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30.10.2008 Business & Finance

Parliament To Discuss VALCO Sale Pact

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman & Samuel Nuamah -

A Sale and Purchase Agreement  between the government and the International Aluminium Partners for the sale and purchase of 70 per cent issued shares of the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) held by the government, was yesterday laid before Parliament.

The Minister of Trade, Industry, Public Sector Development and Presidential Special Initiative, Papa Owusu Ankomah, laid the agreement which was referred by the First Deputy Speaker, Freddie Blay, to the Committees on Finance, Trade and Industry for consideration and report.

A supplementary financing agreement between the government and the Federal Republic of Germany for 38.3 million euros for the supply and installation of medical and technical equipment at 37 Military Hospital and credit facility for 30 million dollars from ECOWAS Bank for Self Help Electrification Project in the Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions were also laid in the house and referred to the Finance Committee.

Also laid before the House was the financing agreement between the government and the Brazilian National Bank for Economic and Social Development for 50 million dollars to finance the development and construction of the Juale and Pwalugu Hydroelectric Power projects.

The construction of the Juale and Pwalugu Hydroelectric Power project forms part of measures to comprehensively develop the north to ensure adequate and reliable supply of power to that part of the country.

In a related development, the second reading of the Northern Development Fund Bill to establish the Northern Development Fund to provide additional resources to support accelerated economic growth and sustainable development in the north was deferred to today.

The Bill  was presented and read the first time in the House on October 16 and subsequently referred to the finance committee for consideration and report.

The committees' report signed by its chairman, Nii Daku Adu Mante, noted that the fund being created was not meant to be a substitute for existing and traditional government funding towards the three northern regions.

The 2008 budget statement made provision for a seed money of GH¢25 million for the establishment of the fund to address the development gap and to alleviate the chronic poverty in the north.

The committee's report noted that the intent of the Northern Development Strategy was to reduce poverty in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions to about 20 per cent in 15 years.

The three northern regions are considered as the poorest in the country, and the slow growth of that sector is said to have delayed and reduced Ghana's achievement of Millennium Development Goals and middle income status.

The Minister of Health, Major Courage Quarshigah (rtd), appeared before the House to answer questions relating to his ministry.