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Power crises brouhaha,….reduce taxes on solar panel importation – Ursula

Member of Parliament for Ablekuma West, Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful has called for the immediate reduction of taxes on the importation of solar panels.

According to her, this move when implemented will encourage the use of solar power and also lessen the country’s dependence on electric power, especially at this crucial moment where the country is reeling under a power crisis.

The country has been plunged into darkness with an ongoing load shedding exercise for more than two years, and the situation seems not to get better anytime soon as GRIDCo has indicated of an intensified load shedding very soon due to a generation shortfall of more than 500 megawatts.

The shortfall is about a third of the entire 2,000 megawatts needed for distribution.

According to the Volta River Authority (VRA), the power crisis has deepened again because of water levels in the Akosombo, Bui and Kpone Dams, in addition to the scarce gas supply from Nigeria and the breakdown of some power generators.

However, contributing to a discussion on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo show Thursday, Hon. Ursula Owusu stated that it was about time the country looks out for other sources of energy other than electric power.

She urged that construction companies should also be charged to put solar panels on new projects, as most developed have gone the solar way in terms of providing energy.

Hon. Ursula Owusu Ekuful accused government of not being able to find a lasting solution for the erratic power supply that has plagued the country for nearly three years, but is rather trying to cover up by signing contracts which will not help the situation.

Kwadwo Anim/Ghanamps.gov.gh

Dr Twum Nuamah debunks ‘Payroll Fraud’ allegation

Dr. Twum Nuamah, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP who has been named in the payroll fraud brouhaha, has denied any deliberate intention on the part of his wife and himself to defraud the state after the couple was paid more than Ghc67,000 in unearned salaries for more than 7 months in 2013.

Speaking to The Republic in an interview to clear his name, Dr. Twum Nuamah claimed that even though he had been paid those amounts, he has since paid them back to the Government, denying criticisms that they are “crooks”.

Indeed, this paper is in possession of the payment order made for the return of those unearned monies: Dr. Nuamah made the repayments in three tranches, the first of Ghc2,800 being paid through the GCB bank on July 25, 2014.

He subsequently paid the remaining amount of Ghc20,000 and Ghc8, 170 in September and December 2014 respectively.

It is unclear why he had to pay the money in tranches, a situation that has earned him further criticisms that he may have tampered with the funds he knew did not belong to him.

Dr. Emmanuel Agyei-Darko, Medical Superintendent of Bechem Gov’t Hospital of the Ghana Health Service, where Dr. Nuamah worked before leaving for active politics wrote to the District Auditor of Tano South confirming the return of the funds wrongfully paid.

In the letter dated September 2014, the Medical Superintendent wrote: “I wished to inform you that the Sum of Twenty thousand Ghana Cedis (Ghc20,00.00) and Eight Thousand One Hundred and Seventy Ghana Cedis (Ghc8,70.00) has been paid by the above towards his unearned salary recovery. This brings to a total of Thirty Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy Ghana Cedis (Ghc30,970.00) so far paid.”

According to Dr. Nuamah, who is an NPP Member of Parliament for Berekum East, the Audit report capturing his wrongful payment was erroneously presented because the controversial payments were done due to some “mix-up” deliberately schemed by some people in the Health Services at the time he was an active public servant.

According to him, the Service later acknowledged their mistake in continuing to pay his salary even though he had left the service. He told this paper that he and his wife-who was facing a similar fate-, agreed with their former employers to return the funds lodged into his account in Berekum.

However, when the Auditor General came to audit the books, the service failed to notify the auditors about the anomaly so it would not be captured in the audit report. “ It was now the duty of the hospital management to explain to the auditor…they had to give that information to them [the auditor]. That information was not captured before a report was made available to the auditor,” he told the Republic newspaper.

The audit report capturing the payment of the unearned salaries, stated: “ We noted that two (2) formal staff members namely Dr. Twum Nuamah (Former Medical Superintendent) and Mrs. Amankwaa Nana Akua (a nurse) who left the institution since January 2013 and May 2013 respectively still have their names appearing on the hospital’s mechanized payment vouchers. As a result a total amount of Ghc67,012.88 was paid into their personal bank accounts at the Ghana Commercial Bank and Agricultural Development Bank at Techiman and Berekum respectively,” excerpts of the intercepted audit report stated.

Dr. Nuamah, who spoke on behalf of the couple said their issue is a mere administrative lapse which was not their fault. He also did not rule out the fact that in his case, somebody at his former work place may have been out to ‘do him in’.

