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The  Executive Director of Africa Centre for Energy Policy(ACEP) Mr. Benjamin Boakye emphasized that, "the 2017 budge was one of the most promising budge which reflected years of advocacy by ACEP and other civil society organisation for focused investment in the pro-poor sectors of education, agriculture, and health. ACEP took particular notice of the allocation of 53 per cent of the oil revenues to the pro-poor sectors of the economy."

He review again, the budget also allocated almost the entire component of the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) allowed for recurrent expenditure to the government's flagship free SHS policy.  The PRMA stimulates that up to 30 per cent of the ABFA can be used for recurrent expenditure with the remaining 70 per cent or more for capital expenditure. To the extent that the allocation to the free SHS constituted 26.5 per cent of ABFA, there was -for the first time greater clarity on what exactly the recurrent expenditures of the ABFA were. This, ACEP believe, would help to track the impact of not just the portion of ABFA that goes into physical infrastructure, but also recurrent expenditure, a positive deviation from what we are used to. Investing in education in particular fits into the key objective of the PRMA in Article 21(2)(b) to promote equality of economic opportunity with a view to ensuring the welling of citizens."

However, the outturn of the receipts and expenditure of oil revenue in 2017 raises concerns about compliance with the Appropriation Act and the PRMA, in spit of commendable adherence to aspects of the laws. This has necessitated this media engagement.

In 2017,the total estimated receipt from oil was about USD 15 million. This amount was exceeded by almost 5per cent to about USD 540.4 million, the  first time we attained and exceeded petroleum revenue projection since 2014. This is as result of higher than expected production volumes and most importantly, the setting of realistic benchmark price for Ghana's oil,he said."

According him, "data from the reconciliation report on the petroleum funds show that the Ministry has been anything short of transparent, efficient, and detailed in ABFA utilization and reporting. The total disbursement of USD 169 million to the ABFA in 2027 translates to GHC 733.2 million. This is GHC 41.7 million short of the cedi equivalent of the projected disbursement to the ABFA in the reconciliation report, and GHC 63.1million in the 2017 national budget. The Ministry Of Finance conveniently revised the budgeted ABFA figures in the reconciliation report without corresponding explanations to adjustment made to budgeted expenditure on m priority areas."

Despite that government had GHC 733.2million of ABFA to spend on the priority areas in 2017, government spent only GHC 332.29 million but the Ministry Of Finance failed to account for the unspent difference of GHC 400.9 million, representing 54.6per cent of total ABFA disbursed."

"The unspent ABFA difference of GHC 400.9 million is more than enough to have funded the total budget variance of PIAC, education, Health and Roads and other critical infrastructure. Where is the money,and why did that money not go to the priority areas when it was available? We are reminded of a similar event that happened in 2014 when an outstanding GHC 600 million of ABFA was swept out of accountability framework of the PRMA by the Bank of Ghana. Again where is the GHC 400.9 million unspent, Finance  Minister? Mr. Benjamin Boakye,said."

Credit | Kofi Dwumah

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