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Members of the Economic Fighters League were prevented from entering the premises of Parliament on Friday when they stormed the area in red bands in protest against the Ghana and the US military pact. The group has called on parliament to desist any attempt to ratify the agreement which has already been given a cabinet approval. Rainbow Radio’s parliamentary correspondent, Naa Darkuah Dodoo, reported that the group expressed their displeasure at the way they were handled despite organizing a peaceful march. Leader of the group, Ernesto Yeboah said the security officers have not “a single law or document that prevents citizens from coming into Parliament to observe proceedings." “And we are told this is a country of democracy where rule of law is the order of the day,” he quizzed. Parliamentarians on Thursday failed to reach a consensus on the agreement. Members on the committee of Defence and Interior disagreed on some aspects of the agreement. The Speaker then ruled against the laying of the report in the House and charged all 18 members of the Committee to resolve their differences before presenting it again for debate and voting.
As a policy direction to help revamp the local poultry industry, government has restricted the importation of frozen chicken drastically, Dr. Gyiele Nurah – Minister of State at the Presidency in charge of Food and Agriculture – has announced. The ‘ban’ on imported frozen chicken, he indicated, is in response to the cry of domestic poultry actors that the trade practice is one of the major challenges ‘collapsing’ the local poultry industry. Excessive importation of frozen chicken as well as high costs of production have been the bane of local poultry production. According to the Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers (GNAPF), over 135,000 metric tonnes of frozen chicken was imported from the European Zone to Ghana in 2017 – representing a 76% increase over 2016 imports; the 2017 frozen chicken imports constituted about 112 million birds. The minister however hinted that government will not hesitate to reverse the import restriction on frozen chicken if local producers are unable to meet the demand of the market, thereby urging local poultry producers to redouble their efforts to address the artificial shortage. “Now that we have reduced importation of frozen chicken, domestic producers must be prepared to feed the people. But if we see that it is not working, then we have to reverse it – because government has the responsibility to feed the people as well as support local poultry producers. “Ideally, government would want to feed the consumers with locally-produced chicken. Local producers must cut themselves away from the era of marketing birds with feathers to marketing processed birds and chicken meat products, including sausages and barbecue. We must develop value chains that will make all the difference in our earnings from the poultry industry. And the time to begin to do that is now,” he stated. Dr. Nurah was addressing the opening session of the 2nd Poultry Value Chain (POVAC) fair held in Sunyani. The two-day fair was organised by the Ghana Poultry Project (GPP), Assist Management in Poultry Layer Industry by Feed Improvement and Efficiency Strategy (AMPLIFIES) and GNAPF. The 2018 fair, supported by the United States Department of agriculture (USDA) and other partners attracted hundreds of actors along the poultry value chain for deliberations under the theme ‘Employment Creation Along the Poultry Value Chain: The Public Private Partnership Approach’. The minister said government will not relent in its effort to transform the poultry industry into a beacon of economic empowerment and development. “While government will roll out specific interventions to support the smallholder local poultry sector, the Planting for Food and Jobs campaign takes into account reducing the cost of feed inputs which form more than 60% of poultry production costs.” The National Chairman of GNAPF, Victor Oppong Adjei, urged government to devise more prudent policies that will cushion growth and development of the local poultry industry along its value chain. He said the poultry industry is positively impacting the economy of many countries across the globe, and Ghana can take a cue from countries like Nigeria and Ivory Coast. The Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, Ron Strikker, underscored the importance of attending to all critical variables, such as provision of quality and competitive inputs, in creating an enabling environment to boost local poultry production. He pledged the Dutch government’s commitment to assist Ghana with expertise in repositioning the country’s poultry industry. He said: “We hope to continue working with the GPP team to do utilise trade opportunities that exist in terms of knowledge transfer and innovative technology in poultry production and processing. This is through business-to-business, matchmaking, and trade missions”. Source:B&FT
The Member of Parliament for North Tongu, who doubles as the ranking member on the Foreign Affairs committee in Parliament, Samuel Okudzato Ablakwa, has condemned the press conference held by Defence minister, Dominic Nitiwul. According to Mr. Ablakwa, it would have served the Minister of Defence better, if he had not organized the press conference, because most of the issues that the Minister said were misleading and not exactly how it is, in respect of the agreement between Ghana and USA, he added. The law maker added that, if the government of the day and the majority side in Parliament, do not listen to the call of the minority in Parliament, and the majority of Ghanaians as a whole, and go ahead to sign this agreement between these two countries, it would be the beginning of our doom as a country. He said, it is a known fact that, the Americans have been in a war with Terrorists across the world, and looking at this agreement between Ghana and USA clearly admit that, we are in full support with the Americans to fight the Terrorists, meanwhile, Ghana as a country has not taken such a stand with the Americans. Mr. Samuel Okudzato Ablakwa said, the moment this agreement is signed, Ghana will definitely become a target point to these groups of Terrorists and this poses a serious threat to us as country. By: Naa Darkuah Dodoo
