Government to expedite digitalisation agenda through GhanaCARES programme

Source: GNA

Government is to expedite its digitalisation agenda through GhanaCARES Programme to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness in public service delivery.

It will also revitalise the housing and construction industry to address the severe housing deficit and create job opportunities and establish Ghana as a regional Hub, leveraging its position within ECOWAS.

Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, said this when he presented the 2021 Budget statement to Parliament on Friday.

He said as the host of the Secretariat of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Ghana would focus on manufacturing, financial services, education, healthcare and aviation and logistics to reposition itself as the gateway to Africa.

The Minister said Government would also focus on digital services, petroleum, automobile, tourism, hospitality and creative arts.

It will also support the private sector and entrepreneurs to become a powerful engine for job creation; actively promote both local and international investments, including use of Public-Private Partnerships.

“It will upgrade the skills of our workers through re-training programmes focusing on technical and vocational skills,” he said.

Mr Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu said the implementation arrangements for the GhanaCARES programme were in place with clear budgets set aside and milestones developed.

The Minister said government would establish delivery units in the relevant Municipal and District Assemblies and partner with the private sector, academia and other practitioners to facilitate and monitor implementation.

He said there would also be regular, institutional engagements to ensure “we achieve synergies and track results on a timely basis.”

The Minister said the 2021 Budget was underpinned on the fact that over the years, every new budget invariably contained a host of new projects to be initiated at the expense of ongoing projects.

He said not only did that put pressure on the country’s finances but had historically resulted in arrears, with many contractors not being paid on time for work done and thereby escalating the overall cost of the projects.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said government had, therefore, decided to chart a new direction from 2021.

He said governments owe the people a duty to use limited public funds responsibly and their goal was to bring to an end the culture of unfinished projects.

“The main focus of government for this year is the fulfilment of existing commitment and the completion of existing projects,” he added.

The Minister said the delivery tracker, launched by government last year to track the progress of infrastructure projects, showed over 8,700 ongoing projects across all sectors at the end of 2020.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said that was why the President had tasked Ministers and Heads of all other relevant institutions to focus on the infrastructural energies of Government mainly on continuing and, if possible, completing existing projects in 2021.

“The era of abandoning viable projects started with public funds must end and that time, we believe, is now,” he said.

He said in addition to continuing their priority programmes, the government would implement additional initiatives to drive recovery.

These include: “scale-up the vaccination of Ghanaians to enable us attain herd immunity in Ghana by end 2021; continue implementation of Agenda 111 to provide hospitals and related infrastructure nationwide to improve the delivery of healthcare; intensify efforts to improve public sanitation and support to those who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 to find other gainful employment opportunities.

“Others are deploying resources for the security agencies to maintain peace and security; complete many of our ongoing infrastructure projects within our resource envelope, reflecting the theme of the budget; create employment; and continue the implementation of our flagship programmes.”

He said the next four years would see a more clinical structural focus on President Akufo-Addo’s transformation agenda and build rapidity on the gains so far made.

“In this regard, pursuing the GH¢100 billion GhanaCARES (Obaatan pa) programme, which by far is the boldest and biggest economic recovery programme in the country’s history, will enable us to turn the challenges created by COVID-19 into opportunities for socio-economic transformation,” he said.

The Minister said the programme would foster closer collaboration with the Ghanaian private sector, labour, the people, development partners and foreign investors.

He said the ‘Obaatanpa’ programme was inspired by President Akufo-Addo’s conviction that “what our forebears dreamed of, we will achieve! If we inherited dreams and visions from our founding fathers, we should leave legacies of achievements and realities to our children and their children”.

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Stephen Ansah

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