Ghanaian lawmakers approve government’s budget spending plan
Parliament on Wednesday passed the Appropriation Act for the 2013 fiscal year, committing a sum of GH¢31,845,664,819.00 from the Consolidated Fund for government to meet its financial obligations for the year.
The amount is more than the projected expenditure in the 2013 estimates laid before the House. It includes an amount of GH¢6,064,214.00 donor fund allocated to the Judicial Service.
The 2013 appropriation is GH¢11,909,897,488 more than last year’s figure of GH¢19,935,767,331, with this year’s budget geared towards tackling the fiscal deficits that swelled to 12.1 percent in 2012 from an initial target of 4.8 percent, aiming for nine percent for 2013.
However before the Act was passed, the minority side cautioned that government should not spend beyond what was appropriated for 2013 as happened last year.
They also insisted that statutory payments should not be delayed and that any amount collected on behalf of the District Assemblies Common Fund, the Ghana Education Trust Fund, the National Health Insurance Fund, Road Fund, Petroleum related Fund should not be withheld unduly but released on time without arrears.
In 2012, for instance many of the MMDAs spent more than the House approved and did so without recourse to the House, with some exceeding their budgetary allocation by more than 100 per cent.
Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul said the Finance ministry last year spent more than the House approved for government obligations, asking, “If the gatekeeper is behaving this way what about the thief”.
Speaker Edward Adjaho at this point cut in when the majority side raised objections to the question, also asking rhetorically, “Honorable Deputy Minority Leader who is the gatekeeper and who is the thief”.
But the member for Akwapim North, Mr William Ofori Boafo took the matter a step higher, proposing an amendment to the Appropriation Bill seeking to criminalize spending beyond the appropriation.
He said public institutions and their heads that spent in excess of the amount approved by Parliament in the Appropriation Act committed an offence and should be liable for conviction or a fine.
Majority Leader Dr Benjamin Kunbuor did not agree with that arrangement insisting that that intervention had never been part of any appropriation Act.
The Speaker advised that, that intervention should rather be made in the Financial Administration Act and charged the leadership of the House to take up the issue and ensure that the minority’s concern was addressed accordingly.