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Voting on Ministerial nominees must be done today—Minority declares

The Minority in Parliament Parliament is insisting on having the voting on President Nana Akufo-Addo’s ministerial nominees done on Friday, March, 24, 2023 after the exercise was suspended.

There was chaos in Parliament after the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, suspended sitting due to the failure of both sides to agree on how to vote for the approval of two Supreme Court Justices and Ministers and deputy ministers nominated by President Akufo-Addo.

The Majority demanded that voting for the Supreme Court Justices and the Ministers be done concurrently, but the Minority insisted that voting and counting be done separately.

The Majority also demanded that MPs from their side openly display their vote, but that was immediately shot down by the Minority who demanded that voting be done in secret.

The Minority led by Cassiel Ato Forson vehemently rejected the proposal of the Majority and urged the Speaker to allow MPs to vote in secret.

Speaking after the sitting was suspended, the Minority Leader, Dr. Ato Forson insisted that they will not have the voting any other day than today.

“We want the voting today, Friday, March 24, 2023, and not any other day. We urge those on the Majority side to return to Parliament immediately, so we vote.”

“We are ready with all our MPs – 136 and want the voting right away.”

Prior to the vetting of the newly nominated ministers on Monday, February 20, 2023, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) directed the Minority group not to approve them, describing their appointments as an insensitive move that would increase the government’s expenditure in the midst of an economic mess.


Report on anti-LGBTQ+ bill to be laid on the floor today

Ranking member of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Bernard Ahiafor has hinted that the anti-LGBTQ+ before the Committee which has gone through first reading would be laid before the House today, Friday, March 24, 2023.

According to him the bill was introduced as a private members bill; and after the first reading it was referred to the committee, they advertise the bill which generated so much concern that it generates two hundred memoranda from civil society organisations.

The Christian, traditional authorities, individual and academia they had to seat as a committee and give hearing to these people who present a memorandum to the committee they have done that pains taken, after which the committee resolved into consideration of the bill clause by clause and now they are at a stage that the committees report and the recommendations and amendments is ready.

He further noted that when the report is introduced on the floor it moves from the Committee level to the plenary for consideration. It would be for second reading after that it would move to the consideration stage, third reading then it is passed; then it would be moved to the president for assent. “Those who have issues against the bill, they should note that Ghana is a sovereign state; we have our culture and individual difference and recounted that he was in the Huge- the Netherlands, and he asked a rhetorical question that became a demonstration”.

He added that in Africa and Ghana, we are partly polygamous; would they by way of culture practice allow polygamy? They said it is a ‘criminal offense’ then why are you asking us to practice lesbianism and homosexuality and other behaviors?”

“We are a sovereign state so the responsibility of the committee was to ensure there is nothing in the bill that conflict with the 1992 constitution in Ghana; as we have a written constitution and the fundamental human right is dear to us such that a whole chapter in the constitution is dedicated to it”.

So, they looked at those provisions line by line as against the provision in the LGBTQ, and they have proposed all the necessary amendments to ensure that the bill is not repaginate to our constitution.

If, you look at the activities of the LGBTQI+, their activities are repaginating to our culture and the very being of our society. Ghana’s parliament has the right to make laws and that is what exactly we are doing. What we need to do is to ensure that the law does not trample upon anybody’s right, so no one can say we do not have the right to make that law, he stated.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Water-borne diseases accounts for large percentage of mortality and morbidity –Amidu

Deputy Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources Amidu Chinnia Issahaku has noted that water-borne diseases account for a large percentage of mortality and morbidity in developing countries and general spike in numbers during epidemics flooding and drought.

According to him it is crucial for Ghana to double their efforts in their commitments in providing access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene to all by 2030 when he presented a statement on the floor of the House on Wednesday, March 22, 2023 to mark World Water Day.

As Ghana joins the International Community to observe the day under the theme, “Accelerating change”, it is import for Ghanaians to reflect on their individual commitment to the global water action agenda.

It is interesting to note that barely seven (7) years to 2030 billions of people across the globe still do not have access to safe water and toilets, but in Ghana the narrative is a bit different as government has prioritized the water sector which has led to interventions that has increased the provision of portable water and improved sanitation to thousand of households and communities.

