Annual Conference of DCEs opens in Sunyani
Sunyani, Dec. 1, GNA- Mr Kwadwo Mpiani, Chief of Staff, on Monday commended District Chief Executives for helping to strengthen democratic governance, the rule of law, the local government system, as well as security and freedom.
He noted that their enviable performance over the past three years had brought a considerable improvement in NPP's rule over the past three years.
Mr Mpiani was opening the 11th annual Conference of DCEs in Sunyani. The theme for the Conference is: "The District Assembly Concept - An Engine of Growth and Balanced Development".
The Chief of Staff recalled the government's promise after taking office to restore hope and serve the people of Ghana faithfully and efficiently, adding that the government held the view that that promise could be fulfilled by providing good governance and reducing poverty.
"Our policy, since then, has been to strengthen and equip District Assemblies to play this noble role and just last month, government inaugurated a Presidential Advisory Committee on Decentralization, a high-powered body, whose members have critical experience and insights into the functioning of local government", he said.
To ensure that District Assemblies function effectively and efficiently, the government would equip Assemblymen and women with the necessary skills, Mr Mpiani said and cited the promulgation of the Institute of Local Government Studies Law, saying it was to provide an impetus to the capacity building efforts of the Assemblies and other stakeholders involved in the decentralization process.
Mr Mpiani said government was studying the procedure to increase the District Assemblies' Common Fund from five percent to 7.5 percent, but advised the Assemblies to improve their local revenue generation efforts through their Revenue Improvement Action Plans and stop the over-reliance on central government grants for their activities.
He said the government's concern for the welfare of rural communities, especially vulnerable women and children, brought about the creation of the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs to advise government on issues confronting women and children.
"On this initiative, government has instituted the Women's Development Fund with support from the Japanese government to provide working capital for women entrepreneurs who could not access loans from the traditional banks, to help them improve their socio-economic contributions to national development".
Mr Mpiani drew the attention of the Conference to the general sanitation problems in the country, saying it called for collaboration between religious organizations, corporate bodies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the citizenry to mobilize resources to help District Assemblies to manage waste and sanitation efficiently.
"Over the years, the government has provided District Assemblies with financial assistance, waste management technology and logistics needed to fight this unfriendly social menace, yet the rapid urbanization and attendant problems, coupled with non-compliance with sanitary regulations, have made the management of waste a very big problem in towns and cities," he said.
The Chief of Staff asked the DCEs, as government representatives, to endeavour to champion the development aspirations of the people, give proper accounts of their stewardship and should not let their individual ambitions and aspirations to sway them from the common good.
He noted that some of them (DCEs) had been maligned and embarrassed at times because of incorrect information given about them or their administration and implored them to manage, utilize and disseminate information properly to foster judicious collaboration among all units under their administration and also to harmonize development.
Mr Mpiani emphasized that their colleagues who could not maintain the standard demanded by the government had been booted out and reminded those still serving to be circumspect in all their actions, saying, "This is even more important as we enter the year 2004, a year of election".
Mr Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development noted that with the regular flow of the District Assembly Common Fund and other development resources, District Assemblies had pursued programmes resulting in the provision of basic infrastructure in their areas.
He asked the DCEs to re-examine the content and scope of development interventions to determine whether they were adequate to provide the platform for medium and long-term economic take-off towards the achievement of the national goal of poverty reduction.
Mr Adjei-Darko emphasized that a lot more needed to be done to strengthen the foundation for sustainable future development objectives of the nation and urged Assemblies to re-direct their development interventions towards the longer-term goals by reducing poverty and creating wealth.
For the District Assemblies to sustain the development so far achieved and at the same time lay good foundations for long term sustainable economic development, the Minister asked the DCEs to provide the enabling environment to attract investment and identify and market investment opportunities in their districts.
They should also promote private sector initiatives.
Mr Adjei-Darko advised the DCEs to be sensitive to a perception that urban areas attracted and enjoyed a greater proportion of development projects and services to the neglect of the rural areas.
In a solidarity message, Mr Wigbert Dogoli, President of the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) expressed gratitude to government for the creation of 19 new District Assemblies "with a stated intent to add a few more as this furthers the course of effective decentralization and local governance"