Tracking Budget Expenditure of Extractive Resource Revenue in the 2014 Budget and Policy Statement of the Government of Ghana
Ghana’s national budget is informed by a multitude of consultative steps on-going throughout government administrative levels on an annual basis, each step offering influencing opportunity for improved public finance management. Ideally a rational priority setting process starts at the grassroots level with engagement of community and area councils and subsequent harmonization of priorities by the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and formulation of a Development Plans and Composite Budgets thereof. These plans are harmonized at the regional level and together with sectoral and higher political priorities of government. The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) eventually comes out with a national development framework, the annual action plans of which largely inform the annual budget. Regardless of this seemingly rational and consultative budget process, citizens’ consultation is very minimal and the priorities so determined usually do not reflect the aspirations of the people they seek to serve.
The greatest weakness in public finance management occurs when disbursements and expenditures do not follow allocations, and the quality of implementation of public service delivery is poor. The reality of how revenue inflows from oil, gas and mining, as well as foreign aid and funds mobilized from the international market are channelled through the national budget to fund national priorities and the development outcomes thereof or otherwise is a testament to the enormity of the challenge of ensuring effective and efficient public finance management in Ghana. Budget leakages are enabled by weaknesses occurring both at national and regional/local levels and are compounded by insufficient public and media debate and scrutiny around the management of public finances. The subject of major concern is the absence of any easily accessible public information on the utilization of funds realized from petroleum, mining, aid and commercial sources. This information gap is a major challenge to organizations, especially civil society players, and citizens interested in undertaking evidence.