ASEPA’s Executive Director, Mensah Thompson

The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) has petitioned the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to probe the Ministry of Finance on the use of $560million support for its Covid-19 relief programs from the World Bank.

According to ASEPA, it is deeply concerned that government has introduced several new taxes and increased utility tariffs even though it received financial support in 2020, to initiate several measures to fight the pandemic such as procurement of PPEs, sanitisers, food distribution, and utility relief packages such as electricity.

In its petition dated February 7, ASEPA has requested the OSP to find out “whether the World Bank has asked government to refund the support it granted it to implement such reliefs” and “why Ghanaians have been asked to pay back a relief which had been funded by money from the World Bank”.

ASEPA petitions Special Prosecutor to probe Finance Ministry on use of $560m World Bank Covid-19 Support

ASEPA’s actions stem from a revelation by World Bank Country Director, Pierre Frank Laporte, that the World Bank provided the Government of Ghana with $430 million to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

“…and this includes different activities including initially the communication campaign, the sensitization campaign, equipping labs, equipping new facilities to receive patients, and to treat patients,” he said to JoyNews’ George Wiafe on PM Express.

Mr Laporte added that the World Bank further provided an additional $130million purposely for the purchase of vaccines.

ASEPA petitions Special Prosecutor to probe Finance Ministry on use of $560m World Bank Covid-19 Support

In view of this, the Executive Director of ASEPA, Mensah Thompson, has noted that there is a “lack of transparency and accountability in the use of the Covid funds.”

In detail, the Public Accountability and Anti-Corruption Civil Society Organisation wants the OSP to “investigate how much the $130million World Bank support for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines was applied; probe how the Covid-19 relief loans under the Obatanpa Program was disbursed by the NBSSI.”

Also, the OSP must “probe the procurement of PPEs for schools and hospitals; and probe the food distribution and utility relief packages such as free water and electricity that was given during the Covid-19 period.”

ASEPA suspects that the procurement of PPEs were not in conformity with the laid down public procurement laws and “there exist widespread allegations of corruption in these procurements.”

Again, ASEPA has requested the OSP to look into the “$1billion given to government by the International Monetary Fund (IMF); and the application of the proceeds from the Heritage funds which government applied in the fight against Covid-19.”

Meanwhile, ASEPA has noted its confidence in the Office of the Special Prosecutor to do a diligent job.

In the letter to the OSP, the group has requested an update on the status of the investigations into the Frontiers Health Services Covid-19 testing contract at the Kotoka International Airport.

“We would be grateful if the OSP provides an update on the status of that investigation,” it stated.