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Speaker Tunis seeks improved trade relations between ECOWAS and Morocco

Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Rt.Hon. Dr. Sidie Mohamed Tunis has emphasized the need to boost trade relations between ECOWAS nations and the Kingdom of Morocco to boost economic growth.

He underscored the need for alliances to be forged between sub-regional blocs and among all African countries to foster development, prosperity and peace building so that the continent will take its pride of place among other continents.

Tunis while addressing the Moroccan House of Councilors at the opening of the 6th International Parliamentary Forum on Social Justice, emphasized that the trade relations between Morocco and West Africa was currently low, pointing out the need for it to be scaled up.

The Forum opened in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco on February 20 and has as its theme: “Social Dialogue and the Stakes of the Social State”

Dr, Tunis who led a delegation of ECOWAS parliamentarians and staff of the sub-regional body, commended His Majesty King Mohamed VI (The Sixth) and His Excellency, Ennaam Mayara, Speaker of the House of Councilors for the honor accorded to him and to ECOWAS.

Morocco’s fight against illegal migration, terrorism, extremism, and the speedy recovery of the Moroccan economy, despite the unprecedented repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis and the contraction of the global economy, are worthy of commendation, and we hail His Majesty for the leadership.

He pointed out that ECOWAS had recognized Morocco’s policies as regards ECOWAS countries as well as the numerous reforms undertaken in order to successfully integrate itself into the global economy and Africa in particular.

“We equally acknowledge the low level of trade with ECOWAS countries, the barriers to free movement of peoples and the weak dynamism of our partnership, all of which could be boosted with the development of appropriate frameworks for enhanced trade cooperation.

“We are hopeful that sooner rather than later, an equilibrium relationship between the Kingdom of Morocco and ECOWAS will be established, thereby paving the way for strengthened economic, political and investment ties. It remains an incontestable fact that because of our intertwined relationship, the prosperity, stability and security of one side, has a direct effect on the other. The global dynamics and insurmountable challenges to which our world has been subjected to, necessitates that both sides think out of the box and see the vast potential for prosperity and development that our union can bring.

Such alliances, when successfully forged would, no doubt, usher in the beginning of the process of a new regional development trajectory, aimed at giving our continent a sense of peace, dignity and prosperity.”

“We hold the view that if we want a continent that is fair and prosperous; a region in which the uncommon dreams of all will have a fair chance of realization; a region where the weak can become strong; then the leaders of today must rise up to these challenges and work assiduously towards promoting genuine and durable collaboration,” the Speaker said.

Giving an insight into the commemoration of the day, Dr. Tunis said that the Forum came as a consequence to the UN General Assembly’s proclamation, declaring 20th February as World Day of Social Justice – challenging states to devote the day to promoting national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the 1995 World Summit for Social Development related to conquest of poverty, the goal of full employment and the fostering of overarching objectives of development and social integration.

He admitted that COVID-19 had put so much pressure on the global economy with mass layoffs, pressure on businesses, severely deteriorating working conditions and access to basic social protection in countries around the African continent, but added that states must do all it can to advance social justice.

He opined that there was a need to support regional advocacy and local social dialogue at work to create a solid foundation for the commitment of employers and workers to joint action with governments in taking strategic measures to overcome crisis and obtain sustainable recovery.

He pointed out that ECOWAS and its member states had ratified: The Forced Labor Convention, 1930 (No. 29); The Abolition of Forced Labor Convention; 1957 (No. 105); The Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111); The Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98); The Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100) and The Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, 1999 (No. 182).

He charged the House of Councilors to dedicate the next few days to reviewing all the reports and studies made on the subject and endeavor to enrich collective reflection on the challenges and issues related to social dialogue and its stake on the social state.

Meanwhile, rising from the opening session, the Speaker also held two separate meetings with the Speaker of the Moroccan House of Councilors, Hon. Ennaam Mayara and Speaker of the Moroccan House of Representatives, Mr. Rachid Talbi El Alami.

