IMANI Report- Charity Begins At Home: Fighting Waste And Corruption Starts At The Presidency
In less than two months, the Government’s first budget is likely to be ready. As far as IMANI is concerned, the budget development process offers the government the opportunity to register some real achievements within 100 days of taking office. All the President has to do is to take a scalpel to the budget of a strangely named super-entity, christened the Office of Government Machinery (OGM), an amorphous receptacle hosting such agencies as the Office of the President, Office of the Head of Civil service, National Security, assorted Commissions and a potpourri of ‘councils’ of all kinds, and start to trim and shape.
Due to this confusing mashup, we today have the Presidency of Ghana currently involved in supervising poultry farmers in the sale of eggs, distributing fishing nets, and promoting condoms, all at highly inflated costs!
It is not surprising that some of the biggest scandals we have seen took place in agencies locked in this Office of Government Machinery (OGM) structure, such as SADA.
To tame this runaway OGM horse before it leaves the stable, the following actions are critical:
1. Immediately take steps to rationalize the agencies placed within this poorly coordinated structure and reduce the number of entities reporting directly to the President to the bare minimum. Many of the mandates can be aligned with Ministerial mandates and placed in tighter reporting systems within the Ministries.
2. Outline plans and strategies to reverse the practice of overspending and establish key indicators that the public can hold government agencies accountable to. Reasons for any overspending should be clearly explained in audit reports which should be timely and available to the public.
3. Implement an institutional audit to remove redundancies like the Ghana AIDs Commission, whose role can fit cleanly within existing infectious disease programs at the Ministry of Health. The institutional audit should be followed by a financial restructuring with the aim of saving $50 million by 2018. With competitive procurement and a dedicated financial management system across the leaner remnant of the reformed OGM, 40% of the OGM budget in the last financial year can be shaved off.
4. To galvanise the political will for these drastic reforms, radical transparency is required. The government should proceed to publish the contracts awarded in the various units within the Presidency and redact only the sections of national security contracts of proven sensitivity.
The beautiful thing about implementing these recommendations is that benefits shall be evident within 100 days from January 7th, 2017, and considerable fiscal impact would be felt well ahead of the 18-month timeline for other government expenditure reforms across the government and the work of the Special Prosecutor to start showing results. What could be more urgent in the President’s in-tray than this?
Please read the entire report