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Former President, John Dramani Mahama is attending the 52nd Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group in India. The trip is in honour of an invitation from the bank and the Indian Government, a statement signed by his spokesperson, Joyce Bawa Mogtari has said. The former president  would be speaking at a session on ‘Engaging Africa’s youth in Agriculture.’   Mr. Mahama will also participate in a number of other sessions on Financing Infrastructure, Addressing Africa’s nutrition challenges, and Africa- Asia Partnerships The series of meetings with the theme ‘Transforming Agriculture for Wealth Creation in Africa,’  will kick off officially on Monday, May 22, and end on May 26, 2017. 
 The National Health Insurance Authority will today [Monday] May 22, 2017 pay two months of outstanding arrears owed service providers. According to the to the  new Chief Executive Officer Dr. Samuel Annor,  there will be regular settlement of the arrears until the outstanding debt is cleared.   The Authority owes the service providers some Ȼ1.2 billion covering a 12-month period of arrears.   Some providers have threatened to halt their services for NHIS card holders if their arrears were not paid.   But the Chief Executive of the NHIA has given a strong assurance that the entire amount will be settled in a short span, even if in batches.   "We want to thank them for the patience and tolerance in the mist of all these debts which we haven't paid  which have put a lot of the service providers into serious trouble.   "A lot of them are under attack from their bankers....We want to assure them that we are making every effort to try and get monies to pay them.       "This payment which is going out today which most subscribers will receive on Monday will be the fourth payment since we assumed office," he said.      
The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has requested for an extra 15 working days to respond to the queries of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in the matter of whether or not he contravened provisions of the 1992 Constitution in the public offer of the $2.25 billion bond. The Chief Director of the ministry, Mr Patrick Nomo, in a letter dated May 11, 2017 requested for the extension of time. The extension, according to the letter, was necessary to properly respond to the issues raised by CHRAJ in their letter to the Minister on May 5, 2017.   The ministry said in order to properly respond to the issues with supporting documentation, an extension of time by an additional 15 business days was required. He said that would enable him properly coordinate with all relevant parties, including external transaction advisors, for the information to be provided. CHRAJ’s letter CHRAJ on May 5, 2017 requested the minister to comment on whether or not he had contravened provisions of the 1992 Constitution in the public offer of the $2.25 billion bond in 10 days. The letter of CHRAJ titled, “Allegation of contravention or non-compliance with Article 284 of the 1992 Constitution by Mr Ken Ofori-Atta – A public officer: Request for comments,” was delivered through the secretariat of the Minister, sources confirmed to Graphic Online. The request for the Minister’s comments was based on a petition by a citizen, Mr Yaw Brogya Genfi. In his complaint to CHRAJ titled, “Petition to investigate conflict of interest in the recent US$2.25 billion bond issued by the government of Ghana through the Ministry of Finance,” he alleged that the minister had placed himself in a conflict of interest position, and thus, in breach of constitutional provisions. When Graphic Online contacted, the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Joseph Whittal confirmed that the minister had asked for more time to respond. “We are amenable to the request,” was all he would say. Petition Mr Genfi alleged in his petition that, “a number of issues of conflict of interest and the lack of transparency have emerged from the bond issuance.” For instance, the bonds were not on the issuance calendar; the initial pricing guidelines of the bond were issued after working hours on March 30, 2017, while the public announcement of the transaction was sent by email at 9:09 am on March 31, 2017. That meant that the transaction was opened before the announcement was made to the public. Mr Genfi further alleged that April 3, 2017 was the Settlement Date and not the closing date of the bond. He said one single investor, Franklin Templeton Investment Limited, an American global investment management organisation founded in 1947 purchased 95 per cent of the bond issued. Mr Genfi was of the view that “a relational interest existed between the Minister of Finance and Mr Trevor G Trefgarne, who in a semi-annual report of the Franklin Templeton Investment Limited of December 31, 2016 is named as one of the Board of Directors of the organisation, while also being the Chairman of the Enterprise Group Limited. “Enterprise Group Limited is a company partially owned by Data Bank Limited, a company in which the Finance Minister is known to have significant interest,” Mr Genfi said. He also complained that Mr Tevor G Trefgarne and the Minister of Finance had also been described as “great friends.” Directives CHRAJ after its preliminary assessment of the petition asked the Minister of Finance for his comments on the allegations made against him. It had asked the Minister in his responses, to as much as possible, support with any documents or information, “within 10 days and, if you admit to the allegations, to state so expressly.” “The Commission would like to inform you that if you deny the allegations made against you, the Commission would cause the matter to be investigated,” the letter added.     Source: Graphic Online 
