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11.11.2004 Business & Finance

Credit facilities for the Blind in the pipeline

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Accra, Nov. 11, GNA - Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) engaged in small-scale enterprises in 20-selected districts would soon enjoy a one billion cedis credit facility to boost their business and enhance their participation in national development.

Selected Rural Banks would disburse the micro-credit in conjunction with District Teams including representatives of district organizations of the PWDs and agents of district assemblies.

These were contained in a speech read on behalf Mr Yaw Barimah, Manpower Development and Employment Minister, at the 21st Annual National Congress of the Ghana Association of the Blind (GAB). He said the assemblies had been involved to ensure sustainability, which was key to service provision.

The opportunity, he said, had been created to increase the capacity of PWDs to earn income, which was very essential to full participation in family and community activities.

Mr Barimah said he was in constant touch with his colleagues, who had primary responsibility for the provision of other services to increase accessibility for PWDs' participation in service delivery.

"I am negotiating with the Minister of Education, Youth and Sport to procure the chalk being produced by the Ghana Society for the Physically challenged in a pilot project at the Accra Rehabilitation Centre so that annual targets can be set", he said.

He said negotiations with nongovernmental organizations for the production of textbooks in Braille, audio recording of textbooks, teaching and learning aids that would increase the scholarship of Blind students was still on going.

In the area of blind education, he said the Ministry would continue to recommend the granting of tax exemption on educational materials to organizations of the Blind.

He noted that the passage of the Disability Bill was a matter of time saying that government was doing a lot at the backstage to promote their rights and would soon outdoor some policies that would improve their standard of living and participation in development programmes. Government he said had reviewed the inclusion of the needs of the vulnerable, which was earlier, excluded in the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy and had invited the Federation of Disabled to participate in looking at those things that could be done to reduce poverty in the country.

Mr Safo Kantanka, Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Electoral Commission, said everything was set for the Blind to vote with tactile ballot papers, which would enable them vote individually and secretly. He urged members of the Association of the Blind to go out there in their numbers and vote in this year's election saying that those with disabilities would have the privilege of being served early as and when they went in to vote.

Mr Eleazer Plahar, Director, GAB, said to reduce the number of the Blind and Partially Blind people on the street the Association had put in place skills training in agriculture, vocational and entrepreneurship training for member as a means of empowering them.

He said due to lack of resources, sustaining the programmes had been extremely difficult and called for support from individuals and organizations.

He called on Political parties to ensure a free and fair election saying:

"Avoid the use of provocative language and advise your sympathizers to be calm in all their dealings".

Mr Bashirudeen Koray, President of GAB, noted that there was the need to put issues of disability in the national agenda saying; "it is the responsibility of Government to remove all obstacles that make life unbearable for us".

He called for a fair share of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETfund) and similar schemes for Blind Students and to establish a Braille press for the production of textbooks.

He said stigma and discrimination was still a major obstacle and had been further compounded with society focusing on their disabilities instead of abilities. 11 Nov. 04

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