Accra, Nov. 17, GNA - Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning on Thursday said Ghana is poised to receive over four billion US dollars of irrevocable debt cancellation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and the African Development Bank (ADB).
This is as result of prudent economic measures adopted by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government since it assumed office in 2001. Dr Akoto Osei was contributing to the debate on the Financial Policy of the government for the fiscal year ending December 31 2006 in Parliament.
He said this year alone Parliament approved an amount of 404 billion cedis as expenditures for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
"In all, 58 out of 121 schemes are currently providing benefit packages to their members and is expected that by the end of the year, all the schemes set up would be managing claims." "An additional one trillion cedis collected would also be invested."
Dr Akoto Osei said under the President's Special Initiative, 8,000 Ghanaians have been trained as machine operators with 3,000 of them finding jobs in nine garments and textile factories while the remaining 5,000 are self-employed under the Clothing Technology Training Centre. On transportation, he said government last year promised to mitigate the impact of the adjustment of petroleum prices by providing additional buses for the public.
"That promise is being fulfilled with the arrival of 100 new buses to augment the fleet of buses already in the system whilst 11 buses have been given to tertiary institutions to alleviate their transportation problem."
Dr Akoto Osei said enrolment in kindergarten and basic schools have gone up significantly because of the capitation grant.
He said, "NPP being a listening government has taken note of insightful criticisms of the Minority some of whom have focused on how to improve on implementation issues in important sectors such as agriculture, which majority of Ghanaians participate in."
"This open and transparent way of dealing with problems is refreshingly good news and I want to invite my colleagues on the other side to assist us in dealing with those implementation challenges, so that Ghana can be a better nation."
Mr. Joseph Yaani Labik, Independent MP for Bunkpurugu/Yunyoo on his part said it is good news that the budget has highlighted on the construction of the Bui Dam to augment the energy needs of the nation. He said, coupled with the West African Gas Pipeline, which is under construction as well as the return of the Osagyefo Barge from Italy and now at Efasu in the Western Region, the country's energy needs would be boosted for economic activities and growth.
Mr Labik however, said he was disappointed that the 2006 budget did not adequately cater for agriculture, which is the backbone of the economy.
He said every year there is a hunger cycle in the Northern part of the country and that, "I was expecting to see something being done about that situation in the budget."
Mr Labik said the Afram Plains, which hold the potential for Ghana's agriculture take-off is lying fallow and is about time the government develops the potential that area has. "The peasant farmers have also been neglected and do not enjoy subsidies and extension services whilst middlemen cheat them on their products due to lack immediate market."
Mr Samuel Obodai, NPP MP for Agona West said this year's budget would certainly take the country forward since it focuses on good governance, human rights and peace.
He said when the NPP embraced the HIPC initiative, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) kicked against it, but now their MPs are asking for their share of the fund for their constituencies. 17 Nov. 05