There is a gradual movement towards meaningful engagement with citizens in development process. This includes civic participation and raising awareness on local governance issues. Since 2013, the spotlight has been placed on citizens’ involvement in public financial management processes of development planning, budgeting and revenue management, procurement and asset management, financial reporting and auditing and monitoring and evaluation.
The lead role played by state actors including the Ministry of Finance (Fiscal Decentralization Unit-FDU), Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (Social Accountability Unit-SAU), Local Government Service Secretariat (LGSS), Internal Audit Agency, Audit Service, Controller and Accountant General’s Department, and National Development Planning Commission in developing Public Financial Management (PFM) templates to deepen fiscal decentralization and strengthen citizens’ demand for effective local governance and accountability is commendable.
This lead role ought to be complemented by citizen/non-state actor led processes in strengthening demand-side capacity that will enhance citizens understanding of PFM issues and increase citizens’ support for effective management of public resources as well as them fulfilling their civic duties of paying necessary financial commitments for improved service delivery.
As a result of this, ADP co-led by Peoples Dialogues held a national conference with the aim to consolidate ideas at establishing a civil society platform in Ghana that will promote popular participation in local governance by advancing citizens knowledge in PFM and Social Accountability.
Partner CSOs representing eight regions participated in the conference and was supported by the Social Accountability Unit (SAU) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
The PFM issues of district assemblies and social accountability is the focus of the network. A strategic plan elaborating on environmental analysis, stakeholder alliances and management, sustainability, role of the media and citizens just to mention a few were discussed.
The Head of SAU, Madam Fati Soale said the Ministry was happy with this idea. She noted that even though Ghana has practiced decentralization for some time now popular participation was weak and this network can serve the purpose to address the weakness.