Showing posts from February, 2013

Ghana's problems emanate from accountability

The Founder of the CeDI-AFRICA Foundation, a civil society organisation, Mr Ohemeng Baah, has observed that the problem of Ghana is not leadership but accountability.

“We can elect the best of people into government but if we don’t hold them accountable, then we would continue to move in this cycle.”
He said it was sad that the politicians forgot their mandate when elected, adding that, “we don’t pay them to explain problems, but solve problems.”
Mr Baah was speaking at the launch of the foundation  in Accra yesterday.
He said the foundation was not a vehicle for partisanship but rather, the promotion of the interest of the vulnerable and the down-trodden.
Later at a forum, a member of the foundation, Lawyer Francis-Xavier Sosu, took a swipe at the payment of what he  described as huge rent allowances to MPs.
According to him, such allowances constituted, “a breach of the trust reposed in the Parliamentarians.” “They are elected to protect the interest of their constituents yet, they…

GREDA proposes Parliamentary Village as duty post for MP, (Feb. 13, 2013, Back page)

The Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA) has proposed the construction of a Parliamentary Village as duty post for all Members of Parliament (MPs) as a long-term solution to the accommodation challenges facing the legislators.

According to Mr Emmanuel Asamoah, the Executive Director of GREDA, the current practice of giving rent allowances to MPs was a drain on the nation’s coffers and not sustainable. He said if the government had such a facility, it would not be burdened with paying GHc50,000 or more on every MP every four years for their accommodation. The GHc50,000 rent allowance is a 60 per cent increment over the allowance given to MPs of the last Parliament. The amount for all 275 MPs is GHc13,750,000. “Government has vast land which could be given to real estate companies to develop high-rise apartments to serve as a duty post for MPs,” Mr Asamoah said. Reports on the recent payment of GHc50,000 to each MP as rent allowance have sparked a national debate. Per GREDA…

Fuel subsidy: Is it an albatross on neck of governments, Monday, Feb, 18, 2013

In spite of the good intentions behind fuel subsidies in the country, the practice has gradually become an albatross on the neck of governments mainly because of the political connotation  that comes with it.
Over the years, parties in opposition have made political capital out of fuel price increases only to be hit by the realities when they come to power. The historical trend indicates that since 1992, apart from 2009, there are always fuel price increase within the first three months after a new government takes office. The statistics
In January 1993, the prices went up from ¢222 per litre to ¢355  (both in the old currency). Similarly in February 1997, consumers had to pay approximately ¢799 for  up from the ¢666 they paid in September 1996. Petrol politics
In 2000, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) campaigned vigorously against what it described as unbearable price of petrol which at the time was sold at GH¢ 0.65. The then candidate Kufuor symbolically raised a plastic container at …

NPA boss advocates removal of fuel subsidies (Spread)

The Chief Executive of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Mr Alex Mould, says the payment of subsidies on all petroleum products at the current level is not sustainable and should be abolished to save the sector from crisis. 

MrMould, therefore, called for an upward adjustment in the prices of petroleum products — petrol, diesel and LPG — to totally remove the subsidies on them.
Justifyingthe removal of the subsidies, he said the recent 90-day hold-up in the payment of subsidies had a consequential delay in letter of credit payments, resulting in the delay for scheduled delivery of petroleum products onto the Ghanaian market.
Speaking at a roundtable organised by Citi FM, in Accra yesterday, Mr Mould said one way to increase the prices without Ghanaians feeling the sudden huge increment was for the NPA to be “allowed to implement the pricing mechanism based on the petroleum pricing formula to be executed every two weeks, monthly and quarterly”.
The programme, dubbed, “Fuel subsidi…

We would oppose removal of subsidies - AFAG (Pg 16)

THE Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) says it will oppose any attempt to remove subsidies on petroleum products.

According to Dr Nana Afriyie Ayew, the President of the pressure group, whenever the subsidies were removed, it always came with ripple effects on the poor.

Dr Ayew was reacting to demands by the NPA at  a roundtable discussions organised by Citi FM that the subsidies be removed because the current practice was unsustainable.

He argued that any such action would increase the economic burden of the poor.

He, however, agreed that in the long term it would not be economically viable for the country to continue subsiding fuel prices.

