Government has failed to prioritize the building of the capacity of the state to fight the novel Corona Virus, Member of Parliament(MP) for Bolgatanga Central constituency Isaac Adongo has said.
According to the National Democratic Congress(NDC) Lawmaker, the budget on a GHC1.2bn approved by parliament from the contingency fund did not include direct expenditure on capacity building, resources and logistics to aid in the fight against the pandemic.
The Finance Committee of Parliament last week approved an amount of GH¢1.2 billion for government from the Contingency Fund to finance the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP).
Prior to the approval, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta presented to Parliament, the policy document on the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme.
Giving a breakdown of the planned expenditure, Mr. Ofori Atta told Parliament GH¢280 million will go into food packages and hotmeals while GH¢40 million to the National Buffer Stock Company, whereas, an extra GH¢200 million will be used to cater for bills on water and sanitation, GH¢241 million will cover tax waiver for health personnel.
He stated further that GH¢80 million will be spent on the allowance for health staff, GH¢2 million will be used to cover transportation for health workers GH¢600 million will be disbursed as soft loans to businesses.
Speaking in an interview on Bolgatanga based Yem Radio monitored by MyNewsGh.com, Isaac Adongo who is a member of the finance committee of parliament described as worrying the decision by government not to directly spend on the establishment of structures and logistical support in the fight against the pandemic.
Mr. Adongo argued that a chunk of the money approved should be channelled towards addressing the issues of limited number of testing centres for the Corona Virus coupled with unavailability of regional quarantine or holding centres for suspected cases.
“It is a bit difficult when you are being very political and suggesting ways by which we could improve the fight, then your other opponent finds it difficult to buy into your ideas. For instance I will never have thought that we would approve Ghc 1.2bn from the contingency fund which is purely a transfer from our stabilisation fund and not a penny of that money is actually budgeted to be spent on how we can build capacity to fight Corona Virus. I feel very scandalized about that,” he said.
According to the MP, the backlog of samples at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and KCCR would have been avoided if government had made available resources to the institute and also invested in setting up more testing centres.
He added that “We are spending Ghc 1.2bn to deal with an emergency and all I see is social welfare intervention.”
In the view of the legislator, priority should be placed on ensuring rapid test particularly for areas affected by the lockdown and isolation of persons affected by the disease for treatment.
Mr. Adongo stated government is yet to build an action plan to expedite the testing of samples that have been taken.
“Almost five months into Corona Virus, government is now looking for an action plan to expedite the testing of samples that have been taken. Not an action plan for an integrated eradication of the corona virus which ought to have been in place way back in December,” he stated.
He insisted that no funds have been made available to Regional, District and Municipal Health Directorates to position them in the fight against the pandemic.