Representatives from the World Bank and major economic players are championing the independence of Ghana’s Fiscal Council in the quest to maintaining fiscal discipline.
This measure is expected to ensure accountability and efficiency of members in the council and eventually lead to long-run legitimacy.
Last month, government set up a seven-member Fiscal Responsibility Advisory Council (Fiscal Council) as an Advisory Council with the mandate to advise the President on how fiscal discipline can be maintained in all sectors of the economy.
In maintaining fiscal discipline, countries such as United States of America, the United Kingdom Sweden, Canada and other developed nations have established independent fiscal organisations that are not directly under Executive control.
In the USA, the body responsible for this is called Congressional Budget Office (CBO) which is a nonpartisan federal agency within Congress, whose Chair is appointed by Congress and the head in turn appoints the sub members in the Office.
On the other hand, in countries where the FC is established or appointed by government, they have strong checks and balances that can prevent Executive influence over the members. However, checks and balances are relatively nonexistent or are too weak in Ghana.
It is as a result of this some experts in the economic sector have cautioned that this situation could lead to their independence and authority being compromised by the Executive arm of government precisely because of the risk of excessive influence.
Addressing the media during a roundtable workshop on the theme: “The Suitable Model of Fiscal Council for Ghana: Learning from Best Practices”, the Country Director of the World Bank Mr. Henry Kerali said Ghana’s Fiscal Council “must not only be seen to be independent, but it has to be independent from government control”.
A Consultant for the Economic Governance Platform Dr. John Kwakye charged government to institute a rigorous and competitive Parliament-cum-Public Services Commission recruitment process in appointment of members into the Fiscal Council (FC) to ensure accountability in the process.
“The appointment of the Council by the President, attaching it to the Executive and being resourced by the president whereas the tenure of the Council being coterminous with the President means the Council is not a permanent body”, Dr. Kwakye stressed.
According to their term of appointment, the mandate of the members in the Council run concurrently with the term of office of the President who appointed them.
By Dundas Whigham