GHANAIANS ARE BEEN DECEIVED ON MONEY RAISED “UNDER” COVID-19

Ghanaians should not be misled into thinking that the Government has raised GHS7.5bn to fight COVID-19, the true figure is closer to GHS1.5bn.Recently, there has quite a bit of buzz on several media outlets erroneously congratulating the Government of Ghana for raising GHS7.5bn in one month, under Covid-19. Through shallow or no explanation of the specific intent and sources of “raised” GHS 7.5bn funding, these claims are being used by political powers as an indication of government’s abilities in a ploy to discourage citizens from questioning how fiscally responsible and realistic this newly hatched knee-jerk plan to construct 88+6 hospitals across the country is.In true political fashion, references to the “raised funds” of GHS 7.5bn conveniently failed to mention the $1bn (GHS5.85bn) loan made to Ghana by the IMF for very clear-cut usage.The US$1bn loan made by the IMF was intended to specifically address Ghana’s fiscal deficit and Balance of Payment shortfalls arising from the impact of COVID-19, and NOT to fight COVID-19. As Ghana’s revenue experiences shortfalls from low oil prices and low-consumption demand in general, I suspect this loan may be used to pay out commercial debt service such as Eurobonds, which do not qualify for debt service postponement or forgiveness that Ghana needs and is seeking from multilateral and bilateral organisations like the World Bank, EU, AfDB, etc.In addition, included in this circulated questionable quote of “raised funds” is the USD $218M from our very own Stabilization fund. Government sought approval from Parliament to reduce the cap on the Stabilization fund from USD $300m to USD $100m in order to release these funds.Similar to the IMF loan, these monies released from our Stabilization funds have a very definitive use – to create the GHS 1.2bn Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP).This is meant to support the provision of food and water for households, relief for health-sector workers and a GHS 600m stimulus package to support SMEs. Surely these funds cannot also be included in the “funds raised!”As transparency issues persist, we must note that funds to fight COVID-19 have not yet been included as part of the budget. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be blindsided by unfunded and unplanned “projects” which, depending on the source, will, in 2020, “get started” or “completed.”We have not yet been told how these funds are to be disbursed, and now government has come up with this political gimmick to complete 88+6 hospitals in 1 year.We are lacking clarity on exactly how this 88+6 hospital project is intended to be funded. The truth of the matter remains that it cannot come from the IMF’s $Ibn. If this is indeed a critical, top-priority project then government simply need to raise money – from extra taxes, donors grants, or loans from multilateral or ICM; all of which have their own challenges!We should not be swayed by this diversionary tactic; the spotlight now should be more emphasis on governance procedures to ensure alignment to the strategic objectives of managing the economic impact of COVID-19 (i.e. what the majority of the “raised funds” are specifically intended for).As citizens, NOW is the time to ask questions!

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