The Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, has proposed that the Public Finance Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) be amended to incorporate the establishment of the proposed Fiscal Responsibility Council instead of passing a new legislation. The Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has earlier disclosed that the government was going to introduce a fiscal stability and responsibility law to curtail huge budget deficits in the country. But Dr Akoto Osei, answering questions from Parliament’s Appointment Committee, said the Finance Management Act, 2016 provided a good foundation but the main issue missing in it was the provision for the establishment of the council, and hence the need to just amend it to accommodate the council rather than introducing a new law. He said the council as envisaged under the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) manifesto would be an independent body to oversee the activities of the Minister of Finance and to raise red flags whenever he went wrong. Alternative funding for education Dr Akoto Osei also called for the need to look at alternative ways of funding tertiary education in the country. He said it was not possible for government to fully fund education in the country, and hence the need to learn from global practices on how education was funded. He cited the USA where university presidents (equivalent of vice chancellors in Ghana) were appointed based on their capacity to bring in resources to their universities. He also pointed out that most universities across the world look for an endowment fund which was made up of a substantial amount of money received from corporations to run their activities. “In Ghana, the case is, however, different because everybody believes that education must be fully funded by the government. This is not possible,” he stated. Role as Minister Touching on his role as a Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, he said his role would be to help government to deliver public service in an effective, efficient and timely manner. He explained that this would be achieved by getting sector ministers to set their own Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which when approved by Cabinet would be monitored. When the KPIs were set, he said, it would be his duty to ensure that the sector ministers perform to achieve the targets as approved by Cabinet. Regarding the framework that would govern the setting of the KPIs, he said the party’s manifesto would inform the setting up of the indicators because the manifesto had incorporated all the local and international commitments of the country. Dr Akoto Osei, who is a Former Minister of Finance, said his experience at the Ministry of Finance put him in a good stead to deliver at his new position. “Working at the Ministry of Finance exposed me to working with all the other sector ministries and that will help in my new role,” he stated. Tightening customs division The Minister also called for the need to tighten the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority as one of the measures to address the revenue leakages in the country. He said the revenue leakages were huge and despite the establishment of the GRA, the authority was yet to be fully integrated to deal with such challenges. Dr Akoto Osei also noted that, as a member of the President’s Economic Management Team, he was aware of the Finance Ministry’s charge to undertake fiscal consolidation. He said the issue of fiscal consolidation did not only relate to expenditure but revenue as well. He pointed out that revenue mobilisation had reached an optimal level; a position that had already been confirmed by the Finance Minister. “Though there are options available to the country, we need to have the whole information before the appropriate decision can be taken,” he said.
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