The Head of the Local Government Service, Dr. Callistus Mahama, paid a two day working visit to the Eastern and Volta Regions between Thursday 29th and Friday 30th September, 2016 respectively. The Head of Service (HoS) was accompanied by the Chief Director of the Secretariat, Mr. Joseph M. Dasanah, the Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Joseph Ankamah and an Assistant Director, Miss. Sabrah Yahaya. The purpose among others was to participate in the statutory regional meetings of Administrative Officers within the two regions.
The meetings were chaired by the respective Regional Co-ordinating Directors (RCDs). In Koforidua, the Eastern Regional capital, the Deputy Regional Minister, Hon. Joseph Tetteh Angmor, also addressed the meeting. In both meetings the District Co-ordinating Directors (DCDs) were in attendance additionally, other key staff of the Assemblies participated in the Ho meeting.
Address by Head of Service
The Head of Service in his address reiterated the position of Co-ordinating Director which over the years had been the preserve of Administrative Officers had now been made opened to all staff of Service with the requisite qualification and experience. Although Administrative Officers continue to provide critical support to Co-ordinating Directors in the management of the Assemblies, hence this reform had been met with apprehension by the Administrative Class. Apart from the above, Dr. Callistus Mahama threw more light on some observations that had come to his attention with the Administrative officers. He said the Secretariat was fully aware of the difficulties faced by the Assemblies in the discharge of their mandates and therefore promised to do what was within his capabilities to help address the challenges. He urged Administrative Officers to lend full support and loyalty to their Co-ordinating Directors. He also advised them to assist senior officers from other Classes who normally act in the absence of the Co-ordinating Directors.
The Head of Service emphasised that officers must have the right attitude to postings as it was part of the Conditions of Service. He again said, “in the case of Co-ordinating Directors, posting do not truncate implementation of the Performance Management Contracts (PMCs), as a result, DCDs must adequately sensitize their Departmental Heads and Administrative Officers on their respective contracts to elicit their buy-in and ensure continuity in the unlikely event of changes in the administrative leadership of the Assemblies”. Dr. Mahama added that the Secretariat had identified and trained staff at the regional levels to backstop and provide guidance to the Assemblies on the preparation of the PMCs and the Performance Appraisals.
Concerning inadequacy of Human Resource such as Procurement, Stores, Records and others, the HoS explained that the Local Government Service operated a net recruitment policy that could not readily recruit the needed staff to augment the staff strength of the Service. “In this regard, a circular had been sent to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to prioritise their needs and facilitate the engagement of critical junior staff from the IGF resources. Assemblies were advised to identify persons to be trained by the RCCs staff in areas where they require personnel to support their efforts”.
The HoS tasked the RCCs and MMDAs to thoroughly review the HR profiles of their staff and budget for officers due for promotion in the next fiscal year. He said due to the scarcity of resources the Appropriation Bill by Ministry of Finance provided ceilings for public institutions and the ceilings could not be exceeded. He said, “it will be practically impossible to promote officers when their salary increments have not been planned for.”
The HoS exhorted staff to refrain from granting unauthorised interviews with media houses. He added that anyone found culpable, the Service would not hesitate to sanction him or her.
During the open forum a question was posed as to who qualifies to head the Central Administration Department? In his answer, the Head of Service said the Central Administration Department comprised staff of different Classes and therefore the law would be contravened if it was made the preserve of Administrative Officers. He indicated that, the headship of the department was open to all staff in the various classes that make up the department.
On the issue of boundary disputes among some Assemblies, the Head of Service explained that the National Decentralization Policy and Action Plan (NDPAP) captured it as a major issue to be tackled in the third year of its implementation. He said, the Inter Ministerial Co-ordinating Committee (IMCC) and the Assemblies would support the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) to re-demarcate the boundaries of Assemblies with boundary disputes and redraft their Establishment Instruments to reflect the changes.
With regard to sanitation Dr. Mahama said although community members contributed to create the sanitation menace, there was growing dissatisfaction among the citizenry about the inability of Assemblies to curb and deal with the situation. He charged Co-ordinating Directors to deploy their Environmental Health Officers to the field to support the concerted efforts aimed to address the challenge. He said where necessary action should be initiated to prosecute offenders to serve as deterrent to other perpetrators.
In response to the inappropriateness of having the Local Government Workers Union (LGWU) expressly named as a member of the Local Government Service Council when staff of the Service belong to different Labour Unions, the HoS said, the issue was debated on the floor of Parliament. However, members agreed that the membership of LGWU on the LGS Council should be allowed as the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG) had also been named as a member of the Civil Service Council.
With the intrusion of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to implement activities and projects directly at the district level without recourse to the Assemblies, Dr. Mahama noted that the situation created a structural challenge. However he was quick to add that the New Local Government Bill would delineate functions and clarify the roles of central government and local government authorities and this will help address the issue.
To wrap up the open forum in the two regions, the Head of Service urged Co-ordinating Directors to pay attention to the training and development of their Administrative Officers as they provide critical support in the management of the Assemblies as previously noted. Again, he advised the Co-ordinating Directors to avoid micro-management, provide officers with specific work schedules, delegate responsibilities to their subordinates especially, the Administrative Officers and adequately monitor and supervise them.
The Regional Co-ordinating Directors conveyed the appreciation of participants to the Head of Service and his team for the effort made to participate in the Administrative Officers’ meetings and expressed satisfaction to the responses provided by him to their concerns.