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01.06.2004 Regional News

Assemblies urged to be courageous to check the excesses of DCEs

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Legon, June 1, GNA - The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) has urged members of District Assembly to have the courage to expose any corrupt practices and excesses of their District Chief Executives (DCEs) for sanctioning, in line with the provisions of the law.

It also called on civil society to help promote transparency and accountability by the District Assemblies by focusing attention on corrupt practices at all levels of governance and not to concentrate solely on central government officials.

The Executive Secretary of the GII, Mr Daniel Batidam, made the call when delivering a paper on "Processes and approaches for promoting transparency and accountability at the district level", at the just-ended First National Delegates Conference of Civic Unions at the University of Ghana, Legon.

The five-day conference with the theme, "Enhancing grassroots participation in local governance: challenges and prospects", was organised by the Co-operative League of the USA (CLUSA) and sponsored by the USAID.

Mr Batidam noted that various mechanisms existed in the Local Government Law to ensure transparency and accountability and cited the Public Complaints Committee, the District Tender Boards, Open Assembly Meetings, Auditor General's Office, the district assembly elections and monitoring by the Regional Co-ordinating Councils.

He, however, expressed regret that the mechanisms were not being effectively utilised by assembly members and civil society organisations thereby attributing some of the causes to the lack of access to the members of the Complaints Committee and abuse of the Tender Boards in contract awards.

Mr Batidam called for the appointment of the 30 per cent members to the Assemblies to be based mainly on merit and the need for highly skilled personnel in various fields and the need for free flow of information between Assemblies, civil society organisations and the media.

He urged the government to expedite the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill.

In a communiqu=E9 issued by the participants, they recommended that there should be more transparency in the consultation process of appointing the 30 per cent of members to the Assemblies and proposed the election of District Chief Executives.

They called for the review of the law on local level governance structures to reduce the membership District Assemblies and the other structures to enable them to work effectively.

This, they hoped, would allow for resources to motivate more participation of people in the local level governance since the current numbers were too unwieldy.

It called on the government to speed up the process of enforcing the local Government Service Law, as a matter of urgency, to ensure effective good governance at the local levels and Assemblies.

The communiqu=E9 called for Assembly and donor agencies' support of Civil Unions to embark on income-generating ventures to make them more financially sustainable. 01 June 04