December 10, 2014

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has indicted Parliament for failing to enforce the budget spending limit approved in the 2012 Parliamentary Appropriations Act (PAA).

The Constitution designates the Consolidated Fund (CF) as the key Public Fund that receives government revenues and it also stipulates that withdrawals from the CF must be authorized by Parliament.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Appropriations Act (PAA) sets ceilings each financial year for government spending from the CF based on the budget submitted to Parliament.

The PAA therefore vests authority in Parliament to ensure that government expenditure is in conformity with budget estimates.

But the IEA is insisting that the mandate of Parliament is rarely exercised, resulting in expenditure overruns from one financial year to the other.

IEA indicated that “Parliament has systematically failed to monitor the budget and enforce spending limit.”

A clear example of an expenditure overun is evident in the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning’s request in July, asking Parliament to approve a GH¢3,196,855,671 Supplementary Budget Estimate in conformity with Article 179(8) of the Constitution for the rest of the year.

According to the IEA, despite the opportunity for government to revise its budget estimates, expenditure is almost invariably exceeded by the close of the year, often by wide margins.

Speaking on Eyewitness News, the Member of Parliament (MP) of Abuakwa South in the Eastern Region, Atta Kyea expressed dissatisfaction with the failure of Parliament to discharge its constitutional and legal mandate of monitoring the budget and ensuring that government operates within the rules set out by the House.

According to him, Parlaiment can effectively monitor government spending if MPs put aside their political differences and deal with politicians who flout the PAA.

“Can we converge as a House and leave the partisan position out and deal with a Minister who for one reason or another has underperformed and totally violated the appropriation act? Can we do it, then Parliament will be seen as an oversight body in terms of how the public purse is applied and managed? That will be a huge revolution from my perspective,” he remarked.