In both meetings, the need to enhance relations between Morocco and West Africa as well as forging bilateral relations between the ECOWAS Parliament and the Parliament of Morocco were considered.

Also highlighted at the meetings was the appeal by Morocco to move from an observer status to become a permanent member of the sub-regional body, ECOWAS.

The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament assured that he would work with his colleagues to give relevant support to improve the relations between ECOWAS and Morocco and the possibility of attaining a permanent membership status.

On the delegation of Dr Tunis were: Chairman of the Committee on Political Affairs, Peace, Security and Africa Peer Review Mechanism; Third Deputy Speaker, other members of the Parliament as well as the Secretary General and other senior staff of the Parliament.


Speaker Bagbin admonishes Journalists to cross check their facts before publication

Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin has admonished journalists in Parliament to properly cross check their facts before publishing as according to him politicians would continue to give journalists leads.

According to him the politicians would put spin on leads they give out to journalists, but it is the duty of journalists in the pursuit of their job to do a balance and professional work by thoroughly examining the leads.

“Listen to both sides of a story and even go the extra mile for a third independent affirmation of the story”. He said this when he commissioned an office for the Parliamentary Press Corps.

 The Speaker further pointed out that, members of the PPC should go beyond the chamber for source of story including the hanzard, and touch base with researchers as parliament plans to open an achiever office to try and retrieve all lost materials they have since the 1850s.

The Speaker also suggested that there are a lot of human interest stories around that are very informative that journalists can highlight, but said he unfortunately does not get to read much from them on such issues including the personal relation between members here and staff. “There is diversity, and diversity is the spies of life, none of us created that diversity, is the creator himself, it is something that we should whole heartedly embrace and accept”, he added.

He affirmed that these human interest stories from Parliament are important to ensure that Ghanaians out there do not think that parliament is all heat; “we are always fighting, no, no, there are a lot of times we had good times together, our understanding of democracy may defer at this early stages, we are trying to see how we can synchronize and then come together and develop mother Ghana”.

He hoped the facility at the press center would be used to the benefit of journalists and they should not shy away from approaching staffs and Members of Parliament for additional information on issues that may not be clear to them.

The Rt. Hon Speaker further revealed that this year there would be a number of activities with the media to try and build their capacity for the task ahead and they would want members of the PPC to feel as part of Parliament.

“You, don’t just belong to your media house, you are part of parliament, we have put things in place for you. Many people out there do not value MPs  so there are some chief executive when I invite them they ignore my invitation they do not come; if I try to haul them before the privileges committee they would say the Speaker is King Kong, I am just enforcing the law”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

“We fought for media freedom and cannot come to destroy it”—Habib Iddrisu

Second Deputy Majority Whip, Habib Iddrisu has said the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) government fought for media freedom and cannot turn its back to destroy what it fought for as a government and Majority in Parliament.

“We all know who fought for free press in Ghana we cannot fight for something and come to destroy it, government is not in that position the majority is not in that position”.

He made this known on Friday, February 18, 2022 when Parliament officially handed over a media center to members of the Parliamentary Press Corps (PPC) and the Deputy Minority Leader Dr. James Klutse Avedzi condemn the current state of arrest of journalists in the country.

According to him responsible reportage is very necessary and he would encourage members of the PPC that the new office that is given to them,! they should use it to get informed, know about every member of parliament and what the person stands for.

Members of the Parliamentary Press Corps

For example Dr. James Klutse Avedzi who is a fifth timer has been a chair of the finance committee for eight years what did he say and what was his position on topical issues when he was chair of the finance committee, what is his position now as chair of the Public Account Committee?

“If we are able to merge that we would be able to get MPs to be responsible and be very effective, when you go to other jurisdiction an MP can say something ten years later and would still stand by, that position and not shift because the media would bring it up. In our case, our media needs to do a lot of work hanzard is available you should be able to know what is going on in the country in this House a lot of things has happen that has not been good the media has reported on many of the things”.

