Ghana, EU Review Development Efforts
Ghana and the European Union (EU) have been reviewing their development efforts in the country for the year 2008.
At a review meeting with stakeholders, which included government agencies, local and international non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations and other non-state actors, both officials of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP) and officials of the Delegation of the EU to Ghana expressed satisfaction with progress made so far but said more needed to be achieved.
In his opening remarks, Mr Ransford Danquah, the National Authorising Officer for the EU/Ghana partnership, who represented the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, underscored the importance of the review meeting.
He said it was for the stocktaking of all efforts and initiatives of the period under review as well as the dissemination of information.
He explained that within the Cotonou Agreement, that is the frame work within which the partnership between the EU and the countries of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) agreement is carried out, the review of development initiatives with all stakeholders was required.
In a general overview of funding and development projects, Mr Danquah said within Ghana's Country Strategic Paper that outlined strategies for development and its National Indicative Programme that had financial commitments to the strategies, a total of 367 million euros were used in the funding of trunk roads and other infrastructure, decentralisation, social accountability and support of constitutional organisations for good governance.
In addition part of the fund had gone into budget support for trade facilitation, regional integration, migration, environmental and natural resource management as well as technical co-operation initiatives.
He said within the Multi Donor Budget Support (MDBS) programme, funding had been made available to enable the government to have control of development efforts of the country.
The First Counsellor and Head of Macro-Economic/Trade Section, Mr Dick Naezer, in his opening remarks, described Ghana as one of the 'top reformers' in the ACP group of countries.
In his presentation on development efforts in the macro economic and trade section for January 2008 to December 2008, he explained that the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that the EU sought to engage ACP countries in was not the usual free trade agreements most people were accustomed to.
They were rather tools for development and the promotion of regional economic integration. He said the EPAs aimed primarily at facilitating the successful integration of ACP countries into the global economic system.
Mr Naezer conceded that there were challenges with the EPAs, including unfair competition and the weakening of local industries, but pointed out that such challenges were the basis for ongoing discussions with ECOWAS and other partners.
He added that because of such challenges, the EPAs had inherent development initiatives by which the capacities of African countries would be enhanced for the balanced participation in global trade.
Moreover, he pointed out that the liberalisation of 80 per cent of the country's market over a 15 year period gave ample time for better policy initiatives while the protection of the 20 per cent covered critical sectors such as the agriculture and agricultural industrialisation sectors.
Presenting initiatives on good governance, Ms Fane Daria of the EU Commission to Ghana, said good governance had been well situated in the country considering the successful elections of the year under review.
Areas that needed more focus were the improvement of checks and balances on executive power and improvement on the implementation of legislation, among others.
Mr Zakaria Yakubu Seini of MOFEP who also co-presented initiatives on good governance added that support had been given to the implementation of the National Decentralisation Action Plan and the Institute of Local Government Studies for improved service delivery and participation of citizens in the development process.
On infrastructure, Mr Jannik Vaa reported that the transport sector, water and sanitation, environment and natural resources, among others, had benefited from a total portfolio of about 300,000,000 euros.
Stakeholders in their submissions raised issues on the inclusion of civil society organisations not only for mobilisation of people but in all the processes of collaboration for alternative voices, the challenges of the EPAs and the need for empirical data as a basis for initiatives in gender equality for development.