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Haruna Iddrisu likely to be Minority leader

Minister of Employment, Haruna Iddrisu has been tipped to lead the soon-to-be Minority in Parliament, as he faces no opposition to that position.

Outgoing Majority leader, Alban Bagbin is likely to become Second deputy Speaker of the House in the Seventh Parliament starting January 7, 2017.

Jostling for the various leadership positions in Parliament has intensified after the defeat of the governing NDC in the December 7 parliamentary and presidential polls. The NDC lost its majority in Parliament as well as the presidential poll to the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Out of the certified 273 Constituencies by the Electoral Commission (EC), the NPP has 170 seats while the NDC won 103 seats. The NPP would now form the majority in the House ending the NDC’s eight-year control of the House.

Fueled by the prospect of enhanced salary, comfortable office and other incentives, the lobbying for front role positions in the House appears far from over.

Both NPP and NDC caucuses are firming up names to constitute their first line of defence in the next Parliament.

Joy News has learnt, seniority, eloquence, competence and regional balance would be some of the key factors to determine the various office occupants.

Minority leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu is likely to be elevated to the Majority leader position when the new Members of Parliament (MPs) are sworn in on January 7.

There is a contention about who becomes Mr Mensah Bonsu’s deputy from the NPP.

MP-elect for Navrongo Central Constituency in the Upper East Region, Joseph Kofi Ada is up against MP-elect for Effutu Constituency in the Central Region, Alexander Afenyo Markins for the deputy majority leader position.

Assin North MP-elect, Kennedy Agyepong is reported to have rejected a Chief Whip position offered him by the party’s rank and file, opening the door for a suggestion from the Central Region.

Okere MP and Minority Chief Whip, Dan Botwe has not been considered for any position in the House after he was pencilled for ministerial position by President-elect, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

In the incoming Minority, Deputy Works and Housing Minister, Sampson Ahi and MP for Banda Constituency in the Brong Ahafo Region, Ahmed Ibrahim have been tipped to be made minority Chief Whip and deputy respectively.

Ketu North MP in the Volta Region, James Klutsey Avedzi has been selected by the NDC to head Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

We will force Mahama to contest NDC Flagbearer slot in 2020 – Vanderpuye

Minister of Youth and Sports, Nii Lante Vanderpuye has said President John Mahama will be compelled to run for Flagbearer position of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) going into the 2020 election even if he doesn’t want to.

According to him, President John Mahama is the NDC’s surest bet to recapture power from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the next general elections.

President Mahama led the NDC to a resounding defeat during the December 7 elections. While Akufo-Addo won the popular votes in six regions, representing 53.85 of the total valid votes cast, President Mahama polled 44.40 percent.

Few days after the NDC’s defeat, party stalwats begun proposing that the President be retained as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2020 elections.

Persons such as the Ashanti Regional Minister and Deputy Minister of Power, Alexander Ackon and John Jinapor have publicly expressed their conviction that the NDC will be able to better organize itself for the 2020 elections with President Mahama as leader.

Speaking to Bola Ray on Starr Chat on Starr FM Wednesday, Hon. Nii Lante Vanderpuye who’s also the Member of Parliament for Odododiodoo stated that President John Mahama will have no match for the Flagbearership position of the NDC for the 2020 election if he decides to contest.

Let me be frank with you, I don’t see any person in NDC beating John Dramani Mahama at congress for the Flagbearership slot come congress. John Mahama will come again in 2020, so the NPP better watch out, we’re going to correct our mistakes and come like Kakai”.

Hon. Nii Lante Vanderpuye was confident the NDC will soon embark on a reorganization drive to energize the base of the party to ready it to wrestle power from the NPP come election 2020.

Muntaka, Banda MP maintains leadership roles in Parliament

NDC MPs for Asewase and Banda, Hon. Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka and Hon. Ahmed Ibrahim, will maintain their respective leadership positions when the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic commences on January 7, 2017.

However, they will operate from a different office.

Muntaka currently the Majority Chief Whip in the Sixth Parliament will revert to Minority Chief Whip while the Banda legislator also maintains his role from the Minority side.

The change in office was provoked by the outcome of the December 7 parliamentary elections which saw the opposition NPP sweeping 171 seats from a previous 122 while the NDC amassed 104 seats from a previous 148 seats.

Their retention in office, according to inside sources, did not receive any resistance from the group when the issue came up for discussions in one of their recent meetings in the Job 600.

Majority of the MPs were of the view that the performance of the duo was outstanding during the period they’ve been in office.

REVEALED: Bagbin picks up 2nd Deputy Speaker position

Barring any unforeseeable glitch, the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic which will commence its sittings on January 7, 2017, will see the elevation of the MP for Nadowli/Kaleo, Hon. Alban Sumana Bagbin to the position of 2nd Deputy Speaker.

