MMDAs quest for incentive development funds good for decentralization – Minister

Ofosu Ampofo - Local Govt. Minister

Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), says the quest among Assemblies to qualify for performance-based development funds were signs of deepening decentralization across the country.

Addressing the third annual parliamentary workshop on local government reform and decentralization in Ho on Saturday,  Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said the numbers of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) meeting the criteria had been increasing every year, 159 out of 170 currently.

Under the Functional Organizational Assessment Tool (FOAT) process, MMDAs which raised their status quo get incentive development funding from the Districts Development Fund rpt District Development Fund.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said the decentralization policy was opening up the country and bringing decision making to the lower tiers of governance.

According to him, there were still challenges, some of which were structural and also low numbers of professionals with the requisite skills.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said the Government had been accelerating the process, coming up with a Comprehensive Decentralization Policy Framework and Action Plan and the formation of an inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee.

He said the current streamlining of the representation system at the community levels and strengthening of the human resource base of the MMDAs were strides in the process lately.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said currently all 10 departments listed in the law had officially become departments of the various MMDAs.

He said the process of transferring resources was also in full gear with the decision of government to implement composite budgeting in 2012.

Composite budgeting allows for the MMDAs to prepare their resource needs, variously, to be inputted into the national budget.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo, referring to the recent announcements of the creation of 42 new districts, asked Parliament to give support by approving the instruments when put before it.

He also appealed to the “Legislature to offer the required support to enable the Executive amend the relevant laws and enactments to make our decentralization reforms more meaningful”.

The workshop, a MLGRD, German Development Cooperation (GTZ), Institute of Local Government Studies, (ILGS), GIMPA and Parliament Collaboration, was on the theme, “Roadmap to Administrative Decentralization 2011 and Composite Budgeting 2012 – the Role of Parliament”.

Mr Joseph Amenowode, Volta Regional Minister, urged the workshop to isolate and tackle the “real and perceived fears of loss of control at the centre and the reality of capacity deficits at the MMDAs”.

In a brief statement, Professor Kwaku Osei-Hwedie, Dean, GIMPA School of Governance and Leadership (GSLG), said the school would continue to play a big role in the governance agenda of the country.

Mr Kwame Osei-Prempeh, Chairman of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation, on his part suggested that Parliament should be given some insight into the processes of making certain decisions, such as the carving out of new districts, to prevent the scenario of the House being “stampeded for approvals”.

Mr Cletus Avoka, Majority Leader in Parliament,  said though some countries such as Uganda took cues from Ghana’s decentralization process, they were now ahead.

Source: GNA

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