• +233 20 230 9497

Manhyia North MP calls for unity in NPP

The Member of Parliament for Manhyia North, Collins Owusu Amankwah has asked supporters of the New Patriot Party to work in creating a united front.

Mr Amankwah said this at Moshie Zongo during an open forum with his constituents who shared their concern about recent utility tariff increments.

Speaking with GhanaMPs.gov.gh,   Mr Amankwah said there is a need for all progressives of the party to close their ranks and work towards a common goal of recapturing power in 2016. He said the recent wrangling in the party should not deter members of the party from playing their role for a better society.

Mr Owusu said, he believes they have only one option on the way forward.  They must, in the words of the song, “work like a man inspired until the battle is won, remember the famous man who had to fall to rise again, pick themselves up, dust ourselves down and start all over again”. Start all over again, but not from the beginning start from the lessons we have learnt, he added.

Afua Yeboah/Ghanamps.gov.gh

Parents can access school placement today – Ablakwa

The Education Ministry is urging parents and guardians to accept without complain, the Senior High School placements given their wards by the Computerized School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS).

The CSSPS is a system used by the Ghana Education Service (GES) to place qualified Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates into Senior High School (SHS), Technical Institutes (TI) and Vocational Institutes.

However, since its inception in 2005, the Secretariat in charge of the CSSPS battle with criticisms and complaints from parents and guardians for failing to place their wards in their selected schools.

But speaking at the finals of the 2013 Citi-FM Write Away Contest over the weekend, the Deputy Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa indicated that parents from Monday “can start checking, sending the text messages to receive notice of where their wards have been placed by the computerized selection system.”

He appealed to parents to accept posting and not use their influences to marginalize other students.

“This protocol culture displaces sometimes very brilliant but unconnected children so those of you who have connections, who know Ministers, who know Imams, who know Pastors, who know chiefs; please don’t abuse that knowledge and put pressure and prevent the computer from doing what it is supposed to do or changing what it has done.”

Source: citifmonline.com

Hon. Kyeremanteng Agyarko cautions FDA

Member of Parliament for Ayawaso West Wuogon, Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko has urged the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to be circumspect in putting out information relating to drugs on the market that the Authority has issues it.

According to him, the mismanagement of any such information has the potential of generating unnecessary fear and panic among the public.

The MP who is also the former Chief Executive Officer of the FDA comment comes in the wake of a post market surveillance exercises conducted by the FDA which revealed that Tobinco Pharmaceuticals had imported and distributed fake and unregistered medicines onto the Ghanaian market.

The FDA is calling on people who have consumed any of the unwholesome drugs imported by the Pharmaceutical giant to report to a health facility.

But Tobinco Pharmaceuticals has stressed that its drugs that were and are being destroyed by the FDA are not fake drugs.

“What has led to the recent state of affairs with regards to registration of products with the Food and Drugs Authority is a misjudgement and delayed action on our part, and has nothing to do with the integrity of the products. A penalty imposed by the Authority in connection with the registration issues has been duly paid and further discussions are on-going.” Chief Executive emphasized.

Contributing to a discussion on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo show on Monday. Hon. Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko stated that though he is not against the mode of operation of the FDA, when it comes to such specialized products like drugs, the risk of communication must be considered so that it does not produce undesired results among the public.

“Drugs are not like tomatoes or pure water being sold, once you start raising alarm on how potentially dangerous a particular drug could be without fully ascertaining your facts about it, fear then grips the public. How can one conclude that the said drugs are counterfeit when the drugs are yet to be registered? It is only during the registration process that one can be assured of the quality of a drug’’ Hon. Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko added.

He noted a more deadly threat to public health is the sort of adverts aired on the  airwaves which preaches about the efficacy of some herbal and orthodox medicine whose quality cannot be vouched for, adding that the practice must be stopped by the relevant agencies.

Kwadwo Anim/Ghanamps.gov.gh

National Child Protection Policy will be implemented – Okiti Duah

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has pledged “government’s commitment to improving the lives of persons with disability particularly children with disabilities.”

According to the Deputy sector Minister Sena Okity-Duah, government has developed a National Child Protection Policy to protect the vulnerable in society, especially children with disabilities.

Mrs Sena Okity-Duah made this known at the grand finale of Citi FM’s Write Away contest which was on the theme “Write a letter to the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection on the challenges children with disabilities face and what you want done for them”.

