The Chief Executive Officer of Intervention Forum (IF), a local non-governmental organization, Ms Nora Ollennu, has called for transparency in the disbursement of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF).
This would promote good governance practices of accountability, transparency and citizens’ participation in local governance.
Ms Ollennu said this in an address at a policy dialogue on the DACF organized by the Adentan District Citizens Monitoring Committee (DCMC) and supported by SEND-Ghana, another NGO, at the offices of the Adentan Municipal Assembly (AdMA).
The DCMC, of which Ms Ollennu is the Focal person, comprises small-scale food crop farmers, women’s groups, the youth, persons with disability, NGOs, faith-based organizations, traditional authorities and district assembly members.
IF is the focal NGO for the AdMA under the SEND-GHANA Grassroots Economic Literacy and Advocacy Programme that seeks to promote good governance practices of accountability, transparency and citizens’ participation in local governance.
Ms Ollennu said the dialogue was to afford the participants the opportunity to discuss issues affecting development projects and programmes with links to the DACF, as well as find out why some programmes had stalled.
Ms Ollennu said effective pro-poor local governance as well as efficient and sustainable local level development depended on a coherent approach to decentralization and expressed the hope that measures would be taken to address the challenges in the disbursement and utilization of the DACF.
Ms Harriet Nuamah Agyemang, Programme Officer, Greater Accra Region Network Centre of SEND-Ghana, presented report findings her outfit carried out on the DACF spanning 2009 -2010.
She noted that after two decades of the DACF, several concerns including governance issues, continued to hinder its effectiveness and therefore the derivation of its full benefit.
The report, which focused on the level of MMDA’s compliance with the DACF guidelines, concluded that non-compliance and low level of accountability and transparency characterized the management of the fund.
The study, she said, however, observed evidence of unsubstantiated and un-receipted deduction by the DACF Secretariat over the years.
“For instance, the 2009-2010 Auditor General’s reports have cited instances where monies paid to individuals, companies and agencies for the provision of services and supplies to various assemblies have not been executed or properly accounted for,” she said.
The study also showed that that there were variations in the amounts allocated, disbursed and actual receipt by the MMDAs, adding that the difference arose from statutory and other non-statutory deductions made by the DACF Administrator.
Ms Agyemang said the study also showed that generally, the level of MMDAs compliance with financial management standards was low, leading to several irregularities in cash, procurement, contract and tax, adding that some of these were caused by administrative or procedural blunders and not through corrupt practices.
She noted that the DACF had been the most important vehicles and reliable revenue for the MMDAs, saying the funds had made significant contributions to human resource and infrastructural development, especially in the social services sector.
However, she said, the disbursement and utilization of the fund was plagued with challenges that needed to be addressed.
Mr. Gabriel Dari, Municipal Co-ordinating Director of the AdMA, observed that though the Auditor General’s Report revealed some irregularities, these were due to initial challenges faced by the assembly.
He said the irregularities could be attributed to administrative errors or lapses but not to corruption or embezzlement, adding that lots of the issues had been addressed and were no longer prevailing.
For, example, Mr Dari said the issue of capacity building had been addressed while most of the issues captured in the reports had long disappeared and that the people must no longer be disappointed or disillusioned.
Dr. Desmond Aryee-Boi, Presiding Member of the AdMA, explained the work of the Audit Report Implementation Committee which is working hard to bring some of the irregularities contained in the Auditor General’s reports to the barest minimum.
He also mentioned the Public Relations and Complaints Committee which ensured there were cordial relations between the assembly and the public.