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05.03.2009 Regional News

Kumasi`s expectations of 2009 Budget

By Issah Alhassan, Kumasi - Ghanaian Chronicle

AS THE Minister for Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, storms Parliament today to present the government's maiden fiscal policy document for the year 2009, civil society groups and individuals in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi, have been expressing their expectations of the government.

While individuals expect that the President Mills-led government would keep to its promise, to reduce prices of petroleum products and put measures in place to arrest the increasing depreciation of the national currency, the cedi against the dollar, other civil associations expect the government to announce plans which would help improve their respective ministries, and also promote better conditions of service.

The Ashanti Regional Vice Chairman of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr. Awuzi, said he was anticipating that the government would allocate enough funds for the improvement of health facilities in the region, especially small hospitals in the districts, to enable them offer quality health service to patients.

He also wants the budget to address the issue of better conditions of service, in order to halt the braindrain, and further put measures in place to check the maternal death rate in the region, which according to him, increased in the year 2008.

Dr. Awuzi also said he hoped the government would expedite action on the proposed establishment of a Regional Hospital in the region, to help reduce the pressure on the personnel and facilities at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Dr. Nsiah Asare, was however optimistic that even though President Mills failed to address the issue of the Regional Hospital during his maiden State of the Nation Address presented to parliament a few weeks ago, he was very hopeful that today's fiscal policy document would touch on the project, which according to him, would commence very soon.

Both the Regional Secretaries of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Messrs Boamah Duku and Bonsu respectively, said they were anticipating that the government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) would put measures in place to ensure the general improvement in working conditions of teachers, such as the provision of rural allowances for teachers in the rural areas.

Mr. Duku said he hoped that the President, being a teacher himself, was duly aware of the plight of the Ghanaian teacher, and as a result would make enough provision to ensure that teachers in the country were motivated enough to give of their best.

He further stated that he would expect the budget to elaborate on the Single Spine Salary Structure being deliberated upon by the government and the labour union.

Mr. Bonsu also wants the budget allocation for the education sector to be adequately enhanced, while education facilities such as computer and science laboratories, classroom furniture and transport allowances for teachers, must be adequately addressed.

Dr. Adinkrah Amoh, Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Ghana Registered Nurses Assocaition (GRNA), said he hoped the issue of environmental sanitation and waste management would be high on the agenda of the government monetary document.

He also wants the budget to announce pragmatic fiscal policies that would ensure stability in both the micro and macro aspects of the economy.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Suame Magazine Industrial Development Organization (SMIDO), Mr.Geroge Amankwaah, was very much concerned about the increasing rate of inflation, and expected that the 2009 budget announces plans to curtail the situation.

He also wants the budget to touch on the Suame Industrial Development blueprint adopted by the government, and the Information Technology Centre recently commissioned by the Vice President, in order to turn Suame Magazine into an industrial hub in the West African sub-region.

Mr. Amankwaah also wants the budget to address the issue of agriculture, and make the sector more attractive to the Ghanaian.