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2023 budget: “We have a duty to reflect the aspiration of ordinary Ghanaians”—Haruna

Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu said the post budget workshop organized for Members of Parliament (MPs) is their core function of playing an oversight role and they are the institution responsible for controlling the public purse. As such if there is any mandate for parliament, MPs must consider it very essential and critical.

According to him MPs have a duty to reflect the aspiration of Ghanaians; that is ordinary Ghanaians, businesses including the private sector and to take decisions that assure them that they care about them.

He further pointed out that, the Minister has shown candor in admitting that the economy is in crises, and he can only pray that it does not get worse. We are in crises and Parliament must help government to walk out of it; how do we do it remains a question. “We all must seek answers; as we engage today on Ghana’s economy and the 2023 budget statement”.

According to him, as he listened to the Finance Minister, it is clear that government is simply broke, and the economy is in crises and under life support that needs some resuscitation and some of the measures may provide the relief that the economy needs.

He questioned how placing a cup on employment into the public and civil service, helps address the unemployment level of our country, including solving the inequalities and ratio of pupil – teachers, doctors and nurses to the Ghanaian public.

Again, “minister when you say additionally there will not be printing of diaries, calendars and other promotional merchandise, MDAs MMDAs and SOEs and then the word is for 2024 why not 2023? So those who are in the process of procuring, stop them in other to save the public purse”

The Tamale South lawmaker further emphasized that they are not against the construction of a cathedral. Ghana is a circular state and republic which guarantee freedom of faith, freedom of region, but “when you make a budgetary allocation for the construction of a national cathedral at eight million Ghana cedis, “we would ask what is the total cost of that project; how were procurement under taken to assure value for money; what is the duration of the project; how much will it cost the state and when will the project be completed?”.

He noted that these are needful answers we will ask whiles we support it. “I see finally some pledge to reduce the E-Levy; we will subject it to some critical and thorough discussion and further consultation as a caucus in order to assist government to get out of its economic crises; but urged that there should be further consultation on e-levy.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

“Fighting corruption requires collaboration with arms of governments and countries”—Professor Sadiq

The Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) in Nigeria, professor Sadiq Isah Radda has said fighting corruption requires the collaboration between the three arms of government; Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature in every country.

According to him countries within the African continent need to collaborate, cooperate and coordinate and speak with one voice on the fight against corruption.

“That is why we in Nigeria feel if our brothers and sisters in Ghana should be contacted so that we work together to fight corruption in Africa. We are the only people who can do it ourselves and nobody can do it for us well”, he said in an interview.

They are currently on a working visit in Ghana visiting anti-corruption institutions and can call on the Judiciary Committee in Ghana’s Parliament, he stated.

As to what can be done to address issue of Nigerians arrested in Ghana and same with Ghanaians arrested in Nigeria, he noted that, “you see not every Nigerian in Ghana that is bad so those of them that are committing one offence or the other can be subjected to the due process of the law. What we do not want is a situation where some of them are victimized.

But, anyone found of committing an offense in Ghana, Chad, Rwandan and Nigeria should be arrested and subject to the due process of the law but that does not mean every Nigerian in Ghana is an offender and every Ghanaian in Nigeria is an offender”, he emphasised.

On the issue of drug trafficking at the various airports within the sub-region and Africa, he noted that citizens need to cooperate with anti corruption agencies with good information and timely information; sea-ports and borders should be encouraged to work very well and we should also deploy technology.

Again, our religious and political leaders and opinion leaders should be good models; if we do this jointly we can achieve success.

As to what some of the challenges they face are, he noted that the kind of laws we have are different, despite there are similarity, but not exactly the same; the laws are different and poses challenges, he added.

More so, there are culture differences, and thirdly there are political differences. There are problems to do with the attitudes of the people; the people in the continent exhibit different attitudes so all these jointly pose a challenge but if we keep talking and collaborating, we can break all these barriers, he said.

Touching on whether the laws being used in fighting corruption are enough, he noted that laws improve if they are implemented fully, as one can only tell whether a law is good or bad it is implemented fully.

“So, let us get to a position where countries in Africa can implement all their laws, rules and regulations; along the line we will be able to know which part of the rules has problem but for now many of the laws are not implemented fully”.

He expressed hope that if we show commitment and implement the laws fully and with sincerity, it is only then that we can change and reform them.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

We need market labour information system for policy decision —Baffour Awuah

The Minister for Employment and Labour Relations Ignaius Baffour Awuah has underscored the importance of the Country having a labour market information system as it will help in policy decision making.

