Ghana: Hand to Mouth Budget

Members of Parliament went gaga yesterday, after discovering that the chunk of the budget meant for the Ministries of Justice and Attorney General and Education, went into the payment of personal emoluments.

The Member for North Dayi, George Loh, who first raised the issue, pleaded with the August House to intervene, to halt the anomaly by dialoging with the Ministry of Finance, to allocate more financial resources to the Ministries.

The North Dayi lawmaker, who is also a member of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, made this observation when contributing to the motion for the House to approve the sum of GH¢64, 494,995 for the Ministry of Justice & Attorney-General's Department.

"Mr. Speaker, we pay them well, but don't provide them with the logistics to work with. It's just like paying them for no work done. They do not have monies for computer, pay for their subscription, a lot," he said.

The above mentioned ministry and department have in recent times been plagued with lack of adequate funding, thereby seriously affecting their operations. Its internally generated funds (IGF) are also nothing to write home about.

The ministry has eight agencies and departments working under it. They include Headquarters of the Ministry of Justice & Attorney-General's Office; Registrar-General's Department; Law Reform Commission; General Legal Council (Ghana Law School); Council for Law Reporting; Legal Aid Board; Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) and Office of the Copyright Administrator.

Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Alban Bagbin, in supporting the approval of the motion moved by the Minister of Justice & Attorney-General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, observed that despite the timely release of funds for compensation of employees, releases in respect of Goods and Services and Assets were very low.

This, he noted, makes the ministry's ability to meet its logistical needs, such as computers with accessories and vehicles almost impossible.

"The unavailability of computers delays the work of Attorneys, as they are unable to process their own work but rely on the pool of Secretaries. The situation does not only slow down the work of Attorneys, but also makes it difficult for them to conduct research, as well as investigations.

The lack of vehicles also denies the Attorneys the opportunity of being regularly transported to and from the Courts. This adversely affects their performance," he noted.

The stance of Bagbin was supported by the MP for Dome/ Kwabenya, Ms. Adwoa Safo, who stated that the situation had succeeded in making the ministry unattractive for young and upcoming lawyers.

"Mr. Speaker, young lawyers start at the AG's department, but after gaining the experience, they exit the place", she lamented.

To her it was inappropriate for the Ministry of Finance to slash down the ministries allocation from GH¢93, 494,571.89 to GH¢64, 494,995 cedis.

It also emerged that the Ministry of Education is going to spend 75.4% of its budget allocation on employees' compensation, leaving only 24.6% to cater for other services.

This was hinted by the MP for Assin South, Prof. Dominic Fobih, who in contributing to the motion for the House to approve the sum of GH¢5, 816,315,034 for the Ministry of Education, called on the authorities to have a second look at the issue.

"Inadequate resources is a problem and it affects the quality of education, especially when education is the human resource of a nation".

His argument was confirmed by a document sighted by The Chronicle, which was also read in chamber by the Chairman of the Committee on Education, Hon. Mathias A. Puozaa.

The committee, he said, observed that the total budgetary allocation of GH¢5, 816,315,034.00 even though increased when compared with last year's allocation of GH¢4,412,695,383.00, have GH¢4,387,062,473.00, amounting to 75.4% of the allocation going to employees' compensation, "Leaving only 24.6% to cater for goods and services and capital expenditure.

The inadequate allocation for goods and services and capital expenditure will affect among others, the expansion of infrastructure and the quality of teaching", he stressed.

Meanwhile, the House has also approved a sum of GH¢3,353,707,814 for the Ministry of Health 2014 financial year and GH¢89,949,128 for the Ministry of Transport.

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