Dr Nana Ato Arthur[/caption] Dr Nana Ato Arthur, the Head of the Office of the Local Government Service (LGS), has spelt out his plans and strategies to make Ghana’s decentralization process more vibrant and efficient to propel the development of the country. He said strengthening the developing planning units of the Regional Coordinating Councils and the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) is crucial for the collection of reliable data to ensure effective planning and budgeting. Dr Ato Arthur made this known in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra. He said so much is expected from staff of MMDAs and promised that building the capacity of staff would be his priority. Dr Ato Arthur said his outfit would encourage the sharing of skills/knowledge by assemblies as they have varied capacities to help promote best practices in their various offices to ensure balanced development in the country’s 216 MMDAs. He said there is the need to use Information Communication Technology (ICT) to improve the Internally Generated Fund (IGF) of MMDAs, adding that, majority of the assemblies relied on the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) for development, which was quite inadequate. Dr Ato Arthur said the 2016 report on the performance of MMDAs, revealed that the best 20 assemblies have an average of 33 per cent of their revenue coming from the IGF and the worst performing assemblies contributed less than three per cent of the total revenue from the IGF in relation to the DACF and other government grants. Thus, he said, part of his vision is to use ICT to facilitate and develop a Digital Mapping System to assist in the identification of rating properties within a particular assembly and use professionally trained revenue collectors to collect more revenue to improve on the IGF. The Head of Service also identified sanitation as one of the core mandates of the MMDAs saying he would seek to build the capacity of assemblies to improve on sanitation in the various MMDAs. Dr Ato Arthur said the LGS would enhance the capacity of Environmental Health and Sanitation Officers to ensure that they carry out their responsibilities for improved sanitation in the MMDAs.Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and other ministries. “The administrative decentralization [spells out] the implementation of directives and policies by government, and has become a tool for local development whilst fiscal decentralization seeks to ensure that financial resources gets to the MMDAs.” Dr Ato Arthur said the LGS has been positioned as the driver of local development and this is a reflection of the service’s motto: decentralization, democracy and development (the 3Ds). Attainment of Ghana’s Decentralization Dr Ato Arthur said decentralization is a process and not an event and there is the need to work on a number of areas to ensure the smooth operationalization of the process. “Some of the areas that need to be looked at include the trial for local electoral system, public access to information and consultative meetings by the local actors.” He said these mechanisms were to ensure political accountability of government, adding that, “Political accountability of local government still remained an unfinished business in Ghana’s decentralization system”. On the local electoral system, the Head of Service fully support the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCES) as proposed by the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo. He said there is the need for the publication of DACF releases to ensure that members of the public are privy to the information and would be enabled to pose the needed questions. However, Dr Ato Arthur stated that the quick releases of the DACF, depends on good planning. The Local Government Expert said the administrator of the Common Fund must be able to come up with time lines as indicated by the President of the Republic to ensure that funds were released at specific times.