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16.02.2005 General News

Boateng meets Ghanaian economic community, civil society

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Accra, Feb. 16, GNA - Mr Paul Boateng, the visiting United Kingdom Chief Secretary to the Treasury, on Wednesday met with a section of the Ghanaian economic community and civil society and reiterated his country's commitment to help put Africa on the right path of development.

He said the UK would prove its commitment through aid and development plans outlined by the Commission for Africa (CfA) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Mr Boateng is on a two-day visit to Ghana as part of a regional tour of Africa during which he is expected to highlight the UK's international commitment to the region as a key priority of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The UK, which is the current G8 President, is also the initiator of the CfA and has been championing the cause of Africa on G8 platform. In its bid to assist Africa make real progress on challenges facing the region, the UK through the CfA would focus on disease, conflict, governance, trade, peace and stability, aid volumes and aid effectiveness.

Mr Boateng repeated that the UK would increase aid to Africa and was canceling part of Ghana's debt owed to multilateral donors. Mr Kwesi Abeasi, Chief Executive of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, said at various international conferences in which Ghana participated, Africa emphasised that it needed more trade and that aid should be channeled into specific targets and productive areas. The region also made its views on subsidies in developed countries, an area of concern for which it expected developed countries to stick to their part of the bargain to reduce the support to farmers in order to make African produce competitive.

Other speakers including Nii Moi Thompson, Research Fellow of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Ellen Bortei-Doku Aryetey, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Social, Statistical and Economic Research and Ms Taaka Awori Akuffo-Gyimah, Country Director, ActionAid, Ghana, raised a number of issues that had been of concern to Ghana and Africa as a whole.

While Mr Thompson spoke on "Debt Relief and Poverty Reduction", Dr Aryeetey, raised concerns on "Debt Relief and Social Development in Ghana", with Ms Akuffo-Gyimah speaking on "International NGO Perspective on Poverty Reduction in Africa."

An issue of concern from the group was the difference between the CfA and the NEPAD, which they thought was the same except that one was developed by the UK while the leaders of Africa developed the other. They also questioned why efforts made so far to develop Africa over the years had become fruitless and urged the UK to be part of the new drive to change the trend from channeling resources from what they described as quantity development to quality development.

The Institute of Democratic Governance initiated the meeting with the Chief Treasurer on the theme, "Fighting Poverty in Africa: NEPAD and the Commission for Africa".

Earlier at a meeting with at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nana Akufo-Addo, the sector minister noted that Mr. Boateng's visit constituted the good times in the life of Ghana.

He said Ghana was thriving on democracy citing freedom of association and freedom of speech.

"In fact, our last election has been very fruitful and this clearly shows that we have been able to fulfil our promise to the people of Ghana."

The Foreign Minister expressed gratitude to the United Kingdom for the cancellation of Ghana's debt saying, "this has brought a great relief to us. The more we get more of those the better we develop faster."

Nana Akufo-Addo said government was doing all it could to enhance the standard of living.

"One of greatest priorities of government is to develop the private sector.

"Government is encouraged to develop the economy, especially with emphasis on human resource, so that Ghana would be at the fore of the development agenda."

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