Parliament has approved a request for the withdrawal of an amount of Twenty-Seven Billion, Four Hundred and Thirty-Four Million, One Hundred and Eighty Thousand, Five Hundred and Twenty Ghana Cedis (GHS 27,434,180,520) from the Consolidated Fund to finance government operations for the first quarter of the 2021 financial year.
The Minister responsible of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, presented estimates of the revenue and expenditure of the government for January to March 2021 to Parliament, a convention which has become a usual characteristic of election years to prevent transitional challenges in the smooth running of government for the first three months in the year after an election.
The presentation is in accordance with Section 23 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) and Article 180 of the 1992 Constitution which provides that, “where it appears to the President that the Appropriation Act in respect of any financial year will not come into operation by the beginning of that financial year, he may with the prior approval of Parliament by a resolution authorize the withdrawal of money from the Consolidated Fund for the purpose of meeting expenditure necessary to carry on the services of the Government in respect of the period expiring three months from the beginning of that financial year or on the coming into operation of the Act whichever is earlier.”
It now appears to the President that the Appropriation Act in respect of the financial year commencing on the 1st day of January 2021 will not come into operation by the beginning of the said financial year.
Unlike the usual oral presentation of the annual budget by the Finance Minister, the first quarter expenditure in advance of appropriation was laid on the Floor and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report.
Among the notable expenditure budgeted for include the compensation of employees which has been budgeted at GHS 7,708,960,148, GHS 1,595,571,683 for Goods and Services and Interest Payments at GHS 7,002,221,941 while Subsidies are budgeted at GHS 259,087,194.
GHS 4,340,216,517 will also be spent on Grants to other Government Units with Social Benefits pegged at GHS 41,271,000 while provisions were made for Other Expenditure, Capital Expenditure, Arrears Clearance and Amortisation at GHS 813,610,025.00, GHS 1,903,658,408 GHS 350,000,000 and GHS 3,419,583,605 in that order.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta explained that all the expenditure budgeted for the first quarter is for essential and statutory payments whilst all non-core expenses will be deferred to the second quarter of 2021.
Presenting the report of the Finance Committee for the approval of the three months budget, the Chairman of the Committee and the Member of Parliament (MP) for New Juaben South Hon. (Dr) Mark Assibey-Yeboah said the decision to present only the budget for the 1st of January to March, 2021 period was due to the presidential and parliamentary elections.
According to him, the Committee noted that the government’s request became necessary due to the tight election calendar which made it difficult to come out with an Appropriation Act before the end of 2020 and thus, will enable government spending between January and March 2021 pending a new budget to be read by the new government that would emerge from the 2020 elections.
The Chairman indicated that the request is to enable government to withdraw monies from the Consolidated Fund to meet its urgent and statutory expenses for the first three pending the approval of an Appropriation Act for the 2021 financial year.
The Minority Leader Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale South Hon. Haruna Iddrisu who seconded the motion for adoption of the resolution was not happy about Government’s failure to present a detailed summary of government expenditure to Parliament from the advent of the COVID-19 outbreak and also criticized the items to be catered for in the first quarter budget.
Ghana | Atinkaonline.com