Accra, March 8, GNA - Ghana and Germany on Tuesday began a four-day bi-annual consultations to review past projects and programmes in order to chart new frontiers to propel Ghana's economy into an accelerated growth path.
The meeting would also discuss development challenges facing the economy and take into account the changes that have taken place in the cooperation between donors and the country.
Interacting with the German delegation before the meeting, Mr Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said other projects in line with both the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy and the focal areas of bilateral cooperation would also be considered. He said Germany had so far committed 950.50 million Euros for the improvement of the Ghanaian economy for various projects in key sectors since 1961, when formal development cooperation began between the two nations.
He cited projects such as the Tema-Akosombo Road, Tema-Sogakope-Akatsi Road, Rural Water Supply Projects, Village Infrastructure Projects and Highway Sector Credit as some of the projects.
Mr Baah-Wiredu said bilateral relations between the two countries had experienced significant positive changes over the years, which clearly had solidified the relationship.
He referred to the cancellation of Ghana's debt by German's upon attaining the Highly Indebted poor Countries (HIPC) completion point and said a total of 247.3 million euros was signed last month. "This would contribute in no small way towards the financing of GPRS and also assist Ghana in reducing her external debt to sustainable levels," the Minister said.
Currently, Mr Baah-Wiredu said Ghana-German cooperation was based on three focal areas - agriculture and food security; employment and democracy and civil society and public administration. These he said were in line with the GPRS.
He said statistics indicated that bilateral trade between the two nations had been fairly stable in recent years, but noted that opportunity existed to increase it for maximum mutual benefits. Mr Baah-Wiredu touched on the Ghana's promulgation of the Procurement Law; Financial Administration Act; Internal Audit Agency Act and the stable macroeconomic conditions and said these had provided the conducive environment for investment.
Dr Andreas Pfeil, Leader of the German delegation, said his country saw public sector reforms, reforms of the para-statals (Service delivery), harmonization, coordination and alignment, corruption and private sector development as key areas that Ghana could pursue towards an accelerated growth and development.
He said the Government had a rare opportunity to drive forward changes to improve the capacity of the Public Service and to improve the effectiveness of the civil service.
Dr Pfeil said there was also the urgent need to improve service delivery and noted that "the current state of affairs at the Ghana Water Company gives us cause to be concerned about the provision of safe drinking water to large sections of the urban population in the coming years.
"Petroleum deregulation is important in underpinning Ghana's good relationship with its partners," he said.
On harmonization, he said, donors were willing and able to rally behind the Government policies and plans if they were presented in a consistent and comprehensive manner.
Dr Pfeil said being on-track with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was a general prerequisite for the release of the base tranche of the 2005 Multi-Donor Budgetary Support (MDBS) contributions.
He said the Government should give teeth to the anti-corruption agencies so as to allow them to take clearly visible actions. He said Germany was planning to expand its involvement in the MDBS over the next few years for Ghana and added that the bilateral development portfolio must be increasingly focused on and support the aims that were important to the MDBS and the GPRS. 08 March 05