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Stealing is not a difficult task For the NDC at all – Bekwai MP

Member of Parliament for Bekwai Constituency, Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu says the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government listens to no one when it comes to stealing.

According to him, any attempt to rush into passing the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Development Agency (GYEEDA) bill will pave way for the ruling NDC government to loot state coffers again.

Speaking on Oman Fm’s Morning Show, Hon. Joe Osei-Owusu said, government’s determination to pass the bill in order to legitimize operations of GYEEDA is a smoke-screen because the activities of GYEEDA are under the control of a mandated ministry which is legalized by the constitution.

He again said that the issue with the bill is not the structure but rather the funding and lack of streamlining financial management within the law.

He said, a critical look at the bill will lead one to the realisation that it is a way for the NDC government to perpetuate fraud, adding that stealing is not a difficult task for them [NDC].

“The NDC we know, stealing is not a difficult task for them and so if the bill paves a way for them, they will steal again. They are not worried about stealing; in fact the current NDC is different, for them they don’t listen to anybody when it comes to stealing from state coffers; you can say whatever you want but once they’ve purposed in their minds to steal, they will steal”, he asserted.

Presidency over spends budget by GHC45 M

The Minority in Parliament have raised red flags over what they describe as excessive spending by the presidency at a time Ghanaians are experiencing economic hardship.

The finance committee report submitted to the House indicates the office of the Chief of Staff under the Presidency was allocated GHC7, 487,048 for the year 2014, but as at the end of September, it had spent GHC48, 811,722.

Parliament approved a ceiling of GHC30,929,343 but according to a report from the Finance Committee of Parliament, the Presidency spent GHC75,917,714 between January and September only.

This means there was diffirence of about GHC44,989,371 during the period.

The amount was spent out of a total of Ghc326.8 million allocated to Government machinery for the year 2014.

Hon. James Klutse Avedzi, the Finance Committee Chairman, explained that the total amount allocated to government machinery is an addition of the original and supplementary budgets, adding that as at September, Ghc203 million, representing 62 percent of that budget had been spent.

Deputy Minority Leader Dominic Nitiwul, who indicted the Presidency for disrespecting Parliament by not seeking approval to overspend, stated that the office of the Chief of Staff by exceeding its budget meant that other key agencies of state were denied enough monies to play certain key statutory and constitutional roles.


Prez Mahama must probe sale of Chinese buses for MMT- Agyarko

Member of Parliament for Ayawaso West Wuogon, Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko, has urged President John Mahama to urgently investigate the purchase of 20 Chinese buses for the Metro Mass Transit Company (MMT).

According to him, the country will be short changed and the tax payers hard earned taxes allowed to easily go down the drain, if government goes ahead to buy the said buses at the cost of $200,000 each.

The relative low fares charged by the MMT, has made a huge number of the public to patronize their services. In this regard government has indicated its plan to augment the fleet of buses for the MMT by purchasing additional vehicles to make the state transport company more efficient in its business.

However speaking on Peace Fm’s Kokrokoo show on Monday, Hon. Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko, who lauded government’s decision nonetheless, stated passionately that Ghana would not have its money worth by buying Chinese buses at such exorbitant price.

He emphasized the need for further due diligence to be done before the buses are brought into the country, as previous Chinese buses bought for the same company proved not to be of good quality as the buses broke down in no time.

Hon. Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko, added that President Mahama should immediately step into the matter and ensure that the public purse is not misused.


EC frustrating the work of Parliament – Yileh Chireh

A former Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Joseph Yileh Chireh, has slammed the Electoral Commission (EC) for frustrating the work of Parliament.

The Wa Central Member of Parliament (MP) has also directed a healthy dose of his anger at Ministries, Departments and Agencies, which ,in his view, have equally been impeding the work of the House.

His comments follow a decision by the leadership of Parliament to cause MPs to sit on Saturday to allow for a crucial Constitutional Instrument laid before the House by the EC to become law after 21 sitting days in the legislature.

The MP believes Parliament has been compelled to sit on Saturday because the Electoral Commission and Central government has slacked in performing its duties.

“The issue is that every government and every nation must have a Parliamentary calendar which indicates government’s policies that are likely to come into Parliament, legislation on all the rest of the things, including this constitutional instrument.

