Hon Benjamin Koodo
A Member of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Hon Benjamin Komla Kpodo, has called on government to as a matter of concern reverse directive at Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to use 80% of total common fund allocation to fund central government programs.
According to him, the directive to deduct 40% of total allocation of Common Fund for the school feeding program, 20% for nation builders’ corps and 20% for planting for food and jobs program and leaving only 20% for administrative purposes in the district assemblies is illegal and must be reverse.
He said the deduction of the total of 80% if allow would cripple the development of the assemblies.
The government through the Administrator of the Common Fund, has directed the MMDAs to deduct 40% for School Feeding, 20 % for Nation Builders Corps and 20% for Planting for Foods and Jobs programme.
The directive has received mixed reaction from the public, including former District Chief Executives who believed it would adversely affect the assemblies planned budgeted developmental projects.
But Mr Koodo told some Members of the Parliamentary Press Corp( PPC) that the deduction of the 80% would deprive the assemblies of the much needed resources for capital investments.
In assessing the implication of the DACF to local governance process, the Ho Central MP argued that, in the first place the directive was illegal for it was done without parliamentary approval and therefore violated Article 252(2) and (3) of the 1992 constitution.
He added that, the directives was also contrary to the report of the Committee of the
Whole on the formula for the disbursement of the Assembly Common Fund for the year 2018, pointing that, “the Common Fund has been capped as a result of the earmarked funds Capping Act 2017.”
Analysing consequence on the assemblies, the Minority MP said as far as he knows, parliament approved a net income of GHS905,999,982.00 for the 254 MMDAs for the year 2018, and that the back door deduction of a total of 80% , is unlawful.
In his considered view, should the government go ahead and deduct the 80% from the MMDAs net income of GHS905,999,982.00, it means only an amount of GHS181,199,996.4 would be left to be distributed to the 254 MMDAs.
“So with this amount of GHS 181,199,996.4, if the assemblies are to even share or distribute equally, it means each assembly will get a paltry amount of GHS 713,385.81,” Hon Kpodo said.
The Ho Central lawmaker who has passion for rural developments said, the framers of the 1992 constitution was mindful of the developmental needs of the rural areas, hence the Common Fund to boost rural investment.
He expressed surprised that government could contemplate doing that, stating , “it undermines the whole purpose of decentralisation. It means the assemblies literally have nothing and cannot undertake any meaningful physical projects,” he said.
The earmarked funds of about GHS299,001,665.00 for other institutions includes the National Youth Authority which gets 5%, the Youth Employment Agency,10% and the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) getting 1.5% , while the non taxable revenue are excluded from the Assembly Common Fund.
Nonetheless, Mr Kpodo said he is not against the Planting for Food and Jobs, the NaBCo nor the School Feeding programmes which are of national important, but believed that the directive which do not have parliamentary backing is illegal and must be withdrawn as such.
“I am not against the programmes, they are laudable ones, the fact is that, the 2018 district assemblies common fund formula made no allocation for any of the programs the government is directing the assemblies to support. Nowhere in the formula was there mention of allocating 40% of the fund to school feeding, 20% to NABCO and 20% to planting for food and jobs,” he contended.
He pointed that, he is against the policy because it would be detrimental to the development of the district assemblies and called on the President to reverse the directives.
Mr Koodo hinted that, the Minister responsible would also be drag before parliament to explain why such directive was taken without the blessing of parliament.”
“This is not good development and we (Ghanaians) must not allow it and that is why I am calling on the president to withdraw it,” he stressed.
While blaming successive government for abusing the DACF over the years, Mr Kpodo also questioned the intention of directing all the MMDAs to deduct same percentages, since most of them do not have same resources capacity.
For instance, he said some assemblies do not have any farm, yet they are expected to make a deduction for it, while other have special needs in terms of physical projects.
The Ho Central MP therefore charged on the President and his appointees to be creative and look elsewhere for funding for these programs and leave the MMDAs to meet their constitutional obligation to the people.
The government in 2017 passed the Earmarked Funds and Capping Realignment Bill, into Law under a certificate of urgency to among of other things provide a cap for Earmarked Funds to ensure that the total of Earmarked Funds for each financial year is equivalent to 25% of tax revenue and to provide for related matters.
The new Law also aimed at freeing up public resources by placing a cap on the specific Earmarked Funds to ensure that tax revenue encumbered by those Funds as a result of allocations to them does not exceed 25% of total tax revenue.
The Capping policy is geared towards ensuring that revenue from the various Earmarked Funds beyond the capped levels are realigned for use as general budget support to enable government to prioritise expenditure.
Source:the republic news online.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba