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MMDCEs to cooperate with MPs to access their common fund—Minister

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Alima Mahama, had indicted to Members of Parliament that the Ministry is required to instruct the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) to cooperate with MPs in releasing funds for the payment of the procured works, goods and services.

According to the Minister, doors of the Ministry and the Administrator are open to assist in addressing peculiar challenges MPs may face regarding funds approved by Parliament for works, goods and services procured in the name of MPs.

The Ministry is expected to coordinate with the Common Fund Administrator to ensure that funds are transferred to the respective accounts in the various Districts.

Local Government and Rural Development Minister made this remarks when Muhammad Bawah Braimah, Ejura-Sekyedumase legislator wanted to know steps taken by the Ministry for MPs to access their common funds without challenges.

Base on the formula approved by Parliament, constituency projects identify by an MP are to be funded by specific amounts transferred to the Districts. Monies are transferred, to the account of the District Assemblies designated for projects goods and services and works which will be carried out at the instance of the MP, the Minister said.

“Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the constitution of the Republic of Ghana, Article 252 (2), parliament is required to annually make provision of the allocation of not less than 5 percent of the total revenues of Ghana to the District Assemblies for Development, which shall be paid in quarterly installments.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

Parliamentary Press Corps triggers action on RTI bill

A campaign by the Parliamentary Press Corps (PPC) for the passage of the Right to Information Bill has received a major boost as Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has ensured that the Bill was introduced to Parliament before the House adjourned sine die.

According to him there was a crunch Cabinet meeting yesterday for final approval of the draft bill for its introduction to Parliament.

Dean of the PPC, Nana Kwesi Agyeman Birikorang at a Press Briefing in Parliament House yesterday emphasized the need for the Executive to expedite action on the Bill for its urgent introduction to the legislature.

“The PPC sincerely believes that as a group of journalists who cover daily proceedings of Parliament and a major stakeholder in the RTI Bill, it won’t be out of place if we urge Parliament not to cause any further delay whenever the RTI is brought before it for consideration and subsequent passage” he stated.

Nana Birikorang urged the Executive expedite action on resolving the two outstanding issues concerning the draft bill for its prompt introduction to Parliament.

“From our reliable checks we are fully aware that two main issues need to be considered when the Bill is before Parliament.

1. The issue of considering whether the country should have a central laboratory where those seeking to access information can go or there should be a reference centre where those seeking information can go and be directed to certain places for the required information.

2. The kind of information that should be made available to the citizenry seeking for the information because some information needs to be classified.

When all these have been addressed we believe the Executive and the Legislature have no excuse than to pass the Bill which will go a long way to enhance our work as journalists” the Dean noted.

The Press Corps believes that waiting for theresolution of all issues surrounding the bill before its introduction before Parliament must not be accepted because laws must be tested to make it better.

“In any case, it is when a Bill is passed into law and it’s tested before any gray area or loopholes can be detected. So we are asking the Executive and Parliament to pass the Bill and later if necessary an amendment can be done to achieve its purpose.

We hope our concerns will be addressed with immediate effect” Mr Agyeman concluded.

Members of the Parliamentary Press Corps were yesterday cladded in branded T- shirts demanding the passage of the Right to Information bill which has in and out of Parliament for close to two decades.

By Christian Kpesese/ ghanamps.com

GNPC saved $ 56 million – Energy Minister

Government has saved the nation some $56 million after it renegotiated the $76 million initial cost of the head Office Complex for the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) to $20 million, Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko has disclosed as Parliament approves the 2018 Programme of Activities for the company.

According to the Minister, Ghana as an emerging Oil producing country must pay particular attention development and growth of its National Oil Company.

The Minister disclosed that Government has appointed a nomination company as independent to manager to manage Ghana’s Gas accounting system since the sector will soon witness more entrants.
On the Exxon Mobil deal, Mr Agyarko acknowledged that the previous administration initiated the process.