According to the minister, the policy seeks to build on existing families and community structures to protect children especially girls with more emphasis on the prevention of harm and abuse.

She pleaded with corporate bodies and other stakeholders in the country to join the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to implement the brilliant ideas, proposed by the children who took part in the competition.

She added that although civil societies have helped the ministry in diverse ways, she indicated that the ministry has not gotten to the stage where it can “conveniently rest on its oars.”

“We can do more to ensure the full inclusion of persons with disability especially children with disability in all aspects of our society” she advocated.


MPs unhappy with PWD exclusion

Members of Parliament (MP) have expressed unhappiness with the exclusion of Persons with Disability (PWDs) from the government delegation to the just ended 68th United Nations (UN) session.

Nations that attended the session included in their delegation persons with disability, but Ghana Federation of the Disabled said: “In Ghana, no representative from the Federation of the Disabled or National Council on Disabilities or any disability organisation versed in disability information and management attended the meeting”.

The MPs expressed worry state institutions and actors have not done much to mitigate social challenges facing PWDs for their total inclusion in society and realisation of fundamental human rights.

Mr John Majisi, MP for Krachi Nchumuru and Ms Ursula Owusu, MP for Ablekuma West, said at a joint media and parliamentary caucus forum over the weekend that matters affecting PWDs must be taken seriously and not considered as afterthoughts by duty-bearers.

Ms Owusu said in other jurisdictions PWDs were treated with dignity and respect, adding in those areas, “blind and deaf persons drive cars and live normal lives just like any other person.”

She said it was sad that PWDs and other vulnerable groups had been left to their fate and GFD had to raise funds on their own to support such persons, a responsibility government and society have ignored.

She added that it was unfortunate matters affecting PWDs were looked at as afterthought, saying “what is happening is a reflection of society’s negative attitude towards PWDs and that must stop.”

Ms Owusu called on government and state institutions to identify PWDS at birth and develop commensurate social interventions, programmes and policies for their total inclusion in the society.

Mr Majisi said disability is no more a medical issue that used to centre on the individual but now a social one bordering the entire society.

He said Ghana was lagging behind its agenda to address challenges facing PWDs and urged organisations, ministries, departments and agencies to integrate disability matters in their plans, policies and programmes.

This is the second time government has excluded PWDs from its delegation to a high level meeting in New York, contrary to the international philosophy for effective inclusion of persons with disability in decision-making, said Mr Isaac Tuggun, GFD Focal Person.

He said GFD has registered its leaders for the meeting and their participation was confirmed through invitation letters and identity numbers.

Mr Tuggun added that the officers had also acquired visas from the American Embassy in Ghana for the trip and all that was left was their inclusion in the government delegation.

But government said it was unable to foot the cost of flight, accommodation and feeding of two people nominated by the Federation,” said Mr Tuggun.

In July 2013, a preparatory meeting for the 68th session was held in USA with participating countries including PWDs in their delegations, but Ghana did not include any PWDs in theirs.

Mr Tuggun explained that the disability movement had submitted a list of proposed representatives to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, but three were selected and assisted to secure visas.

They were dropped at the last minute on the ground that there was no money to include them in the delegation, he said.


NCA must ‘live up to expectation’ – Hon. Demordzi

The Member of Parliament for Botianor Ngleshie Amanfro constituency, Bright Demordzi has charged the National Communication Authority (NCA) to “live up to expectation.”

“The NCA must live up to expectation; they must whip the telcos; that is the most important thing,” he said.

According to him, the failure of the NCA to punish faulting telcos has led to low patronage of the Mobile Number Portability (MNP).

The MNP is a system which allows mobile telephony customers to move from one service provider to another whilst retaining their old mobile number.

There have been over 800,000 ports since its inception two years ago.

However, Bright Demordzi who is also a member of Parliament’s Communications Committee has indicated that few people are porting because almost all of the operators offer poor services.

“Because all the telcos are not performing, the Mobile Number Portability is even not working. The quality of service is bad so what you need to do is to go and buy three to four sims and have four mobile phones in your hand…that is why nobody is moving, nobody is porting because if you port, it is useless,” he lamented.

Mr. Demordzi therefore suggested that the NCA must strictly follow “their own guidelines and schedule of punishing the telcos.”

