Washington DC, USA -- The Minister of Information and Presidential Affairs, Hon. Jake Obestebi Lamptey last Tuesday interacted with the staff of the Ghana Embassy in Washington DC, to update them on some of the impressive initiatives of the Government and those that are still in the pipeline.
He intimated that the agricultural harvest this year has been tremendous but it has also created problems of low prices. When this happens, he explained, it becomes a disincentive for farmers. Though the good harvest has contributed to low inflation, the government has already spent millions of dollars repairing machinery and acquiring new ones to store surplus food.
Personnel are also in from other African countries including Senegal and Mali to find buyers for some of the harvest products while the skills for storing plantain and cassava are seriously being explored in India.
‘As humans, we normally fail to count our blessings in good times,’ he philosophized to explain why the Government has being as particular with agriculture as it has being with the general infrastructure at the local Government level.
This, he said is seen in the work done so far at the districts. ‘We believe we have done more in the districts in two years then could have been anticipated .We have created health posts, markets, schools and using the millions and millions from the HIPC relief to create some comfort at the local level.’
While trying to look after the health of the people, the Government has had to also deal with the departure of health personnel. The sad result is, last year for instance, the country lost 2,900 nurses to brain drain. Of the 120 doctors trained for the year, almost all of them have joined the ‘gravy train’. This distresses the economy. Notwithstanding the extra duty allowances paid to doctors, they cannot still withstand the temptation of leaving.
The Minister also talked on external problems and mentioned that the problem in the Ivory Coast has dire consequences for the near future. ‘There are about six to seven million people who will have to flee through Ghana if the stalemate between the Government and the rebels continue. Ghana is the most peaceful country in the Sub-region and we can end up with about 2 million refugees which, can shock the economy’. However the Minister said, the Government had put in place measures to check these problems.
Another external threat he explained would be, if America decides to go to war with Iraq. The price of petrol will go up to $30 per barrel, which will lead to increase in petrol prices.
Hon. Obestebi- Lamptey who is in the United States to follow up on President Kufuor’s investment visit to Salt Lake City said some companies in the US have expressed interest in doing business with Ghana and advised the officers and staff of the Embassy to continue working hard since in Europe and every advanced economy he has visited, the interest in investments and tourism in Ghana keeps rising.
These investment dividends he said, will shine when in March 2003; the National Communication Policy comes out with its explosion of IT related businesses, which will create about 20,000 employments.
The Minister who is also in the US on a E-governance International Seminar, said, he will make the case for progress in Ghana’s IT industry and to improve the on-going dialogue between the Government and the people, adding that a website (www.ghana.gov.gh) has been created to explain Government public issues and general news.
When some of the staff wanted to know about the security situation and the operation of armed robbers, he explained that with the facilities being put in place, the police are doing excellent work and that there are more news of police arrests of armed robbers. The Minister at the end of the meeting said he believes Ghana will be well.
Mr. Francis Tsegah, the Deputy Head of Mission who moderated the meeting expressed satisfaction with the Minister’s frankness about the Government’s achievements for the period and difficulties in the pipeline. He promised the staff would do their best in explaining to the Ghanaian community issues that they need to understand.