Monitor COVID-19 expenditure to ensure accountability­­­­­­­­­­ – Sodzi-Tettey

The Council Chairman of the Centre for Social Justice, DrSodzi Sodzi-Tettey, has urged journalists in the country to closely monitor the government’s COVID-19 expenditure to ensure accountability.

Speaking at the 7th Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) – Flamingo Awards 2021 on Friday, he said this had become necessary due to the hesitation of duty bearers to have the expenditure probed by parliament.

“As the government rolls out these (COVID-19) interventions, it is crucial to remove bureaucratic hurdles and monitor implementation to be sure policy objectives are indeed met, especially for intended beneficiaries.

“Further, to facilitate accountability, may I kindly urge you as journalists to pay a lot more attention to how public funds are utilised, especially with the government’s reluctance to have COVID-19 expenditure scrutinised by parliament,” he said.

The call by Dr Sodzi-Tettey, a medical practitioner, comes days after the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, dismissed a private member’s motion seeking to probe COVID-19 expenditure.

According to the New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament for Bekwai, the motion, earlier admitted by the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, should not have been admitted and that same was not properly laid.

The First Deputy Speaker’s ruling followed an objection by the Majority caucus for the motion to be thrown out because COVID-19 expenditure, which falls under the purview of the Ministry of Health, should be audited by the Auditor-General before Parliament acted on it through its Public Accounts Committee.

The awards ceremony, held in Accra, was on the theme “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business resilience and recovery in the Ghanaian economy.”

Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh of The African Eye Report emerged the overall best Business and Financial Journalist; Ghanaian Times Senior Reporter, Kingsley Asare, was adjudged the Best in Finance, while Business and Financial Times’ Edward Adjei Frimpong and Daily Graphic’s Maclean Kwofie also won awards.

Assessing the impact of COVID-19, DrSodzi-Tettey said it affected particularly, education, finance, transport, manufacturing and tourism through a decrease in sales, closure of businesses, layoffs, reduction of wages, and shrinking of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate.

He said the economic stimulus package under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme and other interventions were helping businesses build back.

He said the shock from the COVID-19 pandemic had opportunities that should be leveraged for recovery and growth.

“These would include identifying innovative ways around risk assessment and decision-making, teamwork, business capacity, and organisational resilience,” he said.

In a speech read on his behalf, the World Bank Country Director, Pierre Laporte, said the Bank would continue to provide more support for the country’s recovery from the pandemic and socio-economic development.

He said the key to the country’s ability to emerge stronger from the pandemic and in the coming years was for the government to build macroeconomic stability for growth and resilience.

The Dean of the University of Cape Coast School Of Business, Prof. John Gatsi, who was the chairman of the award jury, urged journalists to sharpen their skills to enable them work effectively.

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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