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COVID-19 is a test for AU to advance development —Foreign Minister

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayokor Botchwey has said the COVID-19 pandemic is another major test of the resolve of the African Union and its member states to advance development on the continent.

According to her, whiles dealing with the pandemic Africa cannot defer urgent actions on plans and programmes that would advance continental trade and development.

“We must move ahead with the most ambitious steps towards Pan-African Integration with the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) ensuring it is operational as soon as possible”.

She was making a statement on the floor of the House to mark African Union day which was celebrated on Monday 25th May 2020.

She indicated that it is very imperative to continue to keep alive efforts to drive the African agenda of security, peace and stability, democracy and human rights, and of women emancipation as well as protection of the environment.

Madam Ayokor Botchwey noted that global health emergency should under no circumstances derail the targeted efforts to silence the guns on the continent, as through Africa’s collective efforts and resilience that they can position Africa in the right place among the comity of nations.

This year’s AU celebration day was on the theme, “Silencing the Guns creating conductive conditions for African’s Development”.

In making a statement on the floor of the House, she further pointed out that African countries are applying technology and innovation to unleash great potentials for its development as well as addressing the challenges of climate change.

One of the cardinal objectives of the African leaders in 2020 has been to operationalise the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) by July 1 this year to begin the continental trade.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

COVID-19: Haul Employment Minister to give us figures on job loses —Mubarak

Member of Parliament for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak is advocating that the Minister for Employment and Labour, Ignatius Baffour Awuah be hauled before the House to give figures on job loses post COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, the Minister needs to do that to show impact of COVID-19 in the country, when the Majority Leader presented the Business Statement for this week.

The Majority Leader in response to this question on the floor of the House as he presented the Business statement on Friday noted that the demand by the Kumbungu lawmaker is legitimate and he has had time to discuss it with the sector Minister.

“In the fullness of time I believe he would come to the House, except to say this issue has nothing to do with the Business Statement that is presented on the floor of the House”, he said.

Mr. Osei-Kyei further appealed to his colleagues to touch on statements he presented on the floor of the House and added that the Kumbungu lawmaker is found of introducing new things into the Business Statement most of the time, “he knows the process to follow”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Ablakwa unhappy with government’s handling of stranded Ghanaians

The Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of Ghana, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has expressed unhappiness with the way and manner government of Ghana is handing the issue of Ghanaians stranded abroad.

According to him it is shameful and the Kuwaiti incident shows the seriousness of lapses on the part of government in responding to the needs of its citizens abroad.

In an interview with the media in Parliament, he added that this should be “our collective shame”, as we can better reach out to Ghanaians stranded abroad.

Mr. Ablakwa added that it was “really unpardonable that for all these weeks, the government is now talking about collating names and collating data. The Kuwait story should be a wakeup call.”

He made this remarks after two hundred and forty Ghanaians were deported from Kuwait who touched down in the nation over the weekend.

And added that it should not have taken an act of deportation by the Kuwaiti Government at their expense for Ghanaians to be brought back home.

A number of Ghanaians are currently stranded in other parts of the world following the COVID-19 induced border closure in the country.

Some Ghanaians stranded in South Africa, are also calling on the government to negotiate with the South African government to make valid, return tickets they purchased prior to the closure of Ghana’s borders.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

“Deportation of Ghanaians from Kuwait was purely on immigration”—Dompreh

Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ghana Mr. Frank Anno-Dompreh has said the deportation of Ghanaians from Kuwait was purely on immigration issues.

The Ghanaians there who did not have the necessary documentation the Kuwait Government wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and has gone ahead to assist them by issuing traveling documents.

According to him, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration briefed the Committee on this development.

“It is unfortunate that our nationals should be deported at this time knowing the times in which we are in and I must place on record that it was not done base on COVID-19 and government did what it could do by engaging it Kuwait counterpart”.

He further pointed out that it is unfortunate that for the country to be where it is today as government has to study the situation and prepare adequately to receive Ghanaians abroad home.

The Chairman in addressing the media pointed out that he hears his colleagues in the Minority calling for the Ghanaian borders to be opened, but described the call as unfortunate because when that is done you cannot tell the number of people who are not Ghanaians who would want to take advantage of that.

“We need to respect the World Health Organisation protocols and do things properly if nothing at all we have the benefit of hand sight countries who rushed to pick their nationals, and how they have suffered huge losses”.

“We have shown good neighborliness in the sub-region and have championed Pan Africanism, we were reliably informed that other nationals who flouted out laws have been deported back. America has suspended the visa lottery to upgrade their immigration rules. Again we need to appreciate the love the President has showed post COVID-19 when America hurriedly brought its nationals we know what they have gone through, the rest is history”

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

“Let us start work on time, and don’t load us with work towards recess”—Adaklu MP

Time management crusader in Parliament, Member of Parliament for Adaklu, Governs Kwame Agbodza has appealed to the Leader of Government Business Osei-Kyei to ensure that time is managed properly in the House.

