The Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), one of the leading Policy Think Tanks in the country has bemoaned the continuous decline and inconsistency in budgetary allocations to the essential services sector of the economy, demanding an immediate reverse to the trend.
ISODEC is of the view that the annual budget is too earmarked, thus, making it virtually impossible to allocate adequate funding to the social sectors.
The Organization argued that an effective social sector would help improve Ghana’s Human Development Index; while having the potential to break the poverty cycle especially if formal education is prioritized.
Making a presentation at a Budget Analysis Report dissemination workshop in Accra last week, a Consultant for the Report, Mr Bishop Akolgo, said government needs to increase budgetary allocations to sectors such as Education, Health as well as Water, Sanitation and hygiene.
The workshop, which was put together by ISODEC with support from Ford Foundation brought together participant from the Ministry of Finance, Education, Health, some civil society groups, the media among others.
The report analyzed budgetary allocations to the social sectors from 2012 to 2017.
According to Mr Akolgo, in the education sector, allocation dropped from 52.3 percent in 2012 to 42.4 percent in 2014 of a nearly 10 percent decrease. This, he said, “presents a worrying trend since enrolment in this sectors keep rising rapidly with decreasing basic education expenditure per capita.”
He said it was observed that there was an increase in basic education expenditure in 2015 to 52.6 percent from 42.4 percent in 2014 and decrease again to 51.9 percent in 2016.The figure again decreased by 5.3 percent to 46.6 percent in 2017.
“It is our considered view that basic education expenditure is a social protection expenditure and thus very critical to reducing poverty and for that matter more funding should be allocated to that component. It is important to note that adequate basic education expenditure is necessary to achieve SDG4.”
He emphasized the need for government to effectively implement the Education Strategic Plan by financing the sector adequately, adding that “at least government should meet consistently the Dakar Minimum requirements.”
In the Health sector, Mr Akolgo said Government failed to meet the Abuja Declaration target of spending a minimum of 15 percent of government total expenditure to improve health.
Government, he observed, achieved the 7.8, 6.4, 9.3, 10.5 and 7.8 percent in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. This, according to him, depicts how government is under financing the sector which adversely affect accessibility and quality.
He recommended the need for government to ensure equity in health facilities and personnel distribution as well as increase and stabilize primary care spending.
On Water and Sanitation the consultant indicated that, “while access to water is improved from 91.6 percent in 2012 to 92.6 percent in 2015 for urban dwellers, and 78 and 84 percent for rural areas, for sanitation, it is only 19.9percent in 2012 improving slightly to 20.2 percent in 2015 while that of rural areas was 8.4 percent in 2012 inching slightly to 8.6 percent in 2015.
He was of the view that the donor-driven support for an important sector such as water and sanitation does not guarantee funding and sustainability. This, he cautioned, could affect the supply of water in the event of donor’s withdrawals or decreases in their supports to the sector.
He noted that given the large deficit in water and sanitation, not less than 5 percent of the Ministry responsible for the sector need to be allocated to water and sanitation.
The Acting Executive Director of ISODEC, Mr Ernest Awoosah Tay emphasized the need for government to be efficient in spending public finances by making adequate allocations to the essential services sector,
Participants were given that opportunity to express their views on the findings. They largely agreed with the issues supported the need for increased budgetary allocation to the sectors under review.
By Mohammed Suleman