ASSEMBLY MEMBERS NEED TO BE REMUNERATED FOR EFFICIENT SERVICE DELIVERY

Section-16 of Local Government Act 936, charges members of a District Assembly (Assembly Members) to as appropriate maintain close contact with the electoral area of the District Assembly, consult the people of the electoral area on issues to be discussed in the District Assembly, collate their views, opinions, and proposals; present the views, opinions and proposals of the electorate to the District Assembly; attend meetings of the District Assembly and meetings of sub-committees of which that member of the District Assembly is a member; meet the electorate before each meeting of the District Assembly; report to the electorate the general decision of the District Assembly: and actions the member has taken to solve problems raised by residents in the electoral area; draw attention in general debate to national policies that are relevant to the subject under discussion; actively participate in the work of the sub-committees of the Executive Committee; bring to bear on any discussion in the District Assembly the benefit of the skill, profession, experience or specialized knowledge of the member; maintain frequent liaison with organised productive economic groupings and other persons in the district; and take part in communal and development activities in the district.

It is on this backdrop that the  National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG), is pressing for a monthly allowance structure for Assembly Members within the local governance setting who are both elected and appointed as people’s representative at the various assemblies to encourage efficient service delivery.

It is a known fact that Assembly Members do not receive monthly salary but only sitting allowances during assembly meetings, which in most cases are kept in arrears.

In a Press Statement released by the General Secretary on behalf of the Association, the Association is calling for a National dialogue on the need to remunerate the Assembly members as part of Government’s effort to increasing the number of Assembly members in the newly created Districts.

Below is a statement signed by NALAG’s General Secretary, Hon Kokro Amankwah;

WELFARE OF ASSEMBLY MEMBERS – THE BEST WAY TO IMPROVING LOCAL GOVERNANCE IN METROPOLITAN, MUNICIPAL, AND DISTRICT ASSEMBLIES (MMDAs) – NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES OF GHANA (NALAG)

In recent time, the public elections of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCE’s) has earned priceless space in our media landscape; but conspicuously missing in the conversation, is the welfare of Assembly members who constitute the fulcrum of a District Assembly, considering the powers granted and responsibilities bestowed on them by the constitution, and legislative framework governing local governance and decentralization in Ghana.

It is in this genuine intent that the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) will like to throw light on the relevance of Assembly members in the decentralization process. And perhaps, to cure the lingering perception, that, the expansion of the electoral college to accommodate the general public in the elections of MMDCE’s through amendment of the national constitution; as well as the expansion of electoral areas is the immediate remedy and revolutionary measure to transform the activities in all the two hundred and fifty-four (254) Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDA’s) in Ghana to enhance accountability, transparency and good governance at the local level.

To be honest, it is unpatriotic to do partisanship about the neglect of the welfare of Assembly members, since nothing substantial has been done by present and successive governments, although motor bikes has been procured in previous and/or erstwhile administrations to facilitate the operations and functionality of Assembly members to and from their electoral areas.

NALAG wish to address this subject as a state and national oversight, other than a particular government’s neglect. Indeed, the flippant disregard about Assembly Members welfare with regards to payment of salaries is extremely worrying, especially when ‘equitable distribution of the nation’s resources’, which is a canon of good governance has lately rung loud melodious bells in our ears.

Referencing article 241(3) of the constitution of Ghana, and section 12(2) of the local governance act 936 of 2016, which enjoins District Assemblies with deliberative, legislative and executive powers and functions, NALAG respectfully but rhetorically wish to ask state actors how a district Assembly can effectively exercise and execute the aforementioned powers and functions without the Assembly members within their respective jurisdictions?
A thorough and careful study on the job description of key actors of decentralization will prove that nothing substantial can take effect at a District Assembly without its members, since the fundamental concept of the local governance process, is the transfer of political, administrative and financial power from central government to local citizens, with Assembly and unit committee members representing and serving the interest of the local citizens at the Assembly.

According to section-16 of Local Government Act 936, A member of a District Assembly shall as appropriate maintain close contact with the electoral area of the District Assembly, consult the people of the electoral area on issues to be discussed in the District Assembly, collate their views, opinions, and proposals; present the views, opinions and proposals of the electorate to the District Assembly; attend meetings of the District Assembly and meetings of sub-committees of which that member of the District Assembly is a member; meet the electorate before each meeting of the District Assembly; report to the electorate the general decision of the District Assembly: and actions the member has taken to solve problems raised by residents in the electoral area; draw attention in general debate to national policies that are relevant to the subject under discussion; actively participate in the work of the sub-committees of the Executive Committee; bring to bear on any discussion in the District Assembly the benefit of the skill, profession, experience or specialised knowledge of the member; maintain frequent liaison with organised productive economic groupings and other persons in the district; and take part in communal and development activities in the district.

All these responsibilities of Assembly Members while having due regard to the national interest and the interest of the people in the district, occupies all the time and energy of the members.

Even though Assembly members are entitled to sitting allowances after their meetings sometimes receiving the allowances after a meeting becomes a problem and this does not encourage members to attend meetings at the expense of the electorate.

It is on this backdrop that NALAG is advocating for the Assembly Members to be paid monthly allowance to encourage their full participation in the activities of the Assembly.

The issue of underdevelopment in most Assemblies is not the issue of lack of Assembly Members but rather the absence of good remuneration for them. Government should look at the wholesale creation of electoral areas since quantitative adjustment alone will not necessarily bring about desired results that Ghana is yearning for.
NALAG however, commends the Assembly Members for the hard work they do for the assembly and further wish those who will be contesting again in 2019 the best of luck.

SIGNED:
HON. KOKRO AMANKWAH
(GENERAL SECRETARY)