Arise Ghana,a pressure group in the Country has called on Ghanaians to rise against the abuse of office, corruption, impunity, among others by President Nana Addo .
In a Press Conference today,they indicated that, the media engagement was necessary due to recent developments in the Country which has brought the once promising nation to the brink of collapse.
It was stated that ,Arise Ghana which is an amalgamation of various interest groups within the Country once again cannot watch on whiles the dear nation is run into abyss.
The Press Conference highlighted on a few of the worrying development and called on the good people of Ghana to rise and put a stop to this impunity, abuse of office, corruption, nepotism and economic distress by President Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo.
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This briefing will take a critical look at the following pressing issues
• Covid 19 funds which have been misappropriated
• The Debt Exchange Programme
• The Current State of the Ghanaian Economy
1. COVID 19 AND MATTERS ARISING
Ladies and Gentlemen, recently the Auditor General conducted an audit into the use of the Covid-19 funds as part of a requirement by the IMF to approve a program request for Ghana, a report of the audit was published recently. Ladies and Gentlemen, our first impression after scrutinizing this report is that the Auditor General only engaged in expenditure matching and not a forensic audit of the Covid-19 expenditures, what the auditor general was simply to match projected expenditures to actual expenditures and did not go further to forensically interrogate the actual expenditures, this was what led to the supposed GHC16.9billion in unaccounted revenues as exposed by the audit report, an actual forensic scrutiny of the report suggests that Govt did not spend more than GHC1billion on Covid out of the GHC21.8billion it received.
The Auditor General’s report released indictaes that an amount of GH¢1,978,551,137.46 was mobilized in 2021 and GH¢753,319,842.66 (up to June 2022). In all, GH¢21,844,189,185.24 (over a billion US $) was mobilized to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are a few of the wastefulness and corruption that engulfed the whole covid funds looting…..
According to the report, US$81,870,379.80. of vaccines paid for but not delivered and funds also not retrieved.
The Auditor General also noted that suppliers and service providers who were contracted to supply medical and personal protective equipment were paid advances of US$27,955,702.07 and GH¢9,911,601.75 beyond the required legal threshold.
It was also appalling to note that whiles citizens were struggling to survive during those times, senior management staff and other supporting staff of the Ministry of Information paid themselves a total amount of GH¢151,500.00 as COVID-19 risk allowance for coming to work during the lockdown period contrary to the above Presidential directives. Also, allowances totaling GH¢811,800.00 were paid to some staff at Ministry of Information without adequate supporting documents according to the audit report.
The Ghana Health Service is also alleged to have spent an amount of GH¢678,800.00 on the compilation of information on treatment and isolations centers and medical equipment in the regions, even though the Ministry of Health which is constructing the facilities and the Temporary Central Medical Store that is responsible for the equipment already had the data which is absurd.
Ladies and gentlemen the report further reveals that, COVID-19 funds amounting to GH¢451,800.00 were disbursed directly to the Paramount Chiefs of the Traditional Councils to fight the Pandemic. However, these payments were unsubstantiated with relevant supporting documents while two of the Regional Houses of Chiefs misapplied a total amount of GH¢154,161.97.
Also, between April 2020 and September 2020, National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) received three payments totaling GH¢42,237,770.00 from the Ministry of Finance for the supply of food items to Faith-based Organisations and selected MMDAs in Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi, this was in respect of Government’s support to Ghanaians during the lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was noted that waybills from the various Institutions amounted to GH¢40,831,685.00 resulting in an over-invoicing of GH¢1,406,085.00.
The AG report also noted how Enterprise Insurance pocketed about GHC12million of medical insurance package for frontline workers without any certificate or any single beneficiary to show for it.
2. Government of Ghana Domestic Debt Exchange Programme
We all recall that the finance minister announced plans for a debt restructuring this year in the 2023 budget. On 5th December 2022, the Government of Ghana launched Ghana’s Domestic Debt Exchange programme, an invitation for the voluntary exchange of approximately GHS137 billion of the domestic notes and bonds of the Republic, including E.S.L.A. and Daakye bonds, for a package of New Bonds to be issued by the Republic.
Under the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme, domestic bondholders have been asked to exchange their instruments for new ones. Existing domestic bonds will be exchanged for a set of four new bonds maturing in 2027, 2029, 2032 and 2037. The annual coupon on all of those bonds will be set at 0% in 2023, 5% in 2024 and 10% from 2025 until maturity with coupon payments done semiannually. While the programme has the potential to improve the country’s fiscal health and reduce the debt burden, it could also lead to increased volatility in the market.
The capital market and several investors have subsequently denounced the debt exchange programme due to existent risk of capital flight and financial market instability associated with these types of liability management program leading to the date of its initiation postponed on different occasions. Government extended the closing date for the bond exchange three times already since early December 2022 to 31st January,2023. The deadline for the debt swap, was initially set for December 19, and then extended to December 30 and then to January 16 and now February 7. Revisions to the initial offer exempted pensioners after a public outcry but later brought in individual bondholders who were originally exempted.
The estimated bondholders’ net present value losses could have negative and significant impact on Ghana’s economy. Given that Ghana’s financial system held large amounts of government debt (51.6% of the domestic debt stock), the expectation is that a collapse in confidence in government of Ghana solvency would lead to large‐scale deposit runs and a credit crunch.
Some Ghanaian domestic banks could face the associated risk of deterioration in the credit quality ratio. Some financial institutions may not be able to make adequate provisions for these risks and would have to curtail lending as their balance sheets shrink. The debt exchange perception has increased risk of Ghana government securities as expected to considerably blunt confidence in the Ghanaian economy in general, thereby affecting the creditworthiness of private institutions as well as individuals.
This would translate into a further cut in letters of credit lines to domestic banking institutions, which would have serious implications for external trade and the stability of the foreign exchange market. Ghana had already suffered the effects of cuts in credit lines and margin calls as a result of the downgrade by international credit rating agencies since the beginning of 2022. Further pulling out of credit lines and margin calls would be distressing to the payments system, financial markets and the economy in general.
3. Current State of the Economy
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a very difficult time for the people of this Country, on the 1st of February 2023 alone, Fuel went up by 15%, water and electricity also went up by about 35%, inflation is about 54% and the bank of Ghana increased the Policy rate to 28% taking cost of borrowing at the commercial rates to an unprecedented 40%.
These fundamentals can only spell doom for the average Ghanaian, who do not know how to survive around such turbulent economic crisis, in all this the government still remains not only adamant, reckless, insensitive and corrupt as Transparency International scored us very low in the recent corruption perception index report but highly pompous and opulent.
The cataclysmic economy we find ourselves in today could have been avoided with a sound Finance Minister. Evidently, our economy is headed in no particular direction to be charitable or better still, our economy is on life support at the intensive care unit of KorleBu Hospital. The low level that Ghana’s economy has declined is the sole creation of President Akuffo Addo’s Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta. The continues stay in office of Ken Ofori Atta as Finance Minister can only make things murkier for the Ghanaians.
In the light of this, we are left with no option than declaring Ken Ofori-Atta, a persona non grata. We call on the media and the public to withdraw all official courtesies accorded him, we do not recognize Ken OFORI-Atta as our Finance Minister or a Public Officer.
4. What Next?
It time for Ghanaians to rise against a government that has shown appetite for big talk but no action. It is time to rise against a nepotistic government. It is time to rise against a government whose stock in trade is to make the Ghanaian worse off. In the subsequent days we shall announce plans for our next line of action what we intend to do to ensure that Ken OFORI-Atta does not continue to wreck this economy with more and more hardships.
We thank you for coming…
God bless our Homeland Ghana.