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02.05.2005 Business & Finance

Pwalugu Tomato Factory to be revamped

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Bolgatanga, May 2, GNA - The Pwalugu Tomato Factory near Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region, would soon spring back to life after two decades of inactivity, Mr Ahmed Awudu Yirimeah, Deputy Regional Minister announced at the weekend.

The Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), the eight district assemblies and Afrique Link Limited, a private manufacturing company that operates a similar tomato canning factory at Wenchi in the Brong Ahafo Region, would operate the factory jointly.

Mr Yirimeah who disclosed this at the Regional launch of the National Commission for Civic Education's (NCCE) Constitution Week celebration in Bolgatanga said private investors would be on board. Commenting on the theme for this year's Week celebration, "Reducing Poverty Through Citizens' Participation in Local Governance", he said it was in line with the development agenda of the Government. "Empowering our people by involving them in decision-making on matters that directly affect their lives is one effective way of reducing poverty," he said.

He urged the NCCE to intensify its public education programmes on the 2006 district level elections and impress on the people the non-partisan nature of the district assemblies.

Presenting a paper on the topic "Citizens Participation in Local Governance: An Effective Tool for Reducing Poverty," Mr Nicholas Nayembil, a retired Educationist and former Presiding Member of the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly, observed that the goals outlined in the government's Poverty Reduction Strategy document could only be achieved through the active involvement of the entire citizenry. He said poor environmental sanitation, inadequate roads, clinics and school infrastructure as well as low tax revenue were all manifestations of poverty, hence the need for concerted efforts in finding solution to the problem.

Mr Nayembil urged the district assemblies to forge cordial relations with the traditional authorities, saying it would encourage chiefs to mobilize their people for the implementation of development programmes in their communities.

The Deputy Regional Director of the NCCE, Mr Mike Fuoh, observed that the country's fledgling democracy would becomes meaningless if the participation of the citizens in the process was limited only to elections.

"Citizens must be inspired, through critical knowledge acquisition and skills provision, to be able to participate in governance at both local and national levels."

He observed that the participation of citizens in governance was fraught with challenges such as the low representation of women in district assemblies, the slow pace of fiscal decentralization and the lack of transparency in local governance.

He said in a bid to address these inadequacies, the Commission had set in motion a number of measures including educating the citizenry on the meaning, relevance and benefits of decentralization, the transformation of the citizenry into effective actors and social auditors in their localities through capacity building and organizing periodic mock district assembly meetings with community and school civic education clubs.

Mr Fuoh said the NCCE had selected two districts in each region to implement the strategy on pilot basis, with Bawku East and Talensi-Nabdam chosen in the Upper East.

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