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John Tia – Government achieved 80% 2010 goals

The Information Minister John Tia Akologo and MP for Talensi has said government has achieved 80% of its focused goal of development for the year 2010 despite challenges.

According to him, the economy has now been stabilised and is poised for growth in the coming years.

Speaking on Citi FM, a private radio station in Accra, Mr Tia Akologo noted that the agriculture, energy, water, health, roads and transports sectors achieved much success during the year.

He added that the success achieved by government would not have been possible without the support of Ghanaians.

Mr Tia Akologo also reiterated President Mills’ pronouncement that the year 2011 will be an action year adding that the country will witness massive development in all sectors of the economy.

“For the action year, we should step up our democratic credentials; we should step up our economic performance; we should step up our vigilance and everything that will make the country very peaceful”.

Meanwhile, anti corruption campaigner and Executive Secretary of the Ghana Integrity Initiative Vitus Azeem has asked President John Mills to back his words of action for the coming year to fighting corruption.

He said the President can only succeed with his plan of making 2011 a year of action by putting in place pragmatic measures that will deal with corruption in his government.

He explained that more needs to be done next year by strengthening independent agencies mandated to fight corruption to make their work effective.

Source: citifm

Minority to push for amendments to petroleum bill 

The Minority side in Parliament says it would sponsor new amendments to the controversial Petroleum Revenue Management Bill when the House resumes sitting to finish work on the Bill in January 2011.

Parliament began a month-long recess last week to allow MPs observe the Christmas and New Year festivities.

The House was originally expected to pass the Bill before recess. But a tall list of proposed amendments filed by members compelled the House to out the Bill on hold until January 2011.

Speaking to Citi News, Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, said the new amendments the Minority side intends to file are aimed at making the Bill a better document.

Dr. Akoto Osei disagreed with suggestions that the Minority’s position could defeat the principle of perpetual succession in governance.

Source: citifm

Ghana may go the Ivory Coast way if… -NPP MP

The Member of Parliament for Okaikoi North, Mrs Elizabeth Sackey, has chided the Electoral Commission (EC) and government for the ‘disappointing’ manner the district level election is being conducted across the country.

She said the poor management of the electoral processes is an indication that governance in this country is not going on well as it should.

Speaking on Peace FM, Wednesday, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP called on the EC and the government, to as a matter of urgency, come clean on what might have caused the impromptu postponements of the election in some regions, and certain electoral areas.

She feared, if an apathetic election of this sort could be plagued with gross ill-preparedness, what could then happen in the 2012 general elections to elect the president and members of parliament.

She warned that if the wrongs are not corrected now, Ghana may go the way of Ivory Coast after the 2012 elections.

The former assembly member said in her 50 years plus life, she has never witnessed such a jagged election before.

Mrs Sackey said she has been saddened by the turn of event, saying it is legitimate for concerned citizens to demand answers from the authorities about the irregular elections.

Is it the case that the EC has been stifled with money for government’s own ulterior motive or EC, itself, has failed to live up to its expectation, she wondered.

But a Deputy Minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, was taken aback by the MP’s comments, saying he expected her, in her position as a member of parliament, to know better and not to apportion blame on the government.

He counseled Mrs Sackey to avoid making political statement on issues she is “ignorant” of.

However, Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, said the government is neither happy with the situation, adding that it (the government) has satisfactorily financed the EC for the election, but cannot demand reasons from the hiccups facing the electoral process because it would amount to interference. He, therefore, charged parliament to do so on behalf of Ghanaians.

A Principal Public Relations Officer of the EC, Mrs Sylvia Annor, asked people to rather rally behind the EC to surmount the challenges confronting the elections, instead of finding fault at this stage.

She said the EC was being over chastised for drawbacks in this election, admitting that her outfit was overtaken by event such as untimely printing of electoral materials and other processes that go into district level elections.

She also noted that the piecemeal manner the election is being conducted would not affect the overall success of the exercise.


Minority Leader justifies why MP’s deserve ex-gratia

Minority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu has hit hard at the CPP’s shadow Minister for Justice and all others who argue that gratuities paid Members of Parliament after the end of their four-year term is unnecessary and should be scrapped, describing them as speaking out of ignorance.

Mr. Bright Akwetey had argued that politics was a voluntary service to the nation for which Ghanaians need not pay for the comfort of politicians on their retirement.

He also frowned on the constitutional provision mandating the President to appoint a committee to determine the emoluments of Article 71 office holders, and stressed the need for a permanent institution such as the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) to discharge that responsibility.

