Donors warn of tough enquiry into public spending ahead of new budget commitments

BY: Isaac Yeboah

Mr. Seth Terkper, Finance MinisterThe country's development partners (DPs) have served notice of their intention to ask what they described as "hard questions" on the raising and spending of government revenue in the just ended fiscal year.
Such questions, they said, would be based on the evidence available to them on how the government raised revenue and expends on the economy.

The notice from the DPs, which include the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union (EU), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and some individual countries, was given at a meeting in Accra to review the progress made by the government in the 2012 fiscal year.

"This discussion will be based on principle; there will be hard questions to be asked based on the evidence available," the Country's Director of the World Bank, Mr Yususpha Crooks, said in his opening remarks.

It is not clear what those questions will be but the current macroeconomic environment,particularly the 12 per cent budget deficit recorded in 2012 and its impact on other fiscals will feature strongly in the discussion.

The meeting is an annual event by government officials and the DPs to review progress made by the government in its medium-term development agenda.

It will also precede commitments to be made by the various DPs into the 2014 budget, which was presently under preparation.

The Minister of Finance and Economic (MoFEP), Mr Seth Terkper, who opened the meeting, observed that the uncertainty of the amount to be expected into multi-donor budget support (MDBS) in each year often created imbalances in the budget, something he said needed to be addressed.

"We have now seen the MDBS as the destabilising factor to the budget. We now want to avoid that," Mr Terkper said.

Given that such imbalances are needed to be tackled for the benefit of the economy, the minister said he was hopeful the donors would work together with the government to resolve the problem.

"This appeal is not only to the MDBS alone; it also goes to the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) that if they overspend their budget allocations, it goes against the budget too," he said.

Civil society orgnaisations (CSOs), including the Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA), Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and the Integrated Social Development (ISODEC), also in attendance.

By Maxwell Adombila Akalaare & Emmanuel Bruce/Daily Graphic/Ghana