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11.08.2005 Business & Finance

Ghana and US signs three million-dollar grant agreement

GNA

Accra, Aug. 11, GNA - Ghana on Thursday tightened its grip on the 290 million dollars the United States had approved for the country, under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) by signing a Pre-Compact Grant agreement of three million dollars.

The grant agreement would enable consultants of the MCC to expand their feasibility report at Savelugu-Nanton in the Northern Region, Afram Plains in the Eastern Region and Awutu-Senya in the Central Region, listed to benefit from agri-businesses. Ghana compact proposal hopes to create a national high value fruit and vegetable farming industry by providing the basic elements in the area of roads, irrigation, cold storage, training, access to finance and policy reforms.

Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, signed for Ghana and witnessed by Mr Ayikoi Otoo, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, while Mr Charles O. Sethness, Vice President for Monitoring and Evaluation of MCC, signed for the US and witnessed by Mrs Mary Carlin Yates, outgoing US Ambassador.

Ghana, which was selected among 16 other countries, met the benchmark, which include rule of law, investing in the people and encouraging economic freedom.

President George Bush established the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) last January, as an innovative foreign assistance programme designed to reduce poverty by promoting sustainable economic growth and in President Bush own words: "To provide greater resources for developing countries taking greater responsibility for their own development."

Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, who was present at the signing ceremony, said it demonstrated the confidence the world super power had in Ghana, which was borne out of its prudent management of the economy and efforts to lift the people from poverty.

He said the focus of the MCC in agri-business was consistent with national poverty alleviation efforts.

Alhaji Mahama expressed the hope that Ghana would be in the position to sign the final Compact grant in October this year. Mrs Yates said Ghana had made strides in promoting liberal economic policies, which had promoted it to the B Plus (B+) credit rating. He said Ghana had submitted a very ambitious project, which must be supported for its take off to lift the country out of poverty through robust private sector led growth.

Mr Sethness lauded Ghana for meeting the standards of the MCC, saying: "Ghana is a natural candidate and partner with MCA." Mr Baah-Wiredu said MCC was related with the Millennium Development Goals, which had poverty alleviation as one its set objectives. Other countries benefiting from the MCC are Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Georgia, Honduras, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu.

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