However, speaking in an interview with Emefa Apawu, host of the Big Bite on Xfm 95.1, a privately owned commercial radio station in Accra, Mr Kyei Mensah Bonsu will not begrudge people who speak against MP¹s being paid ex-gratia because to him, they speak out of ignorance.

Justifying why MPs deservedly should be given some ex-gratia after their term, Mr Kyei Mensah Bonsu, who also is the Member of Parliament for Suame, said unlike members of the executive and Municipal/Metropolitan/District Chief Executives who are given vehicles to work with upon assumption of office by the state, the MP will have to pay for his own vehicle to work, adding that many a time, the loans secured for the vehicles, are not paid for within the four-year period and will have to be deducted from the MP¹s ex-gratia, sometimes, leaving the MP with very little amount.

Ministers are given state vehicles; four by four and one salon car, and it is free of charge; nobody questions that.

Even DCEs are given vehicles to work, free of charge, fuelled, chauffeur driven and maintained at the expense of the state; nobody questions it.

Is the DCE anywhere close to the MP? We have said that the state should provide same facility to the MP, so that when you are leaving, you leave the vehicle for whoever is coming to use it, but the state then tells the MP, because of your sheer number, we cannot do that. Sometimes, I think that is even not justifiable considering the number of DCE’s we have.

He said those arguing that MP’s ex-gratia should be scrapped should as well call for an amendment of article 71 of the constitution which stipulates that requirement.

Hon Kyei Mensah Bonsu warned that making such calls could be unsafe for Ghana¹s parliament as it would lack the quality materials needed to make quality laws, saying, if we expect to have people at certain levels, we should remunerate them sufficiently to retain them there.

Source : XFM

MPs Fight Over Ex-Gratia

Members of Parliament (MPs) from both sides of the House are up in arms against their leaders for failing to collate their views for onward submission to the Presidential Committee on Emoluments (PCE), which has been set up by the President to determine their End of Service Benefits (Ex-gratia), as well as other public officials.

According to the PCE, in a written memorandum to the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Justice Joyce Adelaide Bamford-Addo, “Parliament is the only institution which is yet to make written submission to the Committee,” given January 4, 2011, as the deadline.

Whilst majority members were calling for reconstitution of the Committee that was set up to submit a report on their behalf, others played it soft and demanded that the Committee consults other members of the House to speed up their work.

The aggrieved MPs attributed the delay of their contributions to the PCE to the busy schedule of some members of the committee, and especially blamed the Minority leader and MP for Suame, Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, John Akologo Tia and Enoch Teye Mensah, NDC members of parliament for Talensi and Ningo-Prampram respectively, who are also Ministers of State.

“Madam Speaker, it appears that we are caught between a rock and a hard place. The nature of work of some members in the committee will not even permit them to have sufficient time to do the work. Certainly, making such a presentation without the prior input of members of the House is going to create a problem. These are matters that are of extreme importance and there are very strong and capable members who are willing to do this work”, noted Papa Owusu-Ankomah, NPP MP for Sekondi.

The issue of Ex-gratia for public officials became a matter of interest to the general public on the assumption of office by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in 2009. It was widely reported that members of Parliament had awarded themselves huge amounts of money as their take-home package. “Madam Speaker, what happened the last time was as if MPs are thieves. It was as if MPs don’t legitimately deserve the money, because of some of this inertia”, recounts NPP MP for Atwima-Mponua, Isaac Kwame Asiamah.

According to him, the busy schedule of some members of the committee is not an excuse, since they could have relied on other members to do the work. “Your busy schedule does not allow you, and you still want to keep on. At the end of the day, it is our destiny that is being toiled with”, he noted, adding “we can no longer wait for leadership (those on the committee) to do their own thing before they take that one as a secondary matter. No that is not acceptable. That one should be treated as urgent as it deserves”.

He, however, expressed worry about the way leadership handles their welfare issues, a situation he said ought to be changed looking at the contentious issue of Article 71 of the country’s Constitution.
NPP MP for Manhyia, Osei Prempeh, who could not hold his frustrations, wondered why leadership is always tasked to do certain things on behalf of other members of the House. “Madam Speaker, it is unfortunate that leadership want to do everything for us. I know that they’ve been reminded of Article 71. If the Majority Leader will bear with us, this is something the House Committee could have done.

It is something the House Committee could have co-opted other members to get involve in, and at the end of the day, the report would be brought to leadership for onward transmission to Madam Speaker”, he noted.

