Govt urged to pass law to regulate borrowing, expenditure
• Mr Kwami Ahiabenu (2nd left), a member of the Civil Society Platform on IMF Bailout, addressing journalists at the press conference. Those with him are Mr Joseph Winful (left), Chairman of the Civil Society Platform on IMF Bailout, and Dr Mohammed Amin Adam (right), Executive Director, Africa Centre for Energy Policy. Picture: EDNA ADUSERWAA
The Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, who made the call, said the proposed law should spell out the limits of government borrowing and spending as well as the sanctions for going beyond the limits.
That, he said, would ensure fiscal discipline in government borrowing and spending, as there would be sanctions for any breach of the provisions in the law.
Dr Adam was speaking at a media dialogue organised by the Civil Society (CS) Platform on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout in Accra yesterday.
The dialogue was to build a partnership between the media and civil society organisations in holding the government accountable in the use of state resources.
Dr Amin Adam, who is also a member of the CS Platform on the IMF Bailout, said the IMF programme had also ensured some fiscal discipline because of the occasional monitoring visits by IMF officials.
However, he said, it was difficult for the government to continue with the same level of fiscal discipline after the three-year implementation of the programme.
Therefore, he said, the country needed a law to compel the government to continue to ensure fiscal discipline after the programme.
Dr Amin Adam said the recent IMF bailout programme had improved disclosure of fiscal data, as data on government revenue and expenditure had been published on the Ministry of Finance website.
Besides, he said, the audited accounts of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) oil exploration levy for the past three years had been published on the same website.
He said since the bailout programme was only administrative, what was required now was the political commitment to continue with the transparency drive.
Dr Amin Adam said the revised budget deficit (from 6.4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 7.4 per cent), as announced by the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, in the reviewed budget he presented to Parliament recently should have gone down instead of going up.
He said if oil prices had gone down, other targets had recorded gains which should reduce the budget deficit.
For instance, he said, current and recurrent expenditure had reduced, while savings had increased.
Besides, the LPG revenue, which had gone up had not been factored by the Minister of Finance.
“So instead of the deficit going down, why is it going up?” he asked.
The Chairman of the CS Platform on IMF Bailout, Mr Joe Winful, tasked the media to show more commitment in scrutinising government data to expose the lapses in the use of state resources.
He said it was crucial for the media to support efforts at ensuring the judicious use of state resources for the benefit of the people.