Statement : Parliament Should Not Rush Passage of the New Public Financial Management (PFM) Bill
A Bill to regulate the financial management of the public sector within a macroeconomic and fiscal framework as well as define the responsibilities of persons entrusted with the management and control of public funds, assets, liabilities and resources is presently under consideration in Parliament. The Bill further seeks to ensure that public funds are sustainable and consistent with the level of public debt and makes provision for accounting and audit of public funds.
The Civil Society Platform congratulates the Government of Ghana for this bold step. The new Bill is a major structural reform to harmonise and review existing fiscal rules to check the persistent fiscal indiscipline and streamline management of the country’s public finances. It will therefore promote good financial governance which is one of the greatest governance challenges of our time.
This is clearly very exciting and we look forward to the passage of this new law. The Platform believes that no effort should be spared in crafting this new law such that it can meet the test of time. Our ability as a nation to fight corruption will depend to a large extent on this law.
Given the importance of this law, the Civil Society Platform is alarmed that the Bill is being considered under a certificate of urgency to be passed within a record period of one week. In the process, there has been no invitation to the public to submit memoranda to the Finance Committee as is usually the practice.
This breach of parliamentary convention is dangerous and unacceptable. It has denied key institutions like the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (ICAG) that has a statutory duty to oversee and regulate the practice of accountancy in this country the opportunity to contribute to the development of this most important law.
Key stakeholders including some of the major Civil Society Organisations that focus on good financial governance, academia and reputable PFM practitioners in the country have equally not had the opportunity to make inputs into this bill which to a large extent is the product of foreign consultants.
The Civil Society Platform expresses its appreciation to Government and Parliament for their keen interest in accelerating the passage of the PFM Bill. At the same time, we strongly appeal to Government and Parliament to allow for sufficient time for Parliament to receive memoranda from the general public and key stakeholders notably ICAG, CSOs, Academia and PFM practitioners.
It is our considered opinion that this would create space for much needed consultation with the public and also give adequate time for Parliamentarians to reflect and deliberate over this critical legislation.
We call upon His Excellency the President and the Right Honourable Speaker to listen to our humble appeal.
Chairman, Civil Society Platform
August 3, 2016