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15.01.2004 Regional News

Use HIPC funds to establish industries in the North- Gov't urged

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Tamale, Jan 15, GNA- Mr. Siapha Kamara, Chief Executive Officer of the Social Enterprise Development (SEND) Foundation of West Africa, an international NGO, on Wednesday appealed to the government to use HIPC funds to establish industries in the three northern regions to address unemployment.

He said the restriction of the fund to the provision of basic amenities could not help alleviate poverty of in the rural areas and that if industries were sited in some of the districts, the exodus of the youth to the urban centres would minimize.

Mr. Kamara made the appeal in Tamale at the opening of a two-day regional quarterly review meeting of HIPC Watch Committee members. Some 25 monitoring District Assemblies from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions, including the Kete Krachi District in the Volta Region, are attending the meeting aimed at addressing pressing issues concerning the HIPC fund and projects.

The SEND foundation is sponsoring the meeting.

He said: "The provision of basic amenities in the districts is a laudable idea but the people will remain poor if there are no means for them to generate income to meet their needs."

Mr Kamara deplored a situation where funds meant for HIPC projects continued to be held in the banks, saying that the government should facilitate the disbursement of the funds on projects.

He commended the District Assemblies and the District Chief Executives in the three regions for collaborating effectively with SEND Foundation by feeding the NGO with the relevant information about the HIPC fund and projects.

Some of the committee members expressed reservations about the sources of the fund, saying: "We find it very difficult to understand why the Senior Minister's Office can disburse HIPC funds." They also called for clarification as to who qualifies to apply for the fund since some MPs were competing with the district assemblies for the fund.

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