30.11.07

Effah DartehS' Past Catches Up With Him

One of the flagbearer aspirants of the ruling New Patriotic Party, retired Captain Nkrabeah Effah Darteh has been disqualified from the race. The party’s vetting committee took the decision on Friday afternoon. It was his dream to bring change to the people of Ghana through his message of better governance, law and order and human development. But Retired Captain Nkrabeah Effah Darteh is not going to live the dream. The party’s vetting committee disqualified the retired captain based on his previous record of an attempted coup maker as an officer of the Ghana Armed Forces. The report of the committee says he was convicted of treason by a military court in 1981. Article 62 clause 94 of the National Constitution bars any person with record of treason from contesting for president. Although the retired captain was granted pardon for the offence, the committee decided he couldn’t be allowed to contest because the 1992 Constitution of Ghana bars any person once charged with a treasonable offence from seeking the highest office of the land. Party Chairman Peter Mac Manu confirmed the decision at a news conference. Captain Effah Darteh has spent a substantial amount of money to reach the vetting stage before his disqualification. But perhaps his biggest expenditure in his quest to be president so far is the ¢250 million he paid to the party as filing fees. That amount, according to a member of the vetting committee, Samuel Odoi Sykes, is not refundable.

NPP Aspirants' Fate Decided Today

..... All 18 paid their $25,000 non-refundable fee
The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) will today Friday announce a list of qualified presidential aspirants one of whom would lead the party in next year’s general elections to succeed President John Kufuor. The 18 presidential candidates went through a vetting process after they submitted nominations forms and paid a non-refundable fee of 250 million cedis ($25,000)

The non-refundable fee generated a lot of controversy with the media leading the charge and describing it as excessive. The media wondered how the presidential aspirants could afford such a high fee while the average Ghanaian is living in poverty.

Nana Ohene-Ntow is the general secretary of Ghana’s ruling party. From the capital Accra, he tells Voice of America (VOA) reporter Peter Clottey that all is set for the party’s announcement of possible presidential candidates.

“The applicants have all been vetted by the Vetting Committee. And we expect that any moment from now, the Vetting Committee would be presenting its report to the national executive committee. Once the vetting committee comes up with the list of people who have been cleared by the committee, those people would be presented at the congress, and they would contest,” Ohene-Ntow noted.

He said the party’s Vetting Committee has done its job and that Ghanaians would see their work after today’s announcement.

“As you know, 18 people have been vetted by the committee, the committee has the power to pass or to disqualify an applicant. I’m sure that if the committee has to disqualify any applicant, they would provide reasons. If they do disqualify anyone, that applicant within 48hours can appeal to the National Executive Committee against the decision of the committee, and in that instance the decision of the national executive committee shall be final. So, barring any disqualifications, we expect that the Vetting Committee will present to us a list of 18 who would be contesting on congress day on December 22nd,” he said.

Ohene-Ntow said after the list of presidential aspirants is named, the party would then introduce them to partisans and the whole country amidst fanfare.

“On Sunday, the party would organize a platform in the central region, precisely at Kasoa during which all of those who have been cleared by the Vetting Committee to go to congress would be presented to the general public. They would be given the opportunity to showcase their ideas, and their visions and of course on congress day they would still have a chance to make a statement on what they intend to do should they be elected as presidential candidate of the party,” Ohene-Ntow pointed out.

He said although the party has been criticized for what some have called exorbitant non-refundable nomination fee, none of the presidential aspirants have complained about it.

“These are conditions that we stated very clearly in the application forms. And I’m sure you would know that the whole process was voluntary, no one was coerced to come and pick up the forms. And no one was coerced to return them and subsequently to file the nomination. And we take it that all those who picked up the forms and went ahead to file their nominations, read and understood the conditions, and ready to abide by them,” he noted. Clottey Interview With Nana Ohene-Ntow audio clip Listen to Clottey Interview With Nana Ohene audio clip

Source:




VOA

29.11.07

Ghana Ranks 136 in Human Dev't

Inches Closer Towards 2000 High Mark
... 78% get less than $2 per day income

Ghana ranks as the 135th best country to live in the world according to a United Nation report released today. It moves one place up in regard to the 2006 report, but still seven places down from her high of 128th in 2003 and 1995. (read)

Ghana’s Human Development Index(HDI) value improved from 0.532 to 0.553 - which shows the country inching closer to her highest rate of 0.556 in 2000

The HDI launched by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on annual basis measures country’s performance in terms of improvement in life such as life expectancy, education attainment, health indicators and increase in real incomes.

Despite remaining a beacon of democracy, peace and stability in the sub region, the quality of life for most Ghanaians has not seen much improvement and has actaully dipped from the highs of 2000.

The report states that "In Ghana, half of children in the droughtprone northern region are malnourished, compared with 13 percent in Accra" .

The Human Poverty Index shows that there are 44.8% having less than $1 per day income and 78.5% of population lives below $2 per day income in Ghana.

The national poverty line stood at 39.5% in accordance with 2004 data

Ghana is ranked among "medium human development" countries and territories, scoring less than Botwana(124), Namabia(125), Gabon(119) and South Africa(121).

Ghana scores better than Nigeria(158), Senegal(156) and all of it's other west African neigbours.

Iceland, Norway, Australia, Canada and Ireland rank as the best five countries to live.

The 20 worst countries to live in are all from sub-saharan Africa. The worst five are: Mali, Niger, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso with Sierra Leone at the bottom of the pack.

Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia were not included in the 177 countries ranked

Selected Data for Ghana

(last year's data in brackets))
  • Life expectancy at birth = 59.1(57)
  • Adult literacy rate (% ages 15 and older) = 57.1(57.9)
  • Combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratio (%) = 50.7 (47.2)
  • GDP per capita (PPP US$) =2480 (2,240)
  • Adult illiteracy rate (%ages 15 and older) 42.1 (42.2)
  • % of People without access to an improved water source = 25 (25)
  • URL Ghana Fact Sheet
Source Ghanaweb.com

28.11.07

Tagor, Abass jailed 15 years each

Tears flowed at an Accra Fast Track High Court on Wednesday when two self-confessed drug barons, Kwabena Amaning aka Tagor, and Alhaji Isaah Abass were sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment each in hard labour.

Relations of the two convicts wept uncontrollably as they were whisked away under heavy police escort from the courtroom to begin their sentences.

The judgement caught the accused, prosecution, defence, journalists and relatives by surprise, as the judgement date was to have been agreed on Wednesday.

Tagor was in POP and on clutches following an injury he sustained while playing football in custody.

The court found Tagor guilty for conspiracy, engaging in prohibited business relating to narcotic drugs because he confessed to about his drug transactions.

He was, however, acquitted and discharged for buying and supplying narcotic drugs.

The court presided over by Mr Justice Jones Victor Dotse, a court of Appeal Judge, also found Abass, 54, guilty for conspiracy and engaging in prohibited business relating to narcotic drugs. The court, however, acquitted and discharged him on charges of supplying narcotic drugs.

The court ordered that the sentences should take effect from the day of their arrest. Meanwhile the Serious Fraud Office last year, confiscated assets of the convicts.

The two were said to have made confessions about their previous dealing in the drug business at the residence of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Kofi Boakye in May last year. The said conversation was recorded and anonymously dropped at the Georgina Wood Committee set up by the government to investigate the missing 76 parcels of cocaine on board MV Benjamin, which docked at Tema last year. They pleaded not guilty.

Handing down the sentences, the court said it took into consideration the drug menace in the country and the fact that the nation was being used as a distribution point and the harmful effects of drugs among men and women.

"With the upsurge of the drugs in the country it behoves all of us to come together to fight the drug menace in the country," the court said. The court said sentences should be deterrent to others and corrective adding that it took into consideration the prime age of the accused persons.

The court noted that sentences were not prescribed by law and for that matter the court only used its discretion. The court was quick to say that some portions of the law had prescribed a minimum of 10 years.

Before handing over the sentences, Mr Ellis Owusu Fordjour, who represented Tagor, prayed the court to take into consideration the fact that his client was a first offender and pleaded that he should be dealt with leniently.

