Gov’t Approves Ex-Gratia Awards for Assembly Members
Accra - The Central Government has approved ex-gratia awards between the range of 1.5 million and two million cedis for assembly members who would be completing their four-year tenure next month.
Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng, Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, in a statement released to the media yesterday said the payment of the amount should be based on the financial status of the assemblies, as had been the practice over the years.
In 2002, between ¢500,000 and ¢800,000 were paid to all assembly members, who completed their term. The actual amount paid was subject to the financial standing of the assemblies.
In this wise, all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) have been directed to authorise the payment of end-of-service benefit to assembly members, who had successfully completed the four-year term. The statement also announced new dates for the dissolution and inauguration for all Assemblies.
All existing MMDAs are requested to dissolve on or before Wednesday, September 20, 2006 by the Presiding Members. The inauguration of the new MMDAs is scheduled to take place between Thursday September 21, 2006 and Friday September 29, 2006. 22 Aug. 06
Sunyani: Media Adviced to Take Local Polls Serious
Nana Ama Eyiaba II, Krontihemaa of Oguaa Traditional Area has said "election work is full of pressure" and urged media practitioners to crosscheck information before reporting on the forthcoming district assembly elections.
"It is better to wait to report accurately than rush to report falsely", she cautioned.
Nana Ama, who is member of the seven-member commission of the Electoral Commission (EC) responsible for Brong-Ahafo was addressing 14 media practitioners at a one-day workshop on the unit committee and district assembly elections in Sunyani.
She explained that electoral processes "go with all stakeholders and media practitioners particularly play a crucial role to ensure its progress, unity, development and success".
The Krontihemaa advised the media to eschew tendencies that posed a potential threat to national peace and survival and urged them to champion the education of the general public to exercise their franchise during national elections.
Mr Mark Kwadwo Anyimadu, Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of EC warned candidates against offering gifts in order to win votes. He said the commission depended on media practitioners for quality and unbiased figures during elections and called on them to be committed to collective ownership of the electoral process in nurturing the country’s infant democracy.
Mr Anyimadu took the participants through the mounting of platforms for candidates, the rights and responsibilities of a voter and quality election reporting.
"The commission is embarking on series of educational campaigns to erase the unwarranted suspicion that the public has about the work of its officials during elections", the regional director added.
Sekondi: Support New Comers - Outgoing Assembly Members Told
The Western Regional Minister Mr Anthony Evans Amoah has said outgoing district assembly members must use the experiences they acquired to transform the assembly.
Speaking at the dissolution of the Shama Ahanta East Metropolitan Assembly in Sekondi, he said the world is now a dynamic place and changes were a regular feature, which every individual must prepare for. "We are living in a fast changing world, and if you do not move along with the changes, you will be left behind" Mr Amoah stressed.
He said the election of new district assembly members signified a transition and therefore the assembly would need new ideas, experiences and competencies to push its development agenda forward.
Mr Amoah urged SAEMA to document its Internally Generated Fund (IGF) successes for future generations to emulate and improve upon it. He reminded them to assist other districts to improve on their IGF to enable them implement several development projects.
Mr Amoah appealed to the various district assemblies to make the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy II (GPRSII) their main policy guide and ensure that it was modified for all members to be able to understand and fashion out a strategy to operate within.
Increase in revenue
Mr Philip K. Nkrumah, SAEMA Chief Executive said the assembly’s internally generated funds had consistently increased from 2.3 billion cedis in 2000 to 9.3 billion cedis last year. He said between January and June this year, the assembly had collected 6.7 billion cedis out of an estimated target of 10 billion cedis.
Mr Nkrumah said the assembly had invested a total of 5.5 billion cedis in the construction and rehabilitation of schools, granting of scholarships to the disadvantaged and the physically challenged.
Additionally, 428 million cedis were granted as scholarships to address the poverty levels in the metropolis, he explained. Mr Nkrumah noted that a total of 506,069 cubic metres of refuse was collected from the metropolis, adding that, to improve sanitation, 30 communal container dustbins were constructed at a cost of 290 million cedis.
The MCE said school enrolment had increased by seven per cent after the implementation of the capitation grant in the metropolis. Mr Nkrumah commended the assembly members, heads of department, NGOs, the media and the various security services for the support they offered the assembly over the past four years.