Akufo-Addo is NPP’s best bet for 2016 – Afenyo Markin

New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Efutu, Alexander Afenyo Markin is advocating that the twice defeated presidential candidate of the party be given another chance in 2016.

According to him, Nana Akufo-Addo compared to others vying for the flagbearership position of the party is the “best bet of the NPP for 2016”.

Alex Afenyo Markin was commenting on the ‘battle’ for positions in the NPP prior to its delegates congress next year.

The positions of flagbearer, Chairman and the General Secretary are the most sought after by leading members.

Even though some have declared their intentions, Akufo-Addo, who is on a sabbatical leave from frontline politics after the Supreme Court dismissed an election petition by he [Nana] and two others challenging the 2012 presidential election results, is yet to make his intention known.

Already, there is intense lobbying to get him [Nana]to run for a third time as flagbearer in 2016 after losing the 2008 and 2012 elections respectively.

General Secretary, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie also known as Sir John and Ashanti Regional Chairman, Frederick Fredua Anto received flak from party members for championing the premature endorsement of Akufo-Addo’s candidature.

But speaking on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme Thursday, Afenyo Markin said it will be a big gaffe for the NPP to change Akufo-Addo as leader in 2016.

He said as an already marketed candidate, it will be much easier for the party to win the next general elections with Nana.

The Efutu MP described as exceptional the political maturity Nana exhibited by immediately accepting the Supreme Court verdict on the election petition though he had strong reservations.

“In Ghana’s political history, no one has demonstration love for this country like what Nana Akufo-Addo did. So why don’t we [NPP] ride on this.”

He was convinced that Akufo-Addo as an internationally recognized statesman will deliver a landslide victory for the NPP in 2016.

“All we have to do is to unite and approach 2016 with a slogan of a new vision, a new direction to attract more voters to the NPP”.

The NPP MP bemoaned the seeming division in the party which he claimed is largely due to the self-centeredness of some party executives who want to retain their positions, but he cautioned those people to campaign on merit.

He said if the factionalism within the NPP is not resolved, no matter who leads the party in 2016, “we will still be in opposition”.

Mahama to cut sod for construction of 50 SHSs in December

President John Mahama will cut the sod for the construction of 50 new Senior High Schools in some districts by December this year, Deputy Education Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has announced.

That, according to him, was fulfillment of the governing National Democratic Congress’ 2012 election campaign promise to construct 200 new Senior High Schools by 2016.

Preparatory works relating to the feasibility, selection criteria, design and siting of the projects in beneficiary District Assemblies have all been completed, Mr. Ablakwa said.

He said the Assemblies have met a September 20, deadline for the identification of the specific sites where the schools will be built.

Speaking on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM Thursday, the deputy Minister also announced plans by government to enter into a financial arrangement to fund the projects.

He said this has been necessitated by the pressure on the national budget, due to shortfalls in projected revenue.

“I’m happy to announce that we have received proposal [from a financial institution] which is being studied by the Ministry of Finance. As soon as the go-ahead is given [by the Minister of Finance] H.E the president, will cut the sod in December to begin construction of these schools,” Mr. Ablakwa said.

JOY FM Commended

Mr. Ablakwa commended Joy FM for focussing attention on dilapidated nature of some schools buildings in its broadcasts.

Joy News has over the past few weeks, exposed the deplorable and difficult conditions under which teaching and learning take place at some schools in the country, even including the nation’s capital, Greater Accra.

Mr. Ablakwa conceded that government “is still grappling with ‘Schools under trees’ situation and is doing everything possible to win the fight”.

According to him: “About 60% of schools under trees has been removed and turned into modern classrooms with ultramodern facilities while efforts are being made to tackle the remaining 40%”.

He said although the Ministry of Education gets 30% of the national budget, close to 95% of that is used on paying emoluments and compensations, leaving the Ministry with only 7% for infrastructural development.

A possible measure to address the infrastructural challenges Mr. Ablakwa identified, is to “free the hands of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) of the pressures of giving scholarships, to enable it concentrate on infrastructural development”.

He appealed to chiefs and opinion leaders to compliment the efforts of government, by maintaining the facilities put in their communities to derive the maximum benefit from them.

Walewale MP to support stock some SHS libraries

The Member of Parliament for Walewale , Hon. Sagre Bambangi says as part of his contributions to education, he has resolved to stock libraries of selected Senior High Schools(SHS) in his constituency with basic text books and other useful educational materials to help equip and broaden the horizon of students in education.

