General News of Sunday, 10 March 2013

Source: Citi FM

Mahama questions assemblies over DACF misuse

President John Dramani Mahama has accused local assemblies around the country of failing to “put in enough effort and determination towards the mobilisation of internally generated funds” to support their operations.

“Consequently, this situation has resulted in the lack of sufficient internally generated funds, thereby making it difficult for most Assemblies to meet their day to day recurrent expenditure,” the President has said in Sunyani on Saturday.

Recurrent expenditure can be loosely defined to mean ongoing expenses of an organisation, such as salaries and travelling expenses.

“This development has led to the misapplication of the Common Fund on recurrent expenditure by Assemblies even though the Fund is specifically meant for capital expenditure, thereby affecting the execution of many projects,” he told the gathering.

The Ghanaian leader was addressing journalists, local governance practitioners and Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assembly Chief Executives meeting in Sunyani for a two-day workshop on the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF).

His address was read for and on his behalf by the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Eric Opoku.

He said because the DACF “is reliable” most local authorities have developed “inertia and complacency” in raising local revenue.

Worried that the trend was seriously stifling local development, the President has directed all local assemblies to stop further use of their share of the DACF to pay for recurrent expenditure.

But, while directing his subordinates to stop misuse of the DACF, the Ghanaian leader fell short of announcing what kind of punishment he intends to slap on his representatives who defy him.

The President, however, conceded that the story of the DACF is not all gloom and doom and that there was strong evidence of judicious use of the fund in some districts.

“For example, over the last four years, since our assumption of office, the twenty-two (22) now twenty-seven (27) M/DAs in the Brong Ahafo Region have judiciously used the Fund to execute various development projects in their various areas which has led to improvement in the standard of lives of our people,” he said.

Happy with the development, the Ghanaian leader therefore, requested all Assemblies to go strictly by the guidelines in the utilisation of the Fund “to ensure that the Fund is actually used for the intended purpose as stipulated in the guidelines.”

The guidelines require local assemblies to use their portions of the Fund for projects that relate to social services, economic ventures, environmental protection, people with disabilities, malaria prevention, the fight against HIV/AIDS and the National Youth Employment Programme among others.

But, for years, local assemblies have been diverting their share of the Fund to pay for projects not originally intended by the guidelines governing the use of the fund, a situation said to have retarded development projects in most Assemblies.

“If you use a substantial portion of” your share of the DACF on recurrent expenditure, “you deny the people of development,” the Administrator of the DACF, Kojo Fynn said at the workshop, shortly before the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister read the President’s address.

The DACF boss said, his office will soon ask Parliament to help address the problem of misuse of the Fund through legislation, restricting Assemblies on what percentage of their share of the Fund can go into recurrent expenditure.

But, at the same workshop, Dormaa Central Member of Parliament, Kweku Agyemang Manu, pooh-poohed the President’s directive, saying the indiscriminate creation of new districts around the country by successive governments is also partly to blame for the growing misuse of the DACF.

“The President is talking for nothing,” he said, adding: “Some of the districts are not economically viable,” he explained why they feel compelled to fall on the DACF.