The Agona West Municipal Assembly has organized a stakeholders meeting on the preparation of the four-year Medium -Term Development Plan from 2018 to 2021.
It was attended by assembly members, traditional rulers, artisans, traders, market women, small and medium business men and women, staff of the Agona West Assembly.
Representatives of People with Disability (PWDs), civil society, faith-based organizations and business organizations also attended the event.
Dr Eric Akobeng, Development Economist, speaking at the event, urged the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) to move beyond the issuance of policy guidelines to the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to undertake initiatives relating to economic development.
He said the planning guidelines has affected MMDAs heavily leading to the over reliance on the District Assembly Common Fund.
Dr Akobeng said at the MMDAs level, some poverty reduction interventions have had no meaningful impact on the people because of poor planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
He said the MMDAs are to periodically evaluate medium-term development plans to enable them determine the impact of the implementation strategies on the lives of the people.
Dr Akobeng, who is also the Head of Agona West Municipal Budget Department, said the evaluation must be based on the outcome and impact and not only on the physical presence of the projects.
“Lack of such evaluation has led to the situation where many projects of assemblies have become white elephants and have no bearing on the lives of the people,” Dr Akobeng said.
Presenting poverty profile of Agona West Municipal, Dr Akobeng described the poor in the Agona West to be subsistence farmers with land holdings of between one-quarter of an acre and two acres.
Dr Akobeng said the poor planning has also brought the unemployed and under-employed, the vulnerability in women, the aged, illiterates and disable persons who are highly at risk.
He said a study has revealed that the poor in the Agona West Municipality cope with their situation by resorting to child labour to support the family, illegal exploitation of natural resources and resorting to high interest rates on loans.
Dr Akobeng said research indicates that money lenders at times charge 100 percent interest rate, there is the high incidence of arm robbery and prostitution in the area.
Mrs Justina Marigold Assan, Agona West Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), said the contribution of all stakeholders is needed to ensure the success of the plan.
Mrs Cynthia Morrison, Member of Parliament (MP) for Agona West called for the institution of a programme that would target the vulnerable groups including commercial sex workers, disabled persons and people with HIV\AIDS.
The MP urged the Agona West Municipal to be proactive and widely circulate the plan both in and outside the country to attract investors as well.