The Centre for Local Governance Advocacy (CLGA) has proposed the amendment of the Local Government Act to ensure the re-introduction of zonal councils into the country’s local governance system.
It said such amendment was necessary considering the relevance of the zonal council in the local assembly structure which was scrapped by the Act last year.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra yesterday, the Deputy Director of CLGA, Ms. Gladys Gillian N. Tetteh, explained that the law scrapped the zonal councils without indicating how the assemblies were going to function without them.
She, therefore, called on the new parliament and the Minister- designate for Local Government to have the Local Government Act passed last year amended as a matter of urgency to avoid recentralisation of governance.
According to her, the act should be amended to address the challenges in the governance system while tackling the complexity of the decentralisation agenda of the country.
Ms. Tetteh said the provision of section 2.2 which allowed the Electoral Commission to review the areas of authority of sub-metropolitan
district councils, town councils, area councils and unit committees by constitutional instrument after a national census was problematic.
“This is because the provision scraps the zonal councils from being part of the sub district structures. Decentralised governance will not only suffer but will be meaningless if the local government system operated without zonal councils especially when the unit committee has not been properly resourced to perform their functions,” she stressed.
She also expressed concern about Section 60 which allowed the president to give directives to the Local Government Service Council on the matters of policies with an obligation to compulsorily comply.
“CLGA believes that this amounted to interference in the work of the local government as it undermined their decentralised status and therefore violates Article 254 of the 1992 constitution,” she said.
Ms. Tetteh also indicated that the organisation was unclear on the import of Section 142 which in one breath decentralised the collection of taxes chargeable on income of identified income earners but in another breath, under sub section 2, allowed other public bodies to collect taxes imposed on these same categories of income earners on behalf of the assembly.
According to her, the move was a clear contravention of the decentralisation agenda of the country and rather sought to recentralise tax mobilisation.
“The centre also wishes to inquire the rationale behind the decision by the President to create additional ministries and appoint ministers that seemed to have duplicated responsibilities in the local governance system,” she quizzed.
According to her, the appointment of the Ministers of Zongo Development, Regional Reorganisation and Development as well as Local government was a duplication of responsibilities unless they were structured and coordinated well.
Ms. Tetteh, however, commended the President for appointing nine women out of 36 ministers appointed so far but questioned why no woman was appointed as a regional minister.
She urged the new government to work towards meeting the 40 per cent target by appointing more women as deputy Ministers and Chief Executives for assemblies.
“The CLGA wishes to propose that out of the six metropolitan Chief Executives to be appointed, at least two must be reserved for women. Out of the 49 Municipal Chief Executives to be appointed, at least 15 must be women and out of the 161 DCEs to be appointed, 65 must be women,” she stated.
By Charles Amankwa