Paga (U/E), Nov. 7, GNA - Mr. Joseph Kofi Adda, Minister of Manpower, Youth and Employment, has expressed concern about the plight of the physically challenged and denial of opportunities for them to improve on their standards of living.
He said due to the lack of better policy on their education, job training, equality and access to the physical environment about 95 per cent of the physically challenged in the country who had the skills and attained the working age were unemployed.
Mr Adda expressed these concerns in a speech read on his behalf by the Kassena-Nankana District Chief Executive, Mr. Emanuel Chegeweh, at the inauguration of access structures for the physically challenged customers of the Nara Rural Bank in Paga near Navrongo at the weekend. He noted that despite the tremendous contributions by rural and community banks to poverty alleviation and rural development, they had not made any impact in the provision of financial assistance to the physically challenged.
Mr Adda who is also Member of Parliament for Navrongo Central, announced that the Government through the Department of Social Welfare and the ARB Apex Bank Limited, had set up a one billion cedis micro-credit fund for disbursement to the physically challenged to enable them to undertake income generating activities.
Mr Adda commended the management of the Bank for the access structures and urged other community banks to emulate the example, as part of a collective effort to "free the society of all barriers to the physically challenged."
Dr. Gloria Nikoi, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of ARB Apex Bank in an address read on her behalf by Mr. Joseph Whittal a Board member said it was the belief of Apex Bank that the physically challenged would be productive and contribute to the country's socio-economic development when offered the needed support and assistance.
"In recognition of this potential of the physically challenged therefore, the ARB Apex Bank in collaboration with the rural and community banks are providing structures that are friendly to them," she added.
Dr Nikoi said in addition to the physical structures being constructed at the various rural and community banks, a credit facility had been introduced to support them in farming, livestock production, basket weaving, leather works, petty trading, batik tie and dye production.
She urged the physically challenged to take advantage of the facility, and called on rural banks to pursue programmes that would promote wealth creation and poverty reduction on sustainable basis.
Mr Boniface Gambila, Upper East Regional Minister, observed that banks and other financial institutions played an indispensable role in human development therefore, the Government had instituted policies and programmes to reduce interest rates and make credits more meaningful to the people.
He announced that the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) had introduced a policy for the physically challenged to have representation in each of the eight district assemblies.
Mr Gambila said the physically challenged would benefit from the Capitation grant and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) adding "Government would endeavour to make life comfortable for the disadvantaged and vulnerable in society."
Mr. John Asabigi, President of the North-Eastern Chapter of the Association of Rural Banks, said the eight rural banks under the Chapter had mobilized more than 70 billion cedis for lending to customers. This, he said, underscored the fact that rural banks played an essential role in the development of the nation's economy and must be given the needed assistance to grow.