Ghana’s performance in the 2017 Open Budget Survey has remained stagnant after gaining overall score of 50 out of 100 points, declining by a point in the previous survey conducted in 2015.
The score connotes that, the government of Ghana provided the public with limited budgetary information in the years under review. The limited, according to the report meant that not all of the eight budget documents were published online and on time per the OBS standards.
While Ghana published a mid-year review that contributed about 6 points to Ghana’s overall score, In- year report were not consistently produced on time, detracting around 4.5 points from Ghana’s score. If Ghana had continued to publish in-year report in a timely manner the score would have increased between 2015 and 2017.
The survey looked at three thematic areas. These include Transparency, Public Participation and Budget oversight.
Ghana signed a partnership agreeing to produce the eight key budget documents within the agreed global timelines.
The Open Budget Survey (OBS) is an initiative of the International Budget Partnership (IBP) that tracks and assesses Central governments’ performance in transparency, public participation and budget oversight of the legislature and mandated audit institutions.
The 2017 survey considered document ‘availability’ only when published online and how ‘timely’ the publication was. Ghana has not performed poorly but has been slow in progress towards attaining its own target of 67.
Presenting the results of the survey 2017 in Accra last week, Ms Sandra K.Sarkwah of SEND- GHANA stated that Ghana’s performance on transparency can be aptly be described as stagnant because very little progress since the last two research years though noted as a promising country in the region.
That, according to Ms Sarkwah,” does not mean government has done so poorly in making budget information available to citizens. But it should be noted that much progress has not been made in elevating the country to reach its targeted score of 67.”
She said explained that reasons for the fall in Transparency was due to Ghana’s failure to publish in-Year Reports online in a timely manner, while the reasons in drop in Participation: was because the public was provided with few opportunities to engage in the budget process. Both the legislature and audit institutions are not involving citizens at all throughout the process.
In the area of oversight:, she said though the legislature provides some oversight, it is considered weak because a pre-budget debate by the legislature takes place late (per the globally accepted timeline) and also because the Executive’s Budget Proposal(EBP) is not provided to legislators at least two months before the start of the budget year. The report recommended among others the need to ensure that the legislature holds timely a pre- budget debate and approves recommendation for upcoming budgets.
It noted that the timely publication is critical because it provides a good basis for donor support.
By Mohammed Suleman