The Ho West District Assembly in the Volta region has responded to publications in section of the media on an alleged misappropriation of the assembly?s allocation of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF).

Ghana cediReports in sections of the media in the past weeks suggested that, the infant assembly spent half a million cedis of its Common Fund allocation for 2014 on donations at funerals and festivals to chiefs and queenmothers, sitting allowances, transportation, among other.

However, a press release issued by the District coordinating Director, Oheneba Apau-Danquah, described as ?misleading? the amounts quoted in the said publications, stating that ?donation to Chiefs at festivals, funeral donations and T&T are not major expenditure items on the books of the Assembly.?

Below is the full Press Release

In Connection With The Recent Publications In The Chronicle Newspaper Of June,29 And Joy News Item Of 15th July On The Ho West District Assembly.
Our attention has been drawn to some highly disturbing news emanating from some press houses especially the Chronicle Newspaper and subsequently Joy News. The Ho West District Assembly has very cordial relations with the media and therefore it was particularly worrying that these press houses could not link up with the Assembly for clarification before going to press.

Since the inception of the District, the Ho West District is known to be one of the few districts that are making strides at revenue mobilization in support of its allocation of the Common Fund from central Government.
It has therefore becomes necessary to correct the wrong impressions created by the publications so as to set the records straight to forestall the good image of the Ho West District Assembly in the public eye.

We refer particularly to the news item or publications carried by the June 29th Edition of the Chronicle newspaper and Joy News item of Wednesday July,15 arising purportedly from an Audit Report of the Assembly covering the Assembly?s operations for the year 2014.(Joy FM also referred to some operations of the Assembly this year).

In the two publications that dwelt mainly on the said Audit Report, wild allegations were made against the Assembly which referred to the expenditure of over half a million cedis being spent on ?donations to Chiefs at festivals, travelling and transport allowances, funeral donations, independence and farmers day celebrations, etc

1. Donation to Chiefs at festivals, funeral donations and T&T are not major expenditure items on the books of the Assembly. According to the Joy News reporter, ?the Assembly has spent half a million Ghana Cedis of its Common Fund for 2014 and 2015 on funerals and donations to chiefs and queen mothers among other things at a time when the road infrastructure and other development projects are in dire condition?. For example donations to Chiefs/Queen mothers and communities at festivals for January ? December 2014 amounted to GHC11, 429.00 only and this included funeral donations. Transport and traveling expenditure covering the 12months period of 2014 was GHC33, 923.00. Expenditure on Farmers Day including cost of awards presented to deserving farmers amounted to GHC 27,707 whilst Independence Day celebrations across the district amounted to GHC 10,072.

Figures being bandied about concerning expenditure on the above-mentioned items amounting to several millions of Cedis are not consistent with those on our Books. As a matter of fact, our total receipts of the Common Fund for 2014 do not add up to half a million cedis which was said to be spent on donations, T&T and the like according to the publication.

We also refer to Joy News publication which stated that, ?construction works on the Dzolokpuita-Bame road which started a year ago have been suspended because there is no money? and that ?workers are at home waiting for funds to be released? and that ?the only hope was the District Assemblies Common Fund? emphasizing that ?the money has been used for something else?.

We want to state categorically that, the road works on this stretch of road started in 2010 before the creation of this district and that it has been awarded on contract since 2010 and hence does not depend or is not funded from the District Common Fund. The good news is that Government has taken steps to have this road and many others completed before the end of the year to put back smiles on the faces of the people.

In another vein, the publication especially in the Chronicle also touched on our revenue mobilization efforts.
The Assembly?s revenue sources since its creation in2012 included levies, fines, tolls etc as specified in the Assembly?s Fee Fixing Resolution of 2014.

One of the very first steps taken by the Assembly to generate revenue was the application of its 2012/13 District Development Facility (DDF) funds to improve upon the market structures in Kissiflui, Tsito and Anyirawase markets. These included the provision of market stalls, two warehouses, a toilet facility and a bathhouse at Kissiflui; provision of market stalls and a car park at Tsito and at Anyirawase, the provision of a car park and the refurbishment of market stalls to make it operate as a night market.
Other market centres like Kpedze and Dededo are also earmarked for a facelift when our next tranche of DDF is released.

One of the major constraints being faced by the Assembly is the lack of vehicles for monitoring purposes. Two old vehicles inherited from our mother district, Ho Municipal break down so often and are currently off the road andat the garages. The district which has over one hundred and ten (110) communities is about 100km apart. The Assembly has secured the approval from the Public Procurement Agency to sole-source and to procure two (2) Nissan pickups to facilitate its monitoring and revenue mobilization efforts. We expect to procure these vehicles soon. The Assembly is still carrying out sensitization programs within communities to educate citizens on the need to pay up and National Service personnel are being used to pick data as planned.

The closure of the Adomi Bridge has also adversely affected our revenue mobilization efforts at the various markets especially at Kissiflui and Dededo which have been our major sources of revenue.
Property rate collection has not been very encouraging and the Assembly is still devising means of getting citizens to pay up tax on property within the Assembly?s jurisdiction and a database is being provided to enable the Assembly achieve this goal. It is expected this activity will pick up as soon as our two pickups are procured.

A review, however, of the revenue performance of the Assembly showed that it achieved an overall revenue target of GHC 197,950.76 of its annual estimated figure of GHC 175,310.00 thus realizing a surplus of GHC22,641.00 (i.e24.12%) above target. Details are available.

