A former chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) is demanding government comes clear on how it is going to police the use of funds it is demanding from legally appropriated oil funds, for COVID-19 emergency expenditures.
According to Mr Kwame Jantuah, Ghanaians cannot trust government to use resources from the futuristic Heritage and the Stabilization Fund to mitigate the social and economic shocks of the Coronavirus pandemic without an accompanying clear accountability and transparency plan.
As part of its COVID-19 Economic Mitigation Plans, the finance ministry among other demands is requesting an amendment of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act to allow government to tap into the US$591 million valued Heritage Fund and to review the cap on the Stabilization Fund from US$300 million to US$100 million.
The finance ministry is also looking to draw down some transfers from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank while locally deferring the Bank of Ghana’s interest payments on non-marketable instruments to 2022 and beyond;
Mr. Juantoah points out that reckless expenditure by successive governments and the yawning gap of poor accountability makes it difficult for the ordinary citizen to trust government to be given unfettered access to these funds for its Covid – 19 Alleviation Program (CAP)
He contended: “Unfortunately Ghanaians haven’t really trusted governments especially where finances are concerned because down the road, we hear the Auditor General coming to give us a whole category of things that have been done that have caused challenges with our finances.”
Speaking on the Morning Starr with Francis Aban Tuesday, he questioned the absence of an itemized plan for expenditure and for which period these funds are to be expended.
“It will be very important for government to be able to itemize some of these things so that we all understand what these particular emergencies are because the heritage fund has laws in the PRMA that govern it and if you are going to go into it, you need to be able to identify what these are.”
Mr. Juantoah further lashed out at parliament for refusing to heed the calls from PIAC during the John Dramani Mahama Administration to hold the cap of the stabilization fund at 500 million insisting the country would have had enough to cater for the contingency funds being pooled to deal with the economic shocks of COVID 19.