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Kan-Dapaah rubbishes Ndego’s claim

The Member of Parliament for Afigya –Sekyere , Albert Kan-Dapaah, has rubbished assertions that he d eliberately ensured efforts to fight the drug menace was thwarted at the time he was the Minister for Interior.

The former Deputy Director of the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB), Ben Ndego had stated that the fight against drugs took a nosedive when he and his boss were interdicted and replaced by the then new Interior Minister, Mr Kan-Dapaah.

He also alleged Mr Kan Dapaah, recruited his constituents who neither had the experience nor the willingness to vigorously fight the drug trade. He also claimed there was a conspiracy to demonize him and his boss to prepare the grounds for their dismissal.

But in an interview on Peace FM Monday morning, the Hon. Albert Kan-Dapaah, rebutted Mr Ben Ndego’s claim saying they were out rightly baseless and should be treated with the contempt that it deserved.

According to him, the office of the Minister for Interior has nothing to do with the selection of employees to a sensitive institution such as the Narcotic Control Board.

“Even though the Ministry for Interior has oversight responsibility for NACOB, I as the minister then did not play any role neither overtly nor covertly in that institution’s operations, how on earth could I have possibly recruited those personnel ,’’ he asked.

Hon. Kan-Dapaah also wondered why Mr Ndego would accuse him of being behind any conspiracy then, to demonize him and eventually get him out of office when he never dealt with him directly at his brief tenure as the Minister and had no scores to settle with him.

Mr Ndego and the then Director of NACOB, Colonel Akuoku, were interdicted as part of investigations into the disappearance of some 5kilograms of cocaine from NACOB offices in 2007, but Mr Ndego has since been re-instated at NACOB.

Story by : Kwadwo Anim/ghanamps.gov.gh

Otabil: MPs lacked clarity on oil collateralisation debate

Founder and General overseer of the International Central Gospel Church, Pastor Mensah Otabil has described as awful the recent debate in parliament regarding the amendment of clause 5 of the petroleum revenue management bill.

The clause 5 of the bill which was amended through voting seeks for the collateralization of Ghana’s oil revenue for developmental projects.

According to Pastor Otabil, the discussions that took place among members of parliament both on the floor of parliament and in the media were appalling.

He said most of the MPs who spoke on the issue lacked clarity and were misinforming the public.

Speaking at a thanksgiving service organized by the Jubilee partners in Accra to climax the celebration of the first flow of oil at the Jubilee field, Pastor Otabil said the facts about the country’s oil production and projected revenue are not been made public by the country’s political leaders.

“In the recent parliamentary debate on the petroleum management bill, we heard a lot of partisan noise but little clarity on facts. I listened to several parliamentarians and they did not know what they were talking about”.

“Our politicians behave as if the most important constituency in life is whether the NDC or the NPP wins a debate”.

“It was just awful listening to the entrenched but the digressive opinion from our political leaders. Most MPs lack clarity on the key issues at stake. The media was shallow in its analysis and the populace took sides”.

Pastor Mensah Otabil added that the oil production and its projected revenue alone cannot change the developmental status of Ghana, instead the wisdom with which political leaders will manage the revenue.

Source: citifm

MPs question government’s commitment to tourism

Some Members of Parliament have questioned the commitment of the government to boost tourism in the country in the face of limited financial resources provided to the sector year after year.

They argued that since tourism contribute substantially towards the earning of the country’s foreign exchange, enough, resources should be provided for the development of tourist sites to increase tourists visits.

The MPs made the assertion when the 2011 annual estimates of the Ministry of Tourism was placed before the House for approval on Thursday.

The Member of Parliament for Kwabre East, Mt Kofi Frimpong said it was unfortunate that out of the GHC 25, 036,144 budget submitted by the ministry, only GH¢ 17,225.166 was approved.

He said out of the amount approved, GH¢9,650,837 was expected to be generated internally by the ministry adding that officials of the ministry had indicated that it would be difficult to raise the amount.

Mr Frimpong, however urged the ministry not to bank its hopes Q1lly in eco-tourism since others such as industrial tourism could also rake in substantial revenue for the ministry.

He stated that the Ahwiaa craft village, and other towns such as Wonoo, Ntonso and Adanwomase, all in the Kwabre East District were noted for the weaving of kente and Adinkra cloth and called for the development of such projects to provide tourist attraction and employment for the youth.

Mr Frimpong also said that if the country wanted tourism to improve in its revenue generation, then the sector minister should be raised to a Cabinet level in order for her to make a case for the sector.

Turning to some of the achievements that the Tourism Minister has made in 2010, the MP said even though it was reported that 260,000 jobs were created, there were no concrete prove to that claim.