According to him having a  functional market information system is very critical stating that as a Ministry they are supposed to turn out information on labour statistics to government and the general public; but lamented that they are either non-existence or there are scanty information which is useful for policy formulation.

And further lamented that in this modern age in the 21st century where the world is driven by technology, “we continue to use manual system for gathering information”.


He made this remarks at the launch of the national action plan on labour market information system in Ghana.

He added that he looks forward to its outcome and reminded the actors and consultants that they have a lot to do, because six years down the line since he became a Minister of that Ministry, one of the things he was lectured on was Labour Market Information System.

 “ So I thought we were almost there, I got the assurance it would be launched half way and it was going to be lunched six years down the line, it is yet to be launched.  I do not know if the program is dead”, he lamented.

He further pointed out that the system of gathering labour information, sometimes you get a labour officer who is lazy and does not capture the information well, and will not give out accurate information.

When you get an officer who gets accurate information captured, “sometimes you get people questioning how authentic information on the labour market is; and we ourselves do lack the confidence to even defend those figures”.

Mr. David Marcos, an officer in charge of the International Labour Organisation  noted that the mismatch and imbalance between the demand and supply of skills contributes to the costly economic inefficacies, resulting in difficult transition from education to productive, employment and under-utilisation of existing skills at the work place.

And limited portability of skills and qualification across countries, regions and the continent as countries that have succeeded in linking skills to productivity gains, increase employment and enhanced development have targeted skills development policies towards matching supply to demand for skills.

Mr. David Marcos officer in charge of ILO

The ILO through the SIFA-Skills Anticipation Programme component conducted a study in Ghana in 2020 to map existing labour market information system and practices and to establish the extent to which the system has institutionalized skills anticipation as an integral part of the national LMIS system.

The research study aimed at mapping the existing data sources or providers, and reviewing current practices, capacities and institutional arrangements for labour market information and skills anticipation in Ghana.

The main objective was to inform the Skills Anticipation Component of the Africa Union Commission (AUC), which aims at facilitating the identification and anticipation of skills as an integral part of national labour market information systems (LMIS).

This was important to ensure that skills supply and skills demand in African labour markets can be matched effectively to help deal with the unemployment challenge and threats faced by respective governments of targeted AUC Member States.

The study provided concrete recommendations for the improvement of existing systems and structures of labour market information databases in Ghana and, thereby, supporting effective skills anticipation processes.

The study established that there are insufficient organizational structures and human resources to centralize labour market information and provide evidence for making education and training more responsive to current and future skills needs.

It is  examined different institutions involved in data collection activities and concluded that the MOELR, in terms of its mandate as the government agency responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies on employment planning, should have the overall responsibility for any possible future skills matching and anticipation system in Ghana.

Based on the foregoing the study concluded that Ghana does not have a well-functioning skills matching and anticipation system in place and proposes a framework for better matching and anticipation of Ghana’s skills needs to meet the growing digital skills for up skilling the workforce for the emerging Africa’s single market.

The mapping exercise, therefore provided an overview of the Ghana Labour Market Information system, its data sources, its, capacities and institutional arrangements. The report also highlighted strengths and weaknesses of the current system including the fact the Country does not have an institutionalized process of anticipating labour market skills needs.

Subsequently, in 2021, a National Task Team was formed that worked to develop a National Action Plan for improving and strengthening Labour Market Information and Skills Anticipation Systems in Ghana.

He noted that launch event is yet another success story of effective collaboration among ILO projects in the Africa region. The SKILL UP Project and the SIFA Skills Anticipation project have been working in tandem to strengthen the skills anticipation system in Ghana.

And these collaborative efforts, SIFA have supported the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations to develop a National Action Plan for strengthening and improving Labour Market Information and Skills Anticipation System in Ghana which is being launched today.

The National Action Plan which has been duly costed will serve as a resource mobilization tool for the Ministry and other collaborators to be able to harness the needed resources towards the implementation of the recommended actions.

 “I am glad to note that the development of the National Action Plan is timely as the Ghana Jobs and Skills Project, funded by the World Bank, will support the implementation of key recommendations of this National Action Plan”.

He   further pledged the continues support of the ILO in pursuit of this noble dream of improving and strengthening the Labour Market Information System with the view to promoting decent work and social justice.


Gov’t freezes employment as it takes measures to cut cost

Unemployed citizens of Ghana who are hopeful of getting employment into the civil and public services will have to abandon that dream at least in 2023 as government has announced a hiring freeze for civil and public servants.

This measure was long anticipated by some members of the public since the announcement by government that it was engaging the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a support Programme.

