By Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA
Accra, April 16, GNA - The Government, on Tuesday, refuted claims by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that it invested over GH¢17 million funds belonging to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) with the All Time Capital Limited, a private investment house.
Speaking at a news conference in Accra, to respond and clarify the allegations, Mr Pius Enam Hadzide, a Deputy Minister of Information, said the investment in the investment firm started under the Mahama-led government on July 26, 2012, with placement of five million Ghana cedis in a 365-day fixed deposit investment.
He added the Management of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) at that time even rolled over the principal amount plus the interest accrued on the funds, and later made further investment with the same investment firm.
The Deputy Minister, therefore, expressed surprise that the leadership of the NDC could turn around and accuse the current government for failing to exercise due diligence in investing over GH¢17 million of the NHIS funds in that investment house, and described the accusation as mischievous and misrepresentation of facts.
The NDC, led by its Director of Communications, Mr Sammy Gyamfi, on Monday, April, 15 organised a news conference to make a number of allegations concerning the operations of the NHIS and said the Scheme was fast collapsing because of the investment Government made in All Time Capital Limited.
Mr Hadzide said the NHIS was buoyant and that the Government had provided all the logistical and funding support to the Scheme, adding that President Akufo-Addo never peddled untruth regarding the state of the NHIS during the State of the Nation Address and encounter with Ghanaians in the Diaspora.
He debunked the assertion by the NDC that the NHIS was at the verge of collapse adding that government had paid the GH¢1.2 billion debt left behind by the previous government.
He said the NDC was clearly confused with the funding gap of GH¢425.7 million with the total claim arrears of GH¢1.2 billion as at December 2016, explaining that the funding gap was the difference between the total liability and the money that was due the NHIS.
He said the reference by the NDC about the increase of NHIS budget estimate on expenditure compensation was a palpable falsehood and misleading, explaining that the creation of the new regions and plans to establish more offices accounted for the increase.
Responding to the allegation of using funds from the NHIS to pay nurses trainee allowance, Mr Hadzide said the 2018 budget clearly stated the funding sources for the nurses’ trainee allowance, which would come from a statutory fund at the Ministry of Health amounting to GH¢311.98 million.
Mr Hadzide also debunked the assertion that Ghanaians were losing confidence in the Scheme saying that the membership registration had rather surged up from 18. 6 million in 2016 to 20.1 million in 2018, with 75,000 mobile renewals weekly.
More so, the number of healthcare providers (credential facilities) signed up to attend to registered NHIS cardholders increased from 4,160 in December 2016 to 4,520 at the end of 2018.
Currently, the active membership of the Scheme as at January 2019 stood at 10,793,456 higher than the 2019 figure quoted by the NDC.
He said government increased the service tariffs payable to the credential institutions by 20 percentage points as at April 1, 2019, intended to enhance the quality of service rendered to subscribers.
Dr Lydia Dsane-Selby, the acting Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority, corroborated the Deputy Information Minister’s narration and said the previous Management of the NHIA invested in All Time Capital Limited but when the new NHIS Board came into office in 2017, it decided to take a second look at the investments in order to safeguard the funds.
Answering question regarding the NHIA indebtedness, she said, the Scheme had a five-month indebtedness gap and was making strenuous efforts to pay the outstanding arrears to the healthcare providers.