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General News Wed, 25 Feb 2004

Denmark to give Ghana $55m in five years

Accra, Feb 25, GNA - Denmark on Wednesday said it committing 290 million Danish Kroner about 55 million dollars grant to its development assistance to Ghana between 2004 and 2008 as an acknowledgement of the positive developments that the economy has chalked over the years. The Danes would in addition support the Private Sector Programme with 20 million Danish Kroner about three million dollars a year.

"These, however, are subject to approval of the Danish Parliament. But these are the indicative figures that Parliament had already approved together for the period," Mr Bo Jensen, Head of the Danish delegation at the Ghana-Denmark four-day bilateral consultations currently underway in Accra explained.

Dr Nii Noi Ashong, Deputy Minister of Finance in charge of Planning, is at the head of Ghana's team at the consultations, which would culminate in the signing of Agreed Minutes between the governments of Denmark and Ghana.

The Agreed Minutes is a document that serves as a guide to the conduct of bilateral development activities in Ghana. At the meeting, Mr Jensen commended Ghana for her efforts at improving the economy, saying it had the potential to attain higher level of achievements with her promotion of good governance. He said good governance was a precondition for achieving the best results in economic and social development and that democracy, peace, stability and respect for human rights could not be put aside.

He, therefore, praised Ghana for consolidating democracy and promoting human rights and pledged Denmark's support to help her strengthen its fight against corruption.

Mr Jensen said the private sector also needed to be strengthened for it to play its key role in the reduction of poverty in the country, adding that that was why Denmark was particularly interested in that sector.

On Ghana's general election, Mr Jenson said his government would support it with an amount of 600,000 dollars.

In response to issues raised by the Denmark Delegation, Dr Osei Akoto, Deputy Minister in-charge of Budget, Ministry of Finance, who led the discussions, said the current Government was very particular about the microeconomic stability, when it took office about three years ago because that ensured an enabling environment for economic growth. He said the economy was not very stable by then, with inflation "quiet high" but Government had managed to bring it down and was now working hard to bring it to about 10 per cent by September this year."

Dr Akoto said Government intended to sustain and keep inflation low since it was an "enemy of the poor in society", and because businesses needed such a stable economic environment to thrive. On good governance, he indicated that Government was taking such issues very seriously since it had the mandate to answer to the people it governed.

He said the power sector was also doing quite well with prudent measures being put in place, with Volta River Authority doing very well, by moving aggressively to improve services to the people. He said consumers should expect a downward adjustment in utility prices in the second quarter of the year since the exchange rate had been relatively stable with other measures being undertaken to make that possible.

On corruption, Dr Akoto said three bills namely the Internal Audit Agency Bill, the Financial Administration Act and the Procurement Bill passed by Parliament last year, were to help check this social vice. He said government was working hard to operationalise such bills to help in the fight against corruption.

On the impending general election, he said the Government had already disbursed nine million dollars from its resources to the Electoral Commission out of the 26 .5 million dollars budgeted for it. He, therefore, appealed to donor agencies to assist Ghana with about 10 million dollars, saying the current donor assistance was seven million dollars

The Sector Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo thanked Denmark and all other donor partners for their assistance to the nation, but added that " beneficiary Governments should be allowed to be their own drivers and direct their affairs."
Source: GNA