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14.12.2007 Business & Finance

African Directors Of Budgets Meet in Accra

By ISD (Godfried Yormesor)

A three-day seminar on the fourth Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI) opened, in Accra, yesterday.

In a welcome address, the Director of Budget at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr. Kwabena Adjei-Mensah, described the seminar as a big milestone as legal entity would be appended to its operations.  

He said that with two years participation in CABRI, Ghana has achieved numerous reforms and gained new ideas that would be shared with colleagues from sister Africa countries.  

Some of the new ideas, he noted, included challenges in implementation of budget, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) exceeding their financial ceilings, etc.

Ghana's Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Hon. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, called on African Budget Officers to deliver to meet societal aspirations to achieve sustainable development in their various countries.  He mentioned vital aspects of budget as Creditability, Implementation, Obstacles, Successes, Donor Co-ordinations, among others.

The Minister re-iterated that budget is the single most important management tool for government to implement its policies and programmes.  

He, however, regretted that budgets of most African countries have challenges such as revenue base, high donor component, inherent poor performance of economies, among others.  

He reminded them that as Directors of Budgets of African Countries, they are confronted headlong with efficient allocation of resources to meet competing demands of their teeming population to better their lots.

Mr Baah-Wiredu wondered whether budget officers were asking the right questions.  His emphasis was on 'Embedding a Medium-term Perspective in Budgeting'.  The Minister exhorted the participants to get the right answers to enable them make progress in their reform agenda.

Mr Baah-Wiredu quoted Mr. Jose Okanyi in a conference at Abuja as saying 'Poor countries continue to transfer more money or resources to the rich countries than they receive.'  

He told African Directors of Budget to meet, share ideas and brainstorm on reforms taking place in the African continent.  He reminded them to focus on medium-term, long-term implementation issues, get solutions during the seminar on mobilization of domestic resources, incrementalism, pay and capacity building, interrogative budgeting, personnel emoluments, among others.

'These are salient issues, which constitute about 60% of African budgets,' said the Minister.  He warned the Budget Officers not to be complacent but focus in such crucial issues as revenue receipts, taxable and non-taxable as well as others on the ground.

On sensitisation, Mr. Baah-Wiredu stated that 'Literacy aspects of budgets are very important for the ordinary people to understand.'  He emphasised that national and global issues should be adhered to, adding that 'there is nobility in achieving results.'

'We in Ghana have been looking into the future for what is likely to happen.  The Ministry has, therefore, prepared a budget for the centenary year 2057.