Accra,April 29, GNA - Mr Akwasi Opong-Fosu, Minister of Local Government and RuralDevelopment, on Tuesday said decentralization would help improve funding andfinancial management of Metropolitan, Municipal and Districts Assemblies(MMDAs).
Hesaid the policy would improve local democracy, participation and accountabilitythrough citizens involvement in local governance.
Itwould also promote right-based orientation to local development, ensuringequitable access to public resources and inclusiveness in decision-making.
MrOpong-Fosu said this during the Ministrys turn at the Meet the Press Series to outline progresson policy development and implementation in relation to Decentralization andLocal Governance, Environment, Health and Sanitation, Urban Development andRural Development.
TheMinister said Ghanas decentralization process seeks to grant political,administrative and financial autonomy from the central government to the MMDAsin line with the Constitution.
Hesaid after almost two decades of the implementation of the decentralizationpolicy, a review was undertaken in 2009/2010 through a regional/nationalstakeholder consultation, resulting in the National Decentralization PolicyFramework and National Decentralization Action Plan.
MrOpong-Fosu said the goal of the National Decentralization Policy Framework isto accelerate the decentralization process.
Henoted that since 2009, significant progress had been achieved in criticallyimportant areas like political decentralization and legal reforms,administrative decentralization, fiscal decentralization and institutionalarrangements for policy coordination.
Heannounced that preparation for the first draft of Consolidated Local GovernmentBill has been produced, adding that, the Bill seeks to harmonize conflictinglaws and consolidate five major legislations on decentralization into one Act.
Thelegislations are the District Assemblies Common Fund Act, 1993, Act 455, LocalGovernment Service Act, 1993, Act 462, National Development Planning (System)Act, 1994, Act 480, Local Government Service Act, 2003, Act 656, Internal AuditAgency Act, 2003, Act 658 (sections affecting MMDAs).
Hesaid consultation is on-going with key stakeholders on the Draft ConsolidatedLocal Government Bill.
TheMinister observed that a programme for Ministerial realignment, which involvesthe organizational and functional restructuring of Ministries to reflect thedistrict level decentralization arrangements and related matters had begun.
Hesaid Education and Health Sectors institutional framework decentralizedfunctions were agreed broadly with key stakeholders.
Hesaid the Statistical Service and the Ministry of Gender, Children and SocialProtections department of women and children are to be decentralized.
MrOpong-Fosu said the Local Economic Development policy was designed to enableMMDAs and other local collaborators to develop a framework for income andemployment generation activities for local residents.
Hesaid a composite budgeting had been rolled out in all 216 district assemblies,while an intergovernmental Fiscal Framework had been developed, the ultimateaim of which is to transfer funds to district assemblies through equitable,transparent and predictable allocation mechanism.
Accordingto him, the Professor Benning Committee had been tasked to work withstakeholders in resolving the issue of boundary disputes, which is a naggingproblem in the local government system nationwide.
Hecited the Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipal Assembly and La Dade-Kotopon MunicipalAssembly, Kpone-Katamanso District Assembly and the Tema Metropolitan Assemblyall in the Greater Accra Region and the Tamale Metropolitan and SagneriguDistricts Assemblies in the Northern Region.
MrOpong-Fosu said District Assemblies Common Fund had been paid up to the thirdquarter of 2013, adding that, Cabinet had the Fund Secretariat and relevantministries to work and clear the backlog of the fourth quarter of 2013 and thefirst quarter of 2014.
Heurged MMDAs to intensify their internally generated fund drive to enable themto wean themselves of central governments subventions.
OnEnvironmental Sanitation, the Minister said a Community Led Total Sanitationhad been scaled up to the Eastern and Brong Ahafo Regions, bringing the totalnumber of regions covered to seven.
Hesaid the Ghana School Feeding Programme has been one of the major socialintervention programmes, under which about 1.7 million pupils from 4,209schools were now benefitting nationwide.
TheMinister said in spite of challenges, the Ministry would continue to formulatepolicies and facilitate implementation in relation to decentralizedadministration and good governance.
MrMahama Ayariga, Minister of Information and Media Relations, said it isgovernment’s policy to ensure that good governance is brought to the door stepsof the people.
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