Govt allocates GH¢220m for dam spillage victims
The government has set aside GH¢220 million in the 2024 budget to support the relief efforts for the communities affected by floods occasioned by the Akosombo and Kpong dam spillage.
The amount will also cater for the needs of victims of floods upstream in the Oti, Savannah and Bono East regions.
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, who announced this in the 2024 Budget statement laid before Parliament for approval Wednesday, said for the restoration phase, the government, through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, would allocate additional resources to support the restoration of livelihoods.
“We have requested funding from the World Bank under the IDA Crisis Response Window (CRW) to support the resettlement of the victims, restoration of livelihoods, compensation and reconstruction of infrastructure in the affected communities,” Mr Ofori-Atta stated.
In his signature white kaftan, Mr Ofori-Atta was in Parliament to lay before the House the government's budget statement and economic policy for next year in accordance with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and Section 21 (3) of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016, (Act 921).
The budget outlined revenue measures, expenditure priorities for the next year, detailing how the government intends to rake in more revenue from domestic sources, without further burdening the taxpayer.
The budget also updated Parliament on measures taken to address the country’s debt position.
Mr Ofori-Atta explained that the government, through the Volta River Authority (VRA), the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), and various agencies under the 13-member inter-ministerial committee, had also provided various forms of support to the impacted communities.
The support, he said, included food and related items, drinks, mattresses, mosquito nets and coils, clothes, baby food and diapers, sanitary pads, treated water services and storage tanks, solar lamps, sanitation services, restoration of utility services, and some social infrastructure.
“The visit of the officials of the Ministry of Finance and myself, in collaboration with VRA, to the victims of the Akosombo Dam Spillage in Mepe was truly revealing and sobering,” Mr Ofori-Atta told Parliament.
“Indeed, we empathise with the families that have been affected and displaced by the spillage.
We met victims, townsfolks, children, the chiefs and, of course, Honourable Okudzeto Ablakwa,” he added.
The finance minister also announced plans to protect the vulnerable in society through the country’s social protection programmes.
Key among them is the 50 per cent increase in the financing of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the government invested about GH¢298 million to support 350,000 extremely poor households under the programme this year.
The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), he said, witnessed an expansion in coverage, with 16 million active members as of September 2023, representing 80 per cent of the targeted population of 20 million.
“Efforts to integrate the Ghana card into the enrolment system are progressing steadily,” the minister of finance said.
Touching on the School Feeding Programme, Mr Ofori-Atta said the government invested over GH¢740 million to feed 3.8 million pupils one hot meal a day in over 10,000 public basic schools.
In 2024, he explained, the programme would continue to provide meals to enhance basic school enrolment.
On the Free Senior High School (Free SHS) policy, he said 448,000 first-year SHS students would be added this year to bring the number of beneficiaries for the 2022/2023 academic year to 1.3 million students.
“In 2024, the implementation of this transformative initiative will continue,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.
The minister said given the potential to upscale and the multiplier effects that small and medium-sized businesses possessed, the government would scale up support to young entrepreneurs and fledgling businesses to create sustainable jobs across all communities.
“In this view, the ministry has teamed up with the Millennium Development Authority (MIDA) and commit GH¢1 billion to ensure that our enclave project for import substitution is successful,” he said.