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Ho Chiefs agitation baseless, their roads are being fixed – MP

The Member of Parliament for Ho Central, Benjamin Kpodo says he is puzzled by the attitude of the Chief of Kpenoe Traditional Area, Togbe Kotoku XI over the latter’s agitations against government when he had clearly seen the commitment of government to respond to the development issues confronting the area.

The Chiefs of Volta Region are incensed with the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government over what they say is a lack of commitment to tackling developmental issues that confront them and their people.

The latest agitations are coming from the Paramount and Divisional Chiefs of Kpenoe, Takla and Hodzo communities in the Ho Municipality, who have given the Mahama government a two-week ultimatum to fix their deplorable roads.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, the Paramount Chief of Kpenoe Traditional Area, Togbe Kotoku XI, warned that failure to commence works on their roads would leave them with no option than to block the roads to vehicular traffic.

Although a bulldozer was seen clearing shoulders of the roads, the Chiefs suspect the situation might be one of government’s gimmicks for political gains in election year.

Commenting on the position of the Chiefs in the area on Anopa Kasapa on Kasapa 102.5 FM Wednesday, the Ho-Cetral MP – Benjamin Kpodo said he was taken aback by the harsh decision of the Chiefs led by Togbe Kotoku XI.

According to him, the deplorable roads in the area was an age-long problem, but the Mahama-led administration has earnestly put in much efforts currently to fix the poor shape of the roads in the area.

According to him, a contractor assigned to the road being complained about has just moved to site and has began clearing the road for actual works to be executed on that road.

“I have been engaging them(Chiefs). All documents covering the project we’re undertaken I have shown it to them, when I recently met them. The Assemblyman-Togbe Kotoku XI for instance has access to all the documents and I am surprised that these things are happening. Maybe because the other road(there are two Lots on one paper) went earlier they think that they will complete that one and leave theirs, but I have constantly assured them that we’ll do it. And fortunately the second contractor has showed up and he’s clearing the road. Lets give him time to work on the road.”

Terkper, GRA boss likely to be sanctioned by Parliament

Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper, together with the Commissioner of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), George Blankson, are likely to face sanctions from the Parliament of Ghana because of their decision to suspend the implantation of the 1% tax on interests as captured in the Income Tax Amendment Act.

The two are expected to be hauled before the August House for questioning over their act which has been considered as an affront to the legislature.

Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei who raised the matter on the floor of the House, Thursday, sought the guidance of the Speaker to rule on the issue whether it was appropriate for the GRA to suspend the implementation of an Act passed by Parliament.

“Mr. Speaker, you will recall that we’ve passed the Income Tax Amendment Act but unfortunately, some institutions write in the papers suspending implementation of the Act. These days people are talking about Parliament that we are not serious. I think the least we ought to do is to make people know when Parliament passes an Act, you don’t reverse it until the right thing is done.”

“I refer to the GRA publications several times in the newspapers purporting to suspend an Act of Parliament. I think the least we can do is to send notice to whoever does such a thing that if continuous we will advise ourselves”, he noted.

Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, who was not enthused by the action of the Finance Ministry and the GRA warned that before any decision could be taken over an Act that is in the statutory books of the country, those behind it must seek approval from the August House.

“If it is true that they have put a notice in the newspapers suspending an Act which is on the statutory books, then it is not proper. Until the law is amended, that is the legal position and nobody can suspend a law in the statutory books”.

The 1% tax on interest earned on any investment became operational on January 1, 2016 following the passage of the Income Tax Amendment Act.

This meant that all interest paid to an individual – interest accrued on treasury bills, fixed income deposit, interest from banks and many others will attract a 1% tax.

Also, interests paid to individual unit trust or mutual fund holders were also to be taxed.

But the implementation sparked uproar among the citizenry, with some threatening to withdraw their savings and other investments made from the banks and other financial institutions.

The GRA reasoning with the concerns raised by the populace issued a notice in the daily newspapers suspending the implementation of the law.

MPs to improve in the use of tablets – Muntaka

Majority Chief Whip in Parliament, Muntaka Mubarak has said despite the difficulty of the Members of Parliament using a newly installed digitised system for proceedings in the house, the MPs are likely to improve handling the device in the coming days.

There were scathing reports of major difficulties as the MPs tried their hands on the tablet computers fixed for usage in the chamber when parliament reconvened Tuesday, January 26.

Many have argued that this could frustrate the efforts being made to make the house paperless, as parliament complains the cost of stationery and printing is high offlate.

In an interaction with Accra-based Citi FM, the Asawase lawmaker said “ it’s not easy for the MPs to easily adopt the use of the device” the house nonetheless is pursuing it vigorously until they can be comfortable using it.

According to him, close to 80% were following it after most of them initially struggled to follow through the proceedings, which were conducted by the Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho.

