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24.02.2006 General News

First reading of Disability Bill in Parliament

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Accra, Feb 24, GNA - Mrs Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, the Deputy Minister, Manpower, Youth and Employment, on Friday hailed the presentation and the first reading of Persons With Disability (PWD) Bill in Parliament.

The Deputy Minister, who personally saw to the first reading, said the President had made good the promise he made to Ghanaians recently. In an interview with the Ghana News Agency Mrs Osei-Opare said the bill, which seeks to protect the rights and welfare of PWDs, had received a lot of support from all sections of the Ghanaian community. She said the bill, although would need fine-tuning by Parliament is "very implementable".

Mr Osei-Opare said: "We looked at every word, every sentence, every paragraph and we are now convinced that there would be no problem when it comes to the implementation of provisions of the legislation." The Deputy Minister said a lot of work had gone into the bill since 2001 and that disable organisations and research institutions like Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and Members of Parliament (MPs) and other lobbyists had helped enormously in that direction. She said issues like accessibility to public places; education, health and social integration were critically debated upon and included. Mrs Osei-Opare said proposal for the establishment of a Council for Disability also received support and approval from the various groups. She said Mrs Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, had been given the task of looking at special needs of PWDs in the educational sector.

Mrs Osei-Opare said concerns about duplication of functions and roles, which were critical to the formulation of the bill, had been ironed out.

She said cost implications of the implementation of the bill, which often scared many people, had also been dealt with. She thanked President John Agyekum Kufuor for his personal leadership in the formulation of the Disability Bill. Mrs Osei-Opare expressed optimism that Persons With Disability Bill would be passed by Parliament before Easter, saying: "This would be a very pleasant Easter gift for all of us."