Ghana scores 51 per cent in 2015 open budget survey

Ghana has scored 51 per cent in the latest 2015 Open Budget Survey out of 100 countries, falling below Sierra Leone which scored 52 per cent in the West African Region.

The report sponsored by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) is the fifth of its kind, and the world’s only independent, comparative survey of budget transparency, citizen participation and independent oversight institutions in the budgeting process.

The survey assesses central governments on eight key budget documents- pre-budget statement, executive budget proposal, enacted budget, citizen’s budget, in-year reports, mid-year review, year-end report and audit report.

Launching the report in Accra, Mr George Osei-Bimpeh, Country Director, SEND-Ghana said the report went through ‘country experts complete survey’, IBP review, external review, government review and IBP final review.

He said the accountability methodology of the report included 109 indicators measuring transparency, 16 indicators measuring opportunities for public participation and 15 indicators measuring the strength of the legislature and auditors.

The report revealed that countries such as Brazil, Norway, South Africa and the United States performed well across all pillars of budget accountability.

Mr Osei-Bimpeh said in 2012, Ghana scored 50 per cent out of 100 countries and this a decrease from its 54 per cent score in 2010, adding that government provided the public with only some information on national government’s budget and financial activities during the budget year.

He said the country in 2008 scored 49 per cent, stressing that government failed to provide and make public its pre-budget statement, mid-year review and an audit report.

In 2006, Ghana scored 42 per cent adding that that though government provided citizens with some information on the budget and financial activities, there is still room for improvement.

He said even though Ghana has performed fairly in all the surveys, the report acknowledges that the country is the regional leader on budget oversight and engagement in West Africa.

Mr Osei-Bimpeh said the widespread lack of strong budget accountability systems poses a threat to the implementation of critical international agreements, such as the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

He said the report suggests that country government must act with donors, civil society groups, investors and international institutions to strengthen the pillars of budget system.

Mr Osei-Bimpeh said the absence of budget transparency means that citizens could no longer participate in the process, hold duty bearers accountable to what they earmarked to spend and give feedback on how government is performing in terms of revenues, allocations and expenditures.

However, to improve the country’s transparency, SEND-Ghana recommends that government should increase the comprehensiveness of the executive’s budget proposal by presenting more information on the clarification of expenditures for future years.

Mr Osei-Bimpeh asked government to establish formal mechanisms for the public to assist the supreme audit institution to formulate its audit programme and participate in audit investigations to improve on opportunity for public participation. GNA

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