Business News of 2013-12-22

Engage assemblies in financial governance - MCE

Private sector organizations have been urged to participate in the programmes and activities of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), to promote effective revenue management and its utilization for development in the country.

Mr Gordon Asubonteng, Dormaa Central Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) made the call in a speech read for him at a day’s Stakeholders Consultative Meeting, and the launch of a one-year project on Proper Financial Accountability and Transparency by the Assembly at Dormaa-Ahenkro in the Brong-Ahafo Region.

The meeting was jointly organised by the Global Media Foundation (GLOMEF), a Sunyani-based Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Media Advocacy Organisation, and Gifts FM, a community radio station at Dormaa-Ahenkro.

The project is being funded by STAR-Ghana, a multi-donor funding agency, comprising United States Agency for International Development (USAID), European Union (EU), Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom (UK) and Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) at the cost of $ 50,000.

It is on the theme: “Promoting Revenue Management and its Utilisation for Development in the Dormaa Central Municipality,” to afford the citizenry the opportunity to participate in the local governance process.

About 200 participants including the media, assembly members, staff of the assembly, women and youth groups, artisans, religious leaders, some staff of the Dormaa Traditional Council and representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community-Based Organisation (CBOs) attended.

Mr Asubonteng stated that “CSOs, NGOs and CBOs must fight for space in the MMDAs system, by engaging them in their programmes and activities, because that would ensure good financial governance, transparency and accountability”.

He noted that some challenges militating against effective local governance was the issue of participation and finance, stressing that participation in local governance was an essential constitutional directive and requirement, but it has been lost in the process.

Mr Asubonteng explained that participation of the private sector in local governance was essential because their involvement in assessing their needs by participating in local project planning and budget monitoring would help reduce corruption.

He pointed out that it was important to improve public resource management and reducing corruption by making public servants and political leaders accountable to the people, and emphasized that their participation would bring transparency in governance at the grassroots, because it would make the citizenry aware about decisions at the policy-making stage.

Mr Asubonteng said their participation would facilitate government’s efforts to address the real needs of communities in most appropriate ways, while it assisted to build an informed and responsible citizenry with a sense of ownership of government development projects.

He expressed concern about the challenge of inadequate funds which was affecting the local governance process, because the MMDAS did not have enough funds to finance development projects.

Mr Asubonteng pointed out that the Internally Generated Fund (IGF) in most MMDAs were not enough to finance development projects and observed that “A problem affecting effective mobilization of IGF is ignorance, apathy, lack of political will and high general property tax evasions”.

He said the financial situation of MMDAs was compounded because central government grants in aid to supplement self-generated incomes were usually woefully inadequate, and suggested that the MMDAs must be committed to participatory programmes by committing funds to activities like public fora to ensure the involvement of the citizenry in participatory democracy.

Mr Asubonteng stressed the need for the MMDAs to be committed to the constitutional requirements of being non-partisan to bring all the people on board in the participation of local governance and development.

Mr Raphael Godlove Ahenu Junior, Chief Executive Officer of GLOMEF noted that most MMDAs had made no attempts to improve their local revenue generation through the adoption of improved technology. He observed that they relied solely on the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) for their development projects, adding that the few of them that had made efforts to adopt modern tool of mobilizing revenue locally had also failed.

Mr Ahenu explained that it was because the MMDAs had not explored the various opportunities Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) presented in mobilizing revenue, and relied on the manual process of generating revenue which was inefficient.

Mr Kofi Beneabesi, Presiding Member of the Dormaa Central Municipal Assembly, disclosed it was among the best nationwide in terms of local revenue generation, because it did not wait for the release of DACF to function efficiently and effectively.

He appealed to the assembly members to communicate effectively with the management of the assembly and ensure that through community, town and village forums, the people were well informed for their views and suggestions to become part of the local governance process to promote general progress of the Municipality.