According to him, at the time his wife Mrs. Amankwaa Nana Akua (a nurse) was being paid the unearned salaries, she had taken a statutory leave and had been transferred to the Greater Accra Regional Health Services at the period she was alleged to have received the payment and that the mistake was due to the inability of the Bechem hospital in Brong Ahafo Region to transfer his name onto the payroll of the Greater Accra health service where she had been transferred to; stating that his wife is still a staff of the service.

Notwithstanding this, there is no record to show that she handed over to her successor as is the standard practice in all government departments or serious business when a person resigns or transfers to another department.

Recently, an audit report gleaned by this paper showed that Dr Twum Nuamah and his wife Mrs. Amankwaa Nana Akua, who were both appointed Medical officers in the public service in the previous administration drew thousands of Ghana cedis as salaries for periods ranging between 10 and 7 months after they had left public sector.

The couple cashed a whopping total of Ghc67,012.88 in unearned salaries from their respective banks-Ghana Commercial Bank and Agricultural Development Bank at Techiman and Berekum.

This revelation came at a time Policy think-tank, IMANI Ghana and the protest group-Occupy Ghana being allegedly sponsored by the NPP were gleefully threatening to pin the immense payroll fraud on the current administration of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The two organizations-known for having strong ties with the opposition NPP – have given the CAGD an ultimatum on what they believe as an active payroll being perpetrated by some powerful individuals with influence on the payroll system.

The IMANI boss, Franklin Cudjoe has threatened to expose the Controller and Accountant General’s Department over what he describes as an incriminating document he has intercepted about the country’s payroll system, saying the intercepted documents showed that the country lost huge sums of money through the system in a manner, which was “orchestrated and well planned.

Source: The Republic

Parliament has not flouted rent law; MP responds to…..

Parliament’s Select Committee on Works and Housing has rejected accusations that the Legislature has flouted the rent law for paying four years rent advance to Parliamentarians.

Chairman of Parliamentary Select Committee on Works and Housing David Tetteh Asumin told the Joy FM Super Morning Show that parliament does not rent houses for MPs but rather pays the rent allowance to the legislators.

He was responding to criticism from the Secretary-General of the National Tenants Association of Ghana, Frederick Opoku.

Mr. Opoku criticized MPs for fuelling lawlessness by collecting four years rent advance instead of six months as stipulated by the 1963 Rent Control Act.

“Even parliamentarians are breaking the law. Are they not taking four years [rent] advance? Honourable Members of Parliament, the Speaker and all his groups are breaching the same law they are supposed to be protecting”, Frederick Opoku said on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Wednesday.

But David Tetteh Asumin who is also the MP Shai Osudoku, explained that Parliament as an institution has not broken any law.

The 4-year allowance represents payment for the four-year term of MPs, he explained. He suggested it is the individual MPs who will have to negotiate favourable terms with landlords.

That is to say, some MPs could be paying six months rent as required by law or paying more than six months.

Be it as it may, Parliament pays an allowance not an advance to MPs.

He acknowledged that the 1963 law on rent is being flouted by landlords and tenants and suggested that the executive forward a proposal to amend or review this rent law.

Yagaba Kubore MP sets up GHS40,000 fund to support students

Students in Yagaba Kubore Constituency of the Northern Region are benefiting from a GH¢40,000 endowment fund set up by the MP of the area.

Students from the constituency pursuing education at universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and nursing training colleges will be eligible to benefit from the fund.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP, Mr. Mustapha Ussif, said the money, which was sourced from his Education Scholarship Fund is aimed at alleviating the suffering of students and their families in their quest for higher education.
“As contribution towards promoting education and in recognition of the fact that education remains the bedrock of social change and development, I shall endeavor to pay my dues by sponsoring as many of my constituents from my MP’s Common Fund,” he said.
According to him, the constituency is lagging behind in education with many educational institutions urgently needing basic facilities to support effective teaching and learning.
Mr. Ussif said he was contributing his quota to bettering the situation.
“I’m committed to honoring my campaign promise of promoting education particularly at the tertiary level for the benefit of the residents of the Yagaba Kubore Constituency,” he stated.
He is convinced that when many constituents are supported at the tertiary level to complete their courses of study, they will in turn teach students at the basic level, subsequently.
He called for more support for the initiative.

Jomoro MP presents cash and cement for KG block

In a bid to ensure a more convenient atmosphere for learning by school children in the Jomoro constituency, especially Enzemitianu town, the Member of Parliament for Jomoro, Wing Commander (retired) Francis Kabenlah Anaman, has handed over 100 bags of cement and an amount of GHC 2,400 towards the building of a kindergarten block in the town.

