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Business News of Thursday, 24 February 2005

Source: GNA

BUDGET: 414.8 Billion Cedis Allocated to MLGRD

Accra, Feb.24, GNA - The Government has allocated 414.781 billion cedis to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development(MLGRD) for its activities this year, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said in Accra on Thursday.

Presenting the 2005 Budget Statement to Parliament, Mr Baah-Wiredu said 181.307 billion cedis of the amount was from the Government of Ghana and a donor component of 233.473 billion cedis.

He said for the fiscal year 2005, the Ministry would continue to pursue actions aimed at further deepening the decentralisation process and widening the access of the general citizenry to political authority and their involvement in the process of governance.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said in fulfilment of this commitment, the Ministry envisioned a number of policy reforms to enhance the implementation of the National Decentralisation Action Plan (NDAP).

These include, mainstreaming decentralisation into Public Sector Reform agenda; Integration of designated Ministries, Departments and Agencies into the District Assembly system as provided for in Act 656. Others are the increased discretionary and performance based funding to District Assemblies through a harmonized approach to allocation of resources; addressing any conflicting legal frameworks that inhibit the effective realisation of the decentralisation reform including the election of local government functionaries.

The rest is the improvements in the public-private partnership in local governance through enhanced engagement of civil society in the development process.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said work on Phase III of the Odaw drainage works, comprising the reconstruction of 2.75 km of the Odaw drain from Alajo to the Apenkwa, would continue.

He said implementation of the Second Urban Environmental Sanitation Project (UESP-2), which sought to consolidate the gains of the first UESP in improving environmental sanitation would continue in 2005 while the Private Sector Solid Waste collection component of the project would commence in all 5 beneficiary cities.

The Finance Minister said under the Promotion of District Capitals (PRODICAP) II Project, work on improvement of Markets, Lorry Parks and related Infrastructure in 22 towns in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions would be completed.

He said under the District Towns III Project, construction works on Schools, Clinics, limited extension to Water Supply systems, Markets and Lorry Parks in 10 Districts, which would benefit 27 towns in Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions, would be carried out.

He said detailed design of facilities would be completed and activities leading to the receipt of tenders for construction works under the District Town IV Project would commence.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said under the Local Governance Poverty Reduction Support Programme, 22 Districts in Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions would be assisted to integrate the poverty mapping into their Integrated Development Plans; improve management systems for markets and lorry parks and related infrastructure for effective revenue mobilisation in the PRODICAP Districts; and strengthen their Financial Management Systems.

He said the programme would also build the capacities of Civil Society Organisations, Traditional Authorities, NGOs and the Private Sector in Local Governance and Poverty Reduction.

The Finance Minister said for 2005, the total amount to be disbursed under the District Wide Assistance Project was the equivalent of CN$3.4 million. The number of beneficiary districts would increase from 24 to 34.

Each district will get a maximum of 700 million cedis on the basis of performance and absorptive capacity.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said major achievements of the MLGRD in 2004 included the establishment of the 15-member Local Government Service Council and a Technical sub-committee of the Council which had reviewed and updated functions of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) for stakeholders' consultation. The establishment of a National Decentralization Secretariat to service the Inter-Sectoral Committee and the Presidential Advisory Committee on decentralization.

The completion of the composite budgets for the three pilot districts of Dangme West, Dangme East and Akwapim North. Following the preparation of composite budget for the three pilot districts, the programme will be extended to 25 districts that will be selected from all the 10 regions.

The completion of tender documents and final designs under District Towns III Project for the improvement of schools, clinics and water systems in 27 towns within 10 Districts in Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions and the signing of construction contracts due to commence in the first quarter of 2005.

An increase in the progress of the Odaw drainage works from 50% in 2003 to 80% in 2004. The project comprises the reconstruction of the Alajo and Avenor Bridges, concrete lining of 1.25 km stretch of the Odaw channel between the 2 bridges and concrete lining of the 1.25km Odaw drain between the Avenor and Alajo Bridges were completed and handed over.

Commencement of work on the Phase III of the Odaw drainage works, which is expected to be completed in April 2006. The procurement of twenty-three cesspit emptiers and 20 solid waste collection skip trucks and their distribution to the District Assemblies on the Project.

The procurement and distribution of 150 tractors with roll-on-roll-off skip, together with 1000 Waste containers were also purchased and distributed.

Inauguration of 13 sub-metros and the passage of the Legislative Instrument aimed at strengthening the administrative and executive powers of the sub-metros and the proposed Deputy Metropolitan Chief Executives; and

the organization of Vocational/Technical training programmes by the training by Department of Community Development for 3654 youth. Mr Baah-Wiredu said under the District Head Assistance Project in 2004, 24 districts benefited from Upper West East and Northern Region. Each district received 630 million cedis and the total amount disbursed was 15,120 Billion cedis.

The districts that received 630 million cedis each in the Upper East Region were Bolgatanga, Bawku West, Bawku East, Kassena-Nankana, Builsa and Bongo districts while Jirapa/Lambussie, Nadowli, Lawra, Wa and Sissala districts from the Upper West Region also received same amounts each.

The districts from the Northern Region that benefited equally from the project are Tamale, West Mamprusi, Yendi, Savelugu/Nanton, West Gonja, East Mamprusi, Tolon/Kumbungu, Saboba/Chereponi, Bole, Nanumba North, East Gonja, Zabzugu/Tatale and Gushegu districts. In addition, the Secretariat located at the Ministry and other implementing partners including the Audit Service, CAGD, the RCC and DACF received A23,466,527,310.