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General News Wed, 31 Jan 2007

Executive dominance impedes democratic process

Accra, Jan. 31, GNA - The executive dominance of high office holders is impeding the effective functioning of democratic institutions despite the government's "zero tolerance" policy.

The report of a study jointly published by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) with the World Bank, said on Wednesday more efforts were needed to overcome the entrenched culture of political patronage and corruption.


The objective of the study was to contribute to improved governance and citizen empowerment in Ghana by promoting better conditions and enhanced capacities for social accountability. A workshop organized by CDD and World Bank to discuss possible implementation of recommendations of the study brought together stakeholders from the private and public sectors, including Mr Abraham Odoom, Deputy Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment.


The report, which covered the South, middle and northern sectors of the country, also stated that effective local government was impeded by persistent and excessive central control.


"Local authorities lack capacity and substantive control over planning and budgetary process, fiscal decentralization has not occurred and funds flowing to local government are limited."


The findings of the report stated that there was the need to expand, strengthen and better define terms of engagement for formal and informal processes of negotiation and participatory decision-making. Mr Kojo Pumpuni Asante, Research Officer on Governance and Legal Policy for CDD, said the report focused on three main areas, which were information, voice and negotiations.


It expressed concerns about the culture of clarity, which has resulted in weak information management in the public service. It also recommended the promotion of independent, professional and socially responsible media in addition to a strengthened partnership between civil society organizations and the media. He said Ghana was limited by the lack of awareness of citizens' rights and socio-cultural factors such as traditional values of unquestioning deference to authority, in addition to poverty and illiteracy in the country.

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"An increasing number of opportunities and mechanisms for citizens-state dialogue exists in Ghana but are not fully utilized or fully effective."


Dr Esther Ofei Aboagye, Director of the Institute of Local Government Studies, urged citizens to stand up, take up issues and pursue them in the interest of the nation. Dr Ofei Aboagye advocated more dialogue and communication between civil society and public office holders. Mr Ted Lawrence, Democracy and Governance Officer at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), expressed concerns about the inability of citizens to seek information and stressed the need for the freedom of information legislation. "There is the need for citizens to know their responsibilities," he said.


Mr Lawrence said the role of parliamentarians should be redefined to make government more efficient and said parliamentarians should not prioritise their political inclinations rather than voicing the public interest and concerns.


He advised the media to focus on developmental issues affecting society, investigate issues rather than discussing politics and asked for incentives for those that report on investigative issues. "The role of civil society in accessing, generating and transmitting information is underdeveloped, he added.


Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director for the Institute for Democratic Governance called for enhanced human resource capacity and funding to deserving sectors.


Dr Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, Executive Director of CDD, said the research confirmed the task of promoting social accountability for all sectors and all levels of Ghanaian politics. "It confirms a strong need for a concerted effort by government, civil society and donors to develop effective and sustainable strategies and programmes to help create an environment conducive to improvements in social accountability." 31 Jan. 07

Source: GNA
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