Ahead of 2014 Budget: Gov’t urged to improve social sector expenditure

cediMrs Philomena Johnson, Coordinator of the Institute for Fiscal Policy (IPF) on Friday called on government to improve budget expenditure allocations to sub-sectors of Social Sector Ministries to reduce their numerous challenges.

According to her, essential services sectors namely; Education, Health, Water and Sanitation, Gender, Children and Social Protection, including poverty reduction interventions sub-sectors, were highly under resourced leading to their poor performances.

She therefore called on the Parliamentary Committee for these five sectors and the Finance Standing Committee of Parliament to request the Ministry of Finance and these Social Sector Ministries to review the approach used in budgeted expenditure Allocations, first to the Sectors from the Total Ministries Department and Agency (MDA) budgeted allocations and secondly from the Sectors’ Budgeted expenditures to their key sub-sectors during the 2014 Budget discussions.

Mrs Johnson indicated that these sub-sectors had over the past four years experienced dwindling share of the overall sector expenditure allocation and urged government to critically review the gaps in order to sustain the limited gains made over the years and further improve upon them.

She was addressing a media and Civil Society Organisation (CSO) briefing on the expectations of the 2014 National Budget with respect to the Rights and Protection of Women and Children.

Mrs Johnson explained that the focus on the voiceless stems from the fact that the country still faces complex challenges in addressing extreme poverty and inequitable distribution of resources between the north and south, as well as the rural and the urban areas.

She explained that a research was conducted early this year by the IPF to identify gaps and opportunities and assess these against sector policies that sought to improve the wellbeing of children and women.

It was also to generate evidence-based information for public debates towards the development of policy alternatives that would enhance the promotion of the rights and protection of women and children in Ghana.

It was also to generate evidence-based information for public debates towards the development of policy alternatives that would enhance the promotion of the rights and protection of women and children in Ghana.

The research revealed that inequalities exist in income poverty levels, health and nutrition, education, water and sanitation, as well as lack of adequate social protection from all forms of abuses, deprivation and access to basic rights, especially for children, girls, women and the disabled, she said.

She said the findings further  revealed huge challenges in areas such as basic school enrollment, gender equity, increases in maternal, infant and under-five mortality and morbidity, particularly among rural communities, while Regional variations in reports of increases in Mother-to-Child-Transmission of HIV still persists despite the numerous interventions among other things.

There was also still low coverage of rural water supply, the provision of potable drinking water and related sanitation services to these communities.

Mrs Johnson said with the 2014 National Budget Statement to be delivered soon by the President to Parliament, it was expected that government would address major disparities in budget resource allocations to the essential services sectors to make them more efficient and effective.

According to her, there was the need for a critical examination of how sub-sector budgeted expenditure allocations was made from the overall Sector budgeted expenditure allocations of Total MDA Budgets.

Dr Zakaria Yakubu, Director of programme, ISODEC, said the pre-budget briefing to CSOs, which was an annual event organized by the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), provides the opportunity for CSOs to do a preview of the National Budget.

The forum also provides some level of public education and demystifies the budget as a piece of document for only technocrats, but to involve ordinary citizens in its preparation so that they could hold government accountable to their promises.

Source: GNA

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