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23.06.2004 Business & Finance

National Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund launched

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Accra, June 23, GNA- A national Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC), which is aimed at raising three million US dollars for a five year period to support organisations including the media, and the labour movement and business associations in Ghana was on Tuesday launched in Accra.

The fund is part of the business sector programme support funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), set up a year ago to assist in removing bottlenecks hindering the growth and development of the private sector and to make it more efficient at all levels. It would be implemented in phases with the initial phase taking two years and would cover Greater Accra, Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions.

An initial amount of 1.4 million US dollars is available for disbursement in four batches within 24 months. The budget of any proposed action plan could go up to 100,000 US dollars for a 24-month period.

Mr Jean Luc Adolf, the Project Manager said the project managed by a large Danish consultancy firm, COWI and MAPLE Consult, a Ghanaian partner, would be evaluated after completion of the first phase and the outcome would determine the next phase to be carried out.

He said it is a project based on collectiveness of associations where one sector tries to improve upon a situation for others to benefit or tried to remove constraints that affected an entire profession or sector.

He said because the project would be implemented in an open and transparent manner, a workshop was also being organised to solicit views, opinions and impressions from participants to enhance its success.

Mr Kwamena Bartels, Minister of Private Sector Development who launched the fund, commended the Danish government for establishing the fund to complement the efforts of helping the private sector to access medium to long term funds for growth and expansion.

He called on the selected associations to avail themselves to the fund through the submission of realistic proposals to the BUSAC board. He said this was the first time DANIDA was supporting the private sector, adding, " I believe Ghana was chosen for the project because of the resilience, hard work and innovative character of the entrepreneurs and particularly the prudent economic policy government has put in place".

He gave the assurance that his ministry's support to ensure that its ultimate goal of alleviating poverty through removal of bottlenecks in the sector was achieved.

He said a lot has been said about the ills of the private sector, adding that it was time for all to go for the fund.

Mr Flemming Bjork Pedersen, Danish Ambassador to Ghana said it was expected that the project would provide a better foundation for an increased dialogue between the private and public sectors, where concerns of the businessmen and women could be raised.

He expressed the hope that the fund would be expanded for applicants from organisations in the other parts of the country, adding that money from the BUSAC alone would not improve the business environment in Ghana but if it was used judiciously it would improve their capacity.