|Professor Kwamina Ahowi|
Currently, it is the President who has the mandate to create new district assemblies.
This proposal is to reduce, if not eliminate completely, the suspicions that have attended the creation of new districts in the country in 2003, 2007, and 2012.
A cross section of Ghanaians, since the creation of these districts, have perceived it to be politically motivated by the government in power in order to win more Parliamentary seats during national elections.
Also, the President’s power to dissolve or suspend a District Assemblies (DA) by an Executive Instrument was now restricted to a year only.
However, if the President wants to extend the period beyond one year, he must renew the Executive Instrument, and this is to prevent Presidents from abusing the power or using it to punish DA’s they consider to be “hostile.”
The draft also moved the basis for the creation of districts from the predominantly political consideration to mainly technical consideration such as planning, economic viability and service delivery to make the districts sustainable for the future.
Explaining further the details of the draft, the former Minister for Local Government, Professor Kwamina Ahwoi, said for effective performance of district assemblies, all Presiding Members (PM) and Assembly Members should be paid emoluments chargeable on the Consolidated Fund.
“It is a price we have to pay for effective and efficient decentralisation which we have all agreed is the way to go,” he added.
Also, PM’s can now be elected by at least two-thirds majority of the members of the assembly present, adding that the cumbersome requirements for the election of the PM by two-thirds of all the members of the assembly with its attendant delays, costs and stalemates would become a thing of the past.
Professor Ahwoi said the restriction placed on the tenure of office of the District Chief Executive (DCE) has also been lifted, as recommended by the regional fora that led to the Decentralisation Policy Framework.
“The DCE term of office is now being left open instead of the restrictive two term succession. This should remove the desire of DCE’s to become Members of Parliament (MP’s) in order to ensure their security of political office and should contribute to the reduction in the conflicts between DCEs and MPs,” he explained.
Furthermore, the Head of the Local Government Service is now the Secretary to the Local Government Council instead of the situation under the Local Government Service Act in which the Secretary was appointed by the Minister of Local Government.
Additionally, the appointment of the Staff of the Local Government Service and the Departments of the District Assemblies was to be done by the Head of the Local Government Service as an interim measure. Ultimately, the DA’s would have the power to “hire and fire” their staff.
Professor Ahwoi said , bye-laws of DA’s were now to be submitted to the various Regional Coordinating Councils (RCC), for them to ensure their consistency with national legislation instead of submitting it to the Minister of Local Government for approval.
He explained that the requirements for bye-laws had to be gazetted before becoming valid, which many DA’s were not doing because of the very high cost of publication and, therefore, could not be enforced by the courts because it was relaxed.