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24.02.2005 General News

A budget of hope - Majority

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Accra, Feb. 24, GNA - The Majority in Parliament on Thursday described this year's Budget as "a Budget of Hope" which would hasten the growth of the economy.

Mr Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Education and Sports, told the GNA that this year's budget was directed towards growth with emphasis on Human Resource Development.

He said Human Resource Development would lead to general manpower development, which was captured in the State of the Nation Address President John Agyekum Kufuor delivered.

"Taxes have gone down, basic education would be virtually free, and the minimum wage has been increased by 20.5 per cent well above the one dollar mark set by the UN as a minimum wage.

Mr Osafo-Maafo said the increase of the minimum wage from 11,200 to 13,500 an equivalent of 1.45 dollars would be the platform for further collective negotiation and agreement for employees in Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

He said the reduction in taxes would enable Ghanaians entrepreneurs to expand their businesses, open up more business opportunities and further enhance the living condition of the people.

Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, Minister-Designate for Public Sector Reforms, said this year's budget provided hope and encouragement for Ghanaians. "It will encourage long term savings and also help the Public Sector to develop and that if Ghanaians are able to meet the challenges in it, we will be better off by next two years."

He said the budget provided a lot of incentives to Ghanaians such as tax relief, educational reforms and the increase in the minimum wage, which would gradually move Ghanaians away from poverty.

Dr Nduom said the Budget would help to change the way the Public Sector worked and would ensure that quality of services was improved and made more efficient.

When asked whether his background as a Convention People's Party (CPP) member would not affect his work due to the differences in Party ideologies, Dr Nduom said: "What I will be doing is to ensure that the Public Sector becomes more efficient, which is adherent to the interest of the CPP.

"As you are aware the CPP emphasises more on the Public Sector and the role I will be playing in this government will be to improve the Sector."

Mr J. H. Mensah, Senior Minister; told the GNA that the focus would be on the Private Sector and Human Resource Development that would better the skills of Ghanaian workers, which hopefully would lead to industrialisation.

He said the Budget provided a lot of incentives and expressed the hope that: "It will do the trick and help cut down cost of living." Mr Mensah said, even though, agriculture had not been very dynamic in the country it still remained the engine of growth of the economy more than the industrial sector.

He said agriculture had done well "and we must train our farmers adopt the modern way of farming by applying technology, to boost production.

Ms Shirley Botchway, MP for Weija, described the Budget as a very soft one with a lot of relief for Ghanaians.

"Education will be almost free, cheaper mass transportation is envisaged and the seven per cent withholding tax will go a long way to bring down the level of poverty and improve the lifestyles of our people," she said.

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