And according to the ministry’s annual progress report 2022 eight seven point senven (87.7%) of Ghana’s population have access to basic drinking water services while access to basic sanitation services is twenty-five point three (25.3%) .

Despite these efforts, human activities such as illegal mining, sand mining, discharge of waste into the rivers and water bodies, clearing of vegetation along the river course among others, floods and drought as well as climate change, threatens the gains in the provision of clean water to many Ghanaians.

The deputy minister told the House government is not relenting in helping communities to access adequate clean water as a key essential component in their drive the ministry through its agencies is considering nature-base solutions and climate smart approach to promote water conservation and effective watershed management to create healthier landscape that are more resistant to droughts and floods.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Minority vindicated over Aker-AGM Block Sale to Gov’t—Kofi Buah

The minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament has been vindicated by Aker Energy’s decision to relinquish its interest in the AGM South Deep Water Tano Cape Three Points (SDWT/CTP) block, deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah has stated.

According to him, the minority during a debate on the floor of the House on the deal in 2021 vehemently opposed the proposed sale of the block to government at the cost of GHc1.65billion, arguing that it was not in the interest of the nation.

Addressing a press conference in response to a news publication that suggests that, the minority has been silent on the decision by AGM, a subsidiary of AKER Energy, to pull out of the US$1.65 billion transaction with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), the former Energy minister showed videos of himself debating against the proposed sale on the floor as a vindication of his side.

Energy Minister, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh told parliament that government fully backed GNPC’s decision to acquire stakes in the $1.6bn Aker-AGM deal to acquire 70% stake in the South Deep Water Tano (SDWT/CTP) and another 37% stake in the Deep Water Tano/Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP).

Until the recent announcement, the SDWT/CTP was operated by AGM Petroleum Ghana Limited while the DWT/CTP is operated by Aker Energy Ghana Limited.

Apart from the NDC minority, some civil society organisations have raised issues about the acquisition describing it as threatening the country’s economic and fiscal outlook.

The CSOs who raised red flags about the valuation includes IMANI Africa, Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) and other petroleum among other energy experts.

According to the Ellembelle MP, the minority stood up for Ghanaians when AKER tried to sell the AGM block emphasizing that it was not of value and was risky but the NPP Government nearly paid over $1 billion for it.

“The minority in parliament stood up when Aker tried to sell the AGM south deep water Tano block, we stood up and spoke and we will never betray the people of Ghana.

“We want to basically let the people of Ghana know that we stood up. We continue to stand up, when it came to the issue of Aker basically coming to parliament to water down our take as a country and to reduce the power of the regulator the Petroleum commission, we spoke about it. We insisted it was wrong and today we know it; AKER has basically been dilly-dallying the people of Ghana and has not developed our fields. Sadly, we have three development fields,” Mr. Armah-Kofi Buah stated.

Ghana would have lost over $1billion had GNPC acquire the blocks but for the minority’s opposition to the deal.

The caucus said the recent announcement by AGM of relinquishing the block vindicates its position against the propose sale to GNPC.

According to the news publication, the NDC has some competent materials who have, at various times, worked in the Energy Ministry and understand the fallout of the botched transaction, but observers have been worried at the deafening silence of the minority, especially those on the Mines and Energy Committee.

Amongst these are; Edward Bawa, Member of Parliament Bongo in the Upper East Region and the Ranking Member, John Jinapor, MP for Yapei-Kusawgu in the Savanna Region, Kwabena Donkor, MP for Pru East in Bono East Region and Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, the MP for Ellembele in the Western Region.

They have either been spokespersons, deputy ministers, or substantive ministers at the Energy Ministry. Interestingly, they have kept total silence on the matter since news broke that the transaction had collapsed because AGM had pulled out, technically, handing over the oil some state officials were willing to sink over US$1.65 billion for free.

The NDC minority addressed the media to discredit the claim by the news report.


