Millions of COVID-19 funds the government mobilised towards the fight against the virus cannot be accounted for, the latest Auditor-General has revealed.
Although GHS 21billion was mobilised for the fight. However, just 25% was spent directly on the health, social relief & security issues created by COVID-19. Majority of the funds went to general government programmmes including the Free senior high school policy, Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP).
Shockingly though, only 3.5% of the spending went through GIFMIS, the govt accounting system.
The report, which focuses on the expenditure of all ministries, departments and agencies, discovered deep-seated wastage of public funds from March 2020 to June 2022.
Here are 10 times the Auditor-General’s report said the various agencies had misapplied monies meant for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. The Auditor General reported that $80 million worth of vaccines the government paid for is yet to be delivered. According to the Auditor-General, the government paid over $120 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) for COVID-19 vaccines but only $38 million worth was delivered.
The ministry, without the approval of the Central Tender Review Committee, increased the cost of five contracts for COVID-19 vaccines with total contract sum of GH¢24,256,500 by GH¢4,017,000.00 through variation orders.
- The Ministry of Health gave medical equipment valued at US$110,088.00 and GH¢27,895.00 to a private hospital, Christleads & Specialist Hospital located at Madina. However, the hospital did not serve as a COVID-19 isolation center neither did it receive any COVID-19 patient. The healthcare facility is owned by Dr. C. K. Amenuveve, who is also the Director of the University of Ghana Health Services.
- The Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) has been asked to take immediate steps to assess an unvalidated payment of GH¢14.7 million in Covid-19 expenditure.
The Auditor General says its assessment of the situation revealed that “there were no actual water bills generated and submitted to the [Agency by non-governmental organisations] NGOs and private individual water providers to support their claims.”
- The Ministry of Health entered into a 25-year Finance Lease Agreement valued at GH¢15,265,000 in 2020 to be used as a holding and isolation centre in Adaklu, in the Volta Region.
Although the ministry failed to use the place, it is remodelling the building at an additional cost of GH¢20,382,247.70 out of which GH¢13,726,079.86 has been paid.
- The finance minister, Ken Ofori Atta’s Enterprise Life Assurance, insured 30% out of 10,000 health workers and allied health professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the Ministry of Health paid GH¢10.3 million for the insurance cover, it failed to provide details of beneficiaries, their location, next of kin in case of death, nature of the benefit and the term of the coverage according to the Auditor-General’s report on the COVID-19 expenditure. Other companies that are SIC Life Co Ltd, Glico Life Insurance Co Ltd ,Star Life Assurance Co Ltd ,Hollard Life Assurance Co Ltd ,Ghana Union Assurance Life Co Ltd ,Mi Life Assurance Co Ltd ,GN Life Assurance Co Ltd ,Allianz Life Ghana Ltd and Ghana Life Insurance Company.
- The Ministry of Information paid allowances of GH¢811,800.00 without adequate supporting documents. But there were no activity or program reports to support and authenticate the allowances paid.
Aside from this, the report also revealed that senior management and other supporting staff of the Ministry of Information paid themselves GH₵151,500 as a COVID-19 risk allowance for coming to work during the lockdown period without approval from the Chief of Staff.
- The Ministry of Health signed a contract for the supply of 26 Toyota Hiace Deluxe Ambulance. It was valued at US$4,049,460.12. The ministry paid US$607,419.02 out of the amount. Though the ambulances were supposed to be delivered in January 2022, they remained undelivered as of November 28, 2022.
The Chief Director explained that the supplier applied for extension to meet some technical specifications.
- The Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs paid GH¢451,800.00 to paramount chiefs of six traditional councils to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The report further indicated that the Northern and Volta Regional houses misapplied a total amount of GH¢154,161.97.
- The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection paid almost GH¢12 million in cash to caterers who provided hot meals during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
However, the auditors could not authenticate the cash payments because they were supported with honour certificates, and lacked internal checks. It feared this could result in the possibility of payments being made to persons who may not have provided any service.
- Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, the Ministry of Health embarked on a project to construct facilities and centres to contain and treat infected cases in a timely manner.
Makro Structures Limited was awarded a contract in May 2020 for the design, construction and equipment of Nalerigu treatment and holding centre in North East Region, at a cost of GH¢15,000,000. Out of this, an advance mobilisation of GH¢4,500,000 constituting 30% of the contract had been paid from GoG coffers. The construction was to be completed in October 2022.
But the report said the contractor, upon commencing construction in October 2021 did just 10 percent of the work and abandoned the site in December 2021.