Mr. Iddrisu further noted that he is happy the House has a Speaker who has seen it all in terms of the Parliaments of the 4th Republic from 1993 till date, so on the issue of strengthening the PPC the media center would go a long way.

“I know this is not the only challenge that they encounters with this 8th parliament. a lot needs to be done and that would also open an opportunity for the media to up their game in terms of reporting”. According to him, It is very clear that most of the time journalists that media house send to parliament are either not properly trained in basic parliamentary procedure and find it very difficult in fitting in, and again majority of the media houses associate with political parties.

That is either trying not to report on some issues because of their affiliation or sometimes due to advert that they need from some institutions. They, the MPs are elected by their constituents and they have oversight responsibility over the Executive and judiciary. The question is, “who has oversight over MPs? “Obviously the media as watchdog to the society can play this role very effectively”.

He, however, pointed out that this can only be done, when journalists are well informed and well educated and are ready to work impartially and to bring the necessary report to the attention of the public.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Minority Chief Whip urges Majority side to take business of the House serious

Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka has urged the Majority side of the House to take Business of the House serious as he expressed worry over a development on the floor of the House on Friday, February 18, 2022 where on the Majority side they had only Frank Annoh Dompreh representing their side.

According to him he was not in position to present the Business statement on the floor of the House since he was part of the Business Committee that worked on the Business Statement.

This occurred on the floor of the House when the Majority Chief Whip wanted the Business of the day varied for the Roads and Transport Minister, Kwasi Amoako Atta to take questions in his name, and when the Majority Leader shows up on the floor he presents the statement.

Mr Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak noted that, “it does not show any seriousness; we are here and you want the business varied, and doing things your way.  If the worry is that you were not there at the business committee meeting, I was there and ready to take the report on the floor”.

Majority Whip

Mr. Frank Annoh Dompreh caught the eye of the second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Amoako Atta who was in the chair and noted that there have been times that his colleague had not been there; Adaklu MP Governs Kwame Agbodza stands in for him.

“The impression should not be created as if our members do not show up; it is only the chief whip who show up, it is unfair and I urge the Speaker to use his wisdom to rule on the matter”.

The Second Deputy Speaker said he is with the Minority Chief Whip, but pleaded with him to allow the Minister to take his question since the chief wipe does not know how government business would be.

Mr.  Muntaka responded by saying if the Speaker is pleading, he accepts but they should be taken seriously and each time Kwame Agbodza takes over, he has his full mandate but,  “once the Speaker has said he pleads I would oblige”.

Minister for Roads and Highways Kwasi Amoako Atta on his part when he caught the attention of the Speaker on the subject matter noted that the point being made by the Minority Chief Whip was in order on the face value.

And further added that since the Majority Chief Whip was not at the Business Committee meeting and appealed that he is not cloth with the authority to speak to issue that might come up and in normal business set up anyone who was not at a meeting cannot move for acceptance of a minute.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Speaker commissions ultra-modern news centre for press in Parliament

The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin on Friday, February 18, 2022 commissioned an ultra-modern News Centre for Members of the Parliamentary Press Corps.

He cautioned the Parliamentary Reporters not to forget one of the cardinal rules of Journalism by cross-checking their facts before publication.

According to him the New Standing Orders which would be adopted very soon will allow reporters to attend all Committee Sittings therefore Editors at various media houses should be mindful to post Journalists with the requisite experience to report from Parliament.

He noted that the commissioning of the centre has taken too long in coming despite it is a priority their agenda did not capture it until recently when his attention was drawn to it by the Dean of the PPC and “I have to decide that we have to do it today Friday, February 18,2022 and leaders having short notice”.

Speaker Bagbin reminded the media and particularly the general public that, the concept of parliament goes beyond the Speaker, Members of Parliament and members of the Parliamentary Service to also include the police division in Parliament, Ghana National Fire Service, the health personnel mounting the parliamentary clinic and the media.