He said as a onetime University lecturer he reckoned the need for reading, and will support imbue the attitude of reading through the provision of relevant books and research materials to push this move.

Speaking to Ghanamps.gov.gh, Mr. Bambangi noted that promotion of quality education formed part of his plans for the constituency and has decided to commit funds to improve the standard of education and help students attain higher education.

He further said he will step up his support given over the years to needy but brilliant students, stressing that this time as an MP he has arranged to increase the number of students for this programme.

According to him, the momentum to national development is relatively driven by education, therefore will not relent to invest fairly in education.

Jonathan Jeffrey Adjei/Ghanamps.gov.gh

Mahama’s ‘excessive borrowing’ dangerous for Ghana – Akoto Osei

The Minority in Parliament says Ghana risks having its international credit rating downgraded, if government does not halt the “excessive borrowing from both domestic and international markets”.

The Minority is projecting that Ghana will lose its current B+ credit rating which allows government to borrow at high interest rates on the international market. The NPP’s finance committee in Parliament made this remark at a news conference Thursday, September, 26, 2013.

New Patriotic Party MP for Tafo Pankrono, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, who addressed the media on behalf of his colleagues said: “It also needs to be pointed out that this 49.5% debt ratio means the country is on the verge of crossing the 50% threshold. Beyond this threshold, international credit rating agencies will downgrade our credit rating”.

The former Minister of State in charge of Finance also described as unprecedented and unbelievable that, with a month to the presentation of the next budget statement, “government has not paid a pesewa into most statutory funds”.

He said although government has made sure to collect all the necessary levies from taxpayers, it has failed to pay into accounts such as the District Assemblies’ Common Fund, the GETFund, the Road Fund and many others.

He has therefore called on the John Mahama administration to account for the monies it is collecting from Ghanaians.

Read below the full statement presented by Dr. Akoto Osei:

Ghana’s economic crisis and delay of statutory payments

Ladies and gentlemen, we have had the occasion, several times in the past, to comment on the poor economic management by the NDC administration and the consequent poor state of the economy. We have commented on the excessive and illegitimate expenditures during the 2012 electioneering campaign by the ruling party (the NDC), the resulting huge deficit and debt, the excessive borrowing from the domestic market, the crowding out of Ghanaian businesses from the credit market, the growing unemployment, the unbridled taxation (including taxation on condoms), government indebtedness to utility companies, and the general corruption and mismanagement of public finances.

In February this year, President Mahama also admitted to the nation that Ghana’s economy was in distress and that the meat was down to the bone. It was a face-saving admission that, having been in power for four years, the NDC government was presiding over bad economic management. Seven months on, things have gotten worse. There is now consensus, even within government, that the economic situation has now deteriorated into complete crisis. The signs are everywhere.

Our debts are rising alarmingly. From a total public debt of GH¢9.5 billion in January 2009, Ghana’s public debt stands at GH¢43.9 billion (49.5% of GDP) at the end of August 2013. Between December 2012 and August 2013 (that is within the last 8 months), government added GH¢8.8 billion to our public debt. This means, we are borrowing at a rate of GH¢1.1 billion per month. This is not just unsustainable, it is also unreasonable! And out of this recent increase in debt stock, about 63% (that is GH¢5.5 billion) comes from domestic sources. With this huge appetite for borrowing from the domestic market, it is grossly incompetent and disingenuous for government to blame banks for high lending rates to businesses and individuals.

It also needs to be pointed out that this 49.5% debt ratio means the country is on the verge of crossing the 50% threshold. Beyond this threshold, international credit rating agencies will downgrade our credit rating. Already, this debt figure does not include the greater chunk of the US$3 billion Chinese loan. If Ghana is downgraded, the B+ rating bequeathed by the Kufuor administration will be lost, and Ghana will have to borrow at very high interest rates.

Ladies and gentlemen, in spite of this excessive borrowing from both domestic and international markets, the NDC government can still not meet its statutory obligations. What does this mean? Every year, government collects various taxes and levies; income tax, value added tax (VAT), national health insurance levy (NHIL), petroleum taxes, communications service tax (or talk tax), condom tax (recently), taxes on outboard motors and cutlasses, etc. Government is required by law to put some portions of these taxes into specific accounts to pay for specific services to tax payers (that is, you and I). These accounts include the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF), the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), the Road Fund, etc.

