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General News of Sunday, 28 September 2003

Source: GNA

Ghanaians urged to help harness natural resources

Buabeng (B/A), Sept. 28, GNA - Mr Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development has called on Ghanaians to help to effectively harness the country's abundant natural resources for their economic emancipation.

"We are all aware that Ghana is comparatively blessed with rich, unique and diverse natural, historical and cultural heritage, which should be developed in a sustainable manner to achieve the goals of the Poverty Reduction Strategy," he said.

The Minister was delivering the keynote address at the celebration of World Tourism Day on behalf of President Kufour at Buabeng-Fiema, home of the famous monkey sanctuary, in the Nkoranza District of Brong Ahafo.

He said Ghanaians have no excuse "if we fold our arms and look on while our people languish in abject poverty and misery. Posterity will never forgive us because nature has endowed us with abundant resources (both material and human), which when properly harnessed will give us the needed breakthrough."

Mr Adjei-Darko noted that the tourism sector had been given the due recognition and was being made to play its role in the socio-economic development of the country.

There is no doubt in our minds that tourism has the capacity to create wealth and conserve the resources for the present and future generation, he said, adding that this could be achieved "when we collectively and consciously implement the tourism's strategic plan within the framework of public and private sector partnership devoid of bureaucratic bottlenecks."

Mr Adjei-Darko called for the active involvement and collaboration among communities, municipal and district assemblies and the private sector, with defined roles and responsibilities within the decentralisation process.

" We may have comparative advantage in terms of natural resources. What is required from us is the ability to add value to the resources and package them for the domestic and international markets."

The Minister urged municipal and district assemblies to place tourism on the priority list and to make budgetary provisions in their budgets to facilitate the private sector, saying this would be a positive way of broadening the entrepreneurial base and revenue generation opportunities.

He gave the assurance that the government would on its part continue to provide and improve the infrastructure networks needed to promote local enterprises.

So much has already been spent on he provision of roads, water, electricity etc as necessary interventions and catalyst for private sector investment, he said.

Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Brong Ahafo Regional Minister commended the chiefs and the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission "for the efforts made so far to protect the Fiema-Buabeng Monkey Sanctuary" and called for continued vigilance to protect the primates.

He said the Regional Co-ordinating Council attached much importance to the tourism industry and gave the assurance that "we on our part will do everything possible to create the enabling conditions for all stakeholders in the sector".

We do hope that the Ministry of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City will continue to support the region in the development of our tourism sites so that awareness and interest created by the celebration of the Day would be sustained for the progress of the region, the Regional Minister said.

Mr Kwame Amporfo-Twumasi, Nkoranza District Chief Executive expressed the delight of the chiefs and people in the area for the choice of Buabeng-Fiema for the celebration of the Day.

The choice of the district to co-host this year's launch is a great honour befitting a district with such great potentials yearning for exploitation in the global tourism market, mentioning tourist attractions including waterfalls at Dandwa and Akropong, the goitre healing spring at Senya, the infamous Slave route and the slave market at Bono Manso, capital of the defunct Bono Kingdom.

Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister Of Tourism and the Modernization of the Capital City launched the Strategic Action Plan for Tourism, which has the vision to realize the potential of the sector in the country's economy by generating growth of 20 per cent by the year 2007.

The plan's targets include an increase in tourism arrivals to one million, to make tourism the largest employer after agriculture and retailing and to make the sector the largest employer in the formal sector, providing 300,000 jobs. 28 Sept. 03