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General News | Apr 30, 2004

Press Freedom is necessary in anti-poverty campaign

GNA

Accra April 30, GNA- The World Bank on Friday said press freedom does not only serve as an outlet for expression but also provides a source of accountability, a vehicle for civic participation, a check on official corruption and also helps build more effective and stronger institutions.

This was contained in a statement issued by the World Bank and signed by James Wolfensohn, President of the Bank. The statement was issued in connection with the celebration of the World Press Freedom Day, which falls on May 3.

This year's campaign with the theme; "Press Freedom Pays", provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on the catalytic role that an open and free media could play in economic development and fight global poverty. The statement said studies by the World Bank showed that the higher the level of press freedom in countries, the greater control over corruption and it puts greater focus of scarce resources on development issues. It said by fostering transparency and accountability in both public and private spheres, the media in poor countries were being recognized as a development, capable of contributing to improved government accountability and effective use of resources.

It said policies on access to and dissemination of information and other legal regulations that fostered a culture of openness, transparency and accountability were key issues that helped to promote good governance and growth.

"That is why we must continue the push for press freedom and there is still much to be done. In many countries particularly in transition and developing economies, the independence of the media can be fragile, and even shackled," it stated.

It said by addressing critical health issues like HIV/AIDS, journalists have been spurred to find new ways of covering the pandemic in their countries, adding that investigative journalism courses helps the journalist to tackle corruption in a professional way.

The statement said there was no longer any doubt that the media's contribution were invaluable to advance economic progress, fight corruption, address the great imbalances between rich and poor and ultimately reduce poverty world-wide.

It stated, "let us make sure press freedom continues to pay, especially for the billions of poor people who needed it most".

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