“At the beginning of Parliament and at the beginning of the year, people should know that elections for the District Assemblies will be held so if now Parliament has to sit on Saturdays, I think that because we are not accounting for the time used, that is why some people relax, including Ministries and Electoral Commission,” Chireh stated.

He, therefore, called on the Speaker to assign responsibilities to every Parliamentarian in order to ensure that the political calendar is not distorted.

“Whatever organisation ought to bring a document before the House it should be brought at the appropriate time…That is why I’m calling on the Speaker and the leadership to let us begin to apportion responsibility to people because this is not acceptable …Otherwise, we are going to dislocate the political calendar.It is not fair.”

Earlier, Majority Leader, Alban Bagbin, explained the reason why the House must sit on Saturday after some MPs took issue with the decision to have the House to sit on Saturday.

According to him, “because Parliament needs a number of sitting days to have the legislative instrument come into effect, it has become compelling for Parliament to sit outside the normal working days.”


Didieye drags NDC to court today

An Accra High court will today hear the motion for an interlocutory injunction filed against the impending NDC congress by a member of the party.

NDC MP for Afram Plains Emmanuel Aboagye Didieye is seeking to halt the December 20 Congress of the party as he challenges his disqualification.

Didieye who was vying for the National Organiser slot of the NDC, said he was unjustifiably disqualified by the party’s Vetting Committee.

But the Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, George Lawson has said the party took a decision against the MP because he failed to satisfy the party with regards to the filling of his forms.

Speaking to Starr News, Mr. Didieye said the NDC must defend itself in Court today so the case does not have any consequence on the party.

“If they don’t want it to have any bad consequences on the party then they should address the issue immediately. If they delay then it would have a negative impact [on the party]”.


Eurobond controversy: Akoto-Osei wants BoG clarification

Dr Akoto-Osei thrashed the Finance Ministry’s explanations on the use of the Eurobond proceeds once again.

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has been lured into the controversy about the utilisation of $1 billion Eurobond proceeds, although the Finance Ministry tried to quell the matter.

Minority spokesperson on Finance, Anthony Akoto-Osei, wants the central bank to speak on the matter because a recent explanation by Deputy Finance Minister, Cassel Ato Forson on how the Eurobond money has been utilised muddies the water further.

The former Deputy Finance Minister says the government indicated it “will finance the 2014 budget with all the Eurobond [proceeds]”, but that has not happened.

Speaking on Joy FM and Multi TV’s news analysis programme, Newsfile, on Saturday, Dr Akoto-Osei still insists the Bank of Ghana Monetary Survey, which he described as “one of the best statistics in Ghana” shows the Eurobond proceeds have been used to pay government debts to the central bank.

In an attempt to quell the controversy surrounding the status of some $1 billion Eurobond proceeds, Finance Ministry last week released details of utilisation of the funds.

The $1 billion was what government obtained from an oversubscribed third Eurobond issue in September, 2014. It has a 12-year maturity, with a coupon at a rate of 8.125%.

Since the completion of the bond issue, the Minority in Parliament has made several claims the money is not being used for its intended purpose.

Deputy Finance Minister, Cassel Ato Forson, offered the following details about the disbursement and utilisation of the $1 billion Eurobond proceeds in a release issued last Wednesday:

” i. An amount of US$200 million was planned to be used for short-term debt re-financing. Of this amount, a total disbursement of US$64,993,254.06 was transferred to pay for the maturing 3-year Government Bond totalling GH¢200 million on 15th October, 2014. Thus, leaving a balance of US$135.01 million on this item.

“ii. Secondly an amount of US$250 million was planned to be used for Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund (GIIF) Account. As at 24th October, 2014 the total amount had been transferred into the GIIF Account as a Seed Capital for the Scheme which will be commissioned in early 2015.

“iii. Thirdly, an amount of US$250 million was planned to be used to fund capital expenditure projects. As at today, a total of US$114.95 million has been used to pay for various projects, leaving a balance of US$135.05 million.

“iv. Finally, an amount of US$288.71 million was planned for Counterpart Funding. Nothing has been utilised so far, under this component.”

However, Dr Akoto-Osei thrashed the Finance Ministry’s explanations once again on Newsfile Saturday December 13.