Speaker Tunis wants more women in Nigeria’s delegation to ECOWAS Parliament

Speaker of the Community Parliament Rt. Hon Dr. Sidie Mohammed Tunis is advocating for more female representation in the Nigeria delegation as currently the number stands at thirty-five (35) with only two (2) female representatives.

Speaking in an interview with the ECOWAS Parliament Press Corps in Freetown, Sierra Leone, at the end of the two day symposium on women proportional representation in politics, organised by the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians Association (ECOFEPA), Speaker Tunis described the development as being “really, really not good” and expressed his plans to continue engaging the leadership of Nigeria to change the status quo.

“I am hoping to engage the next Speaker in the Nigeria National Assembly and the President of the Senate to encourage them to have more women in the ECOWAS Parliament. We also want to have a special programme just for Nigeria to encourage the stakeholders and the political leadership to ensure that they have more women on their tickets, not just for the National Assembly, but for even Local Government.

Speaker Tunis said the Community Parliament has a whole year Program, and the symposium in Sierra Leone is just the beginning of many to follow to popularize the idea of 30 percent affirmative action for women. “We are also going to have another program [a Town Hall Meeting] in Abuja before the next Ordinary Session, where we are even inviting MPs from Rwanda to come and share their experiences with us [ECOWAS Parliament]. We will also have workshops in Member States to ensure that we do not just pass laws, but to see action.”

He believes the advocacy campaign in Freetown can be organised across the sub-region to have a minimum of 30 percent quota for women.

Last year, through a conversation between the Speaker and the ECOWAS Commission, the Parliament was able to secure funding for ECOFEPA’s activities.


Ashaiman residents and the military must learn to leave together—Defense Minister

Minister for Defense Bingab Aduna Dominic Nitiwul has called for residents of Ashaiman and the military to learn to leave together when the Committee of Defense and Interior and the Defense Minister visited Ashaiman over the military brutality that occurred in Ashaiman causing huge public outcry.

According him, this is not the first time that there have been issues between the Ghana Armed Forces (GAM) and the residents, and noted that the development suggests that there is a fundamental problem that needs to be resolved because the military and residents of Ashiaman share boundary.

Again, all over the world, the military finds the people in communities they find themselves as friends, and criminals never come to such communities because of the presence of the military.

It will be difficult for people to come in to commit crime in communities that have the military presence; they are safe communities.

“We would look into the issues and make sure they are dealt with properly. The military high command has accepted that the decision to take a swoop in both Ashaiaman, Ashairman New Town and Official Town were sanctioned at the highest level by the Military. They also added that it was intelligence led; it means part of this swoop was in planning for a long time. We do not do intelligence in two days. If you look at their statement, they did say that they said something’s were done but that should not have been done”.

The Minister noted that, he needs to listen to the residents themselves and not only take report from the committee, military or the police and he did listen to the lawyer who spoke for the residents. “I heard him mention specifically instances what has happened, what did not happen; I have taken my time to glance through the books to see some of the pictures and some of the police statement that was put there”.

He recounted that he has gone through four conflicts 1981, 1991, 1994 and 1995 so he knows the effect of conflict; he was involved in four major conflict in Ghana, “so I know what it means to be in a conflict situation and I know what it means when the police and military are operating”.

Again, I know it and I have experienced it like the chairman of the committee said, we should all ensure that the laws work if you are complaining that the law does not work due process should have been used; make sure that the law works that is why I would say to all of us here we should find a way of protecting each other, it does not matter if you are police civilian or military.

Ghana is the most peaceful in West Africa today as I speak the military and police needs civilians, same way civilians needs military and police, we should find away to ensure that all of us gel together.

“I believe there are young person’s here, if they have the opportunity they will want to be serving in the military, let us ensure that the people of Ashaiman benefit more from the military, whether it is recruitment, protection, whether its ordinary jobs like fixing of roads use the military to do that more and be friends with the military and they would do that for you; that is why I say you and the military would go to market together – what we are doing is a fine balancing act”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Energy shortages constitute huge source of concern to West African

West Africa has one of the lowest electrification rates, with 220 million people living without access, coupled with some of the highest electricity costs in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Statistically, only about 42% of the total population, and 8% of rural residents, have access to electricity.

