Senior budget officials from 23 African countries began a three-day meeting in Accra yesterday to deliberate on issues that would help politicians and governments to make and implement the right budget choices to ensure sustainable development in their countries.
The Fourth Annual Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI) seminar will also address increments and expenditure rigidities of budgets with a focus on personnel policy, pay and capacity, capital budgeting and interrogating baseline to set expenditure ceilings.
Ghana's Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, who opened the seminar said, the budget of most African countries had many challenges including high donor component, low revenue base and the performance of their economies, which had telling effects on the management of their budgets.
He said the budget was the single most important management tool for the government to implement its policies and programmes and urged budget directors to embrace and share ideas to help solve the medium-term fiscal policy puzzles.
'As Directors of Budgets of African countries, the efficient allocation of resources to meet competing demands of our teaming population to better their lot is a daunting task that must be confronted head-on.'
Mr Baah-Wiredu said apart from the main objectives set out by CABRI, participants must also strive to build practical experiences and lessons to facilitate political support for budget reforms and enhance their understanding on the reform modalities.
He said what was needed in the days ahead was to get the right answers to enable Africa to make progress in the reform agenda adding that it would assist in the mobilization of domestic revenue to manage resource flows from commodity booms, tax policy and administration.
Mr Kwabena Adjei Mensah, Director of Budget of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, said budget allocation should not be based on increments but should be a policy to look at what was to be done and cost them appropriately.
He said though the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) demanded an increment in their budget allocations yearly, that should not be the norm since every year there were different projects to be executed.
Mr Adjei Mensah said the seminar would address issues relating to improving the quality of expenditure and reform design and implementation to advance the lot of the people.
The first three meetings of CABRI were held in South Africa in 2004, Maputo in 2005 and Addis Ababa in 2006.
The first meeting focused on budget credibility and multi-year budgeting, the second focused on managing the complexities from fragmentation and coordination with the third discussing the gaps between policies and budget where Ghana presented a paper that scrutinized budgets of MDAs during budget preparation.