Limited involvement in transparency process of local revenue usage – Report
It attributed the findings to low awareness and limited participation of a greater proportion of the members of local communities in the deliberations of their District Assemblies.
The research, which was restricted to assessing the use of Internally Generated Funds (IGF), with special emphasis on royalties that were generated from minerals exploitation, was compiled by SEND-Ghana and its partners.
It said “currently national provisions only allow royalty payments to Districts playing host to mining activities, but not oil and gas.
The explanation for the omission was because the oil and gas production was located 60 kilometres offshore and thus presumed not to have direct impact on any community and therefore the Jomoro District Assembly unlike Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipal Assembly was not receiving royalties from the petroleum production.
The research said the operations of the extractive sector was negatively affecting the livelihoods in many communities close to mining and petroleum production activities saying many have lost access to their agricultural lands or have restricted access to their fishing grounds.
The people’s skepticism about the benefits derived from the mining and petroleum activities in terms of royalties paid by the multinational mining companies has led to reluctance on the part of the local communities to also redeem their part of tax obligations to top-up revenue for the development of their localities.
Mr George Osei-Bimpeh, Country Director for SEND-Ghana, who delivered the report, explained that the research focused on the extent to which transparency, accountability and equity existed in the use of public resources by Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in three selected Districts which included the Tarkwa Nsuaem, Jomoro and Kumbugu District Assemblies.
The report provided an analysis of the mobilization and utilization of IGF and also examined how mineral exploitation in Ghana had benefited citizens of selected Districts or otherwise and the implications thereof for equitable and sustainable local development.
It also provided rigorous insights on how a range of good governance principles including citizens’ participation, transparency, accountability, equity and responsiveness were emphasized in local governance through an empirical method which was embedded in a case study design.
He indicated that decisions of District Assemblies about how to mobilize and allocate financial resources such as royalties and local taxes had a direct impact on the well-being of citizens, therefore unimpeded participation in the processes of planning for development, public budgeting and financial management were essential for promoting transparency and accountability in the use of local government revenue in Ghana.
It also helped in ensuring that public resources were distributed equitably so that the interests and needs of the poor and marginalized groups in society were adequately addressed.
Mr Osei-Bimpeh said natural resource rich communities did invariably suffer both negative environmental and socio-economic consequence from the activities of the extractive sector and it was expected that funds accruing from the mineral and petroleum exploitation would be used to the benefit of the affected communities in a way that engendered greater development results.
He said the study recommended that the government established structures and processes that would ensure the optimum use of available resources for the development of livelihood strategies for poverty alleviation in affected local communities.
The report also recommended that national level Civil Society Organisation and others working in natural resource extraction communities improved their visibility in the communities and worked to improve the capacity of local citizens groups to be part of the advocacy process.
It said the petroleum revenue should be managed in such a way that it benefitted Ghanaians in general and the coastal communities along the Western coast of Ghana and also expanded public education on local governance issues to target women and marginalized groups..