The Government has so far disbursed more than 5.6 trillion cedis of Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Funds to finance various development programmes in the country.
Briefing the press yesterday, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, said 966.3 billion cedis of the amount was spent in financing the country's domestic debt while the remainder was used on poverty reduction and growth enhancing projects.
"Four years on we can positively say that the nation has made gains, part of which would not have been possible without recourse to funds from HIPC," he said.
The money, he said, was used on projects, including education, health, water and sanitation, energy and micro-credit in line with the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy I and the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy II, the country's development framework.
Dr Osei said HIPC Funds had been allocated and disbursed according to clearly laid down guidelines and procedures after Parliament and Cabinet had approved the allocation.
This money had gone into provision of basic school infrastructure and into the introduction of capitation grants to ensure access to public basic schools and to address the gender inequities as well.
He said the Funds were also used to support the establishment of District Mutual Health Schemes as a means of ensuring health care coverage for the poor. "Exemptions for maternal deliveries have also been funded from HIPC since 2003. HIPC funds have been used to fund training of community health nurses to augment the limited numbers of nurses."
Dr Osei said the bulk of the 2005 releases for energy were used to pay for Ghana's Equity Contribution to the West Africa Gas Pipeline Project. He said spending on micro finance programmes had been consistent throughout the period with funds spent through women's groups, farmers' groups and the Emergency Social Relief Fund.
On monitoring of how the funds were used, Dr Osei said HIPC expenditures were captured separately and alongside other discretionary expenditures under the National Expenditure Tracking System by which the Controller and Accountant General's Department assigned codes that facilitated classification of all expenditures. The Auditor-General also audits the expenditures.
However, Dr Osei said there was the need to step up monitoring to ensure that the funds were not misapplied.