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    COVID-19 Fund Bags GH¢60m

    The COVID-19 National Trust Fund received about GH¢60 million in cash donations between April 2020 and December 31, 2021 to combat the pandemic, the administrator of the Fund, Dr William Collins Asare, has revealed.
    So far, he said, GH¢50 million of the donations had been disbursed to deal with the pandemic.

    In addition, donations received in kind, including vehicles, fuel coupons and non-perishable food items, amounted to about GH¢10.7 million, he said.

    Dr Asare made this known at a public forum on the accountability gap in the COVID-19 responses of Ghana in Accra last Tuesday.

    It was jointly organised by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) and the Economic Governance Platform.

    The forum, attended by representatives of development partners and civil society organisations (CSOs), afforded the participants the opportunity to examine the findings of a research on bridging COVID-19 accountability gaps.

    Details

    Giving details, Dr Asare said funds were transferred to 23 public and private institutions, including schools, for sensitisation, as well as the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE).

    There were also laboratory supplies, the provision of oxygen plants, among other items, to some health facilities, while funds were given to the Ebeye Yie Foundation for the training of hearing-impaired persons.

    Other institutions covered under the exercise included the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), Ingenius Africa Limited, the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR), the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), the Judicial Service, the Ghana Police Service and the ARB Apex Bank.

    Waning enthusiasm

    According to the administrator, during the first four months of its establishment (April-July 2020), the fund received GH¢57 million in cash donations.

    Additionally, he said, there were material contributions such as food and non-food items for subsequent distribution to relevant institutions and facilities.

    Dr Asare further explained that other donations, including mechanical and solar hand-washing basins, as well as non-perishable food items such as biscuits and Indomie, were made.

    Accountability

    The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, Mr James Klutse Avedzi, and the Director-General of the Internal Audit Agency, Dr Eric Oduro Osae, stressed the need for a water-tight accountability system to be put in place to ensure that individuals and public institutions in the country did not take advantage of pandemic situations such as the COVID-19 to enrich themselves.

    While Mr Avedzi suggested that the Auditor General consider expenditure on COVID-19 as a separate project for auditing purposes and not to put it under the regular annual auditing of public institutions, Dr Osae entreated public institutions to strike a balance between financial audit and performance audit to be able to track effectively public expenditure, particularly in terms of service delivery.

    Speaking to journalists later, Mr Avedzi said the government had budgeted about GH¢15.66 billion, as against $1.630 billion received from the Contingency Fund, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to deal with the pandemic.

    Research findings

    Delivering the research findings, the Head of Programmes of the GACC, Mr Bright Sowu, said metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) received an average of GH¢236,280 each for COVID-19-related activities in 2020.

    According to him,the total amount spent on the 260 MMDAs was GH¢61 million.

    Mr Sowu said per the findings of the research, there was no reported COVID-19 funding for MMDAs in 2021 and 2022.

    He said the MMDAs reported that they were asked to use their District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) for COVID-related activities.

    He, however, observed that the DACF disbursement to MMDAs was irregular.

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