General News of Wednesday, 20 September 2017
Associations of persons with disability (PWDs) have organised a forum to revise guidelines governing disbursement of the District Assemblies’ Common Fund for members after detecting widespread fraud associated with its sharing.
The guidelines for the disbursement and management of the Fund was introduced in 2010 by the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFD) and National Council on PWDs (NCPD) to provide clear rules for payment to beneficiaries.
Several reports over the years emerged that assembly officials and some PWDs have been flouting the procedures with impunity and misappropriating the three per cent Common Fund.
Speaking at the forum on the topic: “Sustainable Livelihoods for Persons with Disabilities through the Common Fund,” Mr Yaw Ofori-Debrah, the GFD President, said: “Audit reports and documented prove reveal that PWDs have not benefited from the Fund at all.”
The Federation has been in talks with the Common Fund Administrator in recent times to come out with more robust guidelines for its distribution to empower members economically.
Mr Ofori-Debrah said thorough review of the guidelines and documentation of data to track beneficiaries would help curb wonton dissipation of the Fund, particularly perpetrated by the assembly officials.
He expressed worry that disabled children heavily depended on the Fund for their numerous educational needs but district coordinating directors and chief executive officers often borrowed from that small money but failed to pay back.
“The whole fund is characterised with massive fraud, the assemblies borrow from it but do not pay, they refuse to even give information to fund managers, and as a matter of fact the challenges of the fund are humongous.”
He condemned some members of disability associations for colluding with assembly officers to siphon the monies into their private pockets while children with disabilities wallow in financial crises with many struggling to pay their school fees.
Mr Ofori- Debrah expressed the hope that the review would block leakages in the current guidelines and help bring sanity into the disbursement process to help give the needed financial assistance to PWDs.
Nana George Frimpong, the Central Regional Coordinator of Inclusive Education, said the GFD in Cape Coast pushed for PWDs to be part of the signatories to the account and that had prevented assembly officials from misapplying the Fund.
He cited an instance where a metro finance officer conspired with a municipal chief executive to cash money from the account but the bank refused since a third signatory – PWD – did not sign the cheque.
He suggested that in the revised guidelines PWDs should be made to be part of the key account signatories to serve as a check.
Ms Lilian Bruce-Lyle, former member of the National Council on PWDs Board, called for the publication of the Fund any time it was released as part of moves to deepen the transparency.
She said the disability fund should be released simultaneously with that of the assemblies’ to avoid officials from borrowing from it.
Mr Kwamena Dadzie-Denis, the Ag Executive Secretary of NCPD, said there was the need for participants to share and contribute ideas towards enrichment of the document.
The NCPD, in collaboration with the Office of the Administrator of Common Fund, and GFD, facilitated the organisation of the meeting.