Mr Mohammed Attah who represented Abass drew the attention of the court of the days his client had spent in custody and prayed for the minimum sentence.

Ms Gertrude Aikins, Acting Director Public Prosecution (DPP), drew the court attention to the various stages in the drug business. According to her, while the users were fed by pushers, the pushers were also fed by the barons and prayed the court to met out punishment befitting the status of drug barons.

Source:

GNA

CPP goes to Congress

The third National Congress of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) would take place at the Great Hall of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi on Saturday, December 15, this year, a statement said today in Accra.



It said the Congress would be preceded by a meeting of National Executive Council (NEC) of the party on Friday, December 14 to approve the agenda for the congress.



The statement signed by Nii Noi Dowuoana, General Secretary of the of the party said the Congress would bring together more than two thousand delegates drawn from each of the 230 constituencies, regional executives the NEC, Council of Elders, Founding Members, MPs, Overseas branches, Youth and Women leagues and representatives from TEWSCHART. The congress would elect a presidential candidate to contest the 2008 elections as well as the election of national officers to steer affairs of the party for the next four years. Meanwhile, regional conferences for Western, Eastern, Volta Greater, Accra and Brong Ahafo Regions would be completed by December 8, while the conference for Eastern, Western Regions are scheduled for Koforidua and Takoradi on November 29 and December 8 respectively. The statement said it was expected that party members would play their respective roles to ensure an uninterruptible preparation leading to the event.



In that connection, contestants for the various positions at the Congress were reminded to desist from smear campaigns and acts that would denigrate the integrity or image of other aspirants so as to preserve the internal cohesion of the party 27 Nov. 07
Source:

GNA

27.11.07

Kenyan Airport Security in a Diplomatic faux pas with Ghana's Defence Minister

Defence Minister, Albert Kan-Dapaah yesterday fought Kenyan security operatives when they tried to have him undergo a body-search at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, from where he was to emplane for home.
At Gate 8 of the airport, the Minister, who was returning home after an official duty in DR Congo, was stunned when a young Kenyan security operative asked him to submit himself for a search before boarding the Kenyan Airways aircraft, his diplomatic passport notwithstanding.It was the Minister’s Military Assistant, Wing Commander Appiah Agyekum’s angry response to the diplomatically incorrect search demand which attracted the attention of some Ghanaian passengers at the airport.
“You cannot search my Defence Minister. I am his Military Assistant,” he said.Upon discovering what they considered disrespect to their minister, the Ghanaian passengers rallied round the Minister in solidarity, showing interest in the progress of the standoff.One of them even said, “Ye be ye dede”, to wit: “We will make noise”. The Minister told the young Kenyan security man that he was not going to allow himself to be searched.
“If we had an ambassador here, would you have treated me this way?” he asked.Not even the security man’s decision to exclude the Minister’s shoes in the search could convince him to succumb to the Kenyan’s demand. One of the operatives retorted, “We would search even the Vice President. The only person we would not search is the President”.Another security operative, who sought to calm the nerves of the Minister, pleaded with him to allow the search to go on but the Defence Minister stood his ground as the standoff continued. Hon. Kan-Dapaah stood aside as the security men continued taking other passengers through the routine checks.
At a point however, he sought to go and sit outside the search area since he was not ready to be searched. He sat calmly at the passenger-waiting area of Gate 8 as a flurry of diplomatic activities went back and forth until he finally had his way and boarded the aircraft without being body-searched.A member of his entourage pleaded with some Ghanaians who wanted to stay behind and see the outcome of the standoff, to calm down as according to him, “It would be alright.”
There was relief on the countenance of the Ghanaians on board the Boeing 737-800 when the Minister finally made his way to the cabin after what appeared to be a diplomatic horse-trading.When Daily Guide asked him for a reaction, he showed the expected diplomacy by saying “that’s alright”, with a smile. When the flight landed in Accra and the Minister stepped out to the waiting arms of olive-green clad military personnel, who saluted in turns, the sharp contrast to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport diplomatic faux pas some five hours away by air, was crystal clear.
Source:Daily Guide

France Telecom Wins GT Bid


Few days after Singapore Telecom withdrew from the race to take over 51% stake in Ghana Telecom (GT), the Government of Ghana has selected Telecom France as the winner of the bidding process for GT.

France Telecom beat Vodacom and Portugal Telecom. The price is yet to be confirmed but sources close to the Ministry of Communication say it is between $500 million and $600 million

In all, twenty foreign investors expressed interest in Ghana Telecom when the Government of Ghana announced early this year that 51% of GT would be sold to a strategic investor in a bid to enhance efficiency and quality of service. The rest of the shares would then be floated on the Ghana stock exchange (GSE).

Ecobank Development Corporation (EDC) and Societe Generale are the transactional advisors for Ghana for the privatization.

Telecom France's revenue was up by 1.9% on a comparable basis to EUR25.9 billion (up 2.1% on an historical basis), reflecting a good second-quarter performance in the first half of 2007.

Source:
Ghanaian Chronicle

From Rawlings' Office---NDC Running Mate

RE-NDC RUNNING MATE

It has come to the notice of the founder of the NDC, former President, that certain newspapers have made it their preoccupation to publish lies about the NDC and attribute such lies to him. One of such newspapers is The Point , which, in its last Friday’s edition published that ‘Rawlings okays Betty Mould as Mills’ running mate’. The founder would like to assure the party faithful that, the said publication is absolutely false and should be disregarded.

The founder has also indicated that the leadership is not unaware of the overwhelming Choice of the masses and wish to assure all the party faithful that the flag-bearer will at the opportune time, in consultation with the party’s council of elders and other appropriate organs of the Party, announce a running mate who will reflect that desire of the masses across the length and breath of the nation

Source:
Victor Emmanuel Smith (Special Assistant and Director of Public Affairs)

Archbishop Condemns Condoms

MOST REV. Peter Kwasi Sarpong, Metropolitan Archbishop of Kumasi has condemned the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

He deflated the notion that usage of condom was the best option to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, stressing that the development was rather encouraging people, especially innocent youth, to indulge in premarital sex.

This lamentable development, according to him, was the major cause of the spread of the disease and the reported cases of teenage pregnancies in society.

Most Rev. Sarpong, who was speaking at the 2nd National Delegate’s Congress of St. Theresa of the Child Society of the Catholic Church in Kumasi last Saturday, cited abstinence from sex as the best option to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

He urged the people to lead lives worthy of emulation to help bring down the reported cases of HIV/AIDS to the barest minimum.

“If you are married, stick to your partner and if you are not married, do not engage in sex because it is a sin in the sight of God,” he stressed.

The Archbishop charged people in authority to be bold and speak against premarital sex among the youth, adding that it was a dangerous development which could impact negatively on the country in future.

“Pastors, chiefs, politicians and all those in authority should speak against fornication and adultery since it is the prime cause of HIV/AIDS pandemic.”

Most Rev. Sarpong also took a swipe at those engaged in human trafficking, and called for a stop to the practice, noting that the act, bedsides being sin in the sight of God, was also morally wrong. “How can a human being sell his fellow human being in this 21st century?” he queried.

The programme was under the theme “Creating the Culture of Peace at Home, Workplace and in the World”.

In her remarks, Madam Patricia Appiagyei, Chief Executive, Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), urged parents to train their children in the fear of God so they would grow up to be responsible and law abiding citizens.

She as well advised parents to serve as role models to their children, insisting that parents had vital roles to play in directing the future of their children.

Madam Appiagyei entreated residents in the metropolis to ensure good sanitary conditions, advising them to paint their houses to beautify the city ahead of the Ghana 2008 football tournament.

