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21.10.2005 General News

NALAG President calls for review of decentralisation law

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Accra, Oct. 21, GNA - Mr George Kyei-Baffour, President of the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG), on Friday called for review of the laws on decentralisation for more and effective grassroots participation in local governance.

He specifically mentioned Act 462, which governs the establishment and operation of the District Assemblies, as well as LI 1589 that establishes the District Assemblies sub-structures such as the sub-metro, the area, urban and town councils and the unit committees. He said the review of the legislation would bring the activities of those governance structures into current trends in decentralisation. Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra on the new vision of the Association, Mr Kyei-Baffour stated that the mode of electing a Presiding Member of a District Assembly had to change from two-thirds majority to simple majority of members present at the time of voting. He said this would avert the stalemate in the confirmation of Presiding Members and District Chief Executives (DCEs), as was the case the Abokobi-Madina District, where a DCE appointed over a year ago was yet to be confirmed.

Such delays, he said, brought about slow pace of development because of the inability to access resources under the highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Fund and the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF). Mr Kyei-Baffour said the Government had shown a lot of goodwill for effective decentralisation by the promulgation of the Local Government Service Law and the development of the National Decentralisation Action Plan.

It had also put in place the Local Government Service Council and provided the legal framework for the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) to enable it to undertake extensive training for practitioners of local government, he said.

He, however, stated that the sub-district structures like sub-metro, the area, urban, town and unit committee which came into force in 1994 as a buffer between the ordinary people and District Assemblies, had been moribund, saying there was a problem of the numerical and geographical sizes of the of those structures. He suggested a drastic reduction in the number of people that constituted the unit committees.

Mr Kyei-Baffour, who is also the Presiding Member of the Asante Akim North District Assembly, called for adequate motivation for the Assembly Member, explaining that the ex-gratia award in the range 300,000 cedis and 500,000 cedis given to each Assembly Member in the last Assembly was inadequate.

He said the NALAG was in consultation with the Government to determine the parameters for the payment of the ex-gratia awards before the term of the current Assembly expired, stating further that the Association had asked for between four million cedis and five million cedis for each Assembly member.

The money should be paid from the Consolidated Fund rather than the inadequate internally generated funds of the Assemblies. According to Mr Kyei-Baffour, DCEs had not been paid since January this year and described the situation as a recipe for corruption. He called for more efforts to involve women in the decentralisation process and to get them to offer themselves to be elected into the Assembly in next year's district level election.

Mr Kyei-Baffour said the Association, consisting of 138 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies would undertake publicity activities and hold interactions quarterly as apart of its publicity drive.