Officials from Municipal and District Assemblies (MDAs) in the Upper East and North-East Regions are undergoing a three-day financial management training workshop in Bolgatanga for the implementation of the Gulf of Guinea Northern Regions Social Cohesion (SOCO) project.
The officials include Municipal and District Chief Executives, Coordinating Directors, Planning, Finance and Budget Officers from the 15 MDAs in the Upper East Region and the six MDAs in the North-East Region.
The ongoing workshop is on the theme; 'Financial management of donor funded projects within the context of current financial arrangements, the case of the SOCO project.'
The project, launched by Vice President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia in Bolgatanga in November 2022, is a multi-country US$450 million credit facility from the World Bank to be implemented in Ghana, Cote d' Ivoire, Togo and Benin.
It is aimed to provide support to the Northern parts of the Gulf of Guinea countries which suffer instabilities owing to food insecurity, climate change, conflict and violence
The project would be implemented in 48 Districts in the Upper East Region, Northern, Upper West, North-East, Savannah and Oti Regions by the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralization and Rural Development in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.
Mr George Aidoo, the National Project Coordinator, told journalists on the first day of the workshop, that 'We have gotten to a stage where sub-projects are going to be implemented by the MMDAs.
'Because the funding is from the World Bank, we have brought all the stakeholders together to take them through a training programme to equip them adequately to be able to deliver based on the Bank's guidelines,' he said.
Mr Aidoo said there was the need for the Assemblies to ensure that they stay within the guidelines, noting that 'Anything that we do outside the guidelines would be termed an illegality and that can affect the whole credit.'
The Project Coordinator emphasized that there was the need for them to focus attention on what was required of them, so that they do not stray from the guidelines.
He said the project was community-driven, and mentioned schools, health facilities, boreholes among other infrastructure to be constructed under the project to help improve the living conditions of community members and create employment opportunities for the youth.
He said after the training, monies would be transferred to all the beneficiary MMDAs who already had a budget, so that they would be able to pay for contracts awarded under strict monitoring by the Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs).
Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Upper East Regional Minister, said the project was timely, and apart from the construction of infrastructure to ease pressure on existing social amenities, it would provide employable skills for the youth and fully engage them.
He said many projects had suffered major setbacks as a result of misapplication and misappropriation of project funds and stressed that the RCC would ensure that funds meant for the implementation of the SOCO project were not misused or misapplied.
'Let me sound a word of caution to our staff that this time around, officers will not just be transferred, but will face disciplinary committee, which would lead to their outright dismissal,' Mr Yakubu said.
According to him, the project would be a 'game changer' which would bring relief to the people of the Region, 'I, therefore, call on all officers who will be working for the project to do so with all the urgency it deserves.'
Source: Ghana News Agency