Source:
Daily Guide

25.11.07

NPP delegates cautioned against propagandist tactics

Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, a New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential aspirant, on Saturday cautioned party members to watch out for attempts that might be made to cause friction among the aspirants in the last days of campaigning for the December congress.
"As the congress draws nearer some self-seeking politicians both within and outside, in collaboration with some media practitioners, are bent on discrediting the congress by peddling falsehood in the media against some of the aspirants.'' "We must be vigilant, protect the integrity of the Danquah/Busia political tradition and ensure that we come out of congress more united for the bigger battle ahead,'' Prof Frimpong-Boateng told newsmen in Sunyani after interacting with potential delegates in the Brong-Ahafo Region.
He said any ''untoward action or inaction emanating from the congress would be difficult to manage within 12 months. Prof Frimpong-Boateng appealed to the delegates to elect him as the NPP's presidential candidate for Election 2008. "A visionary leadership with self accomplished track record, unblemished testimony, ability to attract floating voters which is very crucial for our victory in Election 2008 and Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng is the man the people are rooting for."
The NPP presidential aspirant said he was a visionary leader since he had the capacity to deepen good governance and stimulate socio-economic growth. He appealed to the delegates to protect their pride that made it possible for the party to win the 2000 and 2004 elections and avoid selling their conscience in the forthcoming NPP national congress. "We have done it before and we shall collectively do it again," he said and expressed optimism that despite the large number of NPP presidential aspirants, the party would emerge from the delegates' congress more solid and united.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng said the achievements of the party, which had won national and international acclaim, needed to be consolidated by an action-oriented youth with vim and experience like him. "Mind you, the corporate achievements chalked by the party for mother Ghana did not manifest from the toil of any one person but the collective prudence of party apparatchiks." He appealed to the media to be circumspect, and avoid being the agents of retardation of the nation's progress. "Your role is very unique in strengthening and deepening our democracy but that role can be abused if you allow others to remotely control you with some few cedis."
Prof Frimpong-Boateng said it was unacceptable that about 80 percent of inputs into agriculture, education and health are from foreign sources. He said it was a shame that a major thrust of the nation's economic policy was to try as much as possible to attract foreign investors. ''Good as foreign investments are, we just cannot sit down and think that without confronting our problems ourselves we can still be prosperous,'' he said.GNA

Kufuor @Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting

Heads of states listen to closing remarks made by Ghana's President John Kufuor (R) at the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting (CHOGM) final session in Munyonyo November 25, 2007.


Qualifying Groups For African World Cup 2010

Stage 2 of the CAF (Africa) World Cup Qualifying campaign was drawn today at a gala ceremony in Durban.With the pre-preliminary round already complete, hopefuls from across the continent will join top seeds such as Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon for the second of three Stages.There are twelve groups of four taking part, and the twelve group winners shall advance to Stage 3 along with the eight best-runners up.
From there, the 20 remaining teams will be split into five groups of four for a qualification battle that also serves to determine who will play at the 2010 African Cup of Nations in Angola.The four group winners in Stage 3 advance ot the World Cup, and they're joined by second and third place from each group at the Cup of Nations.
This means that South Africa will actually take part in the WC qualifying campaign despite being hosts of the World Cup, and Angola will do likewise in spite of being in the Cup of Nations.Angola will compete only for a World Cup place while South Africa will obviously play only towards a spot in the Cup of Nations.Those groups in full:Group
1CameroonCapeVerdeIslands TanzaniaMauritius
2GuineaZimbabweNamibiaKenya
3AngolaBeninUgandaNiger
4NigeriaSouth AfricaEquatorial Guinea Sierra Leone
5GhanaLibyaGabonLesotho
6SenegalAlgeriaLiberiaGambia
7CoiteD’IvoireMozambiqueBotswanaMadagascar
8MoroccoEthiopiaRwandaMauritania
9TunisiaBurkina FasoBurundiSeychelles
10MaliCongoSudanChad
11TogoZambiaEritreaSwaziland
12EgyptCongo DRMalawiDjibouti.

24.11.07

This Must Be a Joke----500 Women To March Naked

Over 500 women from 20 communities in the Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo District of the Northern Region have threatened to march nude to the Osu Castle, the seat of government.
The women, who intend to embark on the march in the next few days say it is intended to express their shock and disappointment with what they term as `unfair and treacherous` allegations labelled against the DCE of the area, Hon. Madam Elizabeth Pigit Poyari, which has led to her recent dismissal from office..

The women, the Ghanaian Observer (GO) newspaper was told Monday, include all the tribal groupings in the distrct, and comprise Mamprusis, Konkombas, Bimobas, Dagombas and Ewes.
According to a women`s group leader, the 500 strong women in the area find the removal of their DCE as malicious and outrageous, `being motivated and engineered by her detractors and of the district that sees nothing good about women leadership and development.`
`They think women cannot lead them. And because this woman is a Konkomba, they vow never to see her administration perform.
It`s unfair to women and Konkombas,` one of the women in the group intimated to GO. The women, most of whom were in tears in solidarity with the DCE, accused the constituency’s NPP executives and others including, Mr. Daniel Bugri Naabu, a businessman based in Accra, Mahama Dubik, a legal practitioner in Accra, Thomas Ackar, a teacher and the constituency chairman, Mr. Amos Yambil of masterminding the removal of the DCE.
These people, they stressed, are rather those creating problems in the district and not the Honourable Pigit, saying `it is just that they hate to see a Konkomba woman lead`. Speaking to GO in Bunkpurugu, the spokesperson of the women, Madam Fushaa, hinted that they will walk nude to the Castle in protest against the DCE`s removal, adding, `It`s out of place to remove a development-oriented person like Hon Pigit.`
She said the DCE, as the first woman DCE in the area, has worked hard, which has brought about the transformation and development of the district, whiles her misanthropists do nothing than to execute plots upon plots to ruin the district down in the name of tribal superiority.`Any attempt to disregard her hard won reputation because she is Konkomba and a woman is unacceptable and unfair to all womanhood,` she reiterated.
The concerned group lamented that they did not understand the basis and criteria the President used to sack their DCE because, to them, she is a Messiah and Saviour of the District. `We don`t believe that`, they repeated, saying `the President may have acted upon hearsay`. The women coalition is therefore appealing to the President to re-appoint Hon. Pigit Poyari to continue the good works of the government in the district.
They noted that, the Hon. DCE in the area, has done a lot for women groups in the area. She is always concerned about the welfare of the women and the district, they revealed, calling on the President to consider their plea.Explaining the essence of a naked march, Madam Fushaa said it is so that `the whole international community and the world would know that women in Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo, which is a deprived district in the Northern part of Ghana, have had their rights squashed`. She said other women of the area living in Accra have also shown interest to join the protest because it is for women in general and against discrimination, unfair treatment, and divide and rule tactics in the area.
`We have seen the recent Jimbale crisis engineered by the constituency executives of the NPP in their so-called peace talks that ended with the war and its tribal tendencies, so we don’t want another Jimbale crisis`.Meanwhile, Hon. Elizabeth Pigit Poyari, who was last week admitted at the Tamale Teaching Hospital and was put under intensive care is still being threatened by the NPP executives in the area, the women alleged.
Further, people have raised worry and concern about the number of DCEs in the Northern regions fired by the President, attributing that to the `pull him down syndrome` that has bedeviled progress and prosperity in the region.
Source:Ghanaian Observer

Ghana's forest dwindling at an alarming rate

Ghana's forest cover of about 8 million hectares at the time of the country's independence had dwindled to less than 2 million hectares. Madam Esther Obeng Dapaah, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, disclosed this, adding that over-logging by illegal chain-saw operators and timber contractors had compounded the problem.



She said excessive surface mining, conversion of natural forest into agriculture land, annual bushfires, expansion of infrastructure and changes in land uses also contributed to the dwindling. Madam Dapaah was addressing members of the Ghana Timber Association (GTA) at their Annual General Meeting under the theme: "Helping To Build Ghana Through The Conservation of Our Forest," at Akyawkrom in the Ejisu-Juaben District of the Ashanti Region on Friday.



She said the current state of the nation's forest resources should be a major concern to all Ghanaians since it was very critical to the survival of the forest reserve adding that the Ministry had stepped up efforts to reclaim the lost forest belt. Madam Dapaah charged the Forestry Commission to comply strictly with the provisions of the existing statutory legal regimes in granting timber harvesting rights, to stem the tide of unhealthy practices.




She said this would ensure that foreigners who had sited timber processing facilities in various tree plantations and forest reserves in the country without the requisite approval from the authorities were barred from operating. She said the effective implementation of existing legal provisions in respect of forest resources would assist in reducing illegal logging, waste control in logging and processing, as well as a significant reduction in over-exploitation of timber.



