A Deputy Information Minister, Pius Enam Hadzide says it is early days yet for the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to demand an audit service inquiry into the government’s spending on the fight against COVID-19.
According to him, initiatives under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) have not come under their logical conclusion for any proper accounts to be made.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr. Hadzide stated that the request from the NDC is ill-motivated.
“I believe that the NDC minority appears to be in an indecent way and I find their request premature and ill-motivated. The fact that they are misdirecting their so-called request will be enough justification for my position that if the NDC honestly and truthfully wants the Auditor to look into this matter, the way to the Auditor-General is not by way of a press conference. They would have notified the Auditor-General in a proper manner but they didn’t do that. The motive is to give a dog a bad name and hang it because they are worried that the people of Ghana have come to the conclusion that the President’s response and management of COVID-19 are excellent such that it will become an issue for election 2020,” he said.
Hadzide continued by saying that the government will at the appropriate time respond to the questions raised by the NDC when all the plans under the CAP have successfully been rolled out.
“The confused and ill-motivated press conference by the NDC will be properly responded to. I will appreciate these matters, preliminary because if its a matter that is prepared, the proper time for real accountability will be on us. This is a government that is opened and accountable and does not hide from the people of Ghana but approaches them with the right processes. So for me, CAP is a package but what our colleagues in the NDC are inviting us to do is to lift specific items in the package and deal with them because, in their view, work is completed on that matter. But are we sure work is completed? There is a structured approach for accounting for public money. So assuming that there is lockdown next week, are we going to come back and account for that money?”
Request for probe
The NDC wants the Auditor-General to undertake a special audit into the GHS280.3 million that was allocated by the government for the provision of food, water and sanitation under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP).
Ranking Member of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Cassiel Ato Forson, said the media must hold the government to account for huge financial resources entrusted into its hands during the COVID-19 period since in his view, the programme is “unprecedented levels of profligacy, waste and corruption that Ghanaians have witnessed under the Akufo-Addo government in the last three and a half years”.
Pius Hadzide also accused the NDC of deliberately meddling in the work of the Auditor-General to confirm suggestions that the NDC finds it easy in manipulating the Auditor-General.
He, therefore, asked the Auditor-General to distance himself from the activities of the opposition NDC.
“I think that the Auditor-General himself must probably disallow the attitude and penchant of the NDC. I do not want to believe that the NDC wants to interfere in the work of the Auditor-General. If the Auditor-General and the people of Ghana do not strongly discourage the NDC and speak against this development, a rather unfortunate impression will be created that the NDC is working to get the Auditor-General to work at their whims and caprices. That will be a dangerous impression to create about the Auditor-General. That will create the impression that the Auditor-General is at the beck and call of the NDC,” he claimed.
On 8th April 2020, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, presented to the Finance Committee of Parliament, the government’s Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) in which he indicated that the government was going to spend GHS1.2 billion to cushion Ghanaians against the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The breakdown of the GHS1.2 billion included an allocation of GHS40 million for the provision of food packages and hot meals and an allocation of GHS40 million to the Ghana Buffer Stock Company for the provision of dry food to support vulnerable communities in lockdown areas.
A further GHS200 million was allocated for the provision of water and sanitation, including the mobilisation of all publicly and privately owned water tankers to ensure the supply of water to all vulnerable communities. All three allocations amounted to GHS280.3 million.