Programme-Based Budgeting Planned



Seth-TerkperThe 2014 budget statement expected to be de livered to Parliament next week, will have a change in focus from activity- based budgeting to programme-based budgeting, to improve service delivery and measurement of performance, Parliament was told yesterday.

The current activity-based budgeting, which had been in operation for the past 15 years, is overly detailed and does not lend itself for performance monitoring.

The new budgetary approach, therefore, is expected to be more result-oriented, improve efficiency and effectiveness of Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) especially with the inflow of additional resources from oil.

Consequently, officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the Controller and Accountant-General yesterday engaged the legislators in a workshop in Parliament to sensitise them on the new approach, as they prepare to receive and debate the budget.

The new approach will cover (MDAs) in 2014, following a successful pilot testing, and would be rolled out to all metropoltan, municipal and district assemblies by 2016.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Seth Terkper, told the House that the cost of the software of the new format was $1.7 million which formed part of the e-governance loan approved by Parliament.

He said the new approach was part of the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System to improve the public financial management system to ensure effective service delivery, through effective monitoring of programmes to ensure that they matched resource allocation.

Giving further rationale for the change in approach, the Chief Director of the ministry, Major (rtd) Tarah, explained that in the past 15 years, budgets had been presented on activity basis and appropriated as such, making the management of the budget difficult because of the sheer numbers of activities in the estimates.

He said MDAs had to come to the ministry to seek for release of funds for all activities and that had to have the approval of the ministry.
“It is envisaged that this new approach to budgeting will also lead to incremental improvement in our budget management, ensure better resource allocation and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of public expenditure by linking the funding of public sector organisation to the results they deliver,” Major Tarah added.

The Head of Budget Reform of the ministry, Eva Mend said though a number of staff have been trained for the new budgetary approach, the implementation of the approach required a lot of skills and competencies in areas of policy analysis, budgeting, costing, monitoring and evaluation.

She said the difficulty envisaged in the new budgetary approach was availability of data, stressing that MDAs would be required to collect data to help in the performance of monitoring.

While the House did not kick against the new approach, some members expressed divergent opinions about   the implementation and wondered whether it would eliminate financial malfeasance as reported yearly in the Auditor-General’s report.

Nii Armah Namoale (NDC-Dade Kotopon) expressed concern about the cost of the software and wondered whether it was not meant to “force down the throat of the taxpayer”, insisting on value for money and judicious use of scarce resource.

Dr Anthony Akoto Osei (NPP-Old Tafo), Minority Spokeman on Finances urged the government to thread with caution and not raise high expectations, adding “this is not to suggest that our problems will be solved with this new approach”.

The Deputy Minority Leader in Parliament, Mr Dominic Nitiwul (NPP-Bimbilla), expressed the need to make the budget useful to the taxpayer through efficient use of public resources, urging the government to close the loopholes in public financing to stop taxpayers money going down the drain.

The Deputy Majority Leader in Parliament, Mr Alfred Agbesi (NDC-Ashaiman) was optimistic that the new approach would result in better budgetary management for efficient public service delivery.

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