“They are saying that they are planning to use it next year because it is not showing [in the 2014 budget]. Originally the 2014 budget claimed it will be used this year but it has not been used. Today is December 13, 2014”.

He was hopeful however that between December 13 and 31, 2014 the Finance Ministry would find the money to use for the intended projects.

Editor-In-Chief of the New Crusading Guide, Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako, who was also on the programme said the best institution to clarify matters about the whereabouts of the Eurobond proceeds would be the central bank — a view Dr Akoto-Osei fully subscribed to.

According to Akoto-Osei instead of the Finance Ministry’s determination to convince Ghanaians that the money is intact or being used judiciously, a response from the central bank would be a more credible one.

Ekumfi MP renders account

Member of Parliament (MP) for Ekumfi Constituency in the Central region, Mr. Abeiku Crentsil, last Tuesday came face-to-face with his constituents to render accounts of his stewardship since voted into office in 2012.

He was tasked to outline his achievements since assumption of office and also bombarded with questions by constituents on why he had not been able to fulfill promises he made to his constituents.

This was when the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) organised a public forum at Essarkyir for residents in the constituency.

The event afforded the constituents the opportunity to dialogue and find answers to questions bothering on development in the area from their MP.

The MP was reminded of the promises he made within a year and asked to state how many of them he had been able to deliver and why he had not been able to fulfill others.

Speaking at the function, the MP affirmed that that he had delivered on all the promises he made.

Touching on health, he hinted that the constituency would benefit from the 15 polyclinics President John Dramani Mahama promised to build in the country, adding that it will be completed by the end of 2015 with attached accommodation.

He disclosed that he has presented two ambulances to facilitate smooth healthcare delivery in the area.

Mr. Crentsil added that €3.45 million has been allocated for Essarkyir water expansion to produce 3.6 million gallons of water a day to address the perennial water problem in the area.

He further added that he had also distributed 200 outboard motors to fishermen at subsidised prices while the deplorable roads in the area were awaiting approval for construction works to begin.

“The roads in the area have been captured and funds made available; so possibly by 2015, construction will begin,” he assured the people.

District Chief Executive (DCE) of the area, Mr. Ibrahim Kweku Dawson, commended the MP for his hard work for the past two years, saying most of the achievements of the district were through the lobbying of the MP.

For his part Director in charge of Parliamentary Strengthening at CDD-Ghana, Regina Oforiwa Amanfo, explained that the MP’s Accountability and Responsive forum was introduced in November 2012 prior to the elections to promote projective and constructive criticism and praise where necessary for the MPs to know their performance.

She stated that prior to the upcoming 2016 elections, the programme was revisited in August this year, and the 20 MPs who made it to Parliament out of the 30 constituencies they visited in 2012 were made to understand that they were being documented to be called to account for their stewardship.

She revealed that so far her outfit has been able to visit 14 constituencies out of the 20 and the rest will follow next year.

Madam Amanfo said the forum was to help the constituents demand accountability from their MPs and advised them to vote on issues since that will help them make informed choices in the next elections.

The residents were given the opportunity to ask questions and while a few praised the MP for working hard, others chastised him for totally depriving their communities of the national cake.


Avoka appointed to head Immigration Board

Mr Cletus Avoka, Member of Parliament for Zebilla Constituency and a former Minister of the Interior has been appointed to head a nine-member Board of Ghana Immigration Service (GIS).

Other members are: Dr Ahmed Abdulai Jinapor, Mr John Owusu Amankrah, Mr Robert Orraca Tetteh, Nana Essilfuah Boison, Commissioner of Police Dr Peter A. Wiredu, of GIS, Mrs Adelaide Anno-Kumi, of the Ministry of the Interior and Mr Alexander Grant Ntrakwa of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.

Mr James Agaga, Deputy Minister of the Interior, who inaugurated the Board charged members to work assiduously to remove any rancour within the service.

The Deputy Minister administered the official oath of office and secrecy.

Mr Avoka thanked President John Dramani Mahama for the honour done them and assured him of their preparedness to work hard in building a responsible Immigration Service.

He also assured the staff and management of their resolution to assist the service to enhance its performance and operations.

