SEND Ghana has analysed Ghana’s 2017 budget and has come out with the following observations on key sectors and pro programs; HEALTH AND NUTRITION We applaud government for incorporating a good number of our inputs into the 2017 budget, but challenge it todevelop an overarching health and nutrition security investment strategy that is consistent with its overall theme of “Beyond Aid”. The 2017 budget pledges government’s commitment to invest in the provision of quality health services to the citizenry but itis less transparent on strategies in key areas such as allocations for the implementation of the national nutrition strategy adopted in 2016. The budget failed to clearly indicate how the government will fund the improvement and expansion of the Community-Based Health Planning and Services(CHPS) and also does not demonstrate strong commitment to uphold the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) principle of reliance on domestically mobilized funds for development and investment expenditures. Revenue realized from the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) should be separated from the consolidated funds and be given directly to the National Health Insurance (NHIA) to prevent government from spending the funds on other interventions. Government should invest in the provision of up-to date data on health priority areas: maternal and child health, nutrition and Human Immune Virus (HIV) to facilitate proper monitoring and planning. The removal of the 17.5 % tax on imported drugs is welcome relief because the price of drugs in Ghana is currently higher than the price of the same drugs on the international market. The 2017 allocation to the health sector of 7.8% falls short of meeting the 15% of the total annual budget set by the Abuja Declaration which Ghana signed up to in 2001. Sixteen (16) years down the line Ghana is about half way to meeting the Abuja target. CHILD PROTECTION AND WELFARE Expenditure allocation to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGC&SP) increased by 416% from GH¢49,520,377.00 to GH¢255,481,323.00, which is commendable given the important role it plays. However, in the absence of a programme budget for the ministry, it is difficult to assess the proportion that goes into child rights promotion and protection. The budget failed to provide details on targets achieved on key policies pursued in 2016 and targets for 2017 in most cases. Statements such as “government will continue or collaborate with …” were commonly used. This style of budgeting does not give room for interested civil society organisations and citizens (in particular) to track the use of public resources meant for specific purposes. Again, it makes it impossible to hold government account to specific targets. Abuse, violence and exploitation of children in Ghana are prevalent in various forms. A recent study by the MGC&SP with support from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) does not only underscore this phenomenon but concluded that aside violating children’s right to protection from harm, these come with high economic cost. It is for this reasons that key stakeholders have commended government’s policy initiatives in recent years. Adoption of policies is a means to an end and not the end in itself. Thus, the budget, as a national cost plan, is to facilitate the implementation of policies. Unfortunately, the 2017 Budget Statement is silent on how it will fully implement policies such as the Child and Family Welfare Policy and Justice for Children Policy, which were approved in 2015 and 2016 respectively. A cost implementation plan for the Child and Family Welfare Policy estimates the annual cost to around GHC 20 million Our appraisal of the 2017 Budget Statement generally reveals a mention of some of these initiatives. However, it failed to provide the expected detailed information.office of the special prosecutor will be funded. Strictly applying the provisions in the Public Financial Management and Public Procurement Acts, as well as amend, in particular, sections 3, 151 and 239-257 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), which will make corruption a felony instead of a misdemeanor is recommended. AGRICULTURE The Planting for Food and Jobs policy, which is expected to provide 750,000 jobs is laudable because it has the potential of absorbing the teeming unemployed youth as well as increase productivity, increase food security and nutrition of families. However, government should be clear on the amount needed to execute this policy. The One District; One factory policy should prioritize agro-industries because they have latent potential of generating employment and income opportunities. Government should increase its core funding for the sector and resist the temptation to resort to ABFA as a substitute in recent years for funding the ministries ‘capital expenditure. Government should ensure that subsidized fertilizer is disbursed in a timely fashion as the farming season is fast approaching and in actual in right quantity as projected. Government should also put in measures to curb the smuggling of fertilizer to neighboring countries.
WATER AND SANITATION Allocation to the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources (MS&WS) in 2017 (GHC 255,531,354) decreased by 16% in comparison to allocations for water and sanitation to the Ministries of Local Government and Rural Development (MLG&RD) and Water Resources, Works and Housing in 2016 (GHC 305,670,536). This decrease raises concerns about Government’s commitment to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector given the state of sanitation in the country. The WASH Ministry has a total share of 0.99% of total MDAs allocation in the 2017 Budget. This shows a 16% decrease in allocation for the previous year. In real terms, the ministry’s allocation decreased by 18.6% at a real value of 248,686,764.2 when inflation is accounted for. Prior to the creation of the new Ministry for Sanitation and Water Resources, WASH interventions were managed by the Ministries of Local Government and Rural Development and Water Resources, Works and Housing. Allocation to the WASH sector as a percentage of total MDAs allocation has seen consistent decreases between 2015 and 2017. The Budget is expected to focus on stimulating growth. We at SEND GHANA are ready to help government in ensuring that the budget addresses the needs of all its citizens. END. SEND GHANA is a policy research, advocacy and livelihood promotion organization established in 1998. Mr. George Osei-Bimpeh Country Director Source: 3news.com | Ghana]]>
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