Ofori-Atta accounts for GH¢54m COVID-19 chop money
The Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has cleared the enigma surrounding the GH¢54 million spent on hot meals for the vulnerable during the lockdown period.
As part of measures to cushion Ghanaians and reduce the hardships they faced during the three weeks lockdown imposed on the country by the government due to the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the President provided food to some Ghanaians.
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, on Thursday July 23, 2020, while delivering the Mid-Year Budget Review, stated that a whopping sum of GH¢54 million was used in the provision of hot meals to the beneficiaries.
This news did not sit down well with a lot of Ghanaians, as they wondered how such an amount of money could be spent on the provision of hot meals alone.
In a short concluding remark delivered by the Minister in Parliament during the conclusion of the debate on the Mid-Year Budget Review yesterday, the Minister clarified the issues by giving an account of what the money was used for.
He indicated that the government budgeted an estimated amount of GH¢40 million to provide hot meals to the vulnerable at GH¢5 per pack.
Out of this estimated GH¢40 million, GH¢12 million was spent on the provision of hot meals, which included 150,000 beneficiaries, cost of transportation, distribution and other operational costs, he indicated.
Aside the GH¢12 million, an amount of GH¢42 million was also spent on uncooked food items, Mr Ofori-Atta said.
“These two amounts put together brought the money spent on hot meals to GH¢54 million, as stated in the budget,” he said
“It’s unfortunate that an attempt has been made to politicise the issue of the provision of food for some Ghanaians during the lockdown period.
“It’s also unfortunate that [the] impression has been created that the total amount of GH¢54 million was used for only hot meals during the three weeks lockdown period.”
The Finance Minister also gave a breakdown on the GH¢11 billion supplementary budget he sought approval for that Thursday.
The Finance Minister indicated that part of that money includes the GH¢1.84 billion approved in March by Parliament for emergency Covid-19 related expenses.
He also indicated that GH¢1.34 billion was for the implementation of the Covid-19 preparedness plan implemented by the Ministry of Health, which includes Covid-19 database management and coordination, and fixing isolation centers in all regions and districts.
He continued that GH¢600 million of that money would be used for the mobilisation and construction of district hospitals, also known as Agenda 111, while GH¢1.204 billion went to support small business, relief for water and light bills, and support for frontline workers.
He observed that the Akufo-Addo government was committed to making the well-being of Ghanaians a primary goal, and has demonstrated this commitment over the last three and half years, especially during this Covid-19 era.
He said the commitment was evident in the implementation of the Free Senior High School policy, Nation Builders Corps, fertilisers and seeds for farmers and other inputs, ambulance for constituencies, provision of loans under the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre, trainee allowances, and many more.
He, however, indicated that the outbreak of the Covid-19 had unleashed severe economic hardship on several economies of the globe, including Ghana, and has reduced this country’s revenue to 13% of Gross Domestic Product.
He noted that despite the prudent economic measures put in place by the Akufo-Addo government to minimise the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, every Ghanaian has to sacrifice and mobilise revenue for the development of the economy.
He noted that the storm of the pandemic has not yet abated, and urged every Ghanaian to come on board and fight the pandemic.