When state institutions are denied cash
YESTERDAY, MINISTER of Finance Dr. Kwabena Duffuor fielded questions from The Chronicle, and assured the nation that the last quarter subventions to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, which had been held up since last January, were being released.
He told this paper that monies for the Judiciary Service had also been released, while the various commissions would soon be resourced. In the words of the Minister, their monies had been released, and that they were with the Bank of Ghana. Hopefully, money would be available for the paralysis that was created in the system to disappear.
The assurance is re-assuring. But, why should it reach this point? On what basis did the State of Ghana fail to make good its financial obligations to these state institutions, when we are told that the various revenue collecting agencies had exceeded their revenue mobilisation targets?
The cash-strapped situation got so worse that we are told that an institution like the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETfund) for instance, had to resort to borrowing to pay contractors who have been working on various school projects.
The idea of borrowing to fund projects, with its interest cost, is likely to balloon the cost of state projects. Surely, we do not want to pay extra cost that has nothing to do with variations in the original contracts.
In the case of the judiciary, a concerned Ghanaian, Abigail Adams, filed a suit at the Supreme Court, invoking the ‘original jurisdiction’ of the court to compel President John Evans Atta Mills to order the payment of all outstanding monies owed the Judicial Service within 14 days.
We learned that the outstanding funds to the judiciary have now been released. Ideally, The Chronicle would have wished that our Lordships would still go ahead and determine the suit. It is a test case that would aid the determination of future cases of this nature.
Already, tongues are wagging, informed by the infamous ‘there are several ways of killing a cat’ pronouncement by party chairman Dr. Kwabena Adjei.
The no cash-syndrome affected feeding grants for second cycle schools in the three northern regions. Heads of those schools could not re-open their institutions, while their counterparts in the south were holding class sessions.
It also affected all commissions. At a time when there were clamours for the National Media Commission, for instance, to clamp-down on hate language on the airwaves, the Commission had no money to perform. The commissioners had not been paid their meagre allowances since January. Surely, this is not the most effective means the State of Ghana expected the Commission to bring about high journalistic standards in the country.
The Chronicle believes the Minister of Finance owes Ghanaians a proper explanation for this financial paralysis visited on the various commissions set up by the Constitution of the land, the judiciary, as well as the MMDAs.
In a nation with galloping increases in the cost of goods and services in spite of the single digit nature recorded by the Government Statistician, withholding the spending power of state institutions is to call for a quantum rise in the cost of doing official state functions.
Like the rest of society, The Chronicle is not amused by the failure of the State to fulfill its financial obligations to these state institutions. If the revenue agencies have exceeded their targets, how come there is want in the midst of plenty?
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