According to him at the beginning of every meeting in the seventh Parliament of the fourth Republic there is no much business before the House and sittings does not start at the expected time 10:00am.

“We are then loaded with a lot of work when we are getting close to recess resulting in we having extended sittings, closing late”.

Mr. Agbodza appealed to his colleagues that there is the need to cooperate to ensure work is conducted early on the floor. “We are less than fifty (50) most of the time we are in difficult times but we are still unable to start work on time”.

He noted that the Speaker Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye is always on time in the House before 10:00am and when rules are made they should be followed.

“What is the point of sitting beyond prescribed time when we have to follow health and safety rules, by sitting for longer hours when we know the times in which we are in”.

Minority Leader, Mr. Haruna Iddrisu on his part noted that the issue of quorum is really a problem when Article 102 and standing order 40 (2) have pointed out the business on the floor should start from 10:00am to 2:00pm.

“We should show leadership to Ghanaians during the COVID-19 pandemic era, we should not be sitting for longer hours and demonstrate to Ghanaians that we ourselves are mindful of the health hazards and perform good and urgent business of the House”.

Leader of Government Business Mr. Osei-Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu on his part lamented about the practice where lawmakers sit in their offices waiting for the Speaker to start proceedings so that they can troop to the chamber.

“We should tell ourselves we are required to be here at 10:00am for business to start and unfortunately when the Speaker enters some colleagues would start raising the issue of quorum, if people would drop that habit giving the exigency of the time”.

And urged his colleagues to admit to themselves that they are not in normal times and to transact business with the relevant numbers as possible.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

“Haul EC chair to Parliament to update MPs for free and fair elections”—Agbodza

Ranking Member on Roads and Transport, Governs Kwame Agbodza is demanding that the chair of Ghana’s Electoral Commission, Mrs Jean Mensah be hauled before Parliament to give lawmakers update on preparations towards this year’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

He underscored the need for a free and fair December 2020 polls and was unhappy with the way things stand. In the COVID-19 outbreak all sought of things are being attributed to this year’s election which is a big issue.

According to him under the leadership of the former EC ahead of election 2016, Mrs Charllot Osei was brought to the House to brief the House on preparation undertaken by her outfit.

“We need this information as the representatives of our constituents so that we can also prepare adequately”.

Minority Leader Mr. Haruna Iddrisu joining the crusade called for interrogating the budget of EC and their procurement issues post COVID-19 and pointed out the need to understand what they intend to do.

“It is either they come before the Committee of the Whole or the Special Budget Committee, arguing we need to know if they have their C. I. which must meet the twenty-one (21) days requirement”.

Mr. Osei-Kyei in his response pointed out that the functions of the EC is in the constitution and nothing can be added to that.

On the question of fairness, he pointed to the Adaklu lawmaker that the programme of EC has been submitted in their budget.

And added that he has been in touch with the EC and they have indicated that they would get back to the Majority Leader.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Abena Osei urges Muslim constituents to register when EC starts the exercise

Deputy Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for Atiwa East, Mrs. Abena Osei Asare  has urged Muslims in her constituency to  come out in their numbers to have their names on the new voters register the Electoral Commission is about compiling when the Constitutional Instrument (C. I) in Parliament matures next month.

According to her when the EC starts the registration exercise they have to put their facemask on and practice social and physical distance and not panic but try to get their names on the new voters register.

“So we can determine who we want to be our President and lawmaker otherwise we would be taking ourselves off this opportunity as to who determines who our national leaders would be”.

This was when she presented some food items, facemask, and sanitizers to Muslims and the poor in her constituency to mark the end of one month of fasting.

She further educated them that previously, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) card was used to get voters register and there was a court ruling against that as foreigners could obtain the NHIS card for the purpose of visiting health facilities with it.

“Do not allow anyone to deceive you that there is no need to go and register, if you do not go you would be doing a disservice to yourself, EC would ensure there is wearing of facemask and washing of hands with soap and water”

Mrs Osei Asare emphasized that the voters ID and Ghana card would be used for the exercise or allowing two people to testify that one is a Ghanaian, as those who are not Ghanaians and want to participate in the exercise would be arrested.

The Zongo chief for Akyem Sekyere Alhaji Amadu assured the lawmaker and the current government that as they have not forgotten them, whatever they want in the name of Allah they would get as he would pray for the President and their lawmaker.

In an interview the various women’s group were very grateful for the gesture of the lawmaker and believe she would be victorious in the upcoming Parliamentary elections.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Atiwa East MP supports Muslims and the poor in Zongo Communities

Member of Parliament for Atiwa East, Mrs Abena Osei Asare has supported Muslims in the various Zongo Communities in her constituency marking the end of one month fasting (Ramadan) to end the Eld Fitr.

The lawmaker in addition provided a special package in a box targeting the very poor in the various Zongo Communities she visited Saturday and Sunday May 23rd to 24th 2020.

