A Local Government Expert has called for the extension of the current two years renewable duration of office of Presiding Members (PM) in the Assemblies to four years.
This is to give them security of tenure for them to be firm and fair to stamp their authority on deliberations at the Assemblies to end the penchant of adhering to the whims and caprices of members.
Mr Felix Agyei Amakye, a Lecturer at the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) said this during a day’s stakeholders forum to educate the various decentralised departments of the Assemblies on the Local Government Act, 2016 (936) in Cape Coast on Monday.
He said Presiding Members play a pivotal role in the effective administration of the Assemblies and should be incentivized with better conditions of service to effectively and efficiently serve the people.
“The Presiding Member plays a critical role in the local governmemt system but faces challenges, which need to be urgently addressed,” the expert stated.
The PM, according to the local Government Act, 2016 clause 17 (5) mandates them to convene and preside at meetings of the District Assemblies and perform other functions prescribed by law and standing orders of the Assemblies.
He cited non-defined role of the Presiding Member in the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (ACT 663) in relation to their role as corporate heads of the assembly and their non-defined role in the internal Audit Agency Act, 2003 (ACT 658) as challenges.
The Lecturer said “the partisan superstructure; Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, 30 per cent political appointees; imposed on non-partisan assembly, sometimes preserves the influence of the party in power over the assembly and again the election process of the Presiding Member takes long and divides the assembly”.
He said that the “no money syndrome” of Assemblies made it difficult for the Presiding Members to organise general assembly meetings on schedule and the “lack of functional offices for them also makes it impossible for them to work better.”
He tasked the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to support Presiding Members to carry out their oversight responsibilities calling for a legislation to determine monthly remuneration for the Presiding Members.
Mr Agyei Amakye described the phenomenon where Assemblies enact bye-laws and applied them without gazzeting as “illegal” and a clear contravention of the new Act and appealed to them to gazette their bye-laws before implementation.
“Assemblies must disseminate the by-laws on fee-fixing resolution as widely as possible and play an advocacy role on the contents of the by-laws or the adoption of a fee-fixing resolution,” he said.