• +233 20 230 9497

Minority to resist attempt to include pensioners in debt restructuring

Dr. Ato Forson, Ranking Member on the Committee of Finance has charged government to refence the pensioner in its debt restructuring strategy, and promised fierce resistance from the Minority towards it if it is brought to parliament.

Mr. Ato Forson who was contributing to debate on the 2023 budget Statement and Economic Policy of government on Tuesday said the Finance Minister in presenting the Budget statement created the impression that he was going to engage stakeholders particularly international bondholders, domestic bondholders and the Ghanaian public on the matter of debt exchange (debt restructuring).

However, not long after the presentation, one of the deputy Ministers of Finance, John Kumah announced that the government of Ghana is going to do debt restructuring for domestic bondholders in terms of interest, which implies domestic bondholders will receive zero interest in 2023. In the year 2024, they will get 5 percent of their interest and in 2025 they will get 10 percent of their interest; and going forward they will extend the tenure by 10 years.

According to him, he is surprised that this arrangement is being implemented at the time inflation is in excess of 40 percent; “how do you expect a bondholder not to get interest?”

He accused government of introducing financial repression in the economy and the impact on this is severe.

“Mr. Speaker, can you imagine when a pensioner using his lifetime pension has invested in government bonds and he is only surviving on the coupons, interests that he gets, only for the Ministry of Finance to all of a sudden announce to us that in the year 2023 they are not going to pay interest. Mr. Speaker, how do you expect that pensioner to survive?” and questioned how those pensioners will pay their hospital bills.

“We cannot allow the pensioner to pay for your mismanagement particularly the vulnerable people, Mr. Speaker, that we’ll resist it”.

He cautioned that foreign bondholders are not necessarily foreigners, “they are Ghanaian banks, Ghanaian institutions and Ghanaian businesses that have bought Ghana’s Euro bonds and so if you are treating them, treat them well and be mindful that whatever happens in terms of the ‘haircut’ is going to affect the economy also going forward.

He warned that banks will struggle under this arrangement, businesses will go down, and the repercussions if care is not taken will affect all of us.

Dominic Shirimori/Ghanamps.com

Support gov’t pass budget to avoid worse economic situation – Abena Asare begs Minority

A deputy Minister of Finance, Abena Asare has called on the Minority Caucus to support government take the country out of its current economic challenges by helping to pass the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government as presented to Parliament by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.

Madam Asare who was contributing on the first day of debate on the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government said the quicker the House is able to pass the budget, the better for the country.

She said Ghana’s economic situation is worrying as the country has no access to the international capital market, and with our currency depreciating by almost 54 percent.

“The quicker we do something about it, the better. And it is in this region, or it is in this light that we are asking our colleagues on the other side to support government with the revenue measures that we have stated in paragraph 212 – 222 of this year’s budget.

Mr. Speaker, we cannot keep the ball down the road because every delay that we delay in passing out this revenue measure means we are pushing Ghana down the drain. As it stands now, our tax revenue to GDP ratio is 11 percent way below that of our peers which is around 18 percent, Mr. Speaker; so clearly, we need to do something about it; we need to raise more revenue to help us push the development agenda and also to stabilize the economy and make things better for our citizenry”.

She is hopeful the reform measures put forward by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA); both administrative and some in technology driven would help increase our tax to GDP ratio to about 18 percent in the medium term and also improve on the way we collect our taxes.

She said measures to make tax collection more efficient are not the only way to improve revenue hence the need to raise some form of taxes to support our fiscal consolidation. That is why is important for the Minority to support the tax measures.

She debunked Dr. Ato Forson’s accession that VAT is currently 21 percent stating that it is rather 12.5 percent, and “government is hoping that the 2.5 percent increase would be passed to help raise 2.7 billion Ghana cedis for development.

She described the VAT as the more sustained way of collecting revenue as it has benefited successive governments under the fourth Republic.

She appealed that we have moved beyond the 1995 events of the VAT, and that both sides of the House should see consider the 2.5 percent increase in VAT devoid of any partisan consideration to make sure we move revenue up for our nation.

Dominic Shirimori/Ghanamps.com

Gov’t is moving from taxation to more taxation with 23 more taxes – Ato Forson

The Ranking Member on the Committee of Finance, Ato Forson has chastised government for not demonstrating and leaving by its own policy suggestion of moving Ghana’s economy from taxation to production.

