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Politics of Sunday, 22 June 2014

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Make judicious use of scarce funds -Minister tells MMDCEs

It is the responsibility of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) to ensure that the scarce resources available to the assemblies are judiciously utilised to provide the necessary social amenities for the communities, especially the rural ones within their jurisdiction.

This, according to the newly appointed Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Julius Debrah, would enable the MMDCEs to win the confidence of the people.

Mr Debrah made the remarks when he addressed a sensitisation workshop for MMDCEs drawn from the southern sector of the country, namely the Eastern, Volta, Western, Central and the Greater Accra regions in Koforidua yesterday.

The aim of the workshop was to update the MMDCEs on the state of the economy, especially the government’s fiscal and monetary policies, so that they would be able to manage scarce resources to execute projects and programmes that would benefit the people in the communities, especially those in the rural areas.

According to Mr Debrah, 7.5 per cent of the country’s revenue had been placed at the disposal of the assemblies for the provision of social amenities such as schools, roads, health facilities and other poverty alleviation programmes and that, MMDCEs must make judicious use of the funds for the provision of such facilities.

By doing so, Mr Debrah said, they would alleviate the suffering of the people who would in turn have confidence in them (MMDCEs.)

The minister emphasised that since so many amenities had to be provided, the MMDCEs should prioritise their programmes so that only social amenities that would be beneficial to the people would be put up.

“A chunk of the national budget has been channelled through you and as representatives of the President, you are obliged to make judicious use of the scarce resources at your disposal to win the confidence of the people,” Mr Debrah told the gathering.

He was hopeful that the political heads would live up to expectation.

A Senior Economist at the Ministry of Finance, Mrs Nelly Mireku, spoke on the government’s fiscal policies and challenges, she stated that since 2012, fiscal deficits had risen to a double digit of 11.5 per cent with inflation currently hovering at 14.8 percent and attributed the problem to a number of factors.

These, she said, included the implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure, reduction in the prices of gold with the attendant lay-offs of mine workers and dependence on crude oil to fuel thermal plants.

To address the problem, Mrs Mireku indicated that employment in the public sector had to be temporarily frozen, award of new contracts curtailed, subsidies on petroleum products removed, Value Added Tax increased slightly while debts had to be re-financed.

The Senior Economist who indicated that such measures had not been palatable for the people was hopeful that their implementation would put the economy on a sound footing.

That, according to her, would make available funds to continue with poverty alleviation programmes such as the Capitation Grant and the School Feeding Programme.

Dr Alberta Hagan of the Bank of Ghana also briefed the gathering on the recent policies of the bank which she explained would manage the liquidity system

Earlier, the Deputy Eastern Regional Minister, Ms Mavis Ama Frempong, in her welcome address, said although it had not been easy, the MMDCEs had lived up to expectation and expressed the hope that they would continue to work for the benefit of the people.