Minister for Gender and Social Protection, Mrs Cynthia Morrison, has issued a ban on all hotel conferences and events sponsored by her ministry except for programmes where funding has been pre-arranged or already concluded.
According to the directives, all programmes of the ministry must be held in communities where the beneficiaries and other stakeholders reside.
The order is expected to increase public engagement and efficient execution instead of the usual practice of transporting a few of them to Accra and other big cities, cutting off mostly the ordinary people who often are the target of their programs.
Mrs Morrison said both her office and donors attention has been drawn to the increasing cost of event venues for workshops and outreach programmes, a cost she said could judiciously be used for other very crucial social intervention programmes in communities where the need is more pronounced and the impact more real.
“I know people will not like me for this decision but we have to spread the benefit to more of those who need it instead of spending it in fanciful hotels,” she added.
“It is very heartbreaking to see a huge amount of monies being spent on hotels after hotels for conferences when that money can be used to start a small shelter or added to the school feeding budget or even LEAP to benefit the poo of the poor”.
The pronouncements of the minister have attracted praise from officials of UNICEF, UNDP and the UNFPA who have been engaging Ghana’s delegation on the sidelines of the United Nations Social Development conference, ongoing in New York.
Most of these development partners are optimistic about Ghana’s social programmes but spoke plainly about the need for Ghana, having attained a level of middle-income status, to increase its budgetary allocation to existing social intervention programmes to justify additional funding from donor partners.
Ghana is seeking support for the construction of a Children’s parliament, Civil Registry and the Household registry that will host a database of extremely poor people to aid future planning.
At UNICEF, Child Protection Specialist at the Program Division, Kristen Wenze and the Senior Adviser at the Program Division disclosed that Ghana stands to benefit from the Global Funding Facility (GFF), which is seeking to expand into 10 additional countries.
At the UNDP office, Executive Director, Dr Natalia Kanem, expressed interest in supporting Ghana in the preparation of a new Aged bill especially having helped Korea recently to develop a policy for the aged.
UNFPA according to Dr Kanem, is still committed to supporting women and population programs especially as Ghana is preparing to undertake another population census.