“There are some other invisible elements working here that they do not see who are part of the national security, when we are fighting for parliament, and the public should know these entities, we take care of their operational cost and there are ways and means we try to motivate them”.

“So that they would not feel neglected and say if they were with their mother unit, “parties like the Parliamentary Press Corps are so key to the work of Parliament since 1993”, and pointed out that since the start of the fourth Republic the media has been under resourced.

The challenge to the media today is the citizen journalists, as working as journalists today is more demanding than it used to be cutting through both the new and traditional media channels in other to reach your audience can be an adieu’s task.

“In today’s era of fake news, the journalists has a duty to check and cross check before it publishes his or her news” to get it to the public for consumption, he added.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Four Majority MPs file motion for probe into Atta-Mills’ death

Four members of the Majority caucus in Parliament have filed a private members motion seeking the constitution of a bi-partisan group to probe the death of the late President John Evans Atta-Mills.

The group behind this motion is led by Majority Chief Whip, Frank Annoh Dompreh.

It’s unclear what the grounds for the probe are, but if the motion is admitted by the Speaker and tabled for debate, the sponsors would be required to provide a basis for their motion.

Tolon MP, Habib Iddrisu, Mpraeso MP, Davis Opoku Ansah and Tema Central MP, Yves Hanson Nortey completes the quartet of lawmakers seeking the intervention of the house to investigate the death which occurred on July 24, 2012.

The former President Atta-Mills had returned to Ghana after visiting the US for medical checks shortly before his death.

Mr. Atta-Mills, who died aged 68, served as Vice President to former military ruler, Jerry Rawlings between 1997-2001.

He came to power after narrowly winning over the then governing New Patriotic Party flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, in the 2008 elections.

Though the cause of his death was not released, Atta-Mills had reportedly been battling throat cancer, and in the days leading up to his death, had been in the US for some medical attention.

His office announced that Atta-Mills died hours after being taken ill.

However, Mills’ brother, Dr. Cadman Mills, later disclosed that he had died from complications of a massive hemorrhagic stroke resulting from brain aneurysm.


Bagbin blasts police over media persecution

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin has taken a swipe at the Ghana Police Service over recent arrest of media personnel in the country.

He said the increasing tendency on the part of the police to arrest journalists for what they describe as mistakes is old school, anachronistic and is sending this country back into the dark ages of media persecution.

The Speaker, who was speaking at the launch of the Parliamentary Press Centre on Friday, February 18, 2022 asserts that he is not for a moment holding brief for irresponsible and unprofessional conduct of journalists, but noted that the Constitution duly anticipates that the journalists in their attempts to disseminate information in a timely manner may make mistakes.

Members of the Parliamentary Press Corps

“Our information at times do not turn out to be entirely accurate. We end up making some misrepresentations, at times impugning on the integrity and reputation of others” hence prescribed a way out including the National Media Commission: “and that is why this country has plethora of laws on the media and free speech”.

“I am simply saying that there is a cure for that in our current legal regime.”

“I daresay that any attempt by any politician, hiding behind the police institution, to act as the standard bearer of ethical and professional journalism, or the regulator of journalism practice, is not only a pretender but also megalomaniac.

Mr. Bagbin said the police cannot assume responsibility for responsible media practice in Ghana by scanning newspapers and news portals and arresting journalists for errors and misrepresentations. “Those who are so offended by such write-ups know what recourse they have”, he stated.

Dominic Shirimori/Ghanamps.com

Akufo-Addo’s government increase the growth of renewable energy development—Dompreh

Majority Chief Whip, Frank Annoh-Dompreh has noted that since the inception of the President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government, there has been an upward incremental growth in the renewable energy development in Ghana.

According to him this is in fulfillment of the party’s manifesto promise regarding renewable energy development in Ghana

“The development of renewable energy is in line with the government’s ‘National Determined Contribution’ (NDC) towards the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where it strives to adopt innovative and sustainable technologies within the renewable energy sphere to meet its commitment to the agreement. This great initiative forms parts of government’s agenda to have 10% of our energy from renewable energy resources by the year 2030.”