Mr Osei Kwame Boateng-Poku, president of the GTA, said the Association had established over 280 hectares of tree plantations, including teak, cedrella and edinam, at the Boumfuom Forest Reserve in the Asante-Akim North District as part of programmes lined up to boost the reserve.
He also said the Association would also establish 700 hectares of tree plantation within the reserve to ensure ecological balance of the area.

Source:

GNA

Ghana, Three Others To Share $2.9m

Canada is to provide a three-year $2.9 million support to four African countries, including Ghana, through Right to Play, an International sports NGO, to “bring the power of sports to the beneficiaries.”



Right to Play is to initiate an innovation that will help improve on the lives of children in Africa on the occasion of Universal Children’s Day.A yahoo website quoted Beverley J. Oda, Canadian Minister of International Co-operation, as saying “this funding will help provide coaches, staff and volunteers with training as well as sport equipment and education kits, allowing kids to receive a better basic education and to develop like skill such as leadership.”



“This multi-year funding from the Canadian International Development Agency ensures that Right to Play will be able to make a sustained and lasting impact in the lives of children living in Benin, Ghana, Mali and Rwanda,” the website said. It did not state the criteria for selecting the countries but said most children in developing countries were excluded from formal and non-formal education because of region, gender, ethnicity, ability, social background as well as the stigma of HIV/AIDS hence the support.



Right to Play aims to improve on lives of children in most disadvantaged areas of the world by using the power of sports and play for development, health and peace.

Source:
Daily Graphic

23.11.07

NPP Gets Five Billion Cedis ...

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) nominations for its December 22 delegates congress to elect a flagbearer for the 2008 general elections, closed yesterday, grabbing close to ¢5billion as filing fees from the aspirants in the last two months alone. Eighteen of the nineteen people who picked forms and expressed interest in the race returned them by close of day yesterday, except John Kwame Kodua, who cited religious reasons.

The Kumasi-based lawyer and highly religious politician explained to Daily Guide that soon after picking the forms, he went into days of prayers seeking divine direction but failed to get a green light from God. He, however, insisted that his bowing out of the race had nothing to do with finance, saying that he had gathered enough money to run the race. Having charged ¢250 million per head as filing fee and another ¢5million for nomination forms, the party had 19 responses, when nominations were opened on September 22, 2007. The ruling party thus bagged ¢4.5billion from 18 registered aspirants and another ¢95 million for forms, thereby grossing ¢4.595 billion cash.

Those who have duly filed include Vice President Aliu Mahama; Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, former Minister of NEPAD; Daniel Kwaku Botwe, former NPP General Secretary; Boakye Kyeremanteng Agyarko, former Vice President of Bank of New York; Yaw Osafo Maafo, former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Barfour Adjei-Barwuah, Ghana’s Ambassador to Japan and Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, former Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Affairs.

The rest are Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor, former Minister of Defence; John Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, former Minister of Trade and Industry; Papa Owusu-Ankomah, former Minister of Education, Science and Sports; Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy, a medical practitioner; Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, former Presidential Spokesman; Capt. Kwame Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey, former deputy Interior Minister; Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, former CEO of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital; Felix Owusu-Adjapong, former Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs; Prof. Mike Oquaye, former Minister of Communications, and Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, former Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing.

When contacted on phone, Evangelist Kodua, the only odd one out, was quick to point out that he had already sent a letter to the Administrator of the ruling party, informing him of his intention to withdraw from the race.Throwing more light on his decision not to contest the flagbearership race any longer, the Kumasi-based lawyer pointed out that contrary to speculations in town that he had no money, he would have filed if he had had the green light from God.

He said he had prayed with his elders over his intention to run, but when no clear response was coming, his team advised him to step aside. Earlier on Tuesday, journalists who had trouped to party headquarters after having had a hint that the Kumasi-based lawyer was storming there to formalize his application, went home disappointed when they realized that Mr Kodua, after all, would not be coming.One aspirant, who proved skeptics wrong when he successfully filed his nomination, was Capt. Effah-Dartey.The Berekum MP last Friday stormed the party office with an impressive number of supporters and paid up to be the 18th aspirant in the race.

In an interview yesterday, the NPP General Secretary, Nana Ohene Ntow, confirmed that Kodua had officially backed out and notified the party.He said even though the Kumasi lawyer did not explain why he would not run anymore, Kodua promised to help whoever wins the race.Ohene Ntow hinted that Effah Dartey, the last to file, would be vetted on Tuesday, after which the Vetting Committee would turn in its report.

He told Daily Guide that the vetting committee would eventually hand over the rest of the job to the election committee, which would then organize a ballot for the contestants for position on the ballot paper. He would not name the members of the Election Committee.

Delegates will be selected between November 28 and December 8, after which a verified list will be presented to all aspirants, he said.Meanwhile, the party has been meeting all aspirants regularly to iron out a few concerns raised.Nana Ntow conceded that the party has challenges, observing that this could be as a result of the fact that it was the first time it had to pick a presidential candidate while in power.

He, however, promised a clean and efficient process leading to the congress. “The stake is high, public and media interest is beyond bounds, and we cannot afford to fail,” he stated. The General Secretary said the party has secured the venue for the congress at the forecourt of Great Hall at the University of Ghana, Legon, with adequate transportation arrangements.Even though 18 people have paid the ¢250m filing fee, this does not rule out the possibility of alignments ahead of the congress.It would be recalled that in 1992, Peter Ala Adjetey filed and paid all fees expected of him, but later withdrew from the race, after checking himself. The December 22 Special Delegates’ Congress is expected to gulp most of the ¢5billion realized.

This is because the last such event organized by the party, cost the organizers some ¢2.5billion. A delegates’ conference held at Koforidua in January, 2007 brought together five delegates from each constituency.Ten delegates from each constituency and a significant number from the Diaspora are expected at the Legon Congress to pick a candidate towards the 2008 elections. Observers initially took many of the people, who rushed to pick forms, as mere passengers who only wanted to dance to the tune of the times, but 60 days down the line, only one of them has failed to return his forms.

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) only managed to raise a paltry ¢400m for its congress last year. Party sources hinted DAILY GUIDE that the congress left an accrued debt of ¢600m for the party to clear later.

Another Fuel Price Increase?

The prices of petroleum products have been increased. The prices have gone up between 7 and 8 per cent.

The new prices which were set by the Oil Marketing Companies and approved by the National Petroleum Authority, were announced Friday morning, November 23, 2007.

Just as the new prices were announced, Filling stations in the country have started selling the products at the new prices.

The maximum indicative price for Petrol is now 1.04 Ghana cedis up from 98 Ghana pesewas per litre.

A litre of Diesel is 1.03 Ghana cedis up from 95 pesewas. Kerosene has also gone up from 86 pesewas to 94 pesewas a litre.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is now 1 Ghana cedi from 97 Ghana pesewas.

This is the second time petroleum products prices have been adjusted in less than a month and the third since October 2007.

The Public Relations Officer of the NPA Steven Larbie tells Joy Business report that the reviews will no more be done monthly but according to price movements of crude oil on the world market.

What it means is that a gallon of petrol now sells at 4 Ghana cedis 68 pesewas or 46,800 cedis; while a gallon of diesel is 4 Ghana cedis 63 pesewas or 46,350 cedis.

22.11.07

Nominations for NPP Aspirants Closed Today

The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) on Thursday officially closed proceedings for picking and filling nomination documents for the party's December 22, Special National Delegates Congress to elect a flag bearer for Election 2008.
Nominations were opened from September 22nd to December 22nd in accordance with NPP Constitution.


In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Nana Ohene Ntow, NPP General Secretary said 19 flag bearer aspirants picked nomination forms, however one candidate Mr. John Kwame Kodua, a Kumasi based lawyer failed to file his nomination.He said Mr. Kodua did not assign any reason for withdrawing from the contest but he pledged his commitment to the party and that he would support the eventual winner after Congress.
Vetting of the aspirants would also be completed on Tuesday, November 27 with the vetting of Captain Nkrabeah Effa-Dartey, former Deputy Minister of the Interior.



