A Leaking Budget?: Billions Unaccounted
There are tens of billions of cedis in the 2019 budget that cannot be accounted for. This can mean three things: Our debt size is exaggerated and should be lower than reported in the budget; or there are certain hefty expenses not included in our budget; or money is stealthily being siphoned into some kleptic hands. Either way, Houston, we got a problem! I’ll explain…
(Note that all of the numbers used in this publication were obtained from the 2019 budget report: https://www.mofep.gov.gh/sites/default/files/budget-statements/2019-Budget-Highlights.pdf )
Take fiscal year 2018, the total fiscal revenue (including grants) reported in the budget is 49.4 Billion GHc; the total fiscal expenditures is 60.4 Billion GHc; which implies our deficit (revenue minus expenditure ) is 11Billion GHc. Now, since government borrows to finance deficits, it perforce means our debt should have also grown by the deficit amount, that is 11 Billion GHc. However, in 2018 our debt rather increased by a whopping 28.2 Billion GHc. The reader should easily see that borrowing 28.2 Billion GHc to finance a deficit of 11 Billion GHc means that 17.2 Billion GHc has vanished, puff, into thin air, unexplained! Another way to say this is that, Ghanaians are being asked to pay for 17.2 Billion GHc we have not used or know of!
We again observe a similar gap in finances for fiscal year 2017. In 2017, the reported deficit as of the end of September is 8.8 billion GHc; even though the end of year deficit is not provided, it can be expected, under even the most liberal assumptions, to be less than 13 Billion GHc. But guess how much debt grew in 2017? A whopping 20.3 Billion GHc, implying that as much as 7.3 Billion GHc cannot be accounted for!
My fellow country men, this is not a story to merely read and recoil back into our shells of inactivity; now is not the time to hear of heresies and only hunker down in corners! With the cancer of corruption aggressively eating out the body of our nation, our only remedy is to be keenly awoken and sensitive to issues with even a slight semblance of greed or carelessness. We need not be reminded of the stakes: We have Ghanaians dying like flies in crowded hospitals; we have a lethal number of graduates wandering hopelessly for jobs day by day, and not getting any; we have families (including innocent children) who wake up every day with no dignified means to a mere ball of kenkey. And all this while, politicians and bankers pile into their houses unthinkable volumes of money that should otherwise be used for the benefit of all Ghanaians.
There may be a legitimate reason for the unexplained billions in the budget. But we, the people, should find it our duty to demand that the ministry of Finance provides answers to us. I ask that well-meaning Ghanaians call their radio stations and ask for answers to this missing billions. Ghana is for all of us, and we are all responsible for making it a free, just and accountable nation that works for all but not some few Ghanaians. God bless you, and God bless Ghana, our motherland.