Parliament approves $35m World Bank facility for COVID-19

Parliament approves $35m World Bank facility for COVID-19

Parliament has unanimously approved a $35-million financing agreement for the Ghana COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Project.

It followed the adoption and approval of the Finance Committee’s report on the financing agreement between the government and the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank.

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The facility forms part of the $100 million the government is seeking from the group to bolster Ghana’s preparedness and response against the spread of the disease. 

The agreement was presented to Parliament by a Deputy Minister of Finance, Mrs Abena Osei-Asare, on behalf of the Minister of Finance, last Saturday, March 28, 2020.

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, referred the agreement to the Finance Committee for consideration and report.

The motion for approval was moved by the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, and seconded by the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu.

Tackling impact

Moving the motion for the adoption and approval of the agreement, Dr Assibey-Yeboah said as of March 29, 2020, Ghana had recorded 152 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with five deaths and two recoveries.

He informed the House that the country was expected to have a significant negative impact from the disease.

He said preliminary assessment indicated that using an average crude oil price of $30 per barrel for 2020, expected petroleum revenue would record a shortfall of GHc5.66 billion ($993 million).

He said the slowing down of domestic economic activity was expected to hit tax revenue to the tune of GHc2.25 billion, which was expected to have negative impacts on the transport, hotel and tourism sectors.

He said the scale and the severity of the impact of the COVID-19 on Ghana would depend on the scope and the nature of responses from Ghanaians, as well as the government and its international development partners.

“Cognisant of this, the government of Ghana has developed a national Emergency Preparedness and Response Project (EPRP) for the COVID-19 valued at $100 million.

“The instant loan facility from the IDA is thus to part finance the EPRP,” Dr Assibey-Yeboah said.

Project objective

The New Juaben South MP told the House that the project development objective was to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by the pandemic and strengthen national systems for public health preparedness in Ghana.

Among others, he said, the EPRP for the COVID-19 specifically aimed to strengthen the coordination of overall preparedness activities, strengthen the capacity of regions, priority health facilities and points of entry to prevent, rapidly test, investigate and control any COVID-19 outbreak in Ghana.

He also said it would strengthen the national capacity for laboratory surveillance and diagnosis, build capacity for early diagnosis, case management, contact tracing and infection prevention and control.

“It will ensure minimum health logistics are in place in prioritised regions, health facilities and points of entry for preparedness and laboratory capacity sustained for timely and quality testing of COVID-19 samples,” Dr Assibey-Yeboah said.

Project components

He said the implementation of the project would have four main components.

He said $21.5 million would be earmarked for Component One of the project, which involved case detection, confirmation, contact tracing, recording and reporting, containment, isolation and treatment, as well as social and financial support for households, and health system strengthening.

Under Component Two, which involves the strengthening of multi-sector national institutions and platforms for policy development and coordination of prevention and preparedness, using “One health” approach, he said, $3.4 million had been set aside.

For Component Three, he said, $7.4 million would be used for community engagement and risk communication, while Component Four, for which $2.7 million had been set aside, would involve the implementation of management, monitoring and evaluation of the project management.

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Project beneficiaries

The MP told the House that the expected project beneficiaries would be at-risk populations, infected people, medical, paramedical and emergency personnel, as well as medical, quarantine and testing facilities and health agencies in the public, non-state and private sectors.

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