The first Social Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (SPEFA) programme in the Volta Region, has been launched in Hohoe, to improve citizens perception of urban management and increase participation in local decision-making to achieve accountability and efficiency.
SPEFA is an offshoot of the Local Government Capacity Support Programme, a collaboration between the government, the World Bank and implemented by the Ministries of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Finance, and the Local Government Service Secretariat.
CareNet Ghana, a Hohoe-based development-oriented organisation is leading the implementation pact in Hohoe with support from The Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV-Ghana) and the Municipal Assembly.
Mr Patrick Ahumah-Ocansey, Executive Director of CareNet Ghana said the key activities of SPEFA in Hohoe in 12 months include promoting transparency and social accountability among actors using innovative tools to enhance involvement of the citizens in development decision making processes.
He said identifiable stakeholder groups would be established and trained to champion the new development blueprints through discussion group forum four times in a year and two additional town-hall meetings as prescribed by the project.
Mr Ahumah-Ocansey said some expected outcomes include increasing stakeholder and citizens understanding of social accountability issues and deepened demand for accountability from service providers.
Mrs Sarah Naa Dedei-Agbe, Representative of SNV-Ghana said SPEFA would promote a broad based actions using different tools including participatory planning and budgeting, public expenditure tracking, monitoring public service delivery and radio discussions.
She said the four-year project would benefit all 46 Metropolitan and Municipal Assemblies (MMAs) with 11 Assemblies benefiting in last year and 24 others being considered for this year.
Mrs Dedei-Agbe said some of the innovations of the concept include budget templates showing how much is being spent by MMAs through infographics and visuals and addressing of misconceptions that give rise to wanton speculations and accusations in the local governance system.
She said SPEFA with its four components namely, strengthening social and financial accountability, operationalise civil society led processes, promote performance-based urban development grant and training of stakeholder actors is being implemented in Ethiopia and Botswana.
Mr Jonathan Aboagye, Representative, Social Accountability Unit in-charge of the Media at the MLGRD said SPEFA would build the capacity of participating stakeholders to have a voice and demand accountability from service providers.
He said as “perceptions kill enthusiasm” major actors from different levels would be engaged to elicit their perspectives on pertinent issues on social and financial accountability to deepen greater local governance and participation.
Mr Kofi Tenasu Gbedemah, a social accountability expert said the concept of SPEFA would deepen tax obligations and responsibilities of legible members of the public and provide the platform for engagement and decision-making at the grassroots level.
Dr Margaret Kweku, Municipal Chief Executive, said tangible impacts of SPEFA on management systems, community empowerment processes and policies on social accountability would deepen decentralisation and enhance grassroots participation and entreated all actors to embrace the concept.