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26.05.2004 General News

Civic union forum opens

By GNA

Accra, May 26, GNA - Mr Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, on Wednesday called on civic unions to foster effective collaboration with district assemblies to ensure the rapid development of the districts.

He noted that there was the need to erase the usual suspicion and mistrust that existed among civil societies and public institutions, since that attitude had not provided the right environment for working together.

Mr Adjei-Darko was opening a three-day first National Delegates' Conference of Civic Unions under the Government Accountability Improved Trust (GAIT) programme.

The conference which is on the theme: "Enhancing Grassroots Participation in Local Governance: Challenges and Prospects" was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The forum seeks to enhance the citizens' involvement in democratic governance and encourage their participation in decision-making process at the grassroots level.

More than 260 participants representing civic unions; non-governmental organisations; district assemblies, development partners and other stakeholders from 20 districts are attending the forum.

Mr Adjei-Darko said the functions and the limit of the various civic groups and assemblies must be followed to enable them to work in partnership for the growth of the country.

He said accountability should not only be restricted to ensuring the judicious use of public funds by the assemblies but it must also extend to prompt service delivery and project execution.

Mr Adjei-Darko said that local communities must be involved in the selection of projects and their design to ensure that investments reflected community priorities and ownership.

He said such partnership between public agencies and local communities had the tendency of ensuring projects maintenance and their sustainability.

Mr Adjei-Darko said the concept of civic unions was a noble idea and that the delegates must endeavour to educate the people on important issues such as waste disposal and management and prompt payment of rates to enable the assemblies to undertake their project.

Mr Alex Newton, Acting Country Director of USAID, said the Agency had for the past three years been providing support for the implementation of the GAIT in 20 districts throughout the country. He said the aim was to ensure that the citizens expressed their concerns about local government administration, posed questions and provided suggestions as to how public officials could improve their performance and increase civic input in policy-making at the local level.

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