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18.03.2009 General News

Forum On Governance Opens

By Constance Adomaa Takyi

The Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh says one of the themes of the Government's manifesto is to promote good governance through transparent and accountable processes. He made the call at the opening of a forum in Accra yesterday.

The two day workshop under the auspices of the Government Accountability Improves Trust Program (GAIT) is under the theme 'National forum on lessons learned for good practice in local governance.

The initiative by Government Accountability Trust which started in 2004 is expected to end in July this year and is funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

He noted that the past two decades have provided insight into citizens' participation in governance and in the effective management of resources for the public, and added that urbanisation and transition to democratic systems across the world have resulted in the recognition that development is not the responsibility of government alone.

He further stated that successful communities have taken advantage of this environment to capitalise on the strength of decentralised management and service delivery so that local governments and the citizens can work together on priorities which would affect their well being.

' To ensure the accountability of the local governance authorities , people in particular local government areas shall as far as practicable , be afforded the opportunity to participate effectively in their governance' he stressed.

Mr Yieleh Chileh observed that, the decentralisation policy of government and the local government system adopted by Ghana has provided an increased autonomy and opportunities for partnership between Citizens and local governments for holistic national development.

He said, Government has been pre-occupied with promoting greater transparency, Accountability and good governance and has come to accept that civil society has the potential to make valuable contributions to development.

The minister noted that all the 25 district assemblies that GAIT has been operating have resulted in improving the relationship that existed between local government authorities and civil society.  

He acknowledged that civil society had taken on an increased advocacy role and contributed immensely to policy debates especially in areas relevant to poverty reduction and their experiences on the ground had given them valuable insight and policy alternatives to the realities on the ground.
 
On his part, the Mission Director of United State Agency for International Development, Mr Davidson, said, GAIT, has supported districts to adopt management tools that enabled citizens to participate more effectively in decision making.

He added, building civic infrastructure through the formation and nurturing of civic unions are umbrella organisations of local civil society. 'These bodies have proved active, vocal, analytical and innovative.'

He challenged participants not to focus on mistakes but rather the successes of the programme and a way forward.

The objective of USAID's Government Accountability Improves Trust  is to build an effective local government by supporting  working partnership  between citizen groups and local government through a 'working together ' approach .GAIT activities provide support for more proved advocacy by citizen groups, and improved community advocacy for quality education.

The programme is grouped in three main categories, namely supporting democratic local governance and decentralisation, strengthen civil society and increased community advocacy on quality education. 

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