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I am not retiring from Politics – Hackman

The Member of Parliament for New Juabeng North, Hackman Owusu Agyemang has refuted reports that he intends to quit partisan politics after the 2012 general elections.

Some media houses had published that Hon. Owusu Agyemang who has paid his dues in politics since and has been in parliament since 1996 will bow out of politics next year.

In a press statement signed by himself, he stated that his comment was not an announcement of his retirement from active Partisan Politics. He said he was rather re-emphasising his support for the NPP, and more especially, the 2012 Parliamentary Candidate of New Juaben North Constituency, Mr. Adjei Boateng.

”Come 2013, I will not be in parliament. However, I wish to assure the teaming party faithful of my commitment to the NPP and its agenda of recapturing power in 2012 to restore Ghana to its rightful place” he said.

Story by: Kwadwo Anim/ghanamps.gov.gh

Sorogho urges NACOB Boss not to bow to public pressure

The Member of Parliament for Abokobi/Madina Alhaji Amadu Sorogho, is urging the Executive Secretary of the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB) Yaw Akrasi Sarpong not to bow to publish pressure to mention names of politicians who intend to use drug monies to sponsor political activities come 2012 elections.

The NACOB Boss in an interview with Joy FM said his outfit has ample evidence indicating that some politicians intend to finance their campaign activities in the 2012 general elections with proceeds from narcotics trade.

He warned that political parties planning any such acts would be hunted down and prosecuted.

But the NACOB Boss after his pronouncement on the drug menace has come under attacks especially from the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) who believe the drug menace is a national issue hence should not be politicized.

However speaking on Adom FM, the Member of Parliament for Abokobi/Madina, Amadu Sorogho, states that he is opposed to the names of the politicians being made public particularly when the NACOB Boss had indicated that he is picking leads and still monitoring the identified persons.

He says it is important that the NACOB Boss is allowed enough time to do the necessary investigations into the issue to unravel the persons behind the drug menace in Ghana.

Hon. Amadu Sorogho adds that the drug menace is an issue that needs a holistic approach from all Ghanaians irrespective of their political affiliation and called for a concerted effort to fight the illegal trade.

Story by : Kwadwo Anim/ghanamps.gov.gh

Minority considers suing Speaker

The Minority in Parliament is seriously considering a suit against the Speaker of Parliament Joyce Bamford Addo over her ruling on the proposed amendment to the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill.

The amendment proposed by the minority sought to cede ten per cent of the revenue to be accrued from oil for the exclusive development of the Western Region where the oil was struck.

The Speaker however ruled against the amendment explaining it will impose an additional cost on the consolidated fund.

She cited article 108 of the 1992 Constitution which provides that Parliament on its own, or a member of Parliament may not impose a bill that may have financial implication on government.

But the Minority believes the Speaker grievously erred in her ruling.

Its Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show host, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah on Tuesday “this ruling has serious implications on the integrity of Parliament and the ability and competencies of Parliament.”

He argued that the Speaker’s interpretation of Article 108 is fundamentally flawed. Quoting copiously from the article in question- 108- Kyei Mensah-Bonsu said an amendment of a bill should be allowed if the said bill is coming from the executive.

Article 108 stated: “Parliament shall not, unless the bill is introduced or the motion is introduced by, or on behalf of, the President –

(a) proceed upon a bill including an amendment to a bill, that, in the opinion of the person presiding, makes provision for any of the following –

(i) the imposition of taxation or the alteration of taxation otherwise than by reduction; or

(ii) the imposition of a charge on the Consolidated Fund or other public funds of Ghana or the alteration of any such charge otherwise than by reduction; or (iii) the payment, issue or withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund or other public funds of Ghana of any moneys not charged on the Consolidated Fund or any increase in the amount of that payment, issue or withdrawal; or (iv) the composition or remission of any debt due to the Government of Ghana; or

(b) proceed upon a motion, including an amendment to a motion, the effect of which, in the opinion of the person presiding, would be to make provision for any of the purpose specified in paragraph (a) of this article.”

He explained the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill emanated from the president, which makes it possible, legal, for an amendment to be made by Parliament.

He said the Speaker’s ruling offended the letter of the Constitution and the minority will seriously consider an interpretation at the Supreme Court.

But Communication Minister Haruna Iddrisu insists the Minority has no case.