Speaking to the media after the approval, Mr Agyarko explained that the current administration inherited a funding proposal which is expected to cost $ 76 m and has succeeded in scaling down the cost to $ 20 whiles urging the Minority to rather applaud government.

“When we came in, there was a funding proposal on the table for a GNPC headquarters that was projected to cost US$76m, we thought it was a ridiculous amount and so GNPC was instructed to look at the project again.

What we have been able to do, is to scale down the project and also commit US$20m to the project. Obviously at the end of the project we estimate US$20m” he stated.

According to Parliament’s Select Committee on Mines and Energy report on GNPC’s 2018 Programme of Activities, the firm will this year continue its effort at securing a permanent office.

The total estimated cost of the office which falls under GNPC’s non-petroleum capital projects is still being determined and will be made available after the detailed design work is completed.

The report noted that as part of move operational office of GNPC to Sekondi-Takoradi, a provision of US$10m has been made in the 2018 budget towards the construction of the office.

Among the outlook for 2018 is an exploration and appraisal project including the Voltaian Basin project: the Corporation intends to intensify its efforts at discovering oil in commercial quantities in the Voltarian Basin.

In this respect, the Corporation will acquire 600 Line Kilometres of 2D seismic data; process 600 Line Kilometres of seismic data; complete geochemistry data planning report; produce satellite imagery report.

Others are: Petroleum Development and Production Project ; Greater Jubilee Field Development and Production : the Corporation will execute the Plan of Development of the Greater Jubilee Full Field Development (GJFFD) and continue with the implementation of the FPSO Turret Remediation Project(TRP).

Tweneboa-Enyenra-Ntomme (TEN) Development and Production ; the ITLOS having ruled in favour of Ghana in the Maritime Boundary Dispute between Ghana and Ivory Coast on 23rd September 2017, the Corporation intends to continue with its development programme at the TEN field this year. The Corporation will drill and complete two development wells and continue its reservoir surveillance and management of the field as well as its maintenance operations of the FPSO.

Total production from the TEN field for 2018 is expected to be 20MMbbls of oil and 10.95 Bcf of gas export. This translates to expected average daily oil production 55,000 barrels and average daily gas export of 30MMScf.

The Ghana Group is expected to make four liftings from the field. The total amount budgeted for the Corporation’s contribution’s towards the TEN project in 2018 is US$91.15m.

The report also reveals that other midstream and other projects such as Tema and Takoradi projects, Maritime Boundary Secretariat, Ammonia Plant,Gas Evacuation Enclave Roads and PresteaSankofa Gold Limited are all expected to be worked on this year.

For Energy Minister under President John Dramani Mahama who was happy former President Mahama was not acknowledged and invited for the commissioning of FPSO JA Kufuor, said credit must be given to who is deserving.

He called for the protection of Ghana’s territorial boarders with Togo, Nigeria and Ivory Coast in the wake of the successful resolution of the Ghana Ivory Coast dispute.

Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr Mark Assibey Yeboah commended GNPC for focusing its Cooperate Social Responsibly on education and manpower training as compared to other unrelated ventures in the past.

GNPC requires a total amount of $ 986.13 million for the implementation of its programmes of activities for 2018 however, an amount of $ 356. 43 million is expected to be received leaving a funding gap of US $ 629.70 million.

By Christian Kpesese/ GHANAMPS.COM

No US military base in Ghana – Defence Minister

Minister for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul has allayed fears of Ghanaians with an assurance that the United States of America will not establish Military Base in Ghana as he lays before Parliament an agreement between the Governments of the Republic of Ghana and the United States of America on Defence Co-operation, the Status of the United States Forces, Access to and use of Agreed Facilities and Areas in the Rpublic of Ghana.

Speaking to Journalist after the presentation of the agreement, Mr Nitiwul stated categorically that no US Military Base would be establish on Ghanaian soil and that American Forces would only be allowed to use and have to Ghana’s Military bases per the agreement.

