General News of Sunday, 31 December 2017
Former Vice President, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur has said the Finance Ministry and its civil servants should be held responsible for the negligence which resulted in the over ‘bloated budget’.
His reason for blaming the Ministry was because ‘’ministries present budgets to the budget division and budget presentations are held where budget specialist who are in the ministry are supposed to go through but they did not do their job well.
Mr. Amissah-Arthur said he will not excuse the ministry and its staff because they are supposed to assure us that they have done the due diligence.
He said we will not accept the explanations he is getting over the ‘over bloated budget’.
The former Vice President said ‘’there is clearly something’’ and the Finance Minister failed to due diligence because he is the one who signs the appropriation bill after ensuring that everything there is correct and so ‘’if you did not do due diligence, he must accept so.’’
A statement signed by the Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid said, ‘’ Government has taken note of the public discussions generated over the 2018 budget estimates of the Ministry for Special Development Initiatives. Whilst commending the interest shown by Members of Parliament, sections of the media, and citizens, in ensuring that the State is efficient in its expenditure, it is important, however, to reject the false claims by some that the Ministry’s budget intention is to misappropriate or misapply state funds in this case.’’
It further stated that, ‘’The establishment of the three Development Authorities is to ensure a bottom-up approach to development, which takes control of local development away from a central authority. With the establishment of the three development authorities, part of the yearly national allocation for capital expenditure, will be taken and directly allocated to all 275 constituencies across the country to be administered by the Development Authorities to ensure that the traditional inefficiencies of centralized capital expenditure is cured. The balance of GH¢1.198 billion has now been approved for the Authorities to develop projects with and expend accordingly commencing with the 2018 budget. The establishment of the Development Authorities to administer expenditure of the equivalent of $1 million per constituency was a specific manifesto commitment of the ruling New Patriotic Party, as amplified by several pronouncements of its presidential ticket in the 2016 election campaign, and government is determined to implement to the letter this vision which will ensure equitable distribution of amenities and opportunities to every community up and down the country.’’
It also said, ‘’Now that appropriation is complete, there are enough safeguards to ensure that value for money audits are conducted at each procurement stage when the Development Authorities are established and commence their work. The Public Financial Management Act requires processing such as issuance of commencement certificates (which require benchmarking of projected expenditures). The Procurement processes additionally require value for money assessments. The processes for releasing funds at the Finance Ministry since 2017, in strict accordance with the PFMA have been extremely diligent leading to huge savings to the public purse this year, a reason for which government has been accused for not spending enough. The processes will continue to remain extremely disciplined in 2018 and beyond, and are the ones that really determine how safe the public purse is.’’