Whilst welcoming the decision by the Minority to seek interpretation from the Supreme Court, the Minister stated emphatically the Minority should read and under understand article 108 in entirety and if they do, “they will not want to take a step further,” he said.

In any case, he pointed out; the Speaker’s ruling was not only based on Article 108 but on other Standing Orders in the House.

Source : myjoyonline.com

MP’s nationality trial adjourned

The trial of Adamu Dramani Sakande, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central at an Accra High Court, in connection with perjury, was yesterday adjourned at the instance of the prosecution.

This was after Mrs. Merley Wood, a state attorney holding brief for Rexford Wiredu, Principal State prosecutor in the case, informed the judge, Justice Charles Quist that her colleague “is out of jurisdiction”.

She therefore prayed the judge to adjourn the case and it was subsequently adjourned to July 8, 2011. The MP was in court with his lawyers Messrs Yonni Kulendi and Egbert Faibille Jr.

At the last hearing, counsel for the accused prayed the court for a short while to enable them to study the ruling he gave on allowing the prosecution to bring a witness to testify in the case if the prosecution so wished.

Counsel for the MP told the court where the MP is being tried for perjury that they just received a copy of the ruling to study so they would need time to study it.

The judge, it would be recalled, a few weeks ago had ruled that it was wrong for the prosecution to have asked the MP to identify a document it brought from the National Security during cross-examination.

The ruling put to rest the legal wrangling by both the state and counsel for the accused person as to whether the MP should be made to identify a document addressed to the National Security Adviser from the United Kingdom which he was not privy to.

Lead counsel for the Bawku MP, Yonni Kulendi told journalists after the ruling that he would study the ruling and decide whether or not to appeal against the ruling by the judge on allowing the state to bring a witness to testify on the document they wanted the MP to be cross-examined on.

Mr. Kulendi expected the judge to give a ruling only on whether it was proper for the MP to be compelled to answer questions on the document, as that was the only issue before him.

Rexford Wiredu, the Principal State Attorney, who had requested that the MP identify the document while cross-examining him, explained that the document was a rebuttal of some of the documents tendered by the MP and so he should be made to identify them.

However, his lawyer, Yoni Kulendi, objected to the identification of the document marked as confidential with the letterhead of the National Security Coordinator, Lt Col (rtd) Larry Gbevlo-Lartey and addressed to Director-General of Criminal Investigations Department, the Attorney-General and Inspector General of Police, on the grounds that it was not addressed to the MP.

According to Mr. Kulendi, the MP was not the author of the said document and therefore could not be asked to identify it under Section 60 and 136 of the Evidence Decree.

He noted that in the course of the trial, no evidence had been laid by the prosecution on the document, adding that his client had no personal knowledge of it.

Counsel for the MP observed that if the court permitted the identification of the document by the accused person and thereafter tendered, the defense team would have no opportunity of cross-examining Mr. Gbevlo-Lartey and the others, as well as those who are purported to have signed the attached correspondence between Ghana and the United Kingdom.

This would therefore occasion a substantial miscarriage of justice.

The judge agreed with counsel and said it was improper for the prosecution to have made that request; however, he said he would grant any request by the prosecution to call or recall a witness to rebut any doubt if the defense finished their case.

Source: Daily Guide

Ken Agyapong ‘happy’ with threat to name ‘cocaine politicians’ Comment

The Member of Parliament for Assin North, Kennedy Ohene Agyepong, has seized on threats by the acting head of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) to track down politicians who sponsor their campaigns with drug money, as the perfect opportunity for him to clear his name of persistent rumours that he is a drug dealer.

The NPP MP had cocaine allegations swirling around him even before he entered Parliament in 2004, and says he hopes to disentangle himself from the perception, often cooked up by his political opponents once and for all.

In one of such accusations which caused a huge media blitz in March 2011, NDC sympathiser and Managing Editor of the Al-Hajj newspaper, Alhaji Bature Iddrisu, challenged the wealthy MP and businessman, to prove to the world that his riches were derived from the sale of illicit drugs.

In the light of such recurring accusations, Hon. Agyepong has welcomed Mr. Akrasi Sarpong’s determination to smoke out politicians using drugs money for their campaigns.

He however believes it would be appropriate for Mr. Sarpong to name and shame such politicians rather than warn them to resist the temptation to use such funds for their campaigns.

