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04.11.2005 General News

Ghana and Sierra Leone begin bilateral talks

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Accra, Nov. 4, GNA - An 11-member team from Sierra Leone on Friday began bilateral discussions with officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the National Development Planning Commission to develop strategies to export technical experts from Ghana. Mr Ibrahim Mohammed Sesay, Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Development in Sierra Leone, said in Accra at the opening of the discussions that the effort was an important step in the right direction to rebuild their country.

He said Ghana and Sierra Leone shared a common history, culture and common interest in the African Union, ECOWAS, the Commonwealth and the United Nations.

The team, which has just arrived from a capacity building training programme in Japan, is discussing areas of cooperation and ways of facilitating the movement of experts from Ghana to Sierra Leone. Mr Sesay observed that there was a time when Ghana went through both political and economic problems but she managed to come out of them.

"We look on this achievement as the setting of a benchmark that is worth emulating. That is why we feel strongly that we should be here to strengthen the south-south cooperation between us and Ghana," he said. Mr Sesay said apart from this achievement, Ghana also had a lot of experience with Japan in various aspects as a result of which the first and only office of JICA in West Africa was established.

"It is only proper that with such experience in Ghana, we come here to ensure that as we start a programme of mutual benefit through the exchange of programmes, we also share experiences to deepen bilateral relations."

Mr Sesay said Sierra Leone had just come out of a devastating war that had destroyed every aspect of life in that country. "It has become an emergency at this time to find a solution and identify the priority needs of the people," he said. He said the task ahead was not easy but the country hoped to explore one of the goals of the Millennium Development Goals and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) by learning from Ghana's experience.

The Deputy Minister said Sierra Leone had had to fall on Ghana because most of her technical experts had left to look for greener pastures.

"In the short term, we need assistance from elsewhere hence the need for us to fall on Ghana to learn about how the country managed her economic stability and structural adjustment." Mr Sesay said Sierra Leone was currently waiting to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on her first poverty reduction strategy with donor partners in London this month and was optimistic that the initiative would encourage the international community to contribute to it.

He noted that Ghana had already passed that stage and expressed the hope that the current programme between Ghana and Sierra Leone would also be formalised through an MOU to solidify the details. Dr George Gyan-Baffour, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in charge of Planning, said the meeting would afford the two countries the opportunity to discuss technical areas of cooperation and capacity building.

He said this was a preparatory meeting for greater collaboration for the two low-income earning countries and, therefore, commended JICA for assisting them.

Dr Regina Adutwum, Acting Director General of the National Development Planning Commission, reiterated the mutual relationship between the two countries and the need to strengthen the ties through the tripartite collaboration with Japan. She said Ghana was ready to assist adding: "We do not have excess of experts but we do have more than Sierra Leone, hence the need to help in a time like this." 04 Nov.05

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