A local government expert, Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi, has charged Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to adopt capacity building frameworks that would empower their staff in revenue mobilisation.
According to Prof. Ahwoi, for the MMDAs to be able to collect enough internally generated funds (IGF) to support various projects at the local level without depending on central government, the assemblies must move away from the current system of toll collection, to a more income tax collection regime.
Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi made this statement when he chaired the launch of the 2nd phase of Progress Support for Decentralisation Reform (SfDR) programme held at the Kofi Annan ICT Center in Accra, yesterday. The purpose of the project was to empower MMDAs to effectively improve their IGF, draw proper planning and budgeting, and improving cooperation between the years, 2016 to 2019.
The programme is powered by GIZ in order to support decentralisation reforms in the country. GIZ is a Germany international development cooperation that implements projects and programmes on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
The GIZ operation in Ghana is firmly embedded within the country's poverty reduction strategy, which aims to achieve sustainable, equitable economic growth and accelerated poverty reduction.
The local government expert, touching on the decentralisation reforms project, said supporting MMDAs to perform efficiently and effectively in the interest of the local population has been a significant challenge since Ghana adopted the decentralisation agenda.
He advised the MMDAs that if they effectively implement the SfDR programmes, they would be able to hire and train their own staff.
Prof. Ahwoi also called on the media, especially, the local radio stations, to devote some of their time to assembly meetings, urging: "Recent statics shows that there are over 400 local FM stations in the country currently. Try to move away from the National Democratic Congress-New Patriotic Party (NDC-NPP) discourse to reporting local level assembly meetings, so that they will be able to expose 'mumu' (dumb) assembly members."
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Alhaji Collins Dauda, delivering his keynote address, said Ghana and Germany, in 2015, agreed to support the decentralisation reforms programme on improving internally generated funds (IGF) of MMDAs.
This, he noted, was significant as the over-reliance of the MMDAs on transfers from central government to provide services to their people is no longer sustainable, saying, "It is in this regard that this government is encouraging MMDAs to improve on their own revenue generation."
"Let me emphasise that it was with a view to enhancing the revenue generation capacity of MMDAs that the Ministry developed the Local Economic Development (LED) Policy and Action for the MMDAs to mainstream the concept of LED into their Medium Term Development Plans," he asserted.
He indicated that it was in the light of this that the government of Germany was providing support to the government of Ghana to address some of these challenges, under the support for SfDR.
The activities of the SfDR within the last phase (2014-2016) have helped the MMDAs to improve their IGF collection, increase women participation in planning and budget hearings, and the creation of accountability platforms for citizens to demand accountability, as well as feedback.