Bagbin, who is currently the Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business in the Sixth Parliament, was elevated to the 2nd Deputy Speaker position following a consensus reached by his colleague National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs on the Majority side who retained their seats

There was some resistance from some few colleague NDC MPs who believe that Bagbin’s elevation to the number three position of the Legislature will be detrimental to the course of the umbrella family.

The Nadowli/Kaleo lawmaker’s rapport with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MPs on the Minority side became a big issue when the umbrella family MPs met to decide who amongst them should be nominated for the 2nd Deputy Speaker position.

They see Bagbin as someone who could easily be compromised now that the table has turned, with the NPP winning about 171 parliamentary seats in the just ended parliamentary elections to form the Majority while the NDC with its 104 seats forms the Minority in the Seventh Parliament.

But upon a second thought, the opposing MPs realized the outgoing Majority Leader is their best bet for the 2nd Deputy Speaker position considering his rich experience in governance, parliamentary work, and his legal background.

Bagbin who has been in Parliament for almost 24 years now will be the oldest MP in the Seventh Parliament following the exit of Hon. Enoch Teye Mensah, MP for Ningo-Prampram, Hon. Alhaji Seidu Amadu, MP for Yapei/Kusawgu and the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho who until his elevation to the Speaker position was the MP for Akatsi South.

He took over the Majority Leader role from Hon. Benjamin Kumbour having served as Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing and later Minister for Health under the late John Evans Atta Mills’ regime.

God saved Ghana through Nana Addo – Atta Akyea

The MP for Abuakwa South Samuel Atta Akyea has assured Ghanaians a Nana Akufo-Addo-led government will ameliorate their plight when the NPP takes over power from January 7, 2017.

According to him, Ghanaians will experience economic freedom under the leadership of Nana Akufo-Addo due to prudent economic policies that will be rolled out.

“January 7 will be a new era which is going to bring our prosperity and our freedom, especially economic freedom which Ghanaians are craving. Ghanaians are going to notice that God has saved the country from hardship,” Atta Akyea said during a donation to Asiakwa SOS in the East Akim Municipality in the Eastern region.

He said he is ready to serve in a ministerial capacity should he be offered one by President-elect Nana Akufo-Addo.

Some of the items he presented include seven bags of rice, cooking oils, salt, sugar, milk, drinks and undisclosed amount of money.

Parliament approves GHC 255m tax incentives for Karpower

Parliament has granted a request tabled before it by the Finance Ministry to waive import duties and other taxes amounting to US$255,081,814.00. on project materials and equipment to be procured for use in relation to the power purchase agreements between Karpower Ghana Company Limited and the Electricity Company of Ghana Limited for the supply of the two 225MW powerships in Tema and Sekondi.

This follows a heated argument that ensued between the Minority and the Majority sides of the House.

Discussions which started on Thursday, December 22, 2016, saw both sides put up strong arguments to advance their course as to whether the request for the tax waivers should be granted or not.

Chairman of the Finance Committee, James Klutse Avedzi in presenting his committee’s report told Members that due to the power crisis that bedeviled the country for about three and half years as a result of the drought that adversely affected water inflow in the Akosombo Dam, there was the need for policy shift that focuses on increasing the installed capacity of Ghana’s electricity generation from 2000MW to about 5000MW.

This, he noted, is to serve domestic market, provide appropriate reserve margin, and position the country to export power and develop a non-congested transmission system for the country.

In view of this, he said there is the need for accelerated effort to add and reinforce more thermal generation and diversify the country’s portfolio of power plants as well as expand the electric transmission and distribution grid in order to ensure reliable and secured evacuation of all power that will be generated to meet the ever increasing demands of customers.

To meet this goal, the government, according to Mr. Avedzi, entered into a 10-year power purchase agreement negotiation with Karpowership for the provision of 450MW of electric power into the country’s national grid.

The powership project is expected to provide medium to long term reliable and low cost supply of electricity over a period of ten years to the Republic of Ghana whilst new power plants constructed and existing ones rehabilitated.

This, he said, has necessitated the granting of waiver of relevant taxes to Karpower.
The waivers, he said, falls in line with the government’s investment promotion program to give tax incentives to investors.

But the Minority led by Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, demanded for the entire agreement covering the deal to enable them make informed decision over the tax waivers.

Besides since there was court ruling over the Karpower deal, it would be appropriate for the House to appraise itself with the ruling before going ahead to grant the tax waivers.

Majority Leader, Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, in response told the House that the tax waivers are in connection to the project implementation agreement which is different from the commercial agreement.

