Public-private dialogue is significant for local government functionaries to engage with central level policy-makers and other stakeholders towards the promotion of economic development.
Mr. Seth Terkper, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, who made the observation, said local economic development through such partnership was necessary for raising revenue to improve public services towards employment generation and sustainable entrepreneurial and pro-poor policies.
This is because efforts made by the local government twenty years ago to enable it to become self-financing and self-sustaining had not been attained.
Mr. Terkper was addressing the second national public private platform on local and regional economic development, on the theme: Harnessing Lessons and Building Networks.�
The two-day dialogue is aimed creating a platform for participants to share experience and lessons learnt from selected partners over the past years, examine and influence national policy directions in the support of Local and regional Economic Development (LRED).
Expected out comes include a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of various actors in local economic development at the local, regional and national levels.
Activities also include thematic presentations on concepts, potentials and recourses for LRED by the GTZ, ILO, ILGS, GAIT and NDPC, and plenary discussions for sharing and agenda setting.
Mr. Terkper said it was estimated that total internally generated funds of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) were less than five percent of total national revenue.
He said that MMDAs had relied on central government transfers notably the district assemblies' common fund and funds from development partners to finance their development.
Mr. Terkper noted that this had constrained their ability to address the concerns and aspirations of their people as assemblies now relied on the common fund and when transfers delayed, many assemblies were thrown into confusions.
He said disclosures in the last few months suggested that many MMDAs now lived beyond their means, while there was little to show for the expenditures they continue to make especially the huge debts to contractors and service providers, companies and banks.
Mr. Terkper said: �In stark terms it will take some MMDAs two to four years to use their share of common fund for development to pay these arrears, provided they are genuine'.
He said it was an appropriate time to recognize the potential of private sector and non-profit actors or partners in finding solutions to several problems thus MMDAs should neither be intimidated by the size of some actors nor dismissive of the informal, small and unsophisticated nature of others.
Mr. Terkper said: �A lot of projects have been implemented in Ghana that sought to promote awareness about these avenues for promoting local economic development; some include GTZ Local and Economic Development Programme.�
He said unfortunately many of them had remained in the pilot state because local authorities lacked programs to bring the projects into the mainstream at the local level.
Mr. Terkper called on assemblies to provide the enabling environment for the growth of local enterprises.
He also charged the assemblies to use their resources to complement those from external sources to finance the entrepreneurial and development projects.
Mr. Terkper called for effective coordination between various stakeholders to bring all crucial agencies on board and asked the assemblies to change their attitude towards local enterprises and see them as strategic partners in development effort.
Ms. Esther Ofei Aboagye, Director of ILGS, said there was the urgent need to harness efforts, share lessons and upscale the gains in coherent manner that would benefit all the assemblies in the country.
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