He said it was unfortunate that the ministry was unable to tell the amount of foreign exchange it generated for the country in 2010 after saying that the sector was the fourth foreign exchange earner.

Other MPs who contributed to the debate expressed similar sentiments.

Source: Daily Graphic

Don’t politicize narcotic drug issues -Nana Akomea

The New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament for Okaikoi South, Nana Akomea, has called for a multi-partisan approach to dealing with the increasing narcotic drug issues that continue to bedevil the country.

He said unnecessary politicization of the matter will adversely affect the country’s fight against narcotic drugs.

Nana Akomea’s call come on the heels of a damning revelation by the non- profit making whistle blower organization wiki Leaks that sought to portray some Ghanaian government officials, both in the current government and the erstwhile NPP administration’s complicity in fighting the drug menace over the years.

According to Wiki Leaks, Ghana’s president, John Atta Mills, even worried that his own entourage may be smuggling drugs through his presidential lounge at Accra’s Kotoka airport, and asked a senior UK customs official in November 2009 for help to screen them “in the privacy of his suite to avoid any surprises if they are caught carrying drugs”, according to the US embassy in Accra.

The report also stated that Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) officers working with British officials actively helped traffickers, even calling the criminals on their mobile phones to tell them when to travel to avoid detection.

The NDC government has since reacted to the Wiki Leaks report rubbishing its content.

But contributing to a discussion on Metro TV’s “Good Morning Ghana” Friday, Nana Akomea, stated that the drug menace must be seen as a national security threat that requires a concerted effort from all Ghanaians to fight the canker.

“We tend to politicize everything in Ghana including drug menace, we stand to suffer as a country if we don’t join forces to fight this crime’’, he said.

Hon. Nana Akomea, urged government to adequately resource the Narcotic Control Board to efficiently deliver on its mandate.

Story by : Kwadwo Anim/ghanamps.gov.gh

Bill for Petroleum Commission goes through first reading

Cabinet has tabled before Parliament a bill that will establish a Petroleum Commission to regulate and manage the utilization of petroleum resources.

The commission is expected to take over the regulatory functions of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation.

Joy News’ Parliamentary Correspondent Sammy Darko reports the bill will among others promote, plan and ensure that the new found oil is managed to the benefit of all Ghanaians.

The commission is also to serve as an adviser to the energy minister on petroleum matters.

It will also ensure strict compliance with safety and environmental standards in petroleum activities and promote local participation in the petroleum industry.

The bill provides for the setting up of a governing board of seven members including a chairperson, the chief executive of the commission, the chief executive of the GNPC and four other persons at least one of whom should be a woman.

The commission’s Chief Executive shall be appointed by the president and will hold office on the terms and conditions specified in a letter of appointment and will act as secretary to the board.

Members of the board shall hold office for a period not exceeding three years.

They are however eligible for re-appointment but a member shall not be appointed for more than two terms. The bill does not however put a limit on the tenure of the chief executive.

Source: joy fm

MP angry over absenteeism in Parliament

Member of Parliament for New Juabeng South Bernice Beatrice Boateng is appealing to her colleague members of Parliament, and Ministers of State to take the business of the house seriously.

She says this will enable Parliament to complete its work before rising next week.

She said it is unacceptable that official business of the house has been suspended severally not because members are tired, but rather because of the absence of key personalities expected to provide the necessary clarifications on matters before progress is made.

The NPP member in her first term in Parliament is particularly unhappy about how the majority side has handled the debate on the 2011 budget.

On Monday December 13, Mr. Doe Adjaho, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament also warned that if Parliament would rise on December 21 2010, then members must refrain from the laxity in the approach of work in the House.

NDC Member of Parliament for Juaboso, Sampson Ahi, also took a swipe at the majority caucus in Parliament, accusing them of not taking Government business seriously.

According to Hon. Beatrice Boateng, the House has not shown much commitment and has done very little work with regards to the 2011 budget debate compared to the previous year.

“In fact, I don’t see much seriousness this time. We have proposed that tentatively, 21st December should be the rising date, but I am not sure we can do that from the pace that we are going. It is for this reason that Mondays have been added to the sittings and then it has been announced over and over that we have extended sittings. But all through these two weeks, we close at 1:00 pm unlike previously when we close between 5:00 and 6:00pm. We do not close because we are tired, but because the people who are supposed to do the discussion including the Ministers are not there” he said.

“My plea is that this thing is very serious as it touches on the core of the country. So with the last week left, I am pleading with all Ministers especially the Finance Minister, we want him and not the deputies. We should all come as a House”.

