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General News of Friday, 10 July 2009

Source: GNA

Paul Boateng calls on Yieleh Chireh

Accra, July 10, GNA - Mr. Paul Boateng, a Ghanaian-born British politician on Friday paid a courtesy call on Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, in his office. Mr Boateng, who was accompanied by his wife Janet, shared a number of experiences and successes of the British Local Government system, saying the United Kingdom had been in a learning process for the past years and had been able to develop strong structures to empower its local authorities to implement government policies and programmes at the local level.

He engaged the Minister in thought provoking discussions on how Ghana could improve upon its Local Government system and make it more relevant to the development of good governance, saying the price to pay for the neglect of local governance was huge, as development in terms of both human and infrastructure could be stagnant. Mr Boateng underscored the importance of local government as it involved all stakeholders at the local level in governance and said the people should be involved as much as possible in resource mobilization for the development in their own localities instead of looking up solely to the central government for funding. He said Ghana's local government system needed to be reviewed as there were currently major discrepancies in areas as town planning and the rating systems.

Mr Yieleh Chireh said the Local Government system in Ghana was inundated with numerous problems making it difficult to function to its maximum.

He mentioned inadequate to resources, both technical, financial and human, the total transfer of power to Local Authorities, lack of political will, poor revenue collection mechanisms, as well as various scenarios of incompetence on the part of some Chief Executives as a few of the challenges facing the system. He said though the awareness had now been created on the crucial role that local governance played in national development, it was left to all stakeholders to remain committed to the process and ensure that the system worked in all localities.

Mr Chireh said government was in the process of reviewing the local government system, cutting down on the large numbers of Unit Committee and Assembly members so as to make the system more efficient and accountable to the people.

He ascribed the current difficulty pushing government's policies and programmes at the local governance level to poor coordination, supervision and poor knowledge of government budget by the local assemblies.

He said government was also putting in place various capacity building programmes for local assembly members as well as all staff under the local government to boost their performances. "The entire system would be reviewed to ensure that the local government system becomes effective in Ghana," he said. He said other areas, including revenue collection and environmental sanitation were also high on the agenda of government, while the development of basic infrastructure in deprived communities were being enhanced to attract local government staff to relocate away from the central government for an effective decentralization system.