The Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has recommended a massive house numbering and street naming exercise to boost revenue of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs). It said the exercise should begin from the district assemblies where the scale of the problem of absence of street names and house numbers
is smaller and their assemblies are severely starved of revenue. Beginning from the rural areas would also contribute to rural development, it added.
The CDD said in a statement issued in Accra on Tuesday that research it had conducted on local government revenue mobilisation indicated that difficulties encountered in revenue collection at the local level stemmed largely from lack of systematic information on properties and businesses located in the MMDAs. 'It is common knowledge that locating a house, an office or a plot in many towns and cities in Ghana is a daunting and elusive exercise. Moreover, there appears to be little or no recognition of the problem among successive governments, policy makers and opinion leaders.'
CDD noted that the majority of local assemblies suffered from resource constraints with many of them overwhelmingly dependent on funds from the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) and other external sources, leaving them with an extremely weak base for effective administration and economic progress. "We do recognise that the MMDAs have aggravated the situation by failing to maximise whatever opportunities are available to them to generate revenue locally."
The research, conducted with support of Friedrich Naumann Foundation, identified the main challenges to local revenue mobilisation as difficulties in tracking, valuing and collecting property rates; general apathy among tax payers; lack of trained personnel at MMDAs and limited logistics. Others are uncommitted or disenchanted revenue collectors and civil servants; lack of incentives for revenue collectors and civil servants; insufficient data in various revenue sources and rate payers and lack of education for rate payers.
CDD said setting up a comprehensive house numbering and street naming system was important to set up a clear delineation of property, facilitate the generation of local and national revenue from property rates and help capture and assess the value of land and property. It would also set up a base for improving the socio-economic lot of the local inhabitants, provide locatable physical addresses to homes and businesses and enhance the potential for property owners at all levels to be able to use such property as loan collateral.
CDD recommended the development and maintenance of databases on revenue sources; improvement of rate collection processes by increasing awareness among tax payers; improvement of revenue and expenditure forecasting; setting up a revenue system and establishing a revenue department responsible for revenue management in the Assembly.