The Ghana Covid-19 Private Sector Fund has described the Auditor General’s report which cited it for unaccounted-for expenditure as inaccurate and misleading.
The Auditor General in its 2021 report on Public Boards, Corporations and other Statutory Institutions disclosed that the Fund failed to account for some GH¢254,000 paid to it by the government’s main Covid-19 Fund, suggesting that the Fund could be trading public funds for personal gains.
The report recommended that the Covid-9 Private Sector Fund accounts for and refunds the total amount of GH¢254,203.00, failing which the total amount of GH¢254,203.00 should be recovered from the Covid-19 Private Sector Fund and same paid to Covid-19 National Trust Fund account.
But in a statement signed by its Managing Trustee, Senyo Hosi, the private sector Fund refuted claims made by the Auditor General, insisting that it is not a profit-making organization and does not engage in any form of trading activities.
The statement added that over GH¢254,000 was invested in the acquisition of laboratory equipment for the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.
The Ghana COVID-19 Private Sector Fund maintains that it is willing to refund the money if the National Covid-19 Trust Fund so insists.
Below is the explanation provided:
We have taken note of the Auditor-General’s management report in reference to the National Covid19 Trust Fund (NCTF). The report makes inaccurate and misleading references to the Covid-19 Private Sector Fund (GCPSF). As a transparent and open organisation whose activities are funded by the public, we are concerned by the misrepresentations made and hereby address the issues as follows:
1. The GCPSF has had a healthy cooperation with the NCTF which has ultimately been beneficial to the people of Ghana. We are grateful to the NCTF and proud of the successes attained by the partnership in the provision of public goods.
2. We are gravely concerned by the statement made in paragraph 30 of the Auditor-General’s management letter which suggests that the GCPSF could trade with public funds for personal gains. We are a not-for-profit organisation and do not engage in trading. Neither have we suggested, acted, nor purported to engage in commercial activities for which the GCPSF, its trustees, officers, assigns or representatives shall or stand to benefit personally.
3. As is publicly known, the GCPSF operates with very competent structures with reputable partners like KPMG (Fund Accountants), Ernst & Young (Fund Auditors), Stanbic Investment Management Service (Fund Managers), Fidelity Bank and Ecobank (Fund Custodians), BentsiEnchill Letsa & Ankomah (Fund Lawyers) and other efficient structures that ensure value for money and compliance.
4. The NCTF was the largest donor to our Protect and Resource the Frontline (PARF) project, donating GHS10.257mn for the supply of medical equipment and PPE to major COVID-19 centres and frontliners. The NTCF was also a major donor (GHS6.8mn) to our Facility 100 project that saw the delivery of Ghana’s First Infectious Disease Centre.
5. To ensure value for money, we undertook a transparent and competitive process with officials from the NCTF invited to participate as observers. A procurement report was subsequently submitted to the NTCF for their consideration. This served as the basis for the donation.
6. The GCPSF entered into a donation agreement with the NTCF in May 2020 to provide funding for the GCPSF to acquire and jointly donate the items listed in the procurement report. The GCPSF duly received the funds and acquired all the authorised items for joint donation and distribution with the NCTF.
7. The GCPSF renegotiated some contracts following the failure of some contractors to supply the required items on time or meet our quality standards. These renegotiations provided opportunities to extract value and achieve savings of GHS254,203 for the project. This was reported in our 2020 accounts prepared by KPMG and same shared with the NCTF.
8. We drew the attention of the NCTF auditors to the savings and notified the NCTF of our intent to apply the savings towards the acquisition of additional items for COVID-19 centres since the PARF project was still active.
9. In conjunction with officials from Noguchi Medical Research Institute (Noguchi), we commenced a procurement process to provide the GIDC laboratory with relevant equipment for it to be upgraded to a level-3 status comparable to the laboratory at Noguchi. This process commenced in July 2020 and was completed in May 2022 with the award of the relevant contracts worth GHS1.33mn. The process, just as previous, was competitive and transparent.
10. The NCTF PARF donation saving of GHS254,203 was partly applied to fund the acquisition of the lab equipment. 11. On the 15th of July 2022, we received a letter from the NCTF requesting a refund of the saving citing the recommendation of the Auditor-General’s report for the GCPSF to account for the saving or refund it. It should be noted that prior to this letter and contrary to paragraph 32 of the Auditor-General’s report, we had never been requested to refund the savings.
12. We opted to ensure the implementation of the lab upgrade project before completing the accounting process for the saving. Goods worth GHS557,610 have been delivered as at date with more undergoing clearing at the Tema Port.
13. We have notified the NCTF of the application of the GHS254,203 towards the acquisition of the level-3 lab-required real-time PCR equipment delivered in the past few days.
14. In our estimation, the application of the funds in the procurement of this critical equipment for the public good is constructive and believe it effectively addresses the recommendation by the Auditor-General to have us account for the funds which were unutilised at the time of the audit. We have therefore requested the NCTF to reconsider its request for a refund.
15. We have further indicated our willingness and ability to make the payment requested if the NCTF so insists after reconsidering its position in the light of the new information we have provided.
We are grateful for the public support in the execution of our projects and assure all of our continuous and unflinching commitment to accountability, transparency and value for money in all our activities and endeavours.