Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance, has called on all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), to devise better and more efficient strategies to increase their Internally Generated Funds (IGF).
He said property rate mobilisation globally, has been identified and remains the most viable avenue to harnessing more revenue to complement government's transfers.
He said notwithstanding the fact that internally generated revenues are key components of resources that all assemblies have control over, many of them were unable to meet their targets.
The Finance Minister, whose speech was read on his behalf at the launch and opening of the 2019 Greater Accra Regional public budget hearing for the preparation of the 2020 to 2023 Budget Estimates of the 29 MMDAs in Accra on Thursday, said his Ministry was very particular about MMDA's revenue mobilisation and was willing to support all efforts at improving revenue mobilisation.
Mr Ofori-Atta said budget hearings were critical aspects of governance because it helps to deepen the democracy of the nation and acknowledged that the exercise, which was being organised by the Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC), ensured that the budget of government continue to be people-centred and responsive to the needs of the citizenry particularly the poor and the vulnerable.
The Finance Minister said the budget hearing has been initialised as part of the budget process which is consistent with the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act, a regulation that afforded the Ministry the opportunity to ensure a strong linkage of the Annual Action Plans for the implementation of the budgets within the Distant Medium Term Development Plan (DMTDP).
The hearing, he said, also aided the Ministry to introduce innovations to improve IGF, ensure judicious use of scarce resources for the implementation of government's priority programmes for 2020, and facilitate participatory budget management process to enhance transparency and accountability.
Mr Offori-Atta said in the country's drive towards 'Ghana Beyond Aid', it is imperative to significantly increase domestic revenue, raise efficiency in the use of public resources and protect the public purse from leakages.
He said Government was making frantic efforts to deepen decentralization by introducing policies and programmes initiated at the national levels and implemented by the MMDA, to make the assemblies more efficient, effective and accountable to the constituents, hence the process towards the election of Metropolitan, Municipal District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) slated for December 17, 2019.
He urged the Regional Minister and MMDCEs to personally lead the crusade to improve the IGF revenue generation and their effective utilisation by ensuring that it filtered all levels of the decentralised system for sustainable development.
The Ministry, he said, has put in place an electronic payment platform to automate the collection and administration of rates in all MMDAs, to strengthen its oversight of public revenue management.
He acknowledged and commended the enormous contribution of its development partners, especially the GIZ through their SfDR programme and the European Union through the Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee (IMCC) on Decentralisation which has been a key supporter to the country's Decentralisation Policy.
Mr Ishmael Ashitey, the Greater Accra Regional Minister, said government's partnership with MMDAs in the local mobilisation of revenues would include property registration and data management, and the use of simplified inexpensive tools for property evaluation.
He said it would also involve the setting up of a system for the generation and distribution of bills, as well as the efficient collection of property and other rates.
The Regional Minister directed MMDCEs to ensure that all financial transactions were processed on the Ghana Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) platform, which was the legal financial platform for all government businesses under the Section 25(6) of the PFM Act.
Mr Ashitey cautioned that failure to properly use the GIFMIS to conduct financial transactions comes with corresponding sanctions as stipulated in Section 989(1) of the Act.
He urged MMDCEs to strengthen their Internal Audit Units and Audit Committees to perform their respective role to mitigate fiscal risks as well as to forestall any financial malfeasance.