Ghana's decentralization policy has so far been ineffective in addressing the country's poverty dilemma because it lacks "the right-based approach" to development programming.
Mr Lord-Lucas Vodzi, a Development Consultant, said this at a consultative meeting on "right based approach to community development in Ghana" in Ho on Tuesday.
The meeting, which brought together some chiefs, assembly members, non-governmental organizations, community development groups and rights advocates examined factors militating against the effectiveness of the decentralization programme.
Mr Vodzi, the Executive Director of Youth Research Network of Ghana (YORNG), said right-based approach to development programming focuses on participation and empowerment of the poor and their right to hold people in authority.
He said this essential ingredient has so far been lacking in the practical implementation of the decentralization policy.
Mr Vodzi said the weaknesses of the decentralization programme are obvious from the weak, non-functional and non-existent zonal and area councils.
"This has enabled a few officials to get richer at the expense of the poor majority for whom the programme was designed.''
Some of the concerns raised by the participants included the overbearing influence of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief executives, Co-ordinating directors and budget officers in final decision making.
It was observed that in most cases the Presiding Members seemed to have their say but the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief executives have their way.
Whereas some suggested that the Chief Executives be elected by the people to make them accountable to them, some were of the view that it would create political problems especially when the Chief Executives come from opposition parties.
It was suggested that the numerical strength of the assemblies should be reduced and attractive packages instituted to motivate and attract quality people into the assemblies.
Concern was also expressed about the deduction of between 60 to 80 percent of District Assemblies Common Fund at source thereby depriving the assemblies the financial resources for development.
The meeting also observed that contrary to enriching the assemblies with experts, the appointment of 30 percent of membership had tended to be clouded by political considerations rather than essential expertise.
The meeting called for total transformation of the structures of the local government system to give the grassroots structures the financial, information, logistics and expertise to be able to assert their influence on the development pattern at the community level.