Bolgatanga, Sept. 8, GNA - Mr. Stephen Asamoah Boateng, Deputy Minister of information said on Tuesday that Government has no intention to ban phone-in programmes at the various radio FM and television stations, as such a move would stifle popular views on important national issues.
He said phone-ins give meaning to the principle of participatory democracy and that rather than a ban, Government believes in educating the people to learn to be responsible in its use.
"As a Government of proven democratic credentials, we would continue to encourage free expression rather than shut out people's views," he maintained.
Mr. Boateng was commenting on current public perception of radio phone-ins at a meeting with staff of the Information Services Department (ISD) in Bolgatanga, as part of the itinerary for his two-day working tour of the Upper East Region.
The tour afforded him the opportunity to interact with staff of the ISD as well as traditional rulers and workers of municipal and district assemblies in the region.
He said as public servants, media practitioners should remain professional and neutral in the discharge of their duties, saying that it was the only way they could maintain their credibility, especially as the country entered an electioneering period.
Concerns raised by staff of the department included the absence of office furniture, technical equipment, stalled renovation works on the ISD office building in Bolgatanga, difficulties in getting approval for their financial encumbrances and additional cinema vans.
"Even though we are in the information age, there is not a single computer or photocopier in our regional and district offices," said the Regional Information Officer, Mr. Akwasi Amankwaa.
In response, the Deputy Minister gave the assurance that he would take up the issue of computerisation on his return to Accra, but urged staff of the department to make use of available media networks such as the FM stations to disseminate government policy in the interim. Mr. Boateng later met staff of the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly and advised them against dabbling in partisan politics.
He said as workers in one of the country's deprived regions, it was their responsibility to put in extra efforts to bring about an improvement in the living conditions of the people.
He congratulated the Municipal Chief Executive, Mr. Rockson Bukari, and staff of the Assembly on the recent conferment of the "Cleanest City Award" on the Bolgatanga Municipality, and urged them to continue to strive for more achievements.
Mr. Boateng had earlier paid a courtesy call on Bolga-Naba Martin Abilba III, Paramount Chief of the Bolgatanga Traditional Area, and reiterated Government's continued recognition and support for traditional authority.
"This Government believes in keeping constant touch with the people as an effective way of running the country, and this we shall continue to do through close collaboration with our chiefs."
He urged traditional rulers to advise their subjects to learn to conduct partisan politics without resorting to violence, adding that all they needed to do was digest the messages propagated by the various political parties and decide which one of the parties they would give their mandate to when the country goes to polls in December.
On his part, the Bolga-Naba praised the Government for the numerous development projects being undertaken in the Bolgatanga area and other parts of the region during the past three and a half years.
He cited the multi-billion- cedi project at the Regional Hospital, construction works at the Bolgatanga Polytechnic site at Sumbrungu and the Bolgatanga-Bongo trunk road as some of the projects of significance. Naba Abilba also commended Government for taking the HIPC initiative, saying that projects being sponsored by the HIPC fund have been of immense benefit to rural communities in the region. Accompanying the Deputy Minister on the tour was Mr. John Elvis Adanyinah, a Deputy Director at the ISD head office in Accra.