Regional News Thu, 11 Mar 2004

Pensioners advised to invest in agro-processing

Wa, March 11, GNA - Civil and public servants in Northern Ghana who are about to retire should take advantage of the tax holidays granted to prospective industrial ventures in the North, by pooling their resources to go into agro-processing.

The numerous traders and contractors in the Upper West Region in particular, should also think of diversifying into small-scale industries to lift the region out of poverty, Mr James Dassah, the Upper West, Regional Economic Planning Officer said on Tuesday. He gave this advice, when he spoke on the topic: "The Budget and its relevance to Ghanaians and the Upper West Region in particular," at a public forum on the budget organised by the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) at Wa.

Representatives from civil society organisations, chiefs, labour unions, civil and public servants participated in the forum. Mr Dassah said enough financial support was available in the budget under various assistance programmes and poverty in the area could be reduced if they were properly utilised.

He called on farmers to take advantage of these opportunities, while farmers' associations, staff of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, civil society organisations should assist farmers who might not be aware of these credit schemes to access them.

Mr Dassah asked civil society and stakeholders to debate some of the policies and bring those, which were not conducive to national development to the attention of government.

He said some of the low cost houses proposed to be sold, were in dire need of rehabilitation, which the government could not do, so the decision to sell them was in the right direction, but according to him, this policy needed careful study.

Mr Vitus Azeem, Director of Budget Advocacy of ISODEC said his organisation in conjunction with the Save the Children's Fund of the UK instituted these annual fora on the budget because the interest of leaders were often in conflict with those of the poor and marginalised in society.

Views expressed at these fora, he said, were collated and conveyed to the government and some of them had been captured in subsequent budgets,

He bemoaned the poor patronage of these fora in the Upper West Region and expressed the hope that future fora would record an improvement in attendance.

Source: GNA