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04.03.2005 General News

Deputy Minister of Finance goes through vetting

By GNA

Accra, March 4, GNA - Dr Akoto Osei, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning-Designate, on Friday said the Government's Budget Statement could be described a "Pro-poor Budget" because it contained incentives and relief that would cushion the poor.

He said for example the Government had made available 7.2 trillion cedis for poverty alleviation as well as subsidising items or goods that the poor needed in their daily lives.

He cited other examples such as the subsidies on the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and kerosene, the capitation grant, and the creation of jobs in the area of mining and construction. "LPG is much cheaper in Ghana than its neighbouring countries and the Ghanaian public as a result are increasingly patronising the product."

Dr Osei said these when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament that is vetting nominees for ministerial positions.

The Government, he said, was also committed to the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) programme which would go a long way to alleviate poverty in the rural areas.

When asked about the relation between the increase in petroleum prices and deregulation, Dr Osei said deregulation was to ensure that the monopoly of Government being the only importer of petroleum product was broken.

"The increase of petroleum prices was to realign the current prices with the prevailing world market prices so that government will not under sell the product to its detriment."

He said the Government would establish a National Petroleum Authority and Petroleum Tender Board to regulate and protect consumers and ensure that the oil marketing companies did not cheat the public. On Ghana's external debts, Dr Osei said it was now sustainable and that the country would benefit from a debt relief of over 200 million dollars over the next 20 years, amounting to about 3.5 billion dollars.

"Our dealings with our debtors is irrevocable and as at now we have signed agreements on the cancellation of our debts with our major partners."

He said Ghana's external debts now stood at 6.2 billion dollars from 5.8 billion dollars in 1999 whilst the domestic debts stood at 16.9 trillion cedis from 10.2 trillion cedis in 2001.

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