Ghana's economic growth rate currently stands at six percent, Mr. Kweku Agyemang-Manu, Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning announced on Friday. The Minister said this represented a remarkable achievement of the NPP government after it inherited an ailing economy with a growth rate of 3.1 percent in 2000.
Mr Agyemang-Manu, who was answering questions at a People's Assembly at Abesim in the Sunyani municipality, stated that it was the aim of the government to achieve eight percent growth in the next two years.
This target, he noted, would serve as a springboard to propel the country's economic breakthrough and appealed to Ghanaians not to panic in the face of increasing socio-economic hardship. The Deputy Finance Minister said the lack of understanding on the parts of some Parliamentarians as well as quorum on the Whistle Blower Act has thwarted efforts by Parliament to pass the Whistle Blower Act into law. He, however, gave the assurance that the Bill will be passed when its time is due.
Answering a question from 70 year-old Madam Comfort Agyemang, the Minister, said the National Health Insurance Scheme covered a specific drug list and that not all drugs are dispensed freely to people under the scheme.
"Some drugs are very expensive, if all drugs are allowed into the Health Insurance Scheme, the scheme will collapse. Others you must purchase yourselves and this is why all persons must register to rectify the problem. There is a mechanism in place to pay back the cost incurred in the purchase of drugs provided one comes with a receipt," he added. Touching on the inception of the People's Assembly concept, the newly appointed Brong Ahafo Minister, Mr. Ignatius Baffour Awuah, said it was the aim of government to bring democracy to the door-step of the citizens, hence, the need to hold government accountable to the people whose mandate they have sought in high office.
He said Malaysia which attained independence in the same year with Ghana, had been able to reach an appreciable level of development far, exceeding that of Ghana as a result of the importance they attached to education.
He said government was committed to achieving necessary reforms in education, which is the focus of its human resource development agenda. "To give education the needed boost the government has put up over 5,000 school buildings since it came to power and has also introduced Capitation Grant scheme. From next year pupils from kindergarten to JSS will start enjoying the free feeding programme. These are all geared towards alleviating the plight of parents who are grappling with financing their ward's education", he said.
Mr. Kwame Twumasi-Appiah, Sunyani Municipal Chief Executive said enrolment for schools in the Abesim town had gone up with the inception of the capitation grant. He said enrolment in kindergarten went up by 13percent while that of JSS schools increased by 12.
He said one trillion cedis had been released by the government for youth employment programmes as well as the formation of an employment task force to help enlist unemployed youth into the Skill Training and Employment Programme (STEP).
As part of measures to ensure smooth transportation of farm produce from the hinterlands to buying centres, he said the assembly since last year rehabilitated some feeder roads.
The Municipal Chief Executive appealed to farmers, especially maize growers to make good use of incentives granted them by the government and increase their yield. "Government has plans to buy a bag of maize at 200,000 cedis each to improve the living standards of the farmers," he reiterated. He gave the assurance that come next year the community would be provided with a library, post office and toilet facilities. Rev. Emmanuel Kusi, Municipal Director of Education said printing fees charged by schools in the district at the basic level would soon end after the assembly has taken delivery of printing equipment from the government.
Chiefs who attended the public event also commended the government for introducing the Capitation Grant and the Health Insurance Scheme. They appealed to the government to construct irrigation farms for the Abesim community, which is predominantly a tomato producing area. Traders also called for the provision of adequate utilities such as water, electricity and market sheds to those who have paid for but have not yet been allocated a shed