The Deputy Greater Accra Regional Youth Organizer of the National Democratic Congress, Amos Blessing Amorse, has lashed out at the Akufo-Addo government over what he described as its abysmal handling of funding for the prevention of the novel coronavirus.
According to the vociferous youth leader of the biggest opposition Party, government's reliance on the International Monetary Fund for funds to fight the global pandemic shows that the government "went to sleep when the first case was reported in China until we were hit by the virus then we started looking for money to fight it."
"I'm sorry to say this at this crucial moment but it appears our government thinks accessing funds from the IMF is like getting MTN Quick loan. Though the IMF has made available funds to be accessed by countries that need it to fight the virus, you'll not walk into their premises today and they'll hand over a bag load of money to you to go and use. You'll go through processes and that will take time.
...So if you have a government that is waiting for the IMF to release funds for it to start moving at a time when the virus is busily spreading and killing people, then you know Ghana's case is worse compared to other countries," he asserted.
Mr. Amorse alleged that the government has depleted all its reserves "that is the reason why we're waiting for the IMF to release funds we've applied for to start doing something. No reasonable government will have funds in its reserve and still be struggling to raise funds to avert a global deadly virus like what we have. The money is for Ghanaians and the same people are dying so if you have the money, why not spend it on the owners of the money? There is nothing is our reserves".
The IMF has confirmed that Ghana has applied for funds to fight the COVID-19. The IMF citing its African Department director, Abebe Aemro Salassie Tuesday March 24, 2020, said Ghana last week requested for a Rapid Credit Facility Disbursement to help fight the coronavirus.
“Last week, the IMF received Ghana’s request for a disbursement under the Rapid Credit Facility to help the country address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working hard to evaluate the authorities’ request and bring it forward for Executive Board consideration as soon as possible,” the Fund posted on its website.
Two weeks ago, the IMF announced that it is providing about $50 billion through its rapid-disbursement emergency financing facilities for low income and emerging market countries that could potentially seek support.
“Of this, $10 billion is available at zero interest for the poorest members through the Rapid Credit Facility,” it said.
The President, Nana Adoo Danquah Akufo-Addo in an address to the nation Wednesday March 11, 2020 had said he had directed the Minister of Finance to make available the cedi equivalent of $100 million to enhance Ghana’s coronavirus (COVID-19) preparedness and response plan.
“The Minister of Finance has made available the cedi equivalent of $100 million to enhance our coronavirus preparedness and response plan, that is to fund infrastructure, purchase materials and equipment and public education,” he said.
However, when the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta appeared before the country’s Parliament to answer questions, he said the money wasn’t available and that the government at that time was in talks with the two Bretton Woods Institutions – the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to try and access a total of $22 billion the two international finance institutions are making available to its member-countries to fight the disease.
“We are currently in discussion with the World Bank to tap into the $12 billion Bank fast-track COVID-19 facility to help close the financing gap. In addition we are in discussion with the IMF to access part of a $10 billion facility made available by the IMF to address the corona virus through the rapid credit facility,” he told the House.
In the meantime, it is not clear what funds the government is using to tackle the problem as the country observed a one-day fasting and prayer against the disease Wednesday March 25, 2020 while waiting for the IMF facility.
Shocked by the development, the NDC Youth Organizer said "when the President made the announcement, some us were expecting the Finance Minister to tell us that the money will be disbursed on a specific day as soon as possible and the source of same. But the Finance Minister told us they were in talks with IMF. What then happens if IMF bounces us? The number of affected persons keep rising by the day, the death toll keeps surging and we're now in talks with IMF? Look at what other countries are doing. They are mostly utilizing domestic funds while looking up to the IMF but we are banking all our hopes on IMF. Very sad".