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CSPS Conference Centre for Social Policy Studies holds 2nd conference on social policy financing in 21st century

The two-day event, which was held at the Department of Economics conference hall, lasted from Tuesday, May 8, to Wednesday, May 9, 2018.

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The Centre for Social Policy Studies (CSPS) of the University of Ghana has held its second international conference on the allocation of finances for social policy in the 21st century.

The two-day event, which was held at the Department of Economics conference hall, lasted from Tuesday, May 8, to Wednesday, May 9, 2018.

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The Conference brought together resource persons and policymakers to deliberate on the challenges of social policy financing.

Day one of the Conference saw Dr. Kathleen Beegle, a World Bank Programme Leader for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, discuss the importance of governments and private organisations investing in social policies.

Among the speakers on day two of the Conference were Director of the Centre for Social Policy Studies, Prof. Abena Oduro; Development Economist, Dr. George Domfe; National Director for Compassion International Ghana, Madam Gifty Dansoah Appiah; and Dr. Okine from World Vision.

The panelists play

The panelists

 

Speaking on the theme “Financing Social Policy in the 21 Century”, the panelists focused on three major trends, namely; social spending in Ghana, expenditure tracking and a civil society perspective on funding social policy interventions.

Prof. Abena Oduro began her address with an in-depth presentation on social spending, with specific references to education, health and social welfare. She noted that the budget from which Government allocates money for social spending has been increasing with each passing year.

Director of CSPS, Prof. Abena Oduro play

Director of CSPS, Prof. Abena Oduro

 

Using graphs, Prof. Oduro touched on some loose holes that hinder Government’s will to properly finance social policies in the country. She explained that most budget statements do not contain comprehensive data on actual allocations, and do not also discuss spending by local governments.

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She also touched on donor support when it comes to social policy financing in the 21 century. According to her, whiles the education and health sectors have been boosted by support from donors, it is not always reliable since donor funds are mostly erratic.

Prof. Oduro, therefore, urged government to depend less on donors and rather devise ways of creating funds through Internally Generated Funds (IGF), insisting donor support tends to be regressive. She further called for a broadening of the nation’s tax base, saying innovative ways should be adopted to raise funds through taxes.

Ending her presentation, Prof. Oduro said there is the need to encourage private/ public partnerships if social policy financing is to be improved. She added that Government must insist on value for money, adding the spending must lead to more schools, hospitals and other social interventions that improve the general well-being of the public.

Dr. George Domfe also delivered a presentation on Ghana’s experience with the Public Expenditure Tracking System (PETS). According to him, although Government channels a lot resources into social policy financing, the “budget allocation alone can be a poor indicator of the quality and quantity of public service”.

Dr. George Domfe delivering his presentation play

Dr. George Domfe delivering his presentation

 

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He explained that whiles the government may release funds to finance social policy, weak institutions in the country may as well mean that the funds will not get to its intended targets. Dr. Domfe attributed this to the weak tracking mechanisms in place, adding that money could be allocated for a particular project but if it is not effectively tracked, then it may not be put to good use.

He said the Public Expenditure Tracking System (PETS) is important to find out or track per capita transfer from government to the lower agencies. He concluded by outlining some of the deficiencies associated with PETS – two of which he identified as the delay in resource management and the quality of record keeping.

Madam Gifty Dansoah Appiah also focused on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and how best they can aid government in financing social policy. She noted that though most donors have an interest in supporting CSOs, the increase in global competition for donor funding means organisations must begin reinvent their strategies.

Madam Gifty Dansoah Appiah play

Madam Gifty Dansoah Appiah

 

She explained that there has been a major shift when it comes to donor funding, with less focus currently placed on education and health. Suggesting the way forward, Madam Dansoah Appiah said CSOs must change from their traditional approaches and rather embrace innovative ways of raising funds.

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She also encouraged organisations to enter into partnerships, as well as adopt ways to generate money locally, rather than always looking up to donors for support. This, she said, can be achieved by welcoming social entrepreneurs or enterprises as an alternate way to generate income.

Dr. Okine had the final word during the Conference, with his presentation titled “Funding Social Policy Interventions – A Civil Society Perspective”. He said the relationship between international donors and civil society groups has changed “from aid to trade”. He explained that international donors are now interested in partnering with organisations or NGOs that have “evidence-based solutions” to societal problems, unlike before when these things were not checked.

Dr. Okine of World Vision play

Dr. Okine of World Vision

 

He indicated that “the work of World Vision and other civil society organisations is to augment the effort of government in implementing social policy interventions”.

Touching on some of the challenges to their global funding stream, he pointed to the proliferation of civil society organisations with similar interventions and the absence of NGO regulators as a two major hindrances.

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Dr. Okine noted that civil societies can have a broader impact through collaborations with like-minded Government institutions like the Ministries or agencies which include; Local Government and Rural Development, Ghana Education Service (GES), Works and Social Protection and the Works and Water Resources, among others. He added that linking social interventions to the SDGs is another way by which civil society groups can help governments to finance social policy.

 

The two-day conference organised by the Centre for Social Policy Studies (CSPS) brought together policymakers, academia, civil society organisations and students, to discuss the challenges of social policy financing.

The conference was moderated by Dr. Eric Osei-Asibey.

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