In past programmes with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), there was very little citizens’ buy-in due mainly to the lack of space for citizens to share their views and thoughts on such important fiscal agreements even though citizens are ultimate bearers of agreements reached between Government and the IMF. Hence, the hostility that greeted such programmes in the past.
In August 2014, the Government of Ghana decided to seek a three year Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement (2015-2017) with the IMF in the wake of an unstable economic environment that year. This decision galvanized leaders of some Accra-based think tanks and NGOs working in the area of social accountability and anti-corruption to form the Civil Society (CS) Platform on Ghana’s IMF Programme with focus on broader fiscal accountability issues in October 2014.
The Civil Society (CS) Platform on Ghana’s IMF Programme seeks to Champion Fiscal Responsibility in Ghana’s Public Financial Management by advocating for civil society inclusiveness in major public financial management issues and in particular the IMF programme negotiations as well as programme implementation. Essentially, the CS Platform seeks to create dialogue spaces between Civil Society Organizations, Government of Ghana and the IMF. In order that the current arrangement with the IMF is successfully implemented and hopefully becomes the very last going forward.
3.0 Current Membership
The Platform’s membership currently includes; Financial Accountability & Transparency-Africa, IMANI Center for Policy & Education, Africa Centre for Energy Policy, Penplusbytes, Ghana Integrity Initiative, Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, Ghana Center for Democratic Development, SEND Ghana, Oxfam, Institute for Fiscal Policy, African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs, Centre for Budget Advocacy-Ghana, among others.
4.0 Main Activities
The CS Platform has been at the forefront of civil society engagements with the Government of Ghana and IMF on the Fund Programme, putting across concerns of citizens during the negotiation stages and after the final agreement.
4.1 First National Forum
The CS Platform on November 18, 2014 organized a national forum to collate inputs from about 120 CSO representatives across Ghana and issued a resolution on key issues to be included in the final agreement with the IMF with emphasis on enhancing fiscal discipline, deepen accountability and transparency, link stabilization to transformation and safe-guard strategic pro-poor and pro-development spending.
Through global-to-local advocacy, the CS Platform’s asks were submitted to the leaders of the negotiation teams of Government in Accra and the IMF (both in Accra and Washington D.C.) with support from our partners Oxfam.
Consequently in November 2014 and again in February 2015, CS Platform and our partners Oxfam met the Advisors of IMF Executive Directors for the US, Germany, France, UK, Japan and China in Washington to request their support for CS Platform policy recommendations to be included in the final agreement. Fortunately, the approved Fund programme granted many of the Platform’s asks.
4.2 Fiscal Accountability Workshop
From March 12-13, 2015, the CS Platform with support from Oxfam organized a workshop on fiscal accountability to build capacity of hands-on programme and advocacy actors within Ghana’s civil society space on various innovative approaches to effectively track public expenditure and resource flows through the various strata of government. This was to equip 30 participants with the requisite skills to determine how much of originally allocated public resources reach their intended end and whether or not such funds are used in the most economical, effective and efficient manner for improved fiscal accountability in Ghana at the World Bank Ghana office.
4.3 Second National Forum
After the approval of the final agreement by the IMF Board on April 3, 2015, the Civil Society Platform organized the Second National Civil Society Forum on the theme: National Conversation on Implementation and Monitoring of the Ghana-IMF Programme and issued a communique recommending ways to ensure programme implementation success.
4.4 Public Awareness Creation
As part of the CS Platform’s goals to deepen public awareness and discourse on the IMF Programme, the CS Platform has organized interactions with the media on the IMF Programme. The CS Platform also did a technical review of the IMF Programme to over 100 members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants-Ghana in Accra on June 15, 2015.
4.5 Engagement with IMF Officials
The CS Platform has had fruitful engagements with the IMF Resident Representative, the IMF Mission headed by Mr. Joel Toujas-Bernate during the first programme review on June 25, 2015. Later on September 14, 2015, the CS Platform met with the team led by the Deputy Director of the IMF’s African department, Mr. Selassie Abebe and the IMF Mission at the World Bank Ghana office.
