The second reading of the Northern Development Authority Bill (2017) and the Middle Belt Development Authority Bill (2017) took place yesterday followed by an interesting debate, with most Members of Parliament (MPs) agreeing to the need for these development authorities to be established.
The minority members however, asked the government not to pay lip service to the creation of these authorities but commit itself to finding sustainable source of funding to help realize the objectives of the proposed authorities.
The minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said previous development authorities had suffered funding problems because funding had basically been dependent on the Consolidated Fund, adding that depending on this Fund would not be sustainable.
He also warned that the creation of the development authorities must not be used to stifle the functions of the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.
Mr Iddrisu said that the government must learn a lot of lesson from the operations of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), claiming that the management problem that bedeviled SADA must not be repeated so that the authorities can achieve their goals.
The minority leader was of the view that effective monitoring must be a critical component of the new structures to ensure that the right things are done.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Daboya/Mankarigu, Shaibu Mahama, noted that it is very important to have a special dedicated fund for the Northern Development Authority since the three northern regions are most disadvantaged in terms of development, and therefore spreading the resources evenly for the three authorities would be a big disadvantage to the people of the north.
“When it comes to everything, the people of the north could be classified as very poor and the bridge between the north and south when it comes to development is very wide so it would not be prudent to share the resources equally,” he proposed.
The chairman of the Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises which looked at the bills, Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, said that when the Northern Development Authority becomes a reality, it will take over the assets, rights and liabilities of the SADA, established under SADA Act, 2010 (Act 805).
He observed that when passed the bill would ensure that public consultations are held to solicit views on major projects to be taken within those jurisdictions to ensure that the projects that are implemented are owned by the communities themselves.
“The committee recognizes that the Northern Zone has peculiar ecological circumstances with various developmental and environmental challenges and that the committee urges that the Authority, in the design and implementation of its programmes, be guided by these factors in order to promote sound economic development and environmental sustainability,” Mr Anyimadu-Antwi underscored.
The majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said all the views expressed by the MPs would be taken on board to enrich the bills.
He assured that the creation of the development authorities will not conflict with the mandate of the district assemblies.
He also said that part of the bill has given parliament the authority to determine seed money for each of the three authorities depending on their peculiar development needs.