Budgetary allocation to Media Commission plummets

The Special Budget Committee of Parliament has strongly recommended that the total budgetary allocation to the National Media Commission should be critically reviewed by the Ministry of Finance to adequately cater for the Commission’s needs.

The Committee was of the view that the Government of Ghana must show extreme commitment to the Commission, especially budgetary allocations for Compensation and Assets, and the housing unit for the monitoring equipment to save the country from further embarrassment.

This was after Parliament, at the weekend, began the debate on the budget estimates for the National Media Commission (NMC) for the year ending 2015, but suspended the debate for lack of quorum.

The debate is expected to continue on Monday.

The Government of Ghana has allocated Gh¢2,899,648.00 for the activities and programmes of the NMC for 2015, as against Gh¢4,107,062.00 for 2014.

The allocation represents a considerable decrease of about 141 per cent over the previous year’s, and the Commission would not be able to achieve most of its objectives due to the drastic shortfall, the Special Budget Committee of Parliament has reported.

“The Commission informed the Committee that it expected a higher allocation for 2015, due to the need for the Commission to retain and hire some professional staff for effectiveness among others,” the report said.

The report, submitted to the plenary, was jointly signed by Mr Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Majority Leader in Parliament and Chairman of the Special Budget Committee, and Linda Gyekye Boadu, Assistant Clerk to the Committee.

The amount allocated in 2014 was to enable the Commission to undertake its programmes and activities in the areas of compensation for employees, goods and services and assets.

According to the report, non-releases on the Assets Votes of the Commission largely affected the implementation of certain important projects for the year under review – 2014.

However, the Commission was able to undertake some programmes and activities with some achievements.

The Commission held series of dialogue sessions with the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association, the Ghana Journalists Association and the Private Newspaper Publishers Association, and “this resulted in the reduction of a number of complaints received by the Commission,” it said.

On the outlook for the Commission in 2015, the report said the Commission would continue its interaction with the key stakeholders in order to deepen “our collective commitment to peace building and national development.

“The Commission will strengthen efforts towards media peace by improving media peace building by improving policy and legislation on media regulation. Media monitoring system will be established in all the regions to help rectify weakness in professional media practice whilst media stakeholders will continue to be engaged on how to use the media to promote national development,” the report said.

It said the Commission would establish Regional Media Advisory Committees to advise on matters pertaining to media professional standards, language and broadcasting policy, and dynamics of culture, politics and media.

On the Gh¢1,646,896.00 allocated for the compensation of employees for the year 2015, against a proposal of 8.7 million Ghana cedis, the report said; “the drastic reduction in the proposed figure by the Commission could not be explained by the Ministry of Finance.

The report said it was disheartening to note that the Commission would not be in the position to meet its target for 2015, especially since the Ministry of Finance did not consider the allowances for the article 71 office holders as well as outstanding allowances to be paid in 2014.

On goods and services, total expenditure in 2014 was Gh¢605,000.00 and in 2015, Gh¢602, 752.00 has been allocated, indicating further slash.

On assets, the Commission noted that Asset Votes for the Commission had not been released for the past three years, thus impeding progress.

“The proposed investment requirement by the Commission for 2015 was originally 15.4 million Ghana cedis from the Government of Ghana, but only Gh¢650,000.00 was allocated.

“This inadequacy clearly demonstrates that the Commission would be unable to achieve its plans for the 2015 financial year.

It noted the lack of permanent staff who have clear understanding of media ethics, regulatory systems and the use of modern technology to provide expertise and consistency for the work of the Commission.

“This would reduce the cost of training national service personnel on a yearly basis,” the report said.

As a constitutional body, the NMC exists to promote free, independent and responsible media to sustain democracy and national development.

source : GNA