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Deepen transparency and accountability in governance – Forum

By
Julius K. Satsi, GNA
    

Accra, July 31, GNA – A
national forum on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme has ended
with a call on the Government to deepen transparency and accountability through
periodic publication of fiscal data with a lag of six weeks.

The participants urged
the Government to engage with civil society on issues pertaining to the IMF
programme and broader public financial management issues in the best interest
of the country.

The forum, organised
by the Civil Society Platform, was attended by stakeholders across the country,
who recommended regular engagements with CSOs (quarterly meetings to exchange
ideas) to provide useful feedback to Government and better the lot of the
citizenry.

The forum was on the
theme: “Three Years into the IMF-Supported Extended Credit Facility
Arrangement: Is the Ghanaian Economy on the Right Path?”

The participants said
there was the need to fast track the Passage of the Right to Information Bill
(RTI) before the end of year.

The participants
emphasised that the Passage of the RTI Bill had unduly delayed hence its
passage to enable citizens to demand accountability from public officials for
the use of public resources.

“The RTI Bill should
have provisions, which mandate Government to provide fiscal data it offers to
donors and lenders such as the IMF and World Bank, to citizens as well,” their
communiqué said.

The forum also called
for an extension of the IMF programme to guarantee its successful completion
because the current programme had achieved limited effectiveness with respect
to broad programme objectives.

The forum said the IMF
Programme was necessary until the Government presented alternative policies or
programmes that comprehensively addressed the structural issues identified.

“The fiscal slippages
regular with every national election in Ghana makes a compelling case for an
extension of the programme, as almost all the programme targets were missed in
2016,” the forum explained.

The forum also called
for the institution of legislative measures such as the enactment of a Fiscal
Responsibility Law to curb out-of-control spending, especially during elections
years.

“The Law must not be
observed more in breach than in compliance as is the norm with our country’s
many other laws,” the participants said.

The forum also called
for a review of the new Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) to
manage the operational challenges with its implementation.

“There should be clear
time lines for the review process and dialogue spaces to engage non-state
actors such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants-Ghana, civil society,
academia, on the subject,” the forum said.

 

The Participants urged
the Government to put the interest of the country first (rather than partisan
interest) and remain fiscally disciplined throughout its tenure as that was the
path to debt sustainability.

They also called on
Government to ensure that the limited borrowing space was judiciously utilised
by channelling new debt to projects, which were viable and able to generate
cash flow to retire the debt.

The communiqué said,
“In a private sector-led market-based economy, macroeconomic stability is
necessary though not a sufficient requirement because markets do not function
well in uncertain environments.”

The participants on
urged the Government to direct efforts towards ensuring inclusive broad-based
growth than just focusing on traditional economic growth measured by Gross
Domestic Product (GDP).

“A Clear strategy is
needed to ensure that cost of GDP growth is managed to embrace environmental
sustainability, green economy, climate change or illegal mining,” the
communiqué said.

The participants
called for a robust system of targeting beneficiaries of social interventions
devoid of political expediency so that needy communities, individuals and
institutions were identified and reached.

The forum noted that
the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty by the government targeting approach
is a module worth emulating, in order that these social interventions will
reach their intended end and alleviate poverty.

The forum stated, “In
order to make our social interventions efficient and impactful, there is the
need to use improved data management systems to track the interventions to
minimise the human elements of data manipulation that are often exploited to misappropriate
funds meant for beneficiaries.”

The participants said
there was the need for a national ownership of important agreements such as the
current IMF-Supported Extended Credit Facility arrangement, while the
Government must in future take such agreements to Parliament for deliberations
and consensus before signing onto it.

They complained about
the continued absence of representatives from Government at such important
public for a, which sought to objectively look at the trade-offs as well as the
ups and downs of the Fund programme.

GNA

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