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29.04.2005 Politics

Western Region Constitution Week launched

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Daboase (W/R), April 29, GNA - Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the Western Regional Minister, has called on the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to step up education on next year's district level elections to ensure high voter turn out.

The call was contained in an address read for him at the launch of the Regional Fifth Constitution Week at Daboase.

The week is under the theme "Reducing Poverty Through Citizens Participation in Local Government".

Mr Aidoo said, "The case of the last District Assembly Elections where the turn out was very low should not be allowed to recur".

''There is the need to carry out intensive public education on the need for local government so that citizens can appreciate the system and take interest in it.''

Mr Aidoo said if people showed interest in what was happening around them, they would be in a position to identify poverty as a problem to be tackled if indeed poverty was an issue in that community. He said poverty reduction was the main policy framework on which government policies were being formulated and other interventions by the government were carried out.

Mr Evans Amoah, Member of Parliament for Mpohor Wassa East, said the government was reducing poverty in the country through democratic governance.

He said this meant giving people the chance to participate in decision-making in matters concerning wealth creation at the local level.

Mr Amoah said district assemblies had to devise ways of sensitising the people on development opportunities in their areas and bring them into the mainstream of decision-making.

He said the unit committees and assembly members had a role to play in ensuring the flow of information from the assemblies to the people and vice versa.

Mr Tawiah Amprofi, the acting District Chief Executive for Mpohor Wassa East, said the district assembly had disbursed about 1.2 billion cedis under its poverty reduction programme.

He said the beneficiaries were not paying back the loans so the assembly had decided to use its poverty reduction fund to establish palm oil nurseries and gave them out to farmers as loans.

Mr Amprofi said the assembly was collaborating with the Subri Industrial Plantation at Daboase in this venture to consolidate the district's position as the leading palm oil producing area in the region.

Mr Kwaku Baa Owusu, Regional Director of NCCE, said since citizens' participation was a crucial aspect of democracy, the Commission's focus would be to ensure that citizens participate in governance based on the right knowledge and understanding of issues at stake.

He noted that the lower structures of district assemblies especially the Unit Committees that should provide the assemblies the grassroots citizen participation and character are either non-existent or non-operational.

Mr Owusu said in some cases, the Unit Committees are either dissolved illegally by chiefs, district chief executives and political players or had died a natural death because they could not sustain themselves for lack of resource support from the decentralized system. 29 April 05

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