Participants call for incentives for assembly-members
Emoluments for district assembly members reviewing the current assembly formation and election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCE's) dominated the Eastern Regional Consultative forum on the acceleration of the decentralization process.
Majority of the participants including politicians and technocrats called for incentives for assembly-members to make them effective and relevant to the decentralization process.
According to participants, the current appointments of the MMDCE's should be maintained because the issue of election would be more harmful to the decentralization process as conflicts of interest would be the order of the day.
Mr. Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, Eastern Regional Minister, said after 20 years of the decentralization experiment, assembly-members must be given a package in the form of ex-gratia to make them more committed to the process.
He said the current state where assembly-members, unlike their counterparts in Parliament, were given only sitting allowance and transportation was a disincentive and if not corrected, it could collapse that important component of the assembly concept.
Another area that the Regional Minister called for attention was the need to redefine the role of the regional coordinating council's (RCC's) in the context of monitoring and coordinating activities of the district assemblies.
He said the RCC's had to be empowered financially to intervene promptly on emergencies such as disasters because the current arrangement made them unable to respond quickly to such issues.
Mr. Joseph Yileh Chireh, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said the forum reflected the participatory character of the decentralization concept through which it would solicit ideas to be infused into the review process.
He said the issues that became outstanding would be referred to the Constitutional Review Committee for consideration.
Mr. Chireh commended the Regional Minster and the RCC for the impressive turnout of stakeholders at the forum and gave the assurance that all concerns would be taken in to consideration.
Mr. Fred Asante, an Assembly-member and a former council of state member, noted that the unit committees, which were an arm of the assemblies, were not functioning because of their composition making the membership too large to control or coordinate.
He said the area and town councils needed to be rearranged into smaller units and that when strengthened, they would advance the decentralization concept for better governance.
Mr. Kwame Apea, Regional Secretary of the Convention People's Party, also endorsed the appointments of the MMDCE's explaining that a problem may arise where only the rich and affluent in society may win the elections and that would be dangerous for political administration.
Mr. Yaw Ampofo-Duodu, a former Presiding member, reiterated the need to appoint the MMDCE's but called for a review of the current arrangement where presiding members were elected by two-thirds majority to speed up their election process.
He said the trend where election of presiding members took more than a year because of failure to attain the two-thirds majority was a dent on the system.
Nana Ansah Sasraku, Mamfehene and Akuapem Kyidomhene, said appointments to the district assemblies must be based on competence and technical know-how to facilitate developmental projects of the assemblies.