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Politics of Friday, 17 March 2006

Source: GNA

Bagbin calls for equitable distribution of nation's wealth

Accra, March 17, GNA - The Minority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin on Friday called for equity and an attitude of sharing in the distribution of the country's wealth to effectively deal with the challenges of reducing poverty. He said if those at the top, took to gluttony and the accumulation of wealth, and left the poor to become poorer, then poverty would never be wiped out from society.

The Minority Leader was contributing to a debate in Parliament on a motion on the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy II (GPRS II) which covers 2006 to 2009. Mr Bagbin said a baby, who would not allow his mother to sleep would also not have any sleep, and therefore urged those at the top to make an effort in ensuring equity in the distribution of the nation's wealth. Mr Eric Opoku, NDC-Asunafo-South, in his contributions, said the country was pursuing a policy, which tended to make the poor poorer because in the provision of basic amenities such as water and electricity, the rural folks were made to pay much for the extension of electricity to their areas under the self-help electrification programme while urban dwellers paid little.

Mr Stephen Balado-Manu, NPP- Ahafo Ano South, said in order to reduce poverty, development must begin from the bottom to the top by the Government placing more emphasis on development in the rural areas. Mr John Mahama, NDC-Bole Bamboi, said there was the need for the GPRS II to address the challenges of maternal and infant mortality and other social problems to deal with poverty.

Miss Christine Churcher, Minister of Environment, expressed appreciation that the GPRS II was an improvement of the GPRS I, which did not capture the impact of the implementation of the poverty reduction strategy on the environment. She said without the proper management of water bodies, forest and trees, it would be hard to control poverty since life could not be faced with polluted or scarce water sources and a degraded environment. A report of the Committee on Growth Poverty Reduction Strategy II said the GPRS II reflected a broad policy shift from the emphasis on macro-economic stability and poverty-related expenditure in GPRS I, to an agriculture-led growth.

"The Committee observed that cocoa has been the driving force in the growth of the agriculture sector. It is the view of the Committee that growth in the agricultural sector should be even among all crops. "The Committee also observed that given the accelerated growth theme of GPRS II, the proposed annual growth rate of 6.0 per cent over the period 2006 to 2009 from the current rate of 5.8 per cent is inadequate and that more ambitious and achievable targets must be set," the reported said. It said the direction of GPRS II "is to accelerate economic growth and poverty reduction through private sector-led wealth creation and employment generation." The report mentioned the areas of concentration of the GPRS II as continued macro-economic growth, accelerated private sector-led growth, vigorous human resource development, good governance and civic responsibility.