The first Social Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (SPEFA) Forum for the year 2017 for the Ga East Municipal Assembly has been held at Haatso with participants agreeing unanimously that the success or failure of the Assembly depends largely on citizens.
The SPEFA programme was introduced in the municipality in 2014 with the aim of providing a platform for the citizenry to demand accountability for the use of public resources and funds.
The programme has been a huge success, giving opportunity to people in the municipality to participate in the planning and decision-making processes of the Assembly.
At the first event for this year held at Haatso Church of Pentecost with the theme: “Making Districts Effectively Work For Citizens”, participants were taken through interaction-based activities which resulted in the rating of the performance of the various stakeholders within the municipality through the Community Score Card (CSC).
Most participants agreed that even though they expected the Assembly to lead in their developmental progress, much also depended on them (the residents) who, according to them, are the direct beneficiaries of the development projects undertaken by the Assembly.
They identified paying of revenues required of them on time and the need to know and be informed about the operations of the Assembly as part of the means to supporting the Assembly to deliver on its strategic plans and programmes.
Others were of the opinion that the Assembly needed to be proactive and swift in addressing their challenges and provide avenues for feedback on reported issues.
Some of the participants indicated that the lack of involvement of the traditional leaders was also a cause of their under development.
Mr. Charles Othniel Abbey of the African Development Programme and Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), the organizers of the programme, was hopeful that if the Assembly could strengthen and enhance its capacity to interact regularly with its stakeholders and provide feedback on time, it would promote citizens interest in their work and elicit desired returns in revenue mobilization.
Mr. Abbey encouraged the participants not to relent in their efforts to seek for information and make regular follow ups to ensure that the Assembly acts on their concerns promptly.
Assistant Development Planning Officer, Mr. Alex Amoah, assured the participants of the Assembly’s preparedness to address their concerns and noted that every plan of the Assembly was done with the involvement of the citizens.
Okunyin Boaz Orlan-Hackman, Head of Client Service Unit and Public Relations Officer (PRO), stated that the Assembly had since last year established a Client Service Unit to receive and facilitate the redress of issues reported by the citizens.
He therefore charged them to make use of the opportunity offered to channel their concerns to the Assembly and expect improvement in service delivery.
He also used the occasion to advise landlords who are without toilets in their homes to take advantage of the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) household toilet promotion project, at half price, to own toilets and help reduce the incidence of open defecation which is a major cause of cholera outbreak in Accra.
Participants were from all the ten Electoral Areas of GEMA while the programme was facilitated by Mr. Solomon Okai of ADP and moderated by the PRO along with Mr. Paul Asagba, Municipal Information Officer.
The next SPEFA Forum is tentatively scheduled to take place within two months.
By: Okunyin Boaz Orlan-Hackman
Pictures: Salamatu Seidu