A grant agreement between the World Bank and Solidarity West Africa for Natural Resources Management in 53 selected local communities of the Brong-Ahafo and Western Regions of Ghana.   The US$5.5 million grant of the Ghana Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Local Communities project (G-DGM) from Climate Investment Fund (CIF) partnership, is to strengthen their knowledge and practices towards reducing deforestation and improving the sustainable management of their activities. This will contribute towards helping the communities better understand REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from deforestation and Forest degradation plus conservation of Forest, Sustainable Forest management and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks).   The G-DGM will also enable targeted communities to share their knowledge and farm level practices and lessons learned with others, at community, national and international levels; thus making them more resilient to man-made pressures and climate change. The Grant will finance capacity building and demand-driven grants to local communities, and community based organizations of the targeted communities. This will assist Ghana to sustain economic growth, accelerate poverty reduction and enhance shared prosperity in a sustainable manner. Synergies will also be fostered with two other ongoing projects, the Forest Investment Program (FIP), which also operates in these two regions and is linked to this project, and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) project. World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Henry Kerali  in an address said, “This project contributes to the World Bank Group Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Ghana and addresses climate change issues through support for REDD+ and other programs related to water management and land degradation.”  “The World Bank is pleased to partner with Solidaridad West Africa on an initiative that is community centered, and improves livelihoods. The G-DGM is a key piece in the implementation of the World Bank’s Integrated Forests and Landscape Portfolio, a diverse portfolio comprising several operations (with different sources of financing, including IDA and trust funds). The project is supported by a variety of sources, including a single-country Multi-Donor Trust Fund established in 2009 under the Climate Investment Fund (CIF) partnership to provide fast-track climate financing to reduce deforestation and degradation. The project will be managed by a National Steering Committee comprised of representatives of the local communities as well as observers from Government and non-governmental agencies. Solidaridad West Africa will be the implementing agency on behalf of the National Steering Committee.   “The communities have been waiting for this day of signing for a long time and are ever ready to work with Solidaridad West Africa through the Dedicated Grant Mechanism to promote sustainable management of forests and natural resources in their communities,” said Chair of the National Steering Committee, Hayford Duodo.     The project is consistent with and aligned to the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda II (GSGDA II) 2014–2017, which among others seeks to support growth and restore macroeconomic stability and accelerate agricultural modernization and natural resource management.’’
Government has renewed the curfew hours imposed on Alanavyo and Nkonya Townships from 8pm to 5:30am effective today, Sunday, May 21. 2017. This follows to renewed clashes in the areas which led to sporadic gunshots that has resulted in the death of four persons in just about a month. A statement signed by the  Interior Minister Ambrose Dery said the decision was reached in consultation with the Volta Regional Security Council. The statement urged traditional leaders in the two townships “to use the established mechanisms for the resolution of all their conflicts and disputes”.   “Meanwhile, Government will like to reiterate that, there is a ban on all persons in the two towns and their environs from carrying arms, ammunitions or any offensive weapon. And any persons found with arms or ammunitions will be arrested and prosecuted,” the statement added.
A group of the "Chibok girls" freed from Nigeria's Boko Haram militants have been reunited with their families. The 82 girls, who were part of a huge group kidnapped from their school in 2014, are in the care of security services in the capital, Abuja. Their parents travelled by bus through the night to meet their daughters.   More than 100 of the 276 girls, taken from the town of Chibok, are still being held by the militant group. Their whereabouts are unknown. The reunion in Abuja had a celebratory atmosphere, with music and dance. The BBC's Alistair Leithead says the girls were already dancing when their parents got off the bus and raced towards them, in an emotional reunion. The 82 young women were only freed two weeks earlier in exchange for five Boko Haram militants. Chibok girl 'refused to be released' The most recent group freed was supposed to have 83 girls - but one refused to leave, saying she was happy and had found a husband, a Nigerian government spokesman said. The freed girls remain in government care - under the eye of security services who are questioning them about their time spent as captives. After the girls were abducted from their school in April 2014, a massive global awareness campaign began, using the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. The Chibok girls represent a fraction of the women captured by the militant group, estimates for which number in the thousands.   Source: BBC
Ghana and Cape Verde have resolved to begin the process of developing stronger ties between themselves, as well as exploring areas of co-operation to the mutual benefits of their peoples.   At the very beginning, Ghana is to deepen cooperation in the areas of fisheries and tourism, for which Cape Verde is noted, through the sharing of expertise and best practices.   This came to the fore at a meeting between the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and his Cape Verdean counterpart, His Excellency Jorge Fonseca, on Friday, May 19, 2017, at the presidential palace, in Praia, at the beginning of his 3-day visit to that country.   In his remarks, President Akufo-Addo indicated that countries or groups of countries with the largest share of world trade are located within regions with the highest share of intra-regional trade.   