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13.02.2005 General News

Help halt stagnation, poverty - Speaker

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Agona Swedru (C/R), Feb. 13, GNA - The Speaker of Parliament Mr. Ebenezer Sekyi Hughes has called on MPs to help in the efforts to halt economic stagnation, poverty and the total eradication of corruption in all spheres of national life.

He noted that even though poverty and its related problems existed in every human society, it must not be a prominent feature in any nation.

Mr Sekyi Hughes was speaking at the opening of a four-day annual workshop on strategies for pro-poor budgeting for Parliamentarian at Agona Swedru at the weekend.

The Speaker explained that this was the reason why the government found it prudent in adopting the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) as a fulcrum around which the national budget revolved. The workshop was organised and sponsored by the Ghana Parliamentary Centre (GPC) and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). Among other topics the participants considered the role of MPs in the budget cycle, exploring strategies for tracking the budget, the budget and the national economy and gender impact of budgetary allocation.

Mr Sekyi Hughes noted that the MPs had only some few days ahead for the government's financial statement for this year to be presented to them.

He said the budget was expected to provide the needed impetus that would propel the country into a middle-income nation in the next 10 years.

The Speaker said the expectation enjoined all MPs to generate serious interest in budget issues since they played an important role in shaping the destiny of the people they represent.

The entire people of Ghana are also looking up to MPs to chart a course that would lead them to the aspired economic growth and development, he said.

The Speaker expressed the hope that new Mps would use the workshop to acquire in-dept technical knowledge that would enable them to review the 2005 budget and subsequent ones in the years to come.

The Speaker stressed the need for Parliament's "Watchdog Committees" such as the Public Accounts and Finance Committee members to take advantage of the workshop to enable them obtain more credible information on budget analysis and post-budget accountability. He urged them to show commitment and diligence as legislatures in exposing post-budget malfeasance reported by the Auditor General's Department.

Ms Debrah Violette, Senior Programme Officer of the Africa Parliamentary Centre expressed the hope that the workshop would provide the MPs especially the new members with tools to review the 2005 budget, which would be presented by the end of this month.

She said it would also help them to build the capacity of the committee members to effectively contribute to the poverty reduction programme adopted by the government.

Ms Violette stressed that the workshop was of strategic importance due to the collaboration of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and expressed the hope that it would go a long way to provide a platform for the members to address issues of pro-poor budget in the country.

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