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General News of Monday, 25 November 2002

Source: Graphic

Refund ?100m or face court action

THE Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) has given a month?s ultimatum to two organisations to refund ?100 million given to them for HIV/AIDS education campaign.

This is because an auditors report has shown that they have misapplied the first instalment of ?50 million allocated to them from the Ghana AIDS Response Fund (GARF).

The Director-General of the commission, Prof Sakyi Awuku Amoa, who disclosed this in an interview said failure to refund the money will result in the prosecution of the organisations.

He, however, declined to disclose the names of the organisations but said the commission will make their names public if they do not comply.

Prof Amoa said two other organisations are being investigated for misapplication of funds.

On scepticism among the public on the use of the fund, he said the commission is serious about the appropriate use of the GARF, which is aimed at supporting community-based organisations (CBOs) and NGOs which are involved in HIV/AIDS programmes.

Prof Amoa said there is a general perception that funds for HIV/AIDS campaign are being misapplied because of the many NGOs which are springing up purportedly to help curb the disease.

He said the commission envisaged this turn of events, especially with the establishment of the GARF fund and has therefore, put in place stringent measures to ensure that only credible NGOs benefit from the fund.

According to him monitoring mechanisms have been put in place for the judicious use of the fund, adding that CBOs are to be given ?70 million while NGOs will receive ?250 million.

He said as part of the financial management arrangement, 20 per cent of the amounts are initially given to the organisations after which they are made to account for .

Prof Amoa said an audit check account is undertaken to ascertain whether the organisations have judiciously used the money to merit more allocation of the fund.

He said the funds are to be used for care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS, educational campaigns and other preventive activities to curb the disease and beneficiaries of the fund are assessed on these criteria.

Additionally, he said, the detailed information of organisations such as their location, activities and financial standing are thoroughly investigated before the funds are given.

On the issue of whether it is realistic to preach abstinence to the youth as the most effective means of HIV/AIDS prevention, Prof Amoa said it depends largely on the kind of value parents give to their children.

?If children, especially girls are trained to be confident and believe that they do not need to look up to other people to survive, they will have a strong will and be able to withstand peer pressure and other negative things that push them to early sex?, he said.

Prof Amoa, however, noted that the early physiological development of children may also determine how long they can abstain from sex and explained that those whose physiological development delay have the urge to abstain longer from sex.