Concerns about possible misuse of COVID-19 funds continue to grow
• Research on the use of COVID-related spending has raised some concerns
• Results revealed possible misuse of COVID funds continuing to grow in Africa
• Since the start of the pandemic, Ghana has received grants from the IMF and the World Bank
Research from the Covid Transparency and Accountability Project (CTAP) has shown that while governments work to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and revive their economies from its ravages, concerns about a possible misuse of COVID funds continue to grow. grow in Africa.
Results that were conducted in seven African countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, Sierra Leon, Kenya, Cameroon, Liberia) revealed a lack of transparency and accountability for covid-related spending.
“While most countries have signed up to processes such as open contracts and beneficial ownership to access funds, there has not been full compliance, as evident from the obvious shortcomings,” the CTAP report said. .
Since the emergence of the health crisis, the government of Ghana has drawn billions of dollars from credit and grant programs from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Bank of Ghana, among other development partners. .
Although audit processes may be necessary to determine misuse of resources, lack of detail on public procurement and delays in accounting for funds leave room for misconceptions and erode confidence in public expenditure management. .
“As emergency procurement regimes have been adopted globally to save lives urgently, the disbursement process has been exposed to a greater potential for fraud, mismanagement and inefficiencies. general than usual, ”the report said.
CTAP found that commitments under the IMF’s Rapid Financial Lending Instrument to publish procurement plans, notices and terms of reference related to emergency response were largely not met in the seven countries monitored.
Of the many government contracts awarded during the pandemic, details of a handful can be viewed on the e-procurement platform created to facilitate public procurement processes and reduce the human interface that breeds corruption.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, only a few contracts were published on the portal, other public contracts for the period were not published,” the study revealed.
“In general, some of the names of companies that have been awarded other contracts for COVID-19 have indeed fallen into the public domain, but not as a result of their publication in the National Gazette by the Ghana Ministry of Finance, like this is required for the purchase of items which are in the national interest; some of the winning companies have been identified through the work of journalists and CSOs, most of them not included in the list of companies approved by the Autorité des marchés publics, ”he added.
The CTAP, however, commended the government for adopting electronic platforms in the application and disbursement of the GH ¢ 600 million CAP-BuSS support program to small and medium-sized enterprises.
According to the report, African countries have faced challenges in adhering to high standards of accountability “even amid evidence of corruption and undue profit from the pandemic.”
“A common thread runs through countries: far-reaching reforms in transparency and accountability are needed, especially in a time of emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report recommends.