As Hon. Seth Terkper, the Minister of Finance prepares to present the 2015 budget to parliament on Wednesday 19 November, 2014; there is no indication of Ghana government?s preparedness to issue a pre-budget statement.
Out of eight key budget document monitored by SEND-GHANA in collaboration with the International Budget Partnership, Ghana, failed to produce and make available to citizens a Pre-Budget Statement in accordance with international best practices. (http://www.obstracker.org/).
Speaking on the issue, Hon. Cassiel Ato Forson, Member of Parliament for Ajumako Enyan Essiam and Deputy Minister of Finance said, ?we have had stakeholder consultations with CSOs and have considered their input even though we will not issue a Pre-Budget statement.?
The Pre-budget Statement is important in promoting budget transparency as it discloses the parametres of the Executive?s Budget Proposal. It outlines the government?s macro economic assumptions as well as anticipated total revenue and expenditures, and it sets out the debt that will be incurred during the upcoming reflects the culmination of the strategic planning phase of the budget process, in which the executive broadly aligns its policy goals with the resources available under the budget?s fiscal framework. This process establishes the parameters of the budget proposal before detailed program funding decisions are made. The statement also creates appropriate expectations for the budget itself, which is particularly important when the budget submission occurs close to the start of the fiscal year and the time for debate, therefore, is limited.
What is the OBS Tracker?
The OBS Tracker monitors on monthly basis one of the factors included in the Open Budget Index: whether governments are at least releasing the eight key budget documents to the public (it does not assess the level of detailed information provided). Though the Open Budget Index score is the gold standard measure, the Tracker allows for tracking a country’s progress on meeting basic international standards for the publication of budget documents.
What is the Open Budget Survey?
The IBP’s Open Budget Survey (OBS) is the only independent, regular, and comparative assessment of budget transparency and participation worldwide. This rigorous, comprehensive assessment is conducted every two years and measures the amount of budget information a country’s central government makes publicly available, whether it engages citizens in budget processes, and the strength of formal oversight institutions. The Open Budget Index uses OBS data to calculate a transparency score (0 to 100) for each country in the OBS based on the amount of budget information that governments make public.
How do Tracker results relate to Open Budget Index scores?
A country’s Open Budget Index score is the most comprehensive measure of budget transparency at the central government level but is updated only every two years. The OBS Tracker monitors on monthly basis one of the factors included in the Open Budget Index: whether governments are at least releasing the eight key budget documents to the public (it does not assess the level of detailed information provided). Though the Open Budget Index score is the gold standard measure, the Tracker allows for tracking a country’s progress on meeting basic international standards for the publication of budget documents.
Why do we need to know about government budgets?
Budgets are a government’s most powerful tool to meet the needs and priorities of a country and its people. Civil society organizations, legislators, auditors, the media, and the broader public need timely budget information to hold the government accountable for how it uses public resources. Without such scrutiny, the government can make bad choices on unpopular or inappropriate programs, waste money, and open the door to corruption. On the other hand, when ordinary people have information and opportunities to participate in government budget processes, they can promote real improvements in governance and policy.
Even though this is missing in the context of Ghana, one opportunity to influence the Executive?s Budget Proposal in countries that make available the Pre-Budget Statement is for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to analyze these assumptions and use the findings to influence the parameters of the proposed budget.
The International Budget Partnership collaborates with civil society around the world to analyze and influence public budgets in order to reduce poverty and improve the quality of governance. In Ghana, the IBP collaborates with SEND-Ghana to track public availability of eight key budget documents.