…To Reduce Burden On Parents In 128 Districts
One hundred and thirteen billion cedis (¢113 bn.) is being spent by Government in 128 districts in the country to reduce the burden on parents in terms of support for their children's basic education.
This was disclosed by President J.A. Kufuor at the Castle last Tuesday when he met the media.
According to him, as from the next school year, Government “should begin implementation of the Capitation Grant which will ensure that no Ghanaian child is left out of school for lack of funds”.
He told the media that there had been a massive upsurge in students' population in the country's three main Universities from 10,000 each, barely five years ago to about 30,000, currently, in each of the Universities – Legon, Cape Coast and KNUST.
According to him, Government had risen to the challenge of providing accommodation facilities in all these Universities.
In the pre-tertiary area, the President said Government was aiming at developing a model Secondary School in each of the 138 districts, “with quality that will compare fairly with the oldest secondary schools and we are determined to realise this before I leave office”, adding that if such an achievement within three years would not be a radical one, “then I don't know that that will be”.
He also disclosed that Government was introducing an apprenticeship for those who could not continue with the Junior Secondary School (JSS) grade, and would also make it compulsory for every infant to go to kindergarten with Government bearing the cost.
The President in his introductory speech to the press touched on the economy and said among others that given the current rate of development, Ghana would become a middle-level income economy by 2015.
“We need to have accelerated growth and increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to do that”, he explained, adding that, Ghana was currently, as confirmed by the IMF, at 600 US Dollars per capital income.
He said but for the uncertainties in the world crude oil prices, Ghana's performance would have been a better one.
The President called on Ghanaians not to rest on their oars but “pursue our positive policies which inspite of obvious set backs, are resulting in the achievement of our collective vision and aspiration”.
“In this regard, we must all support the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) which I inaugurated recently”, said the President explaining that, the Authority had been set up by law to protect the interest of the investor and the consuming public.
He touched on the new prices of petroleum products, saying whilst the cost of premium and gasoline had been raised marginally, the prices of kerosene and Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) had been reduced significantly.
Given the prevailing crude oil prices, the President said “but for management efficiencies reported at TOR and the relative stability of the cedi”, there would have been higher increases in the cost of the petroleum products.
The President also touched on the prudent management of the economy, that had earned Ghana a place among six out of 62 nations that had “qualified to access the first tranch of the US Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)” .
Ghana's expected share, he said, amounted to $290 million, adding, the MCA relief was to help modernize agriculture that will boost the sector in particular and the economy as a whole.
He announced that Ghana would today “sign a memorandum of understanding with the US ambassador for the sum of $3 million to support the completion of the feasibility studies for the MCA projects”.
President Kufuor also mentioned the decision by the industrialised countries at the recent G8 summit to cancel Ghana's debt of $ 4 billion, hoping that the cut off date for the implementation of the cancellation would take place this year.
He said prudent macro-economic policies and disciplined financial management had resulted in inflation declining to 15.7% as at June ending.
Lending rates, he said, had also declined to rates between 16.5% - as is being quoted by Bank of Ghana – to 23% and up to 28% for some commercial banks.
President Kufuor said given the current trends, lending rates could come down to 15% which would boost the private sector.
He disclosed that an oil refinery to serve the sub-region was about to start in Takoradi and by December 2006 gas would flow from Nigeria to Ghana via the West African gas pipeline.
He also said exports from AGOA had quadrupled and Presidential Special Initiative PSIs in cassava and oil palm were in progress.
He said cocoa production at 650,000 tonnes remained impressive with the price being better than that of last year.
On good governance, the President pointed out that Ghana had just been reviewed commendably by its peers and was awaiting the review of the final report.
He did not take kindly to the uncomplimentary stories that were being posted on the internet with regards to some aspects of the Report.