The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) has urged the Government to ensure the immediate disbursement of the District Assemblies Common Fund to improve public service delivery at the local level.
According to IDEG, the late disbursal of the Fund was affecting the successful completion of many projects at the District levels.
Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance, said this in a speech read on his behalf at a media interactive session on accountability and inclusive development, in Accra, on Thursday.
He said the implementation of many projects in the district had stalled because of delays in the disbursement of Funds and drew the attention of the Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to put in place measures to ensure timely disbursement of funds to the Districts.
Dr Akwetey underscored the importance of social accountability and civic participation in local governance, saying this enhanced quality delivery of service through effective monitoring and evaluation of projects, and ensured ownership of projects by the local people.
He said some Central Government projects were often awarded in districts without the active involvement of the project districts and this affected the ability of the districts to monitor such projects and to ensure improved public service delivery.
“I wish to call on the Central Government, Ministries, Departments, and Agencies awarding projects to actively involve the host districts and citizens group,” he said.
Mr Ewald Quaye Garr, Project Officer at IDEG, said even though Ghana’s Constitution and other Statutory legislation required the State to make democracy a reality through the decentralization of political, administrative, and financial authority from the centre to the local assemblies, the envisaged ends had been partially achieved.
He underscored the importance of civic participation in local governance, but said Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) lacked the capacity, skills and knowledge about local governance and, therefore, were unable to participate fully by monitoring projects and ensuring social accountability.
He said IDEG and its partners, the Ghana Local Governance and Decentralisation Programme (LOGODEP), Organisation for Livelihood Enhancement Services (OLIVES), and Network for Community Planning (NECPAD) had been implementing the “Strengthening Civic Participation and Social Accountability in Local Governance” , to build the capacities of CSOs to work with Metropolitan Municipal and District Asemblies (MMDAs).
He said the project, which commenced in June 2014, would end in July 2015, sought to strengthen civic participation and social accountability in local governance in three pilot project areas involving Prestea Huni-Valley, Tarkwa Nsuaem and Shama Districts in the Western Region.
He said the successful implementation of the project would improve public service delivery in these districts using IDEG’s Governance Issue Forum Network (GIFNet) platform.
Mr Garr explained that the project used the districts’ annual action plans, planning and budget hearing meetings, and project monitoring visits as entry points for civic participation and social accountability roles in local governance.
He said under the project, training, coaching and orientation workshops were employed to build the capacity of citizens and CSOs to engage effectively in the governance process.
He said the GIFNet was expected to be institutionalised within these beneficiary communities to take over from where the project would end to enhance public service delivery through monitoring, participation by CSOs in local project implementation and social accountability.
He called on the media to support by enhancing advocacy and education on the critical role of social accountability and inclusive development for good governance.