Dr. Callistus Mahama’s (Head of Service) recently paid a working visit to fifteen (15) Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions. The objectives were to obtain from the primary source the practical implementation of the legislative Instrument (LI) 1961 on the ground. Particular attention was paid to the setting up and integrating the decentralized departments into the Assembly system. Again, it was meant to find out the extent to which the newly recruited members of staff have been absorbed into the system. Furthermore, as a new Head of Service, he wanted to acquaint himself with the challenges of the Assemblies especially the newly created ones. Lastly, the visits were also meant to establish a harmonious working relationship between the staff of the MMDAs and the Head of Service.
The Head of Service’s Entourage
Dr Callistus Mahama Head of Service
Mr. Felix Chaahaa Chief Director Brong Ahafo –
Mr. Michael Ataogye Acting Chief Director and Coordinating Director, Asokore Mampong- Ashanti Region
Dr. Charles Kessey Director Research Statistic and Management
Information Service (RSIM)- LGSS ,ACCRA
Mr. Robert Cudjoe Public Relations Officer-LGSS, ACCRA
Miss SabrahYahaya Asst. Development Planning Officer- LGSS, ACCRA
Brong -Ahafo Region Ashanti Region
Sunyani Municipality Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly
Asutifi- North Ejisu-Juabeng Municipal
Asutifi-South Asante Akim Municipal
Techiman-North Asante Akim North
Techiman Municipal Bekwai Municipal
Banda Ahenkro Adansi-North District
Tain Amansie- Central
|Region||Metropolitan||Municipal||Old District||New District||Total|
Table 1. Distribution of MMDAs visited according to Status
In all the MMDAs the Head of Service visited he addressed well attended staff durbars, which was participatory and interactive to the delight and admiration of all the participants, where the under listed issues were raised;
The Head of Service carried a common message, which could be described as “carrot and stick”. This is because in some instances he commended the staff whilst in others he cautioned them of possible sanctions for non-performance. Based on the above principle, he commended all the MMDAs who have consistently passed the District Development Facility (DDF) and the Urban Development Grant (UDG limited to only Metropolitans and Municipals) assessments. He equated the above successes as a practical demonstration of good leadership, which he said should continue. Conversely, those failing the assessment should also see it as an indictment or failure of leadership and therefore such officials would be made to take personal responsibility for their inaction.
He again cautioned the staff that the era where the communities lost development projects as a result of leadership failure should be consigned to the past particularly if we slot in the President’s “Performance Contract” discourse. He further expatiated that the above discourse has made the President to sign a “Performance Contract” to deliver with all his Ministers. Similarly, such contract has also been signed among the Regional Ministers, the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and further cascading to the Chief Executives and the Coordinating Directors. The common understanding in all is that every official should deliver hence non-performance by any official is not an option as per the above causal linkages.
Integration of Decentralized Departments
The Head of Service was also emphatic on the urgency of setting up and integrating into the Assembly system all the decentralized departments. Such integration apart from enhancing the work of the Assemblies would also hasten the severance of links with the parent Ministries of the affected departments. He further reminded them that Metropolitans should by law have 16 decentralized departments, Municipals 13 departments and District Assemblies 11 departments and all should be up and running/functioning.
Dr. Mahama again encouraged the Assemblies to be more innovative in enhancing revenue mobilization to beef up their Internally Generated Fund (IGF). He also stressed that inasmuch as the Government would not shirk her responsibilities in terms of funding the Assemblies he regretted that, the Government transfers at times come in late hence the need to expand the IGF catchment area(s). For this reason, Dr. Mahama, advised the Assemblies to make use of both the Local Economic Development (LED) and Public Private Partnership (PPP) policies as tools to further shore up their financial standing for development purposes.
The Position of Coordinating Director
In respect of Coordinating Director’s position, the Head of Service announced the new policy, which is part of the internal restructuring to create a level playing field for all. By this, he said the position of a Coordinating Director is no longer the preserve of the administrative class but is now open to all Directors as and when vacancies are declared. As a prelude to the above policy, he directed that all Coordinating Directors travelling should now hand over to the most senior Director within the Assembly, which according to him would enhance the sense of unity and affirmative of purpose within the Assemblies. Dr. Mahama also intimated that a process of appointing more Coordinating Directors is under way to augment the current level of sixty-two (62) substantive ones.
