The Minority in Parliament’s petition to the Auditor-General to audit the disbursement of the COVID-19 funds is “premature” and an attempt to “distract the government’s COVID-19 response programme”, Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has said.
The opposition lawmakers want the Auditor-General to specifically audit the money that went into the provision of food and water during the three-week lockdown period in the country.
The petition, signed by the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, and dated 3rd June 2020 said: “Honourable Auditor-General, the Minority Caucus in Parliament, with the responsibility of ensuring the judicious utilisation of state resources and in accordance with Section 16 of the Audit Service Act 2000 (ACT 584) calls on you to undertake a special audit into the expenditure on the GH¢280.3 million that was allocated for the provisions of food, water and sanitation under the Coronavirus Alleviation programme (CAP).”
The biggest opposition party made the call on Monday, 1 June 2020 at a press conference where Forson said Ghanaians have been subjected to “unprecedented levels of profligacy, waste and corruption” under the Akufo-Addo government in the last three-and-a-half years”.
According to him, the government must be made to account for fund expended during the three-week lockdown.
But reacting to this at a press conference in Accra on Thursday, 4 June 2020, Mr Nkrumah said it was too early for the Minority to ask for an audit when the COVID-19 response programme has not ended.
He explained: “If you read Article 187 of the Constitution of Ghana, it talks about when general audits are conducted. For anybody who has done basic accounting and auditing, the financial year usually will have to end and then the one who is executing the task will prepare his accounts and then the auditor will come in and audit.”
He continued: “In Ghana, when government, ministries and department and agencies that are doing whatever it is finish their work, they prepare their account at the end of the financial year which are audited by the Auditor-General. Sections 16 of the audit service act says ‘in addition to this audit the Auditor General may also conduct a special audit’
“As we speak, the COVID-19 response programme is still ongoing; it's not been completed, the accounts for the 2020 financial year are nowhere close to preparation, it will be prudent for all of this exercise to be completed for the accounts to be put together for the Auditor General to do a standard audit and if he believes there’s a reason to go further to do a special audit, he may go further. Within that context, I think we can all understand how premature this call for a special audit is when the programme has not even ended.”
“It is increasingly becoming clear that our colleagues in the Minority always look for an opportunity to raise some controversy in the hope to distract us from the COVID-19 response programme itself but we will not be distracted,” Mr Nkrumah added.