Government is setting aside GH¢1 million for the establishment of a Media Development Fund. The Fund would be administered by a Board of Trustees and is aimed at improving the profession output and competence of media organizations and personnel in Ghana.
Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffour announced this when he presented the 2012 Budget statement to Parliament on Wednesday.
According to Dr. Duffour, “donors and corporate organizations will be invited to contribute to the Fund”.
It would be recalled that in September of this year, Vice President John Mahama, speaking as guest of honour at the 16th Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Awards, announced the government’s intention of setting up the fund which was advocated by the GJA to support media development in the country.
It will strengthen both private and state media to develop their human resources for the promotion of rule of law, accountability, human rights, democracy and national development.
Speaking to the issue in an interview during PeaceFM [email protected], Deputy Minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa explained that government believes firmly in equipping journalists who want to specialize in core areas, hence the setting of the fund to enhance their work.
“Government has decided that beginning next year 2012, they will endeavor to equip journalism as a profession. We need to appreciate the fact that the media is doing well and for that matter needs to be helped…Now that we have discovered oil, it is important to train core journalist that can specialize in the oil sector; we need to build the capacity of journalists. So if you are a journalist and you want to further your education or you want a scholarship to specialize in a certain area, you can apply to the board of trustees,” he said.
Responding to whether journalists who benefit from the fund would be required to pay back, Okudzeto Ablakwa said: “it’s free; it’s like a scholarship…it is up to you to come back and help the country with the knowledge you have acquired for rapid development. If the board of trustees approve, then the money will be given out.”
According to him, government considered rolling out the fund under the auspices of the National Media Commission (NMC) but realized that it will be unconstitutional. He stated that the 1992 constitution clearly spells out the duties of the NMC and for that reason; it will be against the law to add more duties to what has already been stipulated in the constitution. He further stated that it will be problematic should the NMC act as the board of trustees.
“However, we will ensure that all the stakeholders: National Media Commission, Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) and the rest will be asked to send a representative to make it fair and very balanced (body) so that no one will say that government wants to buy journalists,” Okudzeto Ablakwa said.
Source: Rebecca Addo Tetteh/Peacefmonline.com
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