29.04.2005 General News

Use district structures to enhance participatory democracy - ILGS

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Accra, April 29, GNA - Mrs. Esther Ofei-Aboagye, Director of the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) on Thursday urged the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to use decentralised structures and its operational arrangements to enhance participatory democracy.

She said: "The general assembly and sub-committees of the executives committee meetings, the use of local languages at assembly sittings, provisions for the participation and representation of interest groups in the business of the assembly and participatory local people in planning methods would enhance transparency." Mrs Ofei-Aboagye was speaking at the Fifth Annual Constitution Week celebration organised by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).

The week - April 28 to May 4 - is being celebrated on the theme: "Reducing Poverty Through Citizens' Participation In Local Governance," and is aimed at creating an increased and sustained interest and participation of all Ghanaians in the new democratic dispensation for the achievement of good governance to engender social auditing for poverty reduction.

It would also be used to examine poverty reduction strategies embarked upon by various governments and its impact on the local government structures.

Expatiating on the decentralised systems, the ILGS Director said the general assembly is required by law to meet three or four times in a year as feasible. At this forum, members meet, receive reports from various departments and sub-committees, pass by-laws and generally attend to the business of the district.

Between these meetings, the executive committee of the assembly and its sub-committees operates as for a for in-depth discussion of specific issues that fall in their domains as indicated in these smaller units, recommendations made to the executive committee and eventually, to the general assembly.

Mrs Ofei-Aboagy said Act 462 provides for five statutory sub-committees as well as the establishment of sub-committees to address unique concerns of particular assemblies.

The committees are social services, finance and administration, works, development planning and justices and security. She said the assemblies are required to set up public relations and complaints committees chaired by the presiding members, a credit approval committee.

The ILGS Director said other opportunities for popular participation were built into the law, particularly in relation to planning.

The Assemblies are required to develop district plans, based on development priorities generated from the communities through the sub-structures with inputs generated from public hearings, she said. Professor Nana Araba Apt of Asahie, a private University at Labone, chaired the ceremony, which was attended by security officers, media practitioners, students, politicians, the donor community, parliamentarians and a cross-section of the public.

Other speakers include Mr. Charles Bintim, Minister of Local development and Rural Development, Mr Edward Karbo, Chief Director Town and Country Planning, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, Director of ISSER, University of Ghana, Legon and Mr Laary Bimi NCCE Chairman. 28 April 05

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