The Ministry of Finance has requested SEND GHANA (SG), a non-governmental organisation, to develop a proposal on how to promote public participation in the budget process to help realise the target of 67 per cent on the next Open Budget Survey (OBS).
This is to ensure that Ghana increases citizens’ participation in the budget process in order to improve upon its Open Budget Survey (OBS) performance.
Ghana was one of the 102 countries surveyed in the latest OBS and continues to struggle in its quest to meet its set target of 67 per cent by 2017.
The OBS uses 109 indicators to measure budget transparency and to assess whether government makes the eight key budget documents available to the public on time, drawing on its internationally accepted criteria.
Experts say that having chalked relative success in the sub region over the period between 2010 and 2015, the performance of Ghana in making available eight key budget documents could be described as stagnant.
It is touted to have successfully executed various projects over the years in the area of budget tracking, good governance, health, education and agriculture nationwide.
In an interview with the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in Accra, the Country Director of SG, Mr George Osei-Bimpeh, said although there were eight budget documents, one-third of them were not made available to the citizens, yet Ghana consistently produced and published the executive budget proposal and the enacted budget.
The remaining six budget documents include Year-End Report, Mid-Year Review, In-Year Report, Citizens’ Budget, Pre-budget statement and the Audit Report to the public.
“Government should endeavour to improve transparency by increasing the comprehensiveness of the executive’s budget proposal and present more information on the classification of expenditures for future years. It should also provide detailed feedback on how public perspectives had been captured,” he said.
He added that the government could also increase public participation by establishing formal hearing on the budgets of specific ministries, departments and agencies.
“Making the budget work for Ghana” is one of SEND GHANA’s projects where development priorities of citizens are collated and presented to the Ministry of Finance for consideration in the budget statement and economic policy of government of Ghana. This way, the voices of ordinary Ghanaians are captured in the financial planning of the nation and this finds expression in Ghana’s position on the index,” he said.
Ghana and OBS
In the 2010 findings, Ghana scored an average of 54 per cent out of a possible 100 and dropped dramatically to 50 per cent in 2012 but improved the score to a marginal 51 per cent in 2015.
The inconsistencies in scores points to the fact that the budget of Ghana lacks transparency and to a large extent, public participation. This situation exposes the country’s inadequate systems to ensure that duty bearers are accountable to the public.
Last year the organisation reviewed the 2016 budget and has stressed the need for fiscal discipline to overcome difficulties the country faced in 2015 such as depreciation of the cedi, high inflation and the energy crisis.