General News of Thursday, 31 May 2018
Policy think-tank, IMANI Africa, has called for more transparency in the creation of new districts in a study report, dubbed “Proliferation of new districts and constituencies in Ghana: the mismatch between policy objectives, outcomes, and impacts”.
It asked that the process was made a see-through with reports on the exercise published by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in the case of districts and the Electoral Commission (EC) for that of the constituencies.
Districts that had grown beyond their required threshold must be elevated to municipality and metropolitan status instead of splitting them.
It suggested a cap on the number of constituencies and districts that Ghana should have and said adjustments could be done through re-demarcation instead of creating additional ones.
The study was carried out by the IMANI Center for Policy and Education in collaboration with Odekro under the auspices of Star Ghana and sought to analyse the policy used by the EC in the creation of parliamentary constituencies – often tied to new administrative districts established by the executive and the possibility for abuse of the system to favour a political party.
It additionally looked at the degree to which MPs’ of the new constituencies created out of new districts in 2004 aligned with their mandate, to plug development shortfalls in their districts.
It recommended that the EC should not be forced to establish new constituencies in the event that districts were politically created (when it did not meet the stipulated criteria) to warrant a new constituency.
The study noted that the day-to-day activities of Members of Parliament (MPs) were not closely linked to that of the districts and therefore they should be granted membership of more than one district assembly.
Again, it asked that the MPs’ Common Fund be discontinued.
Since Independence, the number of regions had been relatively consistent with fewer alterations (1959-1960 – the creation of the Brong Ahafo, Central and Upper Regions and the renaming of the then Trans Volta Togoland to Volta Region) but the number of districts and constituencies had kept increasing.
The constituencies had increased by 37 percent from 1992 to 2016 with the figure of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembles (MMDAs) having gone up by 232.3 percent.
The districts shot up to 110 in 2004 from the 1992 total of 65 and climbed to 216 in 2016. The constituencies grew from 200 in 1992 to 230 in 2004 and then went up to 275 in 2016.
Mr. Franklin Cudjoe, IMANI’s founding President and Chief Executive speaking at the ceremony held to present the report, expressed his disappointment at the decision to push back the election of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
He also made reference to the leadership crisi at the EC – now pending before a Judiciary Committee, and said, it was a challenge to the smooth implementation of the roadmap for the election of the MMDCEs.
He was emphatic that creating new districts and regions was not going to solve poverty in the country, and that, what was needed was resources allocation and prudent management.
Mr. Kofi Bentil, Vice President of IMANI Africa, said the ultimate aim of dividing the country into new regions and districts was to bring development to the people.
Nana Obiri Boahene, Deputy General Secretary of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), in his contribution recommended that assembly members were placed on salaries alongside the supply of motorbikes.