“Since the installation, I’ve been one of those who has been pushing for us to use these gadgets and I’m happy the speaker has accepted and is pursuing it vigorously. Our expectation is that out of the 275, we should be able to get about 150 having to use it the first day…but believe me by the time we got to public business, I could say close to 80% of the members in the chamber were following easily from the tab in front of us.”

Finance Ministry stifling GETFund growth – Parliament

The Parliament of Ghana, Wednesday, bemoaned the untimely releases of funds to the GETFund Secretariat by the Ministry of Finance for their planned infrastructural projects.

The House was equally not enthused with the absence of a legal framework to guide the operations of the GETFund Secretariat since its establishment in 2000.

The delays, the House observed, have resulted in cost overruns due to price fluctuations, project variations and high interest on delayed payments.

That aside, the absence of a Legal Instrument to indicate in detail the specific functions and activities to be undertaken by the Secretariat in managing the Fund was affecting its smooth operations.

Contributions from both sides of the House stressed the need for the Finance Ministry to be proactive in the release of funds to the GETFund Secretariat on time to avoid the extra cost being incurred by the State.

Members also urged the Minister of Education to ensure that an L.I. is presented to Cabinet for onward transmittal to Parliament for consideration and passage to address that challenges confronting the smooth operations of the Secretariat.

“If we want GETFund to operate effectively and contribute to the development of education in this country, then we have to make sure that the legal framework outlining the scope of their operations should be well captured to be able to guide the Secretariat to function properly”, noted the Member of Parliament for Dome/Kwabenya, Sarah Adwoa Safo.

“Delays in the timely releases of funds to the GETFund Secretariat put a lot burden on the tax payer. The delays must cease to avoid us from paying huge sums of interest on moneys borrowed to undertake projects. We must crack the whip so that those who allow these infractions to occur do not repeat it again”, MP for Keta, Richard Quashigah added.

The concerns raised by the House were in reaction to the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the performance audit report of the Auditor-General on the GETFund funded infrastructural projects in public tertiary institutions.*

A performance audit report conducted into the operations of the GETFund Secretariat by the Auditor-General has revealed that monthly disbursement into the Fund was usually in arrears between two and nine months.

This, according to the Auditor-General, prevented contractors from executing their job on the scheduled date.

“Due to delays in payment to contractors which resulted in extension of time, price fluctuations on some projects increased the original cost of the project by about 44%”, noted the Auditor-General.

For instance, the report a price of bag of cement increased from GH₵5.70 in year 2005 to GH₵10.60 in year 2006 when the project was scheduled to have been completed.

“As at April 2012, the Project was still on-going and a bag of cement had risen to GH₵19.00. Under such situations, the contractor will not be able to control cost overruns”.

On the issue of variations, the report noted situation normally increases the contract sum between 16% and 44% which was contrary to the acceptable level of 15%.

The situation, the Auditor-General added, constitutes a breach of the GETFund Act, 2000 (Act 581).

The report also revealed that the GETFund Secretariat do not have measures in place to reduce cost overruns relating to price fluctuations, variations and interest on delayed payment.

After deliberations over the matter, the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, directed that a copy of the votes and proceedings for the day and the Committee’s report be made available to Ministry of Education.

Italian Prime Minister to address Parliament of Ghana next week

The Parliament of Ghana would next week host the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi.

Renzi who would be in the country to explore trade and investment opportunities is expected to address the Parliament of Ghana after his engagement with the President of the West African country, John Dramani Mahama.

The Prime Minister would be accompanied by a high-powered delegation made up of legislators and businessmen.

The Italian Ambassador to Ghana, Ms. Laura Carpini, revealed the Prime Minister’s visit when she paid a courtesy call to the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana, Edward Doe Adjaho Tuesday.

Renzi’s visit was later communicated to the Ghanaian legislators when the Speaker Adjaho opened the 4th Meeting of the 4th Session of the 6th Parliament of the 4th Republic later in the day.

He told members that the Business Committee of Parliament will provide details on the program for the visit when the House sits on Friday.

Renzi is currently on tour of West Africa to strengthen his country’s relation with some sub-Sahara Africa countries.

Currently in Nigeria, Renzi will head to Ghana before going to Senegal to complete his tour to the West African sub-region.

NDC to suspend Klottey Korle MP Nii Armah Ashietey

Ghanamps.gov.gh is reliably informed that the National Council of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) is set to suspend the party’s Member of Parliament for Klottey Korle Nii Armah Ashietey for engaging in acts that are causing tension and division in the constituency.

The NDC is of the view that the veteran politician’s conduct if not immediately checked, could cause the party’s defeat in the upcoming November Parliamentary elections.

