NDC calls for action against alleged abusers of Covid-19 funds
The National Democratic Congress (NDC), has called for swift action to be taken against those implicated in the Auditor General's COVID-19 expenditure report.
NDC National Communications Officer, Sammy Gyamfi, at a press conference in Accra yesterday, urged Parliament, the President and the Special Prosecutor to take steps to hold those responsible accountable and recover the misused funds.
The press conference, held at the party’s headquarters and dubbed “Moment of Truth” was attended by members of the party’s communications team, including the deputy Director of Communication, Obuobia Darko-Opoku.
Mr Gyamfi projected 15 of the infractions mentioned in the report which he termed as the “key highlights of the shocking revelations” contained in the Auditor General’s report on government’s COVID-19 expenditures.
Among the 15 projected revelations were how the Ministry of Health paid a total of $120 million to UNICEF for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines but only received vaccines valued at $38 million, with a whopping $81.8 million of the transaction unaccounted for and how the Ministry of Health recklessly paid an amount of GH¢10.3 million as premium for Special Life Insurance Cover for 10,000 frontline Health Workers without any Life Insurance Policy document and beneficiary list.
It also included how a contractor, who has been awarded a contract at Nalerigu in the North East Region to build a holding, treatment and isolation centre worth $15 million, abandoned the project after receiving advance payment amounting to $4.5 million and how medical equipment valued at $248,000, which were procured and received at the Central Medical Stores and subsequently issued to some specific health facilities, did not reach the health facilities, among others.
According to Mr Gyamfi, the abuse of COVID-19 funds as reported in the Auditor-General's report was a "free-for-all" situation of various suspicious activities that required further investigation beyond the findings of the Auditor General.
“Friends from the media, one of the most bizarre findings of the Auditor-General had to do with cash payments by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection totalling GH¢12 million to caterers who provided hot meals during the three-weeks of partial lockdown which were all retired with “honour certificates”.
“It is quite obvious, even to the uninitiated, that the resort to honour certificates instead of hard evidence in the form of invoices and receipts to support these claims and payments, was an attempt to whitewash and cover up the inflated expenditure on hot meals by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government and has in fact, deprived the nation of value for money in the said transactions,” Mr Gyamfi said.
He said another shocking detail of the report was how the Auditor-General also found that contrary to Regulation 78 of the Public Financial Management Regulation (PFMR), the Ministry of Local Government made payments from COVID-19 funds totalling GH¢285,135.64 on 10 transactions not related to COVID-19 activities.
“We in the NDC have always maintained that the manner in which COVID-19 funds were expended by the Akufo-Addo and Bawumia government spelt doom for our economy. It is a fact beyond dispute that Ghana is now bankrupt and our economy has finally collapsed under the watch of President Akufo-Addo and his Vice, Alhaji Bawumia,” he said.
“Having run down our economy through reckless and inordinate borrowing, stealing, and outright abuse of public funds, the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government in a desperate move to clinch an IMF deal, which appears to be their last gasp for breathe, has resorted to a Domestic Debt Exchange programme which seeks to expropriate the life savings and hard-earned money of government creditors, including Ghanaian citizens,” he added.
As a result, Mr Gyamfi called on the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC) to expedite its public hearings on the Special Audit Report into COVID-19 expenditures.
“This hearing should be televised live for the Ghanaian public to follow and be apprised of how their government expended COVID-19 funds,” he demanded.
He said the NDC also wanted Parliament to compel the Auditor-General to exercise his power of surcharge and disallowance to retrieve all COVID-19 funds that had been misapplied or misused through various infractions and veritable acts of criminality.
For the Special Prosecutor, Mr Gyamfi said the NDC expected his office to investigate all ministers and public officials who had been cited in the report for wrongdoing and bring them to book.
Ultimately, Mr Gyamfi called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to immediately fire the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, and the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah.
He also asked for the sacking of the Chief Executive Officer of the National Food Buffer Stock Company and all other officials who were cited in the report for violating the laws of the country in their expenditure of COVID-19 funds.