Contributing to the debate on the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of government on Tuesday, November 29, 2022, Mr. Ato Forson said government per the 2023 budget statement is rather moving from taxation to more taxation.

He accused government of not being consistent and meticulous with its policy measures, stating that the government is treating its tax policy as though it was a sock they can put on and remove at will.

He said government has introduced 23 tax measures. “Mr. Speaker this is a government that treats policy like socks; policy is not socks for you to put it on and take it out when you want. I’m begging you, if you want to introduce tax policy, you think about it, you do proper analysis before you make a position. You don’t introduce tax policy and 12 months down the line you bring it back. Mr. Speaker, that is really something that we should question the competence of the people that are making this decision. The mismanagement is so clear”.

He also asserts that there is a 2.5 increase in VAT. “Mr. Speaker, you agree with me that 2.5 percent VAT means that our VAT rate would be 21 percent. Simple put Mr. Speaker; we already have five percent VAT made up of GETFund and NHIL. Mr. Speaker, we have one percent VAT on COVID Levy already; if you are to add all of them Ghana’s VAT would be 21 percent statutory rate”

He explained further that this is different from the effective rate which would be about 22 percent, adding that it is the worst in Africa, and that no country in the entire Africa has VAT rate in excess of 20 percent.

He contend that the VAT increase is coming at a time that inflation has gone up percentage change almost 300 percent, from 13 percent to 44 percent and still climbing up.

He thus advised that the tax measures are not the solution to the getting the country out of the economic difficulty. “This tax policy must not be countenance. This tax policy must be thoroughly debated, scrutinized before a decision is would be made on it”.

Mr. Ato Forson hinted that the Minority would make a position on the tax policy in due course, adding that they believe this is not the time to heap more taxes on the ordinary Ghanaians at the time that prices of goods and services have gone up by 300 percent, “it should not be allowed”, he emphasized.

The ranking Member on the Finance Committee was also not happy about the scrapping of the 100 Ghana Cedis threshold for the E-Levy, and contend that it would affect the poor who initially government argued would be protected.

He assured that when it comes to the scraping of the 100 Ghana cedis thresholds for the E-Levy, the Minority would fight it with all their strength and might to protect the poor.

He said the quest by government to also increase the upper limit of personal income tax to 35 percent, when it goes through the income tax would go up. He reminded the House that the government brought this same tax some time ago and within 8 months scrapped it off, now it is back”. Other taxes include reversal of bench mark value, he added.

Dominic Shirimori/Ghanamps.com

Minority insists Finance Minister be present for debate

The Minority in parliament on Tuesday, November 29, 2022 insisted that the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta be made to be present in the House before the commencement of debate on the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government.

Deputy Minority Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim, raised the issue when the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin called for the debate to start.

The Minority Whip was not pleased at all that the Finance Minister presented the budget to the House but failed to be present to take their input.

Minority Leader

“Mr. Speaker it is only appropriate that the Finance Minister must be here,. Mr. Speaker, if he is not ready to do the job he must let the House know. He must be here for us to make our input but he is not here. We are in a critical stage as a country and we want to treat our suggestions in a form of debate”.

He insisted that the alternative views would come from the Minority side and stated that “our views cannot just be said without being considered”.

For him, the Minority took serious concerns about the absence of the finance Minister in the House.

His argument was supported by other members of the Minority including the Ranking member on the Finance Committee, Ato Forson who said the attitude of the Finance Minister towards the House was becoming too much. “Mr. Speaker, the practice where minsters of finance present budget and failed to collect input should not be entertained. It is becoming too much from this Finance Minister.

He argued that “you cannot read a budget and fail to solicit input to improve it going forward. Mr. Speaker, this is unbecoming of our minister responsible for finance, and we should not entertain it”.

The Minority even called on the Speaker not to allow the debate to start unless the finance minister appears.

However, the Leader of Government Business, and Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu clarified that the Minister of Finance sought permission from the Speaker and leadership of the House that for some reasons he was not going to be available to attend to the debate in the House as he was travelling outside the country to represent the country. As such the two deputies are present in the House to take the necessary notes of the contributions of members.

This was corroborated by the Speaker and confirmed that the Finance Minister duly sought permission to be absent.


Budget Debate: Majority shows lack of interest

The first day of debate on the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of government lacks the energy from the Majority side of the House.

