Participants at a Volta/Oti Regional Forum for inputs into the 2020 National Budget and Economic Policy in Ho have asked the Ministry of Finance to increase funding to Ministries, Departments and Agencies to implement policies that affect people directly.

Such funding could address inadequate distribution of essential drugs including anti-snakes, rabies serum and cerebro-spinal meningitis, where they were needed most in rural communities.

The Regional Forum was organised by People for Health (P4H), a consortium of agencies- SEND Ghana, Penplusbytes and the Ghana News Agency with funding from USAID.

The group focused on the health sector, with attention on family planning, maternal and child health, malaria, HIV, water and sanitation and nutrition.

The participants said logistics such as vehicles and motorbikes were needed to get to hard-to-reach and deprived areas to provide health to the vulnerable.

They called for increased support for public sensitisation programmes and decentralization of facility visits and treatment for people living with HIV.

Mr Mukaila Adamu, Civil Society Advisor, People for Health Project said similar exercise last year, had five out of seven proposals incorporated into the 2019 National Budget.

He said budgets sought to work for the ordinary citizens for equity and towards addressing their demands, adding, “It is civil to give them a voice at that level.”

Mr Adamu was optimistic that contributions by participants would reflect specific aspirations of their constituents, aimed at deepening decentralization, local governance and grassroots participation in local administration.

Ms Rosemond Appiah, Representative, Budget Development and Reforms Division, Ministry of Finance, said budgets were intentions to spend and underpinned by prioritizing the available resources for optimal benefits to the people.

She said fiscal framework was dynamic and responded to fiscal developments and spending must adjust when revenues could not fill the gap immediately.

“We are faced with trade-offs and, we need to appreciate the fact that the opportunity cost of one potential choice, is the loss of the best available alternative, ” Ms Appiah said.

Alhaji Sulemana B. B. Bening, Deputy Chief Planner, Ministry of Health noted that health budget was constrained by the issue of predictability, occurrence of major epidemics, the dichotomy between budgets and actual releases and political interferences.

He suggested a buy-in of political actors with their manifestoes into the drafting of the national budget at the planning stage for acceptance, continuity and implementation of programmes and projects for national development.

Alhaji Bening said decision of expenditure prioritization was mostly done by politicians after technocrats had advised.

Source: GNA