Editorial: This is unpatriotic conduct
As we have often repeated in this column, the advent of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has seriously affected our national economy. The virus raised its ugly head in the country at the time the 2020 budget had already been prepared, submitted and approved by Parliament. Now the government has to look for money to fill the lacunae that is being created as a result of the extra expenditure being incurred.
In the face of all these challenges, the President of the Republic is still coming out with a number of measures to help fight the Coronavirus pandemic. Among these measures are the announcement he made last month that all frontline health workers would receive an additional allowance of 50 percent of their basic salary per month for four months – March, April, May, and June.
As we alluded to earlier, these expenditures, which would certainly run into millions of cedis, were not captured in the budget, but the government has no option than to look for the money to help in the fight against draconian disease that has so far taken the lives of 28 Ghanaians and thousands of people worldwide.
Though the money the government is sourcing outside the budget belongs to all Ghanaians and would be paid back to the lenders through our taxes, there are others who think the money is being conjured from ‘heaven’ and can, therefore, be misused.
A report we have carried at our front page today indicates that some of the hospitals are submitting fakes names of front line health workers who are supposed to benefit from the incentive package the government is offering.
At the Nkroranza St Theresa’s Hospital for instance, some of the nurses are said to have petitioned the Office of the Chief of Staff to probe the list submitted to the government by the hospital authorities. “With respect to the government request to hospitals to submit names of front liners assisting the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, we, the concerned nurses of the hospital, wish to report with great concern to your outfit of fake names submitted as front liners, and the grounds are as follows – All management members have submitted their names leaving out some nurses who are actually at the forefront of the crusade against the pandemic,” the concerned nurses alleged in their petition.
The Chronicle finds this allegation very disturbing and we hope the Office of the Chief of Staff will investigate and get to the bottom of it, especially when there is suspicion that the submission of fake names is wide spread and not limited to St Theresa’s Hospital alone.
As we have already indicated, the national economy is suffering because of this Covid-19 pandemic, and this is known to every well-meaning Ghanaian. But if, in the face of all these, people still think this is the time to siphon money from the state, then we are not trying to be patriotic citizens.
What is even more disturbing is that people who are indeed at the forefront fighting this disease are not going to benefit from the government package, but people who have no role to play are going to enjoy.
Since our health workers are risking their lives, they deserve the maximum support from the state. The various health institutions must, therefore, not make any attempt to deny what is legitimately due their staff.
The administration staff who have allegedly added their names to the list to be supported by the government and deny the legitimate recipients their due share, must bow down their heads in shame. If they are indeed guilty of the crime, then they are not behaving as patriotic citizens and must be punished by the relevant state agencies.