MDAs/MMDAs expenditure outside budget tamed – Ofori-Atta

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta

Finance Minister-designate, Ken Ofori-Atta has revealed that government at its next cabinet meeting would be passing a document to stringently bar any Ministry, Department or Agency (MDAs) as well as all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) from embarking on any project or programme outside what the budget has stated.

All minsters would be given copies of the document and admonished to ensure that unless they can show proof of revenue generation that can be used for the execution of the project or programme not budgeted for, it not should commence.

Mr. Ofori Atta made this known when he was questioned by the minority leader in parliament, Haruna Iddrisu, during his vetting. Mr. Iddrisu asked the minister-designate for assurance that the age-old conundrum of spending outside the budget resulting in higher deficit would be stopped.

Mr. Ofori Atta in replying said: “In this budget season we propose an expenditure commitment where the Ministry of Finance has had to work with the Attorney General’s Office to see a document that would be passed by cabinet in the next cabinet meeting. The document says that, if this thing is not in your cost of goods or CAPEX, it can’t be, unless you can prove that you can get money for it.”

He added that government is putting in more measures to ensure value for money for every project and programme and the expenditure committee would ensure that everyone stays within the budget.

“Beyond the value for money issues, it is tightening and making the minister responsible for finding the resources to be able to do that which is not in the budget. Government is simply saying that unless you can prove, it can’t be done,” he noted.

Already, new and adjusted taxes have been announced in the 2021 budget as a measure to shore up government revenue. Government is planning to raise at least GH¢72.6 billion in revenues to execute its business this year.

According to the 2021 budget, government will spend GH¢35.9 billion as interest payments and GH¢30.3 billion on workers’ wages and pension. This means that over 90 percent – some GH¢65 billion – out of the money government hopes to generate from revenue – GH¢72.6 billion – is going into the debt servicing, wages and pension payments; therefore, government would resort to borrowing to cover the GH¢113 billion approval being sort from parliament.

The Finance Minister-designate, Ken Ofori-Atta reiterated his comment that the main motive behind the introduction of new and adjustment taxes is to ensure that a collective effort is adopted in fighting the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

He told parliament: “The essence of the budget is a battle cry for us to join together to look at our growth and transform as against bending our heads down because of COVID. We have proposed taxes in the budget to ensure the energy sector is operational for industries to work and keep jobs and to also address our sanitation challenges.”

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