“That is good. If he has evidence that indeed a politician is doing that, why not? He can go ahead and do it. I am glad about them coming out because that will vindicate some of us. So long as he has his evidence and can trace them, they are not above the law. It should not even be about using it for campaign but the mere fact that you are dealing in drugs, if they arrest you I support that. There is nothing wrong with the statement.

“But for people to sit there without even knowing your background, they disgrace you everywhere including the internet forgetting that I hustled from my village, Germany, America and the rest to make it. We were in Germany last week, and a lady was talking to her friend and she said one of the NPP people who came is a drug baron referring to me. What is this?” he lamented on Citi News.

“My position if indeed it is true,” he continued, “they (NACOB) should come out and tell everybody”.

Hon. Kennedy Agyapong also alleged that some Government officials are conspiring with some officials of the NDC to frame him up on drugs charges.

He has thus cautioned the Narcotics Control Board to do proper investigations so they don’t end up jailing innocent politicians.

The NACOB boss’s threats followed the recently launched 2011 World Drug Report which estimates that about 21 tonnes of cocaine was trafficked via West Africa to Europe in 2009, a significant drop from 47 tonnes two years earlier.

The report says while global markets for cocaine, heroin and cannabis declined or remained stable, the production and abuse of prescription for opiod drugs and new synthetic drugs rose.

The launch of the World Drug Report was just a couple of days ahead of the 2011 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking which fell on Sunday June 26.

Ghana’s Narcotics Control Board has been holding a series of anti-drug abuse fora across the country in that regard.

Source: citifmonline.com

MPs angry with banks over high interest rates

After years of complaints by small-scale businesses and consumers of all ranks over high interest rates charged by banks, Ghana’s Parliament has made a bold move to probe the issue of huge disparities between Bank of Ghana’s base rate and the interest rates of the various commercial banks operating in the country.

Speaker of Parliament Justice Bamford Addo directed the Finance Committee of the House to interrogate the nation’s banks over the high interest rates after MPs had expressed outrage over what they called “unacceptable astronomical profits” being made by both local and foreign banks operating in the country.

The Bank of Ghana’s current base rate is 13 percent but the average interest rate of commercial banks hovers around 25 percent and in some cases higher.

Critics have described the phenomenon as a vile rip-off, arguing that the soaring interest rates mean that whilst the commercial banks are making unusually monumental profits, small scale businesses who borrow money from the banks are struggling to survive. Speaker of Parliament Justice Bamford Addo, told MPs on Friday June 24, that the trend must not be allowed to continue.

“This is not the first time that we have considered this issue. We have got nowhere. I remember that on one occasion when the Finance Minister came here, we put that question to him and he said he will try and convince the banks to reduce their rates. As we all know, that does not help us much. It has been suggested that the reduction could be made by policy rather than by just persuasion. We also know that this is an international problem with the banks and their high profits. And how to reduce it has been discussed internationally but it is our national problem too. As Parliament, we have to grab this opportunity today and this is why I suggest that we refer it not only to the Bank and the Minister but to the Committee in charge because this is a national problem. This is Parliament and it is time for us to take some action. And I am glad to say that this is the consensus for the whole house and we are not going to let this pass” she noted.

The Speaker after building consensus referred the matter to the Finance Committee of the House to look into the matter and make appropriate recommendations on the way forward.

She asked that a report be submitted to the House after a month.

Earlier, Members of Parliament raised their voices against the prevailing high interest rate regime and called for firm action to push down the rates.

“Banks like any other business ventures need to recover their costs and make profits. But Madam Speaker, our banks are making huge profits and are still passing on the cost of operations onto their clients. There needs to be a reduction in the cost of operations of our banks in terms of the salaries, the cost of premises, utilities, allowances, commitment fees and so on. Perhaps if the banks are run more efficiently, cost reductions could consequently be passed on to the customers” one MP said.

“Is it a systemic issue or what is it? Is it that they have a cartel in Ghana where all the banks probably meet secretly and tell one another that this is the band for our lending rates? So I think this is a wake-up call” that’s according to Hon Moses Asaga.

“Madam Speaker, the banks talk about the cost they incur in terms of the risky nature of the loans they give out because the bad debt rate is very high. Why should the banks not take time to see what is the cost of the high rate of bad debt. Why do people take the loan and they are not able to pay? May be because the rate at which they are given the loan is too high, or may be the banks do not do proper analyses to evaluate the business plans of the companies and the people who take the loans” another MP noted. The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism, revealed that at a recent meeting with the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, the Association of Commercial Bankers, Finance Ministry, the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Industries, the banks admitted that indeed their interest rates were too high, and blamed the situation on the risk factor in giving out loans.

