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10.08.2006 General News

Ghana, Switzerland sign agreement on budgetary support

By GNA
Ghana, Switzerland sign agreement on budgetary support
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Ghana and Switzerland on Wednesday signed a budgetary support agreement for a grant of 27 million Swiss Francs (23 million dollars) spanning a three-year period for the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy II (GPRS II) programme.

Under the agreement the Government is free to channel the money to any area it considers as a priority under the GPRS II.

The amount translates into an annual utilization of nine million Swiss Francs, approximately 66 billion cedis and forms part of the Multi-Donor Budgetary Support (MDBS) programme of donors.

The Swiss Ambassador, Georg Zubler, and the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, signed the agreement.

Mr Zubler said the agreement formed a new bilateral programme because it covered a longer period and culminated from individual discussions with the countries involved.

He said the support to Ghana showed the commitment of donors to the country on the basis of the development agenda contained in the GPRS II.

"About two-thirds of the donor support is generally for budgetary support and we only (support) governments in which we have confidence and trust," Mr Zubler said.

"This agreement is aimed to enforce the trust that my country has in Ghana in view of the political and economic stability."

Mr Zubler also mentioned Ghana's stride in acceding to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) as one of the country's efforts that had further increased her standing in good governance and which had projected the good image of the country in the eyes of the donor community.

"Looking at the annual GPRS report it is not a coincidence that the co-operation between our countries has increased."

Switzerland's budgetary support to Ghana was 15 million Swiss Francs for 2004 and 2005 (7.5 million Swiss Franc for each year).

Ghana is also one of the 14 priority developing countries including Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa, which Switzerland supports.

Switzerland's other support for Ghana is in the area of management support and extension of power grid to some communities to the tune of 2.5 million dollars.

The Swiss have also given a 2.5 million dollar-credit line to the private sector through the Trust Bank, a four million-dollar local venture capital fund disbursed through the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank to develop the leasing sector and large scale projects of mortgages and public finance management.

The first credit line programme with the Trust Bank for the private sector has already ended and Switzerland and the Bank are negotiating the second phase of the project.

Switzerland is also interested in discussing programmes in revenue generation, tax policy direction, trade support and commodity programmes aimed at promoting the export potentials of Ghana's industrial sector.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said it was a good sign that Switzerland had embraced the MDBS as an appropriate channel for the disbursement of funds. He said the Government was satisfied with the level of bilateral cooperation between the two countries and gave the assurance that all resources mobilised under the MDBS would be used judiciously.

"To this end, the public financial management system has been improved and the Controller and Accountant-General's Department as well as the Ghana Audit Service have all been strengthened to ensure efficient and timely budget report," Mr Baah-Wiredu said.

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