A survey on the model standing orders of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) has indicted MMDAs for failing to adhere to the standing orders in undertaken assembly business, thus defeating the essence of local governance.

The survey, released in Tamale, was conducted by the Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA), a Tamale-based non-governmental organisation, in collaboration with Tamale Office of the Centre for Democratic Development ? Ghana (CDD ? Ghana), Tamale Campus of the Institute of Local Government Studies, Rural Media Network and the Local Governance Network.

It was conducted in November, last year, through interviews with assembly members, presiding members, and Heads of 25 MMDAs across the 10 regions of the country.

The study sought to assess the opinions of the citizenry on the degree of enforcement of the model standing orders amongst local authorities with the view to enhancing the decentralisation process and strengthening public interest and participation in debates at district assemblies.

It found that MMDAs did not announce their meetings in the media; there was lack of adherence to the period of notice required for summoning members to assembly meetings; there was low citizens? awareness on frequency and types of assembly meetings; and delayed circulation of minutes of assembly meetings.

Other failures of the MMDAs as per the survey included lack of access to minutes of assembly meetings; non-availability of model standing orders in local languages and MMDAs?; and the rare debate on the Member of Parliament and Persons with Disabilities shares of the District Assemblies Common Fund, at assembly meetings.

The model standing orders are guidelines for the conduct of business at MMDAs, urban, zonal, town or area councils and unit committees, which provided a framework to regulate the behaviour, procedures and final actions in the conduct of assembly business.

The survey concluded that: ?If the rationale for local government is built around effective public participation, efforts should be made to improve awareness and education on the model standing orders.?

It said ?In view of the significance of minutes of MMDAs at the local level and to enhance the timely flow of discussions and decisions of assemblies to the public, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) should consider placing time limits on preparation and circulation of minutes of assembly meetings to the public.?

It said this would ensure effective tracking and monitoring of decisions taken at meetings of the general assembly.

It called on civil society organisations, the media and the MLGRD to deepen public education and sensitisation on the Model Standing Orders to promote social accountability and public tracking of the conduct of assembly business.

Alhaji Limuna Mohammed-Muniru, the Northern Regional Minister, whose speech was read on his behalf, commended the GDCA and partners for the initiative to improve participation in local governance as well as promote social accountability for the development of the country.

Alhaji Mohammed-Muniru spoke about the importance of the general assembly?s meetings of MMDAs and expressed the need for MMDAs to ensure that such meetings were representative of all interest groups and communities, as defined by the Local Government Act.

Alhaji Osman Abdel-Rahman, the Executive Director of GDCA, expressed gratitude to

STAR ? Ghana, a multi-donor pooled funding agency, and the Empowerment for Life Programme for sponsoring the study.


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