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Ghana Drops In Performance In OBS
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Ghana has again dropped in performance in the Open Budget Survey (OBS) index scoring 50 per cent out of 100 in the 2017 report.

The result shows a further decrease from a 51 per cent score in the last survey conducted in 2015, suggesting that Ghana failed to attain its targeted score of 67 per cent by 2016 according to the report launched in Accra yesterday by SEND-Ghana.

It is indicative of the fact that government created little or no avenues for the free flow of information on budget documents.

Ghana signed unto the Open Governance Partnership agreement in 2011 to make budget documents available and accessible to citizens per the agreed global timelines.

The OBS, an initiative of the International Budget Partnership (IBP) tracks and assesses the central government’s performance in terms of transparency in its budget document, public participation and oversight duties of the legislature and mandated audit institutions.

It is hinged on eight key budget documents to determine their availability, comprehensiveness, timeliness and usefulness to the general public.

The documents include the Pre-Budget Statement, Executive Budget Proposal, Enacted Budget, Citizen’s Budget, In-Year Reports, Mid-Year Review, Year End Report and Audit Report.

Launching the report, the Senior Programme Officer of SEND-GHANA, Mrs. Harriet Agyemang explained that the survey assessed Ghana’s 2016 budget document based on indicators of availability and timely publication of the budget documents online.

“Availability of budget information has decreased by failing to publish in-year reports online in a timely manner while pre-budget statement among others is also unavailable,” she stated.

Mrs. Agyemang also identified little involvement of the citizenry in budget preparation or implementation and inefficiency on the part of oversight institutions such as Parliament and the audit institutions to monitor budget documents, as accounting for Ghana’s failure to meet its expected target.

Mrs. Agyemang called for the publication of pre-budget statement and in-year reports online for public perusal while increasing information provided in the Executive Budget Proposal particularly on expenditures, borrowing and debt.

On ensuring effective public participation, she urged for the creation of a platform where citizens can be engaged prior to or on the day of submission of the budget to Parliament saying, “Legislative hearings can be held on the annual budgets of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies to assist in formulating audit programmes for such institutions.”

A project officer with the organisation, Mrs. Sandra Sarkwah who elaborated on some indicators for determining the Open Budget Index (OBI) of a country, called for the establishment of an independent fiscal institution to further strengthen budget oversight responsibilities.

“The supreme audit institution must also be well equipped to better perform their duties to place Ghana on a higher rank among the international community in its budget transparency goals,” she said.

This year’s report is the sixth assessment of Ghana’s performance on the global budget transparency.
Source: Ghanaian Times

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