This sorry state of energy in the sub-region presents grave consequences because electricity is an important step toward enhancing people’s opportunities and choices. Access is key to boosting economic activity and contributes to improving human capital, which, in turn, is an investment in a country’s potential.

Over the last few decades, the sub-region has steadily turned focused to Renewable Energy, to augment for the terrible energy shortfall.

It’s against this backdrop and other concerns that the parliamentary arm of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is convening a delocalized meeting on energy issues and women’s empowerment sensitization campaign in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city.

The announcement was made in a Media Advisory released by the Communication Division of the Parliament on Thursday 16th March 2023.

The delocalized meeting will focus on the theme, “Building the regional energy market for a perfect energy transition,” and will run from the 20th to the 25th of March 2023.

The meeting is to feature eight (Energy and Mining/ Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources/Infrastructure/Industry and Private Sector/ Public Accounts/Macroeconomic Policy and Economic/Administration, Finance and Budget/ and Health) of the Parliament’s fourteen Standing Committees of the Parliament.

A World Bank publication on ‘sustainable energy for all’ entitled, ‘Regional electricity trade, the key to unleashing West Africa’s power,’ written by Charles Cormier and published in July 2020, noted that, “Home to a rapidly growing population and persistently high rates of poverty, West Africa suffers from an energy conundrum that if solved, has the potential to unleash economic development, drive down poverty, and improve the quality of life of millions of people.”

The article also highlighted that the region is caught in a vicious energy cycle plagued by unreliable, extremely expensive power supplies, low rates of electricity access, and an inability to recover the exorbitantly high cost of producing electricity.

“Only 50% of the population has access to electricity – an unreliable supply at best. Power supplies suffer from an average of 44 hours of outages per month and are among the most expensive in the world with prices averaging about $0.20 per kilowatt-hour.

West Africans pay about twice as much for electricity as their neighbors on the eastern side of the continent, and for those living in the region’s fragile states, prices can be as high as $0.40 per Kilowatt-hour,” according to the publication.

Separately, the Association of ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians dubbed, ECOFEPA is also set to hold a sensitization campaign tomorrow (Friday 17th Marc, 2023) and the following day in Freetown to deliberate on women’s empowerment issues in the sub-region.

In retrospect, The ECOWAS Parliament, also known as the Community Parliament, is one of the Institutions of ECOWAS. It is the Assembly of Peoples of the Community serving as a forum for dialogue, consultation and consensus for Representatives of the people of West Africa with the aim of promoting integration.

The Parliament is composed of one hundred and fifteen (115) seats. Each Member State shall have a guaranteed minimum of five (5) seats. The remaining forty (40) seats shall be shared on the basis of population.


Road Tolls: Minority will insist on accruals used for only road related expenditure— Agbodza

Ranking Member on Roads and Transport Committee, Governs Kwame Agbodza has served notice that his side will only support the re-introduction of road tolls if funds that would accrue from it would be used for only road related expenditure.

According to him they would not be part of any re-introduction of tolls that will not go to road expenditure and they cannot be part of misuse of public funds.

In an interview, he noted that he does not take pride in saying “I told you so”, as road tolls are essential components of the road fund, no matter how small the revenue is would be able to pay for part of the huge debt in the sector.

Again, it was not a prudent move by the finance minister to stop the collection of the road tolls because in his words the money is too small; “seventy two million Ghana cedis as we speak is indebted to contractors who have certificate that may be twelve billion seventy two cedis – is not a lot but can do something when it comes to Small Medium Contractors (SMC)s.

The move by the Finance Minister to the Road Transport Minister by writing a letter re- introducing tolls, first the Finance Minister should do some explanation as to whether the point he made about suspension of the road toll of vehicles causing pollution, “if they have reduced or he stand by his point made previously?”

He said he would also want to know if his submission of introducing road tolls on new roads constructed under private-public partnership still holds adding he is not aware if that position has changed. Also the argument that if VAT is increased, we would get more revenue and there would not be any need for road tolls.

