Govt to exhibit strong leadership in democratic governance - President Mahama

President John Dramani Mahama on Thursday said Ghana will continue to exhibit strong leadership in democratic governance which makes her the envy of many nations.

He said: “We have just come out of an historic election which witnessed progressive reforms including the use of a biometric voters register and biometric verification for voting, and which has been acclaimed by both domestic and international observers as free, fair and transparent.

“Government will continue to support the Electoral Commission by providing it with the needed resources to carry out its programmes and reforms".

President Mahama, who was presenting the State of the Nation's address to the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic, said the Government would develop mechanisms for promoting citizen-based monitoring and evaluation of public policies and programmes, as well as providing feedback and suggestions on ways of improving the targeting of social and economic development programmes.

He said the role of traditional institutions will be strengthened to promote accountable governance.

“Working with the National House of Chiefs, the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs has been re-aligned to provide a more vigorous interface between chieftaincy and tradition”, he said.

President Mahama said a strong Parliament made a strong democracy, and that strengthening Parliament was also a crucial element in managing a successful transition to middle-income status.

He said the ‘Job 600’ project, which will ensure that Members of Parliament (MPs) operated from descent offices, was almost complete, adding that  MPs could expect to be furnished with laptops and full Internet connectivity to facilitate communication between their offices and constituents as promised in the NDC manifesto.

“In my first term, we will seek to strengthen Parliament by establishing the Democracy Fund proposed by the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) to provide sustainable funding for Parliament, independent governance institutions and other pro-democracy governance bodies.

“The Committees of Parliament  will also be strengthened by ensuring that the Chairpersons and Ranking Members of Parliament are accorded recognition consistent with their status and responsibilities as recommended by the CRC", President Mahama added.

He said his administration had begun the necessary reforms recommended by the CRC to move the planning function under the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) to strengthen the Commission and to empower it through funding and capacity building to enable it to lead the strategic planning effort for the medium and long-term.

Effective decentralization in governance and decision-making starts with the Presidency, President Mahama noted. “I have therefore instructed the Cabinet office to ensure that Cabinet meetings rotate between Accra and the Regional capitals.

“By this, millions of our citizens outside Accra will have the opportunity each month to witness and participate in the process of decision-making directly”.

He said every effort will be made to ensure that some of the far-reaching proposals emanating from the CRC’s report on decentralization such as the election of District Chief Executives at the local level, was given the needed impetus. 

“We will mainstream the concept of Local Economic Development (LED) to facilitate, develop and implement employment creation programmes based on the natural resource endowments and the comparative advantages of every district.

“We will continue to strengthen our decentralized local governance system by implementing the programme to establish the remaining seven decentralized Departments of the District Assemblies and identifying new Departments for decentralization whose capacities are needed by the District Assemblies, such as the Departments of Women and of Children and the Statistical Service.

“We will also commence a phased programme for the provision of administrative, economic and social infrastructure for the 106 new districts created in 2003, 2007 and 2012, and extend the composite budget system to cover the 46 new District Assemblies established in 2012”, he stated.

President Mahama indicated that Government will continue to partner with community-based organizations and civil society, especially in the areas of public service delivery

Source: GNA