The Institute of Chartered Economists – Ghana (I¢EG) is pushing for the proposed Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) assembly elections to be held simultaneously with the presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
It is the view of the institute that such an exercise will be a good avenue to control election-related expenses and also prevent the usual friction between the MMDCEs and Members of Parliament (MPs) in the same constituency.
Patronage of elections
The President of the Institute, Prof. Peter Asubonteng, at the mid-year economists forum in Accra on Thursday, encouraged Ghanaians to support and participate fully in the upcoming referendum to elect MMDCEs.
The forum was also used to launch the re-branded logo of the Institute with the cedi sign replacing the ‘C’ in the acronym ICEG.
The forum created a platform for the institute to proffer suggestions and alternatives that would help shape the forward march towards the election of MMDCEs and a true decentralisation process where power is vested in the local communities.
The objective of the presentation was also to highlight some issues with the local governance system, which affected the purpose of fiscal decentralisation and to make necessary recommendations to that effect.
Prof. Asubonteng explained that globally local governments were being utilised as strategic institutions for the provision of basic socio-economic and environmental services, adding, “the peculiar positioning of local government units, that is their closeness to the people, makes them valuable and viable for providing effective and efficient services required by communities.”
According to him, Ghana’s decentralisation has enhanced local level participation in governance, and that the strengthening of accountability mechanisms would allow communities more autonomy in deciding issues that affected their daily lives.
Prof. Asubonteng said the practice of decentralisation and local government in the country had raised pertinent issues such as the mode of district assembly elections; the mode of selecting MMDCEs and the issue of fiscal decentralisation.
“One of the unique features of the decentralisation and local government structure in Ghana is the non-partisan nature of elections at the district and sub-district levels.
“The Constitution precludes candidates seeking elections at the district and sub-district levels from presenting themselves as candidates on the ticket of a particular party and using the symbol associated with a political party.
The Constitution also provides that political parties shall not endorse, sponsor, offer a platform to, or in any way campaign for or against a candidate seeking election to a district assembly or any lower local government unit,” Prof. Asubonteng explained.
He said despite the constitutional injunction against partisan district level elections, “in practice, the election is clandestinely fought on party lines.
“Indeed, some political parties openly claim that some assembly members are favourably disposed to their party,” Prof. Asubonteng said.
Welcoming the members, the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute, Mr Gideon O. Amissah, explained that as a professional body the institute intended to publicise the issue to engender more public discourse.