'Finance Ministers in Ghana are too powerful' - Osafo Marfo

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Former Minister of Finance under the Kufuor administration, Osafo Marfo is concerned about the amount of power Finance Ministers wield in Ghana.

He argues that their powers hinder the effective supervisory role of Parliament on government spending.

“Every Finance Minister in Ghana is powerful; I am not saying Seth Terkper is powerful; every Finance Minister in Ghana is too powerful because it is the Finance Minister who has access to all the data; he and the bank of Ghana, they work as a team so the rest don’t have that much data to be able to put the Finance Minister on his toes,” he noted.

Parliament has been blamed for failing to check government expenditure which many say, has contributed to the challenges facing the economy.

The cedi depreciated by 40% in 2014 and in the first quarter of 2015, it has seen about 17% depreciation.

The International Monetary Fund agreed to help salvage Ghana’s economy but on condition that, goverment among other things, curtail its spending.

Osafo Marfo recommended the establishment of a budget support unit for Parliament which will have access to figures and analyze the budget to help MPs track and check government spending and the performance of the economy.

This, he argues will give Parliamentarians “some indicators of what they expect and how it should go and what the emphasis should be because they are there, they are the lawmakers, they know the previous year’s budget, they know the performance of the economy in respective aggregate.”

Osafo Marfo pointed out that Parliament has lawmakers who understand the budget “and have been doing their best, but we lack that institutional support for Parliament to also analyze and monitor the budget.”

“We don’t have that kind of institutional support and I think we should emphasize it,” he stressed.

Osafo Marfo further suggested that there should be some sanctions in place for people who break financial administration, related laws and regulation because “the country is plunged into unnecessary difficulties and today, the level of our currency, everybody is in difficulty because of the state of our currency.”

The former Finance Minister charged the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to take responsibility for the depreciation of the cedi since “the foreign exchange reserve figures are always at the Bank of Ghana.”

SOURCE: Ghana Web, 19/06/2015, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/business/Finance-Ministers-in-Ghan...