The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) on Monday called on the Ministry of Local Government and rural Development to organise regular training for newly elected assembly members to build their capacities.IDEG

This, the institute said would build their capacities for effective service delivery in their communities.

According to IDEG most of these assembly members lack the capacity and skills to actively engage, mobilise the people, lobby, and effectively participate in local governance for development in their communities.

The Institute also called on the Ministry of Finance and the Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) to ensure regular disbursements of funds to metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to ensure that projects are implemented on time to improve service delivery.

It said late disbursements of these funds has contributed to the poor performance of Ghana?s local governance system and the current lack of interest and participation of citizens in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of economic and social policies and programmes at the lower levels of government.

Mr Ewald Garr, Acting Programmes Manager of IDEG, at a news conference on the findings of the Participatory Monitoring of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembly projects, said IDEG has been implementing a pilot project titled: ?Strengthening civic participation and social accountability in local governance? with funding from the United States Agency for International Development, in the Prestea Huni-Valley, Tarkwa Nsuaem, and the Shama Districts.

He said the objective of the project which was under the Ghana Local Governance and Decentralisation Programme (LOGODEP), was to strengthen civic participation and social accountability in Local Governance in the project districts, as a means to improve public service delivery and inclusive government.

He said under the project, IDEG mobilised the support of partner district assemblies and local civil society organisations to organise civil society groups, elected counsellors, citizens and members of traditional authorities in the pilot districts into Governance Issues Forums Networks (GIFNets) and build their capacities in areas including annual action plan and budget and mapped out development projects.

He said the project, which has been running since May 2014, to end in July 2015, has since recorded evidences of improved citizens? participation in local governance in area such as taxes, monitoring of projects, budgets, action plans and sources of funding for projects among other things.

The GIFNets platform, he said has therefore been a conduit for civic participation, and has build the capacities of GIFNets in monitoring physical projects and funding inflows into the DACF, government grants, internally generated funds of the assemblies, as well as donor aids.

He said the GIFNets were also given orientations on and also built the capacities of assembly members in the area of public deliberations, advocacy, lobbying, organisation and engagement to enable them to become efficient and effective in their operations.

According to Mr Garr until the LOGODEP project, citizens in the tree project districts were doubtful about local governance and apathetic towards District Assembly projects, partially because most citizens were ignorant of their rights and responsibilities to participate in governance.

He said there has also been media interactions on the delayed disbursements of DACF, which often delays project development and implementations at the local levels.

He said with the capacity training assembly members and citizens were now able to ask relevant questions about contracts and funding, making contractors and others officials also more opened to them in their dealings.

He said there were evidence of citizens? support in taxes, improved monitoring of district assembly projects and their sources of funding among other things, to keep them on their toes and civil society through GIFNets were now able to raise relevant questions on development projects and funding issues.

Mr Kwesi Jonah, Senior Research Fellow of IDEG, urged government to do more in terms of timely release of funding for projects to make local governance attractive, accountable and transparent to the people.

GNA

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