Kumasi, June 15, GNA - Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, has expressed the Government's total commitment towards strengthening the district assemblies to make them to become real focal points of development at the local level.
He said the Government would see to it that the assemblies were more autonomous, more responsive to local needs and financially and technically capable of expanding service delivery.
"The Government's goal is to ensure that the centre retains responsibility for policy formulation and oversight and to assign responsibilities for programme co-ordination and monitoring to Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs) and programme implementation to the district assemblies".
Dr Akoto Osei was launching the guidelines for operationalisation of Regional and District Planning Co-ordinating Units (RPCUs/DPCUs) at the Georgia Hotel in Kumasi on Tuesday. The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC); Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning jointly developed the guidelines. The guidelines clearly specify the roles and responsibilities of the various actors at national and sub-national levels whose duty is to co-ordinate local development.
In addition, it provides information of the annual planning and budgeting cycles as well as approving authorities for the district plans and budgets.
Over 80 selected District Chief Executives, Regional and District Co-ordinating Directors and Planning Officers drawn from all over the country attended the ceremony.
Dr Akoto Osei said areas of emphasis as the nation pushed forward with the process would include strengthening decentralised departments at the district level to facilitate co-ordinated development and efficient utilisation of resources, promotion of participatory development planning, active involvement of communities and service providers and the creation of the right environment for private-public partnership in the provision of services.
He stated that, "with the imminent establishment of the Local Government Council and the development of detailed guidelines and modalities for consolidation of regional and district entities, we envisage to move this process forward".
Professor G. Gyan-Baffour, Director-General of the NDPC, said targets set in the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) would not be achieved if development planning were not given the needed attention. He observed that the DPCUs and RPCUs were not performing as they should and blamed this on inadequate staff and logistics.
"As a result, data collection, collation and analysis for development planning are seriously affected", he said. Professor Gyan-Baffour gave the assurance that the Government was making every necessary effort to put the situation right. Mr Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, in an address read for him, said the guidelines were aimed at supporting the priority activities of the National Decentralisation Action Plan.
"We are indeed making a huge further step to accelerate the pace of local level development by making district and regional planning authorities functional".
The President of the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG), Mr Welbeck Dogoli, complained about the situation where RCCs were reduced to what he termed "clearing houses" instead of ensuring that district development plans conformed to national development strategies.
He described the development of the administrative guidelines as a welcome intervention.