Frema Osei Opare
Parliament yesterday approved GH¢3,673,385,706.35 as the 2019 budget estimates for the running of the Office of the Government Machinery in 2019.
The Office of Government Machinery, which includes the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President and Chief of Staff, exists to institutionalize open, transparent and accountable governance for the attainment of government’s development agenda of improving the lives of Ghanaians, as well as strengthening policy and development planning processes for equitable and balanced spatial and economic development.
Other agencies under the Office of the Government Machinery are the State Enterprise Commission, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Micro Finance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Internal Audit Agency, Scholarships Secretariat, Office of the Administrator-General, Divestiture Implementation Committee, Ghana Aids Commission, National Population Council, Council of State, National Identification Authority (NIA), Nation Builders Corps (NABCO), as well as the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme.
In 2018, GH¢1,948,846,371.00 was approved for the operations of the Office of the Government Machinery, and the 2019 allocation has seen some significant increase because of the free SHS policy and NABCO programme.
The free SHS was allocated GH¢1.6 billion while NABCO was allocated GH¢850 million and the National Identification Authority allocated GH¢285 million, which affected the overall estimates for the Office of the Government Machinery in 2019.
Scholarships Secretariat was allocated an amount of GH¢237.5 million, while MASLOC had GH¢95 million.
In approving the budget estimates for the Office of the Government Machinery for 2019, the Minority in Parliament did not raise concerns about the amount since a lot of new government projects and programmes had been placed under operations of the Office.
The minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, however raised concerns about NABCO and the free SHS programme being placed under the presidency.
According to the minority leader, NABCO should have appropriately been put under the National Youth Employment Agency to serve as a module for graduates or placed under the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations for better management and effective supervision.
He said NABCO also does not have any legal framework to be given budget appropriation and called for immediate legal framework for the operations of NABCO.
He also said the free SHS programme should have been placed under the Ministry of Education for effective implementation and supervision.
The minority leader also complained bitterly about the already made expenses of the National Identification Authority after a loan of $1.2 billion for operation of the Authority did not come to parliament for approval.
He, therefore, called on the government to bring the money secured for the operations of the Authority to parliament for approval.
The deputy majority leader, Adwoa Safo, agreed with the minority leader that NABCO needs legal framework for its operation, adding that legal framework will definitely make the programme a permanent agency with oversight from a Minister of State.
“Since it’s a new government policy, it has to be put under the presidency and appropriate steps taken to get a legal framework for its operations,” he stated.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr