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08.07.2004 Regional News

Evolve policies to harmonious chiefs and District Assemlies

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Cape Coast, July 8, GNA - A research conducted by the Centre for Development Studies, University of Cape Coast in collaboration with Action AID Ghana, has stressed the need to evolve a policy within which traditional authorities and district assemblies could function harmoniously to ensure effective management and promote investment.

Dr Stephen Kendie Director of the Centre said a research has shown that traditional authorities and the formal local government structures are not consulting sufficiently to be able to present development programmes and projects in the proper cultural context.

Speaking at a press conference in Cape Coast on Thurday, Dr Kendie said in the past two years, the centre has been carrying out research and advocacy for effective local governance in seven districts assemblies in the country.

The districts are Asutufi, Sissala, Tolon/Kumbugu, Saboba Cheriponi, Ga, Bawku West, and Dangbe West.

Dr Kendie said the research covered among others, relationship with traditional authorities, the district assemblies' Common Fund, appointment of DCEs and government appointees in the district assembly, and Gazetting of district assembly bye-laws among others.

He said the 1992 constitution bars chiefs from active partisan politics but questioned whether it was possible to prevent chiefs from participating in politics.

Under the Common Fund, the research revealed that, it had injected development funds into the districts, but there were complaints about the statutory deductions and that there was the need to examine the situation as it tended to constrain the extent to which a district assembly could invest in its own priority area.

DR Kendie said government's embargo on the employment of staff or the requirement that the district assemblies should pay the salaries of staff they appoint was also creating problems in acquiring the right calibre of staff required both at the district assembly and in its departments.

He said some of the assemble could not employ competent revenue collectors and supervisors and that, it was affecting the revenue situation.

He said the dual allegiance of decentralised departments also create problems for local government and development management and there was the need for a policy to address this dual loyalty of the decentralised departments to ensure composite and holistic development at the local level.

He said the oversight responsibility for monitoring the resources and funds going to the district appears to be weak and that regional planning and coordinating units of the Regional Coordinating Councils (RCC) lack the resources for effective monitoring, adding that, the Regional Ministers have limited control over the District Chief Executives.

Dr Kendie, said there was the need for the regions to be seen as integrative units for development planning purpose and for districts to be seen as integral parts of these regional entities.

There was also the need to clearly define and straighten the relationship between the regional co-ordinating councils, the ministry of local government and rural development and district assemblies. He said the appointment of DCEs and assembly members by the President makes them accountable 'upstairs to the President and not 'down stairs' to the people they were supposed to be serving and that there were cases of which elected Assembly members and other sub-structures were dismissed when their government was not in power and called for a dispassionate debate on the issue.

On bye-laws, he said there were complaints that the process takes a long time, in most cases, it has to be sent to the ministry of local government and rural development for vetting and approval and that, the district assemblies were unable to enforce laws regarding the payment of rates and fees or the protection of the environment.

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