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General News of Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Source: GNA

Government urged to update citizens on COVID-19 policy implementation

Participants at a forum in Ho where the call for government openness on COVID was made Participants at a forum in Ho where the call for government openness on COVID was made

The Ho Municipal Assembly (HMA) has been asked to create platforms to periodically update citizens on the state of COVID-19 policy implementation and fund expenditure.

Mr Mathew Amuzu, Volta Regional Director of Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), a subsidiary of Local Accountability Networks (LANets), said the platforms should include radio stations to enable them reach out to larger community.

He said the updates should also consider lessons learnt and persistent challenges during the implementation of the policy, adding that such avenues could also be used to appeal for funding to complement their resources.

Mr Amuzu was speaking during an accountability forum for citizens in Ho aimed at providing platform to the Assembly to give feedback to citizens on the COVID-19 policy implementation and fund expenditure within the Municipality.

The forum forms part of the COVID-19 Accountability Project: “Providing Platforms for Engaging Government on Transparent and Accountable COVID-19 Expenditure," which was initiated by Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) in partnership with LANets and sponsored by the US Embassy.

Mr Amuzu said policy implementation on COVID-19 should focus on enforcement measures as well as on the education and sensitisation programmes.

“There should be advocacy for the central government to continue to support the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in 2022 and beyond until COVID-19 has been eradicated."

He said it was imperative for critical stakeholders, including Ghana Health Service, the security services, transport unions and market queens, to devise enforcement strategies to ensure adherence to the safety protocols in the Municipality.

Mr Amuzu said a monitoring conducted by LANets in the last quarter of 2021 revealed that the Assembly received a total of Gh¢236, 280.00 from the central government through three main sources.

The sources included; “District Assembly Common Fund- Gh¢50, 000.00, Assembly Common Fund Responsiveness Factor Grant (DACF RFG)- Gh¢166, 280.00 and Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development- Gh¢20,000.00.”

He said the funds were spent on sectors, including COVID-19 sensitisation and prevention programmes, provision of water systems and personal protective equipment (PPE) and market sanitation improvement.

The research also revealed that care for patients of COVID-19 was completely free in the Ho Municipality, however, GHS reported that where an infected person had some underlying conditions, treatment for such may be at a fee “whether or not the NHIS covers the ailment.”

The findings also showed that duty bearers in the Municipality undertook awareness creation and public education activities to keep the public up to speed on government response efforts and protocols.

Mr Bright Sowu, Head of Programmes at GACC, said the project was initiated based on massive demand from citizens to know how the COVID-19 funds were spent as the country had received lots of money to fight the pandemic.

“Citizens understand every money spent by Government of Ghana come from them, it comes from the any money that comes for COVID-19 whether loan or grant or money raise by ourselves we need government to account for it because accountability is the hallmark of democracy."

Mr Sowu said the project was also focusing on policy accountability and how best to deal with the pandemic in the country.

Some of the participants at programme called on the government to endeavour to account for all the funds received for COVID-19.