Wassa-Afransie (W/R), Dec. 29, GNA - The proposed Government housing scheme for cocoa farmers would begin in the Western Region this year, Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Western Regional Minister said on Tuesday.
He said the Ministry of Finance had deposited one billion Cedis as part of the first tranche of five billion Cedis needed for the scheme to take off.
Mr Aidoo, who was speaking at a victory rally organised by the Wassa East Constituency New Patriotic Party on Tuesday, said the NPP-led government initiated the project a year ago in recognition of the farmers' efforts to resuscitate the economy.
He said under the scheme, which would benefit only "genuine" cocoa farmers, beneficiaries have an option to choose from three different types of modern houses of which they would make a little deposit and pay the balance in instalment, to be spread over more than ten years. The Regional Minister said reports reaching him indicated that there were bottlenecks in the cocoa industry and mentioned delays in the payment of produce, as well as payment of bonus to farmers, as some of the hitches.
He told the people that he would liase with the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and other stakeholders to eliminate the problems confronting the farmers.
He commended the people for keeping faith with the Party and ensuring "incident-free" elections in the region, and said the government would continue to evolve pragmatic policies that would help to reduce poverty, particularly among farmers.
Mr. Aidoo asked the people not to allow their party affiliations to divide them, and added that many years of conflicts and disunity has contributed to the slow pace of development of the region.
He called on chiefs and the courts to work hard to find lasting solutions to the numerous chieftaincy conflicts in the region. Mr. Freddie Blay, first deputy speaker of Parliament asked the people to continue to rally behind Mr. Aidoo, who is also the Member of Parliament for the area, saying he had performed creditably both as Regional Minister and MP for the past four years.
He appealed to the people to exercise moderation in their victory celebrations and that they should tolerate divergent views and opinions because "that is all democracy is about".
Mr. Kwesi Binney, District Chief Executive for Ahanta West, urged the people to give priority to their children's education and also cooperate with the Government by working hard to make Ghana a better place for all.