The Communities  are Ayinam, Nanapa, Jejeti, Enyiresi, Akyem Awerensua, Akyem Sekyere, Osoroase Krobomu, Akyem Ankaase, Tiawia, Kedewaso and  Akutuase where bags of rice, gallons of cooking oil, boxes of tin fishes, facemask and hand sanitizers etc were given out.
She used the opportunity to advise the gathering to wash their hands with soap under running water for forty seconds as she made hand sanitizers available for their use to curb the spread of coronavirus.

According to her if her constituents have nothing to do in town they should stay at home same with traveling outside the constituency and further advice them to observe physical and social distance as they have observed during donation period.

“You need to put on your facemask and heed to the advice of the President Nana Akufo-Addo by eating plantain, dawadawa and home grown food stuffs that have nutrient to strengthen the body in the outbreak of COVID-19 period”.

She further appealed to the Muslims in the Zongo communities to take COVID-19 disease serious as it is close to them with people in Nkwakwa infected, “we do not have the disease with us in Atiwa East let us help government’s effort in reducing the spread of the disease by observing the protocols”.

And on behalf of the President and herself she thanked Muslims in her constituency for praying for mother Ghana.
The Deputy Finance Minister also told her constituents that the reason why Ghana has not witnessed a lot of deaths as is the situation in the develop countries has to do with measures that the current government has put in place to curb the spread of the disease.

“People in Awerensua Community you see your road is being tarred, eight years ago we had a government in this  nation that told you your roads were going to be tarred, it did not happen, under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo we put in the budget and you can see the work going on”.

The Chief Imam of Akyem Osoroase in the Atiwa East constituency Sakaria Mohammed thanked the MP for her nondiscriminatory policy and seeking the welfare of all in the constituency.

“If not the New Patriotic Party government I would not have dreamt of going to the holy land, today I am Alhaji and my people in the community are happy about this and the MP has managed to turn the whole community into an NPP. We need a polling station here so that when we cast our ballot you know where we belong”.

He further pointed out that with the ripping off of their roofs the MP came to their aid and also brought mat to aid them in their prayers and further noted that Allah would not forgive them if they turn their back on the MP with the assistance she have given them.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

“President cannot extend tenure if we don’t hold election this year”— Inusah Fusinie

Member of Parliament for Tamale Central, Inusah Abdulai B. Fusinie has said under the current constitution of Ghana if elections are not held in December 2020, the President cannot extend his mandate beyond four years.

According to him the Legislature can extend its tenure beyond four years in the wake of COVID-19 and with uncertainty of which register would be used for the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

“It is an entrenched provision in the 1992 Constitution, tenure of the President cannot travel beyond four years; we pray that we do not get there otherwise we would be running into a constitutional crises. What my mind tells me is that when it comes to that point it is only Parliament who can extend its mandate by a resolution”.

And further added that Parliament would determine who take over, and pointed out further that for the Speaker or Chief Justice to take over as a President, there should be in place a President or Vice President who is unable to perform their duties.

“We have a condition precedence, for the Speaker and Chief Justice to take over Article 91 of the 1992 constitution”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Police must intensify control of speed, drunk-driving—George Andah

Member of Parliament for Awutu-Senya South, George Nenyi Kojo Andah is advocating for the police to control speed and drunk-driving on our roads.

According to him, the police must intensify this control on the rural highways to stem the high incidence of traffic fatalities and injuries on the nation’s roads.

He commended the efforts of government for the One District, One Ambulance and the operationalisation of the 112 emergency toll free number as it would help improve the country’s emergency response capacity especially to road crashes.

Mr. Andah noted that the ban on importation of accident and overage vehicles into the country, will ensure quality vehicles are on the roads to reduce the incidents of road carnage.

In a statement on the floor of the House, he emphasized that in almost all countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America road traffic crashes have become one of the leading causes of death in older children and economically active adults between the ages of thirty (30) and forty-nine (49) years.

“Mr. Speaker road carnage claimed two hundred and twenty-two (222) lives in Ghana in January 2020 alone. This is according to provisional data on road accidents from the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service for the sixteen regions.

The above statistics show an average of seven deaths daily for the first month of 2020 from accidents mainly attributed to reckless driving, as it represent ten percent increase compared to the same period last year, which recorded 201 deaths.

“Ghana is not only losing human capital to accident-related deaths, but productive lives are being rendered disabled due to serious injuries”, he lamented.

He further emphasized that persons affected mostly from the data were productive males aged above 18 years and the Central Region leads the pack with 48 deaths in 58 crashes followed by the Ashanti Region with 23 deaths in 275 recorded cases.

The total number of vehicles involved in also up from one thousand six hundred and sixty-four (1,664) to one thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine (1,998) with private vehicles mostly involved and commercial vehicles captured under the report comprise of buses, minibus, trucks taxi and others.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com