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Bill To Curb Creation Of Districts


Bill To Curb Creation Of Districts

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A bill to, among others, curtail the creation of districts after every population census is being finalised.

The draft Consolidated Local Government Bill, which is being championed by the Inter-Ministerial Co-ordinating Committee on Decentralisation (IMCC), seeks to replace the hitherto absolute minimum population thresholds for the creation of districts (75,000 for districts, 95,000 for municipalities and 250,000 for metropolis) with a formula based on the percentage of total national population.

Therefore, in view of this bill, for a place to qualify as a district, based on the current national population, it must have a population of about 149,000 people, representing 0.5% of the national population, 1% to become a municipality, and 2% to become a metropolis.

It also seeks to transfer the power for the creation of districts from the President to the Electoral Commission, with the prior approval from Parliament.

Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, a local government expert, listed these provisions when he made a presentation on the bill at a stakeholders’ consultative workshop in Tamale, organised by the IMCC for civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations whose activities border on decentralisation.

The two-day workshop, which opened on Friday, was to afford the IMCC to present the contents of the bill to the stakeholders and solicit their inputs before presenting it to Cabinet for approval and subsequent parliamentary approval.

The reason for drafting this bill is to consolidate the five major pieces of legislation on local government and decentralisation; namely District Assemblies’ Common Fund Act, 1993, Act 455, Local Government Act, 1993, Act 462, National Development Planning (System) Act, 1994, Act 480, Local Government Service Act, 2003, Act 656 and Internal Audit Agency Act, 2003, Act 658.

Thus, in this one piece of legislation are all the provisions on the critical components of decentralisation articulated in Article 240 of the Constitution; namely fiscal decentralisation (Acts 455, 462, and 658), political decentralisation (Act 462), decentralised planning (Act 480), and administrative decentralisation (Act 656) to allow for ease of access.

Professor Ahwoi’s presentation was titled ‘The draft Consolidated Local Government Bill: Political Decentralisation, including Regional Level Governance new issues: Part 1, Clauses 1 37, Part 16, Clauses 184 194’.

He said the bill proposed that presiding members and assembly members be paid emoluments chargeable on the Consolidated Fund, to enable them to perform their duties effectively.

He said the bill also proposed that the position of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executive be elective.

Mrs Estelle Appiah, Member of the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee, also made a presentation on the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), which had received Government’s White Paper, saying the Members of Parliament’s (MPs) Common Fund was to be scrapped because apart from it being a bane on the economy, it was not clear how the MPs administered the fund.

Mrs Appiah, however, said the Government’s White Paper accepted that the MPs’ Common Fund be replaced with the Constituency Development Fund.

Mr Akwasi Opong-Fosu, Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, said the President was committed to accelerating the country’s decentralisation process because it was a critical strategy for development.

Alhaji Limuna Mohammed Muniru, Northern Regional Minister, expressed hope that when the bill was passed into law, it would enhance the practice and progress of decentralisation and local government in the country.

Dr Callistus Mahama, Executive Secretary of IMCC, said the IMCC would hold its final consultation with MPs before submitting the bill to Cabinet.

Meanwhile, this bill will be passed into law after the recommendations of the CRC are approved through a referendum and passed by Parliament into law, since some of the provisions of the bill are dependent on the outcome of the referendum.

Source: The Finder



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