General News of Monday, 7 July 2008
Accra, July 7, GNA - Ghana is to host an African Peer Review Mechanism centre of excellence to enhance the concept of good governance in the sub-region.
Discussions on the Centre are far advanced with the World Bank, Canada and Germany ready to offer the necessary financial and infrastructural assistance for the building of the centre. Dr. Francis Appiah, Executive Secretary of the National APRM Governing Council, who made this known on Monday, said the centre to be launched early next year would foster regional cooperation and serve as a link between the academia and other stakeholders. It will also be a centre for generating best practices that would foster the sub-region's political development.
At the start, the Centre will meet the needs of Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana.
Dr Appiah was presenting the Third Bi-Annual Progress Report for the period January - June 2008, which touched on democracy and political governance, economic governance and management, corporate governance and socio-economic development.
He said, to enhance the APRM process and ensure that it was embraced by all as a people-driven concept, the Governing Council inaugurated 46 District Oversight Committees, composed of public, private and civil society actors serving as monitoring and evaluation teams to deepen decentralization of its activities.
The committees also disseminate information on the APRM to ensure that those at the grassroots understood the concept and also validate reports emanating from the various districts.
On democracy and good governance, he said, the rule of law continued to reign in the country but stakeholders were still concerned over the high size of government and frequent ministerial reshuffles, adding that, it put undue pressure on public funds and inefficient implementation of policies.
He said the Draft Comprehensive Decentralization Strategy bill had not been approved by cabinet and the issue of election of district chief executives remained a thorny one.
The report cited deterioration in police-citizen relationship, which it said resulted in deaths of both police officers and civilians and called for equipping of the service with riot control gear and training.
On the economy, the report said challenges of internal and external auditing, oversight and incomplete fiscal reporting existed but said substantial efforts were made to improve fiscal transparency including introduction of new comprehensive public financial management legislation, a strengthening system for controlling expenditure commitments, improved annual budget statements and voluntary participation in revenue reporting.
On corporate governance, it said the private sector was now receiving attention from the government in terms of participation in budget preparation among others.
However, there was increasing general concern among stakeholders on the spate of armed violence and armed robbery, which occasionally led to loss of life and property.
Dr Appiah said Ghana's progress report would be submitted in January next year.
He said at the just ended African Union Summit in Egypt, Togo agreed to accede to the APRM concept bringing the total membership to 29. Dr Appiah said Ghana agreed to put at Togo's disposal her experience with the peer review exercise.