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Atuabo Freeport project appeal still on; 5 MPs angry

The five Minority Members of Parliament challenging the establishment of the Atuabo Free Port have dismissed media reports the case has been thrown out on appeal.

A statement copied to Myjoyonline.com stated that the appellants were yet to file their case at the court and it could therefore not be possible for any judge to throw-out a case that was yet to be filed.

“We wish to inform the general public that this is nothing but a media ploy designed by elements in Government to misinform the general public and to mislead financiers of the project,” Member of Parliament for Tema Central Kofi Brako said in the statement.

The five including, Obuasi West MP Kweku Kwarteng, Awutu Senya East MP, Hawa Koomson, Effia constituency Joseph Cudjoe and Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, filed a suit at the High Court challenging the legality of the establishment of the Atuabo Free Port.

In July last year, Parliament approved an agreement between the government of Ghana and a British company, Lonrho Ports, for the development of an oil and gas free port at Atuabo.

Clause 7 of the agreement bars Takoradi Port from further expanding its facilities for oil and gas until Lonrho builds its freeport, recovers all its costs, and makes enough profit.

The five MPs described the clause as illegal and hoped the Accra High Court will rule in their favour. But the court did not.

The court presided over by Mr Justice Peter Kwabena Ababio, reminded the applicants that the country’s democratic process had in place separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary and each one of those arms of government had to be seen to be supervising the other.

The judge said Parliament in approving the agreement did not violate any constitutional provision as it went through the process according to the Standing Orders of the House.

But the applicants were unimpressed and swore to appeal the ruling. Even before the appeal proceedings will begin, the applicants believe government is maneuvering with some false media reports which suggested the appeal has also been thrown out and that the project can now begin in earnest.

“We are not aware of any application by the Attorney General or Atuabo Freeport Ghana Ltd to dismiss our case. The said dismissal of our appeal, if it is true, happened on the blindside of we the appellants, and that is against the law. We would be taking steps to reverse these pointless manoeuvres by Government,” Kofi Brako said.

“As we have already stated, our determination to see the restriction on Takoradi Port removed would not be limited to litigation in the courts. We shall be deploying a comprehensive campaign to defend Takoradi Port and to protect the jobs of the many Ghanaians working there,” he added.

The MP further indicated they are even more convinced now that the deal was illegal and they will be pointing all that on appeal.

“Indeed, we have discovered that the creation of Atuabo Freeport under the Free Zones Act was itself unlawful. It is only under the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority Act (PNDCL 180) that any port can be created in Ghana. And once created, such a port automatically comes under the regulatory oversight of the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority.

The Free Zones Act only allows the President to declare an existing port a freeport. The Free Zones Act does not permit the President to create a freeport out of nothing. The creation of Atuabo Freeport outside the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority Act was deliberately and unlawfully done (possibly under pressure from Lonrho Ports Ltd) to take Atuabo Freeport out of the regulatory oversight of the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority. This is wrong. It poses a threat to national security,” the statement said.

Parliament to investigate President’s assassination attempt

Parliament is expected to investigate assassination attempt on President Mahama’s when the Committee on Defence and Interior meets on Thursday.

The probe has been necessitated following the prosecution of a man who stormed the President’s church wieldng a weapon with the intention of killing him.

Charles Antwi was on Tuesday swiftly sentenced by an Accra circuit court to ten years imprisonment forty eight hours after his arrest.

An Accra Circuit Court found the 36-year-old man guilty of a second-degree felony.

Chairman of the Committee, Fritz Baffour told Accra based Okay FM that the security breach at the church brings to the fore the need for an immediate revamp of the President’s security detail.

He also questioned the haste with which the accused was sentenced, adding that there was the need for a thorough investigation prior to his sentencing.

“ I agree with those who are saying there was a rush in sentencing the man, I’m of the view that a detailed investigation should have been carried out into the matter to unravel all the mystery surrounding this criminal acts, that would have made us better informed about the whole plot”.

Meanwhile, the mother of the accused Madam Afia Agyapomaa has said his son is mentally challenged and must be pardoned.

She said her son has suffered mental illness for the past two years, adding that she has tried in diverse ways to find cure for her son’s illness but has been unsuccessful.


MP presents desks and uniforms to schools

Alhaji Mahama Naser Toure, Member of Parliament (MP) for Ayawaso East, has noted that education is the bedrock of the human resource of every country.

He has therefore reiterated his commitment in making education a priority to establish and strengthen academic institutions and enhance the human resource and promote the development of the country.

Alhaji Toure was speaking at a ceremony in Accra, where he presented 300 school desks and 350 school uniforms to some schools in the Ayawaso East Constituency on Monday.

The beneficiary schools were Institute of Islamic Studies Primary, Nima “1” Primary/ JHS, St Kizito Primary/ JHS, Qubatal Islamic School, Nima “2”, Ring Road East “1” Primary/JHS and Alwaleed Comprehensive Primary/JHS.

