Revise criteria for creating new districts
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has put in place a four-man Committee to review the over 72 applications for the creation of new districts.
The Committee, under the Chairmanship of Capt (Rtd) Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey, a Deputy Minister has commenced sittings in the regions and has invited petitioners to meet with and so far they have visited three regions.
Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, the Minister said when he answered a number of questions concerning his
ministry at the sittings of parliament on Tuesday.
Akwasi Dante-Afriyie, NPP- Atwima Mponua asked the minister when Mpasatia-Nyinahin-Wansabire area would be up-graded to a district status. Baah-Wiredu said the aim of these regional meetings was to review the petitions in terms of the revised criteria and at the end of the review exercise; they would make recommendations for consideration by the President.
He said the revised criteria include population threshold of over 100,000 people, economic viability including natural resources, potential for sustainable revenue generation, geographical contiguity and ethnic homogeneity.
The Minister said all the above would be considered against need, cost and the effect of elevating one part of an area to a district status on the remaining part. Ms Akua Sena Dansua, NDC- North Dayi asked why a non-partisan committee has not been set up to review the status of the districts and the Minister said it was the responsibility of the ministry to do so.
Cletus Avoka, NDC- Bawku West asked whether the Committee's term of reference was outside the promises made by the President on elevating certain towns and the Minister said there was the need for the review of the increasing number of applications while the President's promise still holds.
Modestus Ahiable, NDC-Ketu North asked why the Committee was not to present its report to the Electoral Commission and the Minister said it was working in line with Article 462 which also empowers the EC to assist in demarcations.
Dr Yaw Brempong-Yeboah, NPP- Atiwa asked how many more districts were to be considered and the Minister said that was the prerogative of the President.
Yaw Asiedu- Mensah, NPP- Dorma West, in a related development asked the Minister under what conditions a town/district capital may qualify to an urban status and when Dormaa District and the other towns in the district would be raised to an Urban status.
The Minister said 41 settlements have been proposed for up grading to urban status, in addition to the existing 34 urban centres and Dormma-Ahenkro has been included on the list of towns to be up-grade since a town qualify if its population is 15,000 and over.
Yaw Effah-Baafi, NDC-Kintampo also asked whether the Ministry has plans to encourage the formation of agricultural sub-Committees in the District Assemblies to address problems facing farmers and fishermen.
Baah-Wiredu said there are provisions under Local Government Act, 1993, Act 462 section (19) sub-section (1) that encourage the formation of relevant sub-committees of the Executive Committees in District Assemblies to address specific and peculiar problems.
He said if a particular District Assembly has problems facing their farmers and fishermen or in general agriculture, they have the right to form sub-committees to address such problems without reference to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
Francis Yaw Osei-Sarfo, NDC-Krachi also asked the Minister what plans his Ministry has to pay off the salary arrears of the employees of the sub-structures of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies.
The Minister said since July 2002 circulars have been sent to all the Assemblies asking them to settle the issue of the remuneration of the staff of the sub-structures.
Baah-Wiredu the Ministry undertook to pay the emoluments of staff of the sub-structures but due to budgeting constraints this did not materialise and the responsibility was therefore, returned to the Districts where they actually belong.
He said the Ministry was now encouraging all District Assemblies to improve on their internally generated revenue, appoint secretaries and relevant secretariat staff and to be paid the relevant remuneration as may be fixed by the relevant District Assembly.