PROJECTS
DACF PROJECTS- 2014
1. Office accommodation: One of the major problems faced by the Assembly soon upon coming into existence in 2012 was the issue of office accommodation to contain its own staff and those of the decentralized departments including Ghana Education Service. It has therefore since 2013 consistently committed its share of the Common Fund to renovate some abandoned structures off the Dzolokpuita- Kpedze road to accommodate these departments. These renovations are still on-going projects of the Assembly and are being funded from our share of the Common Fund.

2. Proposed Assembly Hall/ the District Magistrate Court: One of the projects the Assembly undertook from its Common Fund was to renovate and convert an open structure (Pavilion type) into an Assembly Hall for the district since it lacked enough space to hold its General Assembly meetings. The General Assembly meetings were therefore held in the nearby E.P Church Chapel. The proposed Assembly Hall was completed but by a unanimous decision of the Assembly, the said structure was approved to be used rather as the District Magistrate Court, and hence the Assembly continued to hold its meetings in the Chapel until it was dissolved. The conversion of the proposed Assembly Hall into the District Magistrate Court and the renovation and completion of its adjourning structures to serve as offices and temporary cells, the provision of the required furniture as well as a fitting accommodation for the Magistrate were all funded from our share of the Common Fund of 2014. The District Court was formally inaugurated on the 16th of June, 2015by the Supervising High Court Judge of Ho on behalf of Her Ladyship the Chief Justice.

3. Other projects funded from our share of the Common Fund for 2014 included the following among others;
1. Repair and maintenance of MKII hand pumps at Dzolo Gbogame
2. Completion of CHPS compound at AbutiaKissiflui
3. Installation of street signages accomplished in selected communities in the District.

4. District Assembly Common Fund Projects 2015:
Our share of the Common Fund for the year is earmarked for the following projects which have already been awarded:

1. Construction of one CHPS compound at Anyirawase
2. Construction of one CHPS compound at Luvudo
3. Construction of 1No 3- Unit classroom block for AbutiaKpota Basic school.
4. Construction of 1No 3-Unit classroom block for Aflakpe Basic School.
5. Construction of offices for the Tsito Town Council.

5. Block farm project
The Ho West District Assembly has identified agriculture as one of the potential areas to engage the youth of the area in productive work and to minimize youth unemployment.
The Assembly recognizes the limitation of rainfall in ensuring sustainable crop production in the district. To this end, the Assembly envisages the provision of irrigation infrastructure to ensure that the youth would have the potential for an all year round farming and not to be exposed to crop failure as a result of insufficient or an erratic rainfall distribution when they involve themselves in arable crop farming.

The objective of this study therefore is to delineate suitable areas of the district which have good soils and potential water resources for development to support irrigated agriculture.

The Project Area
The project area is located about 10km to 18km on the right side of the Volta Lake facing north. The potential project area (approximately 6,000ha) is bounded by the road from Dzolokpuita to Kpedze on the west the road from Kpedze to Aflakpe on the north the stretch from Aflakpe to DzoloGbogame on the East and the road DzoloGbogame to Dzolokpuita on the south between latitudes 6? 50N and 6? 45N and between 0? 23?E and 0? 31?E.

This is the flagship project of the District and is being jointly carried out by the Assembly and its technical partners, AgritopCo.Ltd of Israel and supported by EDAIF.
A detailed feasibility is to be carried out to determine a detailed soil and engineering survey prior to the takeoff of the project. It is expected that 374 ha of the total land area of 6,000 ha will be involved in irrigated rice cultivation as a pilot.

What is the main motive behind these publications?
Our own investigations have uncovered a plot by some elements within the district to cause negative and hair-raising publications in the media based on some documents including accounting and audit reports leaked or hijacked from the Assembly?s records. Such reports are to be embellished and put in the public domain via the press to trigger panic and havoc that will lead to massive demonstrations across the district to cause disaffection that would possibly lead to the removal and dismissal of certain key officers of the Assembly.
We are aware that a series of press publications are to follow those already published possibly within the week or so, to give credence to allegations already made and to justify demonstrations that are being feverishly planned.

Steps taken so far

MEETING WITH THE CHIEFS/QUEEN MOTHERS OF HO WEST:In the wake of these developments, the Assembly thought it wise to meet with the Chiefs and Queen mothers from the 16 traditional areas who are major stakeholders in the affairs of the District. This meeting which was held on the 15th July, 2015 at Dzolokpuita the capital, was meant to dispel the rumours and misconceptions arising from these publications. The District Chief Executive in his address explained the issues and touched on the negative image the publications would cause the District and how it would take away the much needed investments and assistance for developmental purposes. There were fruitful discussions that allayed the fears of those present.

Other stakeholder meetings were also held prior to this meeting.

Conclusion:
We are appealing to all well-meaning citizens,Chiefs and opinion leaders to rise up to challenge this menace and to stop these elements from carrying out this sinister plots aimed at stabbing this young upcoming district at the back just to achieve their own parochial personal interests.
We count very much on your cooperation in this matter that affects the very lives and the future of our people.
Thank you.

Issued for and on behalf of the Ho West District Assembly,
By OHENEBA APAU-DANQUAH, DISTRICT COORDINATING DIRECTOR. 0249583329/0207409490

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