General News of Monday, 11 April 2011
A former Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Prof Kwamena Ahwoi, has said the MP's share of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) ''is most likely unconstitutional.''
The formula for disbursement of the Common Fund allows MPs to receive four percent of the total allocation to the fund for purposes of initiating development projects in their constituencies. During his days as Minister for Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Prof Ahwoi led the piloting of the Common Fund in the 1990s. But now, he says, there is no provision in the 1992 Constitution to defend the decision to allocate part of the fund to Ghanaian lawmakers.
“The future of the MPs Common Fund I think is in doubt,” he stated.
Addressing a workshop on the District Assemblies Common Fund over the weekend, Prof Ahoi disclosed that the decision to allocate part of the fund to MPs in 1997 was as a result of demands from MPs for some form of financial assistance to undertake development projects, but under the control of the MPs to remove the incidence of DCEs “bluffing” them.
“Owusu Acheampong, who was the Majority Leader from the NDC and J H Mensah who was Minority Leader from the NPP side … came to us and told us bluntly that the way the DCEs are bluffing with the fund, if we don’t give them some, they won’t approve the formula (for the sharing of the fund). It was as blatant as that. And I told them that that would be unconstitutional and they said ‘Yes, we know, but we too we need to do some projects in our areas etc’. … It became a big argument, and it was a losing argument, because the battle was being waged by the Majority party, which was my own party, the NDC.”
In order to end the illegality, Prof Ahwoi suggested, and his suggestion adopted in the President’s Sessional Address, that an MP's Constituency Development Fund be set up, separate from the DACF in order to help the legislators fulfill their commitments to their constituents.
The said fund will be operational by next year and MP will no longer draw funds from the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), the immediate past Administrator of the DACF has announced.
The promise to introduce a constituency development fund for MPs was first made in 2009 by President John Mills. Three years on the President has still not honored the promise. But, Mr. Joshua Magnus Nicole told CitiNews after a workshop for members of the Parliamentary Press Corps that but for some delays and administrative challenges, the fund would have begun this year.