The Minister of Local Government, Julius Debrah is leading the campaign for all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to use locally produced furniture at their offices.

According to Mr. Julius Debrah, this would help to stabilize the local currency, the Cedi, which has seen an historical fall in value against the Dollar and other major trading currencies.

It will promote the patronage of locally produced furniture to generate employment for the youth in particular, as well as those employed in the industry.

“When you import any piece of furniture from outside, the first thing we suffer is that we need to exchange our currency for foreign ones [dollar] to be able to access it,” Mr. Debrah told in Koridua in the Eastern Region, Saturday, September 13, 2014 on the sidelines of his Ministry’s engagement with the media on its strategic direction.

He said, although the directive is to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), his Ministry is enforcing the decision strictly at all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), whose responsibility it is to create jobs for the youth in those areas.

The Minister stated the institutions can be granted exemptions only if the type of furniture needed cannot be produced locally.

“We are saying all the assemblies and institutions that come under our control should purchase made in Ghana furniture [but] if there is the need to purchase some specific ones [swivel chairs] that we don’t have the capacity to manufacture, then they need clearance to import them.

“We are trying to appeal to the conscience of our people that if we can patronize our own [furniture], we would then be in the process of creating jobs for our citizenry and also saving hard earned foreign exchange,” Mr. Debrah added.

Thematic Areas

Meanwhile, Mr. Debrah has outlined his Ministry’s four thematic areas in the short, medium and long terms which are aimed at bringing behavioural change and at the same time, improve the social and economic conditions of the people.

The key areas are; Environmental Sanitation, Decentralization and Empowerment of Assemblies, Small and Micro Enterprise (SME) Development and Social Housing.

He announced ongoing discussions with stakeholders, the media and religious leaders to produce vigorous campaign messages to help change the attitude of Ghanaians towards environmental sanitation while the government will also step up efforts at equipping the various MMDAs to properly handle issues of sanitation particularly waste management.

With regard to promoting SMEs, Mr. Debrah said government plans to liaise with some financial institutions to manage funds allocated to SMEs in order to promote economic activity at the assemblies. These banks will disburse the facilities to business owners at very low interest rates to enable them expand their businesses and pay back within a specified time.

Street naming

In a related development, the Minister said the directive by president John Mahama to all MMDAs to complete street naming projects by September ending, has been met.

According to Mr. Debrah, all activities involved in the project- aerial mapping, numbering of buildings, proposal of names for streets and submission of those names for public scrutiny- have been completed except mounting of signages which he said, is due to lack of funds.

That notwithstanding, the Minister was confident that by September 30, all the holdups would be cleared for the erection of signages to be done. He said the Ministry has taken keen interest in the project because, “it will help enormously in revenue mobilization particularly, the collection of property rates as it would be less difficult to locate buildings that hitherto were not captured in the assemblies’ data”.

“We want to see every street named,” he stated.