The Minority Caucus in Parliament says the actions of the government clearly demonstrates that it is struggling to raise the remaining US$65million to shore up the World Bank and IMF loan facility of US$35million to fight the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ghana.
Parliament on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, approved a World Bank and IMF loan facility of US$35million brought before it by government to enable it combat the spread of the COVID-19.
The amount represents 35% out of the US$100million announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as having been earmarked to contain the spread of the coronavirus, leaving a funding gap of US$65million, representing 65%.
In the view of the Minority, they are completely at a lost why the government has failed to furnish Parliament with details as to how it is going about to secure the funding gap of US$65million considering the fact that Parliament will rise on Saturday, April 4, 2020.
Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. James Klutse Avedzi, who interacted with members of the Parliamentary Corps on the sidelines of Parliamentary sitting on Thursday, April 2, 2020, said it was important for government represented by the Minister of Finance to appear before Parliament with details over how government was going to raise the funding gap of US$65million its fight against the spread of the coronavirus.
“On Thursday, April 1, 2020, Parliament approved an amount of US$35million from the World Bank and the IMF. Now, if you take the US$35million from the US$100million, there is a gap of US$65million. As we speak, where the government is going to raise the US$65million we all don’t know. So, the announcement by the President that a US$100million was made available is actually not the case. It means that the President did not tell the people of Ghana the truth. That US$100million was not available. The government is now struggling to get the US$100million and as at yesterday, US$35million was approved by the House. So, we are calling on the government to come out where they are going to raise the remaining US$65million because it is very important that we all get the money in order for the government to fight the pandemic”, noted Hon. Avedzi.
Government has announced that it intends to raise the funding gap of US$65million from the Greater Accra Resilient & Integrated Development (GARID).
However, Hon. Avedzi who is also the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ketu North, further said should that intention be true, it will still be appropriate for the Minister of Finance to furnish Parliament with the details on how “they will go about it”.
“GARID is a loan facility that the House approved for a project here in Accra. Now if they want to borrow that money from GARID, we want to know how they will go about it. Out of the US$35million which was approved yesterday, it was on four components. One of the four components was support to the households. You could see clearly that whilst they are projecting US$7million for contact tracing and all those issues, only US$700,000 is a budget that they have allocated to support households. We all know that there are people who live on daily income. Now they are all at home, how do they survive?” he noted.
He added “by budgeting or allocating only US$700,000 which is equivalent to GHS4million for the households, how will you reach the households? That is what we want the government to also come clear and why have they only allocated US$700,000 to support the households while allocating US$7million for contact tracing and those issues?”
So, we are calling on the government to as a matter of urgency come to the House immediately with that details so that the House can approve that details so that the people can be given something to live on.
Commenting further, Hon. Avedzi further called on government to as a matter of urgency appear before Parliament with details on how the GH?1billion stimulus package announced by the President to support the vulnerable and Small and Medium Scale businesses that have been hugely affected by COVID-19, will be disbursed.
“There is a project that government calls it Coronavirus Alleviation Program (CAP). Since Monday, when the Finance Minister came to the House to address the House and talked about a budget of GH?1billion which will be taking from our Stabilization Fund, now the request for the Stabilization for the CAP to be lowered from US$300million to US$200million is before the House. If that happens, it means that US$200million will be available for this program which will be of support to other sectors of the economy. It is actually meant to address the economic and fiscal and social impact because of the coronavirus. Four clear days, the Minister of Finance is not coming to the House to give us the details of how the GH?1billion will be disbursed; how much of that GH?1billion will be given to the households; how much will be allocated to businesses; and how much will be allocated to SMEs, that we do not know. We don’t see the urgency of the whole issue. The people are home four days now and most of them are not getting any income. We all know that as they are home, the utility bills will increase simply because they need to use more electricity; the water bill will increase; the telephone bill will increase because they need to contact people. But there is no income to these people. They live on daily income”, he posited.
He added “This government is not doing what is expected of them. They are not taking the whole pandemic very urgent; they are not taking it very seriously and so we are calling on the Finance Minister to come to the House with a program how the GHS1billion will be disbursed and who are going to be the beneficiaries. We need to know that as the people’s representative before we rise on Saturday”.