The Majority that is supposed to push the agenda of government appears not too keen in the debate as their turn-up was so low.

Even the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu had course to mock at the Leader of the House for the low turn-up from his colleagues and asked him to take charge of his people.

The usual cheers and support that characterized previous debate was completely nonexistent from the Majority side.


Sissala East MP to honour hardworking teachers

The place of teachers in educating, training, and instilling discipline in children for a better future cannot be overemphasized, and that is why it is always in place to appreciate their contributions at all times.

It is in view of this that the Member of Parliament for Sissala East, Issahaku Chinnia Amidu knowing the relevance of teachers in the educational process is instituting teachers award scheme to appreciate and motivate hardworking teachers to give off their utmost best for the betterment of child development in the area.

The MP who expressed hope that by close of the year the event would take place said the process is ongoing with the help of the directorate of the Ghana Education Service.

The award scheme however, is just one aspect of interventions the MP is involved in to uplift education in the constituency.

While he supported the renovation of the education directorate, other assistance including purchase of car tires were also made to allow for easy movement for monitoring and other administrative works.

A number of infrastructure developments also sprung up. Through his community assisted programme, two schools have been built at Tanvelle, and Katenia, while additional two are in the process to be constructed. Furniture was also provided and distributed to schools.

In all these, the main objective of ensuring improvement in their result of the asic Education Certificate Examination in the area was not lost on him, As such some attention was also given directly to the students.

Mr. Amidu supported the orientation of BECE candidates to adequately prepare them for their examinations to ensure they do not fumble when confronted with the examinations.

Dominic Shirimori/Ghanamps.com

Nkawkaw MP brightens the principal streets of Nkawkaw ahead of Christmas

The Member of Parliament for Nkawkaw has initiated a move to brighten the principal streets of the municipality.
Currently, about 500 pieces of led streetlights are being fixed throughout the principal streets of the municipality and is hoped to be completed by close of this month.

The MP is being proactive to ensure the safety of the constituents particularly at night hence ensuring that there is good visibility in the municipal capital, particularly so when the Christmas season is just around the corner.

To ensure the entire constituency benefits from the project, the MP earlier distributed about 800 pieces of streetlights to individuals and assembly members, hence the new development is also to augment the good initiative he started.

Meanwhile, Mr. Joseph Frempong also facilitated the provision and fixing of Solar lights in 10 rural communities including Atawase, Asempaneye No1 to No6, Yawkrom, Boadukrom and Yaasekrom.


Buhari reaffirms Nigeria’s commitment to keep ECOWAS secure and politically stable

President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria H. E. Muhammadu Buhari has reaffirmed the commitment of his country to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with the support of its partners to keep the sub-region peaceful, secure and politically stable.

According to him in this regard, Nigeria remains committed to supporting ECOWAS to restore democratic rule in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso.

He made this remarks on Monday, November 28, 2022 in Abuja at the opening of the second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament when he gave his message as a distinguished guest.

And added that sustenance of democracy and rule of law should remain the norm in the West Africa sub-region, ahead of multiple political activities in some member states including Nigeria, where there will be general elections in February and March of 2023.

“Let me seize this opportunity to reiterate my commitment to free, fair and transparent elections and smooth transitions. This is one legacy that I want my administration to bequeath, not only to Nigeria, but to the region as a whole”, he said.

Also at the regional level, Sierra Leone and Liberia are also preparing for elections. As in the past, Nigeria is ready to stand by any country in the region that is committed to organising free and fair elections.

On the issue of election of Members of the ECOWAS Parliament by Direct Universal Suffrage, he recounted that he gave Nigeria’s assurance to support the process, provided it is conducted with minimum or even at no cost at all, to the Community.

“Let me underscore that the ECOWAS Parliament can only fulfill its true mandate when it has a set of directly elected and dedicated Members. I believe that a membership of the ECOWAS Parliament, not drawn from serving members of Parliaments of Member States, would be a good step towards injecting our regional integration with new energy and initiative”.

As a country that believes strongly in regional integration and cooperation, he emphasize that Nigeria will continue to support all the ECOWAS Institutions domiciled within the country. And their pledge to construct a new permanent headquarters for this Parliament remains as irrevocable and strong as ever.

“I had hoped for the completion and formal commissioning of the project before leaving office. The , desire to create an ECOWAS complex, housing the Commission, the Parliament and the Court all in one arena, led to the delay”.

