The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the local chapter of Transparency International, has organised a one-day Value for Money (VFM) training workshop for Social Auditing Clubs (SACs) in Accra.

The workshop was to strengthen the SAC’s capacities to continuously monitor developmental projects and engage duty bearers at the district level.

The GII has since 2010 facilitated the establishment of citizens’ groups called SACs and Community Based Monitoring and Evaluation Teams (CoBMETs) under its MISEREOR funded social accountability project.

The formation of the SACs is part of efforts to ensure grassroots’ participation in decision-making, monitoring of awards of contracts and project implementation, and service delivery, leading to the efficient use of public resources and accountability in local governance.

The Clubs are made up of volunteers who audit community-based projects, monitor and report shoddy work to the local authorities for remedial action as well as reporting acts of corruption to the appropriate authorities.

Mrs Mary Awelana Addah, the Programmes Manager of GII, told the Ghana News Agency that, the one-day capacity building training was held in four zones of the country – Northern, Middle, Southern and Western.

She said the training was part of efforts to support citizen groups to participate in the governance processes and also help promote anti-corruption issues.

The Programmes Manager said to sustain gains achieved while increasing the impact of the project, a capacity needs assessment was conducted, noting, the assessment identified some gaps and needs of SACs and also proposed the training needed to bridge those gaps.

Mrs Addah told GNA that SACs were based in the community, engaging on behalf of the ordinary citizens, “So it is important that we need to ensure that they are able to understand what advocacy means, and understand the power relations that exists in the districts.”

The Programmes Manager underscored the need for SACs to communicate their message forcefully and truthfully, to be able to gain the support of others around them, bring them on board to achieve a common goal.

“As Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), we do not have the coercive power, we need collaborative power to win the war against corruption, to promote social accountability and good governance at the local level,” she added.

Mr Benjamin Kwesi Larbi, Principal Consultant at Ultimate Value Techniques Limited, said in an attempt to provide a standard for defining and measuring VFM, emphasis should be on economy, efficiency and effectiveness; adding that, “Once a project achieved these indicators, VFM is achieved.”

He said the enactment of the Public Procurement Act, 2003, to regulate the processes for procuring goods, works and services by public entities from the private sector should be done with the intention of ensuring value for the utilisation of public money.

“Understanding the procurement processes coupled with a fair knowledge of how value for money can be attained is a sure way to get value for the use of public funds at the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs),” he said.

Mr Jacob Tetteh Ahuno, Programmes Officer at GII, also defined public financial management as the processes by which public funds were planned, directed and controlled to enable and influence the efficient and effective delivery of public service goals.

He said, regarding the importance of CSOs contribution, their monitoring would ensure audit recommendation translating into recovery of money at MMDAs and strengthening of financial management systems at the Assemblies to prevent infractions.

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The Ghana news Agency (GNA) was established on March 5, 1957, i.e. on the eve of Ghana's independence and charged with the "dissemination of truthful unbiased news". It was the first news agency to be established in Sub-Saharan Africa. GNA was part of a comprehensive communication policy that sought to harness the information arm of the state to build a viable, united and cohesive nation-state. GNA has therefore been operating in the unique role of mobilizing the citizens for nation building, economic and social development, national unity and integration.

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