Nii Armah Ashietey who is a two term MP, and another member Nii John Coleman have filed a joint suit at an Accra High Court against the Electoral Commission and the Parliamentary Candidate for the area, Dr Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings, challenging the latter’s legitimacy to contest for a parliamentary seat under the 1992 constitution.

The two who contested the NDC’s constituency Parliamentary election and lost to Dr Zanetor on November 21, 2015, are of view that her election was unlawful as she is not a registered voter in the National Voters register.

The case is expected to be heard on Friday January 29.

An Accra High Court had earlier on Friday January 15 dismissed a similar suit against Dr Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings clearing her to contest the upcoming November Parliamentary election.

Some aggrieved members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and supporters of Nii Armah Ashietey had sued Zanetor challenging her election.

They prayed the court to nullify her election as she was not qualified to be elected as Parliamentary Candidate of the party because she is not a registered voter in Ghana.However the court dismissed the case.

When the party thought Klottey Korle was eventually going to see peace as finality had been brought to the case, the incumbent MP has quickly ran to court also challenging Dr Zanetor’s eligibility.

The NDC hierarchy Ghanamps.gov.gh understands has taken a serious view of Nii Armah Ashietey’s conduct which is causing disunity among party members in the area, and has considered taking punitive measures against the ‘troublesome’ MP.

The Party is also not happy that the MP failed to exhaust the party’s laid down internal mechanism to address such issues before he proceeded to court.

The ruling party post its Parliamentary primaries in November 21, has warned that it will not hesitate to punish any member whose waywardness has a tendency of causing the NDC’s electoral defeat.

Plant Breeders Bill top on agenda as Parliament reconvenes

The controversial Plant Breeders Bill, 2013, which caused some uproar among some major stakeholders in the country would be critically looked at during the 4th Meeting of the 3rd Session of the 6th Parliament which opens on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, the meeting’s agenda has revealed.

The Bill which is currently at the Consideration stage of Parliament is expected to be heavily debated and passed during the meeting.

Various interest groups who are either for or against the Bill are expected to make their voices heard once again in the coming weeks following the announcement by Parliament to consider and either approve or reject the policy during the meeting.

Other Bills that are at the consideration stage and are expected to receive some attention by the legislature include; Conduct of Public Officers Bill, 2013, Intestate Succession Bill, 2013, Right to Information Bill, 2013, Immigration Service Bill, 2013, National Disaster Management Organisation Bill, 2015 among others.

Below is the summary of the agenda for the 4th Meeting of the 6th Parliament:

The 4th Meeting of the 3rd session of the 6th Parliament of the 4th Republic will open on Tuesday, 26th January, 2016. During this meeting, a number of activities are scheduled to take place. There are twenty six (26) Bills which will be at table for presentation; some of these Bills are;

• Ghana School of Law Bill, 2016
• Legal Service Bill, 2016
• Road safety Bill, 2016
• Tax Administration Bill,
• Electronic Communication Bill
• Presidential Transition(Amendment ) Bill, 2016
• Prison Service Bill, 2016 among others.

There are fifteen (15) Bills at Committee which are still being worked on. They include;
• Companies Bill,2013
• Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill
• Whistleblower (Amendment) Bill, 2015
• Ghana Aids Commission Bill
• Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill, 2015
• Narcotics Control Commission Bill, 2015
• Ghana Deposit Protection Bill, 2015 among others.

Nine (9) Bills are at the Consideration stage. They are;
• Conduct of Public Officers Bill, 2013                                                                                                                                            • Intestate Succession Bill, 2013
• Right to information Bill, 2013
• Immigration Service Bill, 2015
• Chieftaincy (Amendment) Bill, 2013
• Plant Breeders Bill, 2013
• Minerals Development Fund Bill, 2014
• National Disaster Management Organisation Bill, 2015
• The Chartered Institute of Taxation Bill, 2014

There are twenty three (23) other instruments to be presented at the meeting, three (3) instruments at the Committee Level and forty one (41) Papers to be presented.

Eight (8) Motions have been tabled for Debate and ninety five (95) other referrals of Bills at the Committee.

During this meeting, the State of the Nation Address will be delivered by the President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E.John Dramani Mahama. Appropriate Bills will be passed.

Kate Addo (Ms)
Deputy Director, Public Affairs
Parliament of Ghana

GH₵1,450,000 condoms bought without due process

Male condoms worth GH₵1,450,000 were bought in 2009 by the Ghana Health Service with blatant disregard to the Public Procurement Act, the 2011 report of the Auditor-General has revealed.

Although the products were delivered and the amount paid, the procurement process used in procuring the items, according to the Auditor-General, was flawed.

Consequently, the purchase of some laboratory consumables worth GH₵378,000 from Global Unilink was also done without following the Public Procurement Act.

The purchases, Kasapafmonline.com learnt, were done through sole sourcing, with the processes used, contravening with the Public Procurement Act.

