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General News of Thursday, 14 February 2008

Source: GNA

Kufuor: Policy on cocoa is towards value addition

Accra, Feb. 14, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor said on Thursday that the government's policy in the cocoa sector was towards value addition and it was therefore welcoming both local and foreign investors.
He noted that at the moment, 30 per cent of cocoa beans were processed locally by such world class companies as Barry Callebaut and Cargyl in the free zones in Tema, while the Ghana Cocoa Processing Company was also doing well.
President Kufuor, who was delivering his State of the Nation address to Parliament, said the cocoa sector registered the highest ever production level of over 740,000 tonnes during the 2005/06 crop year, with the target being one million tonnes in the next couple of years. Speaking on the Millennium Challenge Account, he said Ghana was the highest recipient of an amount of 547 million dollars, adding that, this may "prove to be the long-awaited opportunity to transform and modernise rural economy through mechanisation".
Under the programme, farmers in 23 districts in five regions are being assisted to undertake commercial agriculture, mainly in the cultivation of horticultural produce.
On the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), President Kufuor said unemployment had "bedevilled the nation's economic efforts" adding that, the search for economic growth was to expand opportunities for employment generation and job creation for the youth.
He said since the inauguration of the NYEP in October 2006, it had provided placements for over 108,000 young people but noted that "given the transient nature of the placements and funding arrangements for them the programme tends to suffer delayed payment of wages".
The President said he had directed the Ministers of Finance, and Manpower, Youth and Employment to ensure that funding was streamlined and sustained to ensure regular and timely payment of allowances. "I am happy to note, however, that the programme has already attracted the attention of sister African countries, the international development community as well as Ghana's private sector, which is proving to be a reliable partner in supporting the youth."
He said in 2007, 200,000 jobs were created, up from 120,000 in 2006, while some youths took up jobs in the informal sector which were not recorded because of lack of appropriate data.
President Kufuor said the stagnation in the economy caused a huge backlog of unemployment which the recovery of the economy was gradually resolving.
He said the National Identification Programme was about to take off and by the end of the year, all residents in country of 16 years and above would have photo ID cards. By the middle of next year, both Ghanaians and legally resident foreigners will have their photo ID cards ready. 14 Feb. 08

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