It appears Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta did the image of his government little good with his presentation in Parliament on Tuesday, March 17.
A day before the announcement of Ghana’s first case of the Novel Coronavirus, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said he had directed the Finance Minister to dedicate $100million to the fight against the pandemic that has claimed about 7,000 lives across the globe.
He said the package, which would fund the expansion of infrastructure, purchase of materials and equipment, and public education, would enable Ghana to deal with the virus.
“I have, as at yesterday, ordered a suspension of all international travels by public officials.
“Except for critical assignments, which will have to be authorised by the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, all public officials are to remain within the jurisdiction, until further notice. Video conferencing facilities and other technological tools are to be utilised, whenever possible, for international engagements,” the president added.
At the behest of Ghana’s Parliament, the Finance Minister appeared in the house on Tuesday to brief MPs and Ghanaians on the source of the quoted amount and how government intended to fight the virus.
But it turned out that, contrary to the tone of the president’s speech which suggested the government was in possession of the amount, the $100m is not readily available.
Ofori Atta told Parliament that government had applied to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to release Ghana’s share of the funds allocated for the containment of the virus.
“We are currently in discussion with the World Bank to tap into a US$12billion World Bank Group fast track COVID-19 facility to help close the financing gap. In addition, we are discussing with the International Monetary Fund to access part of a US$10 billion facility, made available by the IMF to address coronavirus through the Rapid Credit Facility. We are also discussing with other multilateral and bilateral partners on potential assistance to close the financing gap”.
The revelation by the Minister did not go down well with some Ghanaians who in various social media posts slammed the president for not being sincere and honest.