Findings by Send Ghana, a non-governmental organisation advocating judicious use of resources, has revealed that only 40 per cent of the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) gets to the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
The research, which was conducted between 2007 and 2010 in 50 MMDAs in the three northern regions and the Greater Accra Region, was made known at a District Assembly interface meeting held in Bolgatanga on Monday.
The meeting, which was attended by assembly members, conveners of sub-committees, Civil Society Organizations, the media among others was to discuss the research findings on the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) and to chart a way forward to ensure effective management and utilization of the Fund.
Presenting the findings to the stakeholders, Mr Yirbuer Eugene, a Programme Officer of SEND Ghana, explained that the findings established that 60 per cent of the Funds were deducted by the Common Fund Secretariat in the form of statutory and non-statutory deductions before it got to the Assemblies.
He said in some instances the deductions made by the Common Fund Secretariat went beyond the 60 per cent and noted that this drastically affected the financial vitality of the MMDAs to address the development challenges of they faced.
“These deductions are sometimes done without the prior notice of the MMDAs which is a gross violation of the DACF guidelines. The DACF guidelines states that every deduction made at source should be done through resolution passed by the MMDAs,” he said.
Per the DACF guidelines, before any deduction can be made to buy items for the MMDAs, the minutes of the assembly’s session of the MMDAs would have been signed by the appropriate authorities particularly the Presiding Member and then submitted to the office of the Administrator of the DACF through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for approval.
Other signatories should include the District Chief Executive and District Coordinating Director but this procedure is often ignored by the DACF Secretariat.
According to the report, most of the items purchased by the Common Fund Secretariat for the MMDAs were not demand driven, but were imposed on them thereby thwarting planned development at the various MMDAs
Quoting from the 2008 Auditor General Report, the research revealed that total average deductions made on the Common Funds of all assemblies in the Greater Accra Region was 58.88 per cent. Deductions from the MMDAs in the Northern Region averaged 66.99 per cent, whilst the Upper East and Upper West Regions recorded 54.71 and 60.44 per cent respectively.
It said in 2009 the deductions of the Assemblies Common Funds were quite alarming reaching as high as 80 per cent and cited the deductions made on funds for the Nanumba North as 84.51 per cent. Others included Tamale Metropolitan 74.70 per cent, Accra Metropolitan 74.45 per cent, Bole 71.06 per cent and Bolgatanga Municipal 68.96 per cent.
Deductions from Lawra District stood at 68.35 per cent, Nadowli District, 67.35 per cent, and Sissala West, 66.05 per cent as well as Kassena-Nankana West and East 68.35 per cent, Bawku West 61.38 per cent and Dangbe West Municipal 60.15 per cent.
The research showed that deductions of the DACF in 2011 reached more than 80 per cent for some MMDAs whilst others recorded as low as 30 per cent as their DACF.
The research also cited some of the MMDAs for causing financial irregularities, misappropriation and misapplication of funds, procurement irregularities, contract irregularities and tax irregularities among others.
It recommend urgent need to minimize the level of deductions made from the DACF and also stated that transactions conducted by the DACF Administrator and MLGRD should be demand driven.
It further recommended that all MMDAs establish both internal and Audit Implementation Committees to follow the implementation of the Auditor General Report.
The Programme Officer of SEND Ghana said his outfit was not out to witch-hunt but was performing its task as a Civil Society Organization aimed at bringing about positive change in the lives of the people through duty bearers and urged all citizens particularly the Assembly members to take keen interest in the implementation of the decentralization concept.
The Presiding Member of the Bolgatanga Municipal, Mr Donatus Nyaba, commended SEND Ghana for the research and said the findings had educated the participants and that it would help them improve upon the decentralization concept.
Mr Richard Adongo, Programme Coordinator of Programme for Rural Integrated for Development (PRIDE) which partners SEND Ghana, appealed to the Assembly members to take the findings in good faith and act upon them to bring about good governance.