Professor S.N Woode, the Head of Public Services Commission has noted that Ghana as a country cannot be managed from the Osu castle, the seat of government as thought by some individuals.
According to him, it would be a herculean task for any government to ever think of managing the affairs of the country in the comfort of the seat of government.
This, he stressed, was due to the urgent need for the implementation of the Local Government Service Act 656, which was passed into law by Parliament in the year 2003.
Speaking at an advocacy workshop organized by the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) in partnership with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) under the African Local Governance Programme (ALGP) with support from the Canadian International Development Association (CIDA), he indicated that the implementation of the Act would contribute immensely to the strengthening of the decentralization policy.
Professor Woode further noted that the full benefits of the decentralization policy and all other related issues must be carefully considered prior to the implementation of the act to have a direct bearing on its provisions.
He stressed that in the quest to mobilize revenue by the local government from its development partners, there was the urgent need to strengthen the district assemblies in the discharge of its duties.
Addressing the participants, the General Secretary of NALAG, Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh noted that the association played a significant role between the formulation stage and the passage of the law through advocacy at workshops, but even though the law does not provide utmost satisfaction to every lover of local governance and decentralization, it does give the basis to start with.
He stressed that in order that the Local Government Service does not suffer the fate of other services which took several years to be operationalised, it is important that all the stakeholders in decentralization pool experiences, skills to ensure that there is an early and effective implementation of both the letter and the spirit of Act 656.
Noting "at least, the Local Government Service has the benefit of hindsight and the experiences of those other services to learn from."
According to him, the African Local Governance Programme (ALGP) is one of the components of the G8 Africa Action Plan and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which was approved at the G8 summit in Kananaski, Canada in the year 2002.
He also noted that the programme, which has a life span of 5 years, seeks to assist on pilot basis, Tanzania, Mali, Ghana and Mozambique in the decentralization of public services to municipal authorities and fostering participatory and equitable governance.
It seeks also to strengthen the capacities of national ministries, municipal governments and other related associations to bring about effective decentralization of service.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kwadjo Adjei-Darko, in an address read on his behalf, stated that as a government, it was bent on firm commitment and even believed in the process of empowering the community and the district assemblies in the development of the nation, indicating that "as key stakeholders in local governance and development, you rightly need to be well informed and updated periodically not only on government policies but also government actions and activities."
He noted also that whilst significant progress had been made, much remained to be done to fully operationalise the envisaged decentralized administration in the country.
The Minister disclosed that a 15-member Local Government Service Council had been appointed by President Kufuor in consultation with the Council of State to recommend on matters relating to management, functions, schemes and condition recruitment among other things.