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20.02.2009 Business & Finance

Ghana’s brilliant performance on the Open Budget Index shows that the government provides the public with some information on the central government’s budget and financial activities during the course of the budget year.

By theghanaianjournal
Ghana’s brilliant performance on the Open Budget Index shows that the government provides the public with some information on the central government’s budget and financial activities during the course of the budget year.
FEB 20, 2009 BUSINESS & FINANCE

This makes it difficult for citizens to hold government accountable for its management of the public's money. The Open Budget Index 2008 evaluates the quantity and type of information that governments make available to their publics in the seven key budget documents that should be issued during the budget year. One of the most important documents is the executive's budget proposal.

It should contain the executive's plans for the upcoming year along with the cost of the proposed activities. The proposal should be available to the public and to the legislature prior to being finalized, at least three months before the start of the budget year to allow for sufficient review and public debate.

In Ghana , the proposal provides substantial information to the public, meaning citizens have a fairly comprehensive picture of the government's plans for taxing and spending for the upcoming year. However, it is somewhat difficult to track spending, revenue collection and borrowing during the year. Although Ghana publishes fairly detailed in-year reports, the government does not publish a mid-year review. Publishing this document would strengthen public accountability, since it would provide a more comprehensive update on how the budget is being implemented during the year.

It is also difficult to assess budget performance in Ghana once the budget year is over. A year-end report is not published, preventing comparisons between what was budgeted and what was actually spent and collected at the end of the year.

Also, Ghana does not make its audit report public and does not provide any information on whether the audit report's recommendations are successfully implemented. Access to the highly detailed budget information needed to understand the government's progress in undertaking a specific project or activity remains limited. Ghana has yet to codify the right to access government information into law.

Beyond improving access to key budget documents, there are other ways in which Ghana 's budget process could be made more open. Opportunities for citizen participation in budget debates could be increased.

For example, the legislature does not hold hearings on the budget in which the public can participate. In addition, the independence of Ghana's Supreme Audit Institution is somewhat limited.

The executive, without the final consent of the judiciary or legislature, may remove the head of the SAI, and the SAI does not have a budget sufficient to fulfill its mandate.

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