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25.09.2002 General News

Nduom Warns Contractors

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DR. PAA KWESI Nduom, Minister of Economic Planning and Regional Co-operation, has asserted emphatically that gone are the days when the executioners of shoddy projects are allowed to get away scot-free. He warned that such attitude will not be tolerated in in this era.

Delivering his keynote address at the launching of the Central Regional Social Investment Fund (SIF) under the theme, "Working in partnership for sustainable Community Development," Dr. Nduom hinted that an amount of ¢5.6 billion of the SIF would be shared to the five poorest regions in the country, but cautioned regions that do not show good signs of recovery would not benefit from the fund.

He admonished the communities and groups that had benefited from the SIF to ensure quick repayment and asked Ghanaians to embrace the SIF in the government's bid to alleviate poverty. He expounded that the SIF has received $18.5 million from UNDP/ADB/Ghana Government and $2.3 million from the OPEC fund for some projects in selected five districts in the region.

Ms. Ama Serwaa Dapaah, executive director of SIF, in her address, explained that the fund was set up as a mechanism for channelling resources to the poor under the Ghana Poverty Reduction Project (GPRP) designed and implemented by community-based organisations (CBOs).

The SIF started six pilot projects in five regions in 1998/99, but is now operating in 45 districts in the 10 regions with a programme to increase coverage to the districts by June 2003.

The GPRP/SIF have the overall goal of facilitating access by the poor to basic economic and social infrastructure, financial services and strengthening community-based organizations to alleviate poverty, she noted.

Ms. Dapaah affirmed that the launch was the start of implementation of the SIF in five districts, namely Asikuma-Odoben-Braka, Twifu-Heman-Lower Denkyira, Gomua, Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem and Cape Coast, all in the Central Region.

She indicated that in the Central Region, 53 sub-projects to the tune of ¢3.55 billion to benefit about 60,000 people have been approved, excluding the district assemblies contribution of 15 per cent of the total cost and the communities 10 per cent, totalling ¢1.18 billion.

She said the SIF is based on the principles of accountability and transparency, with those who have benefited from SIF assistance to be trained to open bank accounts and to keep simple records.

In an address read by the Regional Co-Ordinating Director (RCD), Mr. Roger Ansongwuni, the Central Regional Minister, Hon. Isaac E. Edumadze, stated that even though the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) achieved some appreciable levels of economic growth, it also brought in its wake unintended negative effects on the poor and vulnerable groups in the society.

He said PAMSCAD also failed due to improper targetting and lack of beneficiary participation, as the poverty situation was not improving fast enough with one third of the population living below the poverty line.

The regional minister revealed that it is the policy of the Social Investment Fund to ensure that at least 50 per cent of project beneficiaries are women and stressed on the urgent need to encourage our womenfolk to take up the challenge to benefit from the SIF.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Badu Prah, a former regional director of education and a lawyer by profession, who chaired the function, recommended that sensitisation and frequent orientation should be held for the beneficiaries to improve on their performance.

He suggested that cumbersome process for the fund should be minimised to allow the majority semi- literate to benefit. During a visit to three selected project sites, Philip Quarcoe Girls School at Cape Coast, built in 1876, Catholic Boys JSS at Elmina, built in 1918 and Aburansa Pineapple project site, the Catholic JSS building was found to be in a very poor state with the whole roofing sheets torn out.

It was very disheartening as one could hear from the officials asking why a school that had educated almost all the prominent people from Elmina be allowed to deteriorate to that extent, without the KEEA assembly and the MP living up to expectation.

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