Support for the 46 Newly Created Districts
Head of Service assured the newly created Districts that the Government has earmarked some resources to embark on massive infrastructural development to ease the current accommodation challenges. However, he advised them to use their limited resources judiciously in terms of providing working accommodation for all the decentralized departments. Additionally, he encouraged the Assemblies to embark on a holistic administration where an enabling environment should be created for the departments who are technically not part of the Assembly system. The purpose is to facilitate a harmonious working relationship with such departments. He cited departments like Education, Health and fire Service among others whose services are extremely vital in terms of the overall human resource development within the districts and the nation as a whole. To this end, he dropped a hint that, plans are far advanced to bring the Library Board, Birth and Deaths and Youth and Sports into the Assembly system hopefully, by the end of the year and in no distant future Education Service, Health Service and Fire Service would also follow suit.
On the issue of assets and liabilities sharing between the newly created Districts and the “parent” Assemblies where they were carved out, the Head of Service suggested that such sharing should be guided by the principle of equity/fairness especially where the “parent” Assembly is reasonably endowed.
On the issue service delivery, Dr. Mahama, was of the opinion that it’s one of the key responsibilities of the Assemblies. In this regard, any attempt to relegate it to the background would have catastrophic consequences with regards to quality of life of the rural populace in particular. The above, should be appreciated in the context that improvement of quality of life of the populace is intrinsically linked to the Government’s “Better Ghana Agenda”. The “Agenda” simply seeks to promote the provision of basic needs to make life of the people more meaningful, hence any collective efforts from the Assemblies in advancing the “Agenda” could be seen as a step in the right direction.
The Role of Human Resource Unit (HRU) Contract Employment
The Head of Service again touched on the pivotal role of the Human Resource (HR) units being setup with the assistance from the European Union (EU). The unit would be responsible for Performance Appraisal and Training Needs Assessment of staff. Such assessment would permit both professional and non-professional staffs to undertake at least one training programme per year to sharpen their capacity to perform. He also encouraged the Assemblies to take advantage of both the generic and demand driven training programmes inherent in the District Development Facility (DDF) to improve their skills. Capacity building according to him is very crucial to the Assemblies because they can only deliver if they have staff with the requisite professional standing.
Dr. Mahama, further spoke about the issue of contract employment, which according to him should be discouraged as much as possible. However, a caveat was made that under some compelling circumstances a retiree could be engaged for a short period but his/her emolument may have to be paid through IGF.
On general posting, the Head of Service explained that it should not be seen as a vindictive tool but it’s done to send a staff to where his/her service and experience would be most needed among others. Again, he assured them that transparency/fairness is being injected into the posting system. By this, the Service is now guided by the four-year duty tour principle, which allows each staff to run a four year (4) duty tour cycle. The expiration of the cycle means the staff should hold him or herself in readiness for transfer. However, there could be exceptions where a compelling reason(s) could trigger the transfer of a staff even before his/her four-year duty tour ends. Conversely, a transfer could also be delayed if found expedient. In this regard, both the early or delayed transfer is done on the account of the personal safety/security of the staff among others.
Internal Conflicts and Promotions
The Head of Service also drummed home the need to curb internal organizational conflicts and therefore, admonished staff to follow the laid down lines of communication as a conflict prevention mechanism. On the issue of promotions, Dr. Mahama, noted that each category of staff may be promoted either through competitive examination, interview only or both. To this end, promotion is not automatic as it is generally perceived or assumed. For this reason, he urged the staff to be abreast with the rules or protocols governing the Service, which could be found at the Website (www.lgs.gov.gh) in absence of hard copies.
To wrap up, the working visits were extremely successful in the estimation of all the stakeholders. To this end, there was even a call to institutionalize the working visit with its accompanying staff durbar(s) as a mechanism for the enhancement of a healthy working environment within the Service.
By Research Statistics and Information Management Directorate