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22.04.2007 General News

Institute task force to monitor Common Fund

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The Dean of the Parliamentary Press Corps, Mr Andrew Edwin Arthur, calls on the Office of the Administration of the District Assembly Common Fund to institute a task force to monitor the utilization of funds disbursed to the assemblies.

He said the requirement of the Office for the submission of monthly returns, bank statement and reconciliation was deficient in many respect.

"Some assemblies may conceal figures or missed them up deliberately to avoid being penalized in the event of wrongful utilization of the fund," he said.

Mr Arthur was speaking at a two-day sensitisation workshop at Koforidua on the District Assembly Common Fund for the Parliamentary Press Corps.

He noted that there were a lot of lapses and discrepancies in the pricing of projects in some districts, which raised suspicion of possible collusion or cash suppression.

Mr Arthur cited an instance in the Yilo Krobo District of the Eastern region where in 2005 the cladding of a six-classroom pavilion and a store for the LA Primary School at Okwenya cost ¢97,667,000.

“Surprisingly another cladding of a six-class room pavilion with an office and a store at the L.A. Primary School at Azza cost ¢233,390,000," he noted.

“A similar project embarked upon at the same Assembly in the same year for the Akorley L.A. primary school cost ¢228,640,000 while another one for the Akwabeng L.A. primary school cost ¢273,058,000," he said.

"It would take a very critical monitoring to expose the discrepancies so that tax payers money was not expended carelessly," Mr Arthur said.

The workshop, sponsored by the Office of the Administrator of the District Assembly Common Fund, was to build the capacity of journalists as far as report on the disbursement of the Common Fund was concerned.

Mr Magnus Nicole, Administrator of the Common Fund, said there had been scanty knowledge of the fund, which had being in existence for the past 13 years.

He explained that there were genuine reasons for the discrepancies citing differences in the cost of land and other logistics at different locations within the same district but added that wide discrepancies called for explanation.

The Administrator said the fund, which constituted five percent or more of the total tax revenue including donor funds were disbursed on a formula based on need, responsive and service pressure factors of the assembly.

"The aim of the fund is to make development fair in terms of equity for the districts" Mr Nicole said.

Source: GNA

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