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14.10.2003 Regional News

NALAG Delegates Conference opens in Takoradi

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Takoradi, Oct. 14, GNA- Mr Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development has called on the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) to ensure that the sub-district structures were properly put in place.

This is to deepen the decentralisation process to enhance the improvement of life for the people by providing more resources to the local authorities.

Opening the 13th National delegates conference of NALAG at Takoradi on Tuesday, Mr. Adjei-Darko said while Government is working hard to ensure regular flow of resources to the district assemblies, they should step up local revenue generation efforts to accelerate development.

The three-day conference being attended by representatives of district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies, has the theme: "effective Local Government - key to the actualisation of poverty reduction".

For the first time, the Minister said the government has been keeping the pace in the release of the district assemblies' common fund even though it inherited 269 billion cedis in arrears from the previous government.

The Minister announced that the government is planning to increase the district assemblies' common fund from five per cent to seven and half per cent of national revenue and said a final decision on this would soon be made public.

Mr. Adjei-Darko said, the government's decision to create new districts is not for political expediency but to enhance the decentralisation programme in the affected areas.

"It is anticipated that a number of new districts would be created very soon to help bring governance to the doorsteps of the majority of our people", he said, adding that some Municipal Councils, including Tamale would be raised to metropolitan status.

Mr. Adjei-Darko noted that popular participation in government does not lie in the mere creation of more districts, and said, "the establishment and proper functioning of the sub-district structures will ensure effective involvement of the people in decision-making".

Mr. A. A. Ankomah, President of NALAG and Metropolitan Chief Executive for New Juaben said the association is a strategic link between the Central and Local governments of the country that provides the platform for consultations on issues affecting local governance and decentralisation.

He said since the National Executive council took over the association two years ago, the national secretariat had been restructured and financial records streamlined to give the NALAG a new image. Mr. Ankomah said some members of the association and stakeholders were not happy with the Local Government Service Law because it fails to ensure the full integration of all the Departments and Agencies at the district level.

It has, therefore, made inputs to the proposed amendment to the Local Government Act, 1993, Act. 462.

He said NALAG has called for improvement of remuneration of assembly members, councillors and unit committee members including the payment of ex-gratia awards and the need to streamline the procedures for the removal of district chief executives by the assemblies.

The NALAG president also called for the need to reduce the number of assembly members and strengthen the sub-structures of the assemblies to make them operational.

To avoid conflicts, he said the roles of Regional Ministers, District Chief Executives party officers be well defined. Mr. Philip Kwesi Nkrumah, Shama Ahanta East Metropolitan Chief Executive, said events had proved the wisdom in declaring the country HIPC.

He said a number of projects have been provided to some communities with HIPC fund totalling 1.75 billion cedis He said the Metropolis had benefited greatly in the areas of education, health and sanitation through the Sister City relationships with Boston and Oakland in the US.

Ms Sophia Horner-Sam, Deputy Regional Minister said the conference should give participants the opportunity to reflect and chart a new cause that would give effective support to government programmes to enhance development.

She said NALAG has to do more to ensure efficient management of resources in view of contents of audit reports of misapplication of funds.

Ms Horner-Sam urged the various assemblies to do more in the areas of revenue mobilisation to accelerate the pace of development. 14 Oct 03

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