The Minority caucus in Parliament has accused the Akufo-Addo led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government for depriving Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) of the needed funds for development of the country.
According to the Minority, the 80% of funds meant for hthe Assemblies has been retain on the directive of the central government.
The Minority faulted the government of “stealing” a substantial portion of the District Assembly’s Common Fund (DACF), meant for development at the local government level to finance outrageous campaign promises made during the 2016 elections at the expense of the people.
Instead, the government through the office of the Administrator of the DACF has given a directive to the effect that up to 80% of the amount allocated to the Assemblies should be redirected to the centeral government to fund priority campaign projects.
Speaking at a press conference in Parliament on Tuesday May 29, the Minority Members on the Local Government Committee, raised concens about some of these developments in the sector which they claimed have the potential of disintegrating the decentralization concept and process.
In March this year, Parliament approved the formula for the disbursement of the Common Fund for the year 2018, where a total amount of GHC 1,812,144,435 was appropriated for disbursement over 19 line items. Out of this figure, an amount of GHC 905,999,982, making up 50.25% was supposed to be directly allocated to the various MMDAs.
Per the calculations of the Minority caucus, each of the 254 MMDAs in Ghana is supposed to receive an average amount of GHC 3,566,929 for their planned local development projects and programmes as approved for them in the formula for the year 2018.
However, the minority said, contrary to the formula that was approved by parliament for distribution to the Assemblies, they have sighted a letter that a directive has gone out to the MMDAs that the direct transfer allocated to and approved for the MMDAs should be strictly applied to finance some campaign projects.
It been directed that 40% of the amount should be used to finance the School feeding programme, 20% to finance the Nation Builder’s Corps, and another 20% for the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative, while leaving only 20% for the exclusive use for the Assembly’s own projects at the local level.
This, the Deputy Ranking Member on the Local Government Committee, Hon Benjamin Kpodo, who read the press statement pointed that, the said directive was illegal per the application of the DACF since it is not contained in the approved formula.
He added that, the directive was done at the blind side of parliament and therefore amounted to stealing.
The Member of Parliament for the Ho Central constituency further stated that, as a consequence of the directive, the MMDAs are deprived of funds to implement their localized development projects which they had already planned for and incorporated in their budgets.
According to him, “this financially weakens the Assemblies, and in effect, derails the decentralization and local governance process. Indeed the directive is illegal and extremely restrictive,” he noted.
Mr Kpodo further explained that by this directive, every assembly would be left with only GH¢713,385.81 on the average for discretionary spending.
“The government should explore and find other means of funding its flagship programmes and projects as directed by Parliament on March 22, 2018,” Mr Kpodo said.
He added, “It has become notorious for government to write to the DACF to prey on its resources whenever it needs money for anything extra budget.”
Mr Kpodo said the directive for MMDAs to use 80 per cent of their budgetary allocation solely for government priority projects endangers the very existence of those local authorities.
“Such districts will therefore be heavily exposed financially and could be heading for stagnation and even collapse. “This one it is not only Kwashiorkor. I think Typhoid has also been added.”
The Minority therefore asked government to do the right thing and desist from the “illegality” as even the breakdown of the allocation of the Fund is at the courts.
They called on the government to immediately withdraw the said directive and explore other means of funding its flagship programmes and projects and desist from engaging in any further acts that may deprive the Assemblies of their lawful funds.
Source: the republic newsline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba