CSOs urge ‘more transparency’ in COVID-19 expenditure

CSOs urge ‘more transparency’ in COVID-19 expenditure

Four Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called for “more transparency and accountability” in the use of funds meant to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organisations including, SEND Ghana and the International Budget Partnership, indicate that there have been “significant gaps and inconsistencies” in the provision of information on COVID-19 expenditures by the government.

Recommendations put forward by the CSOs, in a recent survey report, highlighted the need for the Auditor General to “conduct special audits into COVID related spending to ensure value for money.”

The CSOs, presenting the survey report dubbed “Managing COVID Funds: The Accountability Gap”, urged the Ministry of Finance to provide “quarterly briefs on COVID-19 spending from all funding sources.”

The findings presented at stakeholders’ forum in Accra on Tuesday, focused on transparency, extent of public participation, gender-responsiveness, among other aspects of Ghana’s COVID-19 response.

It further sought feedback from individuals on some of the policies introduced by the government between 2020 and 2021 to help tackle the pandemic.

Other partners of the study are the Network for Women’s Right in Ghana (NETRIGHT), BudgiT Ghana, and Community Development Alliance (CDA).

The survey report, which commended the government’s role in reducing the impact of the pandemic, however, indicated that “the lack of information” on emergency medical procurements was one of the “transparency gaps” in the management of COVID-19 funds.

“Many contracts have been entered into by the government of Ghana in the procurement of health equipment, infrastructure and services to help contain the pandemic and mitigate its socio-economic costs. For now, information is lacking as to what procurement processes were undertaken and whether value for money has been ensured.

“There were limited formal opportunities made available by the government to consult with the public around the formulation or implementation of the COVID-19 response, though there were some informal inputs made by specific interest groups,” the report said.

Madam Patricia Akakpo, a representative of NETRIGHT, presenting a gender analysis of COVID-19 related policies, emphasised that the pandemic had worsened existing gender and income inequalities.

She, therefore, urged stakeholders to ensure that policies meant to control the pandemic do not impact the poor and vulnerable negatively.

She stressed the need for government to help eliminate stereotypes and harmful practices such as forced and early marriage and several others that discriminated against women, and called for adequate financial and social reward for health workers to help reduce attrition from the health service.

By Ernest Nutsugah

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