Its statutory responsibility is promoting good governance, equitable and balanced development across the length and breadth of the country.
That’s the mandate of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) and is delivered through the formulation of policies on decentralization and local governance, rural and urban development and the design and delivery of systems to monitor the performance of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
In delivering the mandate, a number of core outcomes namely increased participation of the citizenry in democratic governance, increased funding and improved financial management of the Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs) and MMDAs, improved administrative and human resource capacity of RCCs and MMDAs, increased economic growth and improved service delivery at the local level are expected.
The ministry’s summary of manifesto performance is indeed replete with a plethora of landmark issues. They range from the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives(MMDCEs), strengthening the sub-structures of MMDAs through capacity building and adequate resource allocation, abolishing the current practice of the Central government’s manipulation of the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) through the procurement process, to ensuring the speedy enactment of the Municipal Finance Bill.
They also cover improving allowances paid to Assembly members, strengthening the role of traditional authorities within the local government system, decentralizing and equipping the Land Valuation Board to provide direct technical support on property valuation to MMDAs for enhanced revenue mobilization and consolidating all existing national sanitation policies, plans and programmes into a comprehensive national sanitation programme and action plan beside the establishment of a national sanitation fund.
That’s not all. The manifesto performance further seeks to work with MMDAs to exempt Kayayei from the payment of market tolls, carry out civil and vital registration of residents in Ghana as well as implement the 3% increase in DACF disbursement to persons with disability announced in the 2012 budget but which remains unimplemented and ensure that the portion of DACF meant for Persons with disability (PWDs) is disbursed through the decentralized districts and regional offices of the National Council on Persons with Disability (NCPD).
To say that MLGRD has recorded some chequered moments in the delivery of its mandate over the years is perhaps an understatement but it is also an indisputable fact that a bouquet of key achievements have been chalked particularly within the past three and a half years under the Akufo Addo administration.
Scoring high marks under the increased participation of the citizenry in democratic governance slot of the expected core outcomes are the creation of 44 new Municipal and District Assemblies, elevation of 32 districts to Municipal status and completion of 23 office accommodation buildings commenced in April 2016 for some selected MMDAs while the construction of 72 new Administration cum Assembly blocks including those for the new MMDAs have also been awarded on contract and are at various stages of completion.
Again, the successful District Level elections held in December 2019 consequently saw 9,079 Assembly members benefitting from an orientation and training programme co-sponsored by the MLGRD and the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS). A new Model Standing Orders for MMDAs has been developed in addition to the development and approval by Parliament of the Local Governance (Permit and Notices) Regulations as well as the Local Governance (Consultations) Regulations.
In tune with the Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936) which provides the modalities for participation at the local level through Town Hall meetings, a total of 720 of such meetings have been organized by all the 260 MMDAs. Also worthy of mention is the development of a national decentralization policy and strategy (2020-2024) to foster quality service delivery through a decentralized local governance system and active citizen’s participation.
The increased funding and improved financial management of MMDAs leg of the expected outcomes competes seriously for a pole position. It makes a strong showing with an increased growth of the Internally Generated Fund (IGF) from 3% between 2016 and 2017 to 18% between 2017 and 2018. In fact, as a share of the total revenue of the MMDAs also shot up from 18% between 2013-2016 to 23.51% between 2017 and 2019. In summary, IGF, has share of total revenue, sky-rocketed from Ghc 282,023,895.47 in 2016 to Ghc 387,889,347.51 in 2019.
They are the result of a package of measures including fee-fixing guidelines developed and rolled out in 2017, development of an IGF strategy and reference guide plus an automated/digitized business operating systems designed for MMDAs.
It is refreshing to note that DACF transfers to MMDAs also rose from Ghc 461,245,117.86 in 2016 to Ghc 967,380,625.95 in 2019 with the first quarter transfer for 2020 hitting Ghc 184,575,906.07
Still on the increased funding and improved financial management of MMDAs terrain, MLGRD has completed the integration of the District Development Facility (DDF) with the DACF Response Factor grant while the Functional Organization Assessment Tool (FOAT) has been replaced with a new system, the District Assembly Performance Assessment Tool (DPAT).
The amazing news is that a total revenue of Ghc 5,519,390,349.54 raised from various sources including DACF, DDF, DPAT and IGF from 2016 to 2020 has been pumped into the provision of 4,686 projects mainly educational infrastructure, health, water and sanitation facilities at the local level country-wide.
The formulation and approval by cabinet of a rural development policy under the increased economic growth notch comes in handy to guide and coordinate service delivery and investment in the rural communities.
In line with the policy, the Ghana Productive Safety Net Project (GPSNP) has been designed and is being implemented with a funding of US$60 million (dollars) from the World Bank to provide labour-intensive projects highlighting the construction of small Earth dams, dug-outs, feeder roads and establishment of plantations under the climate change interventions. The projects have created jobs for 29,959 people comprising 18,508 females and 11,451 males in various rural parts of the country.
Similarly heart-warming is the news that Ghc 19 million has been transferred as wages to extreme poor households nation-wide during the first season of work in 2020.
As expected, the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD), an appendage of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) also takes centre stage under increased economic growth at the local level notch with MLGRD harmoniously collaborating with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in rolling out the programme principally to promote the development of some selected tree crops namely cashew, oil palm, coffee, coconut, mango, rubber and shea across the country.
Its goal? To improve upon the rural economy, establish a sustainable raw material base for the One District One Factory (1D1F) initiative, create jobs for the teeming youth and mitigate the effects of climate change.
To give agriculture a push, Ghc40.6million has been transferred to the Regional Departments of Agriculture and Ghc 100,500,640.30 forwarded to the MMDAs for project implementation under the Modernization of Agriculture (MAG) programme. Also popping up in support, is the Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities (GrEEn) project being financed by the European Union for 10 MMDAs in the Ashanti and Western Regions to undertake cash for works in climate relating intervention.
The list of key achievements under all the expected outcomes is not only endless but more importantly monumental and in setting priorities for the way forward, issues of integrating 1D1F, PERD, One Village One Dam (1V1D) and other government initiatives into the core deliverables of MMDAs to stimulate local economic development, mainstreaming social protection measures into MMDAs’ operations by using at least 5% of local revenue for the vulnerable and disadvantaged households certainly come tops.
Is it therefore any wonder that the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, exhuding absolute confidence, recently proclaimed that “the decentralization process is on course. We have supervised the deepening of democracy and the delivery of multiple functional facilities in urban and rural areas”.
“We are also enhancing and promoting quality lives, pursuing programmes and projects for equal opportunities and prosperity, managing resources and empowering our people even in this COVID-19 pandemic period”, she states.
Beaming with toothpaste smiles, Hajia Alima Mahama concludes that “we are justified in proclaiming that we have achieved so much in this short period and deserve the renewal of our mandate to do more for mother Ghana”. END
BY FRANK OTCHERE