NDC MPs head to SC over reduction of District Assembly Fund

The Minority in Parliament has served notice that it is heading to the apex court to challenge government’s decision to cut down statutory payment to the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF).

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) legislators are seeking the Supreme Court to interpret the difference between “total revenue” as defined in Article 252 of the Constitution and the one defined in the Local Government Act 936.

Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, who announced the decision in Parliament Tuesday said a successful clarification from the SC will put to rest the “certain confusion” which has erupted as a result of government’s decision.

Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, disclosed government’s intention to reduce the DACF to the constitutionally mandated 5 percent when he presented the 2017 budget last three weeks.

Former President John Kufuor’s government upped the DACF payment by 2.5 percent after pressure from some local authorities that the 5 percent was inadequate to undertake development.

The districts were given 7.5 percent of total revenue generated by government. This was continued by previous NDC government.

But in order to have the fiscal space to undertake its “ambitious projects” government has decided to cap the DACF starting 2017.

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta

This means that 5 percent out of the total revenue expectation of GHC34 billion for this year, government will make a payment of GHC1.7 billion into the District Assembly Common Fund.

Despite the disagreement of the NDC MPs about certain portions of the budget, it was approved by the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) majority in Parliament.

But Mr Iddrisu said they are going to invoke the “exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court” for an interpretation to be given on the matter.

Deputy Majority leader, Adwoa Safo

He said they will oppose any attempt by government to tamper with the DACF because it is beneficial and useful in building the capacity as well as the efficiency of local government authorities.

In a sharp reaction, Deputy Majority leader, Adwoa Safo, said government will not breach any law if it goes ahead to with the capping of the DACF.

She said the increment started by former President Kufuor was a mere government initiative and not backed by any legislation.