The freeze on employment constitutes one of many other measures the government has adopted towards expenditure rationalization.

The Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta presenting the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government for the Year ending 31st December, 2023 revealed among others these additional measures that take effect from January, 2023:

● All MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs are directed to reduce fuel allocations to Political Appointees and heads of MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs by 50%. This directive applies to all methods of fuel allocation including coupons, electronic cards, chit system, and fuel depots. Accordingly, 50% of the previous years (2022) budget allocation for fuel shall be earmarked for official business pertaining to MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs; ● A ban on the use of V8s/V6s or its equivalent except for cross country travel. All government vehicles would be registered with GV green number plates from January 2023;

● Limited budgetary allocation for the purchase of vehicles. For the avoidance of doubt, purchase of new vehicles shall be restricted to locally assembled vehicles;

● Only essential official foreign travel across government including SOEs shall be allowed. No official foreign travel shall be allowed for board members. Accordingly, all government institutions should submit a travel plan for the year 2023 by mid-December of all expected travels to the Chief of Staff;

As far as possible, meetings and workshops should be done within the official environment or government facilities;
● Government sponsored external training and Staff Development activities at the Office of the President, Ministries and SOEs must be put on hold for the 2023 financial year;

● Reduction of expenditure on appointments including salary freezes together with suspension of certain allowances like housing, utilities and clothing, etc.;

● A freeze on new tax waivers for foreign companies and review of tax exemptions for free zone, mining, oil and gas companies;

● No new government agencies shall be established in 2023;

● There shall be no hampers for 2022;

● There shall be no printing of diaries, notepads, calendars and other promotional merchandise by MDAs, MMDAs and SOEs for 2024;

● All non-critical project must be suspended for 2023 Financial year


Government to reduce E-Levy headline rate

Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta in presenting the 2023 budget statement on the floor of the House has hinted that government has received several proposals for the review of the Electronic Transfer Levy.

According to him they are working closely with all stakeholders to evaluate the impact of the Levy in order to decide on the next line of action which will include revision of the various exclusions.

As a first step, however, the headline rate will be reduced to one percent (1%) of the transaction value alongside the removal of the daily threshold.

And to this end, the income tax regime will undergo reforms to among others, review the upper limits for vehicle benefits and introduce an additional income tax bracket of 35%. 2023 BUDGET STATEMENT 20 Expenditure Measures.

Mr. Speaker, key expenditure measures will also be pursued to support the fiscal consolidation process.
In this regard, it is proposed that Government:

i. Reduce the threshold on earmarked funds from the current 25 percent of Tax Revenue to 17.5 percent of Tax Revenues;

ii. Migrate all earmarked funds onto the GIFMIS platforms and ensure they use the GIFMIS platform to process all their revenue and expenditures transactions. v. Continue with 30% cut in the salaries of the President, Vice President, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, MMDCEs, and political office holders including those in State-Owned Enterprises;

iii. vii. Place a cap on salary adjustment of SOEs to be lower than negotiated base pay increase on Single Spine Salary Structure for each year;

Mr. Speaker, Government has consistently indicated its intention to improve the revenue collection effort by leveraging technology to enhance tax administration, identify and register taxable persons and improve tax compliance.


Gov’t to develop capacity of local industries to support import substitution drive

Government is to support the private sector, through partnerships with existing and prospective businesses to expand, rehabilitate and establish manufacturing plants targeted at producing selected produce for the Ghanaian market.

The measure according to the Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta is aimed at developing local capacity for production to help achieve government’s import substitution drive to ensure product that the country has the capacity to produce are produced here.

The Finance Minister who disclosed this when he presented the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government in parliament on Thursday, 24th November, 2023 said the country’s heavy dependence on imports places tremendous pressure on the Cedi, creating an unfavourable balance of payments position.

“On average, Ghana’s import bill exceeds US$10 billion annually and is accounted for by a diverse range of items that include iron, steel, aluminum, sugar, rice, fish, poultry, palm oil, cement, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, Toilet roll, toothpick, fruit juices, etc”.

He disclosed that the country currently has the capacity to locally produce items that account for about 45 percent of the value of our annual imports including include rice, fish, sugar, poultry, cement, pharmaceuticals, jute bags, computers, among others.


Minority to be present at the 2023 budget presentation —Haruna

The Minority in Ghanas Parliament has given indications that they as a group will be present on Thursday, November 24, 2022 when the Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta comes to the House to present the 2023 budget to save the ailing economy.