He disclosed that the agreement seeks to formalize what has already been happening by way of cooperation with Ghana where the American Forces will only use some facilities located at the Airport for the storage of their equipment and others items.

The Minister also stated that per the location of the proposed site, the American Forces will use Ghana’s Airport runways for the takeoff of their airplanes in operations with the Ghanaian Military.

He disclosed that the Ghana has always had this agreement with America on renewal basis since1998, 2007 and the latest being 2015 where the same agreement was signed at the Ministerial level with the US without Parliamentary approval.

The Bimbila Member of Parliament noted that he as current Minister of Defence could have done same without Parliamentary approval but decided otherwise.

The deal he said also defines the status of the American Soldier on Ghanaian soil.

He denied claims that the agreement will attract terrorists and said it will rather fortify Ghanaian security since America will protect where its interests are.

A former Presidential Staffer and Member of Parliament for Builsa South, Clement Apaak insists the deal when allowed will attract terrorist to the country.

By Christian Kpesese/ ghanamps.com

Current Health Insurance managers more competent -Minister

A Deputy Minister for Health, Kingsley Aboagye Gyedu has suggested that the current managers of the National Health Insurance Scheme have proven to be more competent than those under the erstwhile Mahama regime.

This he said is evident in the significant reduction in the debt levels of the scheme under the current leadership from some Ghc 1.2 billion to below Ghc 200 million.

“The current management of the scheme has been proven to be far more competent than the previous one, and this is back by the fact that, at the time this government took over, we had a debt of about 1.2 billion, Mr Speaker I am happy to tell this August House that per the information available, which in the committee’s report, the debt has come down to all the way to below 200 million, that for me is very significant, we have projected that by the end of this year, the total debts would have been cleared and the NHIS would be on a very good pedestal for takeoff” he stated.

The Deputy is optimistic that total debts owed by to Scheme to Service providers would be cleared by close of this year, 2018 in order to re-position the scheme on a sound footing for proper take off in delivering good health to Ghanaians.

Mr Gyedu who is also MP for Bibiani Anhwiaso Bekwai said these as Parliament approves the Formula for the disbursement of the National Health Insurance Fund for the year 2018.

The Deputy Health Minister assured to work with all the concerns raised by the lawmakers to make the Health Insurance Scheme more successful.

By Christian Kpesese/ ghanamps.com

Govt is abusing Health Insurance funds- Haruna Iddrisu

The Minority leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu has raised issues with regards to management of the National Health Insurance scheme which he said is inundated with several payments rather than its core functions.

The Tamale South MP decried the use of the Schem’s funds for the payment of Nurses Training allowance and the construction of Nurses training facilities which are not part of the core functions the scheme is expected to perform.

He urged Government to find other innovative ways of raising money to fund its activities rather than depleting the already distressed NHIS Funds.

He charged management of the NHIS to get to get support from organised labour in order to get some contributions from labour to support the fund.

Mr Haruna Iddrisu also urged the Ministry of Finance to stop capping the Health Insurance Fund for it to have the necessary fund for its activities whiles charging the scheme managers to cease using the Fund money to provide IT infrastructure.

By Christian Kpesese/ ghanamps.com

Energy sector on path of destruction —- Jinapor

Former Deputy Minister of Energy and Member of Parliament for Yapei/Kusawgu, John Abdulai Jinapor, has warned that the current New Patriotic Party government is taking the country’s energy sector on the path of destruction.

According to the Yapei/Kusawgu legislator currently no provision has been made in terms of finance for Ghana Gas and it is indebted to the tune of $750 million and predicted that if nothing is done by the end of the year the debt could hit $1 billion dollars.

He further revealed that Ghana Gas is on its knees, all the supply made last year not even a pesewa has been paid.

Boost made a profit of 100 million Ghana last two years but they made a loss of 50 million Ghana cedis last year. We are having a terrible time, the energy sector we are dissipating money, for instance GNPC is expecting 1.6 million this year but they want to spend 4 billion, he remarked.

