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05.10.2004 General News

Report on use of HIPC funds launched

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Accra, Oct. 5, GNA - Some of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative-related projects implemented in the northern part of the country were hatched, designed and authorized from the capital, Accra, a Report on monitoring of the use of the funds in those areas has said.

The Report noted that contrary to the directive that implementing districts should identify HIPC projects, not all of such projects in the three northern regions generated from the people.

As a result, citizens did not feel they owned the projects and, therefore, even though they patronised the health, education and sanitation facilities, there was a general feeling of apathy.

The Social Enterprise Development (SEND) Foundation, a West African non-governmental organization, which did the monitoring of the use of the HIPC Funds in the northern regions, launched the Report in Accra on Tuesday.

The monitoring process looked at three areas - governance, accountability and equity - of how the projects came about; how much was received; how were the monies disbursed and the kind of people who were involved in the decision and implementation of the various projects. The Foundation looked at 24 districts, which received a total of 73 billion cedis out of which 44.7 billion cedis had been spent so far. Mr Siapha Kamara, Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation, said the remaining 28.3 billion cedis might have been invested in ongoing projects or were lying idle because the research could not capture that aspect.

Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director of the Institute of Democratic Governance, who gave an overview of the Report, said the monitoring exercise first created awareness about HIPC to the district because most of the time vital information about programmes that affected citizens did not get to them.

The Foundation found out that most of the people, including the authorities of the district assemblies, did not have enough information about HIPC.

The Foundation, therefore, established a broad-based awareness structure that included a coalition of development agencies, faith-based organizations such as the Christian Council and community-based groups in addition to representatives from the district assemblies.

Dr Akwetey said the Report indicated that the funds allocated to the districts went to the right projects and the only area that suffered was micro financing for productive ventures.

He said, even though, micro financing was not included in the HIPC projects it was a core area that could help bridge the gap in poverty reduction between the Northern and the Southern Sectors.

Dr Akwetey commended the Foundation for the work done but noted that the weak sense of ownership to the projects in those regions would not guarantee maintenance and sustainability.