According to a statement signed by the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, their presence will be without prejudices to the ongoing Committee hearing on the motion on censure brought against the Finance Minister who we hold responsible, together with other government appointees for the collapse of the Ghanaian economy and the attendant hardship, he said.

He further added that while they remain committed to seeing through the process of censure of the Finance Minister, they are mindful of their duty to carry out their oversight over the Executive and preserve the interest of Ghanaians.

Peoples whose livelihood the Akufo -Addo/Dr. Bawumi administration has severely undermine through mismanagement of the economy.

Again they are mindful of the timeless regarding the IMF negotiations and the crucial a timely presentation of the 2022 budget will play in the advancement of these talks aimed at securing a program to bring the ailing economy back on truck.

Minority Leader made it clear in the statement that, they will resist any effort to impose additional hardship on Ghanaians, through draconian and deleterious fiscal policies in the budget.

We have on many occasions offered alternative pathways to resuscitating the economy and have highlighted the need for drastic cuts in non-essential Government expenditures and more prudent use of the scares national resources. We also demanded greater transparency and accountability in the public financial management.

And hope alternative proposals will find expression in the budget; and assure Ghanaians that they will stand by them in this difficult times and will not fail in holding the managers of the economy accountable.


Achimota forest land was released to Owoo family by former President Mahama

Deputy Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu-Bio has told Parliament former President John Dramani Mahama gave an executive approval for the release of the Achimota Forest land to the Owoo family.

According to him, this followed a recommendation by a committee set up by former Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Inusah Fuseini, that reviewed the recommendations of the Afari-Dartey committee constituted earlier by the late President John Atta Mills.

This came to light on Wednesday, November 23, 2022 when Member of Parliament for Wa Central Dr. Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo asked a question on the floor to dispelled rumour that the release of the Achimota Forest land was released by President Akufo-Addo government.

He added that, Barbara Serwaa Asamoah’s committee endorsed the recommendations of the Afari-Dartey Committee, and added that the request of the Owoo family “should be expedited for the smooth take-off of the Eco Park project.”

“Based on the above, Hon. Inusah Fuseini sought Executive Approval to implement the recommendations of the Committee, and on 5th September, 2013, President John Dramani Mahama gave executive approval for the release of the land to the Owoo family,” Mr. Owusu-Bio stressed.

He said with the approval of the then Minister, the Forestry Commission executed three leases in favour of the family, covering approximately 148.411 acres of the Forest Reserve.

“This size was however, increased over the years through Deeds of Variations executed in 2014 and 2020 for various reasons,” he indicated, and added, “So, in fact, and in law, this portion of the Forest Reserve was granted to the Owoo Family in 2013.”

He stated that there was a delay in de-reserving the land, which was the proposal to make the development of that part of the land granted to the Owoo Family coincide with a planned Eco park in the remaining portion of the Forest Reserve.

“I am, however, advised by the Forestry Commission, that the intended developer of the Eco park, has failed to meet the Conditions Precedent to the Project, and was not in a position to develop the Eco park,” he asserted.
The deputy minister disclosed that the Owoo family, as grantees of Government, had with the consent of the Forestry Commission, sublet portions of the land to private developers, who were frustrated by their inability to develop the lands in accordance with the terms of their agreement.

“On 23rd March, 2021, the Family petitioned my office, and following the advice of the Forestry Commission, I sought executive approval from the President of the Republic, and the advice of the Attorney General, and the said E.I. 144 was published to de-reserve the portions of the Forest Reserve already granted to the Owoo Family,” he indicated further.

According to him, a careful reading of E.I. 144 will reveal that not only was the area granted the Owoo family de-reserved, but the Instrument contains several provisions that seek to protect the ecological integrity of the remaining portions of the Forest, including the development of a Master plan for the area, and the requirement of Ministerial approval, given on the recommendations of the Forestry Commission, for the development of any part of the land granted.


Minerals exploration and untilisation in Oti Region to benefit all—Deputy Minister

The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, responsible for Lands and Forestry, Benito Owusu-Bio says government is fully committed to ensuring that mineral deposits discovered in the Oti Region are exploited and utilised for the benefit of the people of Oti in particular, and Ghanaians in general.

The Deputy Minister made this declaration on the floor of Parliament when he was answering questions on behalf of the Sector Minister, Samuel A. Jinapor on Wednesday, 23rd, November, 2022.

Mr. Benito in his answer on steps being taken by the Ministry to operationalize mining of minerals discovered in the Oti Region, said government is still at the exploratory stage of the mining value chain of the iron ore mineral. “Currently, the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation (GIISDEC), the statutory body responsible for the promotion and development of an integrated iron and steel industry in the country, is undertaking mineral resource estimation at one of the seven blocks in the Gyamurume and Wawaso areas” He added

He continued that Satellite scans have been completed, and mapping and geophysical surveys are underway which he said is expected to be completed within a year and half, noting that so far, ten (10) people from the local community have been employed.

