Thursday, 10 September 2015 16:28

Ghana struggles to meet 67 % OBS target

Ghana, one of the 102 countries surveyed in the latest Open Budget Survey continues to struggle in its quest to meet its set target of 67 per cent by 2016. Having chalked relative success in the sub region over the period between 2010 and 2015, the performance of Ghana in making available 8 key budget documents can best be described as “stagnant.”

Many reasons account for this. In 2006, Ghana scored 42 per cent in the Open Budget Index. Ghana performance indicated that though the government provided citizens with some information on the central government’s budget and financial activities, there was still much room for improvement.

In 2008, Ghana’s performance inched up marginally with a 49 per cent score. During that year, government failed to provide and make public its Pre-budget statement, mid-year review and an audit report. A year-end report was also not published preventing comparisons between what was budgeted and what was actually spent and collected at the end of the year. 

Ghana’s OBI 2010 score of 54 is higher than the score of any other country surveyed in West Africa. Ghana’s score had increased from 42 to 54 from 2006 to 2010 largely because the government began to publish a Mid-Year Review, a Year-End Report, and an Audit Report. 

However, although the 2010 score represented significant improved, it also showed that the government was providing the public with only some information on the central government’s budget and financial activities during the referenced year. 

In 2012, Ghana’s performance dipped with a 50 per cent score out of 100, which is a little higher than the average score of 43 for all the 100 countries surveyed and the highest in the West Africa region. Ghana’s OBI 2012 score of 50 had slightly decreased from its 54 score in 2010.

Ghana’s score indicated that the government provided the public with only some information on the national government’s budget and financial activities during the course of that budget year. 

The latest Results 2015

The 2015 Open Budget Survey report reveals that Ghana scored 51 per cent out of 100, thus falling just below Sierra Leone which scored 52 per cent out of 100. 

The report, the fifth of its kind, is the world’s only independent, comparative survey of budget transparency, citizen participation, and independent oversight institutions in the budgeting process. 

The widespread lack of strong budget accountability systems poses a threat to the implementation of critical international agreements, such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the international agreement that is expected at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. 

“Good systems that will ensure that, public access to budget information becomes easy will help to promote financial management and transparency of budget process in the country. The relationship between budget transparency and development of a nation cannot be over emphasised,” said Mr. George Osei-Bimpeh, Country Director of SEND-GHANA.

The report suggests that, country governments that must act with donors, civil society groups, investors, and international institutions to strengthen the pillars of budget systems, “transparent budget information can help a government to develop its capacity to make simple and available budget documents,” Osei-Bimpeh continues. “The absence of budget transparency means that citizens can no longer participate in the process, hold duty bearers accountable to what they earmarked to spend and give feedback on how government is performing in terms of revenues, allocations, and expenditures.” 

Even though Ghana has performed fairly in all the surveys, the report however acknowledges that, Ghana is the regional leader on budget oversight and engagement in West Africa Country.

Recommendations

To improve upon Ghana’s transparency, SEND-GHANA recommends the following actions:

•       Produce and publish the Pre-Budget Statement and the Enacted Budget in a timely manner

•      Increase the comprehensiveness of the Executive’s Budget Proposal by presenting more information on the classification of expenditures for future years and the classification of expenditures for prior years.

•      Increase the comprehensiveness of the Year-End Report by presenting more information on planned versus actual macroeconomic forecasts and planned versus actual performance.

To increase public participation, Ghana must

•      Provide detailed feedback on how public perspectives have been captured and taken into account.

•      Hold legislative hearings on the budgets of specific ministries, departments, and agencies at which testimony from the public is heard.

•      Establish formal mechanisms for the public to assist the supreme audit institution to formulate its audit program and participate in audit investigations to improve on opportunity for public participation, the following are to be done

Additionally the following must be done to improve oversight responsibilities of the Legislature and the supreme audit

•      Establish a specialized budget research office for the legislature. In law and practice, ensure the legislature is consulted prior to the release of funds in the Enacted Budget and the spending of any unanticipated revenue.

•      Ensure the supreme audit institution has adequate funding to perform its duties, as determined by an independent body (e.g., the legislature or judiciary).

About the Open Budget Survey 2015 and IBP

The Open Budget Survey is the only independent, comparative, and regular measure of budget transparency, participation, and oversight in the world.

The aim of International Budget Partnership (IBP) is to make budget systems more transparent and accountable to the public in order to improve governance and combat poverty. 

For the full report and other resources, including country-specific results, please visit: www.openbudgetsurvey.org

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SEND Ghana
Box A28 Regimanuel Estates,
Nungua Barrier, Sakumono,

Tel: +233 (0) 302 716830 / 302 716860

Email: info@sendwestafrica.org