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11.05.2007 General News

Communication Gap

The news that none of the 138 districts in the country has accessed the ¢1 billion earmarked for each of them towards district industrialisation projects is most unfortunate.

It seems the assemblies do not appreciate the need to encourage industrialisation in their respective areas.

By all indications, the assemblies are expected to constitute the basis for national growth.

Indeed, the essence of decentralisation is to enable the assemblies to take decisions which will facilitate the development of their areas of jurisdiction.

The big question which is crying for an answer is whether there are district planning officers in the 138 districts. If there are, we feel that they should have been informed about what the national budget has earmarked for them.

It is a fact that virtually every district has been connected to the national electricity grid. Therefore, the energy crisis notwithstanding, each district can embark on one project or another which will create jobs and wealth for the people, especially the young ones.

We had anticipated that economic planning officers in the districts would be interested in industrial projects that could be sited in their districts.

This would mean that they should know what natural resources abound in the districts and what facilities could be provided to enable the people benefit from the identified projects.

It is just unthinkable that in the face of the clamour for development, the districts would deliberately refuse to access what has been allocated to them.

The setting up of projects in the districts is one of the surest ways to ensure that the youth do not flock to the cities to do hawking on the streets.

Consequently, when a number of well thought out projects are designed and implemented, the youth would be encouraged to stay in their respective areas.

Time was when some assemblies, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) kept money allocated to them at the banks which in turn made use of the funds.

No matter how bad that practice was, perhaps the MDAs might have earned some interest on the money which had not been accessed. But in this present situation when the assemblies have not even accessed the money, there is no interest for them.

The situation of the 138 assemblies can be likened to the Biblical talent holder who did not make use of the money allocated to him because he thought the master was hard and he did not want to take any risk.

It is important that the assemblies see themselves as agents of change and develop a businesslike approach to issues.

They all have the onerous responsibility of ensuring that they make moves which will improve the social and economic lives of the people in their areas of jurisdiction.

The inability of the assemblies to access their allocation to carry out the district industrialisation projects is regrettable and must be deplored, whether the fault lies with the assemblies or they have not been properly informed of the funds.

Whatever the case, there seems to be a communication gap. We would appeal to the Ministry of Local Government to liaise with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the district assemblies so that the funds could be applied productively.