- The British government today announced its decision to pay US$ 79.9 million of Ghana multilateral debt between 2005 and 2015. The offer from London is extraordinary in the context of debt cancellation as the British government is taking responsibility over money not owed to London. Ghana's Finance Minister already has signed the agreement that transfers the debt to the UK.
According to governmental sources in London, the UK's joint presidency of the G8 meeting and of the EU in 2005 was to "set the context for ensuring that Ghana continues to make progress towards the Millennium Development Goals." Britain was to take a leadership in Ghana's debt cancellation.
The Ghanaian-born British Member of Parliament and Chief Secretary to the UK Treasury, Paul Boateng, today confirmed the signing off of the British share of multilateral debt with the Finance Minister of Ghana, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu. The meeting took place during Boateng's visit to West Africa as part of his Commission for Africa consultations with African nations.
Mr Boateng's visit was part of a regional tour, including Mali and Nigeria, during which he would be highlighting international commitment to Africa as a key priority for the UK Presidency of the EU and the G7/G8. Ghana is one of 19 countries to benefit from the multilateral debt initiative, which focus on an excess of 65 million pounds of direct aid provided to Ghana by the UK last year.
According to Mr Boateng, the reasons of this decision were very simple. "Britain has strong historical ties, and friendly relations with Ghana - as have I - and I welcome the positive development progress I have seen on this visit. Ghana is a shining example of good governance, and its leadership in NEPAD and the AU is of very real importance".
But London has in addition planes for give a stronger support to Ghana. The British Chief Secretary to the Treasury announced that "the Commission for Africa and the UK's joint presidency of the G8 and EU in 2005 will set the context for continuing partnership in tackling the challenges facing Africa and ensuring that Ghana continues to make progress towards the Millennium Development Goals".
- To date, in Ghana, resources from bilateral debt relief have led to more spending on education, with almost 700 classrooms constructed, and has contributed to immunisations rates rising to 69 percent in 2003 from 62 percent a year earlier, said Mr Boateng. "This new commitment will allow more resources to be spent on poverty reduction", he added.
Focusing international commitment on Africa was said to be "a key priority for the UK" while presiding over the G7/G8 and also over the Commission for Africa (CfA). The Commission is set to make recommendations on the further action needed to ensure that Africa shares in the benefits of globalisation, and meets the Millennium Development Goals.
In a meeting with President John Kufour of Ghana, Mr Boateng also had had the opportunity to discuss priorities for the Commission for Africa in advance of a round table discussion with civil society, enabling consultation with key African stakeholders on the formation of CfA policy and next steps following publication of the Commission's report in March.
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