Public Financial Management (PFM Network) has been launched to help build the capacity of citizens to effectively engage their assemblies on key development concerns.
The network, which is under the auspices of the Social Accountability Unit (SAU) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), is also to help strengthen the accountability process in the country.
The launch was held under the theme: “PMF Network –Knowledge of Public Financial Management for Enhanced Social Accountability and Service Delivery”.
Mr Kwasi Boateng Adjei, a Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said the initiative formed part of government’s commitment to deepen engagement with civil society and citizens in local governance to improve PFM systems.
“The passage of the (PFM Act 921, 2016) has created more opportunities for citizens to participate in the local government process in monitoring and demanding accountability of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).”
He said a well-functioning democracy requires transparency and accountability in governance and this occurs when duty bearers collaborate effectively with citizens, civil society and the other key stakeholders to provide information of programmes and projects of MMDAs.
This, Mr Adjei said, will enable citizens to monitor activities of MMDAs and provide inputs for the successful implementation and execution of projects.
Mr Adjei, who is also the Member of Parliament for New Juaben North, said the Ministries of MLG&RD and Finance have been implementing the Local Government Capacity Support Project (LGCSP) for the past five years with support from the World Bank.
He said the objectives of the LGCSP are to promote and strengthen fiscal decentralisation and institutionalise local government accountability mechanisms.
“It is to ensure that MMDAs are held accountable for the execution of projects by the citizens and national government through forums and town hall platforms in 46 MMDAs across the country.”
The Deputy Minister said in spite of these developments, there are a number of challenges in promoting citizen participation in local governance and these include apathy from citizens in local government issues, lack of basic understanding of the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders as well as lack of innovative strategies for a meaningfully engagement with MMDAs.
“Through the implementation of the LGCSP, the Ministry has made significant progress in overcoming these challenges.
He said one of the key strategies of the LGCSP and the SAU was focused on developing mechanisms and structures at the MMDAs level to ensure sustained education of citizens on the local government process as the programme was coming to an end.
Mrs Elizabeth K. T. Sackey, the Deputy Greater Accra Regional Minister, said good governance was participatory, consensus oriented, accountability, transparency, respective, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and followed the rule of law.
She said the component three of the LGCSP used a social-audit approach to improve citizen engagement and increase the accountability in urban assemblies.
“It also focused on generating civil society demand for financial information from MMDAs and foster more effective engagement of civil society with assemblies.”
Mrs Sackey urged stakeholders to show more concern towards social accountability and expressed the hope that with collaborative effort, MMDAs would be able to ensure proper accountability in good governance.
Mr Farouk Braimah, the Interim Executive Chairman and National Convener of the PFM Network, said the network would complement government’s effort in addressing public financial management challenges and improve efficiency and effectiveness of public spending.
He said the network’s vision is to deepen citizen engagement and improve local governance whilst its mission is to promote citizens knowledge in PFM for enhanced social accountability and service delivery.
Mr Braimah said CSOs have since 1993 been supporting government in addressing public financial management challenges and improving efficiency and effective spending.
He said social accountability has globally helped strengthen public financial management and service delivery.
The Interim Chairman said: “the Local Governance Act 936, Article 40-48 is dedicated to participatory governance at the local level as Article 42, particularly states that “facilitating the establishment of structures for stakeholder participation including ICT4D Platforms, Town Hall Meetings, Budget Preparation and Validation fora”.
He said the PFM Network was making significant progress as it has membership in nine out of the 10 regions with the exception of the Volta Region with 48 CSOs operating in 120 MMDAs across the country.
Mr Braimah said data sharing by MMDAs still remain a hot issue and urged CSOs to live up to their expected standards in their approaches to engaging public institutions.