“The others were Islamic Training Institute Primary, Kanda Estate “5” Primary, Kanda Estate “1” Primary/JHS, Kanda A.M.A Primary and Nuriya Islamic Primary.”

He said there are more enrollment in schools which is an indication of a wider academic excellence and reminded teachers and guardians of their role in ensuring that students achieve results academically.

Mr Kweku Mensah Adu-Paku, Director of Finance and Administration at the Accra Metro Education Directorate on behalf of the Metro Director said that come next term, the children in the beneficiary school would study and comes out with distinctions as they would be comfortably seated.

He said more desks and school uniforms would be disbursed to other schools in the constituency to help reduce the congestion in the schools.

He urged the heads of the beneficiary schools to maintain the items and used for its intended purpose.

Chief Imoro Baba-Issah, Public Relations Officer of the Greater Accra Council of Zongo Chiefs said the MP has being very helpful to the constituents and prayed for wisdom and God guidance against him.


Each Ghanaian owes GHC 3,600

Each Ghanaian owes a debt of ¢3,600 out of the public debt of ¢90 billion that has been contracted by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

According to the Minority in Parliament, this amount does not include the US$1.5 billion or the GHC5.25 billion Eurobond transaction that is expected to close by end of September 2015 as well as the over $300 million amount of loans that was recently approved by parliament.

Reacting to the Finance Minister’s mid-year review and supplementary budget presented to Parliament last week, the Minority Spokesperson in charge of Finance Dr Akoto Osei said government’s increased penchant for loans must stop.

He averred that the government by the rate of borrowing has suppressed the private sector making it complex for them to borrow to develop their businesses to create more jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.

“Sadly it is these unemployed youth who are expected to repay this debt in the future. At Ghana’s current debt each of us the 25 million Ghanaians owes 3,600 cedis.

“The rampant borrowing must stop,” he said.

Dr. Akoto Osei also criticized the Finance Minister Seth Terkper for indicating that substantial amount of monies have accrued from revenues collected when many statutory payments were yet to be effected.

“It is disingenuous to say the least. Of course the numbers will look good if programme payments for the first five months are in arrears of 157million cedis  to SSNIT, 112 million cedis to GETFund; 191 million cedis to DACF. Can the government be truthful to the people of Ghana for once?


Hannah Tetteh supports educational needs of constituent

Madam Hanna Serwaah Tetteh, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament (MP) for Awutu/Senya West, has reiterated her commitment to ensure great improvement in basic education level in the Awutu/ Senya District.

“It is an undeniable fact that, unless we are able to improve this vital status of education in our area of operations, we cannot lay a solid foundation for the production of enough qualified highly learned citizens to help push the district forward as expected,” Madam Tetteh said.

The Foreign Minister was addressing members of the Awutu Traditional Council and stakeholders in education at a meeting organised jointly by the Council and District Assembly at Awutu-Beraku at the weekend.

The function formed part of the preparations being made by both parties towards the celebration of this year’s annual Awubia Festival of the chiefs and people, which takes off on July 28.

Madam Tetteh said so long as she remains the MP for the area, she would continue to commit greater percentage of her share of the MPs Common Fund to support all educational improvement programmes initiated by the District Assembly.

She announced that this year about 25 school children in the area, including the physically challenged and those from derived home, who did very well in various examinations, were offered scholarships to continue their education.

Last year, Madam Tetteh sponsored 900 basic school pupils in junior high schools to undergo free long vacation classes and this year she is footing the bill of 2,500.

The MP appealed to chiefs, assembly members, parents and guardians in the District to encourage the beneficiary pupils to take full advantage of the offer to learn hard so that they would pass their basic education certificate examination convincingly next year.

Madam Tetteh assured teachers in the area that they would be paid allowances to motivate them to provide meaningful services to the pupils.

Mr Sampson Abbey Armah, District Chief Executive disclosed that the MP has made available to the Assembly GHs 70,000 for the implementation of the pending long vacation educational programme.

He expressed gratitude to Madam Tetteh for her high sense of commitment exhibited to the people.


Dumsor in Parliament: Generator supervisor to be interdicted

The Parliamentary Service Board has ordered for the immediate interdiction of the officer in charge of overseeing the effective running of backup machinery meant to supply electricity to the legislature whenever there is power cut.

“Hon. Members would have noticed that this House experienced a number of power outages which resulted in disruptions to proceedings of this House. It will appear that some steps required would have been taken to avert disruptions into proceedings in the event of power outages were not taken.

“The Parliamentary Service Board has taken a great view of the embarrassment to the House but the disruptions to its proceedings and decided to institute an inquiry into the matter. It has accordingly ordered the interdiction of the officer responsible for overseeing the maintenance of these facilities,” noted the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho.

The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho, who is also the Chairman of the Parliamentary Service Board announced this to members of the legislature last Friday night in his wrap-up message to close the Third Session of the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic.

