The Minister responsible for Finance, Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta on Wednesday, October 2020 presented the budget statement of the first quarter in 2021, referred to as the Expenditure in Advance of Appropriation, to Parliament detailing the projected revenue and expenditure between January and March next year.
Ken Ofori Atta was seeking Parliament’s approval for the withdrawal of the sum of Twenty Seven-Billion, Four Hundred and Thirty-Four Million, One Hundred and Eighty Thousand, Five Hundred and Twenty Ghana Cedis (GHS 27,434,180,520.00) from the Consolidated Fund for the purpose of meeting Government expenditure for the first quarter of next year.
The presentation is a standard practice rolled out in election years to prevent transitional challenges in the smooth running of government for the first three months in the year after elections and is also in accordance with what the Executive does every election year to avoid spending hiccups in case of a transition in government to ensure that government machinery does not grind to a halt in case there is a change of government.
It is further in pursuance of 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.”
The three-month revenue and expenditure estimates will therefore help the next government which will be sworn in January next year to carry out programmes and activities for the first quarter of the year before the main 2021 budget is released and will be the last budget of the current New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.
The last time a similar budget was prepared was 2016, when the then Minister of Finance under the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration Hon. Seth Terkper, presented the revenue and expenditure of government from January to March 2017 to the Legislature.
The government in July this year presented a revised budget statement to the House for approval of an additional GHS 11.8 billion to support the government’s expenditure for the rest of the year 2020 after another approval in November last year, where the House approved GHS98,36,692,358.00 for government’s expenditure for the 2020 financial year.
This was because the government projections for the 2020 financial year were affected by the economic implications of the Coronavirus pandemic with the Finance Minister announcing that the government would require GHS9.5 billion to fight the pandemic, thus moving the 2020 budget deficit to over seven per cent resulting to a fiscal gap of GHS11.4 billion.
The Minister in his presentation touted the government’s achievement and said bold and effective measures implemented have been key in quickening the pace of economic recovery due to the competent leadership of His Excellency the President Nana Addo-Danquah Akufo-Addo and that consumer confidence is bouncing back beyond pre-lock down levels.
According to him through God’s grace Covid-19 has not been as deadly due to the leadership of the President who have restored nurses and teachers allowances, implemented Free SHS to empower future generations and praised President Nana Addo’s sound coronavirus response and support to households which he said has been globally recognised.
Ken Ofori-Atta further disclosed that overall fiscal deficit revenues resulting from revenues and expenditure performance period through September 2020 amounted to GHS 34.6 billion against a target of GHS 34.3 billion stressing that the government will recover, revitalize and resuscitate the economy and was confident economic growth will rebound strongly in 2021.
The Speaker Rt. Hon. Professor Michael Aaron Oquaye consequently referred the request to the Finance Committee to deliberate on the matter and report back to the House by Friday for the lawmakers to consider the report and take the consequential parliamentary actions before the House rises sine die.