Covid-19 expenditure : Government spent ¢3.7bn lower than budgeted amount—Finance Minister

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta has disclosed that ¢12 billion was used in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 even though it budgeted for ¢15.76 billion.

This is ¢3.72 billion lower than the budgeted amount.

Mr. Ofori-Atta made the statement on the floor of parliament after summons to answer 16 urgent questions on how government expended funds allocated for the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Mr. Speaker, for the years 2020 and 2021, the programmed expenditure amounted to ¢15.76 billion for the COVID-19 related expenditures, out of which the actual utilisation was ¢12.036 billion”, he said

Giving some breakdown, Mr. Ofori Atta explained that in 2020, a total amount of ¢11.1 billion including the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) was programmed for COVID-19 related expenditure.

“Out of this amount a total of ¢8.1 billion was utilized” he said, explaining that the amount was utilised to provide support to households; supply Equipment and provide relief to health workers (Health Response); Health Infrastructure; Security Operations, Evacuations, Quarantine and Coordination; Economic Relief; Stabilization and Revitalization; as well as Covid-19 Complementary Releases.

 Mr. Ofori Atta stated that a total amount of ¢4.6 billion was programmed in the 2021 budget for COVID-19 related expenses, by which at the end of December 2021, total utilisation was ¢3.9 billion, representing 85% utilisation.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister used the opportunity to correct some impressions that government officials have presented contradictory figures on the COVID-19 expenditure.

“I wish to dispel the notion that there have been inconsistencies in Government data on COVID-19. His Excellency the President intimated during that State of the Nation Address on 30th March, 2022, that we had mobilised about ¢17.7 billion since 2020 to fight the pandemic,” he explained.

“We have subsequently reconciled the data and I can report that as of end-May, 2022, we have mobilised ¢18.19 billion to mitigate the effect of the pandemic. Again, when His Excellency the Vice President indicated on 7th April, 2022 at the National TESCON Conference that Government had spent ¢8.1 billion on Covid-19, it was within the context of expenditures for 2020 as I have already indicated,” he added. 

Providing more fiscal measures taken by government, Mr. Ofori Atta stated that at the onset of COVID-19, the Ministry of Finance applied for and obtained the approval of Parliament to lower the Cap on the Stabilisation Fund.

This, he said enabled the transfer of approximately ¢1.20 billion to the Contingency Fund.

“Upon approval by Parliament, ¢1.20 billion was drawn from the Contingency Fund to support Government efforts to mitigate the effect of the pandemic. In the 2020 Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review, revisions were made to the 2020 Budget to reflect policy changes as well as Executive decisions made to mitigate the effect of the pandemic”.

Source: JoyNews