The sad and bitter truth is that, for this year, 2013, government has collected the taxes alright. People have paid income taxes and all kinds of taxes, and government has collected them. Unfortunately, the Mahama administration has failed to pay these monies into the various accounts. The DACF which is used by the district assemblies to provide social services to the people is in arrears of GH¢652 million, according to government’s own statement. To be forthright, government, having collected taxes from the beginning of this year, has not paid a pesewa into the DACF. The NHIF used for the delivery of health services is also in arrears of GH¢350 million. The Road Fund used for filling potholes and doing other road maintenance programmes is in arrears of about GH¢400 million. The GETFund used to provide education infrastructure and related support to Ghanaian public schools, from basic to tertiary levels, is also in arrears.

So, not only is government borrowing excessively without telling us what they are using the money for, government cannot account for taxes paid by you and I for the purpose of delivering social services, and therefore statutory payments into these accounts are not being paid.

The consequences for the welfare of ordinary people are many. Districts assemblies in our rural areas are the hardest hit. Government’s insensitivity to the plight of Ghanaians means garbage is not collected regularly in Bole, nor are potholes patched in Cape Coast. It also means roofs of public schools ripped off by storms cannot be replaced in Akatsi. Further, district assemblies cannot afford to pay their utilities bills. In Kumasi, the ECG recently cut off power to KMA for non-payment of its bills. Even money to buy A4 sheets to run their offices is not available.

About two weeks ago, several government cheques bounced at the local government level because the accounts on which the cheques were to be drawn had been quietly closed upon the instructions of government. Most development and local government initiatives have come to a standstill because government has not transferred the needed resources to the local level. This is a serious problem. In the past, we all complained when these funds delayed for a month or two. What is happening now has never happened before in these proportions. It is unprecedented and unbelievable that a month to the presentation of the next budget statement, government has collected taxes but has not paid a pesewa into the district assembly common fund. This is crisis!

But the problems are not limited to the DACF. The arrears on the NHIF has serious consequences for the health care of ordinary Ghanaians. No wonder that national health insurance scheme is no more working. Because there is no money in the NHIF, service providers are not being paid for their services, as a result of which patients who go to hospital with their NHIS cards pay for even paracetamol.

Also, anti-snake venom badly needed in the rainy season to neutralize snake bites in rural areas cannot be provided. What at all is government using the taxes for that the Mahama administration considers more important than the health of the people?

And the same goes for the GETFund. Most contractors who have executed GETFund projects are either out of business or reeling under huge debts. So educational infrastructure from basic to tertiary education is not being upgraded.

Yesterday, contractors in the Brong Ahafo region, who had been contracted to provide classroom furniture two years ago issued an ultimatum to government to pay them or face legal action. Educational material and general logistical support to our educational system are not being purchased. This will affect the quality of our education. Worse still, complimentary grants such as school feeding and capitation grants are also in arrears. The school feeding programme and capitation grant that expanded enrollment in basic school are now under serious threat. This will negatively impact the nation’s roadmap to attaining the MDG on 100% pupil enrolment by 2015.

The same story is repeating itself at the Road Fund. Routine road maintenance has come to a halt. Potholes are developing on almost all our roads, causing fatal accidents. The bitter fact underlining all this is that road fund levies collected from you and I cannot be accounted for by government.

The irony of the situation is that, while government has failed to meet its constitutional and statutory obligations, it continues to make payments on non-statutory obligations to its cronies. We shall revisit this matter into greater detail in due course.

Ladies and gentlemen, when government took the Eurobond recently, we were told that part of the money would be used to settle contractors government was owing. Ghana has received all the Eurobond money alright, but to date, the promised payments to contractors have not happened, and contractors and suppliers continue to suffer. Once contractors and suppliers are distressed, businesses go down, ordinary people lose their jobs, and both corporate and income tax revenues go down. This affects the livelihoods of people and the economy adversely.

So with all the oil revenues which previous governments did not have, with all the many loans contracted, with all the donor grants, with all the Eurobond money, with all the CDB loan so far disbursed, and with all the tax hikes, the Mahama government cannot make statutory payments.

The painful fact is that, a government that engages in so much indiscipline and recklessness in its expenditure pattern in an election year as the Mahama government did in 2012 will certainly live to reap bad harvest. This is the crisis confronting Ghana’s economy today.