wpid-wpid-799737291908447.jpgThe Ghana Aid Effectiveness Forum (GAEF) is advocating transparency and accountability in the fiscal policies in the national budget.

The Forum notes that although the 2013 budget statement has given an indication of how to sustain confidence in the Ghanaian economy, disciplined fiscal planning and mustering political will in 2013 and beyond will be necessary.

The GAEF?s review of the 2013 National Budget indicates some key macro-economic indicators were missed in 2012. Real overall GDP growth recorded a 2.3 percentage point fall of the targeted 9.4%. The average and end-of-year inflation rates for 2012 stood at 9.2% and 8.8% respectively.

This was against the targeted average inflation rate of 8.7% and end-of-year inflation of 8.5%. Worst government budget deficit was a record high of GH?8.7 billion representing 12 % of GDP, almost twice the target of GH?4.7 billion (6.7 %).

In 2012, the GAEF noting that high fiscal deficit had become a characteristic feature of election years, set out to monitor government budget and advocate prudent spending. However, this effort was thwarted by limited access to budget information. It was therefore not surprising that Ghana?s score for the Open Budget Survey dipped from 54 % in 2010 to 50 % in 2012.

The year 2013 has presented itself with yet another opportunity to monitor government?s spending. Ensuring fiscal discipline in 2013 is crucial for the Ghanaian economy owing to the relatively high deficit it incurred in the 2012 fiscal year. Overspending by government in 2013 has daring consequences for the economy given the high deficit incurred in 2012.

On the flip side, in a bid to maintain fiscal discipline, allocations to provide key social services could be sacrificed for the government?s overarching goal of infrastructural development. The occurrence of these threatens Ghana?s progress towards achieving MDGs targets on health, water and sanitation.

The Forum finds it laudable that sectoral allocations to the various MDAs with regards to the water, health and sanitation have all increased. Under the government pro poor spending initiatives in water and sanitation, there was a real increase of sectoral allocation by 30 percent from nominal values of GHC 101.4 million in 2012 to GHC 143.2 million in 2013.

However, the share of sectoral allocation to the overall budgeted government pro poor spending saw a decline from 3 percent in 2012 to 2.7 percent in 2013. Though the decline is marginal, it indicates a shift in government?s priority to other pro poor sectors. Rural water supply as a share of government?s Priority Intervention Spending saw a marginal increase of 0.13 percentage points from the 2012 share of 1.75 percent.

Under pro-poor spending, the health sector had a share of 18.8 percent in 2013 as against 43.7 percent in 2012. There was a nominal decline in government?s pro poor spending in the health sector from GHC 1,500.89 million in 2012 to GHC 1,010 million in 2013. This stems from the over 300 percent increase in the Internally Generated Fund of the Health Ministry for the 2013 fiscal year.

For these reasons, the GAEF has selected for monitoring the sector budgets for health, water and sanitation of the 2013 National Budget. Equally of priority to the Forum, is government?s ability to stem out corruption. The Forum notes that continuous starving of independent anti-corruption agencies undermines efforts geared towards fighting corruption. Thus it will focus on monitoring the budget of anti-corruption agencies as its third priority sector.

The Forum is therefore using this opportunity to call on government to be open and engaging in the implementation of the 2013 budget. We believe that our action aligns with the President?s commitment to promote citizens-based monitoring and evaluation of public policies and programmes as well as providing feedback and suggestions on ways of improving the targeting of social and economic programmes as stated in the State of the Nation Address in February 2013.

It is our belief that the Ministry of Finance and sector ministries responsible for health, water and sanitation as well as anti-corruption agencies would accord the Forum the needed collaboration to facilitate smooth implementation of the project.

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