Common Fund To Regions Is Not Constitutional

Dr. Esther Ofei-Aboagye, Director of Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) has said the allocation of five percent of the Common Fund to Regional Coordinating Councils (RCC) for their monitoring and coordinating functions was not enshrined in any administrative or legal instrument. She said the practice was endangering the sustainability of regional resources and called for standardization, strengthening and resourcing of the RCCs. Dr. Ofei-Aboagye was addressing participants at a day's Regional Consultation Forum for the acceleration of Decentralisation in Ghana to offer the citizenry an opportunity to reflect on the concept of decentralisation and make inputs as to how best to deepen its process. She said the RCCs, given coordination, monitoring, information provision and harmonization and evaluation roles, they had extensive protocol, security and inter-district interventions. Their location and oversight roles confer responsibilities that do not have corresponding assignment of revenues. Dr. Ofei-Aboagye said coordination was aggravated by delayed integration of decentralised departments at the regional and district levels while the RCCs also faced challenges of different interpretations and expectations of decentralisation within a unitary context. She raised concerns about emerging issues in legal and policy framework and said there were divergent views between constitutional indication of decentralisation and the actual practices in the country. This has been buttressed by contradictory laws and sectoral practice and there was the need for explicit policy or strategy on the fundamental issues such as political, legal, financial and institutional assignment of functions between the central government and local government to regulate the process and demonstrate a way forward, Dr. Ofei-Aboagye said. She noted that in spite of some achievements and challenges in the operations of the decentralisation system, there appears to be general support for continuing the assembly system but with improvements. Mr. Mahmud Khalid, Upper West Regional Minister, urged participants to look at all aspects of the decentralisation concept freely and dispassionately devoid of any partisanship and to see what ideas they would bring to make system works to perfection. "We have quite a good legal framework for our decentralisation but I hasten to add that there are clear challenges which militate against the realization of the full benefits of decentralisation", he said.