“The question then was, if you don’t do due diligence, why do you want to pass the burden of somebody who refuses to pay onto others who are genuine and who want to pay. Madam Speaker, it came out clearly that the banks were making super-normal profits. They promised that they were going to do all that it takes to bring the rates down. They eventually did that, but how significant was the reduction? The other school of thought was that, why don’t we regulate it like the PURC, where we don’t fix how much but at least we know that the prime rate is 13% with their lowest base rate being 19%. Madam Speaker, why can’t we give a percentage point within which they can operate? For example, if the prime rate of the Bank of Ghana is 13%, we say you don’t go above a percentage increase of 4%”.

Minority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu noted that if interest rates are overly high, the country’s industry will remain stagnant.

“This is why agriculture and industry are not growing; it is only the service sector in this country that is growing. And the high interest rates are responsible. The Banks themselves are growing and that’s why there is a proliferation of banks. Telecom is expanding and industry and agric that should be growing are not. In fact, the service sector should be lubricating agriculture and industry but they are not. On their own, they are growing, and that is where the problem is” he noted.

Source: citifmonline

Breach of peace in Accra will have dire consequencies for Ghana

The Member of Parliament for Bimbila, Dominic Nitiwul has warned that any acts by the three factions embroiled in the Ga chieftaincy feud that will breach peace within the Ga Mashie area will have dire international consequences for the country.

He said investors would always shy away from investing their resources in unstable areas and it is important that Accra which is the capital and the first stop for most foreign investors have the needed peaceful atmosphere for development.

The MP’s comment comes in the wake of the out-dooring of a purpoted Ga Mantse, Nii Tackie Adama Latse over the weekend, an activity that is believed by section of the public to be illegitimate and may cause unrest in Ga mashie.

This brings to three the number of occupants of the Ga Stool, with one Ayittey Canada also claiming to be the rightful Ga Mantse aside King Tackie Tawiah 11, who was installed in 2006.

Contributing to a panel discussion on Metro TV’s Good Morning Ghana show, the Member of Parliament for Bimbila, Dominic Nitiwul noted that as Ghana continue to seek for foreign investments it is important that stakeholders continue to find lasting peace in Accra which is the first point of call for foreign investors who come to the country by air transport.

He urged the various factions to use due process to solve the chieftaincy crises at the Ga Traditional Council which is the most appropriate body to deal with the issue.

Hon. Dominic Nitiwul was however happy that King Tackie Tawiah had exercise a lot of restrained in the wake of such provocations and called for cool heads as the Traditional Council gives its ruling on the issue.

Source: Kwadwo Anim/ghanamps.gov.gh

Launch of Prez Mills’ campaign song should have been prevented

The campaign coordinator of the Nana Konadu for 2012 Campaign Team, Michael Teye Nyaunu, says the decision by National Executives of the NDC to “merely distance themselves from the launch of the campaign song of President John Mills was not enough”.

According to him, the executives should have prevented the “premature” launch from taking place, other than issuing a statement to distance themselves, saying their action clearly smacks of fostering disunity within the party.

Last Saturday, June 25 2011 at the Trade Fair Centre, a song extolling the virtues of President John Evans Atta Mills and which puts him up as the obvious choice for National Democratic Congress delegates attending the party’s July congress, was launched.

Sponsors of the song, Friends of Atta Mills, convinced he will win the July 9 flagbearer race to be held in Sunyani, are already appealing to party executives to endorse the song as the party’s campaign song for the 2012 general elections.

Even though the NDC’s National Executive Committee, per a statement issued by General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, had distanced the party from the campaign song, Hon Teye Nyaunu insists that is not enough.

Speaking on Xfm’s big bite show, Hon Teye Nyaunu opined that the national executives could have done more than just distancing themselves.

Despite the launch of President John Mills’ campaign song ahead of the congress, Hon Teye Nyaunu said President Mills will lose the July 9 congress

“There is nothing wrong for them to be optimistic, but the reality on the ground is that, they are going to lose, because I have been throughout the country and met all the delegates; and I saw their reception and we are so confident we are going to win. At the end of the day, it is going to be a mockery, and people will laugh at them. It was so premature of them to have come out with the launching”.

