Workshop for Parliamentary Select Committee on Local Government underway in Koforidua

Members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Local Government and Rural Development, on Tuesday began a three-day induction workshop in Koforidua to develop and refine an annual work-plan and budget for the Committee. Star-Ghana is supporting the workshop which is on the theme: �Strengthening Transparency, Accountability and Responsiveness in Ghana�. It was aimed at providing a forum for reflecting on and updating participants� knowledge of their responsibilities as legislators, particularly in the context of local governance. It also sought to familiarize the Members of Parliament (MPs) with initiatives, reforms and challenges of decentralisation and local governance in Ghana. Mr Akwasi Oppong-Fosu, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said over the last two decades, efforts at local governance and decentralisation had been key part of national policy. �In 2009, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) embarked on a major drive to accelerate and deepen the drive towards local governance and decentralization,� he said. He said that drive was part of the Ministry�s contribution towards the national effort at hastening the development efforts of the country by making it possible for the majority of the people to participate in the development process. Mr Oppong-Fosu said, consequently, a number of initiatives were put in place to ensure that the drive to deepen local governance and decentralization was made a reality. �In the past four years the Ministry has initiated a review of various pieces of legislation pertaining to local government and decentralization�. He indicated that the purpose of those reviews was to provide the legal framework for deepening local government and decentralization. �For instance LI 1961 has been put in place to give effect to agencies in the districts to become departments of the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) in furtherance of devolution at the district level,� Mr Oppong-Fosu. �Also, LI 1967 has been passed to provide legal recognition to the sub-district governance structures, thereby giving meaning and effect to delegation as the third strand of the national decentralization policy�. The Minister said government had also put in place various policies aimed at accelerating the pace of local governance and decentralization adding that in 2010, Cabinet gave approval to the National Decentralization Policy Framework and its accompanying Action Plan designed and formulated by the Ministry. He said the policy framework was adopted at a national consensus on the conceptual meaning of decentralization in Ghana. Mr Oppon-Fosu said based on that consensus the policy framework reorganized the decentralization programme into coherent thematic areas that defined specific policies. Some of the policies are: National Environment and Sanitation Policy, Local Economic Development Policy, Urban Development Policy, Street Naming and House Numbering Policy, and Public Private Partnership Policy Framework among others. Mr Oppon-Fosu said the implementation of those policies required a bi-partisan approach from both sides of the House. Mr Ibrahim Tanko Amidu, Programme Manager of Star-Ghana, said Parliament�s critical oversight and representation roles in Ghana�s governance arrangements could not be underscored. He said the responsibility of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Local Government and Rural Development in ensuring Ghana�s sustainable growth and equitable service delivery was important given that Ghana had chosen to address poverty through a decentralised management approach.