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22.03.2004 General News

We'll ensure effective public Finance Management - Minister

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Accra, March 22, GNA - Government says it is working out an effective public finance management system that will ensure sanity, productivity and accountability at all levels of local government operations.

In this regard, an IT-based monitoring system that would track inflows against outflows in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning; Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development; Ministry of The Interior and Ministry of Health would be ready by the end of the first half of this year.

Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, announced this on Monday during a panel discussion dubbed: "Development Dialogue Series" organised by the World Bank on the theme: "Decentralizing the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy: Deepening the Involvement of Poor People in Problem Definition and Solution". The discussion was in honour of the visiting President of the World Bank, Mr James D. Wolfensohn, who is on the last day of his three-day visit to Ghana during which he also participated in the recent ECOWAS Summit in Accra.

The Finance Minister noted that the Ministry of Finance itself would be receiving information on the public financing operations of these Ministries, among other ministries.

"What we intend to achieve is to prevent huge losses instead of finding out how the losses were incurred."

He explained that the same situation is affecting the Auditor-General's Report where the Report comes out after two years; where persons, who might have been involved in mismanagement of public funds would have left the country or be nowhere to be found. Mr Osafo-Maafo said Parliament had passed three laws, including the Internal Law Agreement; to prevent people from embezzling instead of looking for them after the act had been perpetrated.

He called for a revision of the procurement procedures in the country, saying, the present situation was flawed, saying it was exciting that Parliament had taken it up for attention.

Mr Wolfesohn said the misconception of what the Bank stood for must give way to the new attitude of participatory approach that had been its hallmark in the last decade.

"The World must look at the different projects and development patterns that we have advocated and make up their minds." He called for greater accountability and capacity building, especially at the grassroots' level where most of the Bank's projects were located.

Mr Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said getting the right calibre of people to take up positions at the lower rungs of the political ladder had so far been the bane of the decentralization process.

He said for effective decentralization, the capacity of the people at the Districts Assembly and Unit Committee levels should be enhanced. Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, Lecturer at the School of Communications Studies University of Ghana, stressed the important role of the media in ensuring accountability.

She also asked the State to encourage media forms that focused on the rural poor as a means of engaging them in social dialogue that would bring about development.

Some participants asked for a more collaborative effort from all stakeholders involved in the fight against corruption, arguing that demand for accountability at the local level was too weak.

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