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General News Wed, 8 Feb 2017

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$50m for Zongo dev't fund ‘too small’ - Boniface

The $50million seed capital for the setting up of the Zongo Development Fund (ZDF) is “too small,” Minister-designate of Inner-city and Zongo Development Boniface Saddique Abubakar, has said.

“…The $50million, I mean strictly speaking, is just too small to begin major projects but the fact is that being a new ministry established under the presidency, you don’t immediately start requesting for very huge sums of money. What I want to do is to vindicate H.E. the president that ‘Yes, you’ve given me $450m…” he told the parliament’s Appointments Committee on Wednesday, 8 February.

There are 365 Zongos (slums inhabited by mainly people of northern extraction and Muslims in the inner cities) in the country currently, according to Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, who told the Appointments Committee during his vetting that the Akufo-Addo government intends ensuring that inhabitants of Zongos get their economic circumstances improved since they deserve “a minimum threshold of livability”.

Mr Saddique also emphasised that the Fund “is not for funerals and naming ceremonies”.

“If I attend a funeral as a friend, relative, I can give a donation in my capacity as a friend and not a donation coming from the Zongo Fund,” he stated.

He was emphatic that the Fund would be used for investment in ICT, education, drains, and development of Zongos and not for personal or social use.

Having identified high illiteracy as one of the challenges in Zongos and the lack of motivation for teachers to impart knowledge, the MP said he “intends to liaise with the Education Ministry to offer incentives to teachers to teach in Zongos”.

This could be in the form of additional allowance, absorption of the cost of living in Zongos for teachers, or other provisions that will make the lives of teachers comfortable within Zongo communities.

In addition, he plans to empower communities to understand that the schools belong to them, hence must do their best to make the running of the schools more efficient.

Mr Saddique said “scholarship for brilliant students will be introduced” to motivate kids to take education seriously.

For him, education and empowerment of young people in Zongos will help address the issue of rural-urban migration.

Source: Class FM

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