Minority Warns Gov’t: Stop ‘Stealing’ From MMDAs

The Minority in Parliament has decried government’s interference in the disbursement of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) and warned this would deprive the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) of scarce funds to implement localized projects as incorporated in their budgets.

They indicated that government’s decision to fall on the meager funds of the assemblies to fund its unplanned projects would weaken the assemblies and derail the decentralization and local governance process.

At a press conference addressed by Deputy ranking of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development, the Hon. Benjamin Komla Kpodo, the minority argued that government’s directive to the MMDAs to cede 80% of their allocation would financially expose the assemblies, especially those compelled to depend on the common fund for their survival and lead to stagnation and eventual collapse.

Hon. Kpodo noted that the new directive is not contained in the approved formula for the disbursement of the DACF for 2018 and does not also meet the legal requirements for its application.

According to him, during the debate for the approval of the formula, the Committee lamented that the fund to be disbursed to the various MMDAs was woefully inadequate.

“A total for GH¢1.812 billion cedis was appropriated for disbursement over 19 line items significant among which include transfer to other legal entities – Youth Employment Agency (10%), National Youth Authority (5%) and National Disaster Management Organisation (1.5%) – amounting to GH¢299,000,665.00.”

“Allocation to People With Disabilities is 3% amounting to GH¢54,364,333.00 while National Projects – Education, Seed Capital for newly created District Assemblies and Waste management is 11.59 amounting to GH¢210,000,000.00.

“Direct Allocations to the MMDAs is 50.25% amounting to GH¢905,999,982.00 and all these received Parliamentary approval as required by law,” he said.

Hon. Kpodo pointed out that the 254 MMDAs were expected to be given the GH¢905,999,982.00 for their planned local development projects and programmes as approved for them in the formula, which meant each district on the average should receive  GH¢3,566,929.06.

According to him, a directive was however issued to the MMDAs by government that the direct transfer allocation as approved by the House be applied as follows: School Feeding programme – 40% – GH¢362,399,992.80; Nation Builders Corps –  20% – GH¢181,199,996.40; Planting for Food and Jobs  – 20% – GH¢181,199,996.40 and balance for the Assemblies’ own projects- 20% – GH¢181,199,996.40.

“The directive, he said, was not contained in the approved formula for disbursement of the DACF for 2018 and does not meet the legal requirements for its application and yet it re-allocates GH¢724,799,985.60 (80% of the GH¢905,999,982.00) for Central Government “priority” projects leaving only GH¢181,199,996.40 for discretionary spending by the MMDAs.

According to him, this is demeaning because on the average every MMDA will have only GH¢713,385.81 to carry out its development activities out of an estimated average of GH¢3.6 million.

“This illegal directive is one of the indications of Government’s inability to fund its numerous promises to the people of Ghana.

“It is an act of desperation to fulfill promises, the funding of which is not well thought out,” he stated.

The Minority urged government to withdraw the directive and find other means of funding its flagship programmes and projects as directed by Parliament during debate on the appropriation bill.

Government, it said, should desist from further acts that deprive the assemblies of lawful funds for implementation of their development agenda and regularly and timeously release money due to the assemblies as stipulated in the Constitution and avoid holding the funds long in arrears.

By Osumanu Al-Hassan/uthmanhass@gmail.com

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