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13.08.2004 Business & Finance

Ghana, World Bank sign $148 million Devt Agreement

By GNA

Accra, Aug. 13, GNA - Ghana on Friday signed three separate Development Credit Agreements totalling 1.3 trillion cedis (148 million dollars) with the World Bank to improve conditions in the country's cities, towns and villages.

Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning signed for Ghana while Mr Mats Karlsson, World Bank Country Director, signed for the Bank.

The agreements are for the Second Environmental Sanitation Project (SESP), Community Based Rural Development Project (CBRDP) and the Small Town Water Supply and Sanitation Project (STWSSP). It is for a 30-year period with a 10-year grace period.

The amounts are 62.0 million dollars, 60.0 million dollars and 26.0 million dollars respectively.

Briefing journalists after the signing, Mr Osafo-Maafo said the commitment fee not exceeding the rate of one-half of the one per cent per annum would be charged on the un-disbursed balance and a service charge of three-quarters of one per cent per annum charged on the credits withdrawn and outstanding from time to time.

He said the projects were geared towards improving the quality of life of Ghanaians, especially the poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged in the rural small towns and metropolitan communities of the country. The Finance Minister charged the managers of the projects to make judicious use of funds and ensure transparency and accountability in stewardship.

"Speedy implementation of the projects should be your priority," he said, adding that, "undue delays in reaching the communities with benefits of these projects will be opportunities denied and entrenching current poverty levels in the country."

He said government had also received a 15.0 million dollar grant from the World Bank for HIV/AIDS Treatment Acceleration Programme, which was signed on behalf of government by Ghana's Acting Ambassador in the US.

Mr Karlsson said he was happy that several months of deliberations between the beneficiary ministries and the Bank had come to fruition and soon funds would be disbursed to the communities.

He noted that sanitation was paramount to raising standards of living, stressing that, "indeed cleanliness is next to Godliness."

Mr Karlsson said he was impressed that his two-year duty tour of Ghana was yielding fruitful results, which he was witnessing. He commended government for the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper saying, "it has made a huge impact resulting in the Bank making available so far 725 million dollars to Ghana since March 2002." A third of the amount had been disbursed.

He said the Bank had this year, provided 127 million dollars for budgetary support.

The Urban Environmental Sanitation project aims at enhancing sanitation in Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi, Tema and Tamale while the CBRDP seeks to improve the quality of life of rural communities through the provision of basic infrastructure and support for rural enterprises. This is an integrated rural development effort to provide rural infrastructure such as sources of water, education structures and health and nutrition centres.

The STWSSP will increase small towns water supply and sanitation services in six regions over four years. The regions are Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Upper East, Upper West, Central and Western.

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