Auditor-General's Report On COVID-19: What Kind of Country Is This? - Opanyin Agyekum Exclaims

Head of Linguistics at the University of Ghana, Professor Kofi Agyekum, popularly called 'Opanyin Agyekum', has slammed government over the Auditor-General's report on COVID-19 pandemic.

The Auditor-General has released a report on government's expenditure made during the COVID-19 pandemic from the period between March 2020 to June 2022 and according to the findings, some monies purposed for mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be accounted for.

Auditor-General's Report

Giving an overview of receipts and utilization of the COVID-19 funds, the Auditor-General revealed that records at the Ministry of Finance, Controller and Accountant-General and Ministry of Health indicate that "the Ministry of Finance mobilised a total amount of GH¢19,112,318,205.12 in 2020 to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The records showed that an amount of GH¢1,978,551,137.46 was mobilised in 2021 and GH¢753,319,842.66 (up to June 2022) to finance the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme and the implementation of the Ghana COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan. In all, a total amount of GH¢21,844,189,185.24 was mobilised to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana".

The report also gathered that "the Ministry, without the approval of the Central Tender Review Committee, increased the cost of five contracts with total contract sum of GH¢24,256,500.00 by GH¢4,017,000.00 through variation orders" and recommended that the "Chief Director should seek retroactive approval to avoid disallowance of such variation amount".

"The Ministry of Health entered into a 25-year Finance Lease Agreement at a total lease value of GH¢15,265,000.00 in 2020 to be used as a holding and isolation centre in Adaklu in the Volta Region. The works, we noted, include remodelling the existing buildings to be used as holding, treatment and isolation centres but could not use the facility for the intended purpose which resulted in an additional cost of GH¢20,382,247.70. We recommended to the Chief Director to consider outright acquisition of the buildings," it added.

The audit further disclosed that the "Ministry of Health on behalf of Government of Ghana paid an amount of US$120,192,379.80 to UNICEF/AVAT for the supply of vaccines. However, 5,109,600.00 doses of vaccines valued at US$38,322,000.00 were supplied to the National Cold Room leaving a difference of US$81,870,379.80 with UNICEF/AVAT".

Opanyin Agyekum Fumes 

Reacting to the report during Peace FM's "Kokrokoo" discussion programme, Professor Kofi Agyekum wondered why there is no fear in people elected or appointed into public offices.

He established that people are more afraid of owing a fellow person than embezzling government funds.

This, he noted, is so because they know nothing will be done to them when they embezzle funds or in the worst-case scenario where they are caught and arrested, all they need to do is affiliate themselves with a political party and they will go scot free.

"When somebody owes another person, the person fears more than he or she has embezzle government money because the person knows he/she can end up in the hands of the Police but with the government money, he/she knows it won't get anywhere. All he or she needs is to belong to NPP or NDC and that's it," he said.

He condemned the blatant disregard for doing the right thing on the part of the public officials but advised them to develop a sense of responsibility for nation-building.

"After you have done all these, then you want to touch pensioners' money and you think God will be watching you like that. What kind of country is this?", he subtly took a swipe at the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta in a reply to wit ordinary Ghanaians are made to suffer while government officials who commit wrongdoings are absolved.

Meanwhile, the Auditor-General has recommended that "the Chief Director of the Ministry of Health should renegotiate with UNICEF/AVAT to recover the outstanding amount" paid for the COVID-19 vaccines which haven't arrived.