kester Aburam Korankye
Mr Ray Fiifi Nkum (2nd left) speaking at the launch. With him are other members of the organisation
Mr Ray Fiifi Nkum (2nd left) speaking at the launch. With him are other members of the organisation

A team of independent tech organisations have launched a project to monitor how the government and its agencies have expended funds allocated for the country’s COVID-19 response programmes in a bid to ensure transparency and accountability.

The project, dubbed: ‘COVID-19 Transparency and accountability project (CTAP), is expected to lend insight into the various interventions adopted by the government to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the public.

It is also aimed at strengthening public awareness of the effective use of COVID-19 funds by the government.

It was developed by BudgIT Ghana and Connected Development (CODE), in collaboration with SEND Ghana, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO).

CTAP is a Pan-African project launched in the wake of COVID-19 to track public expenditure and response of African governments as part of measures to help deepen transparency and accountability.

It is a collaboration between the BudgIT Foundation and CODE, two civic-tech non-governmental organisations spearheading advocacy for openness, transparency and accountability in public finance in Africa.

In tracking the funds, BudgIT will undertake two major research projects to examine the nation’s response to the pandemic; procurement disclosures and data availability, and relief packages to both households and businesses, among others.

Rationale

The Country Lead of BudgIT, Mr Ray Fiifi Nkum, told the Daily Graphic that CTAP sought to leverage digital tools to promote public discussion about the COVID-19 expenditure with the aim to deepen civic engagement and access to information.

“The unavailability of public data on COVID-19 expenditure has raised concerns about alleged misuse of the intervention funds among a section of the citizens and civil society,” he added.

Since March 2020, when Ghana recorded its first confirmed coronavirus cases, governments, bilateral and multilateral donors, development banks, philanthropic organisations, and the private sector have contributed funds, equipment, and expertise to support the country’s COVID-19 response.

Among other sources, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank disbursed US$1 billion and US$230 million, respectively, to assist the country in the management of the pandemic.

Transparency, accountability

Mr Nkum said concerns about the potential for the misuse of the COVID-19 funds in developing economies, especially when they were dispersed under emergency conditions, prompted development partners to take steps to improve transparency and accountability.

“The challenges presented by COVID-19 have made transparency more critical than ever. We are working towards data-driven transparency to improve accountability to development partners and the people,” he said.

According to him, greater transparency was crucial at the state level not only to ensure accountability, but also build public confidence in the government.

For his part, the Deputy Country Director of SEND Ghana, Dr Emmanuel Ayina, said the impact of the pandemic on the economy had been devastating, adding that there was the need to track the funds to help mitigate the impact on the public.

“Research has shown that corruption thrives when we have pandemics; it thrives in cases of emergency and that is the more reason why this project has come at a more appropriate time when the GH¢100 billion ‘Obaatanpa’ money is being discussed,” he added.