14.03.2005 General News

Another batch of Six Deputy Ministers vetted

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Accra, March 14, GNA - Professor Gyan-Baffour, Deputy Minister Designate of Finance and Economic Planning, on Monday urged Ghanaians to uphold and protect the stability it is enjoying now since it is essential for national development.

He said the days when governments were not allowed to implement whatever policies and plans they have through military interventions should be a thing of the past.

Prof. Gyan-Baffour gave the advice when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament, which is vetting nominees for ministerial appointments.

"The situation where a government starts a programme then it is stopped by coup d'tat and then restarted and then stopped and start again with another government will not augur well for our national development."

"If you read the seven-year development plan of the Nkrumah regime today, you will notice that it is valid today as at the time it was prepared.

"But it was stopped after his overthrow just like it happened to the Busia and Limann regimes whose programmes were thrown overboard instead of being implemented for continuity."

"Luckily the Fourth Republic has survived to-date and with stability the nation and economy will experience growth." On taxes, Prof. Gyan-Baffour said the base of the tax net should be broadened instead of increasing taxes.

He said the formal sector pay most of the taxes and that the informal sector should be targeted and other businesses monitored to ensure that they do not escape or default payment of taxes.

Pro. Gyan-Baffour urged Ghanaians to use alternative building materials such as bricks in the construction of their houses instead of depending solely on cement, which is more expensive than bricks. "Clinker is an imported item from Europe and the freight cost is very high due to its weight therefore affecting the price of the final products, which is cement."

He said most of the buildings in Europe are not built with cement and it is about time "we look for resources with comparative advantage and add value to it to make it more competitive."

On the 5.8 GDP growth rate, the Deputy Minister Designate said the figure was a moderate achievement and that for the economy to grow faster there was the need to work harder to increase the GDP to about 8 per cent and above annually.

Mrs. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, Deputy Minister Designate of Manpower, Youth and Employment, said her ministry is aiming at employment intensive programmes that could take on many people at a go. She said these programmes would be in the areas of agriculture, tourism and industry with the youth as its target.

"We hope to go into mechanised farming to make it more attractive to the youth since agriculture is the backbone of our economy." Mrs. Frema Osei-Opare said, the training one undergoes makes most of the youth to go for white-collar jobs, but with proper packaging, the youth could be encouraged to seek new ventures.

She said her ministry is also looking for support to cater for the physically challenged.

Mr. Abraham Dwuma Odoom, Deputy Minister Designate for Local Government and Rural Development, acknowledged that he was aware of the friction between District Chief Executives (DCEs) and Members of Parliament (MPs).

He said, "This is as a result of each one trying to outdo the other in the area of infrastructural and developmental projects." "I was able to build a rapport with the MP of the area where I was then the DCE and together we were able to initiate various projects in our communities and district."

On his achievement as DCE, Mr. Dwuma Odoom said he was able to settle a century old land dispute and chieftaincy disputes through his diplomatic and communication skills.

He said he also initiated development projects in his area with the assistance and co-operation of the MP.

On his new plans for the ministry, the Deputy Minister designate said he would seek the directions of his Minister as to what could be done with the plans and ideas he has.

"I will go to him like Joseph went to Pharaoh and tell him about my plans and how they can be implemented through his guidance."

Mr. Mohammed Amin Adam, Deputy Minister Designate for Northern Region, said he was concerned about the power sector reforms because it would make power available to most Ghanaians, especially the Northern Region.

"It was the wish and interest of any government to provide power to the entire nation and that with the rural electrification programme in progress the last of the 18 districts in the Northern Region will soon be provided with electricity."

Mrs. Sophia Horner-Sam, Deputy Minister Designate for Western Region, said she would ensure that most women in her region would be educated on the agenda and programmes of the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs.

She said she would also ensure that micro-credit that are made available to the women for their small businesses should be paid back since it is a revolving fund.

"There is the need to educate the women that the monies given to them is not a gift and must be paid back."

On mining and its effects on the environment, Mrs Horner-Sam said galamsey had been in operation for the past 100 years in the Western Region and had degraded the land and polluted the water bodies. She said over the past four years there has been a series of meetings with the miners on cyanide spillage into water bodies and its harmful effect to the people.

She said the galamsey operators should be brought together into groups so that they could be given specific portions of the land to operate on to minimise land degradation.

"When they are brought together they can be monitored to ensure that the thing is done and cyanide spillage minimised."

Asked about her views on marital rape, Mrs. Horner-Sam said, "I don't think it is proper for a man to rape his wife and I also don't think women should use sex as a weapon against their husbands. I believe there should be consensus."

Mr. Christopher Addae, Deputy Minister Designate for Harbours and Railways, said plans are far advanced to extend railways to the North of the country and beyond.

He said the ministry is looking for funds from African Development Bank (ADB) in collaboration with the government of Burkina Faso to do a joint survey of railway line from the north of Ghana to Burkina Faso. Mr. Addae said currently the railways has lost its position as the number one carrier of bulk goods from the hinterlands to the coast. "Railways services are cheap for bulk transportation but unfortunately it is carrying only about two per cent of the total haulage of goods in the country." 14 March 05

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