Security concerns drive Gov’t expenditure for two consecutive years

Albert Kan-Dapaah, National Security Minister

For two consecutive years, security expenditure has become one of the major portions of government expenditure, but curiously large proportions of this public spending appears not  to have been budgeted for at the start each year.

Based on the 2019 mid-year budget review, in the first half of 2019, government expenditure execution reached 92.9 percent, reflecting a faster execution rate compared with the revenue mobilisation performance rate of 84.5 percent for the period. This has resulted in a fiscal deficit measured on cash basis of 3.3 percent for the first half of this year, well above the 2.9 percent target for the period and government is attributing this overrun largely to extra-budgetary spending on security.

The use of good and services is expected to increase by GHc 605 million for the full fiscal year, to a revised figure of GHc 6,938 million from GHc 6,333 million in the original 2019 budget and government claims this is in part to meet “critical expenses on security.”

According to the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, expenditure on the use of goods and services during the first half of 2019, was 0.3 percent higher than target mainly on account of security related expenses to reinforce the country’s borders against terrorist attacks. Instructively, the goods and services expenditure outturn in 2018 also exceeded the target – by a massive 39.3 percent – on account of a one-off payment for unbudgeted security-related expenditures for the year. Resultantly by the end of 2018, expenditure on goods and services for the period amounted to GHc 5,127.9 million against the target of GHc 3,682.3 million.

On a year-to-year basis, the outturn recorded a growth of 106.6 percent.

Total expenditure, including arrears clearance, for the year is now being estimated to be GHc 74,611.7 million, about 1.6 percent higher than the 2019 Budget estimate of GHc 73,440.8 million.

The upward adjustments to interest payments reflects partly the effect of a higher exchange rate than programmed, as well as higher net domestic borrowing to meet some emergency security and energy expenses in the first half of the year.

Additionally, upward adjustment in Goods and Services in the second half of the year are to meet critical expenses on security among others.

Government is requesting an approval of an amount of about GHc 6,370 million as supplementary estimates to the original Appropriation of GHc 78,772 million to bring the revised total Appropriation for the 2019 fiscal year to about GHc 85,142 million.

The African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) in its report noted that the continent  recorded 82 terrorist attacks across the region between March 16 and March 31, 2019, alone, evidencing the intensity of this threat currently.

Within that short period under review, the region recorded 544 terrorism-related deaths out of which 415 resulted directly from terrorist attacks, whereas 129 were deaths recorded during counter-terrorism operations by security forces.

According to the report, the Sahel region alone recorded 57 out of the 82 incidents of terrorist attacks. 79 percent of civilian, 62 percent of military and 66 percent of terrorists’ deaths respectively occurred in the Sahel region.

According to some security analysts the borders of Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso since 2017 have been under attack and this has been spreading down to Ghana.

There have been reports that terrorist groups want to take access of 70 percent of Burkina Faso and there have been alliances and emergence of terrorists’ groups to get access to the coastal areas.