Ghana government seeks parliamentary approval on $35m World Bank deal to fight COVID-19

Parliament on Saturday received a request from the Government of Ghana (GoG) to approve an agreement with the World Bank for an amount of $35 million to support Government’s operations in dealing with the coronavirus.

The proposed agreement, which was laid before the House on Saturday, is between the GoG and the International Development Association (IDA), a subsidiary of the World Bank.

The House sat on Saturday, an additional day from the normal four days a week-sitting, to debate a One Billion Cedi Coronavirus Alleviation Programme stimulus package announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

President Akufo-Addo, in the latest televised national address, addressed the disruption in economic activities, the hardships to be encountered and the need to rescue and revitalize industries.

“The Minister for Finance has been directed by me to prepare, for approval by Parliament, a Coronavirus Alleviation Programme to address the disruption in economic activities, the hardship of our people, and to rescue and revitalize our industries,” the President said.

Despite the absence of the Minority from the chamber, the document was laid and the Speaker, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye referred it to the Finance Committee of Parliament for consideration and approval.

Earlier in the month, President Nana Akufo-Addo directed the release of $100 million to fund the expansion of infrastructure, purchase of materials and equipment, and public education and to support various aspects of the economy, to survive the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta later told Parliament that the $100 million announced by the President was not ready.

He said Ghana has applied to the World Bank to tap into a $12 billion fast track Covid-19 facility and the IMF $10 billion facility and would augment the funds with local resources.

The Minority, however, was of the position that the Minister should have given the House details about the $100 million dollars for Covid-19.

The Finance Minister is expected in Parliament on Monday (March 30, 2020) to brief the House on other measures being adopted to sustain the economy.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister and MP for Bimbilla Dominic Nitiwul, Dominic Nitiwul has described the apparent boycott of proceedings of the Minority as “unpatriotic”.

“Everywhere in the world, nations are coming together to fight this coronavirus. People have put politics aside, in fact, politics can wait,” he said.

Mr Nitiwul said: “There is nothing more important than to put partisan politics aside and fight this coronavirus which is an invincible energy, as a single united force.

“For the NDC Members of Parliament to boycott parliament at this particular time is uncalled for, unpatriotic and is a stab at the back of Ghanaians.”

Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu had hinted that members on his side would not to participate in the sitting because they had been overstretched, but should the Finance Minister present any emergency budget to fight the pandemic, his side of the house would avail itself.

Source: GNA

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