The facility which is estimated at GHC 30,000 is being financed from the MPs share of the Common Fund.

Hon. Wing Commander (retired) Francis Kabenlah Anaman said on completion of the school block, the building will accommodate the kids who are presently studying in an old block which is not in the best of condition which endangers the lives of the children.

He said being someone who is dedicated to ensuring the delivery of quality of education in the area; he remains committed to seeing the completion of block which is one of his campaign promises to the constituents.

Hon. Wing Commander (retired) Francis Kabenlah Anaman noted that the project had delayed owing to the late arrival of the Common Fund.

He advised the inhabitants to have an interest in the education of the children as it would yield position results for them and the community in the future.


GDP of 3.9% not achievable as power crises rages on – Titus Glover

Member of Parliament for Tema East, Nii Kwatei Titus- Glover has said Ghana is not likely to achieve a Gross Domestic Product, (GDP) rate of 3.9 percent which has been set for this year.

According to him, this is so especially due to the energy crises that the country is currently experiencing, a situation which is adversely affecting both small scale businesses and industries which contribute significantly to the economy.

The MP’s comment comes in the wake of a latest admonishing by the Ghana Grid Company (Gridco) urging the public to brace themselves for an intensified load shedding as there is a shortfall of five hundred megawatts of power.

Speaking on Metro TV’s Good Morning Ghana show on Tuesday, Hon, Nii Kwatei Titus- Glover lamented about the economic hardship and discomfort that is being visited on Ghanaians most of whom depend on electricity for their activities.

“The ordinary barber, Nii Okai in front of my mother’s house who depends on power to run his business is facing a lot of difficulty, the hairdresser I met in site 21, a mother of two complained bitterly of the toll the lack of electricity is having on her business as she has to feed her family with proceeds from her business which is badly affected’’ he said.

Nii Kwatei Titus- Glover was at pains to understand why the government is not able to solve the energy problem that has plunged the nation into darkness for over two years, but is always quick to give assurances on dates to end the load shedding exercise but has woefully failed to stop it.


Parliament not broke –

Members of Parliament were expected to reconvene on January 27 after they rose sine die for the Christmas holidays, but the date for their resumption has been postponed to February 3rd, prompting fresh speculations on the financial state of the House.

But the Deputy Majority Leader Alfred Agbesi in an interview with Citi News explained that the Speaker used his discretion to choose the new date after the Business Committee of the House proposed a date.

In the second quarter of 2014, Parliament was forced to postpone its resumption date due to financial difficulties.

He said the recall of Parliament is the prerogative of the Speaker, therefore, if the business committee proposes a date, it is subject to the approval of the Speaker “so that is why normally, Parliament is adjourned sine die.”

“The leadership of Parliament proposed that Parliament should reconvene on the 27th of January which was subject to the approval of the Speaker and that is the reason why he has fixed a new date of 3rd February,” he insisted.

Mr. Agbesi stressed that, to the best of his knowledge, “the date being fixed on 3rd February is not due to any financial constraint.”

He argued that if the House was facing financial challenges; the Speaker would have made that known to Members of Parliament (MPs).

The Minority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu in May 2014 told Citi News, the House which was expected to resume on May 27, had to reschedule the resumption date to June 3 due to financial difficulties after rising on March 28, 2014.

Rumours of financial difficulties sufficed again after the House decided to rise earlier than the scheduled date.

But Alfred Agbesi shot down those rumours with the explanation that the decision was to pave way for expansion works to take place in the chamber of the House.

Nigeria will annex Ghana soon if……Ken Agyepong

New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central in the Central Region, Kennedy Agyepong fears Ghana would soon be annexed by Nigeria if the country does not take steps to safeguard her sovereignty.

The NPP Legislator said on Oman FM Thursday that his fear stems from the rampant mounting of billboards of Nigerian political contenders in the country.

This practice, he said is totally outrageous and urged the security agencies in the country to be up and doing by tearing down the advertisements as that is improper and inconsistent with international conventions.

Several billboards of Nigerian political contenders including President Goodluck Jonathan and his presidential contender, Buhari have sprang up in the capital with the excuse that it is a means of campaigning to reach Nigeria’s growing community in Ghana.

A senior Research Fellow at the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), Vladimir Antwi-Danso condemned this practice calling it a security threat.

The international relations expert told Adom News in an interview that since the relationship between some former leaders in Ghana and Nigeria are not too warm, allowing the mounting of the billboards could have dire consequences, not just on the international scene but in local politics.

