Business News of Thursday, 5 February 2015
The Institute of Chartered Accountants – Ghana (ICAG) has commended the government for providing the national financial and economic policy for 2015.
A statement signed by ICAG President, Prof. Omani-Antwi on behalf of Council of ICAG expressed its professional opinion on the budget, and noted among other things that the projected overall GDP (including oil) growth rate of 3.9 per cent in 2015, seem to be a realistic growth rate which in the opinion of ICAG was achievable.
The Institute welcomed the finalization of the next national medium term development plan – Ghana shared Growth and Development Agenda II (GSGDAII) and indicated that the budget has been prepared along the lines of the GSGDA II and also made provision for operationalizing some of the events and issues raised in the 2014 budget such as the establishment of the Ghana Infrastructural Fund.
The budget also provides for a citizens budget which is an abridged version of the budget. This promotes budget transparency and effective accountability as they will be in about 5 Ghanaian languages.
This initiative provides opportunity for wider readership and appreciation of the matters considered in the budget.
However, the ICAG said it was not enough to develop an abridged version of the budget in five (5) different Ghanaian languages and that Government should take further steps to ensure that the documents were properly disseminated in collaboration with the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and local government structures to enable citizens better understand the budget and improve transparency and effective social accountability.
“For the first time, the budget makes a categorical statement on the adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). It is the considered opinion of ICAG that the implementation of IPSAS will greatly enhance the accountability and transparency of the Public Financial Management System of Ghana”.
The ICAG noted that the streamlining of FIFMIS to ensure automation of the financial management system as well as the extension of same to all MDAs and MMDAs are important key milestones that would have to be enhanced.
The application of the automatic adjusted formula to price petroleum products and the adoption of improved resource mobilization system and rationalization of public expenditure are two sure ways of ensuring sanity in the system it said and noted that it was important to note the continuous fall in oil prices for which the automatic adjusted formula has not been allowed to operate to accommodate the falling oil prices.
Non-compliance with this mechanism creates a perception of mistrust and inconsistency of policy on the part of government and may adversely affect future acceptance of similar mechanisms the ICAG said.
“ICAG advised Government to take full advantage of the opportunities and benefits that the 2015 and collaborate with the ICAG and other institution to ensure that its commitment to fully implement the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) to address institutional and logistical capacity gaps and make the plan public to all stakeholders to facilitate the transition process.
It said the use of GIFMIS as a platform to process government financial transactions was in the right direction and encouraged government to fast-track the process and to get MMDAs on board holistically so that both national and sub-national government structures. On the operationalization of the National Pensions Regulatory Act which sets up the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) the ICAG said government needs to keep an eye on because of the current discussions around the management of the second tier pension scheme.
The ICAG said Government should as a matter of urgency focus on resolving all issues relating to the Tier Two Pension Scheme so as to restore the needed confidence in the pension scheme.
“As a penultimate year to a general, ICAG would like to advise that the government manages inflation targets within tolerable limits to prevent overflow into 2016 which comes with its own increased public spending unaccompanied by increased productivity. ICAG reiterates its call for the adoption of a tighter policy stance complemented by a strong and effective fiscal discipline to achieve the inflation target.
The ICAG assured the government and the people of Ghana that it will continue to partner government by producing highly qualified accountants and other finance professionals and provide expert advice especially in the operationalization of IPSAS to ensure improved public accountability and reporting with respect to the use of public funds.