Accra, July 8, GNA - Government has so far lodged 124 million dollars, approximately 1.032 billion cedis into the Bank of Ghana's Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Account.
The amount represents funds received from multilateral creditors such as the World Bank, African Development Bank, International Monetary Fund and from the Paris Club.
Addressing Journalists in Accra when he took his turn at the Meet-The-Press Series, Minister of Finance and economic Planning, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo said HIPC was not the only panacea but stressed that it was the best debt relief available. He said expected additional amount to be credited from July to the end of 2003 would be about 535.92 billion cedis. He noted that the commitment in the payments "is a clear demonstration of government's resolve to ensure that the full benefits of the enhanced HIPC Initiative is accomplished and channelled to poverty related projects".
The Minister said it was clear that the country would benefit immensely from the refinements being made to the HIPC Initiative at the international level.
"This includes the International Finance Facility of the UK and the Millennium Development Account. For the moment, the enhanced HIPC Initiative is the best on debt relief."
He stressed that the HIPC enhanced debt relief initiative was a strategy for debt management and a catalyst for development and not a full-blown country specific programme such as the Structural Adjustment Programme.
He said for anyone to talk about the failure of HIPC was to show a certain level of ignorance, especially when Ghana had not reached the completion point of the Initiative.
On the release of HIPC funds, Mr Osafo-Maafo said 721 billion cedis was approved for disbursement for last year and 454.2 billion cedis as at the end of June 2003.
Giving a breakdown of the disbursement, he said 4,782.15 billion has been disbursed to the various sector ministries and 157.53 billion cedis to local government agencies.
"An allocation of 31.46 billion cedis to the Ministry of Works and Housing to contract 150 boreholes, 180 household latrines, 10 institutional latrines for the benefit of 10 districts while over 100,000 people in 181 communities in 10 districts in three guinea worm endemic regions will have access to potable water and a guarantee of eradication of the menace."
He said 18.6 billion cedis had also been given to support over 40,000 small-scale farmers in all the 10 regions.
The Women's and Children Affairs Ministry is also providing agro-processing machines for shea butter extraction, groundnut, tomato and gari processing to benefit 120,000 women.
The Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment is also training 3,000 youths in dressmaking, tailoring, building and construction, carpentry and joinery and electrical installation.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said 81.4 billion cedis had been disbursed for domestic debt reduction, adding that details of the amount disbursed were available for reference.