Dr Callistus Mahama, Executive Secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Decentralization (IMCC), has said the policy gap in the National Decentralization Policy Framework has affected the country?s development.

He said lack of consensus on which sectors to include in the decentralization, and the inability to clearly define the specific aspects of the functions to be decentralized.

?Decentralization is a process, and should therefore follow proper consultation and consensus building.?

Dr Mahama was speaking at the presentation of a draft guideline document developed by SEND-Ghana, a non-Governmental Organization to the IMCC in Accra.

The draft guidelines are to manage the relations between Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

The guidelines define the principles and standards that should underpin the governance relationship between MMDA?s and CSOs, and provide a framework for the parties to appreciate their peculiar circumstances, and the areas of collaboration that are necessary for institutional strengthening and good local governance.

They also prescribe some actions and indicators which MMDAs and CSOs could use to test and measure progress, results and achievements of their collaboration, and the evaluation could serve as an incentive for review of the governance arrangements, and enable them to develop internal and inter-institutional mechanisms to either maintain or upscale for effectiveness.

Dr Mahama, who is also the Head of Local Government Service Secretariat (LGSS), said the draft guidelines are very comprehensive, and that this was an opportunity for the service to improve on Ghana?s decentralization policy to also promote MMDAs and CSOs collaboration.

He said the Institute of Local Government Studies started the development of guidelines to enhance the relationship between traditional authorities and MMDAs.

He said the IMCC should discuss key issues and programmes arising from the decentralization policy and its implementation, as well as to ensure coherent implementation of the arising programmes on a multi-sectoral basis to enhance local governance and decentralization in the country.

Ms Clara Osei-Boateng, SEND-Ghana Director of Policy Advocacy Programmes, in an overview of the guidelines, said the draft classified relations management into five thematic areas, and provided sub-topics under each thematic area, such as the goal, objectives, actions and indicators for tracking progress and enablers.

She said the draft ends with frameworks for monitoring and evaluation, communication strategy and a review of the Guidelines, and also CSOs contribution towards realizing the objectives of the National Decentralization Action Plan.

Ms Osei-Boateng said the strategic objectives of managing MMDAs-CSOs relations were to reduce conflicts, and create mutually beneficial support systems geared towards the promotion of local democratic values, improved living standards and increase engagement between MMDAs and CSOs in local governance.

She said the five thematic areas of the guidelines include Governance/Political Relations, which will involve issues of participation, transparency, accountability, human rights, inclusion and decision making, rights based issues and consultation opportunities.

It also include Social Relations Management, involving issues of community mobilization, relevant communication channels, public education and information dissemination and advocacy and Economic Relations Management involving issues of Local Economic Development, economic support activities and incentives.

The others are Institutional Relations Management which involves issues of infrastructural and development support, networks, cooperation, roles clarity, coordination, dialogue platforms, exchange programmes, learning from each other, capacity building, sub-structure relations, value-addition, mutuality issues and independence of entities and Managerial/Administrative Relations Management involving issues of service delivery, tracking resource utilization, performance assessment, peer review mechanisms, expertise and technology transfer.

GNA

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