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23.07.2004 Business & Finance

Ghana's creditors cancel debt

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Kumasi, July 23, GNA- Ghana's creditors have signed an agreement in Paris to immediately cancel a total of 1.5 billion dollars of debt owed them by Ghana.

This follows Ghana's attainment of the completion point of the HIPC Initiative, which was adopted in 2001.

President John Agyekum Kufuor made this known in Kumasi on Friday when he opened a national convention of the Women Aglow International, Ghana, at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

The four-day convention has the theme: "My Presence Would Go With You, And I Will Give You Rest".

The President said the Finance Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, who is leading Ghana's delegation to Paris to meet the creditors had informed him that all the country's creditors, except Germany and Spain have signed the debt cancellation agreement.

He said the German government had pleaded that it had to seek approval from parliament before going ahead with the cancellation while Spain had also pleaded for time to enable the newly elected government to settle down.

President Kufuor said when the two creditors finally agree to cancel the debts Ghana's immediate debt relief would go up to a total of two billion dollars.

He stated that the government was determined to put the benefits from the relief to the full use of the people of Ghana and also economic development of the country.

The President however said to sustain the benefits the whole society must move to re-order its socio-economic affairs with discipline, purposefulness, self-reliance and a strong commitment to enhance the atmosphere of peace and security.

He said the government was rededicating itself to the pursuit of democratic governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law, freedom of expression and sound economic management.

On the welfare of women and children, the President said government had given practical demonstration by establishing a special ministry of Women and Children's Affairs.

He said the government had also launched an initial sum of 21 billion cedis for the establishment of Women Development Fund (WDF) to provide financial support to women in commerce, agricultural production and processing and other women-related ventures, adding that, last year more than 20,000 women farmers benefited from the fund.

President Kufuor said the government had also provided credit for agro-processing equipment to enhance economic activities of rural women as well as their incomes while at the same time reducing the drudgery of their daily chores.

In all, he said, about 500,000 women had benefited from the fund and 50,000 new jobs had been created throughout the country for women-related activities.

To prevent poor parents from sending their children to go into child labour, the government had disbursed five billion cedis this year to very deprived fishing villages to improve their businesses and raise their income levels to enable them to better fend for themselves and their children.

President Kufuor acknowledged the immense support the government had received from Ghanaians especially women which had enable the government to reform the macro-economy by undertaking some very tough measures, including the HIPC Initiative.

He commended Women Aglow, Ghana, for their initiative to assist vulnerable women by establishing a vocational training centre at Sepaase near Nkawie for the youth and pledged the government's support for the project.

The President said often times priceless but intangible assets like peace, freedom and security were taken for granted, until suddenly they were lost when their immense value became appreciated. He said Ghana could not afford to lose its peace, freedom and security and therefore, commended the women for praying for peace in the country.

He, however, said the people could not achieve peace and prosperity all by themselves hence the need for collective efforts by all to seek for peace in the face of the Lord in prayers and invite His presence to remain on the nation for continued guidance and mercies in the process of nation building and more importantly the election period. Professor Kwesi Andam, Vice Chancellor of KNUST, said there was the need for Ghanaians to respect women and care for them.

He commended members of Aglow Ghana for taking upon themselves to identify the less privileged and vulnerable women in society to help them.

Professor Andam urged them to work harder and extend their activities to university campuses to win the souls of young girls to Christ.

Mrs Dorothy Danso, National President of Aglow Ghana, said the organisation has 200 chapters throughout the country. She said the first phase of a multi-billion cedi vocational training centre at Sepaase, which included two workshops, two classrooms and toilet facilities would soon be completed and put to use.

Mrs Danso said the centre would also offer training in house-keeping, mother-care and good governance for the youth and appealed to the government, individuals and other benevolent organisations to assist Aglow to complete the project. 23 July 04

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