“Yet VAT is here and we are all paying, why is he bringing road tolls back. Is it the case that he was insincere to the people of this country? He should first of all explain these things, he cannot just think he is in government so he can do anything he likes”.

He further noted that, he has taken notice of proposal on the amount to be charged in terms of various classifications on vehicles. “I think it’s premature to begin that suggestion. We in the minority have already said that the only way we would be interested in having this discussion of re introduction if first there is a change in the law where road funds is totally decapped where all accruals to the road fund goes to only road related expenditure”.

And currently, Appendix three (3) B and C of the 2023 budget three (3) B would be talking about revenue and three (3) C is about expenditure.

“We project to collect two point four billion Ghana cedis into the road fund but three (3) C will tell you that the expenditure side they interned to spend only one billion of that money on road related expenditure”

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

IPU launches new campaign on climate action

Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) has launched a new campaign – Parliaments for the Planet, designed to mobilize parliaments and parliamentarians to act on the climate emergency.

The campaign will encourage parliaments and those who work in them to lead by example, reduce their own carbon footprint and take concrete measures to implement the Paris Agreement on climate to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The campaign consists of two parts. Part one encourages parliaments and parliamentarians themselves to become greener and decarbonize. To support them, the IPU has published a guide: 10 Actions for Greener Parliaments (and those who work in them).

The 10 actions include measures to make parliamentary work more sustainable, by, for example, tracking the emissions of the parliament itself and setting targets to reduce them; switching to renewable energy; implementing green procurement practices; and embracing digitalization.

Parliamentarians are encouraged to become climate champions by raising awareness among their constituents and working across party lines to accelerate green policies both within and outside parliament.

Part two of the campaign is designed to empower parliaments and parliamentarians to produce effective legislation on climate change, vote in the necessary budgets and scrutinize government action, especially progress on the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to implement the Paris Agreement.

The NDCs set out the efforts being made by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impact of climate change.

The campaign will encourage parliaments to engage more closely with the processes of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, especially in the lead-up to COP28 in the United Arab Emirates in December 2023.

In parallel with the campaign, the IPU will serve as a platform to share good parliamentary practice on climate action by highlighting initiatives that parliaments and parliamentarians are taking to become greener, as well as examples of effective legislation.

Over 3,000 examples of climate laws and policies have already been gathered together in the climate change laws of the world database, produced by the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute in partnership with the IPU.

The IPU works closely with UN organizations and technical partners to ensure parliamentarians have access to the latest scientific knowledge and solutions concerning climate change. The campaign is also supported by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at Arizona State University.

To link in with the campaign, the 2023 Cremer-Passy Prize will be awarded to an MP or group of MPs who have made an outstanding contribution to climate action. The Prize is named after the IPU founders William Randall Cremer and Frédéric Passy, visionary parliamentarians from Great Britain and France, who convened the first meeting of the IPU in Paris in 1889.

The campaign was launched at the 146th IPU Assembly 146th IPU in Manama, Bahrain in front of hundreds of parliamentarians from some 130 countries.


IPU welcomes Liberia, the youngest and oldest member to its fold

The 146th Assembly of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) which ends today in Manama, Bahrain welcomes back into its fold Liberia’s Parliament to its global Parliamentary Community. IPU’s membership now stands at one hundred and seventy-nine (179) with all African countries now represented.

Liberia was one of the nine founding members of the IPU along with Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and the United States of America.

In 1889, Mr. Leopold Carrance, an MP from Liberia, joined 94 other parliamentarians attending the first Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Paris, France.

Ms. Jewel Howard-Taylor, President of the Senate, addressing the IPU Assembly, said “It is a humbling duty for me; on behalf of my nation Liberia and the Liberian Legislature; to accept the call for my Nation Liberia to return to the fold of the IPU; after a long absence.

This return to the IPU is of significance, especially taking note of the historical fact that Liberia was one of the original founding member Parliaments of the Organisation in October 1889; at a time when there were no established means for Governments or parliaments to work together internationally.”

The Liberian Parliament is made up of two chambers: the House of Representatives with 73 directly elected members (of which 11% are women) and the Senate with 30 directly elected members (of which 6.7% of women).