HomeNewsLocal NewsYou're overstepping - Dan Botwe told amidst Naa Torshie feud

You’re overstepping – Dan Botwe told amidst Naa Torshie feud

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The Parliamentary Committee on Local Government and Rural Development has thrown its support behind the Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), Irene Naa Torshie Addo.

The Committee has expressly stated that, contrary to some media reports, the facts do not support the claim that the Administrator of the DACF has snubbed the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Dan Botwe, in the disbursement of the DACF.

According to the Committee, it came to that conclusion following its investigations into the alleged rift between the two, which included meeting both parties separately and was satisfied that the problem did not merit the attention being given, but needed to be dealt with.

On Tuesday, August 1, 2023, The Chronicle separately engaged the Chairman of the Committee, Emmanuel Akwasi Gyamfi, and a member of the minority on the committee, Ahmed Ibrahim, on the matter.

The two, though from different political lenses, addressed the issue on the same lines, arguing that the minister may be overstepping his boundaries by treating the DACF as being under his ministry.

COOPERATION

The Minister for Local Government and Rural Development had, in a letter to President Akufo-Addo, reported the Administrator of the DACF over a lack of cooperation.

The letter, dated July 10, 2023 stated that Naa Torshie refuses to cooperate with the ministry in the equitable disbursement of the Common Funds to the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

According to the minister, it is the view of his ministry that the Administrator of the DACF “does not have the authority to determine the distribution unilaterally”, for part of the approved formula/allocation activities like national projects, special projects, distressed district support and reserved funds.

“As the supervisory ministry of the Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936) and the Ministry responsible for coordinating the MMDAs, we are of the view that the mandate to determine which districts receive such support and special attention lies with the Ministry.

“We are of the firm belief that the trigger for the distribution should be initiated by the ministry on behalf of the government to ensure it sits well within the broad government strategy.”

He continued that “even more worrying is the fact that, as the Ministry responsible for the MMDAs, we are not involved, engaged or consulted in any form by the Administrator of the DACF in the development of the formula proposed to Parliament.

CHECKS

In our separate interviews with the members of the Local Government Committee, they both established that previous administrators had collaborated with Local Government Ministers to develop a formula and propose it to Parliament.

The two also established that the Committee had noticed a gap since 2021, when the formula was proposed without the input of the minister. Again, unlike previous ministers, whenever Naa Torshie met Parliament, the minister did not accompany her.

The two told this reporter that Naa Torshie showed the Committee a letter from the minister, withdrawing a reply his deputy had written to the Administrator’s letter for input.

CHAIRMAN

The Chairman of the Committee, Emmanuel Akwasi Gyamfi, indicated to this reporter that the development raised an eyebrow, compelling the committee to probe further and notice the “lack of collaboration.

He told The Chronicle that the Administrator for the DACF told the Committee on Monday, when they met her on the issue, that she writes to the minister for input but her letters are not responded to.

“This is quite unfortunate. I can’t defend the deputy minister who wrote on behalf of the minister. Either he had explicit instruction from the minister to write to the Administrator that this was the ministry’s input.

“But that was what we were shown: that the Administrator wrote for the inputs from the ministry, but the response was not coming from the ministry, so one of the deputy ministers also wrote on behalf of the minister to the Administrator.

“It didn’t go well, as per the minister’s instruction that you have to withdraw the letter. If it had gone well with the minister, that withdrawal wouldn’t have come.”

Responding to the Minister’s letter questioning the authority of the Administrator to disburse GH₡1 million for constituency projects, he said that members on the Committee, since his over ten years in Parliament, have lobbied for projects from the DACF, which is funded with the reserved funds.

He insisted that the Administrator of the DACF report to Parliament and not to the Minister, a position that was corroborated by the Minority Chief Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim, who referred to Article 252 of the 1992 constitution.

Meanwhile, he assured that as chairman of the Committee, he would ensure that the issue was resolved amicably, adding that “the two are good friends. They worked together in Parliament.”

LACK OF UNDERSTANDING

The Minority Chief Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim, describing the issue as unfortunate,” also termed it a “lack of understanding or appreciation for the new dimension.”

He referred to the Local Government Act (Act 936) passed in 2016 of which Dan Botwe was part, that stated categorical functions of the Administrator of the DACF and that the Local Government Minister has separate functions as well as the head of the Local Service.

He argued that only the Governor of the Bank of Ghana and the Administrator of the DACF are vetted by the Appointments Committee of Parliament. He also cited the fact that the GETFund Administrator is not vetted because he is under the Minister for Education.

“But as for the District Assemblies Common Fund Administrator, Article 252 of the Constitution states clearly that he must be appointed by the President, in consultation with the Council of State, and with the prior approval of Parliament,” he observed.

According to him, both the constitution and the act have empowered the Administrator of the DACF to submit a proposal to Parliament to be approved as a formula.

He explained further that following the approval by Parliament and disbursements to the various district assemblies, the law then allows the Local Government Minister to draft guidelines on the utilization of the funds.

“So, everybody has their own independent functions. So, there should be that collaboration and complementing of each other,” he added.

He told this reporter that the Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, had ruled on the matter before that the Administrator of the DACF is not under the Local Government.

“In my 15 years in Parliament, I have worked with about three DACF Administrators. Go, and as the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, we all used to go to the Administrator’s office. The [former] Local Government Minister, Hajia Alima Mahama, used to come to the Administrator’s office. They collaborate to work together. Even when we were all in leadership, we used to go to the office because the office comes under Parliament.

“We understood this simple logic. So, if I find it very difficult, how the Minister and Administrator now, who were both Chief Whip and his Deputy, are finding it difficult to work together.

“But, as a committee, we have investigated and interrogated most of these issues before we passed even the 2022 formula. But when Hajia was there, those problems were not there. And I used to go and meet the Minister for Local Government, who was a member of the Committee, at Naa Torshie’s office, when Hajia was the Minister.”

He insisted that the law says the Administrator must propose a formula to Parliament but not the minister; however, the Administrator must consult, including Parliament.

He could not fathom why the Minister would isolate the letter of the Bia West MP to query the Administrator on the Authority for approval.

According to him, all committee members lobby for projects when the opportunity arises, and he cited a few that the minister managed to secure for his constituency when he was on the Committee.

LETTERS

A letter dated May 4, 2023, from the Local Government Minister, addressed to the Administrator of the DACF, sought to inquire what accounted for the “discretionary allocation” of funds from the DACF.

“For instance, I have attached a copy of a letter addressed to the Western North Regional Minister allocating a total sum of GH₡1 million to the Member of Parliament for Bia East Constituency.

“In the attached letter, reference was made in paragraph 2 to indicate that ‘we write to inform you that approval has been given for the contract sum not exceeding GH₡1 million’.

“Since the Ministry has never been consulted and involved in such approval processes, could you clarify the approving authority and the process of approval,” the Dan Botwe letter to Naa Torshie read.

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