The difficulty in government’s efforts to procure vaccines to inoculate the population against the dreaded coronavirus disease is not because of lack of funds, but the unavailability of the vaccines, a Deputy Minister of Finance, John Kumah, has stated.
Government had indicated in February it would procure 17 million vaccines by June to vaccinate the population against the respiratory disease.
Procuring the vaccine, however, has become difficult with countries battling to procure.
But President Nana Akufo-Addo in his recent address said the country was expecting a total of 18.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the course of the third quarter of the year from the governments of the United States, United Kingdom and other donor agencies.
Contributing to the debate on the Finance Minister’s statement on the mid-year fiscal policy review of the 2021 budget and economic policy of the government, Mr Kumah, NPP MP for Ejisu said the ability of Ghana to procure the vaccines was beyond the country’s power.
“Mr Speaker, government has always been ready to acquire the vaccines but it’s a question of availability.
“Every country as we speak today, has been struggling to acquire these vaccines so it is not the question of government’s inability to pay for the vaccines.
“Mr Speaker, it more to do with the availability of the vaccines than money and that is why government has failed to achieve herd immunity as previously arranged.
“We strongly believe, as arranged in this mid-year budget review that from this month onwards, government would be in a position to acquire at least 17 million vaccines to vaccinate the population,” he said.
The Deputy Minority Whip, Ibrahim Ahmed, NDC MP, Banda, on his part said what the Finance Minister came to do in House was to inform Members that he could not attain the economic targets he had set for the year.
According to Mr Ahmed, all government intervention programmes like the Planting for Food and Jobs, School Feeding Programme, the Free Senior High School programme were all crumbling due to the unavailability of “funds to oil the effective running of the programmes.”
In his view, the government was collapsing Ghana’s revered local governance system by failing to nominate Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), eight months into the regime.
“Mr Speaker, this government is destroying our revered local governance system which in the past attracted people from across the African continent to understudy. No wonder we were able to advance only GH¢400 million to the assemblies instead of the GH¢2.4 billion earmarked in the 2021 budget,” he said.
The lack of MMDCEs, Mr Ahmed said was affecting development at the local level.
He was at a loss why the Development Authorities, running the office of government machinery, were functioning at the expense of the MMDCEs and urged the president to nominate chief executives for the assemblies, for effective local governance.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI