The Minority in Parliament has described as bizarre the Ministry of Finance’ response on some Ghc600 million released in 2020 for Agenda 111.
The Minority is also calling on the Auditor-General to constitute an Audit team involving the services of a reputable international Audit Firm to immediately audit the processes leading to the supposed transfer and the expenditure of the GH₵600million allocated to the Agenda 111 project.
A statement by the Ranking Member on the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh added that the Finance Ministry’s response raises more questions and failed to address the critical issue on what the money was used for.
The Ministry of Finance on Thursday denied allegations that the government had spent GH¢600 million on Agenda 111 even before the sod cutting of the project.
In a statement issued by the Public Relations Unit, the Ministry said the GH¢600 million released to the Health Infrastructure Account at Bank of Ghana (BoG) in 2020 to support the implementation of the District and Regional Hospital Projects was the equivalent of the $100 million announced by the Government.
“The said amount had been released into the project account at the BoG but not utilised yet. Project commencement has just begun. So far, only GH¢36million has been released as part of pre-construction mobilisation,” the statement explained.
But in a counter-statement, the Minority stated that the claims by the Finance Ministry are untrue and demanded a probe to ascertain the veracity of the claims by the government.
“We also wish to serve notice that, if the Auditor General fails to Act within 2 weeks, we will have no option than to start the processes of collecting enough signatures from Members of Parliament to trigger a recall of Parliament so that a committee of Parliament can investigate the Missing GH₵ 600 million from the consolidated fund.”
Below is the full statement by the Minority
MINORITY STATEMENT ON THE MISSING GH₵600 MILLION FROM THE CONSOLIDATED FUND SINCE 2020.
The Minority in Parliament has read with utmost shock and alarm a press statement issued by the Ministry of Finance in response to its recent call for accountability for an amount of GH₵600million released or utilized in 2020 for the management of AGENDA 111 projects.
Although the statement in itself did not address the entirety of concerns raised in our press statement regarding the sufficiency of allocations, the appropriacy of the implementing agency (Office of the President) and the propriety of procurement methods leading to the award of contracts; we find the explanations on the GH₵600million expenditure rather bizarre to say the least.
The statement is alarming in that it raises even more concerns about the chain of custody of the GH₵600 million allocated for AGENDA 111 projects. We, therefore, put forward a few questions:
1. Did the government release GH₵600 million for Agenda 111 in 2020 as per the Ministry of Finance’s statement and when did this happen? Why was this not captured in the 2021 Budget?
2. Which agency of government is implementing Agenda 111 and is that agency different from the agency holding custody of funds for the same project? Why?
3. Are funds purported to be lodged at the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund meant for investment management or they are lodged there to be made available to the implementing agency on demand?
4. Assuming that funds have been released for Agenda 111 projects, what has been the chain of custody of the funds since they left the Consolidated Accounts at the BoG?
5. Can the government, without releasing funds from the Bank of Ghana to the implementing agency admit to having released the same and present the same to parliament and the people of Ghana?
The government’s communication and explanations lead to a rather unfortunate conclusion that the government is hiding the truth about the GH₵600 million expenditure and from all the contradictions, it may be that the GH₵600 million is Missing.
In view of the above, we call on the Auditor General to immediately constitute an Audit team involving the services of a reputable international Audit Firm such as Price Waterhouse coopers (PWC), to immediately Audit the processes leading to the supposed transfer and the expenditure of the 600 million between the Ministry of Finance, the Controller and Accountant General’s Department, the Bank of Ghana, the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Chief of Staff to ascertain the veracity of the claims of the Ministry of Finance.
We also wish to serve notice that, if the Auditor General fails to Act within 2 weeks, we will have no option than to start the processes of collecting enough signatures from Members of Parliament to trigger a recall of Parliament so that a committee of Parliament can investigate the Missing GH₵ 600 million from the consolidated fund.
Kwabena Mintah Akandoh (MP)
MP for Juaboso & Ranking Member on the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health