PAC quizzes Finance Ministry

Seth TerkperThe Finance Ministry was yesterday summoned before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), of Par-liament to explain some discrepancies in the management of the multi-donor budget inflows from development partners.

The discrepancies range from failure to acknowledge inflows amounting to GH¢973 million, failure to transfer an amount of GH¢20 million into the Consolidated Fund, and transfer of funds into wrong accounts, among others.

These anomalies were captured in a verification study conducted by the Auditor General on Multi-Donor Budgetary Support Inflows between 2010 and 2011.

According to the study, some development partners have refused to support the country’s budget due to the failure of government to meet most of the disbursement triggers.

The Deputy Minister of Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, who represented the substantive minister, Seth Terkper, led a team from the finance ministry and the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department to appear before the committee.

The A-G’s report revealed that an amount of US$10.7 million received from the Government of Switzerland on October 11, 2012, was not captured in the Consolidated Fund (Public Accounts), and added that the amount was transferred into a different account, instead of the designated accounts for inflows from development partners at the Bank of Ghana.

The report further indicated that the state lost millions of dollars from the development partners due to the government’s inability to meet targets under the implementation of the Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan, and inability to meet LEAP social payments.

The missed targets also included the budgetary allocation and expenditure on domestic violence related activities, the National Environmental Sanitation Strategy and Action Plan, access to safe water in rural communities, and the review of the Civil Service Act, among others.

Mr. Forson admitted to the discrepancies and gave the assurance that the ministry would put measures in place to ensure that such anomalies do not occur in the future.

He said the ministry would put in place a proper system to acknowledge inflows as required by a framework memorandum signed between the government and the development partners.

On why the government could not meet the disbursement triggers, he said the targets set fell under the supervision of other ministries, departments and agencies and not directly under the finance ministry.

“What we have agreed with the development partners is that we are going to limit the number of triggers and relate them to those ones at the Ministry of Finance level. We have little controls over most of the programmes. We will be limiting the triggers to financial triggers to ensure that we get the disbursements as planned,” he said.

The Chairman of the Committee, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, who was displeased with the discrepancies captured in the A-G’s report, urged the Finance Ministry to overhaul the system to ensure that such anomalies do not occur again.

“This is not a very good report. Multi Donor Budget Support contributes to about 20 per cent of our national budget. If these funds are run effectively, the state will benefit tremendously,” he said.

Within three years, he said donor inflows amounting to US$1.8 billion had been given to the government and added that, “If we are getting 950 million as bail out package from the IMF, it means we would not have needed any assistance if these monies had been managed appropriately”.

By Yaw Kyei 

 

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