Prioritise investment, spending on social sector – Government told to

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Social Government Spending
Social Government Spending

Stakeholders at a roundtable discussion have urged government to take steps to prioritise investment and spending on the social sector for the benefit of the poor and vulnerable.

They argued that prioritising investment and spending on health, education, social protection, child protection and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sectors, would help maintain decent livelihoods for the poor and vulnerable especially women, children, and the youth.

The stakeholders, noted that trend analysis of budgetary allocations to the social sector from 2019 to 2023 showed erratic, irregular, and frequent delays in disbursement of funds allocated to the sector called for urgent prioritising else the situation could be worse, given the current economic challenges with its consequences on the poor and vulnerable.

Hence, the roundtable discussions that centred on the implications of the country’s current economic challenges on social sector spending and recommend to government ways to address the situation.

It was organised in Tamale by SEND GHANA, a civil society organisation, in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), was to share reflections on the implications of the country’s current economic challenges on the execution of the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy.

This is also with a special focus on the social sector (health, education, social protection, child protection and WASH).

Participants were drawn from Civil Society, and Non-governmental Orgaisations, the public sector, persons living with disabilities amongst others, and they discussed the challenges that the 2023 Budget would face as far as the current economic crisis was concerned, and what government should do differently to ensure that spending on the social sector did not suffer.

Mr Mohammed Mumuni, the Regional Programme Manager of SEND GHANA, questioned that “if you take the education sector, over the years, the trend analysis indicates that we have less than 65 per cent of budget execution rate. With the current circumstance we find ourselves, are we able to do more?”

Mr Mumuni cited an example about the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, saying government was always in arrears in reimbursing or paying the grant.

In the health sector, he said, monies from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Levy, in most cases did not reach the sector on time, as other areas were prioritised above the nation’s health.

He said, “given the lessons that we learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, we think that government or the Ministry of Finance should desist from using the NHIS Levy for other interventions”.

“The facilities are crying for resources. They are always struggling to provide services because the NHIS is always in arrears,” he stressed.

He called on government to prioritise the use of the NHIS Levy purposely for providing health care services.

Mrs Abubakari Sahadatu Nima, the Northern Regional Vice President of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations, expressed the need for a more reliable source of funding for the social sector to sustain it.

Some of the participants also proposed that government should lodge the COVID-19 Levy into a fund, and properly account for its use and management, to ensure efficiency.

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