Parliament has given the nod to the government’s request for GHS11.8 billion in supplementary estimates for the 2020 financial year.
This was done after three days of scrutiny and debates among members of the House.
Before the approval, the Minority raised questions of accountability over the use of the resources in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu in the House on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, said, “Mr. Speaker, we heard about Agenda 111. The President himself said Agenda 88. So who should we believe? And this is not the first time. The President did well commissioning the Eastern Regional Hospital but to the credit of the NDC. The Upper West, Central, Brong Ahafo regional hospitals were all infrastructure undertaken by the previous NDC government.”
“Mr. Speaker, what has happened to the Ghana Amalgamated Trust? The Minister came to Parliament, got some support in respect to it, but not much has been heard about it. In paragraph 263, he reports that GHS21 billion was spent on the banking sector clean up. The government must find resources to pay depositors timely for them to be entitled to their resources. So Mr. Speaker, this mid-year review budget only comes to me as a manifesto pledge and promise and reflected the same COVID program that the Minister stated.”
In response to the concerns, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, outlined the areas of expenditure for the funds approved by Parliament for the management of COVID-19.
“Mr. Speaker, please allow me to restate what the GHS11.8 billion supplementary estimate which includes an amount of GHS1.84 billion that Parliament approved in March 2020 for emergency COVID related expenditures was requested for. GHS1.34 billion [will be used] for the implementation of the COVID-19 preparedness plan to be implemented by the Ministry of Health, the plan to focus on expanding laboratories to increase the network for functional laboratories for COVID-19 testing for improved database management and coordination, creating isolation centers in all regions and districts, revitalizing the systems for tracking case confirmation and management among others, GHS600 million to mobilize the construction for the Agenda 111 district hospitals, GHS1.204 million for CAP 1 program which includes the GHS600 million support for small businesses, relief for water during the first three months, support for frontline workers, etc.”
Government projections for the 2020 financial year have largely been affected by the economic implications of the coronavirus pandemic, but it hopes to restrategize to generate more revenue to revamp the economy.
It is for this reason that it put before Parliament a request for a supplementary budget of GHS11.8 billion to support its expenditure for the rest of the year.
The Finance Minister, during the mid-year budget presentation in Parliament on Thursday, July 23, 2020, said the supplementary budget is to assist the government to implement various initiatives to strengthen various sectors of the economy due to the revenue shortfalls and budget deficit created by the impact of the pandemic.
Despite the government’s optimistic outlook, some Minority legislators have accused the government of not giving the true state of the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.