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Ghana not progressing in budget transparency – OBS report

[L-R] Finance Minister, Mr. Ofori-Atta will on Wednesday present on behalf of President Akufo-Addo, the 2018 Budget to Parliament

Ghana’s performance on budget transparency, has aptly been described as stagnant, following its very little progress made over the past two years, an Open Budget survey (OBS) report has said.

In 2017, Ghana scored 50 out of 100 in the Open Budget Index (OBI), and this represents a fall in scores in comparison with a score of 51 in 2015, the OBS research revealed.

“This however does not mean government has done so poor in making budget information available to citizens, but it is to be noted that much progress has not been made available in elevating the country to reach its targeted score of 67 by 2012,” Mrs Sandra Kwabea Sarkwah, the Project Officer of SEND GHANA, stated at the official launch of the results of OBS 2017.

In a presentation to the media and other Civil Society Organisation, at the official launch of the OBS report in Accra, on Wednesday, Mrs Sarkwah observed that, being the sixth assessment of Ghana’s performance on budget transparency, Ghana’s score had not seen improvements over the years.

“The country has failed to meet its target of 67 as envisaged in the 2012 survey, and countries like Senegal, Georgia, Jordan and Mexico have experienced significant gains in OBI since their participation in the survey,” she said.

According to the Project Officer of SEND GHANA, organisers of the launch, the score indicated that government provided the public with limited budget information making Ghana to score 22 out 100 in public participation.

“Where limited means that not all the eight budget documents, namely Pre-Budget Statement, Executive’s Budget Proposal, Enacted Budget, Citizens Budget, In-Year Reports, Mid-year Review, Year-End Report and Audit Report were published online and on time,” she added.

Touching on the scores on the eight budget documents, Mrs Sarkwah noted that, Pre-Budget Statement score was 0 out of 100; while Executive’s Budget Proposal had 55; with Enacted Budget scoring 56 and Citizens Budget obtaining a mark of 50.

Others are; In-Year Reports scored 0; Mid-year Review scored 70; Year-End Report scored 67 with Audit Report scoring 62 all out of 100.

These marks, were therefore described by Mr Sarkwah as limited, published late and substantial.

Going into the future, she, called for an increase in information provided in the Executive’s Budget Proposal by providing more detailed information on expenditures borrowing and debt.

“For instance, net borrowing, external and domestic debt were provided while that of the maturity of debt was not provided, therefore giving Ghana a score of 33 instead of 100,” she said.

She also called for a published Pre-Budget Statement online as well as the publication in a timely manner In-Year Reports online.

Mrs Harriet N. Agyemang, the Senior Programme Officer, of SEND GHANA called on the three arms of government to step up and or initiate mechanisms to engage the public, extensively on budget issues.

Mrs Agyemang further called for an independent fiscal institution that would help strengthen budget oversight.

Globally, there was a decline in the global report which was also announced in Washington, United States of America on January 30.

The OBS is an initiative of the international Budget Partnership that tacks and assesses Central government’s performance in transparent, public participation and budget oversight of the legislature and mandated audit institutions.

Source: GNA | Ghana

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