The Bank of Ghana (BoG) says about 705,396 depositors of distressed or collapsed microfinance institutions (MFIs) and rural and community banks (RCBs) are at risk of losing a total of GH¢740.5 million. The amount represent deposits currently locked up in the 272 RCBs and MFIs which were either in distress or had folded up, the Governor of the BoG, Dr Ernest Addison, said at a media briefing last Tuesday, March 20. “In terms of significance, the deposits under distress form 8.81 per cent and 52.49 per cent of industry total deposits of the RCBs and the MFIs, respectively,” he said. Giving a breakdown of the figures, Dr Addison said of the 566 licensed MFIs in 2018, “211 are active but distressed or folded up”. “Also, out of the 141 RCBs, 37 are active but distressed or folded up. In total, it is estimated that 272 out of the 707 institutions in the sub-sector, representing 38.5 per cent, are at risk. This indicates that approximately GH¢740.5 million is owed to an estimated 705,396 depositors of the distressed or folded up MFIs and RCBs,” he added. Positive outlook The BoG Governor made the revelation when he gave an update on the challenges facing the financial sector, which is categorised into two – banks and non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs). It comes at a time when the BoG has declared uniBank Ghana Limited insolvent and consequently put it under administration for six months, after which its ownership will revert to private shareholders. In August last year, the BoG withdrew the licences of UT and Capital banks after declaring them illiquid and deficient in capital. In spite of the challenges facing players in the RCBs and the MFIs, Dr Addison said, the outlook for the financial sector was positive. He added that the BoG remained committed to promoting strong, viable and stable banks, specialised deposit-taking institutions (SDIs,) RCBs and MFIs to support the country’s growth and development process. Going forward, he said, the bank would engage with stakeholders as it designed specific measures “to strengthen systems and processes that will improve the industry”. Good ones The Chairman of the Ghana Association of Microfinance Companies (GAMC), Mr Collins Amponsah Mensah, said although his outfit did not have complete data on the state of its members, it had resolved to work with the BoG to help address the various challenges in the sector. In spite of the challenges, he said, strong and professional MFIs still existed, ready and willing to support businesses and individuals find solutions to their financial needs. He, therefore, urged the public to have confidence in MFIs as they engaged the BoG and other stakeholders to help strengthen their operations. Banking sector challenges Dr Addison said when he assumed office in April last year, the sector was “in a considerable state of turmoil” after the collapse of the infamous DKM Diamond Microfinance Limited in 2016. Prior to his appointment, he said, an asset quality review by the central bank in 2016 had shown that nine banks were already under-capitalised. He said that revelation prompted the bank to request recapitalisation plans aimed at reversing the trend. The review exercise also “showed severe deterioration in asset quality in the banking sector” and substantial provisioning shortfalls in a subset of banks (with a combined capital needs of around 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product). “These toxic balance sheets of banks contributed to a decline in credit to the private sector and higher lending rates and spreads, undermining the transmission of monetary policy rate to the economy through market rates,” he explained. Shareholders’ offences Dr Addison added that the depth of the situation had forced the central bank to go into an “unusual forbearance” that resulted in the extension of significant amounts of emergency liquidity assistance to “these ailing banks, some of which were uncollateralised, with accompanying risks to both the BoG, in terms of resources to conduct monetary policy operations and reputation risks, and the banks themselves”. “It was also clear from the BoG’s banking supervisory reports that some banks and deposit-taking institutions lacked good corporate governance structures. More worrying was the co-mingling of board and management responsibilities, which significantly undermined credit and risk management policies. “In fact, there were many owner/management conflicts in a number of banks, in addition to connected lending practices without due processes laid down to guide such practices,” the BoG Governor added. Source: Daily Graphic
The Minority in Parliament has accused the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) of veering off their core mandate. Minority spokesperson on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, believes the GNPC is investing huge sums of the tax payers’ funds into Gold mining, road construction and other areas that have no bearing on the focus of the entity which is in the petroleum sector. The former Deputy Finance Minister under former President John Dramani Mahama said “Basically, I am concerned about GNPC. GNPC has decided not to focus on their core mandate. I say this because the programmes that we approved today is something that stinks. GNPC is deviating from their core mandate as enshrined in law. For some strange reason, GNPC is saying they are going to spend 20 million dollars for the purposes of building their head office in Accra. In spite of that, they have an existing head office and they are saying they are spending 13.4 million cedis to renovate that office. What at all are they renovating?” he quizzed. “Let us not forget that the same people have budgeted 20 million dollars to build a head office in Accra. Again they are saying they are going to spend another 10 million dollars to build an operational office in Takoradi. I grew up in Takoradi and I do not know of a building that will cost 10 million dollars. They are also saying they will spend 2 million dollars to build a clinic… They are deviating from their core mandate. I think we should get GNPC to focus on their core mandate and not deviate from what they are doing. I think it is appalling.” He was speaking to Rainbow Radio’s Naa Darkuah Dodoo after Parliament approved the work programme for the state entity. GNPC is set to construct a new office valued at $20 million. The state entity is also going to 13.4 million cedis to renovate its existing office. This the Ato Forson noted was unfortunate. But Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko had this to say: ‘’ “For a GNPC headquarters that was projected to cost 76 million, we thought it was a ridiculous amount and so GNPC was instructed to look at the project again. What we have been able to do is to scale down the project and also commit 20 million dollars to the project. “Obviously at the end of the project, we expect plus or minus another 2 million so when the charge was made that 20 million is excessive, I wanted to point out to my friends on the other side that we had actually climbed down from 76 to 20 million.”
