Parliament has passed the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) National Trust Fund Bill, 2020, under a certificate of urgency.
The Bill is to establish the fund to complement the efforts of the government in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will also support the needy and the vulnerable who have been afflicted or impacted on by the pandemic and for related matters.
The passage of the Bill came after the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, had moved the motion for it to be read for the third time, and it was seconded by the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu.
Ms Akuffo laid the Bill in Parliament on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 and it was consequently referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report.
The committee considered that the Bill was of urgent nature and submitted its determination to the House on Wednesday.
Justification of the Bill
Per the report, as presented by the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Ben Abdallah Banda, the committee believed that the establishment of the fund with the necessary transparency clauses in the Bill would give further impetus to the country’s ongoing efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and ameliorate the plight of the poor and vulnerable in society.
It said the establishment of the fund was to receive and manage contributions and donations from well-meaning individuals, groups and corporate bodies.
It noted that the money and resources accruing to the fund would be used, among other things, to support persons including frontline medical personnel and volunteers engaged in the combat of the COVID-19 pandemic and to support the vulnerable and the needy affected by the illness.
Sources of money for the fund
The report identified three main sources of funding–donations, gifts and other voluntary contributions by individuals, groups and corporate bodies.
Other sources, it said, would include money and resources that might become lawfully due to the fund and other money that the Board of Trustees of the Fund might determine in consultation with the Minister of Finance.
“The moneys accruing to the fund will be paid into a bank account to be opened for the fund,” it said.
The committee’s report indicated that the fund would be managed by a Board of Trustees that would be appointed by the President.
The membership of the board, it said, was proposed to comprise of a chairperson and six persons, one of whom would be a woman.
“The President will be required to take into consideration the integrity, knowledge, expertise and experience of the members when making the appointments,” it said.
It added that the specific functions of the board include monitoring and evaluating the operations and performance of the fund, defining the appropriate procedures for the management of the fund and preparing guidelines for the disbursement of the funds.
To foster transparency, the report said a number of transparency arrangements in the Bill including auditing of the fund and reporting on the activities of the fund would be put in place.
“The fund will be required to establish an internal audit unit to be headed by an internal auditor who will be responsible for the internal audit of the fund and further submit reports to the board with copies to the Finance Minister and the Auditor-General,” it said.
President Nana Akufo-Addo in a late-night address on Friday, March 27, 2020, announced the establishment of a COVID-19 Fund in Ghana.
The Fund will be headed by former Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Sophia Akuffo, and will have other members of the Board of Trustees as Archbishop Justice Ofei Akrofi, Jude Kofi Bucknor, Mrs Gifty Afenyi-Dadzie, Mrs Elsie Addo-Awadzie, Dr Ernest Ofori-Sarpong, and Dr Tanko Collins Asare.