Regional News of Wed, 11 Feb 20040

Upper East Holds Forum on 2004 Budget at Bolgatanga.

Bolgatanga, Jan. 10 GNA- The Deputy Minister of Information, Mr. Andrews Awuni on Tuesday defended the government's economic policy as outlined in the 2004 budget at a forum in Bolgatanga.

" Any objective assessment of the current economic situation cannot fail to agree that the economy is doing well now than before the NPP government came into office", he said.

He said it is normal for the opposition parties to find faults with various aspects of the budget statement since that is what is expected of them, but emphasized that credit must be given where it is due. Mr. Awuni stated these at Bolgatanga when he addressed the Upper East Regional forum on the 2004 budget, jointly organised by the Ministries of Information, Finance and Economic Planning, and the Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC).

He told the chiefs and people of the region as well as heads of government agencies to team up and organise an investment forum to highlight the investment potentials of the area.

Mr. Awuni said this was necessary in view of the vast opportunities that exist for investors who might want to take advantage of the zero tax rates declared to encourage agro-processing firms to locate in the three northern regions.

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He said the purpose of the regional fora on the budget was to further explain the issues to the people so as to ensure a wider participation of the citizenry in its implementation, and urged District Assemblies to organise similar ones at the district level to further spread the message.

The Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic planning, Mr. Agyeman Manu, who gave an overview of the performance of the economy in 2003 pointed out that the budget was modelled to reflect the five priority development objectives of the government.

These are the provision of key physical infrastructure, modernisation of agriculture based on rural development, delivery of enhanced social services, and the strengthening of institutions of good governance as well as those of the private sector.

Mr Mahami Salifu, Upper East Regional Minister who chaired the function, gave the assurance that the chiefs and people of the area would take advantage of opportunities provided under the budget to accelerate the development of the region.

The forum was attended by district chief executives, traditional authorities, heads of government agencies, representatives of the business community, security agencies and a cross section of the general public.

Source: GNA

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