The Parliamentary Press Corp has added its voice to calls for the immediate passage of the Right to Information Bill. According to the corp, it has gathered information that, the House will be debating on whether a central laboratory should be established for accessing information and which kind of information should be concealed from the public when the Bill is laid in the House on Friday. Dean of the Parliamentary press corp Nana Agyemang Birikorang addressed a news conference. Meanwhile, Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu has said the bill will be laid in the House today [Friday]. He was however quick to add that it will not be passed under a certificate of urgency. He however, said in view of the fact that the House will be rising, the bill will be referred to the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee to work on it.
President Donald Trump is replacing US National Security Adviser HR McMaster with Bush-era defence hawk and former United Nations ambassador John Bolton. Mr Trump tweeted to thank Gen McMaster, saying he had done an "outstanding job & will always remain my friend". Mr Bolton, who has backed attacking North Korea and Iran, told Fox News his job would be to ensure the president has "the full range of options". Gen McMaster is the latest high-profile departure from the White House. Last week, Mr Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by a tweet, replacing him with former CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Mr Bolton, whose appointment does not require US Senate confirmation, will be Mr Trump's third national security adviser in 14 months. He will take the job on 9 April. Responding to the move, Mr Bolton said he was looking forward to working with President Trump and his team "to make our country safer at home and stronger abroad". Credit: BBC
A five year-old boy has died after he fell into a hot millet porridge being prepared for sale by his grandmother at Anyinam in the Western region. The incident occurred on today [Thursday] at 6:30 am in the morning, Rainbow Radio’s Christopher Anto said. Narrating the incident on Nyankonton Mu Nsem, Christopher said, the minor died on the spot after falling into the porridge which is popularly known as ‘Hausa Koko'. According to him, the deceased minor could not even scream for help after falling into the hot porridge. He also indicated that grandmother of the deceased, whose name was only as Hajia, was taking her bath when the incident occurred. She came to meet the lifeless body of the boy, he added. The police he said have kept in custody the woman pending further investigations whereas the deceased has buried.
United States High Commissioner to Ghana, Robert P. Jackson has said the $20 million money to be handed over to the state should we approve the military pact agreement, is a reasonable amount. Speaking to Accra Joy Fm, the High Commissioner said the money is good and will go a long a way to help government to resource our various security services. "We are going to have three major military exercises this year - navel exercise, judicious response and then United Accord a counter-terrorism/security exercise. These exercises bring a few hundred Americans and several hundred troops from Ghana's neighbours together with the Ghanaian armed forces so that they can learn to work more effectively together. "Once the exercise is over, the Americans will leave. There is no persistent presence and we have a very small group of military officers and soldiers at our embassy as defense attache and security cooperation officers and they are the only US military who are in Ghana on a permanent basis. This is not an invasion," Mr Jackson stressed. Ghana, per the agreement, is to bear the cost and take primary responsibility for securing their facilities while the troops are in the country. The US troops are also to be allowed to use Ghana’s radio spectrum for free. They will also enjoy tax exemptions. The public have expressed their disagreement over the agreement which has been given a cabinet approval and awaiting ratification by Parliament. However, the US Ambassador allayed the fears of Ghanaians indicating that, there is no cause for worry and that Ghana rather stands to benefit from the deal. He emphasized that "20 million dollars being invested in the Ghanaian Armed Forces in one year is a pretty significant return," he said, adding that the US does not intend in any way to destabilise the country.
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