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Minority to point out NDC’s fear and alarm chants

The Minority in Parliament says it will lodge a formal complaint with the police regarding three different instances where leading figures of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) made public statements that caused fear and alarm.

This is in a bid to highlight what it believes is the selective application of the law.

The action of the Minority follows the decision of the police to charge the acting News Editor of Joy Fm Ato Kwamena Dadzie for allegedly publishing news with intent to cause fear and alarm.

According to the Minority, government is exploiting an unjust law to persecute individuals with dissenting views.

Minority Leader Osei-Kyei-Mensah Bonsu alluded to a statement made by the General Secretary of the NDC in 2007 suggesting that all 17 flagbearer aspirants of the then ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) were thieves going to assemble to select the “head thieve”.

“What was more scandalous or fear-inducing, panic-inducing than what Asiedu Nketia said? Was he arrested? Would they arrest him now?”

“The former president, Rawlings…also stated that regarding the unfortunate murder of 17 women; he said the murders were caused by some Cabinet Ministers within the NPP,” he cited.

“Why has the NDC chosen to be selective in their application of an otherwise bad law anyway?” he asked.

He said the Minority will not allow ordinary citizens to be targeted selectively by the government using state agencies like the police.

In a related development the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) has joined a growing list of institutions condemning the development.

The CDD is demanding the immediate cessation of all actions started by the police on the matter.

In a statement issued last night, the Executive Director of CDD-Ghana, Professor Gyimah-Boadi, called on government and Parliament to repeal the law used to charge the acting News Editor of Joy FM.

The legal officer of CDD, Kojo Asante, told Joy News government must stop the continued application of the law he describes as obnoxious and archaic to criminalize free speech, adding the law violates Ghana’s international legal obligations.

The charge against Mr. Dadzie emanates from a news item on Joy FM suggesting that the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association withdrew their petition against the STX housing deal after threats on the lives of members. Mr. Dadzie was charged after he refused to name the sources behind the story.

Source: Joy News/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

Parliament okays SADA

Parliament Friday passed into law the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).

The project, a major campaign pledge by the ruling National Democratic Congress government has 20 years within which to reduce the levels of poverty in the three Northern Regions of Ghana as well as the Northern parts of Brong Ahafo Region.

The policy advisor, Dr Sulley Gariba hopes the government will make good its political commitment in terms of financing for the project.

The Authority, he said is in talks with Government for the provision of funds to implement projects.

Dr Gariba told Joy News the key performance target for SADA will be to reduce the over sixty percent of poverty in the Northern Regions to twenty per cent.

“One of the performance targets for SADA is its ability to mobilize substantial funding to accelerate the pace of infrastructural development,” he added.

With the Northern regions being the worse affected as far as rural-urban migration is concerned, Dr. Gariba said SADA will put measures in place to curtail the phenomenon of Kayayei in the South.

Story by Nathan Gadugah/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

A-G’s advice was ignored in STX deal – Bagbin

The STX deal was sent to Parliament ignoring certain “important and essential” advice of the Attorney General, Works and Housing Minister Alban Bagbin has told Joy FM.

Mr Bagbin said the deal in which the Korean company STX Group was expected to construct 200,000 housing units at the cost of $10 billion was taken to the House without considering certain questions raised by the A-G.

“The only thing that led to the reconsideration of the matter is that the advice of the Attorney General’s Department has not been factored into the original documentation,” Mr Bagbin said explaining why the agreement was withdrawn from Parliament.

Government withdrew the deal from the House after the Minority had raised questions over the absence of certain key documents critical to the agreement.

The opposition MPs had accused government of failing to do proper due diligence and asked for the including of the documents before the deal could be debated.

Prior the withdrawal, government was assailed on all sides for awarding a contract to a foreign company when local firms could have been engaged at a much lower cost.

But in what appears to be the latest twist to the debate which has already generated enormous headlines, Mr Bagbin says the A-G’s advice should have been taken on board.

