The Republic of Ghana by the dictates of the 1992 Constitution provides for two spheres of government structures which is the national and local governments.
The aim of the local governance tier is to decentralize governance in the country by bringing the government to the doorstep of the citizens.
The main legislation backing the local government structure is the local Government Act 2016 (ACT 936).
Ghana currently has 16 administrative regions which is headed by regional ministers appointed by the President. There are three types of assemblies at the higher levels of local government: metropolitan, municipal and district. There are also sub-structures that do not hold any legislative or rating powers and undertake activities delegated to them by the assemblies.
Reforms undertaken in the late 1980s subdivided the then 10 regions of Ghana into 110 districts, where the local district assemblies were to deal with local administration.
From the 1980s to today, 50 new MMDAs have been added to the existing new number of 110, making it 160 MMDAs in total.
The number consists of 6 metropolitan assemblies, 109 municipal assemblies and 145 districts.
The basis for the classification of districts is the population within a defined geographical area: Ordinary districts with a minimum population of seventy-five thousand (75,000) people, municipal districts with a minimum population of ninety-five thousand (95,000) people, and metropolitan districts with a minimum population of two hundred and fifty thousand (150,000) people.
The constitution of MMDAs
Districts are governed by District Assemblies, which are established by the Minister of Local Government, and serve as the highest political authority in each district. They consist of:
• the District Chief Executive, appointed by the President of the Republic
• one person from each electoral area within the district elected by universal adult suffrage
• the member or members of parliament from the constituencies that fall within the area of authority of the District Assembly
• other members that shall not exceed thirty per cent of the total membership of the District Assembly appointed by the President in consultation with the traditional authorities and other interest groups in the district
Role of MMDCEs
The District Chief Executive is appointed by the President of the Republic and serves as the representative of the Central Government in the district. The incumbent presides at meetings of the Executive Committee of the District Assembly, and is responsible for:
• the day-to-day performance of the executive and administrative functions of the District Assembly
• the supervision of the departments of the District Assembly
Functions of MMDAs
As the political and administrative authorities over the districts, the primary function of District Assemblies is to promote local economic development.
The Local Government Act of 2016 also tasks District Assemblies to:
• formulate and execute plans, programs and strategies for the effective mobilization of the resources necessary for the overall development of the district
• promote and support productive activity and social development in the district and remove any obstacles to initiative and development
• sponsor the education of students from the district to fill particular manpower needs of the district especially in the social sectors of education and health, making sure that the sponsorship is fairly and equitably balanced between male and female students
• initiate programs for the development of basic infrastructure and provide municipal works and services in the district
• be responsible for the development, improvement and management of human settlements and the environment in the district
• in co-operation with the appropriate national and local security agencies, be responsible for the maintenance of security and public safety in the district
• ensure ready access to courts in the district for the promotion of justice
• act to preserve and promote the cultural heritage within the district
• initiate, sponsor or carry out studies that may be necessary for the discharge of any of their duties
The Act also grants the District Assemblies with the following authorities:
• Auction sales, as provided by the Auction Sales Act, 1989 (P.N.D.C.L. 230)
• Liquor licensing, as provided by the Liquor Licensing Act, 1970 (Act 331)
• Control bushfires, as provided by the Control and Prevention of Bushfires Act, 1990 (P.N.D.C.L. 229)
• Execute the following provisions of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) within its district: section 296 in respect of throwing rubbish in the street; and section 300 in respect of stray cattle
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