Source: citifm

Absence of PRM bill will not cause loss in oil revenue – Avoka

Mr Cletus Apul Avoka, Majority Leader, on Wednesday said there would be no revenue loss to the State even though the Petroleum Revenue Management (PRM) bill has not yet been passed.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Avoka indicated that a number of challenges had been identified about the bill and that the house needed time to work on them.

“So even if some revenue accrues from the oil before the passage of the bill it will be put in a suspense account,” he said.

Mr Avoka said the delay also stemmed from the fact that the bill arrived in Parliament late and had to pass through some processes and consultations, with inputs invited from civil society that had to be considered before reaching an approval.

He noted the bill had attracted about 200 amendments which called for thorough work and painstaking deliberations, adding that there were three controversial clauses in the bill one of which (clause 5) had been cleared remaining some two others.

He said the call for the creation of s petroleum development account was not important as the Finance Ministry could still trace the oil revenue even if it was paid into the consolidated fund.

“The petroleum area is a new area and so a lot of things must be done to make the oil find a blessing rather than a curse through consensus building between both sides of the House,” he said.

Mr James Klutse Avedzi, Chairman of Finance Committee, said revenue generated before the bill was passed would be put into the consolidated fund, adding that Ghana will not lose anything.

Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Minority Leader, said it was a huge problem that the bill was not yet ready before the flow of first oil scheduled for December 15.

He said oil was a commodity that brought a lot of revenue and that was why it must be treated differently from other commodities. “We all agree that best practices must be adopted in its management hence the importance of the law,” he said.

Quoting Article 269 of the 1992 Constitution, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said it was wrong not to have established a Petroleum Commission before work began on the PRM bill.

“We placed the cat before the horse, when the Finance Minister started disbursing funds in the 2011 budget even before the oil began to flow”, he said, adding that parliament would do its best to have the bill passed even though there were some problems with it.

Source: GNA

Don’t take NDC’s war on drugs seriously – Osei Prempeh

A former Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Kwame Osei Prempeh says no one should take Government’s touting of how they are tackling the drug trafficking menace seriously.

His comment follows the disclosure of drug related issues in Ghana by Wikileaks, a website dedicated to publishing classified diplomatic information.

The website published the correspondence between the US Embassy in Ghana and the US State Department which contained damning revelation on Ghana’s attempted fight against the narcotic trade.

The report or correspondence implicates high profile officials of the Narcotic Control Board and some officials of the John Kufuor administration as having been compromised by some drug barons.

The said officials allegedly gave information to the drug barons on which period it was safe to transport narcotics from the country.

The report also applauded Mills’ efforts in fighting the drug menace but said the President had told the ex-US Ambassador, Donald Teitelbaum that some of his appointees may have been compromised by the drug barons.

The publication has evoked widespread controversy among some of the political players in the country.

But according to Hon. Osei Kwame Prempeh, the revelations clearly indicate that the drug war is far from over.

He told Citi News that President Mills’ confession to the US Ambassador that elements of his government are already compromised clearly shows that all is not well.

The Nsuta Kwamang Beposo MP is of the view that if statistics about drug related arrests shows a reduction, as the NDC has been touting, it can only be because there are compromised elements in the government.

“The President told the American Ambassador that some of his appointees have compromised with drug dealers and it raises questions. If they claim that now people are not being arrested because it has stopped, it simply means that people are compromising themselves that’s why they are not being arrested as it used to be. So it raises serious questions for this administration to answer” he stated.

Asked whether the government’s advice to the United Kingdom to search key officials from Ghana at its Airport was not enough commitment exhibited towards fighting the drugs trade, Mr. Prempeh said that was not enough once such officials could still compromise themselves.

Source: citifm

Telephone subscription goes up – Parliamentary report

There has been a continued increase in telephone subscription for both fixed and mobile lines as a result of growth in infrastructure development and the positive sustenance of competition in the telecom sector, a report of the Select Committee Communication of Parliament has revealed.

For instance, statistics indicate that the telecom market by the end of August 2010, experienced a growth of 10.8 per cent over the 2009 figure of 15,376,305.

These were contained in the report of the committee on the annual budget estimates of the Ministry of Communications for 2011.

The report was read by the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Felix Twumasi-Appiah, after the sector minister, Mr Iddrisu Haruna, had moved the motion for the approval of a total of GHC 29,547,558 for the operations of the ministry for 2011.

The report indicated that the total access lines presently stood at 16,992,460 at the end of August, this year, explaining that it represented a penetration rate of 73.8 per cent with mobile telephony accounting for 97.97 per cent of the total access lines of about 16,651,168.

