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General News of Monday, 4 March 2019

Source: dailyguidenetwork.com

Local government ministry signs agreement with assemblies

The Local Government and Rural Development Ministry has signed an agreement with Municipal Assemblies to implement the Ghana Secondary Cities Support Program (GSCSP).

The program is a successor to the Local Government Capacity Support Project (LGCSP) which ended in 2018 and has been designed to improve urban development management and basic urban services in 25 participating Municipal Assemblies.

It was negotiated by the Local Government Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank, approved by Cabinet, Parliament and the Board of the World Bank, and became effective on February 5, 2019.

It is a $100 million credit facility based on the World Bank’s Program for Result (PforR).

DGN Online understands that the program places emphasis on delivering results.

Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama speaking at the signing ceremony in Accra, said, “as the name suggests, participating Assemblies will only receive grants based on the results they produce”.

She added that “its focus is to ensure that officers in the participating Assemblies become effective urban managers and need to be at their best to be able to access the funds available at the various performance assessment levels”.

According to her, “The other participating institutions are the Environmental Protection Agency, the Land Valuation Division of the Lands Commission, Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice”.

The Minister observed that the then LGCSP was implemented by 46 Metropolitan and Municipal Assemblies and delivered development interventions covering the educational, health, economy, justice and security sectors and capacity building in urban management.

She recounted that the then LGCSP contributed immensely across its four implementing Components by improving fiscal decentralization through the establishment of an intergovernmental fiscal transfer system, which was led by the Ministry of Finance for which the OHLGS worked to improve the capacity of its staff in the participating Metropolitan and Municipal Assemblies to enable them deal effectively with critical urban issues like revenue mobilization, street addressing and improved service delivery.

“It also improved citizen’s involvement in local governance issues through the institutionalization of Town Hall Meetings and also the empowerment of citizens through the Social Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability Fora; and the improvement in the performance of Assemblies in priority infrastructure and service deliveries as a result of the performance-based Urban Development Grant (UDG) system”.

She said the focus on secondary cities and “greater urban areas” of the GSCSP aligns with the country’s commitment to urbanization as a strategy for sustainable development.

This, the Minister said also feeds into the New Urban Agenda Document and the Sustainable Development Goal 11, which focuses on delivering resilient urban cities and communities.

She said the GSCSP will be operated within the framework of the National Decentralization Action Plan and the National Urban Policy and Action Plan and will adopt the performance-based grant system for the release of Urban Development Grants.

“The release of grants to the participating Assemblies will be based on the success in the DPAT assessment, Urban Population of the Assembly and Scoring high on Urban Performance Benchmarks covering: Urban Planning and Services, Urban Economic Development and Competitiveness, Building and maintaining Sustainable Urban Systems and Efficient Urban Infrastructure Delivery”.

According to the Minister, under the Program, there is a menu of investments, which outlines projects that can be funded under the Program.