SEND Ghana, a policy research and advocacy non-governmental organisation, has asked government to pay attention to social and children protection issues in the 2018 Budget and Economic Policy Statement.
It expressed concerns about the reduction in budget allocation to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and noted that expenditure allocation to the Ministry in the 2018 Budget was GH¢ 61,380,673, a decrease in real terms by approximately 77 per cent compared to its 2017 allocation of GH¢ 255,481,323.
This reduces the Ministry’s share of total Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) Budget to 0.2 per cent from one per cent in 2017, which may affect operations of key institutions under the Ministry, it said.
It said allocation for Goods and Services dropped by half from 82 per cent in 2017 to 40 per cent in 2018, while compensation increased significantly from nine per cent in 2017 to 44 per cent in 2018.
Madam Clara Osei-Boateng, the Director of Policy Advocacy Programme of SEND Ghana, said this at the Organisation’s media encounter on the 2018 Post Budget Analysis in Accra on Wednesday.
She said, for instance, that the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, which was supposed to investigate human rights abuses and corruption issues, may not get sufficient funds to carry out its investigations into human rights abuses and corruption cases.
Madam Osei-Boateng noted that the Social Welfare Department, which falls under the Ministry, did not have vehicles and other logistics to investigate cases of child abuses and domestic violence and, therefore, asked government to explain the rationale behind the budget reductions.
The media briefing aims at explaining the budget to the public, identify policy gaps and assess whether the budget addressed citizens’ needs and priorities as well as make inputs to help address the aspirations of Ghanaians, especially the vulnerable people in society.
The NGO analysed key thematic areas in the budget such as social services, agriculture, health, financial allocations to goods and services, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, social and children protection
She said the gap between the rich and the poor was widening despite government’s social interventions like the Livelihood Empowerment Against Programme (LEAP) and called for more funds to be channeled towards social and child protection issues.
Touching on education funding, she said, the implementation of the Free Senior High School (SHS) Policy had shored up enrolment, which had created infrastructure deficit, especially at the second cycle education institutions and asked government to expand the education infrastructure.
“The education sector budget increased by 11 per cent from GH¢ 8.33 billion in 2017 to GH¢ 9.26 billion in 2018,” she said.
However, she said, much of the increment went into the payment of compensation compared to goods and services and capital expenditure.
The share of allocation to compensation increased significantly from 91.4 percent in 2017 to 98.5 per cent in 2018, she said.
“This development raises serious concerns about government’s commitments to deal with infrastructure such as schools and dormitories and logistics like teaching and learning materials, as well as monitoring and supervision constraints that contribute directly to educational outcomes,” she noted.
Mr George Osei Bimpeh, the Country Director of SEND Ghana, also expressed concerns about the budget cuts to some strategic sectors like agriculture, education, health, children and social protection as against astronomical financial allocations to new ministries like the Regional Re-organisation, Business Planning, Senior Minister’s Office and government machinery.
“What issues did government take into consideration before making those allocations to the new ministries? Government should justify the increment to those ministries,” he queried.
Mr Bimpeh said government had the opportunity to prioritise some projects and programmes in the 2018 Budget adding that it must take a second look at the allocations and free resources from the new ministries and align them to areas that would have better influence on the lives of the ordinary Ghanaian.
The NGO said its independent analysis on the 2018 Budget would be forwarded to Parliament and Government for consideration so that the budget would address the concerns of civil society organisations.