After back and forth argument over the issue, the First Deputy Speaker, Ebo Barton-Odro, who presided over the sitting, deferred the discussions to Friday, December 22, 2016 to enable the House appraise itself with the court ruling before going ahead to grant the tax waivers.

Members after appraising themselves with the court ruling at Friday’s sitting had no difficulty in granting the Finance Ministry’s request for the tax waivers.

The 225MW power ship has since its arrival in the country last year, consistently and reliably produced 225MW to the national grid despite unfulfilled key conditions in the Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA).

One of the biggest advantage of the Karpowership is that it sells power to ECG and not plant availability, thus, fuel supply is the obligation of Karpower Ghana Limited at its own cost, failure of which will attract penalties.

The PPA was signed with ECG and negotiated over 18months as with other IPPs  like Asogli and CenPower among others.

Under the PPA tax exemptions and guarantees were required but have remained outstanding until now.

The tax exemptions being granted under a Project implementation  Agreement were negotiated by Ministry of Finance, GRA and Ministry of Power in October 2016
in line with Provisions of the PPA.

It covers a ten-year period. Others have exemptions for much longer period.

The Turkish powership saves Ghana approximately US$120million per year over other fuel.

Parliament ends last session without passage of RTI Bill

Parliament will resume for a final session on January, 4 , 2017 ahead of its final dissolution on the night of 6th January.

President John Dramani Mahama is expected to address the House with his final State of the Nation’s Address the next day after parliament reconvenes.

The House adjourned late last night, Friday after four days of sitting, since reconvening after the December 7th Elections.

Among the businesses undertaken within the session was the approval of the report of the Presidential committee on emoluments for Article 71 Office holders which was done last night.

The reports spells out the end of service benefit for the President, Vice-President and Ministers and other senior government officials.

However, the minority managed to block proposed agreement for the one hundred and thirty eight point five million dollar deal between government and AMERI Group for the operation of the T3 plant at Takoradi.

The Right to Information bill was also not passed after being on the desk for many years awaiting the final passage.

The right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.

The current parliament, though has made progress with the bill, there are currently 24 proposed amendments left to be made to the bill.

The Majority caucus accused the minority side of dragging its feet in the consideration of the remaining amendments left to be worked on before passage of the substantive bill.

But the Minority in Parliament rejected such claims by the majority caucus.

Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul, who rubbished such allegation insisted they’re most committed to passing the RTI Bill.

Mr Nitiwul had rather intimated in an interview with Accra-based Citi FM that: “We are all committed to passing it. Every single member of Parliament is committed to passing the Right to Information bill. As a party and as a caucus, we are one of the few people who want it passed. We thought that even by this time, we should have passed that Bill.”

He continued: “There are clauses in there that we think are problematic. One of them is the implementation because the majority, thinking they would win the election, decided to push the implementation to five years from today. It was one of the issues we said no to. So there are some pertinent issues we need to agree on before we will pass it as it is.”

The First Deputy Speaker, Ebo Barton Odro announced the House will reconvene, next month ahead of the dissolution.

We aren’t dragging our feet on RTI bill – Minority

The Minority in Parliament has rejected claims by the majority caucus that it is not showing political will towards the  passage of the Right to Information (RTI) bill.

The Majority caucus yesterday [Wednesday] accused the minority side of dragging its feet in the consideration of the remaining amendments left to be worked on before passage of the substantive bill.

The Majority say there is a deliberate attempt  by many MPs on the minority side  to deny the house of the needed quorum to transact business matter relating to the bill when it convened Tuesday.

But Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul,has rubbished such allegation insisting they’re most committed to passing the RTI Bill.

Speaking in an interview with Accra-based Citi FM, Mr Nitiwul said: “We are all committed to passing it. Every single member of Parliament is committed to passing the Right to Information bill. As a party and as a caucus, we are one of the few people who want it passed. We thought that even by this time, we should have passed that Bill.”

He continued: “There are clauses in there that we think are problematic. One of them is the implementation because the majority, thinking they would win the election, decided to push the implementation to five years from today. It was one of the issues we said no to. So there are some pertinent issues we need to agree on before we will pass it as it is.”

Minority boycotts loans approval, suppliers agreements in Parliament

The Minority Caucus in Parliament says it will no longer be part of the process in approving loans and other contractual agreements the Government of Ghana has entered into with other institutions because of the failure of President Mahama’s Transition Team to furnish the House with copies of their handing-over notes.

In the view of the group, Parliament ought to have received copies of the said handing-over notes that covers all state institutions as well as that of the office of the President and the Vice-President about a month ago, to enable them know the programs and policies the government has projected to pursue from November 7, 2016 to the midnight of January 6, 2017.

But for reasons unknown to them, copies of the said handing-over notes, have till date, not been made available to Parliament.

