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General News Mon, 22 Oct 2001

Government Begins Attack On Unemployment

Ghana's battalions of unemployed youth are now being mobilised into productive ventures.

Last Saturday, vans moved from one suburb to the other in the nation's capital encouraging unemployed youth to go to designated areas to register for screening and job placement. This is the first in several years this has happened. In the past, companies wrote boldly on their premises 'No Vacancies Please', to ward off job seekers.

This is part of the employment package the New Patriotic Party promised in its campaign for the mandate to rule the country.

The exact number of jobs promised has become a contentious issue, with critics of the government and party loyalists quoting various figures. Barely two months after the government took over the reins of government the usually vociferous radio callers asked it to produce the jobs it had promised during the election campaigns.

Ten months into its administration, the government is beginning to give a clear indication that it would at least generate some thousands of jobs before its first tenure ends.

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Information available show that scores of urban youth have been engaged and taken to the cocoa producing regions to undertake the mass spraying of cocoa.

At the moment a number of unemployed youth have been deployed to the Eastern, Ashanti and Western Regions, which produce the bulk of the country's cocoa.

Last Friday, President Kufuor took the campaign against unemployment a step further when he commissioned the first project under the President's Special Initiatives (PSI) to produce industrial starch from cassava for export, at Awutu-Bawjiase in the Awutu-Efutu-Senya District in the Central Region.

The company owned by 2,500 farmers from five districts would cultivate 5,000 acres of cassava to be managed by a Board of Directors. The Accra Mail discovered at one of the registration centres at Mallam that some of the youth being recruited in Accra would be deployed to Bawjiase to work on the cassava plantation.

President John Agyekum Kufuor, who presented the Certificate of Incorporation and Certificate to Commence Business to the directors at the ceremony, said the project would create employment in the selected districts, generate sustainable income and promote the growth of small satellite business with links to Ayenso Starch Company (ASCO).

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He said the project was another step in achieving the government's goal of improving the quality of life of Ghanaians through the two-pronged approach of fighting poverty by creating wealth and supporting the private sector to flourish.

At the Ayawaso Central Constituency in Accra, Mr. Seidu Salifu who is in charge of the registration told The Accra Mail that the youth in the area were responding favourably to exercise. He said so far 20 security guards have been recruited and placed in some private companies. Another ten who can drive, but have no jobs are being tested to be employed to drive the newly arrived fleet of buses ordered by the government. He said a list of 30 unemployed youth has been submitted to the Regional Administration for training and placement.

All in all, it would be difficult to quantify the number of jobs that have been generated in percentages, but it can be said that with the determination being shown by the government, the unemployment figures will drop considerably before the government's first term expires in 2004.

Source: Accra Mail