The Community Development Alliance (CDA-Ghana), a non Profit and Partisan organization based in Northern Sector of Ghana has alluded that there is urgent need for Ghanaians especially Civil Society organizations to boldly demand Covid-19 expenditure accountability from the government.
The organization also tasked the government to review the laws and established practices for preventing and managing conflicts of interest, profiteering and high levels of corruption under the pretext of “We are not in normal times”.
CDA-Ghana revealed that during the two week’s lockdown in Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi, however, the officials awarded multiple contracts to companies to produce PPE’s and the distribution of emergency financial assistance to businesses and individuals without proper regard to establish emergency procurement rules and regulations results in a real or perceived risk of profiteering.
Addressing the gathering at the National Civil Society Dialogue on Covid-19 Corruption Risk Assessment and the launch of its report in Accra on 15th April, 2021, Mr. Kanton Salifu Issifu, Executive Director of CDA-Ghana indicated that most of the Covid-19 contracts were often awarded to friends and cronies at excessively inflated rates particularly in situation where oversight procedures designed to control corruption has been short-circuited with the rhetoric “We are not in normal times” to facilitate the speed of the response.
He pointed out that many government officials at the onset of Covid-19 were using “We are not in normal times” typically as a yardstick to circumvent procurement regulations and procedures further heightening the corruption risk associated with government responses to fighting the pandemic.
According to Mr. Salifu Issifu, this situation has the potential to exacerbate and prolong the negative effects of the crisis on the lives of the poor and vulnerable populations in Ghana.
It is based on this that a corruption risk assessment report on the government of Ghana’s disbursement and use of COVID-19 funds was birthed.
Presenting the report, lead researcher Mr. Micheal O. Effah, revealed that, the government flouted the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) Act by entering into a contract with Frontier Healthcare Services to conduct Antigen Testing at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).
The report also discovered that a total of an unaccounted amount of GH¢12.4 billion have been spent so far on procurement of services in the fight against the pandemic.
￼The report, dubbed: “Strengthening COVID-19 Accountability Mechanisms”, sponsored by the Community Development Alliance (CDA) in collaboration with the Commonwealth Foundation, also disclosed that “some companies were repeatedly rewarded contracts”, which does not necessarily amount to corruption but is a risk of corruption.
Mr. Michael O. Effah, in his presentation called on Ghanaians, the media and civil society organisations to demand accountability from the government, as well as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) “to also use their own systems to check that everything has been used judiciously and have been adequately accounted for”.
The Lead Researcher also called on the Auditor-General’s office, the Special Prosecutor’s office and all stakeholder investigative bodies to take interest in the issue and conduct independent investigations to guide the way forward to save the country.
By Bernard K. Dadzie