The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) has held a day's stakeholders' forum to sensitize members of 20 selected communities in the Sekyere East District, on budgeting and action planning processes of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
Held at Effiduase, the District capital, the event was aimed at enlightening and creating a platform for a broader stakeholder and public discussions on the subject matter and how community members could influence decisions to factor priority community needs into the overall local government budget to foster a sustained socio-economic development.
The other aim was to empower the community members on action planning and assess the performance of the Governance Issues Forum Network (GIFNeT) – instituted in the communities by IDEG to help ensure participatory monitoring of social projects being implemented by the Sekyere East District Assembly.
Sixty participants selected from 20 cocoa life communities in the District namely; Nkwankwanua, Ntunkumso, Naama, Senchi, Mahiniso, Daakoho, among others, attended the forum.
It is receiving funding from the Mondelez International Cocoa Life (MICL) Program in Ghana which is an integral part of IDEG's focus to empower members of cocoa growing communities to be able to engage and shape the development of their communities.
Mr. Ewald Quaye Garr, Acting Programme Lead for Civic Empowerment for Community Action (CECA) at IDEG, speaking at the forum said the initiative was to help strengthen the local governance processes in the country and deepen as well as expand its impact on the local people.
"It is also to help promote and strengthen mutual cooperation and understanding among community members and their local assemblies as a means of curbing misunderstanding, mistrust and conflicts, especially during fees, levies fixing and revenue collection," he said.
Mr. Garr said the initiative was being replicated in all the 15 cocoa life districts across the country which included Ahafo Ano South East and West, Awutu Senya, Bia West, Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai, Abetifi North and South, Tano North and South and Sekyere East districts, among others.
"We wish to expand the project to all communities in the district and all districts across the country but we are challenged with financial constraints and we therefore welcome any donors and development partners' support of any kind," he noted.
Mr Douglas Kwesi Anyatewen, the Sekyere East District Budget Officer, enlightened the participants on the MMDAs budgeting process, what it means and entails in the composite budget of the Assembly, action plans and medium-term plans of the Assemblies.
He urged the community members to get involved in the forums and stakeholders' meetings organized in their respective communities by the MMDAs, adding that it was at these meetings that needs of the people were gathered and prioritized for action plans by the MMDAs.
Mr Aikens Harvery, GIFNeT Chairman for the Sekyere East District, commended IDEG for the initiative, adding that the forum had deepened their knowledge on MMDAs action planning and budgeting processes.
He called for continuous professional cooperation of the MMDAs with their community members to help promote and sustain participatory and inclusive local governance.