Nana Ohene Ntow said the party had constituted an Election Committee to coordinate the electoral process, which included casting of lot for position on the ballot paper, printing of ballot papers and other electoral process.
He said the party would hold a rally on December 1 to introduce all the eligible aspirants to the public at Kasoa in the Central Region.
On preparation towards Congress, Nana Ohene Ntow said the party had already secured the forecourt of the University of Ghana, Legon, booked hostels for the all delegates and started processing accreditation for all, including media practitioners who would be covering the congress.The NPP General Secretary assured the aspirants, supporters, media and all who would attend the congress to abide by tight security that would be mounted.



The contestants were: Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, former Chief Executive of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital; Vice President Aliu Mahama; Mr Daniel Kwaku Botwe, former General Secretary of the party and Minister of Information; Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, former Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, former Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations.
Others were; Mr Hackman Kwame Owusu-Agyemang, former Minister of Works, Water Resources and Housing; Mr Alan Kyeremanten former Minister of Trade and Presidential Special Initiatives; Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo, former Minister of Education Youth and Sports; Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, a former Minister and Mr Felix Kwasi Owusu-Adjapong, former Minister of Parliamentary Affairs.



The rest are: Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor, former Minister of Defence; Paapa Owusu Ankomah, former Minister of Education, Science and Sports; Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy, a Medical Practitioner; Mr Boakye Kyeremanteng Agyarko a Banker; Mr Kwabena Agyepong, former Presidential Press Secretary; Dr Agyei Bawuah, Ambassador to India; Captain Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey (rtd) and Professor Mike Oquaye, former Minister of Communications.
GNA

Baah-Wiredu explains excise duty on airtime calls

Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, has explained that the proposal in the 2008 Budget Statement, which slapped excise duty on airtime on mobile phone calls, would rather reduce the cost of making calls.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, the Minister, who is also NPP MP for Asante Akim North, said the increasing number of mobile phones that were smuggled into the country by mobile phone dealers as well as individuals informed the decision.

He said statistics obtained from the mobile phone companies and the National Communications Authority (NCA) showed that there are about seven million mobile phones in the country.

"However, records of taxes paid at the port of entry from the Immigration Service and the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) show that just about one million mobile phones have been brought into the country."

He described the practice where people continuously brought mobile phones into the country without paying the appropriate tax as unacceptable, since the nation lost billions of cedis in the process.

Government decided to abolish import duty and import VAT on all mobile phone handsets and introduced excise duty on airtime.

Mr Baah-Wiredu explained that if the current taxes on mobile phones were removed as proposed in the 2008 budget, the cost of the product as well as the charges on airtime by the various networks would drop significantly.

"Currently, the networks charge about 14 Ghana pesewas per minute on each call, as per the tax charges, making 98 million Ghana Cedis per minute which is the result of the number of mobile phones multiplied by the cost per minute.

"If we cancel the tax on mobile phone imports and the total number of handsets grows to eight million we would reduce the cost per minute to 12.5 Gp. If the total number of handsets goes up to about nine million, the cost per minute to end-users would drop further to 10 Gp. The same would be when the total number of handsets rises to 10 million and the cost of air-time per minute would also drop to 9.8 Gp."

Reacting to network providers' concern that they were not contacted or involved in arriving at the proposal, Mr Baah-Wiredu said adverts and invitations were sent out for stakeholders to make their input, but not all of them made the effort to contribute to the discussions and contributions.

"It is important that when adverts are put out for stakeholders to make their contributions, they are taken seriously since it would help government in shaping development approaches," he added.


Source: GNA

Koduah fails to file for NPP flag bearer

Kumasi based lawyer and New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential aspirant, John Kwame Koduah has failed to file his nomination at the close of Thursday November 22, 2007.



Joy News checks at the NPP Headquarters show that Mr. Kodua did not file his nomination on Thursday.For the fact that Mr. Koduah failed to file his nomination, he is deemed to have automatically withdrawn from the race. With Mr. Koduah's withdrawal, the NPP now has 18 candidates vying to lead the party in the 2008 general elections. Mr. Koduah has in the past two weeks been in prayer hoping to hear from God before he decided.


Speaking earlier to Joy News, he said whatever God tells him to do is what he will do. And he said, he will announce that decision to the media, but at the close of nomination day, nothing has been heard from the Kumasi based lawyer.

President Kufuor leaves for Kampala

President John Agyekum Kufuor left Accra on Thursday morning for Kampala, Uganda to participate in this year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) schedule for November 23-25.


Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, would open the meeting tomorrow, Friday November 23.



It is under the theme: "Transforming Commonwealth Society to achieve Political, Economic and Human development". A statement issued in Accra and signed by Mr Andrew Awuni, Presidential Spokesperson said, high on the agenda would be a discussion on common political values like Democracy, Human Rights, Good Governance and Global Economic issues.



It said the meeting would also appoint a new Secretary General to take over from Mr Don McKinnon.The First Lady, Mrs Theresa Kufuor and some senior government officials accompanied President Kufuor. At the airport to see President Kufuor off were, Vice President Aliu Mahama, Ministers of State, Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General J.B. Danquah and Inspector General of Police, Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong.
Source:
NA

NDC targets 80% of seats in Greater Accra

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Thursday said its Greater Accra Regional campaign team has marshalled an electoral strategy to win not less than 80 per cent of parliamentary seats.


"We have identified our operational shortfalls in previous elections, we have adopted modern electoral mechanisms to ensure effective campaign, focus on issues and guard the electoral process with well-empowered officials at polling stations," Mr Danny A. Anang, NDC Greater Accra Regional Chairman told Ghana News Agency in an interview. He said the party had assessed the electoral topography since Election 2000, identified its shortfalls, learnt lessons, major decisions taken, revamped its electoral strategy to empower and motivate its foot soldiers to be deployed.


Mr Anang said "Election 2008 would be fought and won by the NDC on entirely different game plan, the enthusiasm, comradeship, loyalty and commitment to put our hands on the wheel which eluded us in the two previous elections is back."


He said the party had in addition, identified seats it lost marginally due to the wind of change during the elections and fortunately people in the region were widely awake now and had identified the deceit, exploitation, impositions and impunity in the country.

Mr Anang said Ghanaians were now discerning and analytical, and would vote according to their conscience to elect a party that had their welfare at heart.


"Ghanaians deserve better and cannot stay under the governance of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) any longer and would use Election 2008 to deliver the nation and save future generation."

Mr Anang said the high level of interest in the selection of parliamentary candidates for its orphan constituencies had given encouragement to redeem seats the party lost to NPP. "Those NPP Parliamentarians are occupying borrowed seats, their days are numbered as the rightful owners are ready to take over...we have eminent individuals from these constituencies coming forward to contest. It is a done deal anyone who is elected at our congress to represent NDC in the region is already an MP," he said.


He commended women who had boldly come forward to contest for parliamentary seats in the region. Mr Anang said vetting of aspiring parliamentary candidates from the 16 orphan constituencies had been completed and congress would be organised soon to elect their candidates.

Mr Anang noted that NDC had a bright chance to win Election 2008 because the NPP Government had failed to continue the legacy bequeathed to them by NDC in 2000.

He said during the tenure of the NDC it established the needed infrastructure including schools, roads, hospitals, water and rehabilitated the ports, what was left was the creation of jobs to bring economic freedom to the people.

Mr Anang urged Ghanaians to vote massively for Professor John Evans Atta Mills to rule the country as "the former Vice President is endowed with potentials capable to give Ghanaians accelerated growth and development".

He said NDC Government under Prof. Mills would reverse the "mess in the country's educational system" and continue its policy of making education accessible and affordable to all Ghanaians.

Mr Anang noted that Ghanaians had patiently looked up to the NPP Government for the past seven years to make life worth living but "sadly, their hardships and sufferings increased everyday". He said the NPP Government had failed Ghanaians because it had no antidote to problems facing the nation and urged Ghanaians to vote massively for NDC parliamentary candidates nation-wide and Prof. Mills to redeem the nation.
Source:

GNA

21.11.07

Stars Win 4 Nation Tournament

the Squirrels of Benin on Wednesday almost succeeded in nibbling away the hopes of the Black Stars of Ghana, however, four spectacular second half goals by the latter made sure that the Squirrels’ two never counted much.


