Government has unveiled the Emergency Expenditure Management Guidelines and Audit Recommendations Implementation and Follow-up Instructions for Public Institutions.
It is hopeful that the move will bolster the country’s response to emergencies and enhance fiscal discipline, with COVID-19 and Russia-Ukraine conflict having laid bare the need for proper emergency planning.
The Emergency Expenditure Management Guidelines’ launch and enhanced focus on implementing audit recommendations, government noted, are crucial steps in fortifying financial management systems, ensuring greater accountability, and preparing the nation to effectively handle any future public emergency.
The Emergency Expenditure Management Guidelines’ creation, in particular, comes as a response to challenges posed by the global pandemic that tested the country’s resilience and ability to effectively address its impact while complying with requirements of the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act.
Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr. John Ampontuah Kumah – speaking on behalf of Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta at the launch event in Accra, highlighted these guidelines and instructions to improve public accountability and ensure strict adherence to transparency in the management of public resources.
He noted that during the 2023 mid-year budget review a thorough analysis of the annual statements submitted by covered entities in 2022 revealed a total of 4,641 audit recommendations. To address these recommendations, he said: “Strong follow-up actions were undertaken, leading to the successful implementation of 3,144 recommendations representing 68 percent of the total. Additionally, 1,056 recommendations constituting 23 percent of the total are still ongoing, while 441 recommendations (9 percent) are yet to be implemented.
“Today’s occasion forms a crucial step toward providing a means of making government more accountable to the good people of Ghana, so we can be more confident about the future of our country and management of public resources,” Dr. Kumah stated.
The newly launched guidelines provide a clear and transparent framework for handling public emergencies, outlining procedures and internal controls that will direct service delivery units in accessing, managing and accounting for funding during crises with efficiency and transparency. They also emphasise compliance with various requirements of the PFM laws.
Furthermore, the ‘Audit Recommendations Implementation and Follow-up Instructions for Public Institutions’ are firmly anchored on government’s commitment to ensuring strict accountability and transparency in managing public resources. These instructions offer clear guidelines for handling and following-up audit recommendations, providing procedural clarity, and delineating the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders.
Dr. Kumah expressed optimism that effective use of these guidelines and instructions will lead to improvements in implementing audit recommendations, ultimately resulting in a reduction of audit infractions.
He stressed: “Our collective ambition must be to create an environment wherein every financial decision is made with integrity, and where mistakes are not only identified but rectified,” he stressed.
The launch event was also an opportunity to acknowledge the efforts and contributions of various organisations and agencies involved in developing the guidelines and instructions. The Ministry of Finance – led by the Internal Audit Directorate, Ghana Health Service, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Health, Controller and Accountant-General’s Department, and the GIFMIS secretariat received special recognition for their commendable professionalism and dedication.
Moreover, the Internal Audit Agency and Ghana Audit Service were lauded for their invaluable technical expertise that shaped the documents. Additionally, the World Bank was recognised for its unwavering support and technical assistance throughout the development process, ensuring that the guidelines and instructions meet the highest standards.