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08.07.2005 General News

Minister decries delay in take-off of Local Gov't Service.

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Aburi (ER), July 8, GNA- The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Mr. Charles Bintim, has directed directors of the ministry to speed-up efforts in ensuring a smooth take-off of the proposed Local Government Service since the delay in establishing the service could no longer be justified.

The Minister has also called for serious efforts at ensuring that more districts are enrolled on the Composite Budget System, which is a simplified, effective and efficient financial administrative system currently operating in 25 districts nationwide.

The Minister gave the directives when he kicked-start a review of the ministry's 2005 to 2007 strategic plan at Aburi in the Eastern Region on Friday.

The workshop is being attended by Ministers, Directors and Divisional Heads of the MLGRD as well as Members of Parliament. It aims, among others, at finding solution to emerging concerns such as how departments and agencies under the MLGRD could link their strategic plan to the 20006-2009 Poverty Reduction Strategy of the country for the effective and efficient implementation.

The workshop is also reviewing major policies on waste management systems, including storm drains and infrastructure upgrading in major cities such as Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi, Tema and Tamale by December 2008.

Opening the workshop, Mr. Bintim decried the slow-pace towards the turning of the department under his Ministry into a service, describing the response as "not encouraging".

He stressed the importance of developing a fiscal framework with the Finance Ministry and the Controller and Accountant General's Department for the transfer of resources to the districts. Such a collaboration, he stressed, had become urgent in view of the growing interest of donors in the ministry which are increasing their support for the MLGRD's efforts in poverty reduction initiatives in the northern sector of the country.

The Minister announced an increase in the number of Sub-Metropolitan Councils from 13 to 31 and Urban Councils from the present 34 to 76 as part of efforts by his ministry to decentralized governance closer to the citizenry.

The MLGRD, he added, was instituting new measures to tackle the sanitation problem facing the assemblies as well as helping them increase their revenue base.

Leading a review of the Strategic Plan, the Director of Planning at the MLGRD, Mr. K.A. Dankwa, reiterated the commitment of the ministry towards poverty reduction and income generation for the average Ghanaian.

In this connection, the Department of Community Development, he announced, was being empowered to train more than 2,400 rural artisans in improved technical skills by 2006.

He said during the same period, the Births and Deaths Department will be resourced to increase its births coverage from the current 69 per cent to 75 per cent, while registration of deaths will climb from the present 34 per cent to over 40 per cent.

Mr Dankwa said this was in addition to many other bold policies that the MLGRD was formulating to help tackle object poverty in the country.