- On January 1, 2015
Listen To The Story
OUR RIGHT TO KNOW: ENHANCING BUDGET TRANSPERENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND PARTICIPATION
September 28 each year has been set aside by the global community as the International Right to Know Day. On this day SEND Ghana, the Ghana Aid Effectiveness Forum is joining the Global Movement for Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation (BTAP) to raise awareness on the need to advance budget transparency, accountability and participation in Ghana.
Access to Information is a fundamental human right. According to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.” In addition, public budgets are raised through citizens’ contributions and the income generated by public assets. Thus, participation in the decisions related to public budgets is a fundamental right and responsibility of all citizens. To increase citizens’ participation in the governance process of the country, government must empower its citizens with essential information devoid of technicalities to enable them contribute meaningfully to national development.
According to the 2012 Open Budget Survey report, Ghana recorded a slight decline in the IBP Open Budget Index in 2012 with a score of 50 out of 100 after registering increasing scores previously (42 in 2006, 50 in 2008, and 54 in 2010). The report recommended the production and publication of Pre-budget statement, Citizens budget and Year-end report in order to improve transparency.
SEND Ghana’s 2013 report on the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) “Managing Public Finance for Effective Local Development” has revealed that there is inadequate access to budget documents and information. According to the report 89% of citizens involved in the study indicated that they do not have access to budget documents produced at the Metropolitan, Municipal District Assembly (MMDAs) level. Additionally the report stated that District Assemblies compliance with financial management standards is weak; leading to several irregularities on the DACF. According to the report most assemblies do not have functional Audit Reports Implementation Committees hence their persistent failure to implement audit recommendations
Similarly SEND Ghana’s 2010 report on the DACF found that there is generally a low level of adherence by MMDAs on the DACF utilization guidelines. The report further indicated that the use of the DACF is not transparent and often managed without meaningful citizen’s participation. Lack of access to information and limited community involvement in the disbursement and utilization of the DACF makes it difficult for MMDAs to be responsive to the needs of the citizens.
In 2012, GAEF attempt to monitor government’s budget was affected by availability of data. Even where data was available, there was the issue of accessibility, timeliness and lack of disaggregated data thereby hindering in-depth analysis.
For this reason, we call on Ministry of Finance, Parliament, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and District Assemblies to adhere to the following principles:
Public budgets must be transparent, meaning that all information related to the way in which public money is raised, allocated, spent and accounted should be made available to the general public in an accessible, timely and comprehensible way.
Budget processes must be inclusive, ensuring open and ample opportunities for all citizens to fulfill their right to know about, participate in, and influence all decisions with regard to the collection, allocation and management of public funds.
Budget data must be accurate, relying on publicly known estimates and ensuring that governments spend public monies on the priorities for which they were approved, thereby reducing the room for leakages, corruption and inefficiencies.
Budgets have to be comprehensive, encompassing all revenues and expenditures, regardless of their origin — including international aid, parastatal funds and the management of internal and external debt.
Finally, to strengthen the work of civil society, we join the Right to Information Coalition in the call for the necessary parliamentary amendment and passage of the Right to Information Bill, so as to enhance Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation in Ghana.