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07.03.2006 Business & Finance

Businesses should co-exist peacefully with host communities

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Accra, March 07, GNA - Mr Kofi Osei-Ameyaw, a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, on Tuesday said the Volta River Authority (VRA) should research into the changing needs of the people in the areas they operate in and fashion out a way of meeting their wants.

He said although certain schemes have been put in place to somewhat compensate the people, the VRA needs to find additional innovative ways of addressing the creeping waves of dissatisfaction among the people leaving in their areas of operation.

Mr Osei-Ameyaw made this call in a statement on the floor of the House on the need for businesses to co-exist peacefully with host communities.

"We are aware of the fact that the Akosombo Dam is a national asset, however when the pursuit of such interest adversely affects the fundamental means of livelihood of a section of the population, appropriate measures should be taken to fairly and adequately compensate them to mitigate their cost of adjustment."

"We have heard the reports of unrest in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, where civil agitators have seized some expatriate oil firms, which they blame for their deprivation and grim circumstances."

He said there is the need to act promptly to prevent such unfortunate incidents: "lest we suffer grave consequences." Mr Osei-Ameyaw said the creeping hostilities between communities and businesses have created a kind of cynicism about business and private enterprise.

"We often hear and read about misunderstanding between mining firms and host communities, which stem from lack of communication and mutual appreciation of values."

He urged companies to undertake researches to identify skills and ideas that would engage the host communities in ventures that would be mutually beneficial to both parties.

"I look forward to that day when businesses in Ghana would do more to convert major social challenges into profitable business opportunities."

Mr Osei-Ameyaw said businesses could discharge their social responsibilities if they are able to convert potential threat into opportunities.

"Harmony between businesses and communities promotes peace, technological advancement, collective security, wealth and hope." The Deputy Minister said what Ghana needed to move forward was the type of businessman who sees solutions to social problems and the satisfaction of social needs as opportunities for profitable business. Mr Brandford Adu, NPP-Okere, appealed to the VRA to increase their welfare fund of the resettle communities from 500,000 dollars to one million dollars.

He said they should also intensify their infrastructure development such as roads and schools in those communities.

Mr David Assumeng, NDC-Shai Osudoku, said the resettled communities along the Lower Volta needed immediate attention to mitigate the hardship they are going through.

"Tension is brewing and VRA should act immediately to restore the livelihood of the people living along the banks of the Lower Volta." He said their lives have become pathetic with most of them losing their livelihood due to the construction of Kpong Dam and the Tema Harbour.

"Even the shell fish that the women collect for their livelihood have all diminished after the construction and urgent assistance is seriously needed."

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