Send Ghana, a civil society organisation promoting good governance and equality, has held a forum in Kumasi aimed at collating the inputs of citizens for consideration in the 2022 National Budget and Economic Policy.
Since 2015, the organisation has been organising public fora to collate views of citizens to influence national budgets as well as district medium-term development plans as a means of addressing the concerns of the people, especially at the local level.
This year’s forum which was held in Kumasi was aimed at soliciting views, concerns, and ideas of citizens on the 2022 budget and uses the recommendations to develop a “citizen alternative budget” on health, education, social protection, nutrition as well as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
The citizens’ budget would be presented to the sector ministries to influence the budget planning processes so that citizens can participate in the budget process with concrete priorities and evidence that justifies such inputs.
Funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), participants were drawn from youth groups, women groups, assembly members, persons with disabilities, CSOs, and the media in the Ashanti and Bono regions.
They made a strong case for the government to put together a budget that would tackle the infrastructural deficit in all the various sectors to improve the lives of people living in deprived communities.
The budget must be people-centred and resources equitably distributed to address the basic needs of the citizenry, they argued.
The disregard for the interest of PWDs in the designing of public facilities was another issue that the participants entreated the government to take steps to address as a matter of priority.
They applauded SEND Ghana for providing them the platform to share their views on the national budget and called for more of such platforms to encourage citizens’ participation in the decision-making process.
Madam Harriet Nuamah Agyemang, Senior Programmes Manager, SEND Ghana, said the initiative was to provide the opportunity for the citizenry to make inputs to the national budget because it would be difficult for issues that had not been factored in the budget to be addressed.
She said though not all the inputs solicited from the citizens over the years were considered, some of them reflected in previous budgets which served as motivation to continue pushing for citizen participation in the budget.
“As a country, we need to define our priorities and commit our resources where they are needed. If we want to help the vulnerable, we must show commitment by addressing their plight,” she noted.
She said it was unacceptable to increase the salaries of public sector workers every year, but funds allocated for the upkeep of the very core poor are maintained for years. GNA