Instead, the government is busily engaged in the recruitment of people into the public service, despite its agreement with the International Monetary Fund in respect of net freeze in employment until 2017 except in the health and education sectors.

Article 66 (1) provides that “A person elected as President shall …hold office for a term of four years beginning from the date on which he is sworn in as President.

The Presidential (Transition) Act, Act 845 provides for a preparation of handing-over notes covering the term of office of the President as the executive authority and the presentation of same to the “Administrator-General …not later than thirty days before the date of the Presidential election” which was held on December 7, 2016.

The law provides in Article 6(2) that the handing-over notes is question shall include:

  • Notes on the activities of:
  • The office of the President and the Office of the Vice-President, and the agencies under the portfolios of the President and of the Vice-President;

(ii) the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and

(iii) the Regional Ministries and the District Chief Executives.”

The law further provides in Article 6(3) that “the handing-over notes shall reflect the accurate developments which have taken place during the tenure of office (that is, up to November 7, 2016, in this case) and the projections of developments to take place before the end of the full tenure.

That means the projections should span the two-month period between November 7, 2016 and January 6, 2017. These should be boldly spelt out in the handing-over notes.

Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu who addressed journalists at a press conference, Thursday, over the issue said per the dictates of the Transition Act, Parliament is required to be served with copies of the handing-over notes, with the projections expected to help the House to determine what outstanding business to conduct.

Significantly, Parliament has not been presented with handing-over notes from the Administrator-General covering the activities of the Presidency, the MDAs, the Regional Ministers and District Chief Executives. Neither has Parliament been given any reports relating to the projections of development that government envisages in the transition period. Over 90 percent of business that is conducted in Parliament is public or government business. Without the reports on the accurate developments which have taken place during the tenure of the Presidency of John Dramani Mahama and a clear statement on what is projected to be done, Parliament cannot, suo moto, decide on which business to transact including the approval of new loans.

“In the absence of such accurate handing-over notes and reports to Parliament, one would expect that, in a spirit of consensus-building, the current administration would clear any undertakings, especially, new engagements with the Presidential Transition Team. The President John Dramani Mahama administration has elected not to avail itself of this vehicle. In the circumstances, we in the NPP minority Caucus would want to register and indeed hereby register our deepest disgust at unilateral decisions being taken to have Parliament approve of loans, Supplier’s Agreement and Project Implementation Agreements (the latter of which process is unknown to the Rules of Procedure of Parliament) in this period of transition. We regret to state that we cannot be part of the processes and decisions which in our considered opinion are illegitimate,” he noted.

He bemoaned the situation where recruitments are being made into the public service “at the last hour” by the out-government.

Neither the 2016 budget nor the budget for the 1st quarter of 2017 (i.e. the Vote on Account for the first three months of 2017) which was submitted on behalf of President Mahama by the Minister of Finance, Hon. Seth Terkper in November 2016 made provisions for these latter day recruitments. How is the in-coming administration going to carter for the remuneration of these persons? On what criteria have these new appointments and recruitments been based?” he quizzed.

The Minority Leader commenting further advised the out-going government to be more transparent and build consensus and carry the entire nation along from now to the midnight of January 6, 2017 to avoid a situation where the in-coming administration would be forced to review all the recruitments and appointments made.

We will close all contracts before we leave power – Baba Jamal

Deputy Employment and Labour Relations Minister, Baba Jamal, says the outgoing government led by President John Dramani Mahama will not be distracted by the outcome of the December 7 general elections to stop all negotiations they started some months ago with various public institutions and groups as being pursued by the in-coming government.

To Jamal, once the laws of the land permits the out-going government to continue with its responsibilities until the midnight of January 6, 2016, any contract or negotiations before the table of the government shall be signed or closed before they leave power.

“We shall close all contracts and or negotiations we started five or four months ago”, he noted.

Jamal made this observation in interaction with Accra-based Okay FM, Wednesday, December 21, 2016.

His comment was in response to claims by the in-coming government that President Mahama-led out-going government is signing numerous contracts and increasing salaries of some government workers just two weeks before leaving office, a move many see will overburden the incoming administration.

Government has increased allowance for National Service personnel from GHC 355.00 to a little over GHC500.00 as well as salary adjustment of salaries for some public sector institutions.

There are also claims of the signing of some dubious contracts, one of which is between the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation with SCL, a waste management company with millions of dollars.

But Jamal reacting to those claims said there is nothing wrong going ahead to conclude all those deals since negotiations started some months ago.

To him the previous NPP administration led by John Agyekum Kufour signed the Single Spine Salary Structure on the eve of the inauguration of then President-elect John Evans Attta Mills. Nobody, he said, questioned the move and therefore wondered why people are raising issues with deals the outgoing government is closing.