Abena Osei-Asare: Once you spend public money, there should be accountability

Osei-Asare was speaking during a panel discussion at the ongoing IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington, DC,

Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, Abena Osei-Asare, says public sector workers who are responsible for managing domestic resources must be held accountable.

According to her, public money contributes a substantial amount to the country’s GDP. “So how you spend it determines the socio-economic outcome in your country,” she said during a panel discussion at the ongoing IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington, DC, USA.

The discussion was on the theme: “High-level capacity development talk. Unlocking domestic resources for development through global partnerships”.

Osei-Asare contends that accountability and openness are necessary to ensure that public funds are used wisely.

“You should have institutions and systems that will make it easy and possible for these monies to be accounted for,” she said.

Her remarks coincide with the 10-year jail sentence of Sedina Tamakloe Attionu, the former CEO of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), for causing financial loss to the state.

Sedina and Daniel Axim, her former chief operations officer, were found guilty on 78 charges of conspiring to steal, causing financial loss to the state, stealing, causing loss to public property in violation of public procurement legislation, and money laundering.

The Public Financial Management Act is one of the legislations that is being enforced to protect the public purse, the minister said when asked how Ghana plans to protect public funds.

“We have our Public Financial Management Act, which guides the use of public funds, as part of strengthening accountability and transparency.”

Regarding the nation’s plans to boost domestic income generation, the minister stated that although it has one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in Africa (at 13 percent), there is room for increased mobilization.

“One of the challenges that we see is the narrow tax base. Most of the economy is not formalised.”

The member nations of the IMF, particularly the developing nations, have significant development requirements that have been made more difficult by recent shocks.

In 2023, the G20 called for the Domestic Resource Mobilization Initiative, which the IMF, World Bank, and development partners have declared will help countries mobilize the resources needed to move closer to their development needs.

Reporting By Nana Oye Ankrah, Washington DC

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