“The Attorney General was given the agreement that was signed outside this country in Korea by delegations and officials of this country subject to the advice of the Attorney General’s Department.

“So the Attorney General advised that some clauses be restructured and some deleted. That was not factored into the document that was presented to Parliament, and we thought those pieces of advice from the Attorney General’s Department were very important and essential and that is why we think that the committee should go back and look at all this,” Mr Bagbin told Joy FM’s Parliamentary correspondent Araba Koomson.

Meanwhile it is not known whether the withdrawal of the deal will affect the visit of the Korean Prime Minister Chung Un-chan’s to Ghana next month to cut the sod for the project to commence.

When asked about the Korean Premier’s intended visit in the face of the withdrawal of the deal, Mr Bagbin said: “We will reconsider and take a decision on this matter before the President of Korea arrives in this country.”

“It is the expectation of leadership that this matter will be brought back and dealt with before Parliament rises on the 3rd of August.”

Finance Committee to hold crunch meeting on STX deal

A crunch meeting will take place later on Monday July 19, between the Chairman of the Finance Committee and the three Ministers at the Center of the controversial STX Housing Deal.

Citi News gathers that the Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Hon. Alban Bagbin, the Attorney General and the Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, would attend the meeting.

It is not immediately clear if officials of STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Ltd will be part of the meeting, but sources say the meeting will discuss key amendment proposals to the STX Housing agreement, which was withdrawn from Parliament last Thursday, July 15.

Citi News gathered that the Government of Ghana and officials of STX construction and Engineering Ghana Ltd are discussing possible removal of some contentious clauses in the 1.5 billion dollar loan agreement, which is to help finance the construction of 30, 000 housing units for the nation’s security personnel.

Citi News is reliably informed that the Sovereign Immunity waiver clause in the agreement would be removed, and there are strong indications that the 250 million dollar insurance component of the loan could be re-negotiated.

Later this week, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Housing is expected to meet to discuss the proposed amendments, which would be agreed at today’s meeting with the Finance Committee Chairman and the three Ministers at the center of the STX Housing deal.

Dome-Kwabenya MP settles disagreement between drivers and local council

The Member of Parliament for Dome-Kwabenya, Prof. Mike Ocquaye, has called for a truce between angry commercial drivers (trotro) and the Dome Union Council who were engaged in a nasty confrontation this morning.

The Council has formed a taskforce to check the activities of the drivers who ply the Dome-Kwabenya road. The drivers claim the presence and the activities of the taskforce is adversely affecting the smooth running of their work.

The taskforce members are reported not to allow the drivers to pick and stop for passengers to alight at places which have been designated as bus stops over the years. Any driver who stop to pick passengers at these points is arrested and required to pay a spot fine of 50 Ghana cedis before being released.

This development angered the drivers resulting in a stand-off with the taskforce, and in the event several passengers were stranded because there were no vehicles to transport residents in and around Dome to their work places and other destinations.

This morning’s action will affect productivity because many people will be late to their various destinations.

The Member of Parliament, Prof Mike Ocquaye quickly intervened in the matter by directing the suspension of the work of the task force.

Meanwhile a meeting is to be held between the drivers and the Dome Union Council to discuss the way forward.

Story by:Kwadwo Anim/ghanamps.gov.gh

Minority force adjournment of STX debate

The twice-postponed debate in parliament of the controversial STX housing deal got to a heated start Wednesday, and into another postponement.

Consistent with debates on such sensitive matters, the opposition to the deal by the minority NPP was unanimous and the support from the majority side of the House was conversely total and absolute.

The Minority lined up former Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Osei Akoto as the lead attacker, supported on the wings by former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Joe Ghartey, with Minority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu providing rear artillery guard.

On the Majority side, the Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament Mr James Klutse Afedzi served as the vanguard, with Deputy Finance Minister, Seth Tekper doing the goalkeeping in parrying the attacks of the Minority.

Mr Osei Akoto started his submission by quoting from a letter from Woori Bank which he said had been presented to suggest that STX was going to secure funding for the project from the bank.

