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07.12.2005 General News

Seek views of local people before formulating policies

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Tamale, Dec. 7, GNA - Participants at a workshop on Ghana's Trade Policy in Tamale, have called on policy makers to always consult local people for their inputs before formulating trade policies.

They said the lack of consultation on trade policies had often resulted in the formulation of trade policies that negatively affected their livelihoods and increased their poverty levels.

The Friends of the Earth (FOE)-Ghana, a British NGO organised the forum to raise awareness on the Ghana Trade Policy in rural communities. The participants expressed concern about the activities of middlemen in the local trade, who were "living fat on the sweat" of peasant farmers and urged the government to address the situation to enhance the economic welfare of the farmers.

Peasant farmers, traditional authorities, women association and youth associations, opinion leaders, civil society organisations and community-based organisations among others attended the workshop. The participants were taken through International Trade, the impacts of trade liberalization on people and their livelihoods, the overview of the Ghana Trade Policy and the highlights of trade issues relevant to local people.

The forum was to find out from these groups, who were the most vulnerable to trade policies, how the policies had impacted on their livelihoods and welfare as well as their understanding of government's decisions on trade matters were consistent with the commitment made in the trade policy.

The participants called on the government to formulate policies that would improve the technological based to utilise the abundant natural resources to make the country self-reliant They were of the opinion that, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was not meeting the aspirations of member countries and appealed to the government to back out.

The participants called on African countries, especially those in the sub-region to increase trade activities among themselves and also advocate against WTO injustices, which were detrimental to the development of the continent.

They said civil society organisations should also step up their advocacy role to fight the injustices in the WTO, especially in the area of subsidies for agricultural inputs and pricing of raw materials from developing countries.

Mr Theo Anderson, Director of FOE in a speech read on his behalf said it was the vision of the NGO to ensure that Ghana become ecologically and economically sustainable nation based on equitable distribution of resources.

"This vision we jealously pursue through various activities, including public education of different groups such as local communities, local government agencies, and policy-makers as well as collecting, analysing and disseminating information, relevant to sustainable development," he said.

He said the task of awareness raising on the trade policy should attract the interests of everybody and groups so that people's inputs and concerns from a broad section of the public would be made to bare on the policy. Dec. 07, 05

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