Ghana improves marginally in global rankings on budget transparency
• Dr. Emmanuel Ayifah
Civil Society Group Send Ghana and its partners have asked government to continue taking steps to ensure transparency and inclusiveness when putting together public budgets.
They have again called for “strengthening the oversight responsibility” of the Legislature and the Audit Service in budgetary processes.
Their remarks follow recent findings from an Open Budget Survey which indicated “a slight improvement” in public access to budget information in Ghana.
The Open Budget Survey is the world’s only comparative, independent and regular assessment of transparency, oversight, and public participation in public budgets in 120 countries.
According to the International Budget Partnership (IBP)’s Open Budget Survey (OBS) 2021, which launched the country’s results on July 28, Ghana’s transparency score remains below the threshold of 61, which is considered sufficient information for the public to engage meaningfully in budget processes.
Ghana’s transparency score, according to the report, increased from 54 in OBS 2019 to 56 in OBS 2021. This means that citizens have greater access to the information they need to participate in decision making and hold the government to account.
“Improving budgetary transparency is more important than ever given Ghana’s fiscal constraints and debt concerns,” Godson Aloryito, programmme officer of IBP said in Accra.
“Open budget practices are a winning proposition — they build public trust that governments can deliver, can help secure buy-in for hard tradeoffs governments are facing, and can lead to lower borrowing costs at a time when debt is at an all-time high.
“We urge Ghana to continue to take steps to make its budgetary process more transparent and inclusive, particularly around detailed reporting on public expenditures and the public debt,” he added.
The survey which found that there were limited opportunities for public participation, established that the Legislature and the Ghana Audit Service provided weak oversight during the budget process, with a composite oversight score of 39 in OBS 2021 — a notable drop from a score of 50 in OBS 2019.
“Bringing the public into the budgetary process can greatly bolster Ghana’s fiscal governance,” Dr. Emmanuel Ayifah, Deputy Country Director of SEND Ghana indicated.
“We have seen the value of involving communities in decisions around how to manage public resources by ensuring that public funds reach those who need them most during this difficult financial moment.
“We urge Ghana to put in measures to strengthen the oversight functions of the Legislature and the Ghana Audit Service,” he said.
By Ernest Nutsugah