Government is “Stealing” from MMDAs and misapplying Common Fund – Minority

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The Minority caucus in Parliament has faulted the Akufo-Addo led government for starving Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) of the needed funds for development of the country. They alleged that 80% of funds meant for hthe Assemblies has been stored on the directive of the central government.

They have accused the government of “stealing” a substantial portion of the statutory mandatory District Assembly’s Common Fund (DACF) meant for development at the local government level to finance outrageous campaign promises made during the 2016 elections at the expense of the people.

Instead, the government through the office of the Administrator of the DACF has given a directive to the effect that up to 80% of the amount allocated to the Assemblies should be redirected to the center to fund priority campaign projects of the government.

At a press conference in Parliament on Tuesday, the Minority Members on the Local Government Committee, expressed reservations about some of these developments in the sector which according to them have the potential of ruining the decentralization concept and process.

In March this year, Parliament approved the formula for the disbursement of the Common Fund for the year 2018, where a total amount of GHC 1,812,144,435 was appropriated for disbursement over 19 line items. Out of this figure an amount of GHC 905,999,982, making up 50.25% was supposed to be directly allocated to the various MMDAs.

Per the calculations of the Minority caucus, each of the 254 MMDAs in Ghana is supposed to receive an average amount of GHC 3,566,929 for their planned local development projects and programmes as approved for them in the formula for the year 2018.

However, according to the minority group, contrary to the formula that was approved by parliament for distribution to the Assemblies, they have information that a directive has gone out to the MMDAs that the direct transfer allocated to and approved for the MMDAs should be strictly applied to finance some campaign projects.

It is directed that 40% of the amount should be used to finance the School feeding programme, 20% to finance the Nation Builder’s Corps, and another 20% for the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative, while leaving only 20% for the exclusive use for the Assembly’s own projects at the local level.

The Deputy Ranking Member on the Local Government Committee, Benjamin Kpodo, who read the statement indicated that the said directive does not meet the legal requirements for the application of the DACF since it is not contained in the approved formula. He said it was done at the blind side of parliament.

The Member of Parliament for the Ho Central constituency further indicated that, as a consequence of the directive, the MMDAs are deprived of funds to implement their localized development projects which they had already planned for and incorporated in their budgets.

According to him, “this financially weakens the Assemblies, and in effect, derails the decentralization and local governance process. Indeed the directive is illegal and extremely restrictive,” he noted.

The minority have therefore called on the government to immediately withdraw the said directive and explore other means of funding its flagship programmes and projects and desist from engaging in any further acts that may deprive the Assemblies of their lawful funds.

Source: Clement Akoloh || afriwakeradio.com

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