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New districts must be adequately funded

By: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development
Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development

THE Parliamentary Select Committee on Local Government and Rural Development has recommended that adequate seed capital and funding should be provided to enable the yet to be created assemblies to take off successfully.

It said the current challenges that were associated with the earlier assemblies regarding infrastructural provision were persisting, such that many of those that were established did not have the full complement of logistics and offices as had been captured in the 2017 performance of the ministry.

The Committee is, therefore, recommending that adequate funding be made available to ensure that these new districts do not face similar challenges.

A report of the Committee on the 2018 budget estimates of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLG&RD) states that 28 existing districts have been elevated to municipal status, while 39 new metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAS) are being created.

The Legislative Instruments (LIs) for both categories of assemblies the committee was informed were currently before Parliament. The committee, however, did not find any line in the budget for these yet to be created and elevated assemblies.

2018 budgetary allocation
The Committee has recommended that Parliament approves a total of GH₵359,312,062 million for the MLG&RD and its departments and agencies for the implementation of their planned activities for the 2018 fiscal year.

A breakdown of the budgetary allocation to the ministry shows a total of GH₵19,986,112 allocated to compensation of employees, GH₵76,302,854 to goods and services (Government of Ghana (GoG) component of GH₵11,047,080 and development partners (DP) GH₵65,255,774) and GH₵263,023,096 to capital expenditure (GoG GH₵2,000,000 and DP GH₵261,023,096).

Allocations to the ministry in terms of programmes shows a total of GH₵58,809,790 to management and administration, GH₵196,955,907 to decentralisation, GH₵98,103,200 to local level development and management and GH₵5,403,165 to birth and death registration services.

A report of the Committee on the 2018 budget estimates of the ministry showed that unlike 2016 when the ministry could not access all donor funds that were allocated during the period, it was able to expend its donor funds in 2017.

Indeed, out of the total budget allocation of GH₵272,522,833, a total of GH₵307,268,204.16 was expended, representing a budget overrun of GH₵34,745,371.16, indicating 12.7 per cent.

The Committee observed that the ministry overspent the budgeted allocation more than GH₵7,694,754.08 as at September 2017.

“The ministry explained that the over expenditure is because of the over performance of donor funded projects being undertaken by the ministry. An additional amount of GH₵34,745,371.16 was released to continue funding of donor projects which was ongoing at the time,” the report said.

2017 Performance
The MLG&RD under the decentralisation programme reviewed the Local Government Act, 2016 (Act 936) to reinstate the powers of the President to revoke appointments to the district assemblies, and a total of 20 administration blocks to house the newly created districts / municipal assemblies were completed and handed over to the assemblies while 27 of these blocks are at various stages of completion across the country.

Regarding local level development, the ministry developed and launched a District Centre of Agriculture, Commerce and Technology to promote private investment into the agricultural sector.

It further provided technical and vocational skills for a total of 3,289 youth in 24 Community Development Vocational and Technical Institutes across the country, while 218 community educators graduated from Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) institutions and 960 social workers were trained on community engagements in 50 pilot MMDAs.

Reliance on donor funds
The report shows that since 2015, the programmes of the MLG&RD have been overwhelmingly funded by DP (2015-84 per cent, 2016-90 per cent, 2017-85 per cent and 2018-91 per cent), while government’s contribution to funding the programmes of the ministry has been dwindling (2015-16 per cent, 2016-10 per cent, 2017-15 per cent and 2018-9 per cent).

Despite this, the committee said it would be misleading to suggest that government is not investing enough in the sector and explained that the overall contribution of the GoG towards the local government sector taking into consideration the District Assembly Common Fund, the District Development Fund and other supports was enormous.

Outlook for 2018
In terms of management and administration, 16 MMDAs to which web-based monitoring and evaluation systems will be developed and deployed and District Centres of Agriculture, Commerce and Technology will be established in at least 100 districts.

Under decentralisation, the ministry will carry out consultations and advocacy towards a referendum in 2019 for the elections of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives, develop Local Government Financial Management Bill and increase the proportion of the internally generated funds (IGF) of total income of MMDAs from 21 per cent to at least 35 per cent. GB