He said subsequent to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) assessment of Ghana’s readiness to adopt energy from renewable sources in 2017, major activities have taken place that addressed some bottle necks. Those identified focused on grid code priorities for the various power sources; the complex process of entering the market of renewable energy especially by Independent Power Producers among others.

In line with these ideologies, the Government outlined these objectives;

  1. To increase the proportion of renewable energy in the national generation mix by harnessing alternative energy options to ensure the expansion of low carbon energy in our economy

 This government opted for the amendment of  the Bui Power Authority Act, 2007 (Act 740) to enable Bui Power Authority perform some of the functions of the proposed Renewable Energy Authority and any function assigned by the Minister responsible for Energy in the area of renewable energy. These functions were added to the original functions of Bui Power Authority under section 11 of the amended Act. With the Bui Power Authority (Amendment) Act, 2020, Bui Power Authority now has the legal mandate to; execute renewable energy projects on behalf of the State, undertake its own renewable energy activities and undertake clean energy alternatives in the country.

Mr. Speaker, since 2017, the Government of Ghana through Bui Power Authority has made big strides as the Renewable Energy Leaders, which are highlighted by the following:

  • Tsatsadu Micro Generating Station — A 45kW Tsatsadu Generating Station (TGS) at Alavanyo in the Volta Region developed by local expertise.
  • 250MWp Solar Project — 50MW of the 250MW has been completed, the first to be connected to the National Interconnected Transmission System (NITS). This is the largest renewable energy project in Ghana.
  • 5MWp Floating Solar PV — The BPA has completed the constructing of an initial 1MWpof a proposed 5MWp Floating Solar PV System on the Bui reservoir.  It is the first of its kind in the West African sub-region.

  1. To rapidly move to the adoption of a distributed solar energy solution for all government and public buildings to reduce demand on the national grid and reduce government expenditure on electricity.

The entire Jubilee House — the seat of government has been powered with solar energy, an initiative that strongly shows the commitment and determination of the Akufo Addo government to promote the development of renewable energy. The 912-kilowatt solar panel which was installed at the Presidency at a cost of US$1,494,350.00 to provide clean energy is a great initiative.

Build solar parks in the northern part of the country.

In  achieving this third objective, the Government of Ghana through the Bui Power Authority (BPA) would construct about eight solar plants in the northern part of the country in a bid to harness the vast solar radiation resource in that area to increase renewable energy generation. The earmarked sites for the project include Yendi, Northern, Buipe and Sawla, Savannah; Zebilla, and Bolgatanga, Upper East and Tumu, Upper West. These spots are close to sub-stations of the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) in the northern part of the country, where the potential solar plants capacity between 10 Mega Watt peaks (MWp) to 100MWp could successfully be tied into the National Interconnected Transmission System (NITS).

Develop solar and wind mini-grids for irrigation and community water supply around the country through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

Through the efforts of the Government of Ghana, the Board of Directors of the African Development Fund have approved a $27.39 million grant to Ghana for the development of renewable energy investments in the mini grid and net metering space. This is to support the government’s renewable energy initiatives under the Ghana Cares Obaatanpa Programme. The project involves the development of 35 mini grids, standalone solar photovoltaic systems in 400 schools, 200 units in healthcare centers and 100 units for community energy services centers in the Volta Lake region. It will also deploy up to 12,000 units of roof-mounted net-metered solar photovoltaic systems for public institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises and selected households. The project has leveraged co-financing from the Scaling up Renewable Energy Program, a funding window of the Climate Investment Funds, and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, amounting to $28.49 million and $13.30 million, respectively. The Ghana Mini Grid and Solar Photovoltaic Net Metering is expected to have an annual electricity output of renewable energy estimated at 111,361MWh, corresponding to an installed capacity of 67.5MW. The project will mitigate greenhouse emissions of 0.7795 million tons of CO2 equivalent per year and create up to 2,865 jobs during construction, of which 30% will target women and youth.