On the other hand, fixed access lines increased from 267,389 in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 341,292 by the end of August, 2010, representing about 29.6 per cent increase.

On the issuance of mobile licence, the report indicated that in the pursuit of fair competition, the National Communication Authority (NCA) auctioned a sixth mobile licence on a competitive basis to Globacom Mobile, adding that it was expected that the move would strengthen competition and provide value-added services for the benefit of the ordinary Ghanaian.

Moving the motion, Mr Haruna said in line with the government’s commitment to pursue a policy of registering SIM cards to address security concerns and to help in phone user identification, the ministry assured that all the telephone network operators complied with the directive of de-activating their pre-activated SIM cards/chips on the market by June 30,2010.

He stated that SIM card registration would facilitate the smooth implementation of Mobile Number Portability and reduce criminal activities.

Mr Haruna said the ministry had also responded to public complaints regarding poor quality of telecommunication services, stating that the NCA intensified its monitoring activities and not only instituted appropriate penalties to defaulting operators to serve as deterrent, but also resorted to publishing its evaluation results in the media to name and shame service providers who provided sub-standard service.

On the Digital Broadcasting Migration, the minister said that Ghana’s compliance with the International Technical Standards would be adopted by December 2013, ahead of the international deadline of 2015.

Responding to a suggestion by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Evalue Gwira, Mrs Catherine Ablema Afeku, for the ministry to ensure that the country used e-voting system during the 2012 general elections the minister stated categorically that the country would not be ready for the system in 2012.

He stated that the ministry would, however, assist the Electoral Commission to probably use the e-voting system during the 2016 general election.

Even though there was enough debate on the budget estimate of the Ministry of Communications, a misunderstanding as to whether the finances of the NCA should be brought before the House for scrutiny compelled the Speaker, Mrs Joyce Bamford-Addo, to suspend the approval of the estimates.

While the Minority, led by the MP for Old Tafo, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, thought that there were enough constitutional grounds and provisions in the Standing Orders of the House to warrant parliamentary oversight, the Majority, led by a Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Seth Tekpeh, and the Majority Leader, Mr Cletus Avoka, contended that the House could exercise its oversight responsibility through the operation Of its Public Accounts Committee.

At the time of filing this report, the House was considering the budget estimate of the Ministry of Education.

The ministry is seeking a total of GHC 1,983,217,447 for its operation in 2011.

The sector minister, Mr Alex Tettey-Enyo,moved the motion for the approval of the amount.

He was seconded by the Chairman of the Education Committee of Parliament, Mr Mathias Puozaa, who presented the report of the committee.

Source: Daily Graphic

I proposed NACOB earn more than public servants but… -Owusu Ankomah

Former Interior Minister and Attorney General in the Kufuor administration, Papa Owusu Ankomah revealed on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show that he proposed a salary hike for NACOB officials that would have been greater than that of ordinary public servants but the proposal was not implemented.

The former minister and current MP for Sekondi bemoaned the poor remuneration most of Ghana’s security agencies receive, insisting this is one of the reasons the security agencies are influenced by these powerful drug cartels.

“We are not really motivating those who operate in the security services, particularly those who operate in the drug enforcement agencies. I mean they are not given any special treatment.

“I recall in my time that I made a proposal that those operating in the Narcotics Control Board should earn salaries over and above what normal public servants in related positions hold but these things [are] difficult to implement,” he stated.

Papa Owusu Ankomah was reacting to Wikileaks’ latest cable about Ghana in which it indicated that President Mills allegedly confessed to US diplomats that some elements within his administration have been dealing in narcotics and directed that they be screened privately to avoid any embarrassment.

Wikileaks also revealed that the Kufuor administration did little to curb the flow of narcotics into the country.

Papa Owusu Ankomah however, felt the Kufuor administration was hard done by the Wikileaks publication, insisting that the government then took pragmatic measures to curb the flow of narcotics into the country such as the anti-money laundering laws that were established during that time.

He added that another serious challenge hitting the country is the fact that most of these drug lords use money to influence politicians to draft policies that suit them to the neglect of the nation.

This, he said, was the importance of leaving out politics from the narcotics menace, insisting that the drug dealers do not take into consideration which government is in power and therefore, there was the need for everyone to deal with the problem from a national perspective.

Commenting on President Mills’ willingness to subject himself to a drug search, the MP downplayed the initiative, rather choosing to focus more on the need to have security institutions well-resourced to fend off the inflow of illegal drugs.

“I will agree when you talk about political will. But political will is really about statements. The President makes a statement, [that] oh yes I’m going to fight drugs… really it’s a one-off thing. Let’s talk more about improving the institutional blocks,” he said.

Source: joy fm