“We need the cooperation of the ministry, management and the staff to enable us perform because the board alone cannot do anything,” he added.

Mr Avoka noted that Ghana Immigration Service plays a key role in selling the country because they are first to see foreigners entering into the country and the last to see them out of the country.

This, he said, calls for professionalism, discipline and compartment on the part of the personnel to portray a positive image of the country.

He said during his tenure of office as the Minister of the Interior, he proposed the arming of the Border Patrol Unit and it had been approved by the National Security Council but due change in government the decision had not been implemented.

He assured that the new board would revisit the decision and see how to fast track it.

On accommodation, Mr Avoka said government alone cannot build office accommodation throughout the country and called for private partners to assist.

He said there is the need to lobby the Metropolitan, Municipal and District assemblies to assist in their small ways.

“I know they have been doing that for some government institutions and they can as well assist the Immigration Service,” he added.


Parliament approves GHC 290,983,972 for Local Govt Mins, MMDAs

Parliament has approved a total of Two Hundred and Ninety Million, Nine Hundred and Eighty- Three Thousand, Nine Hundred and Seventy Two Ghana Cedis (GHC 290,983,972) for the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

The sum is allocated to the ministry and its Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (M MDAs) as well as other programmes and projects of the ministry to enable them undertake their planned activities for the 2015 fiscal year.

The Committee on Local Government and Rural Development in a report submitted on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday, prior to the approval of the budget indicated that, the District Development Facility (DDF) stands the risk of donor withdrawal if government fails to meet its 31% counterpart funding obligations totaling about GHC 60 million.

The Committee therefore recommended to the Ministry of Finance to ensure that this vital intervention for District Assemblies is not lost as it is currently one of the major funding opportunities available to poor Districts to meet their development responsibility.

It added that effort must therefore be made for the timely release of the counterpart funds for the continuous and smooth of the DDF.

On the issue of Ghana Social Opportunities Project, the Committee observed with worry the inability of the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection to utilize the US$ 5 Million allocation under the Ghana Social Opportunities project in respect of LEAP.

The Ministry could not access the Funds in 2014 because it could only carry out the assessment of 74,000 households instead of the 80,000 which is a precondition to accessing the fund. In addition government could not provide the necessary counterpart funding to enable us access donor funds for the LEAP programme in 2014.

Consequently, funds made available by donor partners are lying down without being utilized whilst our people are still living in abject poverty.

Ghanamps.gov.gh/Kwadwo Anim

Parliament has failed to enforce budget spending limit – IEA

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has indicted Parliament for failing to enforce the budget spending limit approved in the 2012 Parliamentary Appropriations Act (PAA).

The Constitution designates the Consolidated Fund (CF) as the key Public Fund that receives government revenues and it also stipulates that withdrawals from the CF must be authorized by Parliament.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Appropriations Act (PAA) sets ceilings each financial year for government spending from the CF based on the budget submitted to Parliament.

The PAA therefore vests authority in Parliament to ensure that government expenditure is in conformity with budget estimates.

But the IEA is insisting that the mandate of Parliament is rarely exercised, resulting in expenditure overruns from one financial year to the other.

IEA indicated that “Parliament has systematically failed to monitor the budget and enforce spending limit.”

A clear example of an expenditure overun is evident in the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning’s request in July, asking Parliament to approve a GH¢3,196,855,671 Supplementary Budget Estimate in conformity with Article 179(8) of the Constitution for the rest of the year.

According to the IEA, despite the opportunity for government to revise its budget estimates, expenditure is almost invariably exceeded by the close of the year, often by wide margins.

Speaking on Eyewitness News, the Member of Parliament (MP) of Abuakwa South in the Eastern Region, Atta Kyea expressed dissatisfaction with the failure of Parliament to discharge its constitutional and legal mandate of monitoring the budget and ensuring that government operates within the rules set out by the House.

According to him, Parlaiment can effectively monitor government spending if MPs put aside their political differences and deal with politicians who flout the PAA.

“Can we converge as a House and leave the partisan position out and deal with a Minister who for one reason or another has underperformed and totally violated the appropriation act? Can we do it, then Parliament will be seen as an oversight body in terms of how the public purse is applied and managed? That will be a huge revolution from my perspective,” he remarked.