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21.12.2007 General News

Democracy, the tool for development

By GBC News

The establishment of democracy at the national level reinforces the desire to achieve effective democracy at the local level and consolidate democratic principles in all sectors of public life. Poor governance at the local level in the past stifled local initiatives, delayed development and inhibited reforms in the country.

It was against this background that government in 1988 embarked on a major programme to strengthen the operations of local governments to ensure popular participation, local level development and decentralize the machinery of government.

Since then government has been transferring powers functions and resources from the centre to local authorities to administer and develop their areas of jurisdiction.
Most of these local authorities however do not currently have the full capacity in terms of manpower, equipment and leadership skills to effectively take on the responsibilities being entrusted to them.

Indeed local government reforms can be considered as one of the most successful initiated in Ghana. This is not only in terms of its planning and implementation but also the general impact on the socio-political development of the people.

Local government reforms and decentralisation has been a programme that appeals to large segments of the Ghanaian population. It is also seen as a means of redistributing the national cake.

The effectiveness and positive impact that the reform continues to have on local communities can be described as the best thing that happened to the country.
This has culminated in the quest for the unending demands for the creation of new districts with its unhealthy struggling for the siting of capitals. Inspite of the success, components of the decentralization and local government have a number of challenges in their implementation.

In the case of decentralized planning and political decentralisation, the absence of maps to firmly identify boundaries has not only impeded the Assemblies' effort to plan for the development but also promoted the growing and unsettled disputes about local government boundary demarcations.

Today another milestone is being laid in the history of the country's democratic and good local governance as envisaged under the 1992 Republican Constitution.

After almost two decades practice of decentralization and local governance, one big success has been chalked with the establishment of the Local Government Service.
Even though the coming into existence of the Service was long overdue viewed against provisions of the Constitution and Local Government Act, it is better late than never.

In seeking their independence local governors in Ghana should also seek to increase their sources of revenue particularly through property rate.

Notwithstanding government as decision to give the Assemblies more resources with effect from next year, any local government that relies solely on central government resources in the new dispensation would not be able to meet the developmental aspiration of the people.