Feature Article of Sunday, 1 April 2012
Columnist: Ampofo, Ofori
RE-MPs ILLEGAL USE OF COMMON FUND!
By Samuel Ofori Ampofo
Fellow Ghanaians, both headlines are interrelated and are hindering and undermining the District Assembly concept for developing the rural areas. However, because of greed, nobody cares about what happens to the development of our rural communities.
Democracy is not all about the right of people to vote. It will be meaningless if it does not translate to the betterment of the people through developing communities, and create opportunities for all.
Digesting the first headline, The MPs, Metropolitan, Municipal and DCEs, use common fund to undermine each other to the disadvantage of the people. Instead of working together to develop their areas, the common fund has rather torn them apart, and in some cases, made them sworn enemies. These were the words of Honorable Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, Minister for Local Government and Rural development. Quoted by the Daily guide source on Ghana web of 7th March 2012, The Minister was speaking at a workshop held at HO in the Volta Region. It was organized to educate the parliamentary press corps on the theme, THE DISTRICT ASSEMBLY COMMON FUND, GOOD GOVERNANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY.
On the second headline, On February 28, a City Fm on line source quoted the former President of the National Association of Local Government Authorities of Ghana, Mr. George Kyei Baffour as threatening to sue over what he termed, THE ILLIGALITY PERPETRATED BY PARLIAMENRTARIANS ON THE APPLICATION OF THE MP COMMOM FUND.
The two referenced sources, poses three fundamental questions that need to be answered and summarized by all of us, to see if the MP common fund is legitimate or not. Following are my reflections.
Question 1, what is district assembly common fund?
Answer. The 1992 Constitution states clearly in chapter twenty, article 252 under Decentralization and Local Government as follows.
A, There shall be a fund to be known as District Assembly common Fund.
B, Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament shall annually make provision for the allocation of not less than 5% five percent of the total revenue of Ghana to the District Assemblies common fund, in quarterly installments.
Question 2, who is responsible for the application of the fund at the metropolitan, municipal and district levels?
Answer. Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Chief Executives, are by chapter twenty, article 243, 2b of the 1992 Constitution, responsible for the day- to-day performance of the executive and administrative functions of the assemblies. 2c, they are the chief representatives of the central Government in their assemblies. In my opinion, they are therefore the custodians and responsible for the application of funds and revenue mobilization as may be decided and directed by the general assemblies.
Question 3, what is MP common Fund?
Answer. As far as I have read and studied the article under Decentralization, there is no mention anywhere in the Constitution that defines anything as MP common Fund.
I do not know how Parliament came to agree to dole a portion of the District Assembly Common Fund to MPs and has since been known as MPs common fund, for all these years. It is unconstitutional, in my submission, and illegal. The fund has been set up for themselves without anybody monitoring its application. I have always referred to it as free pocket money for the Parliamentarians. That is the reason behind the sworn enmity between the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Executives, and shall never end until the issue is resolved in court. In my Constituency, nothing gets done because of that sort of enmity between successive DCEs and our MP. The problem must therefore be a National concern, but nobody cares.
The Honorable Minister of Local Government and Rural development Samuel Ofosu Ampofo is right on his remarks. He knows about the illegality and unconstitutionality of the MP fund which he claims is hindering the development of the rural areas.
He knows the problem, so what is he doing? Why is he only window dressing the issue? As a sector Minister, why can’t he go to court to challenge the constitutionality .or otherwise, of the MP common fund brouhaha?
Well, they can fool the people all the time, but they can’t fool all the people all the time (Bob Marley)
The issue will soon go to court.
Samuel Ofori Ampofo (Kade Constituency)