By Cecil Mensah
The Ministry of Local Governments and Rural Development in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, has launched a campaign dubbed, “Citizens, Know Your Budget” to promote citizens participation in the budgetary allocation to the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the country.
According to the Ministry, this will ensure that the MMDAs are held accountable and prevent the wanton dissipation of the public purse.
Speaking at the launch in Accra, attended by the Municipal Chief Executive(MCE) of Tema Municipal Assembly (TMA), Isaac Ahai Odamtten, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Adentan Municipal Assembly(AdMA), Benjamin Angenu and the Deputy Greater Accra Minister, Isaac Djanman Vanderpuije, the Deputy Minister for Local Government
and Rural Development, Nii Lante Vanderpuije, said the launch marks an important milestone in the democratic annals of the country.
According to him, by adopting democracy, Ghana has a responsibility to ensure good governance and active citizen participation in the development processes.
He noted that this was the more reason the government was committed to the Decentralization Action Plan, which prioritizes citizen participation in local governance and development.
He said, the campaign was to inform the citizens about the budget process in order that they can understand, ask questions and contribute to broader discussions on local and national budgets.
“The campaign to educate and encourage citizens to participate, especially in the budget process is timely and positive, in an era where accountability has become a watch-word for good governance.
“I am pleased to inform you that, the campaign was initiated by the Social Accountability Unit of the Ministry on the theme: Citizens, Know Your Budget”.
He explained that the ministry was aware participation of citizens in decision-making at both the national and especially local levels was one of the pillars of good governance.
Indeed, greater participation of civil society and citizens in the decision-making processes, in terms of planning and budgeting of local governments improves quality of service and leadership, he added.
He said over the years, reform programmes have been introduced to enhance public sector efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability.
In spite of these reforms , citizens participation at the local level remains weak as a survey by the ministry on citizen’s perception of local government performance in twenty three MMDAs indicate that 93 percent of 3678 respondents had never participated in any budget process of MMDAs where they lived.
According to him, over a third of the respondents are also not aware of their rights to participate in the budget process of MMDAs.
Only two percent of the respondents were aware of their MMDAs sources of revenue and less than one percent was aware of the expected income of their assembly.
He said, the survey was being implemented to promote and strengthen fiscal decentralization, as well as local government accountability mechanisms in 46 MMAs in the country.
This is to ensure that MMDAs are held accountable by citizens.
He concluded that the project was designed to promote Social Accountability in the Local Government process.