But he said the content of the letter betrayed the purpose for which it was intended.

“This letter is not intended to amount to an offer or a legally binding commitment,” he quoted the letter as saying and then asked, “who are the lenders?”

Dr Osei Akoto said another letter purported to have come from the Korean government does not state a clear willingness of that country to finance the project for STX.

He said the letter insisted that feasibility studies be conducted and that that did not amount to South Korea promising to provide the funding for the construction of 30,000 housing units for the security agencies.

The former Finance Minister also took issues with the provision of a sovereign guarantee to STX for the loan to finance the project while at the same time paying an insurance of $250 million.

For him, given Ghana’s credit rating of B+, there was no need to pay a whopping $250 million as insurance for the credit facility.

But Mr Tekper said the insurance was for political and commercial risk given the perception that Africa is a risky place to invest in.

MP for Esikado, Joe Ghartey took the floor and raised tonnes of questions bordering on the lack of transparency and value for money aspects of the $1.5 billion deal.

He said according to the documents available to members of the House, although the STX had been described as a lender, “we have not been told whether STX is a bank, a discount house or what?”

He said it was of utmost importance for clear information to be made available to members of the House on such critical matters as where the money is coming from.

“There is not much information to help us determine whether we are approving an illegal deal,” he noted.

Quoting from page five of the memoranda submitted to the MPs, Mr Ghartey said according to the agreement, the money will be used to fund projects whose specifications are on Schedule II.

But Schedule II, he contended, is blank. He asked how MPs could be asked to approve a loan for projects whose specifications had not been stated.

The Minority demanded an off-taker agreement which was not part of the documents.

This forced the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Doe Adjaho, who presided over the debate to adjourn proceedings to Thursday.
He directed that the documents in question must be made available to members of the House to help them make informed debate on the matter.


Government withdraws controversial STX agreement from Parliament

The controversial $1.5 billion STX agreement for the building of 30,000 housing units for security services has been withdrawn from Parliament

Works and Housing Minister, Alban Bagbin told Joy News the bill was withdrawn in the national interest.

The Minority in Parliament in a heated debate on the floor of the House Wednesday questioned the propriety of the agreement and demanded full disclosure of certain portions of the agreement.

The debate was adjourned to Thursday after the majority promised to furnish MPs with further documents on the controversial deal.

However the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, in an exclusive interview with Joy News’ Stephen Anti said the agreement has been withdrawn pending further discussions with the president.

“Listening to the debate and the direction that it was going, I thought that in the national interest it was important to brief the president on the debate, which I did, and the president advised it was essential that all those real issues raised were referred back to the [Finance] Committee [of Parliament] for proper deliberations before submitting it to Parliament again for us to continue with the debate,” he said.

He also conceded that some “legal documentations were not properly structured” for which reason the bill had to be relooked at.

He further mentioned some “inaccuraces” and “phrases” in the agreement which he said did not “represent the true position of the party.”

The government will take a second look at these inaccuraces after which it will bring the bill back to Parliament.

NPP: Bravo, Minority in Parliament! You have saved Ghana over US$6b

On behalf of the Party’s leadership, I commend our Minority in Parliament, the various civil society groups, and the general public for standing up for the national interest in the matter of the STX housing deal. The withdrawal of the deal agreement from Parliament by the Mills-led NDC government is a direct result of the opposition mounted by the good people of this country to the bogus deal.

On behalf of Party leadership, I particularly commend our Minority in Parliament for a job well done. They have proved to be worthy of their names as the people’s representatives. Stay the course and pursue the case for our local industries and for the creation of jobs in our local economy.

At the same time the STX Korea deal was before Parliament, Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA) also had an alternative and more credible proposal before Parliament that could build the same 200,000 houses for US$3.7 billion. Therefore, by the withdrawal of this deal, Ghana has been saved US$6.3 billion.

It is now time for government to seriously consider the GREDA Housing Proposal to show their commitment to addressing the housing deficit of our people.

