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Government disburses grant to fire victims

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FireGovernment on Monday disbursed a grant of two million Ghana Cedis to 7,381 victims of recent fire disasters that occurred in parts of Accra and Kumasi.

The money, which is being given to the traders for “free”, was a form of government’s social intervention targeted at persons affected by recent market fires.

“While government cannot refund all they have lost, this intervention is to empathize with the affected persons and alleviate their plight”, Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, said at a ceremony in Accra when she presented the cheque through the Stanbic Bank to the traders.

The money is to be disbursed through the Stanbic Bank to the victims that have an account with the Bank while those without accounts with the bank are to open an account with the bank to enable them access their monies.

Nana Oye explained that her Ministry was undertaking the disbursement exercise because it fell under its social protection mandate, which calls for empowering the vulnerable, excluded, aged and persons with disability through the use of social protection interventions to achieve sustainable national development.

She said since women were the most affected in the fire outbreaks, government was happy to assist such women in order to help them regain their livelihoods and assume responsibilities towards their families.

The Minister said prior to the disbursement exercise, a survey carried out among affected victims in both Accra and Kumasi revealed that approximately 98.6 per cent of affected traders had no form of insurance.

Some 1.2 per cent of the traders, however, had some personal and other form of insurance, but no insurance cover whatsoever for fire and natural disasters.

The findings also revealed that 34.4 per cent of the traders had no banking culture.

Nana Oye said the findings called for a lot to be done in the informal sector to protect persons from suffering unnecessarily in the event of natural disaster.

“As a Ministry, we see the finding as a rich resource or baseline to facilitate the design and implementation of appropriate strategies, policies and programmes to address the challenges identified,” she said.

She said there was the need for more collaboration between ministries of Local Government and Rural Development and Trade and Industry as well as the Banking and Financial sectors to address the issues of credit, insurance and security needed by the traders.

Mr Kevin Wingfield, Head of Personal and Business Banking, Stanbic Bank, said all the affected victims who had accounts with the Bank had their loans written-off and were given some money to help them bounce back into business.

He said since Stanbic had the interest of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises at heart, it had designed loan packages that had insurance components on them to assist traders when need arose.

He urged all traders to save with the Bank so they could enjoy the numerous packages available.

Mr Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, Chief Executive Officer of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), said the gesture was to fulfill the promise government made to the affected traders during a visit to the markets when the fires occurred.

He advised the traders to use the monies for the intended purpose and also obey the rules and regulations existing in the city to help prevent such disasters.

Madam Mercy Needjan, Greater Accra Regional Market Queen, commended President John Dramani Mahama for helping the traders.

Some of the traders told the GNA in an interview that though the money was inadequate, it was better than none, saying “half a loaf is better than none”.

Meanwhile, affected traders in Kumasi would get their disbursement on Wednesday, August 14.

Source: GNA

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