Other members of the Parliamentary Service Board include the Majority Leader, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Deputy Majority Chief Whip, Hajia Mary Salifu Boforo, Hon. Nii Okaija Adamafio and the Clerk of Parliament, Emmanuel Anyimadu.

The Board he said has taken practical steps including liaison with the Electricity Company of Ghana to have one of their personnel on standby whenever the House is sitting.

Parliament was forced to suspend its sitting last Wednesday, July 22, 2015, when a power cut disrupted its proceedings.

The 19-year-old standby generators meant to power the chamber and other offices of the legislature in case power cut could also not function partly due to unavailability of fuel, compelling Parliament to get in touch with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to put them on emergency service.

Power was finally restored in an hour’s time with Deputy Director of Public Affairs, Kate Addo, announcing to journalists that the House was in the process of procuring new generators to replace the existing ones.

Parliament leaves Blakk Rasta off the hook

Parliament has reprimanded former radio host Blakk Rasta for his contemptuous comments made against the legislature.

He alleged that over 80% of Members of Parliament use Marijuana, a statement which was seen as an affront to the body of law makers. He was summoned to appear before the Privileges Committee to explain himself.

The Privileges Committee having heard him concluded that Blakk Rasta did not show any sign of remorse prior to appearing before them, but that it was only after his own voice was played back to him that he and his lawyer begun to show regret and apologized.

The committee was of the view that the apology came way too late and that he needed to be sanctioned to serve as a deterrent to other people.

Members of the House who commented on the matter commended the committee for coming up with such recommendation, noting that freedom of speech should come with responsibility.

Following this, the Speaker Rt. Hon.Doe Adjaho directed the Marshal of Parliament to bring Blakk Rasta who was then seated in the public gallery to the floor of the House to be reprimanded.

When he appeared on the floor he rendered an unqualified apology to the Parliament. He said while he sat in the public gallery he was crying because his irresponsible comment had brought him this trouble and for which he had been hauled to the House and was wasting everybody’s time, as the time Parliament should have used to discuss serious issues was being used to discuss his irresponsible deed.

Blakk Rasta added that if he were to receive a slap each from all the 275 MPs he would gladly do so.

After his plea, both the Majority and Minority Leaders sought the indulgence of the Speaker to accept the plea.

The Speaker in response said Blakk Rasta’s disparaging remarks was an affront to the dignity of the House and that Parliament has always believed that the media plays a critical role in the democratic dispensation of the country, adding that this was the very reason why Parliament repealed the criminal libel law.

He added that MPs do not come to the House to mark english language but are there to represent the people, do legislative work and other businesses of government.

The Speaker said ” We have accepted the apology but we shall be watching you”. He added that prior to Blakk Rasta’s unfortunate remark, he was his number one fan, but has now ceased to be.

” This should be the last time you are making such disparaging remarks, go and sin no more,” the Speaker said.


Naa Torshie losses Tema West primary

First Deputy Minority Whip and Member of Parliament for Tema West, Irene Naa Torshie Addo has lost the NPP primary held in the constituency.

Her main contender Carlos Ahenkorah defeated her polling 502 as against Naa Torshie’s 273 to end the two term MP’s dreams of retaining her seat come 2016.

Some 721 voters out of the 821 registered voted in Saturday’s elections, which saw the other contestant Adwoa Amoako manage only two votes.


Parliament approves GHC1.5 Billion Eurobond

Parliament on Thursday approved the contentious GhC1.5 billion Eurobond.
The money is planned to service government loans and also assist in balancing the budget.

The loan agreement was laid before the House following the presentation of the mid-year supplementary budget review by the Finance minister on Tuesday.

The issue generated huge controversy in the chamber with the opposition questioning why government is not able to generate funds internally for developmental projects.

The minority caucus expressed concerns why government couldn’t service earlier bonds taken under the previous Kufour administration.

Per the arrangement, $500m is expected to be used refinancing domestic and external debt. The remaining amount of $1billion would be used to finance the 2015 budget in order to reduce the dependence on short term expensive domestic debt.


Sissala East MP registers 178 persons under NHIS

Member of Parliament for Sissala East, Sulemana Aligata Gbentie has emphasized her commitment to seeing an improvement in the health of her constituents.

In view of this, the MP has registered 178 constituents who are living in Agbogbloshie in Accra onto the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

This follows her visit to the area to ascertain their living conditions after the Accra Metropolitan Assembly demolished the area to clear structures located near the Korle Lagoon.

She told GhanaMPs.gov.gh in an interview that her constituents, who had initially decided to travel back to the Northern Region to make a living because of the harsh conditions after the demolishing, have now resolved to stay in Accra as conditions in the area have started improving.

She noted that the main concern of her people was their inability to access quality healthcare as they were not signed onto the health insurance scheme.

Hon. Sulemana Aligata Gbentie was confident that her people will begin to receive good health services once they make use of their NHIS cards.