Strengthening local institutions, empowering citizenry will improve accountability in devt projects – Governance expert

Dr Esther Ofei-Aboagye, a local governance expert, has suggested that strengthening local institutions and empowering the citizenry to take part in local governance will help improve probity, accountability, transparency and performance in capital development projects.

“Capital development projects, such as schools, clinics, markets, hospitals and public places of convenience, constitute majority of local level spending and have implications for the well-being of households and communities,” she stressed.

Dr Ofei-Aboagye called for increase in funding, efficient and effective policy implementation to make authorities deliver quality public service to citizens at the community level.

She made the suggestion at a conference held to discuss lessons and best practices learned from the Ghana Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms (GSAM) project for probity, transparency and accountable local governance system.

The eighth-year GSAM and United States Aid for International Development (USAID)-supported and assisted project was designed to deepen and sustain responsive, transparent and accountable governance at the local level.

Dr Ofei-Aboagye, who is a former Executive Director of the Institute of Local Government Studies, noted that local governance must be re-branded to emphasise their service responsibilities and obligations to Ghanaians and residents.

“Doing so is necessary because the 1992 Constitution has made provision for citizens as the client, owner of public resources, it is prudent for local representatives to be accountable and transparent to the people, ensure efficient and effective participation by all sections of the population in governance and decision-making,” she indicated.

Dr Ofei-Aboagye, observed that over the years, efforts to enhance supply side probity and transparency had not been matched with similar levels of investment in demand side accountability.

Kimberly Rosen, USAID Ghana Mission Director, noted that evaluation of the programme showed value-for-money audits on district capital projects reduced incidence of partisan manipulation of district budgets by local politicians.

“There has been improvement in engagement between the citizenry and local governments, leading to enhancement in infrastructure development through action of local CSOs and US Government’s support and assistance for Ghana towards improving delivery of quality services with increased probity, transparency and accountability through partnerships with other state agencies,” she underscored.

Samuel Boateng, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for GSAM project, presented outcomes of the project which was strengthening probity, transparency and accountable governance in various districts across the country.

He revealed that 51 per cent of the 880 community priority needs identified with project support and assistance were integrated and budgeted for in the 2022- 2025 Medium-Term Development Plans (MTDPs) in 50 districts – from 12 per cent in 2016.

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