Francis-Xavier Sosu: Ken Ofori-Atta’s response to 937.73% increase in allocations to Presidency unsatisfactory
It will be recalled that following the 2021 Budget Statement read by Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Acting Finance Minister, Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, allocations to Office of the President increased by 937.73% over five years compared to 48.71% for Parliament and 18.49% for the Judiciary.
The data shows that in 2020, with a staff strength of 1696, the Office of Government Machinery was allocated an amount of GHC136, 212,551.00 whilst allocation to the Judiciary was GHC251, 558,302.00 with a staff strength of 5133.
However in 2021, with staff strength of 1597 representing a 5.84% decrease in staff strength, the office of Government machinery was allocated GHC823, 880,668.00 representing a 504.85% increase in budgetary allocations over one financial year. The Judiciary, with a staff strength of 5538 which represents 7.31% increase, saw an increase in budgetary allocations to GHC284, 504,473 representing a 13.10% increase only.
With respect to the Parliament of Ghana, the increase was from GHC140, 484,382.00 to GHC201, 112,086.00 representing a 43.16% increase in budgetary allocations. This shows a 461.69% difference in allocation between the Office of government machinery and the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana in one year.
However, in response to a question by Hon. Francis-Xavier Sosu, Member of Parliament for Madina Constituency, and member of the Appointments Committee of Parliament on the increase in allocation to the Presidency, Finance Minister Designate, Ken Ofori Atta, responded saying, this had become necessary following an increase in government activities and related expenditure.
The response by the Hon. Minister is unsatisfactory considering the scrapping of the newly created Ministries namely Ministry of Special Development Initiatives, Ministry of Procurement, Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Monitoring and Evaluation, Office of Senior Minister, and Ministry of Business Development by President Akufo Addo.
This is even more surprising during a time when the Finance Minister Designate himself is calling for “shared burden” of the pain and hardship imposed by the 2021 budget.
The “elephant size” allocation of national resources to the Executive to the detriment of the Judiciary and the legislature does not promote effective Separation of Powers as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
The actions of the Executive arm of Government purporting to set ceilings, cut down, and revise budgetary estimates submitted by the Judiciary and the Legislature clearly violates Articles127 and 179 of the 1992 Constitution referred to above. Government actions also violate Section 15A of the Parliamentary Service Act, 1993 (Act 416).
Furthermore, this is despite recent pacification and increase in budgetary allocation to Parliament and the Judiciary by the Presidency by over GHS190 million and GHS30 million respectively.
As a recommendation, I would call for a national dialogue led by a non-partisan Committee of Parliament with Stakeholders from all organs of state including representatives from the Council of State, National House of Chiefs, Civil Society and Professional Groups to discuss a permanent resource allocation to the Judiciary and Legislature which shall not be interfered with by the Executive.
It is further proposed that any recommendations from such consultative meetings must be backed by a legislation to give effect to the true intent of Separation of Powers as provided for by the 1992 Constitution. This is because independence of organs of state not backed by financial independence is no independence.
As it stands now, the allocation to office of government machinery which has increased by 937.73% in 5 years, whilst that of parliament and judiciary has increased by now 48.71% and 18.49% respectively is a clear case of betrayal and lack of commitment by this government to ensure effective separation of powers and good governance principles.
The situation gives more power or leverage to the Executive to control and manipulate other arms of Government, which are supposed to act as an effective check on the Executive.