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16.11.2005 Regional News

Work hard for the poor - Boniface

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Tamale, Nov. 16, GNA - Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface, Northern Regional Minister has called on stakeholders in government to work harder for the majority of the people to reap the fruits of the government's pro-poor policies and programmes.

He said the biggest challenges therefore facing Chief Executives, Presiding Members and civil society organisations were to ensure that, people actually participated in governance to analyse their situations and come up with solutions to them.

"The extent to which the people participate in resource allocation is key to good governance, since governance is principally, about resource mobilization and distribution", he noted.

Alhaji Boniface made the call in a speech read on his behalf at a two-day validation/dissemination workshop to study Pro-Poor Budgeting of District Assemblies in Tamale on Wednesday.

The forum would discuss the Northern Region West Development Programme of Action Aid Ghana, research report on "Efficient Budget Tracking and Reporting for the promotion of Pro-Poor Budgeting at the district level", which was carried out in the Tamale Metropolitan and the East Gonja District in May 2005.

The research findings was meant to establish an optimal means of improving the budgeting and reporting systems of the district assemblies to ensure transparency, accountability and pro-poor budget preparation and reporting.

District Chief Executives, Presiding Members, Planning and Budget Officers and members of civil Society Organisations attended the forum.

Alhaji Boniface noted that the government did not see how the country could be said to be developing, when a large number of the population lived in poverty and were unable to access the most basic services, such as education and healthcare.

He said the high poverty level in the country prompted the government to join the HIPC initiative and the subsequent preparation of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy.

"It is not enough to have good intentions, rather, the most important thing is to consciously plan and implement projects and programmes that target specific vulnerable groups and communities", he said.

"Poorer communities and groups usually do not have a voice and can easily be forgotten. The projects we propose and implement may not trickle down to benefit this group and their concerns and issues may be left unsolved", he noted.

"The best guarantee to get the poor to benefit from our development programmes is to target them in our planning and implementation", he added.

Mr Abdulai Habibu Mohammed, Programme Manager of the NGO, said tackling poverty would not result in the enormous leaps that would lead to the vision of a world without poverty, if the structural causes of poverty remain intact.

He said based on this, ActionAid Ghana was rededicating its efforts in fighting poverty and injustice as captured in its 2005/2008 strategy and had focused on power and power-related issues.

"We see power as one of the fundamental causes of poverty and a critical ingredient in social change. We believe that power in terms of access to and control of resources is central to understanding and dealing with the causes of poverty".

Mr Mohammed noted that one of the major strategies of the NGO was to facilitate the empowerment of poor communities to advocate for fairer distribution of resources and priority given to the needy and vulnerable groups and societies.