The Manhyia MP added – “But if leadership wants to be part of that Committee, who is going to review the work of the Committee for Madam Speaker to take over?” He pleaded with the leader of the House, Mr. Cletus Avoka, to bring other people on board to undertake various activities. “Please leadership, look favorably onto members of this House because leadership should rest for other members to do the work. Leadership must learn to delegate small, and let us bring the report back to you, and then to the Speaker”, he added, drawing cheers from his colleague MPs.

Source: Chronicle

Name Job 600 after Justice Annan — Minority leader

Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu has proposed that the Job 600 building should be named after the first speaker of parliament in the fourth republic, Justice D.F. Annan for his sterling contribution to the institution.

Mr. Kyei Mensah-Bonsu said per the contribution of the late Justice Annan to parliamentary democracy, he deserves the honour of naming the structure that is under refurbishment for members of parliament after him.

The minority leader stated that in the second parliament of the fourth republic of Ghana, Justice Annan worked hard to ensure that the legislature became more efficient, adding that “it was the time that he (Justice Annan) together with J.H. Mensah and J.H. Owusu Acheampong appealed to the World Bank for support… So I am thinking that for the role he played; the return to partisan politics and the effort to provide office accommodation for members of parliament, if we finish that edifice and we named it after him it will not be out of place.”

Mr Kyei Mensah Bonsu went on to propose that Justice Annan’s successor, Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey also be honoured with naming the recently completed office complex for the leadership of the house after him.

In eulogizing the late speaker’s performance, the minority leader said, “Speaker Ala Adjetey’s effort in getting this facility off the ground…is well known to all and I think the greatest legacy that he left us is this structure. The greatest recognition we can also give him is naming this facility after him.”

He said this will be an appropriate way of recognizing the efforts that such political leaders have made in enhancing democracy and in particular, parliamentary democracy, saying that this will “let others also strive hard to contribute to expand the horizon of our democratic governance.”

But Dr. Ekow Duncan, the Convention People’s Party spokesperson on politics believes it is an attempt to blot out the legacy of Ghana’s first President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, insisting that the building, “in historical terms was one man’s initiative in pursuit of a goal.”

Speaking to Citi FM Thursday, Dr. Duncan however proposed that if there is a need for a new name for the building it should be “Kwame Nkrumah House” or “African Unity Building.”

Finance Ministers are embarrassing gov’t – NDC MP

NDC Member of Parliament for Shai Osu Doku, Hon David Tetteh Assuming, has slammed the Minister of Finance and his two deputies, accusing them of continuously embarrassing government on the floor of Parliament.

His outburst follows a string of inconsistencies in figures that bedevilled the passage of the Appropriation Bill for 2011.

The appropriation bill is the total amount of money government intends to disburse in 2011 for its activities. The bill was said to have been inflated by over GHc390, 000 million.

Parliament had to suspend sitting a number of times on Wednesday, December 22 to allow the Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor some time to reconcile major inconsistencies in the total disbursement earmarked for 2011 as contained in the 2011 budget and the amount mentioned in the 2011 Appropriation Bill.

Speaking to Citi News’ Parliamentary correspondent Richard Sky, Hon David Assuming said the Finance Minister’s handling of the Ministry is completely unacceptable.

“We have been passing budgets every year in the House and I think that this year’s budget, the way this year’s went, if you look at the appropriations that were done to the various MDAs there were a series of flaws and discrepancies in some of the figures. Ask yourself if the Minister actually went through the budget and saw the figures and identified with the figures”.

“We almost run into a lot of difficulties as far as the appropriation bill is concerned and I think that the Finance Minister and the ministry must wake up and live up to expectation. If they continue this way, we will not be able to make headway”.

Hon Assuming warned that he could be compelled to stage a campaign for Dr Duffour’s removal as Minister if he does not improve on his performance.

“I have a serious reservation and I want to urge the Finance Minister to sit up and make sure that his house is put into order…I don’t know whether it is tiredness or complacency. Even his appearance on the floor of Parliament is questionable”.

Parliament goes on recess with TOR’s debt still a mystery

It is still unclear how much debt the Tema Oil Refinery has on its books two days after the Finance Minister was queried in Parliament over the matter.

The Finance Minister could not tell exactly what the debt was in January 2009 when the current administration took office and was also not able to say what the exact amount is presently.

The Minority in Parliament had however insisted that those figures were necessary if MPs were to support the reviewed TOR debt recovery levy so it could be used to clear the outstanding debt.

