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Business News Sat, 20 Mar 2004

World Bank to support Ghana's Poverty Reduction Strategy

Accra, March 20, 2004 --- The World Bank is ready to support the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy with $1.37 billion over the next four years.

A statement issued from the Public Information Centre of the Ghana Office of the World Bank stated that the bank's Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) 2004-2007 was endorsed by the Bank's Board on Tuesday, March 16, 2004.

The statement indicated that building on the five pillars of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS), the new CAS sets out three major objectives.

These objectives, it said, are accelerating growth and employment generation; achieving the human development Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); and enhancing governance for empowerment.

The statement observed that accelerating economic growth was a major priority, because after years of growth at around 4%, and after achieving 5.2% in 2003, the objective now was to accelerate growth beyond this level, redistribute gains equitably and sustain it.

The statement explained that this could be achieved by: managing public finances for macro stability and poverty reduction; removing constraints to private sector investment, and harnessing the sources of growth, in particular Agriculture.

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It said CAS provided for new investment in energy, water and other infrastructure, adding that prepared jointly with the IFC, it foresaw new programmes for the private and financial sectors, and for micro, small and medium enterprises.

The statement stated further that CAS sought to support information and communication technology to develop the knowledge economy and to provide for better management of natural resources. It gave the assurance that achieving the MDGs was actually possible in Ghana - but not without major effort.

CAS, the statement noted, will contribute by focusing on: increasing access to sustainable and safe water supply and environmental sanitation services; combating HIV/AIDS; achieving quality comprehensive education; and reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. The statement disclosed that a major Education Sector Project was signed on March 16. Major investment in urban and community water was foreseen for 2004, as was a new Urban Environmental Sanitation Project already in May, 2004.

The statement said further support would be provided through the Multi-Donor Budget Support framework.

It explained that enhancing governance and empowerment was an underpinning objective, if efforts to reduce poverty and achieve growth were to achieve better results.

The statement identified CAS' contribution by: building a democratic and inclusive state, and improving public sector management especially at decentralized levels for better service delivery. It stated that in particular, major efforts would be made to support Ghana's efforts to decentralize. Several projects in support of community and district driven development are foreseen, both in the rural and urban areas.

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The World Bank Ghana CAS comes after extensive consultations with government over the course of one year, following the final presentation of the GPRS. Views from five regional consultations with civil society and the private sector held in 2003, have impacted the content of the report. The CAS is presented in the context of deepening harmonization among development partners, within the Multi-Donor Budget Support framework and beyond.

The statement quoted Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Ghana's Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, as saying: "The CAS document and the proposed lending programme respond positively to the development objectives of the Government and recognize achievements made thus far. We believe it will help the Government to implement the GPRS for the benefit of all Ghanaians."

It stated that a mid-term progress review of the CAS would be planned during 2005, with scope for further re-alignment with evolving Ghanaian strategies, and partnerships with development partners.

"Ghana is well-poised for growth that could propel it to sustained leadership in the sub-region and indeed the continent," it said.

Source: GNA