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Regional News Sat, 19 Jul 2014

New districts in UWR faced with development challenges

The newly-created districts in the Upper West Region are faced with office and residential accommodation, electricity and personnel challenges, which are impacting negatively on their performance.

For instance, the Daffiama-Bussie -Issa District Assembly received electricity supply just two months ago, and the Nandom District Assembly lacks infrastructure, especially office and residential accommodation, and has rented the premises of the Nandom Rural Bank to operate.

Both assemblies also lack critical personnel to work, a situation that is affecting the efficient implementation of programmes and projects in the two districts.

Mr John B. Atogiba, Chief Director of the Upper West Regional Co-ordinating Council, made this known at a meeting with Dr. Callistus Mahama, Head of Local Government Service and Regional Heads of Departments and Agencies in Wa on Thursday.

Dr Mahama and some officials of the Local Government Service Secretariat are in the region to get to know first-hand, the challenges of the district assemblies and decentralized departments and agencies, to appreciate the challenges so that when issues are brought before them, they would know how to handle them effectively.

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Mr. Atogiba said since 2012, a total number of 145 critical personnel had been posted to the region, but 92 of them reported.

He said even though the wage bill was high on government, it was however necessary to engage critical personnel at the decentralized departments and agencies, to help achieve results, explaining that the region was doing with only three professional planners.

He said the Lambussie-Karni District has no Births and Deaths Officers and that, so many people did not know their birth days, making it difficult for planning purpose.

He said many of the district assemblies in the region were faced with peculiar challenges, and appealed to the head of local government service to help address them for the effective implementation of government policies and programmes.

Mr Ziedeng, the out-going Upper West Regional Minister, in a welcoming address, urged the heads of decentralized departments and agencies to make known all issues confronting the various institutions and agencies in the region to the head of the Local Government Service.

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He said the exercise was to provide a platform for discussions on how to improve the decentralization system, and enhance the operations of the various decentralized departments, as well as the district assemblies.

Responding to some of the issues, Dr Mahama announced that some of the 46 newly created district assemblies had been provided with cheques as mobilization funds, to start with the construction of offices and residential accommodation.

He assured the district assemblies that the region would be provided with additional personnel to make up for the shortfall, pointing out that professionals such physical planners were inadequate in Ghana, and advised the assemblies to bear with the Local Government Service.

On the issue of births and deaths, Dr Mahama announced that the Births and Deaths Department would be merged with the Ghana Statistical Service as plans were in place to decentralize its operations, with the Unit Committees taking up that responsibility at the local community level to help reduce the pressure of recruiting additional personnel.

Dr Mahama advised heads of decentralized departments and agencies, to always send their reports through the Regional Co-ordinating Councils, and also make sure that their budgets were integrated into the Regional Co-ordinating Councils budget to avoid duplications.

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He also urged the decentralised departments and agencies to set standards at workplaces to enhance quality work delivery and productivity.

They should also appraise the workers every six months and organise in-service training for them to upgrade their knowledge and skills on modern practices and trends.

Talking about recruitment of critical personnel, Dr. Mahama said even though there had been a ban on replacement, some special consideration had been provided for critical personnel, whose absence would affect quality work at the decentralised departments and agencies.

Some of the officials of the decentralized departments and agencies complained of lack of in-service training, and inadequate night allowance of 24 Ghana Cedis, and appealed for increment.

Source: GNA