Finance Minister Dr. Kwabena Duffour had asked for more time to compute the data required by the House.

His Deputy Seth Tekper explained to Joy Business the figures required are not so easy to come by.

“As of December 2008, we knew that figure, it was GH¢783 million. Now this is an amount which is owed to a bank so obviously it accumulates interest. So between 2008 and 2010 we had been making some payments out of the budget and also the levy but then because we didn’t have a concerted approach at resolving them, the interest kept accumulating. He (the Finance Minister) explained (to the Minority) that as at March 2010, the (TOR debt) had increased – in spite of the payment that had been made – to GH¢842 million which prompted us to make a partial payment of GH¢445 million through the government bonds that were issued,” he explained.

Despite this explanation, it was unclear what exactly the TOR debt is.

Source: Joy Business

Minority Leader, Speaker cross tongues in Parliament

The Minority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu says the deputy Speaker of Parliament Doe Adjaho must be forthright and impartial anytime he sits in the chair.

That he said are the tenets required of a Speaker of Parliament notwithstanding ones political affiliation.

His comments on Joy FM come hours after he engaged in fierce exchanges with Doe Adjaho who deputized for the substantive Speaker Joyce Banford Addo on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday.

The minority had requested the Finance Minister Dr. Kwabena Duffor to present to Parliament the official debt stock of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR)

Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said their insistence on the official debt stock of TOR has become necessary because of conflicting figures bandied about by government spokespersons.

He said the country deserved to know the exact amount left behind by the New Patriotic Party and the amount paid by the Mills government.

The Minister on the floor of Parliament said the debt stock as at 2009 stood at ¢848 million out of which ¢445 million has been.

The Minority was not convinced with the figures with its leader demanding the Minister to officially table the figures on the floor of Parliament.

Under Parliamentary proceedings documents tabled before Parliament are then recorded in the Parliamentary Hansad and becomes the reference point.

Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also chastised the government for not seeking Parliamentary approval before raising the ¢445 million to pay part of the debt.

The Speaker, Doe Adjaho on the contrary appeared convinced with the response by the Minister and counseled the minority to seek other institutions (including the ministry according to Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu) for answers if it is not satisfied with those provided by Dr Duffuor.

Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu argued with the Speaker asking the minority to seek answers elsewhere is betraying the power and sanctity of Parliament, something the Speaker must not do.

The Speaker on the other hand maintained he did not say the minority must go to the Ministry as alleged by the Minority leader, but Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu insisted that comment was made.

He would rather the Speaker take responsibility for the comment and rationalize it rather than completely denying it.

“The Speaker cannot just utter a word and just in a brief moment say you didn’t say that,” he snapped, adding it is alright to say it was a slip of tongue. We all make mistakes.

The Speaker moreover maintained that he has been misquoted by Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.

This led to fierce exchanges between the two honorable men on the floor of Parliament with the former accusing the latter of engaging in unparliamentary conduct.

Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu said the incident on the floor, though regrettable, will not create any antagonism between the two of them.

Source: joy fm

Minority demands to know TOR debt standing

The Minority in Parliament is demanding to know exactly how much the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) debt was at the end of 2008, and how much it is currently.

On Tuesday December 21, the TOR debt Recovery Fund Amendment Bill was passed by Parliament.

By this move, levies on the various petroleum products will rise marginally by early 2011.

Under the amendment, the government has proposed that the current levy of two pesewas on every litre of premium petroleum and gas oil should be increased to eight pesewas.

The 2.5 pesewas levy on a litre of marine gas oil is also to be increased to three pesewas, while the current 3.5 pesewas on each litre of Residue Fuel Oil is to be increased to four pesewas.

According to a report of the Finance Committee on the amendment, a Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Seth Tekper, informed the committee that the aim of the bill was to relieve TOR of its debt overhang to firmly position the company to play a significant role in the emerging petroleum industry, especially in the downstream sector.

But the Minority Spokesperson on Energy, Mr. Kofi Adda raised concerns about Government’s report on how much was spent defraying the debt in 2010.

According to him, Parliament never approved the supposed 445 million Ghana Cedis reported in the 2011 Budget as monies used to pay part of the TOR debt.

He told Citi News that it was illegal for the Finance Ministry to expend monies that Parliament did not approve and therefore wants an official disclosure of the exact current size of the TOR debt.

He advised government to come out clearly on exactly how much the TOR debt was at the end of 2008 and how much it is currently.

Source: citi fm