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Minority accuses government of doctoring figures

Ato Forson

The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) has accused the Government of doctoring figures in the 2017 Mid-Year Budget Review that the Finance Minister presented to Parliament on Monday, July 31, 2017.
The Minority said: “The Government doctored the figures in order to make their performance for the half-year look good and paint the previous government black.”
Mr Casiel Ato Forson, the Minority Ranking Member on Finance, made the allegation at a press conference on the reversal of interest payment by the Minister of Finance in Parliament.
He, therefore, called on the Auditor General and Parliament to immediately conduct investigations into the violation of the long-standing, “cut-off” fiscal rule by the Finance Minister.  
Mr Forson said the Minister lacked the authority to make the adjustment he made under the Financial Administration Regulations, Regulation 193.
He said the attention of the Minority was drawn to the reversal of interest payment on an amount of GH¢758.5 million and review of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) without a formal Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) Statement at the end of the 2016 Financial Year.
Mr Forson said the reversal that the Minister made, which violated long-standing “cut-off” fiscal rules, was for the sole purpose of making the government’s dismal performance for the first half of the Financial Year 2017 “look good” and the performance for 2016 worse.
“This doctoring of figures is very shameful. This is, to say the least, very regrettable and cosmetic,” he said.
He noted that from the Summary of Revised Central Government Operations-2017, the Minister of Finance had reduced domestic interest payment by an amount GH¢657,005,271 to create the impression that expenditure on domestic interest payment was being reduced.
Mr Forson said; “This is clearly artificially compressed and contrived, and a blatant disregard for “cut off” fiscal rules in accordance with the Financial Administration Regulations (FAR), Regulation 193.”
He explained that the Financial Year ended on a weekend (December 31, being  a Saturday). 
The long-standing “cut-off “fiscal rule is that expenditures and revenues that fall due on the last day of the month or year during a weekend, accrue to the next working day January 2, 2017. This rule also applies to situations where the last working day falls on public or statutory holidays.
Mr Forson said when the last working day of the month or year fell on a weekend or holiday, the Bank of Ghana (BOG) also closed the books on the prior working day.
He said Ghanaians must be alarmed that the Minister would unilaterally change a long-standing fiscal rule with respect to only one particular expenditure for the misplaced and selfish purpose of making the performance of the first half of 2017 “look good” and also why the BOG ostensibly reopen its books to allow this to happen.
He said the Minority noted with concern that the budget did not state that the Ministry of Finance and BOG applied the same rule to revenues that accrued on Saturday 31, December 2016 but were paid on the next working day on January 4, 2017.
He said to be consistent, the Minister and Governor should have reversed all cash buffers that were carried over to Financial Year 2017.    

Source: GNA

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