Accra, Jan. 26, GNA - Ghana received a total of 136 million pounds from the British government for development programmes and as contributions for the multilateral donor support programme in 2005. Giving an overview of his country's work in Ghana for 2005 at a reception Mr Gordon Wetherell, British High Commissioner, hosted for the media in Accra, he said 25 million pounds was provided directly to support the implementation of the Ghana's Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS), in recognition of the progress it made in governance reforms and commitment to poverty reduction.
He said high-level bilateral visits and regular exchanges on key issues was evidence of a close relationship between Ghana and Britain as a result of which 69 British companies took part in trade missions to Ghana, last year.
Mr Wetherell said the latest trade figures indicated well-balanced trade relations between Ghana and the UK, noting that the volume of trade between the two countries remained at 300 million pounds in 2005. Other areas of support to Ghana included capacity building projects targeted for the Police Service, supporting the Narcotics Control Bord, the Ghana National Fire Service and administering a range of projects under the Commission's Small Grants Scheme in addition to other programme budgets at a cost of 500,000 pounds a year.
Mr Wetherell said more than 1,700 British nationals are currently registered with the Consular section as residents in Ghana. He said the High Commission received and processed more than 55,000 visa applications.
He said a fast-track service that allowed applicants to obtain decisions within three working days, would soon be introduced at the Commission's office in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region.
The High Commissioner said his outfit and the British Department for International Development (DFID) recognised the role that the media, private sector and the civil society played in development as a result of which the two institutions had launched a number of programmes in collaboration with the groups aimed to empower the people. The programmes including a 4.7 million British pound fund are expected to strengthen the voices of the ordinary Ghanaians on issues that affect them and give them the ability to hold the government and donors accountable.
Mr Wetherell expressed the hope that the media would continue to create awareness of the GPRS, now the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy II, to facilitate an informed public debate on the broad developmental issues. 26 Jan. 06