Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, on Tuesday pointed out that development was not a prerogative of government alone, saying citizens had a lot to contribute to local, district and national level development.
He, therefore, called on Ghanaians to make every effort to improve their participation especially in local decision making.
“Ghana's decentralization process is intended to bring government as near to the people and their communities as possible and make all sections of the population participate more in development activities that affect them,” the Minister said.
Mr Chireh said this at the opening of a two-day forum on the Government Accountability Improves Trust (GAIT II) on the theme: “Lessons Learned for Good Practices in Local Governance.”
The forum which brought together people from various assemblies would enable participants to share the experiences they had from the GAIT II project as well as their lessons learned and how they could move forward.
Mr Chireh said the Constitution enjoined the state to involve ordinary citizens in the decision making process.
Referring to Article 35 Section Six of the Constitution, he said democracy became a reality by decentralizing the administrative and financial machinery of government to the regions and districts by affording all possible opportunities to the people to participate in decision making at every level of governance.
Mr Chireh said the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development had keenly observed the work and achievements of the GAIT programme and was encouraged by the desire to work with district assemblies on challenges relating to sanitation and revenue mobilization.
Dr Esther Offei-Aboagye, Director of the Local Government Institute, who facilitated the forum, said the GAIT II Project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), had the objective of strengthening the democratic institutions particularly the District Assemblies.
She said under the programme, it was expected that local government actively engaged citizens in the decision making process a well as improve revenue mobilization and accountability.
“This includes support for local citizens' participation in planning and budgeting as well as assistance to local governments to develop policies that will involve citizens in development budget, setting local fees and taxes and holding public hearings prior to budget adoption.”
The GAIT II programme, which started in 2004, is expected to end in July 2009.
Mr Bob Davidson, Mission Director at USAID, said the programme had an advocacy component that helped in enhancing citizens' participation.