Municipal and District Assemblies (MDAs) have been urged to explore alternatives and pragmatic means in raking in more revenue to complement the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) for accelerated development.
Mr Milton Aberinga, the Programmes Manager of the Development Research Centre (DRAC), made the call at a Social Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (SPEFA) Forum held in Bolgatanga.
The forum, which was aimed at educating the citizenry and encourage them to show interest and participate in decision-making processes of the assemblies for transparency and accountability, attracted stakeholders including Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), traders and market women, traditional authorities, assembly members, staff of the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly, the media, civil society organisations and SPEFA members.
Mr Aberinga, who mentioned private partnerships as one of the major sources where the MDAs could explore to augment their internally generated revenue, urged the assemblies to consider expanding their revenue collection activities to include taxing owners of stray animals and effectively taking tolls for the many shops and business activities that have sprung up.
He stressed the need for the assemblies to implore more innovative and pragmatic ways of raking in their internally generated revenues so as to attract a larger share of the DACF to boost their development plans.
Whilst appealing to the citizenry to honour their tax obligations, he called on the assemblies to be transparent and ensure that they used the tax collected for development projects to encourage more citizens to honour their tax obligations.
Mr Aberinga, who took the participants through topics including the Public Financial Management Cycle, also schooled them on Budgeting and Revenue Management, Procurement and Assessment Management, Financial Regulation and Auditing, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation.
He urged them to show keen interest in the assembly processes particularly monitoring and evaluation.
“Civic engagement is very essential at all levels of governance, particularly at the decentralisation levels. This is to help ensure that the limited resources of the assemblies are properly allocated equitably to all communities,” he said.
Mr Aberinga said the project, which was sponsored by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development with support from the World Bank, was implemented by the SNV, a Netherlands Development Organisation and DRAC in the Bolgatanga Municipality.
It is to empower citizens at the local levels to demand accountability from public servants to ensure that public resources were managed effectively and efficiently in response to the needs of society.
The Chief of Yorogo, Naba Johnson Awuni, who chaired the forum, said accountability cut across all the development sectors and that adherence to it promoted effective delivery and positive results.
He, however, expressed regret at the poor manner most of the MDAs organised their civic engagement fora and indicated that most projects they claimed to have executed and shown to the citizenry at civic engagement fora were not the true reflection on the ground.
Mr Jaul Abdul Fuseini, the Assistant Development Planning Officer at the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly, attributed problems of low internal revenue mobilisation and the springing up of illegal structures to political interference.
Participants at the forum stressed the need for the MDAs to ensure that revenue collected were used for the intended purposes as well as ensure that developers sited projects at the rightful places to avoid future development challenges.