Danger as Ghana’s Local Governance System faces imminent collapse

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Administrative and development operations at the 254 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) is said to be facing threats of imminent collapse as a result of the government’s directives to the various MMDAs to seed a whopping 80% of their 2018 share of the Districts Assemblies’ Common Fund (DACF) to fund three central government programs.

The three central government’s programmes are: the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP), Nation Builders Corps (NaBCo) and the Planting for Food and Jobs.

The Nana Akufo-Addo led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government last month issued a directive through the Administrator of the DACF, to all the various MMDAs to deduct 40% of their share of the fund for GSFP, 20% to pay salaries of NaBCo employees and 20% for the operations of the Planting for Foods and Jobs programme.

The directive has received mixed reactions from the public, local governance experts, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), former District Chief Executives, Members of Parliament (MPs) as well as some political parties including the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) which says the government is deliberately undermining the development of the MMDAs.

The PPP and some political watchers told journalists that the directive contravenes the formula approved by Parliament for the disbursement of the DACF and this is going to adversely affect the assemblies’ planned budgeted developmental projects.

A Member of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Benjamin Komla Kpodo, sharing his thought with this reporter called on the government to as a matter of urgency to rescind the move so as to save the already dying MMDAs.

According to him, the directive to deduct 40% of total allocation of Common Fund for the GSFP, 20% for NaBCo and 20% for Planting for Food and Jobs Program and leaving only 20% for administrative purposes in the district assemblies is not only violation of law, but an attempt to deliberately cripple the development of the assemblies.

Mr Kpodo, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Ho Central Constituency in the Volta Region, argued that the directive will deprive the assemblies of the much needed resources for capital investments.

Assessing the directives and its implication to local governance process, the MP said, the directive was carried out without parliamentary approval and therefore violates Article 252(2) and (3) of the 1992 constitution.

He added that, the directive is contrary to the report of Parliament’s Committee of the Whole on the formula for the disbursement of the DACF for the year 2018, pointing out that, “the Common Fund has been capped as a result of the earmarked funds Capping Act 2017 hence the actual monies that hitherto goes into the fund has been already reduced leaving the assemblies with little funds to work with.”

The Ho Central lawmaker explained that the DACF is a pool of resources created under Article 252 of the 1992 constitution of Ghana. It is a minimum of 5.0% of the national revenue set aside to be shared among all District Assemblies in Ghana with a formula approved by Parliament.

The Member of the Finance Committee of Parliament insisted that the House approved a net income of Ghc 905, 999,982.00 for the 254 MMDAs for the year 2018, and that the back door deduction of a total of 80%, is illegal and would cripple the development of the assemblies.

In his considered view, should the government go ahead and deduct the 80% from the MMDAs net income of Ghc 905, 999,982.00, it means an amount of Ghc 181, 199,996.4 would be left to be distributed to the 254 MMDAs.

“So with this amount of Ghc 181,199,996.4, if the assemblies are to even share or distribute equally, it means each assembly will get a paltry amount of GHS 713,385.81, what can they do with this money” Mr Kpodo lamented.

The Ho Central lawmaker who has passion for rural developments said, the framers of the 1992 constitution was mindful of the developmental needs of the rural areas, hence the Common Fund to boost rural investment.

“I am surprised that government can even contemplate this. It undermines the whole purpose of decentralisation, it means the assemblies literally have nothing and cannot undertake any meaningful physical projects,” he said.

“Don’t forget that the government has already earmarked about Ghc 299,001,665.00 from the fund for other institutions such as the National Youth Authority which gets 5%, the Youth Employment Agency, 10% and the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) getting 1.5%, while the nontaxable revenue of the state have been excluded from the Assembly Common Fund.

Nonetheless, Mr Kpodo said he is not against the Planting for Food and Jobs, the NaBCo nor the GSFP which are of national important, but believed that the directive which does not have parliamentary backing is illegal and must be withdrawn as such.

“I am not against these programmes, they are laudable ones, and the fact is that, the 2018 DACF formula did not make any allocation such programmes the government is directing the assemblies to support. Nowhere in the formula was there mention of allocating 40% of the fund to school feeding, 20% to NABCO and 20% to planting for food and jobs,” The Ho Central lawmaker noted.

He was quick to add that he would drag the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development before parliament to explain why such directive was taken without the blessing of parliament if the directive is not reversed by close of May, 2018.

Source: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH

Writer’s email: franklin.asare-donkor@todaygh.com

 

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