- On April 14, 2015
Listen To The Story
George Osei-Bimpeh, the Country Director of SEND-GHANA has noted that, the absence of pre-budget statement limits citizens from engaging in a budget formulation exercise. He made this remark at an International Budget Partnership (IBP) funded budget accountability and transparency workshop held for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Accra.
The workshop was also used to disseminate information on Ghana’s performance on the Open Budget Survey (OBS) Tracker.
According to him, if the Ministry of Finance is asking people to make input into the budget process, and it does not provide citizens who are interested in the process with clue as to what the pillars of the budget are and as to what the focus of government is, then the result is getting all sorts of input that are not really focusing on the issue that government is focused on.
Adding that, a lot of CSOs have increasingly been focusing on the budget but unfortunately the focus of the budget analysis discussion is limited to budget statement but the statement is only one of the many documents that CSOs can look at when they want to promote budget accountability and transparency.
He cited the eight key budget documents that the ministry is expected to produce. Out of which seven is available.
The group commended government for doing well in the area of Executive Budget proposal, Citizens Budget and have urged same to consider functional classification of the budget in order make it more citizens friendly and understandable.
Daniel Adotey, a Programme Officer at SEND-GHANA explained that, currently the Ministry of Finance produces the administrative and economic classifications but there is the need for the functional classification that will make it easy for CSOs and researchers to track the functions of government and the respective financial allocations to those functions. For instance it is difficult to track budget in the Health Sector because the Health Sector goes beyond the Ministry of Health. Another challenge is getting the various allocations to other sectors that perform health related functions. The Ghana Aids Commission is under the Presidency but performs health functions. How do we aggregate all these specific health functions into one line that tells you that this is the health function and this is the cost?
A better understanding of the budget is key to holding public duty bearers accountable, according to Osei-Bimpeh.
He believes that, “we cannot achieve this if you work in an environment where there are challenges with the budget, in terms how transparent the budget is.”
David Klottey Collison, Head of Budget Development Unit (BDU) at the Ministry of Finance assured the gathering that, Ghana will meet all the indicators for the Open Budget Index (OBI) by publishing all the required budget documents by 2016/17. He promised that his outfit will produce a narrative performance report to accompany the fiscal data.
On his part, Yaw Adjie-Sifa, the Deputy Auditor General (AG) assured CSOs of better collaboration on issues bothering on accountability.