Parliament on Thursday [16 March], passed the 2021 Supplementary Appropriations Bill which caters for the government’s expenditure for the year ending 31 December 2020.
The passage of the supplementary appropriations bill is to regularise emergency expenditure by the government during the heat of the coronavirus pandemic for the 2020 fiscal year.
Ranking member on the finance committee, Cassiel Ato Forson in contributing to the debate on the bill said the government had hugely overspent outside the approved remit; accusing the government of hiding behind the pandemic to make money
“Mr Speaker, my concern relates to the fact that for the year 2020 we all agreed that there was COVID-19, the quantum of the amount this government decided to appropriate was a bit too much. I say this because Ghana became an outlier to our neighbours as a result of this very supplementary appropriation that we’re being called upon to approve.
“…Mr Speaker, an amount of GHC8.9 billion was allocated for the purposes of the additional expenditure of the year. As a result of that, the fiscal deficit became 15% approximately, for the year 2020. Our debt stock rose and it’s part of the reason we’re here today with economic difficulties. Even apart from the GHC11.8 billion, the ministry of finance went ahead to spend additional GHC1 billion.”
However, the chairman of the finance committee Kwaku Kwarteng has debunked the claims by the minority member insisting that the government has been transparent in its COVID-19 expenses.
He said: “What we are asking the House to do is to see whether the bill before us reflects the approval we gave to the government. I am, therefore, scandalised, Mr Speaker, that anybody will be speaking of over expenditures when really, you’re being invited to consider whether the bill reflects the approval. I think it reflects the approval that we gave.
“…We checked at the committee level in the presence of my good friend; the ranking member [Ato Forson] and we all agreed that this indeed reflects the approval and therefore, we should pass it into law. So, I am not sure why anybody will be talking about over expenditures.”