Civil Society Organisation, Send-Ghana, has urged Ghanaians to influence the budget preparation process beginning with the 2016 budget.
According to the organisation, even though there is a call by the Ministry of Finance for public input into the budget, the structures to make this happen appear weak.
Send-Ghana is currently collating citizens’ views in Greater Accra, Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions to influence the health and education budget of 2016 through series of public fora.
The organisation is doing this through the ‘Making the Budget Work for Ghana’ project.
The project is funded by the World Bank through the Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) Initiative.
Speaking at a forum in the Upper East Region, Daniel Adotey, a Programme Officer of Send–Ghana explained that, for CSOs and active citizens to be more effective in budget monitoring and tracking, there is the need to know the content of the budget and be involved in the formulation of it.
Mr Adotey observed that, sometimes what is captured in the budget may not necessarily reflect the real aspiration, interests and needs of the ordinary people on the ground.
“If [citizens] are given the opportunity, they can freely express themselves. Citizens feel connected to their government when they take part in the budget process. Their exclusion makes them see the budget as an external imposition on them. We should continue to encourage open discussion around the budget. We should demystify the public budget and begin to treat the budget as a document that is relevant to the lives of everybody in this country”, he said.
According to him, budget preparation and discussions should not be left in the hands of a few technical people.
He explains that at the end of the day those who should benefit from the projects and programmes are the ordinary people.
At the Upper East Region forum, a participant – 73-year-old Memuna Adamu – observed that although there is an NHIS exemption clause for those above 70 to benefit from free access to health care at the various hospitals, this is not the case on the ground.
According to her, hospital staff still demand money before attending to her.
She, therefore, said that the 2016 budget should make provision for implementation of the exemption clause.
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