The Squirrels, parading what their officials say are only an assembly of locally-based talents, surprised the star-studded Black Stars after converting from the spot in the 24th minute when they were awarded a penalty and went ahead to add the second just under a minute of the second half.


And while they were at it, handlers of the Black Stars may have picked two or three assignments for the team to chew on; Complacency, Indiscipline and perhaps lack of concentration.


So frustrated were the Stars during periods in the game; especially when the Squirrels were calling the shots and again when they failed to win the sympathy of the central referee from dangerous play, their verbal responses, body language and gesticulations; gave the Stars away as a spoiled lot.

Useful tournament

Indeed but for the smiles they managed to restore on the faces of soccer-mad Ghanaians who thronged the Ohene Gyan Stadium for the finals of the Zenith 4-Nation tournament; courtesy strikes by Junior Agogo, Laryea Kingston(2), and Stephen Appiah, the Black Stars’ readiness to annex the forthcoming 26th edition of the Cup of Nations was being seriously questioned.

And the game also proved somewhat hazardous for the Stars as striker Baffour Gyan, who is warming his way back into regular call ups after two years absence, left the field on a stretcher from a thigh injury, while Stephen Appiah, even though managed to score, had lived the life of a passenger all afternoon until he was taken off with a wrist pain.

Thanks to the Squirrels, especially their goalkeeper and skipper, Rachad Chitou, the Stars at least are reminded that they cannot let down their guards, especially after nursing Ghanaians hopes and expectations for a successful nations tournament.

Indeed one positive thing can be said of the Stars: when they maintained their focus and saw the near defeat as a common shame, their zeal was just marvelous; it would have overcome any opposition.

But many will continue to ask if the Stars are indeed ready to go for glory when they host the rest of the continent in January. My take is, at our current work rate, we should do more.

In the match for third-place, the Sheyi Adebayor-led Togo side walloped the United Arab Emirates by 5:0 with Adebayor himself scoring one and earning for himself a standing ovation.

Stars Line-up: Sammy Adjei; Kofi Amponsah; John Mensah/Anthony Annan; Michael Essien; Laryea Kingston; Stephen Appiah/Matthew Amoah; Junior Agogo, Sulley Muntari, Haminu Dramani; Baffour Gyan/Andre Dede Ayew; Moses Narh/Hans Adu Sarpei.

Unused Subs: Richard Kingson; Francis Dickoh; Michael Helegbe
(Story and photographs by Isaac Yeboah)
Source Joy FM


Ministry institutes Diasporan Visa

Mr. Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations on Wednesday announced the institution of a Diasporan Visa to facilitate and encourage many Diasporans to return to Ghana several times and possibly invest in Ghana.


He announced also the offering of a DNA Map, to enable Diasporans who take a DNA test to have the opportunity to reconnect to their families in Africa.



Mr Asamoah-Boateng announced the steps in Parliament, in answer to questions related to the Joseph Project by the sector Ministry, in Accra, on Wednesday. Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, MP for Wa West had asked whether Joseph Project of the Ministry was not a duplication of the already existing Emancipation and Panafest Programme, and therefore a waste of national resources.



Mr Asamoah-Boateng said the Joseph Project, also called the Akwaaba Anyemi, if anything would rather strengthen the Panafest and Emancipation and programmes and make them richer in content and enhance the personal experiences of the Diasporans. He said the Joseph Project is a series of activities aimed at reaching [descendants of], forcibly uprooted from Africa and have been lost to their homeland for more than 400 years. The programme, which was launched this year, includes activities such as a comprehensive education process for home-comers and the Diasporans to minimize the cultural shocks and conflicts that had occurred as natural development which came about during to the 400 years separation.



Mr Asamoah-Boateng said the a Nationwide Pilgrimage route has been identified and it would be offered to visiting Diasporans who would come to Ghana for Panafest, Emancipation Day or any calling. "Above all, the Akwaaba Anyemi Programme/Joseph Project seeks to invite the African Diaspora to utilize their resources to generate development and investment in Ghana in particular and in Africa generally," Mr Asamoah-Boateng said. He added that the Ministry had developed a comprehensive Tourism Policy to cover all aspects of tourism, adding; "The document is before cabinet." 21 Nov. 2007
Source:

GNA

20.11.07

Ghana to enjoy natural gas from December 23

Natural Gas is expected to start flowing through the West Africa Gas pipeline project from Nigeria to Ghana from December 23 this year.

Mr Aderemi Oladapo, General Manager in charge of Operations of the West African Gas Pipeline Company Limited (WAGPCo), dropped the hint in Tema on Tuesday.



He said it would take four days for the gas to flow through the lines before reaching Ghana.
This follows the completion of the installation of the offshore segment of the gas pipeline by WAGPCo, which is currently conducting safety awareness campaigns across the sub-region in readiness for its take-off. Mr Oladapo was making a presentation at a day's forum organised by the WAGPCo for stakeholders in the maritime industry to sensitize them on the need to ensure that the lines were not damaged by their activities at sea.




He explained that a burst on the pipeline in Benin, Cotonou contributed to the delay of the completion of the project, but this has been rectified and was optimistic that gas would definitely flow through the line soon. The project cost about 600 million US dollars The General Manager pointed out that a colossal amount was used in repairing the lines and urged the participants to educate their staff to ensure that, at sea they observe safety measures and ensure compliance with identified safety precautions.

According to him WAGPCo would periodically organise series of such forums in the sub-region to remind stakeholders of the need to protect the lines.




Mr Opare Addo Nketsia, Technician Operator said WAGPCo conducted risk assessments posed by shipping and the collected data within the sub-region showed that fishermen were the worse offenders in the destruction of the equipment.

He mentioned possible causes of pipeline damage as the Ship Anchor Drag, illegal fishing method such as using dynamites, bottom trawling by inshore fishing boats as well as sabotage.




He advised officials in the maritime industry to be cautious and careful in their operations to prolong the lifespan of the pipelines. Mr Nketsia said there was the need for the Naval Personnel to monitor the coastline to ensure that fishing activities do not damage the pipelines.

Mr E. Oseni, Operations Supervisor warned that any damage to the pipelines would create socio-economic set back to the nation and the region and cautioned that disasters could occur through fire and loss of buoyancy.

To ensure absolute safety, Mr Oseni entreated maritime officials to strictly adhere to the regulations and not to operate close to the boundary areas, which is between 42 and 72 meters depth and two to four nautical miles away from the line.

Participating countries operating the Gas Pipeline Project are Nigeria, which is the source, Cotonou, Togo and Ghana. Participating stakeholders included Fire personnel, officials from the fishing companies and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO)
Source:
GNA

18.11.07

Zenith 4 Nation Tourney:Ghana 2-0 Togo

The Black stars defeated Togo by 2-0, at the Ohene Djan Stadium on Sunday, to qualify for the finals of the Zenith Four Nation Tournament.
Two second half goals from substitute Baffour Gyan and Laryea Kingston was enough to see Ghana through to the finals where she meets Benin ...

