Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), Irene Naa Torshie Addo, has appealed for increment in the allocation of the fund to 7% from its current 5% in order to enable it meet new social interventions that have been aligned to it at the District level.
The DACF, she indicated, has made a formal application to the Finance Minister for the increment because of various policies government has initiated and wants the Municipal, Metropolitan and District Assemblies to implement (MMDAs).
Madam Naa Torshie disclosed this in an interview with journalists after she met the Committee of the Whole of Parliament to discuss obligations and disbursements of the fund to the Assemblies.
She noted that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has been able to collect more revenue than the previous administration and stressed that comparatively the 5% release to the fund in terms of the physical cash is almost the same as when it was 7½%.
“Though the Common Fund has been capped, the amount of money being received is just like what was received by the fund when it was 7½% because revenue collection has been very good.”
The Administrator argued that there are no delays in disbursement contrary to claims and noted that those making such claims do not understand the mechanisms for the releases.
According to her, releases are done at the end of the ensuing quarter and noted, “The 4th quarter disbursement is done by the end of March and not at the beginning and therefore the release of the 4th quarter for 2017 would be released this March ending.”
The Fund under the current administration, she said, has performed remarkably because under the previous administration the fund is owed for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“I have even petitioned Parliament to make sure those arrears are paid to us so that we can meet our obligations.”
Madam Naa Torshie indicated that the difficulty being experienced by some Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in accessing the Disability Fund is not the doing of the Common Fund office and mentioned that some PWDs have been asked to belong to certain federations before they can have access to the money.
“But under the laws of Ghana no person should belong to any federation before benefiting from government’s social interventions. Once a person is challenged and is registered in the district with proofs, they should benefit.”
Government, she said, does not believe in giving physical cash to the PWDs and indicated that the giving out of money only breeds corruption and malpractices.
“We have asked them to identify a trade that they wish to engage in and then we will buy the equipment for them.”
Madam Naa Torshie indicated that persons who are over the ages of 60 and over the retirement age fall under the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme and not the Disability Fund, which is for groups that are challenged but can work and take care of themselves and who are between the ages of 18 and 60.
“This is the catchment group because if we are not careful people will receive money under LEAP, which is for older people and then go round to take money from the Disability Fund as PWD, which will not augur well for these interventions.”
The Administrator stated that the Fund also had to carry out emergency maneuvering to give money to the Ministry of Local Government for the building of district courts after the Minority leader, the Hon. Haruna Iddrissu, made an application on the subject that it is important for every district to build a court house as part of the assembly.
She indicated that though the Fund cannot build all 257 courts at a go, it is starting with some in a number of assemblies and would continue to provide the rest over the coming years.
By Osumanu Al-Hassanfirstname.lastname@example.org