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23.04.2007 General News

DCEs and MPs standoffs affecting development

By GNA

Mr. Freddie Blay, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, at the weekend noted that rifts between District Chief Executives (DCE) and Members of Parliament (MPs) over who should take credit for projects at the districts had stalled development at the local level.

He explained that the trouble often arose when it came to sharing of the District Assembly's Common Fund (DACF) between the DCEs and MPs for the implementation of projects.

Mr Blay made the observation as Guest Speaker at a two-day workshop on the disbursement and utilisation of the Fund for the Parliamentary Press Corps, in Koforidua.

The event, sponsored by the Office of the Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund, and on the theme "Fighting Rural Poverty through Central Government Transfers," was to broaden the capacity of the Press Corps on reporting on the Fund.

Mr Blay said misconception by people in constituencies on the MP's share of the Common Fund made them put excessive demands on the MPs, even though the MPs might not be responsible for those demands, adding this situation, brought the MPs under siege.

The First Deputy Speaker, who is also the MP for Ellembelle, and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on the Whole, which decides on the formula for the sharing of the Common Fund among the Districts annually, said the knowledge of the Fund by some MPs was scanty, and urged them to learn more about it so that they could be objective on its operation.

He also charged journalists to broaden their knowledge on the Fund saying "that will make you better informed to hold us accountable, and make us go back home and learn more."

Professor George Gyan-Baffour, a Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, in a speech read for him, noted that Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from the District Assemblies had seen increases over the years.

He said, "In 2000, the total IGR collected by the then 110 districts was 70.4 billion cedis. This increased to 95.7 billion cedis in 2001 and further to 155.3 billion cedis in 2002, and again 178.7 billion cedis in 2003, representing about 153.8 percent increase over the four year period."

Prof. Gyan-Baffour attributed the increases to enhanced efficiency in revenue collection adding "There is therefore the potential for District Assemblies to substantially increase revenue collection to support their development efforts.

Mr Mawutor Goh, Ho Municipal Chief Executive, said a major problem facing the Municipal and Metropolitan areas were sanitation, which was compounded by inflow of travellers.

He expressed concern that irregular timing in the release of the Common Fund affected project implementation.

Mr Joshua Magnus Nicol, Administrator of the Fund, gave the assurance that District Assemblies would no longer experience delays in the release of funds.

He called on the Assemblies to promptly present their budget and returns so that they could get their releases early.

"There are more delays in the release of the Funds. The fourth quarter for 2006 was released in February this year, and that of the first quarter of this year is ready.

"But as I speak now, only five of the 138 districts have submitted their budgets," Mr Nicol said, and warned that Assemblies that had presented budgets without their returns would no have their releases.

Source: GNA

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