7.0 Observations and recommendations
7.1 Budgetary Allocation
The Committee observed that looking at the MoF allocation to the Ministry of Information and Media Relations, its departments/agencies, it will be extremely difficult for the Ministry to perform most of the activities earmarked for the year
The Ministry informed the Committee, the following activities in particular, will be affected:
i. Organisation of national and regional policy fairs. The Ministry intends to organise one national and five (5) regional policy fairs across the country.
ii. Organisation of regional/district tours to explain Government policies and programmes and also to gather feedback for Government.
iii.Provision and rehabilitation of office accommodation to ensure a conducive working environment for the staff of the Ministry and its departments/agencies.
iv. Effective coverage of all national events especially live coverage of Parliamentary Sittings by G. B C.
vi.Development of documentaries on various government policies, programmes, projects and activities.
vii.Effective organisation of activities to promote Ghana's image abroad to attract investment.
viii.Establishment of Information Services Department's offices in all the newly-created districts.
ix. Training/capacity building for the staff of the Ministry and its departments/agencies.
ix. Enhancement of ICT infrastructure and management of Government of Ghana portal.
x. Payment of utility bills by the Ministry and its department and agencies.
xi. Purchase of equipment (digital cameras, editing suites, high-end computers) for training progra- mmes.
xii. Payment of accumulated fees for part-time lecturers of NAFTI.
viii. Payment of NAFTI accreditation and affiliation fees.
xiv. Settlement of debts owed to individuals and companies who have supplied various goods and services to departments and agencies on credit.
xv. Effective functioning of the foreign Mission offices of the Information Services Department.
xvi. Acquisition of new cinema vans for all the newly created districts. The lack of sufficient funds, the Committee observed, is therefore risky as it will reduce the flow of information which has the potential to create suspicion between Government and the citizenry.
The Committee is of the opinion that cutting down the goods and services allocation to the Ministry will indeed, cripple these vital activities, which will go a long way to ensure that State information is disseminated along the length and breadth of the nation.
7.2 Internally generated funds (IGFs)
The Committee observed, as with previous years, that though the various agencies have a capacity to internally generate funds, they are still faced with
challenges ranging from inability to compete with well-resourced private competitors, through the lack of capacity to actually operate at optimum levels to the lack of political will to levy economic rates for the very specialised services provided by the agencies. Some others are also unable to generate adequate IGFs to cater for their needs because of the low budgetary support over the years, which has left them with huge deficits.
These deficits prevent them from rising to the level of development where they can compete favourably within the industry.
NAFTI ranks among the highly affected agencies with regard to low IGFs generation. Despite having existed for more than forty years, the institute is yet to own its premises and the academic block it started constructing thirty years ago, is yet to be completed. This has kept students enrolment very low and made it impossible for the school to charge real economic rates, thereby compounding the inability to generate enough IGFs.
Besides, NAFTI lacks well-equipped modern state-of-the-art studios for its activities and also for serving the needs of stakeholders as a source of direct IGFs generation. Indeed, the equipment in the exiting old studios are obsolete and therefore, unattractive to potential partners.
7.2.2 Information Service Department
The ISD is yet another highly affected agency in respect of low IGFs generation. In spite of the advantage of having a presence in all districts and major towns in the country, and being in possession of cinema vans, cameras, public address
systems as well as having the technical know-how to manage public broadcasting and advertising, the ISD is still unable to generate enough funds due to obsolete equipment. This, coupled with the low GoG funding, perpetrates the cycle of the inability to get the relevant equipment, inability to fully disseminate information, lack of competitiveness and the inability to generate a respectable amount of IGFs.
The Committee was therefore, dissatisfied that the ISD is still not allowed to retain any portion of its IGFs which could be used to even enhance the IGFs generation itself.
7.3 Information Officers in Foreign Missions
The Committee was informed that while the staff of the Ministry serving Ghanaian Missions abroad are provided with their salaries and related allowances, they are not provided with funds to cater for their recurrent expenditure incurred during the performance of their duties. No provision is also made in the Ministry's budget to cater for such costs.
However, the host Missions, over the years, have been supportive of the officers' activities but have subsequently passed the cost accruing thereto to the Ministry for refund. Indeed, the Committee noted that our Missions in London and New York are in dire straits as they cannot even pay rent, much more for utilities. The Committee recommends that the MoF takes immediate steps to rectify this situation in order not to create more embarrassment for the nation.
The usefulness of information to the development of a nation cannot be over- emphasised as it promotes peace, tranquility and development.
Indeed, the 1992 Constitution enjoins the Government of Ghana to let our citizens know about the opportunities available in areas of national development. These include agriculture, education, energy, health and transport which are means of improving one's life and sustaining better standards of living. Therefore, the role of the Ministry of Information and Media Relations must not only be recognised, but also be adequately resourced to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of information, not just to the Ghanaian public but to the world at large.
It is with regard to the forgoing that the Committee recommends to the House to approve the sum of forty-one million, six hundred and seventy thousand, eight hundred and twenty-seven Ghana cedis (GH¢41,670,827.00) comprising twenty million, thirty thousand, nine hundred and fifty-seven Ghana cedis (GH¢20,030,957.00) from GoG, nineteen million, six hundred and thirty-nine thousand, eight hundred and seventy Ghana cedis (GH¢ 19,639,870.00) from IGFs and two million (GH¢ 2,000,000.00) from S.I.P to enable the Ministry of Information carry out its planned strategies for the 2013 financial year.
Ranking Member of the Committee (Mr Ken O. Agyapong): Mr Speaker, I wish to contribute to support the Motion on the floor. In doing so, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a few comments on what we experienced during our deliberation on this budget.
Mr Speaker, we realised that even the estimates from the Ministry of Finance were totally different from what was presented in the budget and because of that, we sat on this for two consecutive times and we could not take a decision. So, we asked the Minister to go and see the Finance Minister and the Director of Budget at the Ministry of Finance.
By so doing, he came back to assure us that whatever estimates that were given to the Ministry and its agencies, Ghana Broadcasting Company (GBC) should not be included. This is because the amount that was allocated to the Ministry was reduced drastically by about 50 per cent and therefore, the Ministry had to share the amount to all the agencies including the Ministry itself.
So, we are urging the Minister -- I hope he is here, but the Minister for Finance is not here and I know for sure they would come back with an excuse.
Again, when we take the Information Services Department, Mr Speaker, goods and services, they budgeted for GH¢9,184,578.59 of which GH¢1,391,810.61 was approved. Members would be
surprised to know that the Information Services Department's offices abroad are being closed down. This is because they do not have money to pay their rents. So, if GH¢9,185 million is budgeted for and it is cut down drastically to GH¢1.39 million, we all wonder how efficient this Information Services Department would operate.
Therefore, we are pleading with the Minister for Finance to assist this Ministry, if not, it would be seen as a propaganda Ministry. This is because whatever they are supposed to do, is in the interest of the nation.