Send Ghana, an NGO, has called for the immediate prosecution of all persons and entities found culpable in the embezzlement of COVID-19 funds.
It has also appealed to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, to as a matter of urgency, sit on the Auditor-General’s report that uncovered the rot to ensure “heads roll immediately.”
“This should not just be another audit report. Heads must roll and the courts must also be proactive and not overly delay in the prosecution of those found culpable as has been the case in most grand corruption cases involving public officials,” a statement issued by the Deputy Country Director of SEND Ghana, Emmanuel Ayifah, urged.
According to the statement, the Organisation in April 2022 had suspected a possible short-change in the application of COVID-19 funds and called for a special audit in related expenditure to ensure value for money.
“We highly commend the Auditor-General for heeding our call and being hold and decisive on the matter but wish to emphasise that this must not be just another audit report.”
The Deputy Country Director expressed disgust that out of nearly GH¢22 billion that was raised between March 2020 and June 2022, just a little over half (GH¢12 billion) was used to fight the pandemic and its related impact.
“The misapplication and mismanagement of these funds directly contravenes and violates the Public Financial Management Act, 2016, (Act 921), instituted to check public sector spending.
We urge the Auditor-General to surcharge and prosecute all persons found culpable. Heads must roll,” it appealed.
The Auditor-Generals report released last month highlighted irregularities in the management of some tranches of COVID-19 funds.
Among them were the payment of unapproved risk allowance at the Ministry of Information where some senior management staff and other supporting staff of the ministry paid themselves a total amount of GH¢151,500 as COVID-19 risk allowance for coming to work during the lockdown period.
That was against “presidential directives and without approval from the office of chief of staff.”
Indeed only frontline health workers were to receive an additional allowance of 50 per cent of their basic salary per month for March, April, May and June but that never materialised.
The report again pointed out how authorities failed to take delivery of some COVID-19 vaccines it paid for.
It said, the Ministry of Health paid an amount of US$120,192,379.80 to UNICEF/AVAT for the supply of vaccines, however, just 5,109,600 doses of vaccines valued at US$38,322,000 were supplied to the National Cold Room.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH