… Says It Will Strengthen Local Governance
From Sebastian R. Freiku, Kumasi
A former Presiding Member of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), Nana Kofi Senyah, has hailed the new Local Government Law, as the previous Local Government Act 462 of 1993, which regulated the operations of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), was fraught with loopholes.
He noted that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), which was to implement the provisions of the Act, variously operated and killed the policy of decentralisation as entailed in the Local Government Act 462 of 1993.
Nana Senyah said the Ministry, which is supposed to ensure the effective decentralisation of powers, functions and resources for holistic development, is rather overseeing the mismanagement of the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) thus crippling their operations.
He said the disbursement of the District Assembly Common Fund, which is supposed to be the backbone of most MMDAs, is a major source of concern, because it had resulted in the negative performance of some assembles.
He said most of the Common Fund monies are deducted at source to provide unnecessary equipment or services, such as earth moving machines, tractors, fumigation exercises and often without the consent of the MMDAs.
The Ministry, he said, even contributed less to the development of the District Assemblies concept and the decentralisation policy, and hoped the revision of the law would be beneficial this time round.
Nana Kofi Senyah, Assembly Member of New Suame and currently the Chairman of the Finance and Administration Committee of the KMA, in a chat with The Chronicle, said even though clauses of Act 462 had been fashioned to ensure deepened democracy, decentralisation, holistic development, and social accountability, the Local Government Ministry had on many occasions supervised a subversion of the Local Government system in various ways, and rendered it ineffective.
He cited an instance where, in 2010, the sector ministry dissolved Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembles (MMDA’s) without regard to the law, which act culminated in assembly elections being held piecemeal, thus affecting it negatively.
The New Suame Assembly Member noted that it was evident that ministers manipulate the assembly system for the endorsement of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), by withdrawing and replacing government appointees, as well as influencing the election of National Association of Local Government Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) executives, with the sole aim of weakening the negotiation powers of NALAG.
Nana Senyah also alleged that in spite of the law (Public Procurement Act 663 of 2003 and the Financial Act) for procurement and disposal of assets, the sector Ministry connives with some MMDAs and awards contracts without going through the Procurement Law.
He said the Local Government Ministry deals directly with MMDAs and
bypasses the Regional Co-ordinating Councils, which hasve the responsibility of monitoring, co-ordinating and evaluating of activities of MMDAs and that in most cases, contracts are not even approved by the Assemblies.
He cited the construction of three markets with lorry parks at Aboabo, Atonsu and Asawasi, and a landfill facility in Kumasi, under the Ghana Urban Management Project (GUMP), which are currently being executed by the Local Government Ministry without the consent of the General Assembly of the KMA.
Nana Senyah pointed out that the current National Sanitation programme being pushed by the Local Government Ministry is an indication of the functional failure and inability of the MMDAs to implement their sanitation policies.
The Assembly Member hoped the wrongs in the system under the Act 462 would be corrected by the new local government law, and ensure that ministers, and the ministries as a whole, do not interfere with the operations and functions of membership and leadership of the various MMDAs, to bring positive change to the constituents assembly members represent at the Local Assembly.
Meanwhile, Nana Senyah has called for the effective operation of the Ashanti Regional Co-ordinating Council (ARCC) for the development of the region.
He noted that by Section 255 of Article 20 of the 1992 Constitution, which outlines the composition of the RCC, the Council is supposed to implement its core mandate to monitor, co-ordinate and evaluate the performance of assemblies in the region.