He also took the government to task for what he described as lack of transparency in the petroleum sector.

While from 2009 to 2012, the cost of subsidy was GHc1.5 billion, the NPA projections indicate that it would cost the public purse GHc2.4 billion this year to subsidise fuel.

 That is an average of GHc200 million monthly and approximately G…

Section of Korle Bu X-ray department shut---to upgrade facilities (Saturday, Feb, 9, 2013, pg 18)

THE Korle Bu Teaching Hospital has shut down sections of its X-ray department to make room for the upgrade of facilities to reduce the recurrent breakdown.

But the exercise is causing distress among patients as they either have to cope with the long winding queues at the Korle Bu Polyclinic, one of the units at the X-ray department, or seek the service elsewhere outside the hospital.

At the main X-ray unit on Wednesday, there was a long queue of people waiting to be attended to.
The story was not different at the polyclinic where a distressed Emmanuel Ackon, who had to shuffle his mother in between the hospital and the polyclinic, told the Daily Graphic that, “The up and down is only wasting our time. Especially when at the polyclinic, if you don’t submit your papers by 8 a.m., you’re late and won’t be attended to.”

Mr Alfred Lamptey, who accompanied his friend with a tumour in the leg, also shared a similar experience.

“It is a terrible experience. Since November last year, we’ve been to…

PRAIRIE VOLTA: Championing local rice cultivattion (Saturday, February 9, 2012)

Standing behind the poorly-lit wooden counter of her roadside restaurant at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle legendary for meeting the pockets of people from all walks of life, Ama Acheampong heaps piles of rice in take-away packs of a customer.

When the owner of the night-only ‘chop bar’ first added rice cuisines to the menu of her chop bar, she didn't expect the tremendous accomplishment.

Her 16-year-old son had just graduated from the junior high school. She has bought two parcels of land on the outskirts of Accra.

Three years after taking the decision, Ama has no regrets, "I stopped selling banku, fufu and kokonte and concentrated on rice which is in very high demand."

“Although the price keeps increasing in the shops, I still manage to make enough to manage the home,” the 29-year-old single mother said as she wrapped the take-away pack in a black polythene bag.

Gradually, most Ghanaians are quickly substituting age-old banku, fufu, akple, tuo zaafi and other local food from our …

21 Companies fail to pay loans from Austria (Saturday, February 9, 2012, pg 3)

Sixteen years after receiving loans from Austria which were guaranteed by the Ghana Government, 21 local companies have failed to make full payment of about GH¢4 million they received to support their business, the 2011 Auditor-General’s Report has revealed.

The funds were to be recovered on behalf of the government by the Export Finance Company Limited (EFCL), but as of December 21, 2010, only GH¢616,717 had been recovered leaving an outstanding balance of GH¢2,763,336.

The core functions of the EFCL include granting of loans and providing other forms of credit to exporters. Again, the company carries out business as a finance house and raises loans for the purpose of financing exports.

The amounts recovered, according to the report, were paid into the Exhibit Account of Economic and Organised Crime Organisation (EOCO), following their investigation into the loan facility at the Export Finance Company.

A breakdown of the figures indicated that while Alfralex Company Ltd received GH¢161,9…

UT Bank expresses interest in Aveyime rice farms (Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, pg 39)

ONE of Ghana’s indigenous banks, UT Bank, has expressed interest in investing in the Aveyime rice farms, operated by Prairie Volta.

Last year, the company managed to bag some 7,200 tonnes of rice but financial constraints have held back its expansion plans.

Even though the company has acquired 6,000 hectares at Ke near Mafi Dove in the Volta Region, the company is struggling to raise the needed funds to support the project.

But the CEO of the bank, Mr Prince Kofi Amoabeng, told the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of a facility visit to the farm with officials of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the United Nation Systems in Ghana, the Japanese Embassy and the African Development Bank that the project had a lot of potential if well supported.

The trip was for the officials to familiarise with the operations of the farm and explore possible areas of cooperation.

According to the UT Bank boss,  the farm  has, “ a huge potential, not only for the company in terms of profit, but also for th…

Ghana spends GHc 218 million on judgement debt (Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, Spread)

Ghana in 2011 blew GH¢ 218 million on “avoidable” judgement debts, according to the 2011 Auditor General’s Report.

