Decentralisation in Developing Countries: The Elusive Sub-national Discretionary Power and Autonomy in Ghana.

Seregious Be-ere

Abstract


Decentralisation reforms have been embraced by a variety of countries irrespective of regime type or political orientation for its facilitative role in enhancing democratic participatory governance and development. This paper questions the extent to which discretionary decision-making power and autonomy have been devolved to sub-national governments as core practices in relation to decentralisation in developing countries. Using Ghana as a case, the evidence suggests that central governments have not relinquished power to sub-national governments. Through the appointment of the District Chief Executive (DCE) and 30 percent of local councillors, the centre retains power at the local level. The Local Government Act gives far-reaching authority to the District Assemblies (DAs) but in practice these powers have been restricted by other pieces of legislation requiring ministerial approval and supervision of decisions, taxation and expenditure of the DAs. This weakens downward accountability and responsiveness of sub-national leaders to the people at the grassroots. This situation is an affront to the practice of a meaningful decentralisation that can enhance democracy and development. Hence devolution in Ghana may be occurring more at the level of rhetoric than reality.

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Copyright (c) 2016 Seregious Be-ere

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