Newly sworn-in assembly members have implored government to ensure the timely release of district assembly common fund (DACF).
They observed that the continuous delay in the release of the fund impedes local community development.
The assembly members were reacting to a call made by the Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, Daniel Kwaku Botwe for them to live up to their core mandate of bridging the development gap in their various electoral areas.
The Minister, speaking at the inauguration and swearing-in of elected and appointed members of the 9th Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, tasked them to prioritize the development needs of their electoral areas.
But the assembly members say the delay in the release of the common fund, if not addressed, may hinder their effort to address the developmental needs of their people.
“Without the common fund, how can we push for development in our electoral areas? Our people are already looking up to us to improve certain things. We are ready to do our part, so the Minister should also tell the Finance Ministry to do their part by releasing the fund on time”, assembly member for Odumase CPC, Isaac Owusu said.
The District Assemblies’ Common Fund (DACF) is a pool of resources created under section 252 of the 1992 constitution of Ghana. It is a minimum of 5% of the national revenue set aside to be shared among all the 259 District Assemblies in Ghana at every quarter with a formula approved by Parliament.
This is meant to ensure equitable distribution of national resources across the country.
But for more than one year, most Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies have not received their share of the DACF.
This, according to some assembly members has led to a halt in many community projects.
“Our main concern at Asafo has to do with the absence of the police station. It was put in the assemblies’ action plan in 2021, rolled over in 2022, then in 2023 and we are now in 2024. Anytime I follow up, I’m told the DACF has not been released. It’s a bit frustrating because the need of Asafo is yet to be fixed”, assembly member for Asafo electoral area, Ernest Okai shared.
Responding to the concerns of the assembly members, Dan Botwe admitted that the delay in release of the Common Fund is worrying.
He however was quick to add that, it should not be used as an excuse not to develop the electoral areas since the various Assemblies mobilise more Internally Generated Funds (IGF) than what they receive as Common Fund.
“Assemblies should be resourceful. The IGFs all stay in the Assemblies. We should begin to question how judiciously the revenues the Assemblies raise are spent. The Common Fund which is supposed to come every quarter is something that has not been satisfactory over the years. So, as the executive arm of government we admit that gap and we will ensure that the Finance Ministry releases the money as regularly as it should”.
On the issue of female participation in local governance, the Minister was concerned about their low representation.
Of the 66 members forming the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), only six are women out of which two were elected and four appointed.
The local government Minister wants to see this improved.
“Female participation is very low in terms of those who put themselves up for election and those who even get elected. For the past five years, it has not been encouraging. That is why the President has directed that 30 percent of the appointees should be reserved to females and persons living with disability”.
After a second-round of voting, the incumbent Presiding Member, Patrick Kwame Frimpong who doubles as the assembly member from Krofrom East was retained to steer the affairs of the Assembly for the next two years.