Ninety three per cent of Ghanaians do not participate in the Budget Processes of the Metropolitan and Municipal Assemblies(MMAs), a survey conducted by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development(MLGRD), has revealed.
The survey was conducted by the Social Accountability Unit (SAU) of the MLGRD and the finding was made known in Bolgatanga of the Upper East Region, during a Social Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (SPEFA) forum organised by the Development Research Centre (DRAC), a non-governmental organisation.
The SPEFA project, which is a component of the Local Government Capacity Support Project, is being implemented by the SNV, a Netherland Development Organisation and its local partners in some MMAs.
The forum which attracted 140 participants had among its aims to empower the citizens at the local level to demand accountability from public servants to ensure that public resources are managed effectively and efficiently in response to the needs of society.
The project is being sponsored by the MLGRD with support from the World Bank. In the Bolgatanga Municipality, DRAC is assisting in the project implementation.
The survey indicated that an overwhelming majority of citizens do not get the opportunity to see the budget of the MMAs.
On the planning meeting of the MMAs, the survey pointed out that only 12 per cent of the respondents said they had participated in the process and got the opportunity to ask questions.
Mr Elvis Otto, an Official from the SAU, who presented the findings, said it was conducted from 2013 and 2015
It revealed that whilst majority of citizens attributed their inability to participate in the planning meetings to the fact that they did not get the schedule for the event or were not informed on time.
The MMDs stated that 62 per cent of the invitations were done through a combination of radio, information van and megaphone, 20 per cent through formal letters, whilst traditional methods such as the word of mouth and beating of traditional instruments accounted for 18 per cent.
The survey also revealed that majority of citizens did not know the political heads of their localities and did not visit the MMDAs.
“The regional distribution of the participation of the citizens in the meetings of the MMAs also show similar trends; indicating a low level of citizen’s participation in the planning process. MMAs must therefore educate and encourage citizens to be part of the development planning process,” Mr Otto said.
He entreated the citizenry to participate fully in both Assembly meetings and the Budgeting process to optimise the benefits from development projects and policies.
Mr Otto said the SPEFA forums were aimed at building the capacity of the citizens to demand social accountability from their leader and service providers.
The Programmes Manager of DRAC, Mr Milton Aberinga who schooled the SPEFA members on Leadership and Social Accountability and the role of the Members of Parliament, stated that political leadership is very critical for ensuring that accountability works.
“Accountable leaders are supposed to listen to and work with citizens since it makes them more efficient and effective and above all legitimate,” he stressed.