DECENTRALSATION PROCESS TO BE REVIEWED
By: Timothy Gobah
The government has decided to review the decentralization process after 20 years of its implementation to enhance local participation in governance and decision — making.
To this end, it has begun the process of organizing board, nationwide stakeholder consultations to review the process.
The Vice President, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, who made this known in Accra yesterday, said “after 20 years of decentralization, we believe it is about time we reexamine the process in order to chart away forward in enhancing local participation in governance and decision — making”.
Mr. Mahama who was inaugurating the office block and website of the Local Government Service Secretariat, consequently, directed the Ministry to ensure that by the end of 2010, all major urban locations had appropriate house numbers and street numbers clearly labeled.
He wondered how in this age of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), countries with larger populations than Ghana had defined and clearly labeled streets, while even buildings in the city of Accra had none.
He said with the establishment of the Local Government Service, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development would concentrate mainly on policy and standard setting, monitoring and evaluation of the decentralization process.
“The Local Government Service was, therefore, established to ensure the improvement of Local Governance by strengthening the competence of assembly members and officers and also make sure that local government has a sound financial base through the monitoring of the performance of its substructures,” he said.
The Vice President said, however, that one could not be enthused by the situation of the local government this far, saying that “after taking an early lead in decentralization with the district assemblies’ concept, we having fallen way behind many other African countries”.
He described as a system failure, reports that some district chief executives had committed their assemblies to contracts valued at more than GH 800,000, which represented in excess of two years of their expected share of the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF).
Mr. Mahama said lack of transparency in budgeting disbursement of the DACF was widespread and, therefore, local people and assembly members had very little say in decision — making process at the grassroots level. The Vice President lauded the Danish government for the support for development projects in the country and announced moves by DANIDA to support 44 district assemblies in five regions to set up district works departments.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr. Yieleh Chireh, pledged to carry out a comprehensive review of all the “triggers” required to provide comprehensive decentralization of the local government service.
Mr. Jan Pirou Poulsen, the Charge d’Affairs of the Royal Danish Embassy, said Ghana’s decentralization process was an important stage in its development and called for the cooperation of all stakeholders to achieve this dream.
The Charge d’Affairs of the Embassy of France in Ghana, Mr. Bernard Bite, said the website would improve staff operation capacity in service delivery.
Daily Graphic Front page and page: 3 Saturday, August 8, 2009