The mid-year budget review expected to be delivered by the Finance Minister on Thursday to the legislature does not present an opportunity to account for the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) funds, chairman of Parliament’s Finance Committee, Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah, has said.
There have been calls for the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, to provide details of the CAP allocations and expenditure in the mid-year budget presentation. However, Dr. Assibey-Yeboah said that is not the remit of the Finance Minister.
“I hear people say the Minister should come and account for the coronavirus money. This is not the place for that thing. In this country, at the end of the year, all our expenditure is submitted to the Auditor-General. He vets, audits it, and submits it back to Parliament. It is for the Auditor-General to vet the accounts and come and submit accounts to parliament. If the Minister comes and does any other thing, he will be straying into matters that are not required of him,” he told Business 24 in an interview.
The Public Financial Management law mandates the Finance Minister to present a mid-year budget review to Parliament before the close of July of every financial year.
The law, according to Dr. Assibey-Yeboah, spells out what is required of the minister, which includes to update the country on happenings at the macroeconomic level, revenue shortfalls, government expenditure, and update on government’s financing realignments.
It is understood that government is working to roll out unemployment benefits for Ghanaians soon, which is expected to be contained in the budget review.
The move has been influenced by how conditions of some workers have been affected because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Similarly, another stimulus package for businesses is expected to be captured in the budget review.
Government earlier this year introduced a GH¢1bn stimulus package for small businesses. This was aimed at assisting small firms that have been badly hid by the coronavirus. The next round of stimulus is expected to target large firms in the country.
Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah says the Finance Minister is not expected to account for the CAP funds during the mid-year budget review.