To ensure local supply of solar panels to meet the requirement of our policy proposals, by establishing a Renewable Energy Industrial Zone where the private sector will be supported to build factories for the production and assembling of the full components of solar power systems

Mr. Speaker, The Government of Ghana recognizes that there is the potential to manufacture all renewable energy components in Ghana. Government has put in place incentives and created the enabling environment for local manufacturing and assembly of renewable energy technologies. According to renewable energy masterplan which was launched by the Akufo-Addo government in 2019, four companies are taking advantage of these market incentives to locally manufacture and assemble PV modules with details as follows:

  • Strategic Security Systems International Limited (3SiL) has begun solar PV module assembly in Ghana with capacity of up to 30 MW of modules per year.
  • Halo International has also completed a solar PV module plant with production capacity of 15 MW per year.
  • Trade works Ghana Ltd. is in the process of completing a solar PV module assembly plant with 12 MW per year capacity.
  • Atlas Business and Energy Systems (ABES) have a smaller scale solar PV module assembly plant in place.
  • Africano Electro Ltd, PowerWings Company Ltd, Pamasonic and Deng Ghana Ltd, among others are at various stages setting up manufacturing/assembly plants for RE components.

It is evidently clear that this Government is poised to unearth, create and sustain environmentally innovative channels regarding renewable energy development in Ghana, and has chalked unprecedented achievements in the history of renewable energy development in Ghana. The Akufo-Addo government has demonstrated that it is time for us as a nation to get environmentally drastic and lead in the sub-region towards the transition of the continent using renewables.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

NDC caucus: “All is not well with Upper West Regional Hospital”

The NDC parliamentary caucus of the Upper West Region has come out to point out that all is not well with the Regional hospital, despite the fact that the Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman Manu told parliament otherwise.

At a media briefing on Wednesday, February 16, 2022 Dr. Sebastian Ngmenenso Sandaare leading the caucus told journalists in Parliament that they were not happy with the answers given by the Health Minister.

The caucus noted that the Minister in an answer to a question as to when seed money for the effective operation of the Upper West  Regional Hospital would be released, admitted that initial capital money is needed, but this has not be done, and made it worse by saying despite all these initial challenges, all is well now”.

Dr. Sebastian Sandaare pointed out that they represent the people of Upper West Region and they think all is not well with the Regional hospital; adding that there are serious challenges because the start-up capital was not released as happens to other new projects.

And they want the people of Upper West to know that they have represented them, they have asked the questions on their behalf, and the Minister said all is well, “when we know it is not the case. Those who take patients there know there are challenges with drugs, non-drugs and other issues, but to back our displeasure since the hospital was commissioned and started operation, they have not been given vehicles, no ambulance”.

He told the press it took the benevolence of an individual for the hospital to have the only ambulance that the hospital operates with. “Major infrastructure and equipment they need are issue but the Minister is saying all is well, “we want you to carry the message that it is not well, we need interventions. It is not too late to release the start-up capital to get the facility more responsive to the needs of the people.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

UTAG’s issues should not be reduced to politics—Abu Jinapor

Minister for Lands and Natural Resources Samuel Abdulai Jinapor has cautioned members of Parliament not to reduce the issues of University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) to politics.

He made these submissions on the floor of Parliament on Thursday, February17, 2022, when he was contributing to a statement read by Member of Parliament for Kumbungu, Mr. Hamza Adams saying government is not handling the issues of UTAG with seriousness.

Mr. Samuel Abu Jinapor explained that, when it comes to issues of better condition of service with respect to teachers in Ghana, no government has performed better than the NPP government, both under Ex-President John Agyekum Kuffour and current administration of President Akufo-Addo.

He concluded that, government is doing everything possible to get to the button of the UTAG strike issues and resolve them immediately in order to get the teachers back to their lecture halls.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com