A special audit by the Auditor General’s Department into COVID-19 receipts and expenditures has revealed several cases of improper and inefficient use of funds by MDAs and MMDAs.
The audit, which was conducted at the request of the Speaker of Parliament and the Finance Ministry, covered periods between March 2020, when Ghana officially reported its first case, and June 2022.
The report stated total receipts of GHC 21.84 billion from various sources, including the contingency fund, the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Union (EU), and the sale of BOG-COVID-19 Bonds.
The 116-page document cited either losses that had been incurred by the state through the lack of adherence to the Public Financial Management (PFM) laws by public officers or savings that could have been made if public officials and institutions had observed the PFM laws through their decisions and actions.
It also saw the misapplication of funds to finance the country’s budget and the non-utilisation and under-utilisation of medical supplies and equipment.
Below is a section of the findings by the Auditor-General:
The Auditor-General’s report on COVID-19 has revealed that the Ministry of Health entered into a US$4,049,460.12 agreement for the purchase of 26 Toyota Hiace Deluxe Ambulances in December 2021, but the ambulances were never delivered.
Details of the report indicate that a total of US$607,419.02 out of US$4,049,460.12 was paid for the ambulances to be delivered by January 15, 2022; however, as of November 28, 2022, no ambulance had been delivered.
The Health Ministry, also without the approval of the Central Tender Review Committee, increased the cost of five contracts with a total contract sum of GH24,256,500.00 by a total of GHC 4,017,000.00 through variation orders, the report revealed.
Over-invoicing at the National Food Buffer Stock
The Auditor General said the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) between April 2020 and September 2020 received three payments totaling GHC 42,237,770.00.
However, the Auditor-General noted that waybills from the various institutions amounted to GHC40,831,685.00, resulting in an over-invoicing of GHC 1,406,085.00.
Unaccounted COVID-19 Funds to National House of Chiefs
In reviewing the expenditure records of six regional houses of chiefs, the Auditor-General disclosed that COVID-19 funds amounting to GHC 451,800.00 were disbursed directly to the paramount chiefs of the traditional councils to fight the pandemic. However, these payments were not substantiated with relevant supporting documents. The office also noted that two regional houses misapplied a total of GH154,161.97 for the inauguration of the Northern Regional House of Chiefs and the allowance paid for the elections of the House.
Payment of Unsubstantiated Amounts by Ghana Water Company
The Auditor-General’s review of bills submitted to the Ministry of Finance for payment covering April 2020 to June 2021, however, disclosed that two of the costs totaling GHC 21,348,068.48 did not relate to actual bills expected to be paid by the Ministry of Finance. It also noted that the cost of water to Ghana Water Company’s own facilities (offices, residents, and other properties) totaling GHC 7,172,706.73, which was already being absorbed by the company prior to the announcement of free water, was added to the cost and forwarded to the Ministry of Finance for payment.
Unapproved risk allowances paid to Ministry of Information staff
During its review, the Auditor-General noted that senior management staff and other supporting staff of the Ministry of Information paid themselves a total of GHC 151,500.00 as COVID-19 risk allowance for coming to work during the lockdown period, contrary to the above presidential directives and without approval from the Office of the Chief of Staff.
Among the recommendations offered by the Auditor General were the refund of unused or unbudgeted funds into its “Recoveries Account” and the conformance of the management of the institutions to established procedures and systems.