The Chief Executive Officer of the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), Bishop Akolgo, has called for the establishment of a body to oversee the management of the country’s natural and human resources in the extractive industry.
According to him, a natural and human-resource oversight body was critical for the country to make maximum returns from her natural resources and also oversee training to address her human resource constraints.
Mr Akolgo, who disclosed this in interview with The Ghanaian Times after a media dialogue on the 2016 national budget in Accra yesterday, suggested that such a body should be presided over by the Vice President.
Organised by ISODEC in collaboration with the Institute for Fiscal Policy and sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the dialogue was to discuss with the media ISODEC’s policy briefs on the social aspects of the budget such as health and education.
It was also to assess the allocations made for women and children and social interventions projects such as the School Feeding Programme (SFP) and the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) programme.
“With an oversight body with the Vice President as the chairman, he can direct the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Power to collaborate and initiate projects for the mutual benefit of the two Ministries, which the Ministers will comply because the directive is coming from a higher authority,” he said.
On the human resource aspect, Mr Akolgo said such oversight body should conduct human resource assessment needs of the country and advised the universities, polytechnics and other training institutions on which sectors the country needed particular manpower.
He called on the media to ensure that budget allocations made in the budget were paid to the intended organisations and, noted that it would address the revenue leakages the country was battling with, compelling the government to borrow incessantly to shore up the budget.
According to him, the country could raise enough revenue for financing the budget and social and infrastructural projects, and pointed out that a study conducted by ISODEC on over and under invoicing at the Tema Port between 2000 and 2012 indicated that more than $4 billion was lost to the state.
He entreated politicians to “treat the economy with respect” and “stop the political rancour and vilification” of the economy, because “it accounted for the depreciation of the body.”
The Charles Dzradosi, Social Policy Analyst of UNICEF, said for the past eight years his outfit had been supporting ISODEC to discuss the social aspect of the budget and hold the government accountable on his promises to the sector.
He said the vision of UNICEF was to ensure that the needs of women and children were catered for in national policies.
Mrs Charlotte Esinam Afudego, a Policy Analyst at of ISODEC, said budgetary allocation to the social sector was dwindling.
For instance, she said, budgetary allocation to the basic education sector decreased from GH¢3.5 billion in 2015 to GH¢3.4 billion in 2016, representing a decrease of 4.3 per cent.
By Kingsley Asare and Emelia Enyonam Kuleke