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General News of Wednesday, 8 January 2003


250 More buses expected by June

THE government will take delivery of 250 buses by June this year to expand the country?s mass transportation system which was started last year on pilot basis.

Twenty of these buses will be delivered in the country by the end of this month and another 20 will be received next month.

The Minister of Roads and Transport, Dr Richard Anane, made this known in Accra yesterday at the second People?s Assembly held by the government to mark a Decade of the Fourth Republic and Two Years of Positive Change. The minister was reacting to a question on the mass transportation system.

He said the government will extend the mass transportation system to cover all the major cities and towns in the country to reduce the stress and transportation difficulties that confront workers in moving between their homes and workplaces.He said the ministry is negotiating with the leadership of transport organisations in the country to impress on commercial drivers to stop exploiting passengers through various unfair charges.

The Minister of Finance, Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo, said the government will need about ?650 billion to keep this year?s budget on track and noted this amount will be raised through taxes.The Minister of Information and Presidential Affairs, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, said the government has already acquired some information vans that will move into the hinterlands to educate the people on government policies and programmes.

He later launched a 184-page book entitled ?Developing our Communities: Two Years of Positive Change.?

The book catalogues the development programmes the government has undertaken since it took office. Reacting to a question on how the government is going to resolve the problem of street children in the country, the Minister of Women and Children?s Affairs, Mrs Glays Asmah, said the problem exists largely because the parents of such children do not have the resources to help educate them.

She said the government has, therefore, initiated moves to empower women economically by helping them with credit to set up income generating activities.She announced that her ministry has already disbursed about ?24 billion cedis to women?s group and co-operatives in the country. Mrs Asmah said some women now have the wherewithal to support their children?s education and as result some 10-year old children are now enrolling in class one.

The Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, said there are genuine institutions for investors to transact business with without much risk of being duped. She noted that if any investor is duped and the case is brought before her outfit, it will be given the needed attention. She was responding to a plea by an American investor who said he has been defrauded in business deal worth several millions of cedis.

The President, Mr J.A. Kufuo,r advised the investor to lodge a complaint with the police and that he was going to take personal interest in the case.Some of the participants who were randomly sampled commended the government for instituting the programme which affords the citizens an opportunity to interact with the President and his ministers.

They, however, described the three hours allotted for the programme as inadequate and called on the government to set aside at least one day for the interaction to afford more people the opportunity to express their views on various issues.The Associate Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Dr Baffour Agyemang Duah, described the programme as excellent saying that the openness and transparency with which it was conducted allowed people to participate in governance or influence government policies.

He said although some of the questions were irritating, they were necessary to put the government on its toes. Mr Alfred Kofi Appiah, Executive Director of the Children?s Rights International, an NGO, said the programme was good and demonstrated how government wants to involve people in the decision-making process.

He said suggestions, questions and comments on education and children?s rights were necessary because they bordered on improving the quality of education and human resource development.?It is important for the government to share or devote time to listen to people and organisations outside the government machinery and this should be the way out,? he said.

Mr Bright Blewu, the General Secretary of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), said any activity that seeks to consolidate the democratic gains and the fledging democracy should be encouraged.?Let the people speak their mind. It is useful involving the ordinary people. Institutions take advantage of such fora to present their cases," he said.

Mr Asamoah Boateng, of the Office of the President, described the assembly as successful, democratic and a way of reaching out to the people.?It is quite educative and interesting and the government should keep holding such fora on regular basis,? observed Ms Maggie Dee, a resident of Accra.

She called on the government to keep the promise to hold the forums in all the regional capitals and districts to enable people at the grassroots to express their views on issues agitating their minds.