Nana Juaben Siriboe, Chief Director at Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, has challenged the Board of Directors and Management of Social Investment Fund (SIF) to ensure its micro credit component accelerated the development of micro businesses in the rural areas.
He said government recognized the role of micro credit as a tool for poverty reduction, therefore there was the need for SIF managers to collaborate with Ministries, Departments and Agencies and other stakeholders to pursue this agenda.
Nana Siriboe made the call in an address read on his behalf at the annual review meeting of SIF at Fumesua near Kumasi on Tuesday.
The meeting offered participants an opportunity to discuss the programmes of implementation and adopt strategies to improve implementation.
He said government was committed to the provision of micro credit to the poor and vulnerable in the society to achieve the promotion of private sector competitiveness, one of the main pillars identified as an anchor to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Nana Siriboe appealed to the participants to come out with an approved strategy that would ensure smooth and successful implementation of the project.
Dr D.O. Andah, Member of Board of Directors of SIF said the 10-million-dollar project, being executive under the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and Ghana Government was to improve the livelihoods in urban and rural impoverished communities through increasing access to basic social and economic infrastructure and services such as schools, clinics and water.
It also provides credit facilities for income generating activities and building the capacities of community based organizations, NGOs and government institutions to target the poor and effectively reduce poverty.
He said by the end of 2007, the project had been implemented in about 130 communities in 64 metropolitan, municipal and districts nation-wide.
Most of the sub-projects, mainly classroom blocks, teachers’ and nurses’ quarters, rural clinics and boreholes had been approved for funding out of which 65 had been completed.
Dr Andah said about 3,730,860 Ghana cedis had been disbursed through 32 micro finance institutions to beneficiaries in the implementing districts.
Miss Ama Serwaah Dapaah, Executive Director of SIF, said provision of classrooms and teachers’ quarters under the project had increased teacher retention rate from 53 per cent in 2005 to 75 per cent by the end of 2007, while BECE results had also improved by 55 per cent within the same period.
She said irregular payment of contractors’ invoices submitted for work done had significantly affected sub-project implementation, and the neglect of sustainability issues by beneficiary institutions and communities was quite alarming and stressed the need for further sensitization and education.
Mr Rashid Pelpuo, Member of Parliament for Wa Central and Ranking Member on Poverty Reduction Sub-committee of Parliament, expressed concern about the percentage of funds released for implementation of projects in the three northern regions, which were considered to be very poor.
He stressed the need for a conscious and deliberate attempt by government to ensure that disbursement of funds under the project was made in areas where poverty was endemic and people in serious economic danger.
Mr Winfred Nelson, member of National Development Planning Commission, called on all stakeholders in the project to intensify efforts to reduce poverty in the implementing communities.