The Finance Committee of Parliament has given authorization to the Minister of Finance to spend from the Contingency Fund.
The decision was taken after the committee’s meeting, following a statement made by the Minister in the House on government’s Coronavirus Alleviation Programme.
The Contingency Fund is the only fund apart from the Consolidated Fund that is established by the constitution under Article 175 to finance expenses related to urgent or unforeseen occurrences which have no provisions in the Appropriation Act of a given year.
Also, the constitution in Clause 2 of Article 177, details that the power to allocate money into the fund is resident with the Legislature.
By this approval, the Finance Minister can now implement the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme, with the expectation that an extra 50 million dollars will accrue to the fund by close of the year.
Speaking to Citi Business News, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr. Mark Assibey Yeboah, said the Finance Minister will later give further details of how the money would be spent.
“What we were required to do this afternoon was to determine whether a need has arisen, and if a need has, then we will authorize expenditure. This is not the normal approvals we give when we go through appropriations. That is why this is an emergency which is referred to the Committee on Finance because the Constitution envisages that in such an emergency, you don’t need to go through all the motions and come to the full house. That is why it said this small committee of twenty-five should authorize the spending and then the Minister will come back, having spent the money, to brief the House on all the details,”he said.”
The Finance Minister has already indicated that the cumulative effect of the novel coronavirus pandemic will cost Ghana GHS9.505 billion.
The government in partnership with the National Board for Small Scale Industries, Business & Trade Associations and selected Commercial and Rural Banks has put in place a GHS 600 million soft loan scheme with a two-year repayment plan for micro, small and medium scale businesses.
Persons who access these loans will have a one-year grace period before beginning repayment.
Apart from the above which will come from the GHS1.2 billion cedis, Mr. Ofori-Atta is seeking the support of Parliament to amend the relevant laws to lower the cap of the Stabilization Fund from US$300 million to US$100 million.
This is to enable the government use the excess funds to bridge the gap created by the economic impact of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Minority after the meeting decried the lack of details in the financial estimates presented to the committee, and indicated that they would not support the request by the Finance Minister if a provision is not made to absorb electricity bills of residential consumers in these trying times.