The Government has been urged to come clear on its intended centralisation of collection of property rates on behalf of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
The Local Governance Network (LOGNet), the umbrella body of civil society organisations in local governance, said government needed to explain the purpose of such a proposal for the understanding of all.Follow @Graphicgh
Government, in the 2022 Budget Statement, has proposed a common platform for the collection of property rates on behalf of MMDAs.
That, the LOGNet said, would be counter-productive to the decentralisation agenda, and wanted the government to consider better options so as to make fiscal decentralisation at the local level practical and sustainable.
A statement issued by LOGNet and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Kumasi, said: “The Legislative Instrument (LI) that established each of the assemblies draws its inspiration from the 1992 Constitution while the overall burden for the development of the districts rests with the assemblies.”
“Furthermore, Section 152 of Act 936 (Act 2016) provides for a decentralised local government system, granting autonomy to MMDAs to plan, raise revenue and oversee developments in their administrative jurisdictions.”
It said the assemblies were the only rating authorities within the district and, therefore, were mandated by law to collect revenue from their citizens; prominent among the list is property rates.
The statement said a common practice with regard to local governance throughout the world was the autonomy in property rates collection and management by assemblies, adding that: “Property rate is a major source of revenue for MMDAs in Ghana and the status quo must remain.”
While admitting that property rate collection must be improved, LOGNet believes the main challenge is from the non-existence of a reliable database.
“Many MMDAs across the 16 regions have invested hugely in infrastructure and technology to aid the collection of their property rates,” the statement said.
It also said the Finance Minister acknowledged in the Budget that the MMDAs were already using the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development (MLGDRD) District Level Revenue Software.
“Therefore, the proposed common platform will be a huge setback to the gains made by the assemblies overtime, and this should be reconsidered,” it added.
“What the MMDAs need from the central government is an enabling environment and strengthening of capacities but not a takeover under any revenue sharing arrangement.”
“Most assemblies assigned un-assessed rates to properties, which is really the challenge to the collection of property rates,” the statement said. —