LACK OF PROFESSIONALS AT ASSEMBLIES AFFECTING CAPITAL PROJECTS

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A Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General (A-G) has revealed that the number of professionals needed at the various District Assemblies in the country is woefully inadequate and negatively affecting effective implementation of capital projects undertaken by the Assemblies. According to the A-G, while some qualified professionals do not accept postings to rural areas, the few who accept to go to rural assemblies are often moved out contrary to laid down human resource policy of the Local Government Service thereby affecting ongoing projects.

The A-G also noted that the lack of certified architects to prepare design drawings for projects had forced most of the assemblies to adopt and rely on project designs prepared elsewhere without recourse to the topographical conditions of their individual localities.

In addition, the report showed that in awarding the contracts, the contract sums in many instances turn out to be almost the same as budgeted figures for such projects, an indication that contractors are given insider information during the bidding process. For instance, the construction of a four-storey Community Centre at Chorkor, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly budgeted for GH¢ 4,722,305.00 in their annual plan while the contract was awarded at GH¢4,722,304.95. Again, in constructing a police quarters at Japekrom in the Jaman South Municipality, the Assembly had budgeted for the project at a cost of GH¢195,000.00 and awarded the contract at a sum of GH¢195,097.45, GH¢97.45 higher than the budgeted figure.

The Report cited instances of suspected maneuvering and manipulation of the procurement procedures in which contractors were bidding and circulating projects in the districts among themselves. This suspected manipulations led to shoddy works of some capital projects.

The Report also revealed that at the time of the audit, each of the 30 Assemblies audited was undertaking not less than 15 capital projects. The A-G noted that the limited budgets of MMDAs could not support the full completion of all the projects as scheduled.

Finally, all the 30 MMDAs had no maintenance plans for any of their capital projects. They anticipate that user agencies would maintain these projects once they are completed and handed over. The Assemblies thus did not provide budgetary allocation to support maintenance activity of these projects to prolong their usage.

The A-G recommended that the Ministry of Local government and Rural Development (MLGRD) builds the capacity of key players involved in project implementation, and comply with the policy on staff transfer to ensure continuity in project implementation. He also urged MMDAs to respect the procurement processes, improve internal controls to ensure value for money, complete ongoing projects before starting new ones as well as develop maintenance plans for projects.