According to the document, the government continued to incur huge expenditure on judgement debts in cases involving the failure of public officials to honour financial obligations, wrongful dismissal of government employees, reckless driving by public officials and molestation by security services.

These revelations come at a time when the  government is in court battling businessman, Mr Alfred Agbesi Woyome, to reclaim a little over GH¢51 million paid to him as judgement debt.

 Ever since the payment of Mr Woyome’s money  was made public in December 2011, the payment of other judgement debts have dominated public discourse.

Currently the state purse is burdened with close to GH¢2 billion in judgement debts and is still counting.

To deal with the situation, the government took two actions — the swearing in of a Sole Commissioner to investigate the issue of judgment and settle…

Half a million dollar boost for Aveyime Rice Farm (Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, page 23)

Prairie Volta Limited (PVL), owners of the Aveyime rice farms, is to benefit from a $ 500,000 capacity-building project by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

The project, ‘Technology Transfer and Capacity Development for Rice in Ghana’ will be funded by the FAO through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

The FAO Regional Director for Africa, Ms Maria Helena Semedo, announced the package during a tour of the farm with officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, United Nations Systems in Ghana, the Japanese Embassy, UT Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The tour was to help the officials get first hand information on the operations of the farm, and explore possible avenues of cooperation.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic on the farms, Ms Semedo said the FAO would work out details of the programme and extend it to other staple food crops.

To further increase its foothold as the biggest commercial rice farm in Ghana, the company has acquired 6,000 hectar…

INCREDIBLE! ...Civil Servants to pay vehicle loans between 200 & 275 years (Thursday, Feb 7, 2013, Front page)

The longest any human being ever lived in recent memory as recorded by  the Guinness Book of Records is 115 years but some government employees are required to repay their vehicle loans between 200 and 575 years, according to the Auditor-General’s Report of  2011.

This means these employees may still have debts hanging around their neck even in their graves.
According to the report, some government employees had against their names outstanding vehicle loan balances which per their monthly deduction would take
them more than 200 years to pay.

The document indicated that “GoG Payroll data showed unspecified outstanding vehicle loan balances against the names of some government employees who suffer loan deductions ranging between GH¢102 and GH¢525 on monthly basis”.

The Auditor-General, Mr Richard Quartey, observed that “failure to show the outstanding balances presupposes that the affected employees will suffer monthly deductions in perpetuity, which in my view, is irregular”.

These loan bala…

ECOWAS holds conference on food security (Saturday, February 2, 2013, page 41)

Years after the coming into force of the ECOWAS Protocol on free movement of goods and services, road harassment and export restrictions have been identified as among the top five barriers to regional trade in West Africa.

Other inhibitions identified at the ‘Food across Borders: Improving Regional Trade for Food Security in West Africa’ conference in Accra, were certificate of origin, non-recognition of veterinary, sanitary and phytosanitory certificates and value added tax.

Organised by the Economic Community of West African States with technical and financial support from the US government, through its USAID Agribusiness and Trade Promotion project, the conference deliberated on ways on enhancing regional trade in locally produced food commodities in the subregion.

It brought together stakeholders—ministers, government officials, regional organisations, business associations, regional trade companies, farmer associations, financial institutions and development partners—to analyse the …

MAN BITES MAN ....more cases recorded at Korle Bu (Saturday, February 2, 2012, Front page)

Dog and human bites are among the top 10 cases reported at the outpatient department (OPD) of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KATH) for three consecutive years.

According to the 2011 annual report of the hospital, while dog bites ranked third after road accidents and assaults, human bites placed fourth on the list of OPD attendance from 2009 to 2011.

While 100 dog bites were recorded in 2009, the figure increased to 255 in 2010 before dropping to 217 in 2011.

For human bites, 17 cases were reported in 2009, but the figure rose to 102 in 2010 and further increased to 108 in 2011.

The report further indicated that reported cases of gunshot wounds increased from 17 in 2009 to 21 in 2010 and 65 in 2011, while those who reported with stabbed wounds also shot up from two in 2009  to 22 in 2010 but rather reduced to 13 in 2011.

In a similar report released in September, 2011, the Ghana Veterinary Medical Association (GVMA) indicated that 25 people died between January 2009 and July 2011 from bite…