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General News of Thursday, 7 February 2008

Source: GNA

New British High Commissioner calls on Finance Minister

Accra, Feb. 07, GNA- Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu on Thursday called on the British government to speed up with the implementation of the 10-year partnership arrangement aimed at reducing poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The partnership, proposed by the Department of International Development (DFID) has a tentative amount of 250 million pounds to be ran in a three-year rolling commitments from 2008 to 2010, making it the first country to support the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty. The Finance Minister made the call when the new British High Commissioner to Ghana, Dr Nicholas Westcott called on him in Accra. He noted that Ghana had a long standing relationship with the United Kingdom and commended her support to Ghana in the area of development.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said the United Kingdom, through DFID had promoted education by providing a 10-year education sector strategic plan grant of 10 million pounds annually from 2006 to 2015. He said the funds for 2006 and 2007 have been released by the Crown Agent Bank adding, "the funds have assisted in the provision of supplementary readers as well as in-service training for teachers to upgrade their skills".

The British government is also co-financing the Land Administration Project which aims at streamlining customary land administration to enhance national development and 10 functional customary land administration secretariats were established in all the 10 regions. For the DFID Muti Donor Budgetary Support, the Finance Minister noted that an inflow of 120 million pounds has been received from 2006 to 2008.

He listed the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, Public Sector Reform, Lands Forestry and Mines, Manpower, Youth and Employment, Trade and Industry and the Office of Government Machinery as areas where the British government through DFID was currently supporting projects all aiming at reducing poverty and ensuring development. Mr Baah-Wiredu expressed government's utmost appreciation for their support and urged them to deepen their relationship and pledged that the monies provided for projects would be used wisely for the intended purpose.

Professor George Baffuor-Gyan, Deputy Minister of Finance said the main two pillars of development were investment and democracy which the government was committed to.

He said a country could only thrive if government invested in the people and infrastructure and commended the British government for their assistance to Ghana in these areas.

Dr Westcott commended Ghana for the good progress made over the last 10 to 15 years, adding that, the rate at which the country had progressed had given confidence to investors.

He said British government was interested in the country's commitment to democracy and political process adding, "you have achieved these two and we are hoping that this year, being an election year, we hope it will be a success".

Dr Westcott pledged the British government's support to the country and "we look forward to a fruitful relationship between the two countries"

The Minister of Finance presented a kente stole to welcome the new British High Commissioner to Ghana.

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