The Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD) has expressed dissatisfaction about the way some Metropolitan and District Assemblies disburse the disabled fund.
The Bongo district branch of the federation made this observation at a press conference it organized jointly with the Bongo District Civic Union (BODCU).
The objective of the press conference, which was attended by officials from the District Coordinating Council, Department of Social Welfare, Ghana Health Service, and Community Development among others, was to focus on the plight of the disabled especially in the area of disbursement of the disability fund.
It was also to inform the public that the federation in the district had received a grant of 7,000 Ghana cedis from the European Union through Legal Resource Centre to monitor the disbursement and utilization of the 2 per cent of the District Assembly Common Fund allocated to persons with disabilities in the district.
A statement read by, Mr. David Ania, the Finance and Administration Officer of the project stated that it was regrettable to note that most of the Assemblies did not disburse the fund meant for the disabled according to the laid down procedures, adding that others do not also disburse it to the disabled at all, but rather used it for a different purpose.
According to the statement, the guideline for the Assemblies Common Fund for the disbursement of the 2 per cent to the disabled, specifically stipulates that "the fund shall be utilized to support initiatives created by the physically challenged in the district. The fund is meant to assist people with disabilities (PWD) to organize programmes to create awareness about their activities, their rights and obligations and should not be used as a micro credit fund".
The statement indicated that in 2006 the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment upon realizing that some assemblies were not disbursing the disability fund issued a directive to all metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives to ensure that the fund was disbursed as stipulated.
It noted that upon this directive majority of the assemblies had not followed it, and appealed to those who had not abided by the directive to comply with it to ensure that the disabled benefit from the package due them.
Responding to the concerns raised by the federation, the Bongo District Coordinating Director, Mr. Thaddeus Zaasan, explained that the Bongo district assembly had been operating according to the regulations for the disbursement of the disabled fund.
He disclosed that the assembly had in the past been sponsoring a lot of disabled students even up to the tertiary level, through the 2 per cent of the fund, and indicated that the assembly had also secured a plot to initiate the building of a resource centre for the disabled.
Mr. Zaasan however, indicated that there were some instances where the federation in the district had approached the assembly to demand monies from its 2 percent fund at which time the assembly had not received its share of the common fund.
He appealed to the federation to come out periodically with concrete initiatives since the fund was specifically meant for initiatives embarked by people who were physically challenged.
Mr. Zaasan said in the event that they failed to come out with pragmatic initiatives, the fund would be directed to other sectors, which the assembly considered would be beneficial to the entire community, including the disabled.
Mr. Kamaldeen Ibn Abdallah, patron of the Upper East Regional Federation of the Disabled, appealed to the district assemblies to be transparent in the disbursement of the disability fund by informing the federation about how the fund was being disbursed.
This, he noted, would help prevent any speculations raised by the federation and help restore confidence between the Assemblies and the federation of the disabled.
He commended the Bongo district assembly for its immense support to members of the Federation, especially students who would not have been able to complete their education.
The Regional Manager of Action on Disability and Development, Mr. James Brown, commended the European Union for the grant given to the disabled and assured that it would be used for its intended purpose.
He appealed to other donors to support members of the federation to enable them to realize their dreams and contribute their quota to national development.