Ghana’s efforts to achieve grassroots development said to be stagnant

market1Despite the tremendous benefits of decentralization, Ghana’s strides towards the achievement of development at the grassroots level has remained stagnant, a Political Science Lecturer at the University of Ghana has said.

Dr Emmanuel Debrah, Head of the Department of the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, attributed the lack of progress in development at the local levels since its introduction in the early 1990’s, to the absence of effective monitoring of the local authorities and inadequate resources to execute government policies and programmes.

He said these gaps were often manifested in the late disbursement of central government budgetary allocation for executing development programmes and projects and also challenges including corruption and laxity on the part of local authorities to mobilise internally generated funds for the execution of local development projects.

Dr Debrah was discussing the topic “Decentralization in emerging democracies: Problems and Prospects”, at a workshop that was hosted by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) on Thursday.

He said it has been observed that decentralization efforts were at least or partly a disguise for renewed attempts by national political elites to expand their control through developing new local institutions or restructuring existing ones.

Again, he continued, although decentralisation instigates popular involvement in decision-making and culture of economics and administrative good governance, it could also adversely affect the distribution of equity, in terms of how land resources were geographically distributed and this could serve as a springboard for conflicts among rich and poor communities in the country.

He suggested that for decentralization to work well, elected bodies at lower levels must have substantial powers and resources at both financial and administrative levels, while creating strong mechanisms to hold bureaucrats accountable to elected representatives and citizens.

The workshop, which was part of activities under the phase II project of the Economy for Ghana Network (EGN), seeks to generate discussions and feedback among stakeholders and academia on critical national issues via a web-based virtual network to influence national policy decisions.

Dr Debrah acknowledged the impact of decentralization in ensuring development at the local levels of the country saying the system was intended to ensure the transfer of power from the central government to the local authorities and ensure the removal of bureaucratic bottlenecks that hindered the effective implementation of national policies.

He said for the Western governments and international donors, decentralisation had the prospect of empowering local governments and communities legally, technically and financially to cater for their interests through local revenue mobilization, while the central government takes care of the higher missions of the State.

Dr Debrah said it is believed that when properly crafted, decentralization could promote equilibrium in the socio-political and economic atmosphere; promote peace in conflict communities; and ensure greater accountability because local representatives become more accessible to the populace.

He suggested that government devoted more resources for local capacity building of the staff of local authorities, ensure technology transfer to the localities, demonstrate greater political will, guarantee local autonomy and study carefully pro-poor programmes to ensure development of the grassroots of the country.

He suggested that MDA’s establish research outlets to collaborate with academia to utilize useful researches findings for effective policy formation and development.

Dr Robert Darko Osei, EGN Coordinator, said the Network was an open platform that allowed all persons interested in the economic and socio-economic transformation of Ghana to share ideas and research findings on what they believe are some of the best policy options available to Ghanaian policy makers.

He said EGN aims to engage the active participation of intellectual discussants on critical development issues through a virtual web-based network through the holding of virtual conferences, discussions and posting of constructive comments on critical national issues for further discussion to attract the attention of policy makers in their decisions.

Source: GNA

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