General News of Wednesday, 30 May 2018
The Minority Caucus of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has cautioned the Government against using proceeds from the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) to finance its flagship programmes.
It urged the Government to take its hands off the Fund, which is meant to implement development projects in the districts.
“The Government should desist from any further acts that seek to deprive the assemblies of lawful funds due them for implementation of their local development agenda as introducing legislation that seeks to appropriate parts of the monies to the DACF,” the Minority said on Tuesday.
The Administrator of the Common Fund, last month, April 2018, directed the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to use 80 per cent of their allocation to fund central government programmes.
The funds are to be used for the School Feeding Programme, Nation Builders Corps, and the Planting for Foods and Jobs.
According to the directive, 40 per cent of the total allocation is to fund the School Feeding Programme, 20 per cent for the Nation Builders’ Corps and 20 per cent for the Planting for Food and Jobs, leaving only 20 per cent for administrative purposes in the district assemblies.
Mr Benjamin Kpodo, the Deputy Ranking Member on the Local Government Committee, addressing a press conference organised by the Minority in Parliament on Tuesday, said: “The directive is illegal and restrictive,” and was not contained in the formula for disbursement of the DACF for 2018.
“That means it does not meet the legal requirements for the application of the DACF and indeed it is being done on the blind side of Parliament.”
Mr Kpodo said pursuant to Article 252 of the 1992 Constitution, a total of GH¢1.8 billion was appropriated for disbursement, over 19-line items.
Significant among them, he said, were Transfers to Other Legal Entities – Youth Employment Agency (10 %), National Youth Authority (5%) and National Disaster Management Organisation (1.5%) – amounting to GH¢29,900,665. Allocation to People With Disabilities (3%) amounting to GH¢54,364,333; National Projects-Education, Seed Capital for newly created District Assemblies and Waste Management (11.59%) amounting to GH¢210 million.
The Minority recalled among other things, that a Committee of the Whole observed that the amount left for the Fund to disburse to the MMDAs was woefully inadequate.
The Minority recalled that the Committee said: “The shortfall will seriously impair the planned activities of the MMDAs who needed these funds to complete the numerous projects being undertaken by the Assemblies.
“In order not to defeat the purpose for which the DACF was established, the Committee recommends that the Ministry of Finance should strictly adhere to the provisions of the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Act 2017 and not further offload programmes onto the already capped funds of the DACF,” Mr Kpodo said.
The Minority raised the concerns that by the directive, the MMDAs were deprived of funds to implement their localised development projects, which they had already planned for and incorporated in their budgets.
“This financially weakens the assemblies, and in effect derails the decentralisation and governance process.”
The Minority Caucus urged the Government to “immediately withdraw the… directive” and explore other means of funding its flagship programmes.
“The Government should desist from any further acts that seek to deprive the assemblies of lawful funds due them for implementation of their local development agenda, such as introducing legislation that seeks to appropriate parts of the monies due to the DACF,” Mr Kpodo said.
On behalf of the Minority, he urged the Government to release monies due the DACF timeously, on a quarterly basis, as stipulated in the Constitution.