As the largest political party outside government, the New Patriotic Party will remain vigilant in protecting the national interest and hold government accountable. While we support and will support any housing scheme that will deliver truly affordable housing to Ghanaians, we will never relent in our duty to ensure that government does the right thing at all times.

To all those who stood up against the obnoxious agreement, we say, thank you for saving this country US$6.3 billion. Let’s all continue to stay the course for the sake of our dear country and of our future generations.

Jake Obetsebi Lamptey
National Chairman (NPP)

Bagbin and Dufuor must resign- Obuasi MP

The NPP Member of Parliament for Obuasi Hon. Edward Ennin has called for the immediate resignation of Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Alban Sumana Bagbin and Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwame Dufour.

Mr Ennin alleges that the two ministers refused to heed to advice from some members of the house that the STX housing deal deserved proper scrutiny before it was brought to parliament for debate.

According to the MP, the time wasted in parliament debating the STX housing deal amounts to causing financial loss to the State and therefore both the Finance Minister and the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing should be fired.

“I am very sad because initially, members of the minority side at the committee advised the chairman of the committee and other government officials that this deal would not fly…they brought it before us and wasted MPs’ time here. This is seriously causing financial loss because we could have used that time to do other serious important things”.

“But what has happened here, they went ahead and presented it and now they are withdrawing it, so I am calling for the Minister for Works and Housing and the Finance Minister to resign immediately”
Parliament on Thursday July 15, suspended the adoption of the $1.5 billion STX agreement for the building of 30,000 housing units for security services indefinitely.

The decision announced on the floor of the house, came after President Mills directed the Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Alban Babgin to immediately withdraw the motion filed before the house.

However in an interview with Citi News Hon. Edward Ennin indicated that the two ministers showed gross disrespect to the house by submitting a deal when they knew that documents covering the deal were inconclusive and deserved proper scrutiny. He therefore charged President Mills to dismiss both Ministers before Parliament returns from recess.

“The two ministers should resign…the president should sack them because they have wasted Ghanaians time and they should go”

Parliament Pass Mutual Legal Assistance Bill ( 2009)

Parliament on Tuesday passed the Mutual Legal and Assistance Bill, 2009 meant to establish a comprehensive legal framework for the implementation of agreements on mutual legal assistance to facilitate the prosecution of transnational crimes.

Also to help administer criminal justice across jurisdictions and related matters, the Bill is organized in 13 subject matter areas spanning 86 clauses namely, application; request for mutual legal assistance; grounds for refusal of mutual legal assistance and provision of assistance with conditions; request for specific forms of assistance, procedures for handling persons in custody as witnesses; procedural measures related to the presence, transfer and transport of persons through Ghana.

Other areas include request for evidence gathering by technology; interception and preservation of communications data; special request for investigative measures; requests by foreign states for confiscation of proceeds or instrumentalities of crime; related courts’ lending exhibits under a loan order and production of judicial or official records; admissibility in Ghana of evidence obtained outside Ghana and miscellaneous provisions.

Mrs Adeline Bamford-Addo, Speaker of Parliament, passed the bill after it was moved by the Deputy Attorney General and Justice Minister, Mr Ebo Barton-Oduro, seconded by Minister for Energy, Mr Joe Oteng Adjei, and read the third time.

A report on the Bill by the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs signed by Richard Lassey Agbenyefia, Vice Chairman and Mr Ebenezer A Djietror, Principal Assistant Clerk, said Ghana’s efforts to lend support to the comity of nations in furtherance of the above finds expression in the passage of a number of legislations some of which include the Narcotics Drugs Act, 1990, the Security and Intelligence Act, 1996 (Act 526).

It noted that it was therefore in connection with this that the Bill provides for the establishment of a one-stop shop legal framework between the republic and foreign states for the implementation of agreements for mutual legal assistance in the combating crime across different jurisdictions.

The committee noted that by the passage of the bill the country would not only be seen to be discharging this obligation but also enhancing the viability of its legal regimes towards a more effective and efficient combating of transnational crimes.

Source: GNA