Don’t Misapply Common Fund
The District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) was set up under Section 252 of the 1992 Constitution for the implementation of development programmes in the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.
Parliament is mandated to make provision for the allocation of not less than five per cent of the total revenue of Ghana to the DACF. Currently, the fund receives seven-and-a-half per cent.
Under the guidelines of the fund, it is to assist the assemblies to provide infrastructure for social services, economic ventures, as well as assist people with disabilities, fund health programmes such as those on malaria prevention and HIV/AIDS and provide support for the National Youth Employment Programme.
Since its implementation, the DACF, a pioneer in Africa in this formula-based approach to making financial transfers from the central government to the local level, has assisted many assemblies to undertake essential infrastructure projects, thereby giving meaning to the country’s decentralisation programme.
Without the DACF, many of the new districts which have been created under the Fourth Republic would have been struggling to put up health, educational and other infrastructure needed for the take-off of the assemblies.
Meanwhile, as a result of the existence of the DACF, there is a worrying trend in some of the districts where the fund is used for recurrent expenditure. Indeed, the situation is such that a delay in the receipt of the assemblies’ share of the fund results in a huge back log of payments.
Although the fund is for development, some of the assemblies are known to use it to cover administrative costs such as vehicle maintenance, fuel for vehicles and even salaries.
That is why we share in the concern raised by President John Mahama in a speech read on his behalf at a workshop organised in Sunyani by the Parliamentary Press Corps and attended by district chief executives and Members of Parliament in the Brong Ahafo Region and funded by the office of the Administrator of the DACF.
The use of the fund for purposes other than what it is intended for amounts to the misapplication of the fund and has the tendency to stall development in areas administered by the assemblies.
In many districts, municipalities and metropolises, there are many areas which the assemblies could explore to raise funds internally for development and the assemblies should not abandon that responsibility.
One of the cardinal principles of decentralisation is to made local government less reliant on the central government and the assemblies must be seen to use their initiative to raise funds for their recurrent expenditure, instead of relying on the DACF for that.
Currently, the call for a rise in the percentage of national resources allocated to the fund will only be reasonable if the fund is seen to be used directly on projects it is meant for.
District, municipal and metropolitan assemblies must wean themselves from the use of the DACF for recurrent expenditure and look for innovative ways of generating funds internally.
It is only by doing this that the assemblies will give true meaning to the decentralisation programme and justify any demand for an increase in the funds allocated to them.