Professor Nicholas Awortwi, Director, Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS), has called on government to directly invest in social and economic services at the local level to guarantee Local Economic Development (LED).
He said the ideology that, “it is not the business of government to do business” has led to the marginalisation of local economic development and job creation at the local government level.
“We are told that governments, both central and local, are only required to create an enabling environment and businesses and jobs will follow automatically.
“If these were so, many African countries, including Ghana would not be struggling so much in business development and job because since the early 1990’s, we have been implementing the so-called enabling environment mantra,” he said at the LED Investment Fair.
The event organised by the ILGS was held on the theme, “Building Vibrant Local Economies through “LED products”,”.
About 18 Metropolitan Municipal District Assemblies (MMDA) participated in the fair by pitching and displaying their products to key stakeholder groups. Products exhibited included poultry, organic vegetables, fish and apparel.
Prof Awortwi said it was time for the Government to embrace the Next Generation Local Economic Development (NGLED), an ideology and strategy that encourages local governments to support economic activities beyond creating enabling environment by providing direct investment and technological support in productive sectors.
“This approach is based on the principle that it is the business of local governments to do business, create jobs and improve the income levels of the people, “he said.
Mr. Daniel Botwe, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, urged development stakeholders to make increasing the income levels of the constituents an important yardstick for assessing the impact of Local Economic Development (LED) initiatives in MMDAs.
‘’When we say local economic development, the development is done with human beings, so when we have all these initiatives, at the end of the day, the income of the local people must improve,’ he said.
He noted that the economic viability of a geographical area was a caveat in carving out or establishing an MMDA and in that regard urged local government authorities to make LED which required investment, a priority to curtail rural urban migration in the country.
He also called for institutional collaboration among key agencies in the rural development and food processing sectors to make the products produced under the LED initiative commercially viable.
“Effective collaboration between local governments, the private sector social entrepreneurs, development partners, and training institutions to develop LED strategies that would add value to local products to make them marketable,” he said.
Mr. Dennis Aboagye, Director of Local Government Development at the Office of the President, said LED initiatives were key to building the resilience of the local economy against external and internal emergencies LED initiatives, he said, were also crucial to MMDA infrastructure cost reduction.