Monday, April 13, 2015

Tamale Assembly Officials Urged to Use Tax Revenue to Reduce Maternal, Infant Mortalities

Jacob Mansu, Project Coord. NORDESO
Authorities at the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly have been urged by a section of citizens to use some of the tax revenue collected from businesses and property owners to address the problem of maternal and infant mortalities, which they claim, is a bane on healthcare delivery.

They suggested that, the Assembly could procure special medical equipment for some of its health facilities, as well as sponsor practicing nurses to be trained as midwives. They observed that, there was inadequate number of such critical personnel at most of the facilities in the metropolis, hence the long queues and hours spent by expectant mothers during antenatal care.

Madam Ashetu who was among a group of women making the clarion call at a day's social public expenditure and financial accountability (SPEFA) forum held in Tamale by Northern Development Society (NORDESO), also appealed to government to train more health personnel for adequate deployment to health facilities in the Northern Region.

Project Coordinator of NORDESO Mansu Jacob told journalists the forum was organized to sensitize citizens on budget planning and expenditure tracking processes at the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly and how they could track the use of taxes collected by Assembly officials. Participants at the forum were mainly petty traders, artisans, persons with disability, women groups and some former Assembly members.

Madam Muniratu who was also contributing to the discussion, indicated that deployment of adequate health personnel such as midwives and other personnel to the health facilities would help provide adequate attention and care to expectant mothers who visit the hospital for antenatal care.

The Tamale Metropolis has only two public hospitals, Tamale Central and Tamale West Hospitals– in addition to the Tamale Teaching Hospital, which is a referral facility serving the entire northern Ghana. There are, however, other private hospitals providing healthcare to the people.

Some of the participants also encouraged the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly to use taxes collected from citizens, businesses and property owners to address challenges in basic education. They cited for instance, continuous poor performances of schools and students at the annual Basic Education Certificate Examination and called on authorities to increase students pass rates by at least 80% by the end of 2018.   

A cross section of participants at forum
They also wanted Assembly officials to directly consult citizens and chiefs aside their Assembly members before contracts were awarded to enable them monitor progress of work of construction projects. According to them, it was the only way to also avoid shoddy execution of development projects by local contractors. 

Participants also said they wanted clear distinction between Assembly, Government and Members of Parliament social programmes in their communities.

NORDESO is a local non-governmental organisation implementing SPEFA, a project of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and SNV, a Netherlands based organisation.

SPEFA is being implemented by a network of citizen groups that engage local government authorities on public financial management. SPEFA provides consistent and high quality support for the development and operationalisation of civil society-led SPEFA processes in Metropolitan and Municipal Assemblies (MMAs).

SPEFA also builds the knowledge and capacities of civil society organisations, community based organisations and communities in local government public financial management to equip them to engage MMAs and their sub-district structures on these issues.

By the end of the SPEFA project, it is expected that the understanding of key participating stakeholders in the MMAs planning and budgeting process, expenditure patterns, assets management, monitoring and general decision-making for social public accountability is enhanced.

There is also a well defined understanding about the roles and functions of all stakeholders in ensuring social accountability among all stakeholders; and participating stakeholders’ capacity to engage on social accountability, tools and mechanisms, public financial management processes is improved. 

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