He said has been informed of the harmonization in drawings and other technicalities have been concluded and that the ground-breaking ceremony of the ECOWAS Commission’s headquarters to be constructed by the Government of the Peoples Republic of China has been scheduled to take place on 5th December 2022.

“ The vision of the founding fathers of ECOWAS was to have a West Africa that is integrated economically with harmonized policies and enjoying free movement of persons, goods and services, as well as seamless right to establishment. We must continue to strive harder to attain those objectives”, he emphasised.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Cleanest city: “Accra in the next ten years cannot get anywhere near Kigali”—Bagbin

Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament Rt. Hon Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin said he does not think and cannot see Accra in the next ten years getting  anywhere near  Rwanda Kigali,  which is known as the cleanest city in Africa.

According to him Rwanda after their genocide sat together to put a programme in place immediately coming out of their genocide, worked as a team and made statement trying to improve their system.

In an interview with Ghanamps.com on the side line at the just ended 145th General Assembly of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Rwanda- Kigali, responding to whether Accra can be clean like Kigali, Speaker Bagbin pointed out that as we move around in Kigali they had map out areas where people are not to build houses.

“You see people growing vegetables; in Accra the small, small streams we have, they have all been filled with garbage and we are living by the Akuapem ridge when there is rain, the water does not have anywhere to go than to run down and try to run into the sea. There were hold on ponds created around, when there is heavy rain they enter those ponds and try to fill the ponds before moving off; now all the places have been covered, so the water just come down”, he lamented.

The former health Minister gave historical antecedents of efforts to get Accra clean by previous and current governments, saying “we say cleanliness is next to Godliness, and this was one of the core values of the Gold Coast or Ghanaians”.

Kigali Rwanda

And recounted that in the earlier days, Gold Coast (Ghana) had town council officers who moved around to ensure Ghanaians had clean environment; “we took care of our health in the schools, early in the morning we were busy cleaning the areas”.

He said the concept of cleanliness was so cherished that even personal hygiene including the inspection of body, clothing, and teeth was a major issue for teachers. “It has always been with us, but along the way we got a number of interruptions. That is one of the areas that we have some difficulties; life is about evolution, usually when there is a revolution there is some destruction, people do not take time to cost”.

Accra Ghana 

The benefit is always bigger than the cost; it’s only when you have that sharp evolution then you take time to recover, then there may be some changes that you try to inculcate in the people that can last for some time. That was not the case in Ghana; we were having frequent changes, evolutions and so some of the core values then got lost, he stated.

He also attributed our difficulties to coups, stating that all these coups and counter coups add up to it; “by the time that we came to constitutional rule we have lost focus, it is now difficult for us to crawl back, we have lost discipline and order”. And the kind of harmony we used to work together to ensure there was cleanliness, orderliness is not existent.

Rt. Hon Speaker Bagbin pointed out that after the change of government in 2000, because, “Rawlings has been there for a long time, people were not really appreciating the process that Rawlings put in place”.

Then came the government of former President John Agyekum Kufuor, who establish a Ministry called the ‘Beautification of the Capital City’.  It caught on because it’s one of the serious concerns of Ghanaians; “how to get back that value”.

“Late Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey was put in charge of that Ministry, in spite of all the talks, things got worse”, he lamented.

After that there was transition and former President, John Evans Atta Mills came and also brought about a ‘Better Ghana Agenda’ trying to improve on all those things.

Then currently we have President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government also talking about making, “Accra the cleanest city in Africa”.

“I listen to these things and I laugh because, many of them do not know the magnitude of the problem; the kind of investment made into it; that is why some of us underscore the importance of long term vision where we will seat and agree that, “in this number of years of time this is where we want to be, how do we get there?”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com/Rwanda/Kigali

Oda MP inspects ongoing works on Akim Oda sports stadium

The Member of Parliament for Akim Oda Constituency in the Eastern Region Alexander Akwasi Acquah has inspected ongoing works on the construction of the Akim Oda stadium.

He assured the contractor and management of all the necessary support from his office and urged them to make sure the project is completed within the stipulated time.

According to the MP, inspections would be made regularly to ensure smooth progress of the project.

The MP recently presented GHc100,000.00 to the management and team of Kotoku Royals Football Club to commence first phase of renovation works of the Akyem Oda Sports Stadium to enable the team to return from Cape Coast Sports Stadium to play on their home soil.