COVID-19 Funds: Ofori-Atta briefs Parliament on Wednesday

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta is expected to appear before Parliament this Wednesday, June 22 to account funds accrued for the fight against COVID-19.

Last week, the Minister, provoked the House again by failing to appear compelling the Speaker, Alban Sumana Bagbin’s resolve, to place a moratorium on the approval of $1 billion in loans from an international consortium of banks until Mr Ofori Atta accounts for the over GH¢19 billion, government claims it spent since 2020.

Public interest in the COVID-19 expenses follows a leaked tape fueling already held suspicion about the misapplication of the funds especially during the 2020 elections.

In that audio, an obviously disappointed NPP’s Northern Regional Vice-Chairperson, Ms Felicia Tetteh, who was also 2020 Sagnarigu Parliamentary candidate, provoked by the conduct of the party’s internal elections, lamented about how monies were doled out to party executives including aspiring MPs.

Earlier, Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of Parliament, Cassiel Ato Forson, called the Auditor-General to undertake a special audit into the GH₵280.3 million allocated for the provision of food, water, and sanitation under the Coronavirus Alleviation Program.

According to the provisional Order Paper for Wednesday, Mr Ken Ofori Atta is expected to answer 16 outstanding questions including the COVID expenses.

Urgent questions that are to be answered by the Finance Minister are in the name of the National Democratic Congress ( NDC) MP for Wa East, Godfred Seidu Jasaw; the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Ablekuma North, Sheila Bartels; NPP MP for Bortianor-Ngleshie-Amanfro, Sylvester Tetteh, and NDC MP for Bongo, Edward Abambire Bawa.

These cover releases for payment of arrears, funding for Phase Two of the Tema Motorway, measures to control the increasing prices of petroleum products among others.

The Minority believes the Minister’s reluctance to render account is a cover-up attempt with the support of the Majority group and both sides have clashed on several occasions about the development amidst calls for Ken Ofori Atta’s censorship but analysts say it will be very difficult for Parliament to push for his dismissal because of partisanship.

Meanwhile the Speaker has vowed that until COVID-19 funds are properly accounted for, Parliament will seize to do business with the Finance Ministry.

“I will go further to say that until the answer is provided until he goes through the accountability process, we will not take that motion. With respect to the questions, well, today he has another request before us, that will also be affected, until he comes to respond to the questions and to submit the statement, given an explanation, as to how that money has been applied, we will not entertain any business from that ministry, mark my words,” – Mr Bagbin emphasized last week.

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