Similarly, 13 Great Wall Hovers at a total value of GH¢546,000 were single sourced from Auto World without prior approval from the Public Procurement Authority (PPA).

Additionally, the Ghana Health Service was cited to have engaged various insurance brokers through single source selection without prior approval from the PPA.

The Insurance Brokers, according to the Auditor-General committed the Ghana Health Service to annual insurance premium payment of GH¢321,867.00 for 325 vehicles insured without prior approvals by the authorized body.

“The procurements contravened Section 40(1) of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) which states that a procurement entity may for reasons of economy and efficiency and subject to the approval of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) engage in procurement by means of single sourcing under specified conditions.”

“The irregularities were due to management’s non compliance with the provisions of the Procurement Act coupled with ineffective functioning of the various procurement structures within the procurement entity”, the report in part stated.

These came to the fore when officials of the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC) to respond to queries raised by the Auditor-General.

The PAC had met to consider the 2011, 2012 and 2013 audited reports of the Accountant-General on the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and was specially, considering some irregularities cited in the reports against the Ministry of Health and its Agencies.

The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira responding to the issues conceded that the Service erred in the processes in the single sourcing of the products, he was quick to add that the matter was being investigated by the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO).

“Mr. Chairman, there were no vehicles in the system at that time. The then administration thought they could present a proposal to the Ministry to see if they could get some companies that do hire purchase to come to their aid. But the procedure they used was wrong so EOCO has picked and is investigating it”, he noted in his submission to the Kwaku Agyeman-Manu chaired PAC.

When asked why sanctions should not be brought against him, Dr. Denkyira told the Committee that he could not be held accountable for that since the incident did not happen under his care.

The PAC not enthused with the response given by Dr. Denkyira has recommended sanctions against the Management of the Service in accordance with Article 92 of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).

Jake blazed the path set by his father – Parliament

Parliament has joined millions of Ghanaians to commiserate with the family of the late Jake Obestsebi Lamptey, describing the late national Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) as a stalwart who blazed the path set by his father and the forefathers of the country.

A statement signed and released in Accra by the Acting Director of Public Affairs, Parliament of Ghana, Kate Addo, said the legislature received with shock the passing away of the former Minister for Tourism & Modernization of the Capital, noting that Jake had very close relations with the House of Representatives.

“As the Constitution allowed him, he attended upon the house and participated in many debates of the House. He also came to the floor of the House on numerous occasions to answer questions concerning the various ministries he headed as minister. What we remember most about Jake was his ready smile and many jokes. His anecdotes were always witty and left one with a smile long after he was gone”.

Jake, according to Parliament, always argued his point firmly but with such decorous language that one could not help admiring him.

It said when political tensions go up; the former Tourism Minister always had ways of explaining to everyone that there was no need to antagonize each other because Ghana was a country with one people and a common destiny.

“We do not see party colors at this time; we see one of our own, a fallen hero. We call out his name but we do not get the usual boisterous response we have come to expect and love so much from him. We do not have any choice but say, adieu, good countryman. Jake blazed the path set by his father and our forefathers; he gave meaning to the words in our national pledge”.

Nii Armah Ashittey sues Zanetor, EC

Member of Parliament for Klottey Korle Nii Armah Ashittey and one Nii John Coleman have filed a joint suit at an Accra High Court against the Electoral Commission and the Parliamentary Candidate for the area, Dr Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings, challenging the latter’s legitimacy to contest for a parliamentary seat under the 1992 constitution.

The two who both contested the NDC’s constituency Parliamentary election and lost to Dr Zaneto on November 21, 2015, are of view that her election was unlawful as she is not a registered voter in the National Voters register.

The case is expected to be heard on Friday January 29.

An Accra High Court on Friday January 15 dismissed all suit filed against Dr Zaneto Agyeman Rawlings clearing her to contest the upcoming November Parliamentary election.

Some aggrieved members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) had her sued her challenging her election.

The aggrieved members including Joseph Narku Botchway, Jacob Amin, Alhaji Mohammed Mahmud and Reverend Michael Kwabena Nii Adjei Sowah insisted Dr. Zanetor Rawlings, was not qualified to be elected as Parliamentary Candidate of the party because she is not a registered voter in Ghana.

Other defendants in the suit were the NDC and the Electoral Commission.

They had prayed the court to declare the election of Dr. Zanetor Rawlings “null and void” and order the NDC to conduct fresh elections in the constituency.

But the presiding Judge Patience Mills Tetteh, ruling on the matter dismissed the application on the grounds that the petitioners’ action amounted to an afterthought, as they should have raised their objection against the candidate after she filed and was running her campaign.

She was of the view that disqualifying Dr Zaneto will be a waste of her (Zaneto)’s money as she spent a lot of resources leading to her emerging the winner in the party’s primary.