In addition to iron ore, he alluded that the Ghana Geological Survey Authority (GGSA) is carrying out geological investigations into limestone deposits to define and quantify their economic potential for exploitation.

He assured the House that before any serious mining activities begin in the Region, the Ministry will ensure that all the necessary measures are put in place to forestall any illegalities that will negatively impact the environment as seen elsewhere.

Still on the mining sector, Mr. Benito touted a number of measures government has put in place to mitigate the illegal mining menace, noting that these measures can also pass as progress government has made in the fight against the menace.

“Government has implemented several policies and programmes aimed at coming to grips with this canker. We declared river bodies as red zones for mining, banned reconnaissance, prospecting and/or exploration in Forest Reserves, launched Operation Halt II to rid river bodies and forest reserves of illegal mining activities, introduced speed boats and river guards to patrol and protect our river bodies, banned the manufacture, sale and/or use of the floating platform, popularly referred to as Changfan, enhanced the punishment regime for persons involved in illegal mining, revamped Community Mining Schemes and developed an Operational Manual to regulate their operations.”

Answering the questions of disposal of government Lands, he reiterates that, as has been the case in all governments under the Fourth Republic, government has disposed of some landed properties since 2017. He was however quick to add that as to the number of transactions, the beneficiaries, and value of those transactions, he will rely wholly, on previous answers given on 3rd February, 7th June, and 28th June, 2022, as captured in the Hansard for those days.

He also made it clear that when the Lands Commission, who are the repository of these information, finishes compiling the records, including those relating to previous years already requested by the House, he will furnish the House with the information.

On the question of why government issued an Executive Instrument (E.I. 144) to declassify 40% of Achimota Forest Reserve and how Lands in these Reserve area were already demarcated and sold out to individuals, the Deputy Minister gave a historic background to the matter and stressed that Achimota Forest is an integral part of Government’s plan for the protection of our forest cover and our agenda for aggressive afforestation and reforestation, and the Government of President Akufo-Addo, remains fully committed to its protection and proper management.

He therefore gave an assurance to the House that Government will act on any improper acquisition of public lands, regardless of how it was procured, whether now or in the past, and the Achimota Forest Lands will not be an exception.

Hon. Owusu-Bio stressed emphatically that Public lands are not for sale and for that matter the Akufo-Addo government has not sold lands to any institutions, groups of people or private individuals.

Speaking to the question of quantity and whereabouts of the confiscated rosewood which is said to have been donated to National Cathedral, he said as announced on 30th July 2022 by the sector Minister that all Rosewood confiscated will be donated towards the construction of the National Cathedral, “since this date, twelve point five (12.5) containers, containing an estimated wood volume of Two Hundred and Fifty cubic metres (250m3) of Rosewood, have been confiscated and donated to the National Cathedral Project and this includes the five containers impounded on 17th June, 2021 at Tema Port.

He implored the house that for security reasons, all Rosewood donated to the National Cathedral Project are stored at the Forestry Commission Depot, in Achimota, stating that as and when the Project requires wood, they will make use of these confiscated wood.

The Deputy Minister assured the House, and the good people of Ghana, that “our management of the natural resources of our country, including Rosewood, will continue to be anchored on the highest standards of transparency, integrity and candour for the benefit of the Ghanaian people, the owners of these resources”.


Finance Minister presents 2023 Budget Statement today

The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta will today, the 24th of November, 2022 be in parliament to present the 2023 Budget Statement an Economic Policy of Government for the year ending 31st December 2023 on behalf of the President of the Republic.

This is in accordance with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and section 21 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921).

The 2023 Budget Statement is expected to among other things;

• focus on Government’s strategies to restore and stabilize the macro economy, build resilience, and promote inclusive growth and value creation;

• provides updates on Ghana’s engagement with the IMF for an IMF-supported Programme: year-to-date macro-fiscal performance of the economy: the YouStart initiative under the Ghana CARES Programme; climate action strategies; fiscal measures and debt management strategies to ensure fiscal and debt sustainability and promote growth.

Meanwhile, the Minority Caucus in parliament has hinted that there would be increases in taxes including about 2.5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT), scrapping of exemptions on MoMo among others.

While the Minority has given its readiness to support the government to get out of this economic challenges the country is faced with, it called on the government to drastically reduce its expenditure.