Dr Eric Oduro Osae, Dean, Studies and Research at the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS), has proposed that a constitutional cap be placed on the number of districts and regions needed in the country to enhance planning.
“If we want to make sure that this thing works and development is well coordinated, let us put a cap in the constitution to the maximum number of regions and districts we can have, and then we can plan better”, he said.
Dr Osae made the proposal in an interview with the media on the sideline of a one-day orientation workshop for members of the Upper West Regional Audit Committee organized by the Centre for Local Governance Advocacy (CLGA) in collaboration with the International Audit Agency (IAA).
“In fact, if you have a district assembly and it has planned that by the next four years it is going to develop its area of jurisdiction in a certain regard, then all of a sudden a new district is created and a portion of the district is cut; it puts the development of the district in jeopardy – so it is not good”, he said.
He said the lack of a constitutional cap on the creation of regions and districts “tells us that we cannot plan as a nation because we should be able to know that if we need 200 districts to develop, the constitution should spell it so that we don’t come back to create new ones again”.
Dr Osae said if there was a ceiling on the number of districts and regions all they needed to do was to rearrange or divide and then also promote, adding that when that happened it would help them to know the area of jurisdiction and then plan for development.
He said as it stands now, politicians will only take advantage to create new districts anytime they wish for political gains, adding that as they create those districts every now and then, the issue of resourcing them becomes a challenge.
On the orientation for the Audit Committee members, the Dean in charge of Studies and Research at the ILGS noted that basically, the passage of a new Public Financial Management Act 2016, (Act 921) has abolished the Audit Implementation Committee (ARIC) system and replaced it with the Audit Committee.
He said this then made provision for every Local Government to have an Audit Committee made up of professionals from the private sector including Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICA) and Internal Auditors among others.
Dr Osae said these Audit Committees were suppose to help the Assemblies to inject financial discipline into their Financial Management System, noting that these people did not know much about Local Government operations.
He said the training is meant to expose them to the processes of the Local Government System for them to understand their financial management processes so that they could better advise the Assemblies in the implementation of the audit recommendations.
“So we want that after the training, they will go back and work to reduce the serious audit queries that are raised in the Annual Auditor General’s Report”, he said.