Bechem (B/A), Nov. 17, GNA - A forum organised by the Centre for Democratic Development - Ghana (CDD), with support from the Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA) and the United States Agency for International Development - Ghana (USAID) for aspiring parliamentary candidates in their various constituencies in Brong Ahafo Region has taken off.
The forum is aimed at directing the candidates to focus their campaign activities on issues concerning the needs of people in the constituency.
On Monday the team was at Dormaa-Ahenkro where at a forum three aspiring candidates representing the People's National Convention (PNC), New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Dormaa West constituency took turns to share their views and visions with the electorate.
On Tuesday a similar platform organised at Bechem for aspirants in the Tano South constituency also saw aspirants from the same PNC, NPP and NDC featuring in the election 2004 parliamentary candidates debate at the forecourt of the local community centre.
Even though names of eight political parties and an Independent were indicated on the programme for the day, only the three political parties aspirants were present.
They were 23-year-old Mr. Frederick Boateng for PNC, Mr. Adjei Yeboah, NPP who is also the incumbent Member of Parliament for the area and Mr. Kwadwo Owusu Agyemang for NDC.
After brief remarks and purpose of the forum by Ms. Nansata Yakubu, CDD representative, the lead moderator of the programme Alhaji Dauda Mahama also announced the format and guidelines for the debate. Mr. Boateng the PNC candidate said when voted into office he would see to it that people in the area, especially the youth who had been idle due to lack of employment got work to do to better their standard of living.
He would arrange for the constituency to benefit from the Presidential Special Initiative (PSI) on cassava by ensuring that the facility was extended to the area, while sorting it out with non-governmental organisations and other agencies to assist in that regard.
On improvement of education in the area, Mr. Boateng said he would meet traditional chiefs, district chief executive and other stakeholders to institute Bechem Educational Fund to assist pupils and students of basic and tertiary education level in the area.
He complained that some teachers had taught not less than 35 years yet their conditions of service was nothing to write home about. To suggest practical ways to issues regarding the socio-economic fortunes of the area Mr. Boateng said if the electorate endorsed him he would create a congenial atmosphere to help farmers in the area by ensuring that Parliament took decisions that would benefit agriculture. He noted that people in the constituency were noted of cultivating tomatoes in large scale and that he would liaise with NGOs to team up with the Government to establish tomato factory as well as silos to store the farmers' produce.
On the HIV/AIDS menace, Mr. Boateng said he would use part of his MP's Common Fund to help in the public education against the spread of the disease.
Asked about the usefulness or otherwise of the unit committees, Mr. Boateng said the local government structure under the 1992 Constitution rated the unit committee as a very instrumental organ in the district assembly concept.
He however, complained that the impact of the committees were yet to be felt in the administration of district assemblies and this, he said, was due to the fact that the members had not been given the needed governmental support by way of logistics and finance. He said, if voted into Parliament, he would draw the attention of the Government of the need for unit committees to be allotted part of the common fund.
The NPP candidate, Mr. Yeboah said if re-elected, he would unite farmers in the area to enable them get fair deal from buyers since the present individualistic way of transaction between farmers and buyers was not helping the former.
His second term of office would enable him to provide farmers in the area with a machine to process their produce.
On the access roads in the area, Mr. Yeboah said he had already rehabilitated some of the bad roads and it was his plan to contact the authorities of the feeder roads to shape the rest of the bad roads that could not be tackled immediately in view of the persistent rainfall. Members of unit committees needed more education to enable them to know their true functions.
Lack of proper education on their bearings had resulted in majority of them shifting blames on DCEs and MPs.
Mr. Agyemang, the NDC candidate said MPs had no office in their constituencies as well as a budget to operate with, adding that he would take the matter up at the Parliament if voted into office. He would also address problems of farmers in the area, stressing that during the administration of the NDC, the Government united farmers who collectively sent their produce to Accra to sell instead of the present system when the individual farmer had been left transport his produce to market centres.
Mr. Agyemang said NDC Government would re-introduce subsidies on agriculture produce to relieve farmers from the hardship facing them since NPP took the reigns of the country.
If unit committees had not been able to play to the expectation of the nation it was because they had not been given needed resources, no office and no payment for their services and called on the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to consider the plight of unit committees to enable the nation benefit from their establishment.