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Regional News of Sunday, 23 October 2016

Source: 3news.com

Shama Assembly members protest GHC200,000 outboard motor money

The draft budget for the first quarter of 2017 fiscal year

Some members of the Shama District Assembly in the Western Region are up in arms about an amount of GHC200,000 smuggled into the assembly’s estimated budget for the first quarter of 2017 fiscal year.

The members say the amount, meant for the purchase of 50 outboard motors for fishermen in the district, was not part of the items that were discussed to be part of the 2016 budget.

The District Chief Executive, Eric Cobbinah, was said to have unilaterally included the amount in the budget; a situation that partly led to the boycott of a general assembly at which the budget was expected to be debated and approved.

The assembly members say the inclusion of the amount into the budget has heightened their suspicion because the outboard motors have already been bought and distributed to some NDC executives in the district.

“He [the DCE] never sought the approval of the General Assembly. You have gone ahead to get the funds from the assembly to pay for the outboard motors and you are now coming to us for ratification,” one of the members said.

Some of the members also accused the DCE of taking decisions without consulting them, noting that even summons for Wednesday’s meet were given to members at short notice when it ought to have been served on them two weeks to the date.

Responding to the claims of the assembly members, the DCE justified the decision to include the amount into the budget without the consent of the general assembly. He said general assembly meetings are held on quarterly basis, indicating that the assembly cannot always wait for a general assembly meeting to take urgent decisions.

“We have our general assembly on quarterly basis so you cant tell me that if a government policy that will help a category of our people come, we cant help the people until a general assembly decision,” Mr Cobbina said.

He added: “It’s not as if someone has committed an illegality. If anyone says we did not consult him, that’s not true because from the onset, they knew our budget; provisions for agriculture. Don’t they know fishing is part of agriculture?”

Mr Cobbina explained that the amount for the outboard motors would be from the district assembly common fund as part of government policies to promote agriculture.

He accused some of the assembly members of being partisan and seeking their own interest rather than the people they represent.

Meanwhile, the District Coordinating Director, Ibrahim Tijan, denied the allegation of having delayed summons letters but did admit that he was aware that three assembly members were unavailable to receive copies of the proposed budget.

According to him, the general assembly meeting has been adjourned to November 4, 2016 for the budget to be considered for approval.