PANELLISTS at the Graphic Stanbic Business Breakfast meeting have called for the strengthening of local government to boost the country’s economic development
According to the panellists, developments at the local level were pivotal to the national developments and that successive governments should consider empowering local government.
Panellists at the meeting were Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Ghana, Professor Eric Osei-Assibey, Technical Advisor at the Ministry of Planning, Dr Kojo Mensa Abrampah and the Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Emmanuel Akwetey.
The breakfast meeting was on the theme, ‘Election cycles, democratic governance and fiscal stability: lessons for Ghana’.
According to Prof. Osei-Assibey, the inability of local government to collect enough revenues was bane on development.
He said over the years lip services had been paid on fiscal decentralisation and that enough premiums had not put on fiscal discipline.
During election years, he stated that all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) put pressure on the central government for developmental projects to be undertaken in their areas.
Prof. Osei-Assibey said that is so because local governments had not been helped to build enough capacity to mobilise resources at their levels to meet their developmental needs.
He indicated that due to this, simple projects that need to be embarked on by local governments were recourse to government.
The economist said if the capacity of local authorities was built and the local tax system was effective and well mainstreamed in Ghana, people would not look up to the central government to provide certain basic amenities at the local level.
“So if we strengthen the local economic and the fiscal discipline system of the local government many of these problems will not be happening and issues of holding government at ransom if certain social amenities are not provided will not be heard of,” he added.
For Dr Akwetey, the local government machinery was the implementation of government policies and programmes saying that development was local and that if a government could not develop its local economies then central economies could not be developed.
He indicated that local economy development in Ghana for the past 27 years had not been successful according to research conducted by IDEG adding that Ghana does not also have the machinery to use its little resources efficiently.
Dr Akwetay said there was the need to develop more power and resources at the local level saying that local decentralisation should be matched with local administration.
Dr Abrampah on his part said party politics have been taken out of local government which had not given them the space to develop their developmental capacities.
He said since 1958 “our local areas have been closed to party politics and the problem is that we confine election at the national level while developments take place at the local level”.
Dr Abrampah said development in every democratic government is at the local level saying that it was at the district level that problems of communities were addressed.
BY JEMIMA ESINAM KUATSINU AND KIMBERLY FREMPONG