With trade between the countries of the African regions remaining low compared to other parts of the world, President Akufo-Addo noted that this was evidenced in the low volumes of trade between Ghana and Cape Verde, which amounted to $5 million in 2013, reducing to less than $200,000 in 2016.   For a region that has made the choice of pursuing integration, President Akufo-Addo bemoaned the fact that “we have not done much as we should have in liberalizing and promoting trade amongst member countries.”   He, thus, advocated for the implementation of deliberate measures aimed at enhancing trade and business collaborations between Ghana and Cape Verde.   “We should also try to increase the volumes of trade between our two countries, as this would create jobs, as well as boosting incomes for our two peoples. We should endeavour to establish direct flights between Accra and Praia to avoid going through Casablanca, in Morocco, for instance, before we can reach each other,” President Akufo-Addo said.   He continued, “We should also try to establish direct shipping lines, linking Accra to Praia, to facilitate trade between us. We need to push for the Sealink and ECO marine initiatives to help link our two countries. We should, as rapidly as possible, establish a Permanent Joint Commission for Co-operation to serve as the legal framework for addressing the trade and investment concerns of our two countries.”   To President Foseca, President Akufo-Addo was hopeful that “during our respective tenures of office, it is my desire that Ghana and Cape Verde continually search for ways to co-operate. I have no doubt, that, together, we can forge a new, strong partnership for cooperation between our two nations for the mutual benefit of our two peoples.”   In reiterating his commitment towards strengthening ECOWAS, President Akufo-Addo was certain that “for a marked improvement in the welfare of the 350 million people currently living in the 15 member states of ECOWAS, I believe it is extremely important that we, the leaders, demonstrate strong political will to make the community an economic and political success, and make the project of integration real.”   With West Africa’s population set to hit 500 million people in 20 years from now, up from the current population of 350 million, he stressed that “this could be a large regional market, which could present immense opportunities to bring prosperity to our region with hard work, enterprise and creativity. The time for West African integration is now. Together, all ECOWAS member states should show real commitment towards converting ECOWAS into a true regional market.”   President Akufo-Addo also commended his Cape Verdean counterpart for the strong leadership he has exhibited ever since assuming the reins of government in 2011.   “You inherited a challenging macroeconomic situation, but the proof of the turnaround of the Cape Verdean economy is evident in the projected growth rate for 2016. By encouraging private sector participation in the economy, and improving the key macroeconomic indicators, your country’s growth rate more than doubled, from 1.5% in 2015 to 4% in 2016,” he stated.     The establishment of a market economy and the development of Cape Verde’s tourism industry, amongst others, President Akufo-Addo noted, contributed to President Foseca obtaining 74% of valid votes in the October 2016 polls, describing it as “a clear testament of the confidence your people have in you. You are doing something right, Mr. President. Long may it continue!”
 The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has expressed satisfaction so far with the outcome of his tour of the countries in the ECOWAS region, as the set objectives prior to the commencement of the tour are being met.   It will be recalled that the purpose of the tour of the ECOWAS countries, as outlined by the presidency, was to afford President Akufo-Addo the opportunity to introduce himself, as the new Ghanaian leader, formally to the governments and peoples of our neighbouring countries, explore and deepen our bilateral relations with them, and reiterate Ghana’s full commitment to the ECOWAS project.   According to the President, “Everywhere I have been so far, I have been met with a lot of enthusiasm and warmth, because people are reassured about Ghana’s role in ECOWAS, and, to me, that is very important. If we can make a success out of ECOWAS, it will help us a lot in the economic development of our country.”   With Ghana having the second largest economy in West Africa, and being the second biggest country in terms of population and ECOWAS, President Akufo-Addo stated that “what these tours are trying to do is to reassure the ECOWAS world that we are still very much engaged.”   The President made this known on Saturday, May 20, 2017, when he interacted with the Ghanaian community resident in Cape Verde, as part of his 3-day tour of that country.   Touching on the issues back home in Ghana, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that the Asempa Budget, the first budget of his administration, outlined the economic vision of his government, as well as point to the direction in which his government wanted the country to head.   “We believe that if we can empower and stimulate the private sector in Ghana, those who do their own businesses and take risk, if we can strengthen them, it will be the quickest way we can develop our economy and thereby create jobs and bring prosperity to our country,” he said.   To this end, the President indicated that “a lot of taxes that had been irritating many private sector operatives were removed. GH¢1 billion in taxes was taken out of government’s revenue, in order to have this money remain at the level of private businesses for them to be able to reinvest it in the economy”.   President Akufo-Addo, just as he has done on his tour of West Africa, reiterated the commitment of his government towards fulfilling the promises he made to Ghanaians in the run-up to the December 2016 elections.   The Free Senior High School Policy, he said, is on its way to being fulfilled, indicating that his government will fund the cost of public Senior High Schools for all those who qualify for entry from the 2017/2018 academic year onwards.   