Fifty-five Presiding Members have called for the amendment of Act 936 so that District Assemblies will be allowed to use their Common Fund for projects needed at the grassroots.
They also want the Amendment of the Act to be in line with the 1992 Constitution in order to give room for people to decide on the needs as well as citing of projects.
Mr Jonathan Hagan, Presiding Member of Ashmolean District Assembly and the Course Prefect, made this known to journalists during a five-day training dubbed, “Executive Programme in Local Governance for Local Authorities,” at the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILSA) in Madina, Accra last Thursday.
The training programme which drew participants from the Central, Volta, Eastern and the Greater Accra regions sought to sensitise Presiding Members (PS) to their oversight roles since they were key managers of the District Assemblies.
The participants were taken through topics on the decentralisation concept, leadership qualities, promotion of gender issues at the district level and legal framework of the local governance, among others.
Extension of office
Mr Hagan said the Presiding Members were also calling for the extension of their tenure of office from two years to four years to ensure stability.
According to him, per the tenure, Presiding Members who were branded as “tough” were usually booted from office through voting and it would be better if they were given four-year mandate just like the District Chief Executives (DCE).
Mr Hagan further called for the payment of Presiding Members ex-gratia from the Consolidated Fund instead of the Internally Generated Fund of the District Assemblies.
He cited some of the challenges facing the Presiding Members as lack of communication between them and DCEs, which resulted in conflicts, lack of resources, inadequate provision of information on contracts and District Assemblies Financial Statement
“We sometimes are not aware when monies were disbursed from the Common Fund to assemblies. By the time we get to know, these monies would be exhausted,” Mr Hagan added.
Mr Simon Booker, who is in charge of Management Development and Training, ILSA, said the participants were taken through managing the administrative and political interference of Municipal Metropolitan and District Assemblies.
He admitted that there were some conflicts in the relationship between Presiding Member’s, DCEs and Regional Coordinating Directors, noting that those conflicts stalled development in terms of decision making and implementation of projects.
He called for the mentorship programmes for the young ones who would take up positions, saying networking among Presiding Members should not be limited to only socialisation but be based on work and sharing of experiences.