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Title: Public finance and accountability reforms in Ghana : neoliberal govermentality at work
Author: Azure, John De-Clerk
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 5361
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis argues that the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) is an exemplar of neoliberal governmentality, wherein social actors are constructed as governable subjects in pursuit of the World Bank's mission of "fighting poverty" and "underdevelopment" of the global South through financial disciplining. I see GIFMIS as a carefully constructed neoliberal technology of government, one which aims at a neoliberal transformation of the political state. I also see that the World Bank's resort to governing technologies as its core strategy for "fighting poverty," rather than redistributing resources and building infrastructure, is in sync with its neoliberal view on development, which now requires a focus on transformation in the governmental institutions, habits, attitudes, and mores of the state bureaucracy. For the examination of neoliberal discourses of public sector accountability, this study draws on Foucault's ideas of governmentality and biopolitics and their use in the fields of critical accounting, management, and governance. The analytical focus is to examine how neoliberal redefinitions of development is shaping the World Bank's development programming in the South and how this new neoliberal agenda of development implicates public sector accountability. For that end, the study explores three interrelated empirical themes: GIFMIS as a neoliberal modality of government (i.e. conduct of the conduct); resistance to the neoliberal governmentality (i.e. counter-conduct); and the notion of social accountability that the World Bank promotes and programmes in the South. Reading neoliberalism in a Foucauldian key, the study departs from existing theorisations of the public sector reforms in the South and argues that public sector accounting reforms in Ghana signify attempts at restructuring and reforming the bureaucratic state in line with neoliberal doctrines of market-based governance at the cost of some orthodox and noble principles of democratic accountability but that they do this under the guise of redefining the political role of the estate as a "partner in development". Phrased differently, the study contends that the World Bank's agenda of public sector accounting reforms and social accountability is in effect more than a techno-managerial enhancement of public accountability but a project that short-circuits democracy to give way to a market-based system of non-political accountability, in which democratic politics are side-lined. It creates an accountingised subjectivity that demands that almost all governments, irrespective of political orientation, adhere to neoliberal tenets, which are supposedly superior techno-managerial apparatuses for managing the public sector "efficiently and effectively" On the GIFMIS reforms, the study offers novel insights into how reform, as a technology of rule or governance, shaped the spending behaviours of social actors in managing the public purse. Within these efforts to shape the conduct of the conduct, the study also discovers a desire among the social actors to be governed differently (political and bureaucratic counter-conduct). The study unveils how politicians and bureaucrats enacted ingenious forms of resistance to the disciplinary regime imposed by reforms. With regards to the Bank and its social accountability agenda, the study excavates what lies behind the rhetoric of commitment to social accountability - a short-circuiting of accountability. Building on the empirical evidence, this study finds that the Bank's social accountability crusade hinges on the neoliberal concerns of efficiency and fiscal discipline, rather than creating a democratic social order. This then puts into questions the very notion of social accountability that the Bank is propagating.
Supervisor: Alawattage, Chandana. ; Islam, Azizul. ; Allan, Scott M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Finance, Public ; Neoliberalism ; Accounting ; Government accountability ; World Bank ; Governmtnt accountability