On the revival of the National Health Insurance Scheme, President Akufo-Addo noted that his government has found it necessary to find the money to stave the scheme off collapse.   “The scheme has been threatened by mismanagement and by huge indebtedness. We are now having to systematically liquidate the arrears so that the service providers can be encouraged to provide services for NHIS card holders. I am hoping that within 18 months, all the arrears of the NHIS would have been settled, so that we can have a secure future for the scheme,” he said.    On the agricultural sector, the President told the gathering that the programme for “Planting for Food and Jobs” launched in Goaso a month ago is the answer to the twin-problem of the migration of youth to city centres in search of non-existent jobs, as well as an end to the disgraceful spectacle of Ghana importing food stuffs from neighbouring countries.   The programme, he noted, has so far employed 1,200 extension officers, and an additional 2,000 more officers will be employed in 2018. Additionally, the programme, he stated will in its first year target some 200,000 farmers.   Visits to CERMI, National Data Centre   On Saturday, May 19, President Akufo-Addo visited the Centre for Renewable Energy and Industrial Maintenance (CERMI).   CERMI was established to build capacities on the different technologies of renewable energy such as solar, photovoltaic and wind. By the year 2020, Cape Verde aims at achieving a 100% penetration rate of renewable energy in use in all parts of the country.   The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, whose Executive Director is Mr. Mahama Kappiah, a Ghanaian, is working closely with CERMI to this end.   President Akufo-Addo was also taken on a tour of Cape Verde’s National Data Centre (NOSi), which was established in August 2015. The Centre aims at providing services in areas such as finance, distance higher education, research and development of software, and other solutions in the field of new technologies.   According to Jorge Lopes, Coordinator of NOSi, who took President Akufo-Addo on the tour, “this infrastructure allows us to store and process the data safely. From this centre, Cape Verde can offer storage services and data processing, software development, "hosting" websites, etc., to institutions, national and international, amongst others.”   President Akufo-Addo was also taken to Cidade Velha, the portuguese word for "old city". A former capital of Cape Verde, it is the oldest settlement in Cape Verde, and is currently the seat of the Ribeira Grande de Santiago municipality.     The “old city” was the first European colonial settlement in the tropics. Some of the planned original design of the site is still intact, including a royal fortress, two towering churches and a 16th century town square. Today, Cidade Velha is an Atlantic shipping stop and center for Creole culture. The city became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. Credit: Flagstaff House 
School authorities of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) have rusticated twenty-two students for their involvement in the clashes between Atlantic (ATL) and Oguaa Halls during a hall week celebration. Some were suspended for two semesters whereas others were handed a four semester suspension. This was contained was contained in a Notice of Rustication issued by the university which read: “The following students have with effect from the second semester of the 2016/2017 academic year been rusticated from the University for the periods indicated against their names for roles played in the Disturbances at the Oguaa Hall on Friday, 17th March, 2017, during the 2017 ATLANTIC HALL WEEK celebrations.” Three students were in March this year stabbed at UCC when a clash erupted between some students of the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, who had been invited to the celebration, and UCC students.   The clashes occurred when porters of Oguaa Hall refused to allow some naked Vandals, Unity and ATL students from entering the hall. 
Vice President Alhaji Dr Mahamadu Bawumia has assured the people of the East Mamprusi District that government would work to get investors to establish a cement factory in the district. He said the factory would exploit the limestone deposits at Gbandaa, a community in the district, to produce cement as part of the government’s One District One Factory initiative to create jobs for the people of the area. Vice President Bawumia gave the assurance when he paid a courtesy call on the Paramount Chief of the Mamprugu Traditional Area, Nayiri Mahami Bohagu Sheriga, at his palace at Nalerigu on Saturday.   The call on the Traditional Ruler formed part of the Vice President’s four-day tour of the Northern Region, which began on Thursday. Limestone deposits are in commercial quantities around Gbandaa in the district, and had been the wish of the people of the area that a factory would be established to mine such a resource and turn it into a finished product to create jobs for the unemployed youth of the area. Vice President Bawumia said government’s vision was to have “a Ghana that is inclusive of all in development” adding no part of the country would be left behind in development. He said the government had reduced the prices of fertilizer by 50 per cent in a bid to boost agricultural production adding that the ‘One Village, One Dam and the One Constituency One Million Dollars’ initiatives would also be on course to help transform the economy. He said the payment of the teacher and nursing trainee allowances would begin in September this year adding that the free Senior High School programme would also begin in September this year. Vice President Bawumia also assured that government would work to improve the infrastructural situation in the district especially the town roads and the roads from Nalerigu to Bunkpurugu and Nalerigu to Gbintri to facilitate commerce. He thanked Nayiri for helping to maintain peace in the traditional area calling for peace in the region to ensure success of government’s initiatives. Nayiri Bohagu Sheriga appealed to the government to help expand the water systems in the district to provide potable water to people.   Source: GNA 
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