The National Associations of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) has urged the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to ensure transparency in the award of contracts.
It noted that some of the assemblies had not demonstrated transparency in the award of contracts and indicated that the development could erode the confidence the people had in the local governance system.
According to NALAG, a number of contracts awarded in the districts were shrouded in secrecy, and added that the development did not allow the public to perform their role of social audit into those contracts.
The association made the call in a statement issued in Accra on, Sunday, and signed by its General Secretary, Mr Kokro Amankwah, to mark the Africa Day of Decentralisation and Local Development (JADDL).
The Africa Day of Decentralisation and Local Development is celebrated on August 10.
This day was declared by the African Union under Article 20 of the African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralisation, Local Governance and Local Development, as adopted at the Ordinary Session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government, held from June 26 -27, 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
This year, the day was observed on the theme: ‘Fighting Corruption at the Local level, a sustainable way to transform Africa within its territories.’
Fight against corruption
In order to have a sustainable way to transform the country from within the local governance structure, NALAG stressed the need for the assemblies to take corruption issues seriously.
It urged the MMDAs to be accountable, engage the citizens in participatory governance, adhere to rules and regulations, and undertake proper project management.
"Local government corruption is a phenomenon across the world which destroys the core of development," it said, adding that “the fight against corruption is far from being won in the entire system of governance.”
In order to find a solution that could potentially limit corrupt practices in the local government system, NALAG said there were measures which were considered best practices and should form the core of dealing with corrupt officials and/or practices.
"Best practices such as improved access to public service, information disclosure and social audit, creation of action groups, strengthening internal control systems, publication of annual audit report, as well as people’s right to information, are very necessary to combating the growing levels of corruption at the local levels," it said.
Urging the citizens to keep MMDAs in check in the award of contracts, NALAG said that would ensure social audit before, during and after specific projects.
“The disclosure should describe the project in question so that local communities and civil society organisations (CSOs) can monitor whether the project objectives are being attained,” it stated.
Publication of annual reports, the association noted, was one essential aspect of fighting corruption.
Therefore, MMDAs must adhere to the legal requirement of publishing annual reports for the citizens to be abreast of the assemblies’ activities and expenditures.
The statement also mentioned procurement–related audits (PPRAs) as another major anti-corruption measure.
“PPRAs will help to detect fraudulent and corrupt practices relating to procuring goods and services.
PPRAs must be conducted to review project procurement, financial management, contract implementation, and project management practices and any potential procurement risk,” the statement said.
Speaking on corruption, the association said “Corruption maims, destroys and cripples development.
Corruption at the local level disrupts the progress of the country from the grassroots and, therefore, it affects the very lives that we intend to change in our various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.”
NALAG, therefore, called for a united front to nip the canker in the bud.