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10.11.2005 Business & Finance

BUDGET: Budget to focus on restructuring of MDAs

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Accra, Nov.10, GNA- Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance on Thursday said substantial budgetary allocations, including donor funds, made available to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) remained unutilised at the end of the year.

He said in worst cases, huge balances have to be cancelled at the close of programmes and projects when much of the work remains uncompleted.

Mr. Baah-Wiredu who made this known in the 2006 Budget Statement to Parliament said significant delays in implementation had become the norm and accepted practice in Ghana.

"The major constraints to our inability to move from plan to effective outcome have been identified as: failure of leadership; reluctance to embrace ownership; lack of coordination; absence of effective monitoring and evaluation; and, unnecessary procrastination in the delivery process," he said.

The Minister said Government had decided to introduce new initiatives in the management of next year's Budget to address and eliminate this major constraint.

He said the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), acting in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and under the overall direction of the Office of the President will spearhead an integrated approach to policy implementation at the national, regional and local levels.

The Commission will also ensure public access to information and participation at all levels and enhance the use of Monitoring and Evaluation as a tool for policy management and decision. Efforts required to build a culture of evidence-based policy decision-making will be also be put in place.

Mr. Baah-Wiredu said Government would also identify and utilise specific activities, tools and assessment mechanisms, such as life-cycle analysis and performance indicators, to measure progress in implementation of the Budget objectives and targets. Since all MDAs have established Policy Planning, Measurement and Evaluation Divisions, the performance of these units will be put under very close scrutiny to ensure that they spearhead the effective delivery of the stated plans.

Mr. Baah-Wiredu said the need for Ghana to improve on programme delivery had become even more pressing with the coming into effect of the Paris Declaration on the Scaling -up, harmonisation and Effectiveness of Aid.

This he noted was aimed at rationalising the different implementation and reporting requirements of the various bilateral and multilateral frameworks underpinning the relationship with our Development Partners.

Mr. Baah-Wiredu said the Ministry of Public Sector Reform had been charged to develop Customer Charters for all MDAs.

The Charters will establish business standards for key activities and include appropriate sanctions for slow performance and default to help speed up various approval processes within the MDAs. The Finance Minister said the current system of payment was burdened with delays as a result of over centralisation. He said the situation had led to undue delays in accessing and disbursement of funds for MDA programmes.

The resultant effect of the over centralisation is the huge costs of travel, hotel bills, lost man-hours, and delays in programme implementation of the MDAs, among other things. Mr Baah-Wiredu said the current process was being reviewed to reduce the number of steps the MDAs take to access their funds. The Treasuries will also be integrated into the MDAs, while a committee under the chairmanship of the Senior Minister Mr. J H Mensah with selected ministers and technical staff from MDAs had been composed to undertake a major exercise to streamline the payment systems within the public sector.

Their responsibility will include: Review and rationalisation of the current banking arrangements with emphasis on operating consolidated funds, sub-accounts into which departmental allocations of all MDAs at the regional and district levels will be lodged and establish procedures to facilitate fiscal decentralisation and prompt payments.

Touching on the execution of Civil Works Contracts, Mr. Baah-Wiredu said constraints to local capacity for civil works contracts, will be addressed through intensified programmes to improve managerial and technical capacity.

A Ghana Leasing Development Programme is also being initiated while Government will launch a new project to enhance the ongoing Sub-contracting and Partnership Exchange programme to promote and facilitate agreements between small and medium local construction firms and large construction companies.

Mr. Baah-Wiredu said National Activities & International Conferences for 2006 and 2008 comprised District Assembly Elections (2006); World Cup (2006); Ghana's 50th Anniversary celebration (2007); Consultative Group Meetings (2007); AU Conference (2007); CAN 2008 (2008), High Level Forum (HLF 3) on Aid Harmonisation and Effectiveness (2008) and UNCTAD Conference in 2008.