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General News
Publish details of released funds 6/18/2007
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) are being urged to publish detailed figures of funds that are transferred to the District Assemblies every year.

The exact amount of funds transferred from the DACF to each of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) is unknown to the public; thereby, creating room for abuse, said Mr. Kwamena Ahwoi, a senior lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and a former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.

He said the publication of detailed figures will be the first step for journalists to effectively monitor district assembly spending on behalf of the public.

"Sometimes, you suspect that money has been ''chopped'' but you don''t know how much money came to the district so how are you going to keep talking that money has been ''chopped''? Why can''t we, for example, publish the figures when the DACF Administrator makes his allocations?" he quizzed at a workshop organised on Thursday to train journalists in reporting on decentralisation.

The programme under the theme, "Policing Procurement at the Metropolitan, Municipal and the District Assembly (MMDA) level" formed part of Public Agenda''s advocacy work on decentralization being sponsored by the Rights and Voice Initiative (RAVI).

Mr. Ahwoi told the journalist that as it stands now it would be difficult to determine the quantum of funds allocated to MMDAs at any given time and whether it is enough to perform the functions assigned to the MMDAs. "In addition, one would want to know whether the funds are actually transferred and if they are used for the programmes and projects planned", he added.

Even the "2007 Guidelines for Utilization of DACF" is worse than previous ones, Mr. Ahwoi noted in his presentation titled "The Citizen, Participatory Local Governance and Development."

He said the guidelines contravene the constitution because "literally, the entire money goes with instructions as to how it should be used," although, there appears to be 100% targeting of the DACF for the MMDAs by the guidelines that was issued by the sector ministry.

According to the 2007 guidelines, 10% of the fund is set aside as a ‘Reserve Fund’ to cater for the MPs'' Parliamentary Constituency Fund and up to 41% of the DACF is released to the MMDAs as ''tied grants'' to be used for purposes including training & capacity building, National Youth Employment Programme, malaria prevention, district education fund, etc. regardless of the need for such interventions. "The remainder of the amount, totalling 49% is released to the MMDAs for use in specified indicative sectors like economic ventures, social services, administration and environment."

While agreeing that his administration is equally guilty of releasing part of the DACF as ''tied grants'', Mr. Ahwoi said the current situation is very bad. "At the time, the quantum of the DACF that was ''tied'' did not exceed 25%. Today, virtually the entire DACF is ''tied''."

In the former Minister''s view, this calls for proper monitoring as it is prone to manipulation, thus, the publication of the figures in the media would ensure proper accountability and eliminate avenues for abusing funds transferred to the local level, culminating in effective fiscal and administrative decentralisation systems.

On the other hand, he faulted the media for devoting little or no attention to what happens at the local or district level and pointed out that the media is an essential tool in ensuring effective monitoring and evaluation of the decentralisation process.

"It is unfortunate that what has captured the attention of the media and the public about decentralisation are only the political aspects; even then, only a few of the political aspects like the election or appointment of District Chief Executives (DCEs), or the partisan or non-partisan nature of the district assembly are captured."

He said it is important for the media to throw as much light on what goes on at the local level just as they do for happenings at the central government level. He emphasised that even the management of locally mobilized revenue in the form of local duties, local taxes and levies, property rates, etc. is open to abuse.

Mr. Kojo Yankah, President of the Africa Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) who chaired the event admonished journalists to pursue civic journalism, which reconnects the media with citizens rather than central authorities.

Source: Public Agenda

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