Lineup: Kingson; John Paintsil, Kofi Amponsah, John Mensah/Anthony Annan, Sarpei; Michael Essien, Laryea Kingston/Andre Ayew, Stephen Appiah(cpt)/Moses Narh, Sulley Muntari; Mathew Amoah/Baffour Gyan, Junior Agogo

Accra:-Kufuor attends thanksgiving mass

President John Agyekum Kufuor and his wife, Theresa, on Sunday joined hundreds of worshippers at the Christ the King Catholic Parish to give thanks to God for his escape in last Wednesday's car crash at an intersection on the Airport-37 Road.He came out unscratched, when a Benz Elegance saloon car, driving at top speed rammed into the vehicle carrying him on a normal drive from his house to work at the Castle, Osu.
The bizarre accident sent shock waves across the country and to show how grateful the nation was to God for the life of the President, the congregation sang praises and said special prayers for his continued protection at the thanksgiving mass.
The Reverend Monsignor Seth Osei-Agyemang led the mass and in his homily, counseled the faithful to remain unwavering in times of difficulty and challenges.He said in the life of man there were bound to be disasters and trying moments and that when they happened "we should remain firm in our faith and trust of the Lord.""When our world come crushing down, we must save ourselves by hanging on to God", he said, citing the troubles and suffering that the biblical Job went through and the confidence he showed in the Lord.
"We must see every bad experience as an opportunity to reshape our priorities", the Reverend Osei-Agyemang added.He noted that every day and every ending could be a beginning.Accidents happen everyday but the Kingdom of God "shall endure and we shall live."He assured President Kufuor, who is a member of the Church that, the parish would always stand in spiritual closeness with him. 18 Nov 07
Source:GNA

17.11.07

Nduom-Kufuor and NPP's tenure is over

Convention People's Party (CPP) presidential aspirant, Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, at the weekend told Ghanaians not to vote for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the 2008 elections since their tenure of office was over.

He said the 1992 Constitution allows the president to run a two term of office and that Kufuor and the NPP would be ending theirs in December 2008 to pave way for the CPP to govern the country.

Dr Nduom was addressing a mini rally of party members in Tamale to outline his programmes, if he is given the chance as a Presidential Candidate and subsequently made the President.

"I am not only interested in winning the primary to become CPP Presidential Candidate, but also interested in occupying President Kufuor's seat when he leaves the Castle in 2009."

Dr Nduom said Ghanaians should discard the notion that governance in Ghana was between the NDC and the NPP, and give their maximum support to the CPP to enable the party to win power and continue with the "Unfinished agenda" of the late Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

He claimed that Ghanaians were now denouncing the NDC and the NPP for their inability to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich and that the CPP was going to march them boot for boot.

Dr Nduom said when the NDC's tenure of office under former President Rawlings ended in 2000, power was handed over to President Kufuor and the NPP peacefully, and asked the Kufuor administration to do the same to the CPP in 2009.

On his political attachment with the NPP, Dr Nduom explained that it was a call to serve mother Ghana and that any patriotic Ghanaian would not refuse such a call.

He appealed to members of the party to discard the notion that he had NPP "Blood" in him saying, "I have been CPP all my life".

He said his position in governance qualified the country for the Millennium Challenged Account (MCA), which benefited the country including Northern Region and that a CPP government would see more improvement in the lives of the people.

Dr Nduom said a CPP government would reintroduce the Northern Scholarship to ensure that all children of Northern origin went to school up to University level free of charge.

He called on all members who were in other parties to retrace their steps and become part of the winning team in 2009 to jointly offer good governance to Ghanaians.

Mr Albert Atutiga, Northern Regional Chairman of the party called on party members to critically examine all people who wanted to rule Ghana before they give them the mandate.


Source: GNA

16.11.07

Ghana's President Cancels All Engagements.

President J.A. Kufuor yesterday took a rest and cancelled all official engagements following the near fatal accident which he survived on Wednesday afternoon.
Official assignments cancelled included his scheduled participation in the investiture ceremony of President Ernest Bai Korama of Sierra Leone.

President Kufuor’s official Mercedez Benz car was involved in an accident at the Opeibea Junction on the main 37 Military Hospital – Airport road in Accra when he was going to his office from his residence.

The President escaped unhurt but his driver, Safo Addo, sustained knee injuries and was admitted at the 37 Military Hospital.
Castle sources told the Times yesterday that the president was treated and discharged and would be going to hospital for a review.

The source said the driver of the other car that ran into the President’s car, Thomas Osei, is still on admission at the 37 Military Hospital under police guard.
ACP Daniel Julius Avorga, MTU commander told the Times that Osei will be interrogated by the police when he is discharged from hospital.
A release issued by presidential press secretary, Andrew Awuni, said a number of messages have been received from distinguished personalities from Ghana and abroad extending their best wishes to the president.

"The messages largely share in the distress resulting from the incident which potentially would have been more disturbing, save the President’s narrow escape."
It said the well- wishers conveyed their sympathies praying for his speedy recovery while renewing pledges and immense support for the administration.
Source:GHP

15.11.07

Finance Minister presents 2008 Budget to Parliament

Ghana's Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Hon Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu on Thursday presented the 2008 budget statement to parliament in Accra.


Highlights of the Budget Statement


0. INTRODUCTION
This report outlines the main highlights of the 2008 Budget Statement and Economic Policies of the Government of Ghana. The rest of the report is structured as follows. Section 1 presents the performance and achievements under the implementation of 2007 Budget while Section 2 highlights the 2008 Budget Targets and Outlook. Policy Initiatives are presented in Section 3. The report ends with Implementation Challenges under the 2008 Budget in Section 4.

1. 2007 PERFORMANCE AND ACHIEVEMENTS
1.1 Resolving the Energy Crises
A number of short, medium and long-term interventions targeted at resolving the energy crises that besiege the country this year and the later part of 2006 were pursued in 2007. Significant among them is the successful negotiation of the $622 million loan for the construction of the Bui dam and Bui City. The investment is the second largest single investment in the history of the country after Akosombo Dam.
To improve upon the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, significant expenditures have been made since 2006 and by end-2008, government’s total budgetary expenses would have exceeded US$2 billion.

1.2 Redenomination of the Cedi
The Bank of Ghana on July 1, 2007 re-denominated the cedi by setting ten thousand cedis to one Ghana Cedi, equivalent to one hundred Ghana Pesewas (i.e. ¢10,000=Gh¢1=100Gp) to help remove the significant dead weight burden that the old cedi regime placed on the economy. This measure, taken in the context of strong economic fundamentals and macroeconomic stability, has already resulted in significant efficiency gains which are expected to enhance the way we do business.

1.3 Entry into Capital market
The successful entry of Ghana into the Euro bond market is another unparalleled achievement this year. Government raised US $750m. Out of this, US$207.5 million has been earmarked for specific energy and road projects in 2007. The oversubscription of the bond, together with the quality and internationality of the investors, is a clear indication of the confidence that the international community reposes in the Ghanaian economy.

1.4 Celebration of Ghana @ 50
The country celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and successfully hosted the AU Summit and the AGOA conference in June and August respectively. The AU Summit in particular witnessed the highest turnout of Presidents and Heads of Government in recent times.

1.5 Oil Discovery
With the country poised for accelerated growth, a massive infusion of capital is required to undertake the necessary infrastructure to facilitate such growth. The discovery of oil in commercial quantities could therefore not have come at a more opportune time. A technical team has been constituted to undertake the necessary analysis of the impact of the oil discovery on the economy in the long term.

1.6 New educational reforms
The new educational reforms, which seek to improve upon our educational system in response to the needs and expectations of both individuals and industry, was launched in 2007. A comprehensive package of reforms has been introduced with the main components including teacher upgrading and deployment, attainment of gender parity, the active promotion of science, technology and research; and mainstreaming of pre-schools into the basic education system.

1.7 Decentralisation
As a sign of government’s commitment to decentralisation, the District Assemblies’ Common Fund which has been pegged at 5 percent of tax revenue since 1993 was increased to 7.5 percent. Twenty-five (25) more districts have been created to facilitate better governance and accelerate the socio economic development of our districts.

1.8 Fair Wages and Salaries Commission
The Fair Wages and Salaries Commission has been constituted to administer a new comprehensive pay structure and ensure equity in the government payroll through a Legislative Instrument (Act 737) which was passed by Parliament this year. Government had earlier removed distortions and corrected placements on the Ghana Universal Salary Structure (GUSS). The reform process is on-going with the obvious challenge of managing labour expectations particularly in an election year.

1.9 National Youth Employment
Seven (7) out of the ten (10) employment modules under the National Youth Employment Programme have been rolled out and are being implemented across the length and breadth of the country. A total of 107,114 youth have been engaged on the seven modules as at August 2007.