During question time, members suggested that the unit committees must also be dissolved, since many of them were inaugurated and were about to contest in the forthcoming district assembly and unit committee election on September 12.
Some noted that the unit committees and town councils did not function effectively in the decentralisation process and must be assisted by the next assembly to live up to expectation.
The outgoing assemblymen advised incoming ones to work hard, when elected and ensure that the metropolis developed.
Mr Edwin Philips, Presiding Member of the assembly appealed to the National Association of Local Authorities in Ghana (NALAG) to speed up its discussion with Government on the ex-gratia to be paid to outgoing district assembly members.
All the assembly members were presented with certificates.
Cape Coast: You Can’t Disqualify Candidates - EC
The Director of Public Affairs of the Electoral Commission Mr Samuel Yorke-Aidoo has warned that none of the officials in charge of monitoring the mounting of platform for candidates in the forthcoming assembly elections has the fiat to disqualify outright aspiring candidates against whom "serious allegations" like defilement are made.
Addressing a seminar organized by the Commission for media practitioners, social and political commentators in Cape Coast, he said the monitors role in such situations is to forward reports of such allegations to the district and regional electoral officers for the necessary action.
Mr Yorke-Aidoo said the forthcoming local level elections, were "very critical in the affairs of the country", as the electorate would be required to make informed choices to facilitate socio-economic development.
He reiterated that it was unlawful for candidates to mount their own platforms or organize public educational campaigns and that it was the sole duty of the EC to do so for candidates.
Mr Yorke-Aidoo, also echoed concerns about the use of macho men by some politicians to harass voters during elections, and pointed out that such behaviour was in contravention of the laws of the country and was "a recipe for chaos".
He condemned such politicians, adding that "they are the same people who are struggling for power to rule the country" and urged all members of the political parties to endeavour to "be civil and law abiding" and to desist from acts that impinge on the nation’s democratic process.
Mr Yorke-Aidoo gave the assurance that the Commission would always consider security during elections very seriously and not relent in its efforts to put adequate security measures in place to help forestall any acts of violence.
He told the media that the Commission recognized them as partners in promoting voter awareness and it was therefore imperative for them to be abreast of the electoral process to enable them help enhance "the integrity of the electoral process".
Mr Samuel Tettey, regional director of the EC spoke against the use of foul language against political opponents, particularly during phone-in programmes and called for a stop to such behaviour.
T’di - EC: It’s Illegal for Candidates to Mount Banners
Miss Eunice Akweley Roberts, Member of the Electoral Commission (EC) in-charge of the Western Region has said it was illegal for aspiring assembly members to mount banners, posters and bill boards during their campaigns for election.
She said mounting of banners and other advertisements violated the non-partisan concept of the district assembly elections. Ms Roberts announced this when addressing the opening session at a day’s training for journalists and social commentators in the Shama Ahanta East Metropolis at Takoradi.
She therefore, called for a review on the law on advertisements by aspiring candidates. Ms Roberts said the district assembly elections was non-partisan and assembly members elected were only paid sitting allowances and did not receive ex-gratia at the end of their tenure of office.
She said the EC would mount platforms in 445 electoral areas for all the candidates to meet the people and share their vision with them. This, Ms Roberts said, would afford candidates an even campaigning and access to the electorates to enable them chose competent candidates for their respective areas.
Ms Roberts pointed out that the platforms were not meant to embarrass, intimidate or attack the personality of contestants but the electorates should listen and ask relevant questions.
She stressed that offering of drinks, impersonation, multiple voting, bribery, threat, damage, harm or inflicting injury on anyone were electoral offences and offenders would be fined, imprisoned or to both.
Mr Steve Opoku-Mensah, Western Regional Director of the EC said mounting of platforms in the region would begin from August 21 to September 9. He said platform monitors had been recruited and were responsible for the organisation of the platforms in their assigned electoral areas.
Mr Opoku-Mensah said the platform monitors would introduce the candidates and control proceedings at each forum. He said election officials had also been recruited and would be trained on the election procedures from September 6 to 11.
Mr Opoku-Mensah cautioned that candidates for the district assembly or unit level elections should contest as individuals and must not use symbol of any particular political party.
He said in addition, no political party should endorse, sponsor, offer a platform or campaign for any candidate seeking election to the district assembly or lower local government.