The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference has said it will launch a probe into the details of the funds spent by government on managing the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country.
According to the Bishops, though they are able to say they are satisfied with the management of the disease, they are unable to say same or otherwise with the management of funds dedicated to the course.
Speaking on the issue in an interview with NewsWire GH, President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Most Rev. Philip Naameh said the only way to have the facts to speak on the expenditure is to carry out an independent thorough investigation.
“I will say that we are happy with the government’s management of the COVID-19. If you ask as a specific question about how they manage the funds, I can only say that we don’t have the details. But how the government ensured that COVID-19 was not so wide spread and the damage was not too much in terms of fatalities to Ghanaians and imposing a lockdown always at the right time, I think that the government managed the COVID-19 appreciably well,” Archbishop Naameh said.
He continued that, “Now what they did with the money that they raised for this, we have not thrown a lense on it and we do not also like to speak without the facts. We hear things here and there but we have teams that are going to investigate more properly if we want to go that tangent. Some of you will be engaged and we know that you have more facts. But then, we need this investigation to be able to come out and say this is what government has done with the funding of Covid 19.”
It will be recalled that the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC), donated 70,000 cedis (approximately $12, 200) to the nation’s Covid-19 Trust Fund in May 2020.
Archbishop of Cape Coast and Vice President of the GCBC, Most Rev. Charles Palmer-Buckle, presented the cheque on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference. He was supported by the Secretary-General of the GCBC, Fr. Lazarus Anondee.
Mr. Jude Kofi Bucknor, a member of the Board of Trustees of Ghana’s Covid-19 Fund received the donation in the presence of Dr. Collins Asare, the Fund’s Administrator.
This development comes after debates over figures released by government as expenditure on COVID-19.
The minority in parliament and a section of the public believe there are inconsistencies which need to be investigated.
Already, a parliamentary joint committee of Finance and Health has been tasked to investigate and inquire into the receipt and utilisation of funds received for the purpose of combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
The committee is expected to present its report in the first week of October when parliament returns from recess to commence the third meeting of the session.
Th directive by the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, followed an address by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, on how GH¢18.19 billion was spent in combating the respiratory disease.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, is of the says government has been transparent and prudent in the management of COVID-19 funds.
Delivering a statement in Parliament on June 22, on how the government spent COVID-19 funds, he said all the expenses were provided for in the last Budget Statement.
The minister explained that out of the GH¢18.19 billion government mobilised from the various sources of funds in 2020 out of the programmed GH¢19.3 billion, GH¢12 billion was spent
He mentioned the sources as the Government of Ghana Contingency Fund, GH¢1.2 billion; World Bank Group Funds, GH¢1.3 billion, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), GH¢5.8 billion; the African Development Bank (AfDB), GH¢405 million; the European Union (EU), GH¢503 million, and the Bank of Ghana (BoG) COVID-19 bonds, GH¢10 billion.
Mr. Ofori-Atta told the House that $230 million was secured from various facilities under the World Bank to support the implementation of the COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (EPRP).
He added that an additional $200 million was secured in 2021, largely for the acquisition and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, he said.
He noted that other funds were sourced to support the budget, including $1 billion from the IMF, GH¢10 billion from the BoG, $69.3 million from the AfDB and $99.7 million from the EU.