Ghana - EC Sign Three Financing Agreements
Ghana and European Commission (EC) yesterday signed three financing agreements totalling 92.6 million Ghana Cedis in support of three government projects in the road and agriculture sector, as well as poverty reduction.
Out of the amount, 60.8 million Ghana Cedis would support government's general budget for growth and poverty reduction for 2007 to 2009; 28.3 million Ghana Cedis for the Eastern Corridor Road Project in the Volta Region; and 3.5 million Ghana Cedis to support Ghana's fight against Avian Influenza (H5N1) and other diseases.
Mr Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi, Head of Delegation of the EC to Ghana, signed for his outfit while Mr Kwadjo Baah-Wiredu, Minister for Finance and Economic Planning signed on behalf of the Ghana Government.
Mr Sebregondi said the Poverty Reduction Budget Support III (PRBS III) was the third agreement 'signed with Ghana since 2001 but also the last of a long series of general budget support operations implemented by the EC since the 1990s.'
'Since then, along with progress achieved by Ghana in the development of the Multi-Donor Budget Support Framework (MDBS), the EC has moved from earmarked programmes to untargeted budget supports focusing on results and therefore fostering Ghana's ownership and domestic accountability,' he said.
He said the PBRS III represented a further step in that perspective and that, the 60.8 million Ghana Cedis would assist Ghana to consolidate its achievements in terms of macro economic stability, transparent public finance management and poverty reduction.
Mr Sebregondi said the money under the Eastern Corridor Project would be used to rehabilitate three bridges and to pave National Road Number Two from Dodo-Pepesu to Nkwanta in the Volta North, a distance of about 52 kilometres.
He said planned interventions were in the pipeline to continue paving the road from Nkwanta to Yendi, with potential financing by Government of Ghana and/or World Bank. He said when finally completed, the Yendi-Tamale road would become viable and attractive alternative routes from Tema port to the North of Ghana and further to Burkina Faso.
On the Avian Influenza Project, Mr Sebregondi said it was part of their development policy to prevent human fatalities due to the H5N1 virus and to prevent economic losses that could be caused by the spread of the disease in the African, Pacific and Caribbean (ACP) countries.
Mr Baah-Wiredu said the European Union's continuous support for the third PRBS was a clear manifestation of progress achieved by Government in terms of macro-economic stability and poverty reduction.
He said Ghana had chalked economic success through prudent fiscal and monetary policies and bold economic reforms aimed at reducing inflation, driving down interest rates, and ensuring stable and competitive exchange rates.
The Minister said the agreement would further support Ghana to achieve her objectives and priorities as enshrined in the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS). He said the Eastern Corridor Project would not only ease pressure on the increasing use of the Central Corridor but would also improve interconnectivity between the northern and southern sectors of Ghana, and improve local, regional and interregional trade in the project area.
The project, he said, would also boost the area's tourism potential, especially at the Kyabobo National Park and the Hanging Village in the East of Nkwanta.
Mr Baah-Wiredu said although the signing of the agreement was taking place at a time when the execution of EU-funded road projects in Ghana was experiencing serious challenges with particular reference to the performance of contractors, which had resulted in very serious and adverse financial implications for government, adequate steps have been taken to address the problem.
He said measures were in place to ensure that the tendering process became more competitive to enable competent firms with sufficient resources to complete the works on time be engaged to execute the works.
'I am happy to mention that under this Financial Agreement, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has delegated its main responsibility as the Contracting Authority to the Ministry of Transportation. In this regards, the Ministry of Transportation will benefit from a support of 100,000 Euros that has been approved to enable them to discharge their functions effectively and efficiently,' he added.
Mr Baah-Wiredu said the Avian Influenza Project would complement Government's efforts dedicated to the surveillance, control and prevention of the disease.
He said it would focus on four areas, including improvement in the surveillance of migratory birds and domestic animal populations; improvement in Laboratory diagnostic capacity for the avian influenza and other diseases and delivery of Animal Health Services to livestock/ poultry farmers.
The Minister therefore, commended the EU for its continued support and assured them they would continue to work closely together and improve upon the existing fruitful cooperation between the two.
Mr Abraham Dwuma-Odoom, the Deputy Minister of Health said since 2005 the Government of Ghana, in collaboration with key development partners developed and begun implementing a preparedness and response plan to tackle the avian and human influenza pandemic threat.
He said as part of the implementation of the plan, a series of activities had been carried out before and after the emergence of the H5N1 virus in poultry in Tema, Sunyani and Ketu districts of Ghana.
Mr Dwuma-Odoom said despite these achievements the country faced certain challenges such as proper coordination of stakeholders dealing with the bird flu and human pandemic, socio-cultural and economic factors and active surveillance for early cases detection.
Mr Godfred Tangu Banyon, Minister of State, in charge of Transportation, said the Ministry has programmed to link the eastern corridor to the central corridor through Bimbila and Yendi to Tamale.
He said the Ministry was in the process of reviewing the feasibility and detailed design on the Nkwanta-Yendi section with support of the International Development Association under the Road Sector Development Programme.
The Minister, therefore urged other development partners to emulate the EU to ensure the complete rehabilitation of all sections along the eastern corridor. With the three agreements, the EC had committed all remaining funds under the ninth European Development Fund (EDF), totalling 315.8 million euros from 2002 to 2007. Source: GNA