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16.08.2004 Regional News

About Two thousand billion cedis common fund disbursed

By GNA

Cape Coast, Aug 16, GNA - About 2,000 billion cedis has so far been disbursed for development projects, since the inception of the District Assemblies Common Fund 10 years ago.

Mr Ransford Ayensu, Acting Head of the Operation and Research Department of the Office the Common Fund Administrator, made this known at the opening of a workshop in Cape Coast for district assemblies in the Central Region.

The workshop organised by the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) is aimed at sensitising the assemblies on the common fund cycle transfer processes, address issues of misapplication as well as discuss the guidelines on reporting and submission of returns.

Mr Ayensu announced that Parliament had approved an upward adjustment of the fund from the current five per cent to 7.5 per cent with effect from 2005 and called for the effective utilisation of the fund.

He underscored the important role it had played in the socio-economic development of the various districts and called on the people especially beneficiary communities, to get involved in the executions of projects.

Mr Ayensu, however, said just as the fund had helped in the development of many communities, it was saddled with the problem of unqualified personnel at the district level resulting in misappropriation and misapplication of the Fund.

He said that the time had come for people to disabuse their minds that Common Fund projects, were for District Chief Executives and explained that the fund accrued from taxpayers.

Mr Ayensu stated that even though the Fund was solely meant for development projects some district assemblies were using it as a recurrent expenditure, which was wrong.

He said for the Fund to achieve its desired goals, it was imperative to put all hands on deck and commended Parliament for allocating a percentage of the fund to the Administrator's Office, to enable it monitor utilisation effectively.

Mr Isaac Edumadze, Central Regional Minister, in a speech read on his behalf expressed concern about the misapplication and misappropriation of the Fund at all levels.

He said it was worrisome, to observe "sharp deviations" from budgets, which originated from the districts, in the quest for new projects. The Regional Minister pointed out that some assemblies selected projects and programmes that have no bearing on their development plans. "Some districts have even pledged their common fund for three years and more with awards of contracts", he regretted and said all these negative practices, have led to a great mistrust, making the centre very unwilling to let the money flow to the local levels.

He said with the passage of the three laws on procurement, audit and financial administration, it was hoped that such practices would be laid to rest and tasked the participants to let transparency and accountability, be their guiding principles.

Mr Edumadze cautioned them that the Common Fund was not a substitute for internally generated resources and urged them to intensify tapping local generated revenue and other resources to reduce poverty.

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