Professor Peter Quartey, the Director, Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, University of Ghana, has asked government to provide detailed information on the planned implementation of social interventions and policies outlined in the Mid-Year Budget Review.
He said as much as those interventions were laudable and necessary to ameliorate the suffering of Ghanaians, it was imperative to provide more information on how judicious and efficient those funds would be utilised.
“You’re using poor peoples’ money so you have to provide more information to give the assurance that the money is being used judiciously,” Prof Quartey said.
He gave the advice in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra at the weekend while analysing the 2020 Mid-Year Budget Review and Supplementary Estimates presented to Parliament by the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, on July 23.
The renowned Economist cited the free distribution of food packs to vulnerable Ghanaians in Accra and Kumasi during the three-week partial lockdown, saying; “The food distribution was done haphazardly and I believe information on the number of people fed on daily basis and prices of food items purchased should be provided, which would give us the assurance that the money was used judiciously”.
The Government spent GHc54.3 million on food packs distributed to about 400,000 vulnerable persons.
Those social interventions, Prof Quartey said, were necessary to prevent serious economic recession, but called for better and further particulars on the utilisation of the funds.
On the free supply of water and electricity to lifeline consumers for another three months, he said it was a good step by the Government but there must be checks to ensure there was regular flow of water.
“There is one thing promising free water and another thing ensuring regular flow. Therefore if the water does not flow through the taps then there is nothing to celebrate,” he added.
“I don’t subscribe to blanket subsidies to everybody, there should be conscious efforts to ensure that the poor people are targeted to benefit.”
For instance residents in some poor communities in Accra and Kumasi did not have taps in their homes and they purchased water from vendors, hence government should take action for the vendors to reduce their prices for the poor to benefit, Prof Quartey said.
On the COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalization of Enterprises Support, otherwise known as ‘Ghana CARES,’ Prof Quartey said there should be clear a strategy and unambiguous information about its roll-out for easy monitoring to ensure value for money.
“The private sector should be involved in its implementation,” he said.
He called for financial support in the form of grants to cushion unemployed persons as, for example, teachers in the private sector had not been paid for several months whilst workers in the hospitality industry were suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although government announced plans to roll out an Unemployment Insurance Scheme it would take about six months before the Scheme would receive the necessary legislation, therefore, a grant was urgently needed to cushion those who had lost their jobs, Prof Quartey said.
He urged the Government to find innovative means of raising funds in view of the GHc13.6 billion revenue shortfall witnessed so far to implement its earmarked infrastructural projects this year.