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The Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017 was read for the second time on Thursday, with the minority leader and minority chief whip strongly urging the government to put the management of Hajj pilgrimage under Minister for Zongo and Inner City Development.
The Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu and Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, argued that over the years, Hajj pilgrimage has been bedeviled with management problems and that putting Hajj under the Minister for Zongo and Inner City Development would allow parliament to also have oversight responsibility over the performance of Hajj pilgrimage, which is a key pillar of Islam.
The minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, noted that putting the Hajj under the Minister would ensure the effective running of the Hajj pilgrimage since the Minister would have direct supervision over affairs of Hajj and after every pilgrimage, the Minister would report to parliament on the performance of the Hajj pilgrimage.
“If Hajj is moved under the Minister for Zongo and Inner City Development, he could also come to parliament and tell us what went on well and what did not go on well after every Hajj pilgrimage and how we could improve on it so that Ghanaian Hajj pilgrims will have a problem free visit to the Holy Land,” the minority leader said.
The Minority leader also said that the idea of setting up the Zongo Development Fund by the government is noble but the seed money of $50 million, which is woefully inadequate connotes that the government is not very committed to the cause of developing the Zongo communities.
The minority leader also questioned why the Zongo Development Bill did not cover Inner City Development since all the inner cities also have similar problems as the Zongo communities.
“Where is the government’s commitment to developing our inner cities which informed its decision to create the Ministry of Zongo and Inner City Development,” the minority leader quizzed.
He said if the government wants to develop the Zongo communities, then it must rather empower the youth and women to set up their own businesses.
“I believe that if small credits are extended to women in the Zongo communities to either set up their own businesses or expand their businesses, it would go a long way to reduce the poverty levels in the Zongo communities,” the minority said, adding that government must also make it policy to provide jobs for the youth of the Zongo communities as a way of developing the Zongo communities.
The second deputy majority chief whip, who is also the MP for Trobu, Moses Anim, said that in developing the Zongo communities, the chiefs and opinion leaders in those communities must be consulted to ensure that there is a bottom-up approach to development in the Zongo communities.
The majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said that $50 million seed money is not the only money meant for development in the Zongo communities, adding that funds would be accumulated in the Zongo Fund through grants, loans, moneys approved by parliament and donation by corporate bodies or other governments.
He said that apart from the dedicated fund for development in the Zongo communities, they would continue to benefit from other development projects like any other community in the country.
The Minister for Zongo and Inner City, Boniface Abubakar Saddique, who presented the memorandum accompanying the bill, said that the Zongo Development Fund, apart from reinforcing infrastructural development in the Zongo communities, would also provide special assistance to the youth in the Zongo communities to pursue higher education while those who are not inclined to tertiary education would be trained in other vocations
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