16.10.2006 Politics

Democracy thrives on local participation - Local Government

16.10.2006 LISTEN

Nana Rex Owusu-Ansah, Acting Head of the Local Government Service (LGS), said there can be no democracy without effective grassroots participation in the decision making process.

"The grassroots have the right to be heard and decide for themselves the type of development they want," he said, stressing that for democracy to thrive and be meaningful to the people, there must be equitable and balance development programmes, as well as larger participation of the citizens, Nana Owusu-Ansah told the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

He said even though Ghana's democracy is young, it has found meaning with majority of the people through the country's effective local government system and the decentralisation process.

Nana Owusu-Ansah, who is also the Chairman of the Ghana News Agency Board of Directors, called for closer collaboration among decentralised institutions, regional coordinating councils and national institutions.

Explaining the functions and roles as well as the relationship between the various levels in the local government structure, Nana Owusu-Ansah said when all the structures are in place, the Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC) would be the harmonizing level while the district assembly becomes the legislative and taxation level.

The Sub-Metropolitan/Urban/Zonal/Town/Area Councils will form the management levels of the local government system and the unit committees make up the implementation level.

He said the work of the unit committees is largely sacrificial. However, under Legislative Instrument 1589, the District Assembly may pay some modest allowances to the members.

He noted that decentralised institutions need to come together, share ideas and learn from each other. “That is the only way we can move forward as a people with common problems.”

Nana Owusu-Ansah urged opinion leaders, youth associations and well-meaning citizens in the districts to recognise the vital role of the assemblies in the social economic development of the country.

He said local government thrives on open and frank discussions and urged all those in doubt about certain decisions of the assembly to call at his office to seek clarification on them.

He congratulated newly elected assembly members for their electoral victories and tasked them to study and understand the operations of the decentralisation concept and the functions of the various sub-structures within the assemblies.

Nana Owusu-Ansah also commended out-going assembly members for their contribution towards the growth of the decentralisation process.

He asked the various assemblies to make a distinction from what they paid out to outgoing Assembly members, stressing that ex-gratia awards should not be misconstrued for end-of-service benefits.