Parliament has approved GH¢114.78 million for the implementation of programmes and activities of the Ministry of Information and its agencies for the 2023 financial year.
The items of the allocation include employment compensation – GH¢111.16 million, goods and services – GH¢2.78 million, and capital expenditure – GH¢840,000.00
For fiscal year 2022, the sum of GH¢151.89 million was appropriated by the House to the Ministry of Information and its agencies, which was later revised to GH¢ 143.30 million.
Out of the revised budget, the Ministry and its agencies expended a total of GHC90.38 million as of the end of November 2022.
The policy objectives in line with the Ministry’s National Medium-Term Development Plan (2022-2025) include deepening democratic governance, strengthening transparency and public accountability, and promoting the fight against corruption and economic crimes.
Agencies under the Ministry of Information include the Ministry’s headquarters, the Ghana News Agency, the Information Services Department (ISD), and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).
Vincent Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Minister of Information, who moved the motion for the approval of the Ministry’s budgetary allocation, said in his comment on GBC’s debt issues before the court that public resources could not be used to settle that and, therefore, the Corporation had to generate resources to settle that.
“…And, therefore, working with the Board and Management of GBC, we have been exploring ways by which an arrangement can be made to settle a part of the outstanding (debts), and then moving forward, there will be a new arrangement that will be in consonance with the law put in place,” he said.
“So, Mr. Speaker, we expect that between these two extremes, we would be able to bring an end to the annual debt issues of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.”
Mr. Sylvester Matthew Tetteh, the Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Communication, and New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ngleshie-Amanfro, said the Committee noted the achievement of the Ministry of Information regarding the government flagship programmes (GOVCOM) being implemented by the Ministry.
He said the programmes being implemented comprised the Minister’s Press Briefing, Mass Media Campaigns, Reach on Social Media, Nation Building Updates, and Amplified.
He said it was, however, noted that out of the Ministry’s request of six million Ghana cedis submitted to the Ministry of Finance for the implementation of the GOVCOM activities in 2023, only a paltry sum of GH¢600,000.00 (representing 10 per cent) had been allocated; stating that the Committee considered these programmes very critical to consolidate the nation’s democracy and good governance and should be continued.
“In this regard, the Committee implores the Ministry of Finance to source additional funding to sustain the implementation of the programmes.”
He said the committee noted the precarious financial circumstances of the Ministry of Information and its agencies, especially the GBC, and accordingly, strongly requested the Ministry of Finance to arrange additional funding to support their operations in 2023.
Contributing to the debate on the Motion, Mr Alhassan Bashir Alhassan Fuseini, the Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Communication, and National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Sagnarigu, said the Information Ministry had the onerous responsibility of having to sensitise the people of the country about Government Policies and programmes, as well as serving as the feedback.
He said the government could have the best of intentions; however, it still had to get the mechanisms for conveying that information to the people.
He said many of the agencies under the Ministry were dealing with obsolete equipment and that there was a need for the government to do more to retool them.
Mr. Iddrisu Haruna, the Minority Leader in Parliament and NDC MP for Tamale South, noted in his contribution that the Minister of Information needed support in order to communicate the government and its policies well.
He said he was disappointed at what he was seeing in terms of budgetary allocation and budgetary resources for the Ministry of Information.
He called for the repositioning of the GBC, like the BBC and CNN, to make sure that the GBC itself functioned more effectively on a digital platform.
The minority leader said GBC was very capable of making it if given the needed support by the government.