But the Executive Secretary of the Advertising Association of Ghana, Francis Dadzie insisted mounting the billboards does not flout any law.

He also said they do not pose any security threat as intimated by Dr. Antwi Danso.

The NPP Legislator commenting on this termed it as inappropriate and cited practices in various Western countries to buttress his point.

“Do you know how many Canadians live in the USA and vice versa, but no one goes to mount billboards in each of the countries during their internal political contests…what of Belgium and France, yet it is never done…,” he said.

Thus to him, the National Security of Ghana must be up and doing about this high level of ‘impunity.’

The Billboards advertising the political messages of Nigerian political opponents are on the N1 highway and at the Silver Star Junction on the Airport road.

Parliamentary Committee inspects projects in UWR

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Water Resources, Works and Housing, has called for enhanced stakeholder collaboration for the successful completion of the Wa Water Supply Expansion Project.

Among stakeholders the Committee is advocating for their full involvement are the law enforcement agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Forestry Commission.

The move is geared towards addressing concerns of a possible water pollution by illegal small-scale miners and Australian mining company, Azuma Resources, who are said to be using the same source of water, the Black Volta, for their mining activities.

Mr. David Tetteh Asuming, Chairman of the Committee, made the call when he led members to inspect some projects in the Upper West Region.

He described the project as a huge one that would address the water needs of the people of Wa and its environs, and that no stone should be left unturned in the execution stages, in order to make it stand the test of time.

Mr. Tetteh Asuming who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Shai Osudoku in the Greater-Accra Region, appealed to Kolon-Pyung Wha Consortium, a Chinese Construction firm and the Project Contractor, to endeavour to factor in all concerns in order to deliver to meet not only the project specifications, but also the expectations of the people.

Explaining the purpose of the visit, the Chairman said it was not good for them to stay in Accra and be approving loans for projects without getting to the ground to know how the projects were being executed.

He said the visit would, therefore, afford them the opportunity to assess the projects, and make a report to the sector Minister for appropriate action.

Mr. Justice Joe Appiah, Ranking Member of the Committee, and MP for Ablekuma North, described the project as wonderful, considering the importance of water to human life.

He lauded the contractor for work done so far, but appealed for more efforts to be committed to the project, in order for it to be completed on schedule.

Mr. Daniel Konadu, Wa Water Supply Expansion Project Co-ordinator, said currently the project was about 30 percent complete.

He revealed that water demand in the Wa Area was 11, 000 cubic meters per day, but current generation stood at 2,000 cubic meters per day.

Mr. Konadu said when completed, the project would raise supply to 15,000 cubic meters, representing 3.3 million gallons a day bringing supply above demand.

The project is being funded by the Korean Exim Bank (EDCF) at a total cost of 51,539,150 dollars, with the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and the SHINWOO Engineering Corporation, serving as client and consultant respectively.

Other projects visited by members of the committee included the Manwe, Busa, Napogbakole, small town pipe water supply systems, all in the Wa Municipality.

The team also inspected similar projects at Nadowli and Tumu in the Nadowli and Sissala East Districts respectively.

The team was accompanied by the Deputy Upper West Regional Minister, Dr. Musheibu Mohammed Alfa, the Wa Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) Mr. Issahaku Nuhu Putiaha and the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) Regional Director, Mr. Worlanyo Siabi, among others.

Gov’t website hack small warning to Ghana – Ursula

Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma West, Ursula Owusu – Ekuful has said recent hacking of government website should put the country on a security alert.

Government in her view, must devise strategies to help protect the country’s sensitive information before it is leaked to the world.

Citing the Sony Pictures Entertainment cyberhack in November 2014 where confidential data belonging to the company where leaked, Mrs Ekuful said the issue must not be taken for granted.

Government yesterday confirmed that some hackers have taken control of its official electronic portal, www.ghana.gov.gh.

The electronic portal is managed by the Information Services Department (ISD) with assistance from the National Information Technology Agency (NITA).

Deputy Communications Minister, Felix Kwakye Ofosu said investigations have begun to identify persons behind the hack. He suspects the hacking was done from Turkey.

The Alsancak Tim hackers took down the website in the eraly hours of Wednesday January 21, 2015 after hacking the sites of some state institutions including the Communication Ministry and Scholarship Secretariat.

Even though the ISD and NITA have regained access to the portal, the MP believes that the security implications of what happened yesterday should not be treated lightly.

She said ignoring it and treating it as unimportant will only in the long run, put the safety and security of the country at risk.