The size of the government has seen significant downsizing.
The reasons are manifest writing on the walls! Keeping government size small and impactful has become necessary in ensuring optimum performance and the full maximization of public resource investments towards improving upon livelihoods, employment creation, social infrastructure improvements amongst others. Contemporary issues of public discourse have centred on the transition from a largely informal sector to an all-inclusive formal sector.
To wit, formalization of the national economy is the vehicle to bring about the realization of the Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda. Writing under the heading,’’ Consequences of Covid-19 on financing sustainable development in low and middle-income countries eligible for Official Development Assistance (ODA), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), suggested that, the levels and trends in domestic and external financing fell short of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) spending needs already, even prior to the onset of the pandemic.
This statement posits has led to a significant reduction in the financing available to developing economies. The OECD said;’’ in sum, external private finance inflows to developing economies could drop by USD700billion in 2020 compared to 2019 levels, exceeding the immediate impact of the 2008 global financial crisis by 60%’’.
The recent budget statement by the Ministry of Finance painted a gloomy picture about our own economy depicting fiscal shortfalls resulting in some revenue downturn of some GHC13.5 billion Cedis amidst growing expenditures- thanks to Covid-19. A lot of steps and measures have been announced by the government to Fastrack our recovery process and to champion both the regional and continental agenda.
In all of this, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development had to be better placed to lead the path through strengthening all the local state institutions at the decentralized grassroots levels towards ensuring active participation of the entire citizenry. Building on existing policy frameworks for institutional capacities of the devolved structures of local government would entail pragmatism.
Mainstreaming government policy priorities is important to enabling Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to lead the transformation in local government administration and precipitating reforms. Ghana now has an additional six (6) regions and district delineations across the country- a commendable effort from Hon. Dan Botwe delivered with dispatch and distinction. This has essentially brought governance structures close to the governed. Full of expectation in the improvement of their circumstance, the local government institution shall have to leverage on existing local level capacities to deliver the needs of not only peoples of their jurisdiction but dovetailing the successes into the grand national and sub-regional agenda.
A strong local government system has to contribute to expanding the frontiers of policy- for instance- in basic infrastructure provisioning, improving on peace and security through an e-justice system expansion, supporting the digital transformation, production of food to ensure national food security through a coordinated and holistic approach and to stem the tide of unbridled importation amongst others.
In writing this piece, we took a look at existing materials on the matter in issue, local government role in leading the national resuscitation efforts after the pandemic. Indeed, this subject was adequately discussed by the academic journal, Journal of African Studies and Development which published a paper titled: Policy and Institutional Perspectives on Local Economic Development in Africa: the Ghanaian Perspectives. Their review accepted on 05 September 2013, was authored by Mssr. James Kwame Mensah, Kwame Ameyaw Domfeh, Albert Ahenkan and Justice Nyigmah.
They wrote: ‘’Local Economic Development(LED) involves identifying and using primary local resources, ideas and skills to stimulate economic growth and development with the aim of creating employment opportunities, reducing poverty, and redistributing resources and opportunities to the benefit of local residents. Growth and development cannot take place in an institutional and legal vacuum.’’
Further, their assertion said; ‘’local development and growth, require an institutional and legal framework that allows development to take place in an orderly manner in which agents know that the decisions they take and the contracts they make, will be protected by law, and enforced’’.
Largely, the said publication profusely sought to examine the policy and institutional framework on local economic development in Ghana.
Perforce, local government stakeholders and theorists shall look forward to the policy direction the ministry will point to with the aim of helping the rapid recovery of the socio-economic constraints presently posed by the ravaging pandemic.
Hon. Dan Kwaku Botwe is believed to have a full grasp of the gravity of the issues and disposed to collaboratively working with both the national and sub-national stakeholder groups towards triggering the necessary actions, institutional and legal, to achieve our collective goals of rapid socio-economic growth.
Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including the MMDAs, in the light of the very new normal circumstances, have integral and crucial roles to play in the national efforts of salvaging our common challenges. Our nation must see concrete progress at reconstruction, improving indigenous lives, promoting private ingenuity, hastening up its industrialization to feed into the continental agenda under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) ideals.
Power to the People
A Local Government Analyst
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