Business News of Thursday, 21 March 2013
Parliament on Tuesday approved the annual budget estimates for eight public institutions for the 2013 fiscal year but expressed concern that those amounts were significantly inadequate to meet their financial obligations and functions.
The institutions include the Ministry of Communications, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the National Labour Commission (NLC), the National Media Commission (NMC) and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).
The Ministry of Communications was allocated Ghc56, 968,313 while the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development received Ghc447, 495,901. The NDPC received an amount of Ghc8, 994,734 and the NLC was allocated Ghc2, 084,623.
The NMC was given GHc2, 560,322, which is 50 percent less than the proposed budget, CHRAJ was allocated GHc9, 900,203, a 39 percent reduction of what was requested, and the PSC garnered GHc5, 052,559 out of a proposed sum of GHc13, 598,483.07; the NCCE got GHc18, 103,149.00, registering a deficit of Ghc15,222,302 in actual estimates for the fiscal year.
The debate on the NMC’s budgetary allocation drew spirited responses, with both sides of the House agreeing that the provision made for that institution was woefully inadequate urging government to commit more resources to the body to continuously safeguard Ghana’s outstanding democracy.
Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, MP for Manhyia, said the figures allocated compromised the activities of the NMC and did not reflect the reality of the enormity of responsibility thrust on the organization to consolidate Ghana’s democracy.
He said the shortfall of 50 percent in the allocations to the NMC would badly affect its operations, calling on government to rectify the situation if it presents a supplementary budget to the House.
The Report of the Special Budget Committee on the NMC noted with concern the significant decrease in the allocation of compensation for employees of the body. The proposed budget of the NMC to cater for salaries and allowances of its employees was GHc2, 385,697.00, but it was however allocated GHc286, 432.00.
Mr Richard Mawuli Quashigah, MP for Keta, said given the crucial and important role of the NMC to development and safeguarding of democracy in the country, the establishment should be well resourced and well equipped to carry out its mandate effectively.
He said the amount allocated to the NMC was inadequate and would not inure to the benefits of Ghana’s fledgling democracy because the body was the pivot on which the country’s democracy rests, urging government to commit more resources to the organization, saying, “If the NMC is well resourced to do its work effectively, some of the democratic problems in the country would not be happening”.
The NDPC’s budget allocation also generated interest with members calling for adequate resources for it to enable it function effectively.
Mr James Avedzi, MP for Ketu North and the Chairman of the Finance Committee noted that inadequate funding of the Commission had resulted in its inability to entice and retain qualified professionals to form a full complement of staff.
He said that the NDPC had only 14 out of the 52 technical or critical staff required for its optimal functioning and urged government to urgently provide funds and grant the Commission special rights to recruit the requisite human resource to enable it perform its primary function of providing a national development policy framework.
Mr Kwaku Kwarteng, the member for Obuasi West, said it was unacceptable that members of the Commission spent a colossal amount of Ghc1.4 million on sitting allowances alone last year, as information available suggest.
He said the NDPC should reduce the amount spent on such itinerary to make savings that could be utilized for the recruitment of more of the desired staff and also suggested a reduction on the number of its commissioners.
Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, MP for Old Tafo and the Ranking Member on the Finance, also decried the inadequacy of the allotted amount, urging government to commit more funds to the body in view of the critical role it played in the development of the country.
Mr Alban Babgin, Member for Nadowli/Kaleo, said the issue of funding for the NDPC had persisted for too long and called for adequate financial allocation for the Commission.
Members also urged government to take a critical look at the finances of the NCCE in view of the central role it played strengthening the democratic foundation of the country.
They held that the approved estimates for the NCCE, that registered a variance of about 30 percent was inimical to the workings of the Commission.
MP for Central Tongu, Mr Joe Gidisu, said the Commission was the cornerstone of Ghana’s democracy and that its finances should be strengthened.