From Sebastian R. Freiku, Kumasi
THE MINISTRY of Local Government and Rural Development has rolled out Component Three of the Local Government Capacity Support Project (LGCSP) with a series of sensitization workshops.
The last of such workshops was organized in Kumasi last week for chiefs, trade associations, assembly members, journalists and other civil society groups in Kumasi, with the intention of creating awareness among members of the public and major stakeholders on the project.
The LGCSP, a US$175 million five-year Government of Ghana-World Bank initiative is targeting 46 metropolitan and municipal assemblies with the aim of addressing some of the weaknesses in the current decentralization framework.
The project which started in 2012, has four components – strengthening the fiscal framework for decentralization, enhancing decentralized urban service delivery, stimulating demand for accountable governance and service delivery as well as institutional and project management support.
Component Three of the project is assisting to empower the media and civil society groups through capacity building and formation of networks to monitor and report on local government financial management issues.
Mrs. Irene Odokai Messiba, Head of the Social Accountability Unit of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), said at the Kumasi workshop that Component Three will focus on stimulating demand for accountable governance and service delivery, and urged MMAs to engage each other in the implementation of projects to enhance accountability.
Mrs. Messiba said the project aimed at addressing some of the weaknesses of the current Ghana's Decentralization Framework.
She said the project sought to build on the incentive-driven approach to enhancing MMAs performance through the District Development Facility performance grant.
Mrs. Messiba said the project targeted key reform areas including budgeting, reporting and auditing systems, revenue management, asset management and social accountability identified in the National Decentralization Action Plan (NDAP).
She said the project was to support the government's efforts to strengthen its inter-governmental fiscal framework, strengthen local public financial management and accountability for improved infrastructure and services in MMAs and strengthen citizens' engagement with MMAs and their perceptions of urban management.
The Director noted that fulfilling the watchdog role of the media by reporting social accountability issues and processes would go a long way to realise our priorities at the local levels and called on the media to disseminate relevant information on public financial management and to give voice to different parts of the society, including marginalised groups.
Mrs. Messiba also entreated the citizens to actively participate in Social Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (SPEFA) processes which also includes traditional leaders, youth groups, assembly members, trade associations, women groups and women with disabilities.
Mr. Elvis Otoo, an official at the Social Accountability Unit of MLGRD, said Component 3 of the LGCSP focuses on improving social accountability and its objectives include generating civil society demand for financial information from MMAs and strengthening the capacity and engagement of citizens' representatives on the budget and service delivery issues.
He said social accountability initiatives, under the LGCSP, will strengthen the capacity of citizens, civil society, the media, local communities and the private sector to hold metropolitan and municipal authorities accountable for better development results.
Mr. Otoo said in line with the strategies identified in the NDAP, LGCSP Component 3 would be delivered through a tripartite relationship between MMAs, civil society and the media.
The Co-ordinating Director of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), Mr. Solomon Asiedu, who presided over the Kumasi workshop, urged the media and civil society groups to show keen interest in the fiscal management and administration of district assemblies to promote accountability and transparency.
He said it was important for all stakeholders to be vigilant and be interested in how resources are utilised to provide the required development projects for the benefit of the people.