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13.10.2008 Business & Finance

Gov`t secures US$119m to assist SMEs, banks

By Magdalene Sey, Cape Coast - Ghanaian Chronicle

The government, with the help of the World Bank, has negotiated for $119 million to provide both financial and business development support, as well as technical assistance, to small and medium scale entrerprises (SMEs) and banks in the country.

This was disclosed by the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiative, Gifty Ohene Konadu, during the launch of the micro credit scheme by the Centre of Awareness, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Cape Coast last Friday.

According to the Minister, whose speech was read on her behalf, poverty eradication was the very core issue on government's developmental agenda.

She said it was based on this, that government solicited such funds to assist the expansion of small businesses in the country.

She noted that until structures of the economy were changed, and the constant changes in prices of international commodities checked, and the unemployment rate brought under control, the eradication of poverty, which is major factor in the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS), would remain a mirage.

She disclosed that her outfit was undertaking presidential special initiatives, to diversify the export base of the country, and district industrialisation programmes that would engage farmers on large-scale farm operations to provide raw materials for agro-based industrial ventures.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Central Regional Minister, Nana Ato Arthur, commended the Center of Awareness for launching the programme, saying it would enable people at the grassroots level to have access to loans to run their own businesses.

He implored them not to create cumbersome conditions for accessing the loans, so that everybody could have access to the facility.

Nana Ato Arthur advised people who would go for the loans, to repay them on time, to enable others benefit from the scheme.

He, therefore, appealed to the Ministry to assist the Center, to enable it assist people in the region, so as to reduce poverty in the area.

The President of Center of Awareness, Ato Duncan, said the scheme would ensure maximum and effective utilisation of resources by members, to enable them effectively manage their resources.

Duncan added that the scheme had targeted groups that had well-structured business plans for its members, in order to ensure that choice of businesses were carefully selected by members.

He, therefore, called for collaboration between the Center of Awareness, and all micro finance institutions both locally and internationally, to use the scheme to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.