“It was good the executives distanced themselves, but it was not good enough because they could have stopped it from happening. And that shows that they are fostering disunity. Mere distancing themselves was not enough. They could have stopped it from happening”.

He however said Mrs Rawlings and her team will do nothing about the launch of the campaign song, describing it “as a storm in a tea cup”.

Asked if Mrs Rawlings also has her campaign song ready, Hon Teye Nyaunu intimated, “certainly, after a hectic run, there comes jubilation. We are also making ours and keeping it in a bag. We going to wait; the moment we win, the sound will boom up”.

Source: Xfm 95.1/ Accra

Provide Mills with maximum security at congress – Adu Asare

The Member of Parliament for Adenta, Kojo Adu Asare is urging the National Security apparatus to give President John Evans Attah Mills the maximum security that he deserves at the upcoming NDC national delegates congress in July 2011.

He says even though President Mills will be a candidate contesting for the position of flag bearer at the congress, his status as the President of the country will not change hence the need for adequate security to be provided for him.

The MP’s comment comes in the wake of concerns by members of the Konadu for 2012 campaign team and some members of the public who doubt the ability of the National Security to maintain neutrality and fairness during the July 8 congress of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

There have been reports that some persons are planning to cause mayhem on the congress grounds and this allegation has warranted calls for maximum security to avert any disturbances that may arise, but others are of the view that the scene of armed security personnel will be a tool for intimidation.

However contributing to a panel discussion on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo show, the Member of Parliament for Adenta, Kojo Adu Asare disagreed with suggestions that President Mills’ status as leader of the country is immaterial as far as the NDC’s internal party affair is concerned.

He said Ghana cannot afford to compromise security of the President simply because it’s an internal party affairs warning that failure to give the President adequate security will have dire consequences for the state.

Hon. Adu- Asare urged the security agencies to investigate claims that every effort will be made to ensure that Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings and her followers are intimidated during and after the congress and called on the agencies to ensure protection for all the contesting parties.

Story by : Kwadwo Anim/ghanamps.gov.gh

Inability to produce statistics regularly hampers employment impact monitoring

Employment and Social Welfare Minister, Mr. ET Mensah, said the inability to produce labour market data and statistics on regular bases hampered impact monitoring of government policy on employment, incomes and poverty.

He said the time had come to step up investment in the collection and analysis of labour market statistics on timely and regular basis to enable proper evaluation of employment impact on national economic policies and programmes on job creation, income inequality and poverty reduction.

Mr Mensah who was answering questions in parliament said unemployment remained a major development issue in many countries, especially among the youth.

He said the fifth round of the Ghana living standard survey conducted in 2005/2006 indicated that about 9.14 million Ghanaians were employed, while 2.653 million were unemployed, according to survey.

The survey added that 637,000 of the non-working group were available for work while 283,000 had made some attempts to seek for job.

He lamented that the current figures which could have been extracted from the 2010 population census were yet to be released.

Mr Mensah said the rate of unemployment for adults ranging between 15 and 64 years based on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition was 3.6 per cent in 2006.

“If we remove the upper age limit of the 64, the rate of unemployment becomes 3.0 per cent for adults aged from 15 years and above” he said.
He said the ILO defined unemployment as the proportion of the labour force that have no jobs but are available for work and actively seeking work.

“In Ghana many people may be jobless and available for work but may not necessarily be seeking work,” he said and described the ILO definition as narrow.

On the basis of the ILO’s narrow definition of unemployment, he stated that unemployment rate for young persons between the ages of 15 and 19 years was estimated at 5.0 per cent, 7.6 for 20 to 24 years, 5.1 for 25 to 29 years, 2.3 for 30-39 years, 1.1 for 40-49 years, 1.3 for 50-59 years and 1.1 per cent for 60 years and above.

He said if the phrase “seeking job” was removed from the definition the unemployment rate would increase to 6.5 per cent from 3.0 for age 15 years and above.

He said the thrust of National Employment Policy was to achieve freely chosen productive and gainful employment for every Ghanaian who was available and willing to work.

The House also adopted a motion to waive Value Added Tax amounting to US0,000.00 in respect of the construction of phase-one of the National Communication Backbone Network project.

The project when completed would enhance the provision of communication services nation wide.