Mr. John Abdulai Jinapor further noted that GNPC had gone to sign an agreement for a supply of LPG for domestic and industrial use but has to spend $2 million to determine whether the agreement they sign is good or not whiles the agreement has not come to Parliament.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

Dr. Ayine denies leading a legal team to challenge UniBank takeover

Former Deputy Attorney General, Dominic Ayine has dismissed reports that he is leading a legal team of UniBank to challenge the takeover of the local Bank by the Central Bank.

According to Ayine, no such decision has been taken by UniBank to challenge the takeover in court as negotiations are still ongoing between the officials of the Bank of Ghana and UniBank.

“I have no instruction from UniBank asking me to go for arbitration…this was the information I gave to radio stations that called to ask if UniBank will be heading to court because of what has happened. No decision has been taken by UniBank to head for arbitration on this matter,” Dr. Ayine said in an interview with Starrfm on Friday.

There were reports in the media on Thursday that Dr. Ayine was leading the indigenous bank to challenge the takeover in court.

The story was first reported by Reuters which was reproduced by several media houses locally.

Dr. Ayine explained that he only told Reuters that officials of UniBank will explore all options including legal options to fight the takeover by Bank of Ghana.

According to him, he never told any media house that an official decision has been taken for him to challenge the takeover in court.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

Tempers go high in Parliament ahead of US military base agreement

Ahead of an agreement to be laid in Parliament as to whether to allow the United State of America have a military base in Ghana that has received media attention and generated public criticism, tempers are high among MPs from both sides of the house.

The Minority MPs are heard shouting “shame” at the least provocation making controlling of affairs of the House difficult for the Speaker Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye.

MP for Adaklu Kwame Agbodza complained of his microphone not working and had to use another MPs microphone whiles on the screen his name did not appear on the screen.

The Speaker agreed with the Adaklu MP and directed that repair works should be done for the MP to be able to use his microphone.

MPs on the Minority side of the House had red ban on and keep hooting at those they disagree with on the Majority side on issues on the floor of the House.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

Let us trim GNPC to focus on its core mandate—Ranking Finance

Ranking member on Finance Cassiel Ato Forson, has expressed worry over Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) not focusing on their core mandate deviating from what is enshrine in the law for strange reasons.

According to the ranking member GNPC is going to spend $20 million for the purpose of building its head office in Accra despite the fact that they have an existing head office in Accra.

Again 13.4 million Ghana cedis is going to be used in renovating the current head office, whiles $10 million will be used in building operational office in Tarkoradi. The former deputy finance Minister pointed out that he grew up in the Western Region and does not believe a building will cause that amount.

He further revealed that GNPC will use $2 million to build transit office in Tarkoradi for staffs so that any time they are in Tarkoradi they will go and stay there as they pass by sleeping there.

GMPC is now building a clinic of $1.5 million and $24 million into gold mining, “GNPC is doing gold mining is it a mining company, GNPC is now a real estate company?”

They are buying fish vessels and building railways $45million dollars why, what is going on in this country, they are deviating from their core mandate this is bad and there is something that we need to do to stop government, he remarked.

Mr. Ato Forson recounted that this year’s budget approved 998 million Ghana cedis but GNPC is going to spend 4.5 billion Ghana cedis and out of this they are going to the capital market to borrow, it becomes a public debt because it is a contingent liability and GNPC is owned by Ghanaians and not individuals.

The current government criticized cocoa board for doing roads, strangely GNPC is going to spend 300 million Ghana cedis to build agriculture roads and you can find this in the budget statement for 2018 page 184, is this how to protect the public purse?

“I do not think so, somebody must tell them to behave and not to spoil public money like that, what GNPC needs to do is to intensify their activities in the petroleum in petroleum prospecting and not to go into the capital market to anyhow and spend anyhow, GNPC get more money and just waste it”.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com