Minority fights gov’t over ‘illegal’ reduction in District Assembly cash

The Minority in Parliament has accused government of illegally reducing resources allocated to District assemblies.

According to the Minority spokesperson on Finance Casiel Ato Forson, government wants to pay less than 5% as prescribed by the 1992 Constitution.

Article 252 clause (2) states that “subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament shall annually make provision for the allocation of not less than five percent of the total revenues of Ghana to the District Assemblies for development; and the amount shall be paid into the District Assemblies Common Fund in quarterly instalments”.

The total tax revenue determined by the Finance Minister for 2017 amounts to GHC34.382 billion.

Doing the maths, the former Deputy Finance Minister says 5% allocation amounts to GHC1.71bn. A look at the Appendix 4B of the budget shows government has allocated GHC1.57bn, triggering threats from the Minority.

“Is this not a breach?” he wanted to know.

Ato Forson

The Minority spokesperson on Finance warned the caucus could withdraw support for the passage of the Appropriation Bill which will set the seal of parliament’s approval on government’s budget.

But reacting to the accusations, the Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei said the claim is simply nothing more than a propaganda.

According to him, government is sticking to the calculations that have been used by the previous administration.

For the Minority to “suddenly come to tell Ghanaians it is unconstitutional is at best disingenuous”, he condemned.

The economist and minister said before a 5 percent is taken out of the total taxes collected, some other deductions must be made.

For example, the Ghana Revenue Authority for their efforts in raising the taxes is given some money known as the cost of collection.

There are also some VAT refunds paid out of the total tax revenue, he said. All these deductions are considered as expenditures to be taken out of the tax revenue.

The 5% is then deducted on the remainder and allocated to the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF), he stressed. If it is done correctly, this should amount to GHC1.57 billion.

“This is a straight forward matter” he expressed surprise and called the bluff of the Minority.

“I don’t like propaganda….they can do whatever they want to do,” he said.

The District Assembly Common Fund is paid to 216 districts in Ghana to finance local development projects and programmes.