Parliament has approved a request for the withdrawal of GH¢27,434,180,520 from the Consolidated Fund to finance government operations for the first quarter of the 2021 financial year.
Minister for Finance Ken Ofori-Atta presented estimates of the revenue and expenditure of the government for January to March 2021 to Parliament last Wednesday.
He explained that all the expenditure budgeted for the first quarter is for essential and statutory payments and that non-core expenses will be deferred to the second quarter of 2021.
The expenditure budgeted for the period includes compensation of employees GH¢7,708,960,148; Goods and Services, GH¢1,595,571,683; Interest Payments, GH¢7,002,221,941 and Subsidies, GH¢259,087,194.
The rest are grants to other government units, GH¢4,340,216,517; Social benefits, GH¢41,271,000; Capital Expenditure, GH¢1,903,658,408; Other Expenditure, GH¢813,610,025; Arrears clearance, GH¢350,000,000; and Amortization, GH¢3,419,583,605.
Chairman of the Finance Committee Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah who presented report of the committee to the House, indicated that the impending presidential and parliamentary elections are the reasons for presenting only the budget for January to March 2021.
The government’s request, he said, is necessary due to the tight election calendar that has made it difficult to draw up an Appropriation Act before the end of 2020.
He noted that the Finance Minister’s request will enable the government to spend between the period between January and March 2021 until a new budget by the new government that would be elected in the election would be presented.
This, he said, will allow government to withdraw funds from the Consolidated Fund to meet urgent statutory expenses for the period under consideration pending approval of an Appropriation Act for the 2021 financial year.
The presentation has become a characteristic of election years to prevent transitional challenges in the smooth running of government business for the first three months in the year after an election.
The presentation is in accordance with Section 23 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) and Article 180 of the 1992 Constitution which provides that, “Where it appears to the President that the Appropriation Act in respect of any financial year will not come into operation by the beginning of that financial year, he may with the prior approval of Parliament by a resolution authorize the withdrawal of money from the Consolidated Fund for the purpose of meeting expenditure necessary to carry on the services of the Government in respect of the period expiring three months from the beginning of that financial year or on the coming into operation of the Act whichever is earlier.”
Section 23 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) also provides that, “Where the President is satisfied that the Appropriation Act in respect of a financial year will not come into operation at the beginning of that financial year, the President may, with prior approval of Parliament by (a) resolution in accordance with article 180 of the Constitution and (b) warrant addressed to the Minister, authorize the issue of money from the Consolidated Fund for purposes of meeting the expenditure necessary to carry on the services of the Government, until the expiration of three months from the beginning of that financial year, or from the coming into operation of the Appropriation Act, whichever is earlier.”
The Finance Minister’s presentation is therefore an indication the President believes the Appropriation Act in respect of the financial year commencing on the 1st day of January 2021 will not come into operation by the beginning of the said financial year.
The Minority in Parliament, however, expressed displeasure that the Minister failed to present a detailed summary of expenditure of the government to the House.