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06.09.2005 General News

Govt will continue to strengthen local govt institutions -JAK


Accra, Sept. 6, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Tuesday said the government would continue to strengthen the capacity and capability of local government institutions to facilitate their performance. The Government, he said, would provide the appropriate and relevant powers, means, manpower; technical and logistic support.

President Kufuor said this in a speech read for him by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Charles Bintim at the opening of a five-day orientation for the newly appointed District, Municipal and Metropolitan Chief Executives (DMMCEs) in Accra. It was under theme: "Moving Decentralization Forward Through Effective Leadership".

President Kufuor said: "We are aware of the situation where government's financial support to local government was inadequate. Therefore, there is the need to prioritise at any point in time to ensure that we carefully target projects, which satisfy our felt needs." President Kufuor noted that the writing-off of about four billion dollars of the country's external debts was the result of the prudent economic management adopted by the Government.

He said district assemblies were witnesses to increased transfers from the Government by ways of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Funds in support of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy and expressed the hope that local governments would experience bigger and better share of the national cake in future.

The President said HIV/AIDS was having serious implications for socio-economic development and called on them to pay adequate attention to the problem.

He commended the new DMMCEs and those retained for their nomination and confirmation and urged them to live up to the very principles of service to the people and dedicated leadership expected of them.

President Kufuor said: "Everything concerns you from your development of the District Assembly to the maintenance of peace and tranquillity. To this end, let me remind you to take steps to ensure that your security committees are active and on high alert. "Let me also remind you to see to rekindle the spirit of communal labour, which I am informed is gradually dying out."

The President urged them to ensure that their district assemblies were epitomes of the aspirations of the Government, whose policies devolved around private sector development, human resource management and good governance.

President Kufuor said the litmus test of the country's democracy would be gauged by how successful the Chief Executives would undertake their responsibilities, adding that devolution assumed that citizens were aware of their civic rights and responsibilities and could articulate their needs.

He urged them to interact with traditional rulers, community-based organisations and community leaders on a continuous basis and also ensure that environmental and sanitation planning considerations and resource mobilisation were undertaken.

Mr Kofi Poku-Adusei, Deputy Minister of MLGRD, said out of the 128 appointed DCEs, there were 75 new and 54 old DMMCEs. There are nine outstanding out of which, five were appointed but rejected by their assemblies. They are Dangbe East, Asikuma Odobeng Brakwa, Sissala East and Sissala West and Wa West.

He said the DCEs for Yilo Krobo District and Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly were yet to be nominated while Ga East and Fanteakwa DCEs were yet to be confirmed.

Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, who briefed the new DCEs and MCEs on the Public Procurement Act, said it was aimed at ensuring fairness, transparency, non-discriminatory practice and judicious and economic use of State resources.

On procurement from VAT registered entities, Mr Baah-Wiredu said Government stores should be procured from only VAT registered persons except where determined by the Minister of Finance.

He called for the commitment of DMMCEs to the laws in order to achieve the set goals and objectives on good governance and good financial management.

He said the Government was striving to achieve significant poverty reduction, adding that good financial management was a critical part of the new international momentum towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.