Business News of Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Source: Public Agenda
The government has been urged to implement the Ghana Integrated Financial Management and Information Systems (GIFMIS) in order to address gaps identified in timeliness of financial and fiscal reporting at all levels of government.
‘It is envisaged that with the extension of the GIFMIS project, budget processes in Ghana will be greatly improved especially the automation of MDA [Ministries, Departments and Agencies] budgets and to regulate spending to correspond to agreed levels under the IGF [Internally Generated Funds] rules,” recommends a new report.
The report, ‘Putting Action to the Figures: Issues of Budget Accountability and Transparency in Ghana,’ notes that “Similarly, GIFMIS when fully implemented will provide reliable system reports to improve genuineness and relevancy of information and reduce the unnecessary delays in obtaining public fiscal information.”
This is one of the seven recommendation made by the report which was launched in Accra at a national multi-stakeholder workshop on the theme ‘The Role of Civil Society Organisations in Promoting Fiscal Transparency in Ghana. The report was commissioned by the Ghana Aid Effectiveness Forum (GAEF) Secretariat and SEND-Ghana, with funding from the World Bank.
The workshop, organised by GAEF and SEND-Ghana, was attended by officials of the Ministry of Finance and representatives of external and donor civil society.
The report states that the bureaucracy involved in obtaining public information relating to health budget should be minimised. “Obtaining public information under a democratic rule should not be cumbersome. Transparency in budgeting can enable citizens to access the true priorities of the government and reveal inequalities existing in sharing of the ‘national cake’ to inform CSO advocacy,” it adds.
The report also recommends that CSOs should be given more space to influence the four stages of the budget cycle more meaningfully. It suggests that the World Bank should increase its involvement in this regard in order to advocate bigger space for CSO participation in the health sector at partner review meetings and budget processes from bottom up to the top.
“Currently, only one space is provided for CSO participation in partner review meetings at MoH/GHS [Ministry of Health/Ghana Health Service] (represented by the Coalition of NGOs in Health). Bigger space is needed to amplify the voice of CSO and thus voices of the poor and vulnerable, whom they represent.”
It further proposes that the media needs to reinforce its watchdog role and collaborate closely with CSOs with regard to the budgetary processes and increase education on budget in various languages through community FM radio stations. “The media should also enlighten the public about the need for active participation in the budget process emphasising the fact that knowledge is key to the development of Ghana.”