Christopher Dapaah – Acting National Coordinator, Local Governance Network (LOGNet)
The Local Governance Network (LOGNet) has described the Finance Ministry’s proposed common platform to collect property rates on behalf of Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) as counterproductive and a blow to the decentralisation agenda.
LOGNet, a network of Civil Society Organisations working in the local governance landscape in Ghana issued a statement expressing their concerns with attempts to centralise property rate collection and mandate private firms with the collection on behalf of MMDAs as contained in the 2022 budget statement.
The statement signed by its Acting National Coordinator, Christopher Dapaah, further said “LOGNet will resist this development and expect the government to be clear on this agenda or consider better options to make fiscal decentralisation at the local level practical and sustainable”.
According to the statement, many MMDAs in the 16 regions of Ghana through the Street Naming and Property Addressing system (SNPA) invested hugely in infrastructure and technology that aided the collection of their property rates.
“Therefore, the proposed common platform will be a huge setback to the gains made by the assemblies over time, and this should be reconsidered,” the statement said.
LOGNet explained MMDAs have demonstrable capacities to collect property rates and invest same in capital projects.
It added, “what the MMDAs need from the central government is an enabling environment and strengthening of capacities but not a takeover under any revenue-sharing arrangement”.
Consequently, the network underscored the need to capacitate local governments, the best option for local governments to mobilise revenue.
The statement indicated the central government if well-intentioned in assisting MMDAs, realise their revenue potentials should rather assist local governments with the valuation of properties.
“This proposal is not only legally contravening our decentralisation provisions, but it neither appears technically wise nor cost-efficient to supporting the MMDAs to collect their own property rates which will vary from district to district.
Only the District Assembly has the power to fix rates for the people to pay so any central arrangement that takes this away from them violates the fiscal decentralisation provisions of the constitution,” LOGNet stressed.