The Minority in Parliament has formally filed a petition with the Auditor-General to audit government expenditure on food and water government supplied to the vulnerable during the three week COVID-19 partial lockdown period.
The petition invokes Section 16 of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584), and calls on the Auditor-General to undertake a Special Audit into the expenditure on the GHS 280.3 million that was allocated for the provision of food and water under the Coronavirus Alleviation Program (CAP).
The Petition jointly signed by the Ranking Member on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson and Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak further indicates that the audit they anticipate will clear all doubts about how the funds were utilised.
NDC calls for probe
On Monday, June 1, 2020, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) at a press conference called for 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).
Ato Forson who addressed the press said this is important in view of the “unprecedented levels of profligacy, waste and corruption Ghanaians have witnessed under the Akufo-Addo government in the last three and a half years”.
On 8th April 2020, the Minister of Finance, Mr. 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 the three allocations amounted GHS280.3 million.
Information on expenditure not yet provided
Mr. Ato Forson said even though the lockdown, which was imposed on Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Greater Kumasi lasted for three weeks, and ended over a month ago, the government has not provided any information to either Parliament or the general public on how the funds were utilised.
“The low coverage and haphazard implementation of these interventions during the lockdown period, specifically the distribution of free hot meals and dry food to the vulnerable, as well as the supply of tankers of water to deprived households, give us cause for concern that these funds were not judiciously utilised by the government,” he added.
He stated that a special audit into government’s expenditure under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme was imperative given media reports that state-sponsored COVID relief items meant for the vulnerable, have found their way onto the market.