On February 1, this year, the CS Platform met with the Deputy MD of the IMF-Mr. Min Zhu, Mr. Abebe Selassie-Deputy Head, IMF African Department, Mr. Joel Toujas Bernate-Mission Chief, Mr. Mohammed Jafer Mojarrad, Executive Director for Ghana, Ms. Natalia Koliadina-Resident Representative and highlighted some of the Platform’s concerns with the programme roll-out during his visit to the country.
From March 14-18, 2016, the CS Platform and our partners Oxfam met the Advisors of IMF Executive Directors for the US, France, UK, Japan and China, IMF Mission Chief, and the World Bank Country Programme Coordinator for Ghana in Washington to brief them about key concerns with the programme roll-out so far.
4.6 Third National Forum
As the second year of the programme is underway in 2016, the CS Platform considered the necessity to ascertain progress made, highlight critical areas of concern over the first year of the programme (2015) and propose policy recommendations in order for the country to reap maximum benefits from the Fund-supported programme going forward. Hence, the Third National Civil Society Forum was organized on March 29, 2016 in Accra on the theme, “A year on, What are the Gains and Shortfalls of the IMF Supported Extended Credit Facility Arrangement on the Ghanaian Economy?” The forum’s outcome is to strengthen the Platform’s advocacy ahead of our meeting with the IMF Mission due mid-April for the third programme review.
5.0 Key Successes
The CS Platform is an exemplary effort of CSOs joining forces to bridge the governance gap and has served as a “one-stop-shop” for engagement of Ghanaian CSOs on the IMF programme and broader PFM issues. This has reduced the challenge of dealing with multiple and dispersed CSO contacts. By creating spaces for informed dialogue and propositional advocacy which was absent in previous programmes with the IMF.
The CS Platform made useful contributions to the IMF programme design with emphasis on enhancing fiscal discipline, deepen accountability and transparency, link stabilization to transformation and safe-guard strategic pro-poor and pro-development spending. Most of the Platform’s asks were granted in the eventual programme.
The CS Platform has organized a workshop on fiscal accountability to build the capacity of hands-on staff within the civil society space on various innovative approaches to track public expenditure and resource flows through the various strata of government.
The CS Platform’s intense advocacy contributed to the enactment of the new Public Financial Management Act as well as the Amended Bank of Ghana Act, by Parliament in August 2016 albeit with significant delays. Both laws are part of key structural reforms under the IMF programme which seeks to effectively deal with the persistent defects in the management of the country’s finances. By clearly assigning responsibilities and a sanctions regime for non-compliance.
Besides, allocations to pro-poor interventions have risen by 37 percent over 2014-15. Similar trends have been observed for 2016 and is expected to continue in 2017.
The CS Platform regularly monitors the IMF programme roll-out; identifies the gaps and proffers recommendations in the best interest of the country through mainly public fora, stakeholder engagements and during IMF programme reviews.
6.0 Medium-Term Plans
The CS Platform will continue with its monitoring, review and advocacy on the Fund programme until the programme ends in April 2018. Efforts are far advanced to grow the CS Platform’s membership as well as plans to convert the Civil Society Platform on Ghana’s IMF Programme to the Fiscal Governance Platform at the end of the programme in April 2018.
These initiatives are aimed at building on the gains made with the CS Platform under the IMF Programme over the medium to long term with the networks established with multi-lateral agencies. Besides the new Platform will provide an avenue for Civil Society Organizations, NGOs, and Think-Tanks in the country to have a common voice and position on broader finance and economic management issues to ensure an effective and efficient public financial management system in Ghana.
The new Fiscal Governance Platform will provide added impetus for Civil Society Actors to have greater influence on policy making and management of public resources in the best interest of Ghana.