1.10 Poverty trends
In April 2007, the Ghana Statistical Service published a book on the pattern and trends of poverty in Ghana from 1991 – 2006, which utilized data from the fifth round of the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS 5). From the data provided, it is evident that poverty has reduced significantly and Ghanaians are obviously better off today than they were seven years ago. The indicators show a downward trend in poverty from 39.5 percent in 1998/1999 to 28.5 percent in 2005/2006. We have halved extreme poverty relative to the 1991/92 levels ahead of the target date for the Poverty Goal under the MDGs.
This achievement did not just happen; it was made possible through the deliberate implementation of coherent and comprehensive policies and reflects the effect of increased government expenditure on poverty-reduction activities.
Poverty-related expenditures increased from GH¢233.9 million in 2002 to GH¢1,237.4 million in 2006, representing 21.67 percent and 34.86 percent respectively of total government expenditure.

1.11 Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Available data up to September 2007 and projections to end 2007 indicate a provisional GDP growth of 6.3 per cent, 0.2 percentage points below the target of 6.5 per cent.
Agriculture sector growth is projected at 4.3 per cent against a target of 6.1 per cent, indicating a projected margin of 1.8 percentage points below the target. This shortfall can be attributed to the erratic rainfall pattern which swept the northern part of the country and a relative decline in the Fishing sub-sector as a result of dwindling fisheries resources.
The Industry sector is projected to grow by 7.4 per cent, a decline from the 2006 growth rates of 9.5 per cent. This is mainly due to the energy crisis.
The Services sector which is not so dependent on electricity is projected to grow at 8.2 per cent exceeding the 6.7 per cent target by 1.5 percentage points. Apart from the Transport, Storage and Communication sub-sector which grew below the 2006 level, the other sub-sectors exceeded the 2006 outturn. The wholesale and retail trade and financial sub-sectors exceeded their targets.

1.12 Inflation
Headline inflation, measured as year-on-year changes in the consumer price index, which began the year at 10.9 per cent, stood at 10.1 per cent at the end of October 2007, after peaking at 11.0 per cent in May 2007.

1.13 Interest Rates
In the money market, interest rates followed a generally downward trend during the period. Deposit Money Banks average deposit rates trended upwards while the average lending rate were generally unchanged, narrowing the interest rate spread. The 91 day Treasury bill and 182 day Treasury bill declined by 53 and 61 basis points to 9.8 per cent and 10.2 per cent respectively. The Bank of Ghana Prime Rate also remained at 12.5 per cent during the first three quarters of 2007.

1.14 Exchange rate Developments
Trends in exchange rate developments indicate that the Ghanaian foreign exchange market has remained stable in 2007, notwithstanding some marginal fluctuations. For the first nine months of 2007, the Ghanaian Cedi lost value to the US Dollar by 2.0 percent, and by 5.4 percent and 9.0 percent to the British Pound and the Euro respectively. In the same period in 2006, the Cedi had depreciated by 0.9 percent against the US Dollar, 9.7 percent against the Pound and 7.9 percent against the Euro.

1.15 Receipts
Provisional fiscal outturn for the period under review indicates that total receipts amounted to GH¢4,254.4 million, representing 30.4 per cent of GDP, compared to an outturn of GH ¢3236.8 million representing 28.2 percent of GDP registered for the same period during 2006. This indicates a 31.4 per cent increase over the outturn for the corresponding period in 2006.
The HIPC and MDRI Initiatives: Total projected HIPC resources for 2007 was about US$236.7million. By end September 2007, an amount of GH¢134.9 million (US$125.1 million) from bilateral and multilateral creditors had been transferred into the HIPC account.
Following the commitment of the three multilateral creditors, namely the World Bank, IMF and the AfDF to the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative(MDRI), an amount of about GH¢203.3 million (US$225.4million) has also been credited to the MDRI account at the Bank of Ghana. IMF relief was front-loaded totaling GH¢164.3 million (US$176.1 million).

1.16 Payments
The provisional fiscal outturn for total payments for the first nine months of the year, comprising statutory and discretionary payments was GH¢4,254.4 million of which GH¢1,232.0 million was allocated for Statutory Payments. This total payments compares to GH¢3,236.8 million recorded for the corresponding period in 2006.

1.17 Overall Budget Balance
For the three quarters of the fiscal year, (January to September 2007), the overall Budget balance showed a deficit of GH¢559.0 million equivalent to 4.0 per cent of GDP compared with a deficit of GH¢522.7 million also equivalent to 4.5 per cent of GDP recorded in the corresponding period of 2006. Without the increased expenditure on energy, some unanticipated, the budget deficit would have been even smaller at 1.6 per cent of GDP.

1.18 Public Debts
The gross public debt (domestic and external) by end September 2007 urged up slightly by about 9 per cent to US$ 6,449.7 million from the end 2006 figure of US$ 5,915.6 million. This is projected to increase to about US$7,237.7 million by end December 2007 with a positive net resource flow including the US$ 750 million borrowing from the international capital market. The stock of debt to GDP is expected to be 48.4 per cent by end December 2007, compared to 50.9 per cent in 2006.

1.19 External Debt
Ghana’s total external debt, including debt owed to the IMF stood at US$ 2,637.0 million by end September, 2007, representing 17.6 per cent of GDP. In terms of creditor category, multilateral debt continues to dominate with about 60.4 per cent of total external debt in spite of the substantial debt relief from MDRI. Bilateral debt constitutes 32.8 per cent with the remaining 6.8 per cent from commercial creditors. The World Bank continues to be the largest creditor, contributing not less than one third of the total external debt.

1.20 Domestic Debt
The marketable debt stock arising from the primary issuance of securities stood at GH¢2347.23 million as at end September 2007. This represents an increase of 64.5 per cent over the end September 2006 stock.
As part of prudent debt management strategy government elongated the maturity profile of outstanding stock by issuing securities of longer maturity. There has been an extension of the yield curve with the issuance of the five-year bond.

1.21 Balance of Payments
The provisional estimate of the balance of payments for the nine months ended September 2007 indicated a deficit position of US $411.0 million, compared with a deficit of US$46.76 million, for the corresponding period of 2006. Projections to the end of the year, taking into account the proceeds from the Sovereign Bonds points to an overall balance of payments surplus of about US$649.24 million.
The current account which consists of the trade and services account, recorded a deficit of US$1,087.06 million for the first nine months of the year, compared with a smaller deficit of US$387.58 million recorded for the corresponding period of 2006.
The Trade Balance which shows the difference between merchandised exports and imports for the period under review showed a deficit of US$2,568.71 million, and is expected to widen further by the end of the year to US$4,010.35 million as a result of the pressure on imports of goods. Total exports amounted to US$3,155.69 million, and imports was US$5724.40 million.

1.22 Gross International Reserves
The Stock of Gross Reserves at the end of the first three quarters of the year was estimated at US$1,812.22 million. This is expected to rise to about US$2,394.26 million by the end of the year.

1.23 Monetary Developments
Credit to the Private Sector: Total Deposit Money Banks’ outstanding credit to the private sector grew by 59.9 per cent (GH¢1,348.5 million) on annual basis in September 2007 up from the 38.9 per cent (GH¢542.1 million) registered during the same period in 2006. In real terms, however, total private sector credit rose by 44.4 per cent, from the 17.9 per cent level achieved in 2006.
Credit to the Public Sector: the annul growth rate of DMB’s outstanding credit to public institutions as at August 2007 went up significantly by 87.3 per cent (GH ¢356.1 million) compared with the 13.3 per cent (GH¢ 47.9 million) increase recorded for the same period of 2006.

2. 2008 TARGETS AND OUTLOOK
2.1 Macro framework and Budget Priorities
The macroeconomic framework for the year 2008 makes the following projections:
• a real GDP growth of at least 7 per cent ;
• an end period inflation rate of between 6 and 8 per cent;
• an average inflation of 7 per cent;
• accumulation of international reserves of the equivalence of at least three months of import cover;
• an overall budget deficit of 4.0 per cent of GDP
In line with GPRS II, government’s priorities for the 2008 budget will focus on facilitating growth and reducing poverty through major infrastructural development.

2.2 Focus of 2008 Budget – Roads, Water and Energy
The focus of the 2008 Budget will be “Growth through massive Infrastructure Development”. The areas identified are roads, water, and energy.

The Road We Must Travel for Brighter Future: In support of GPRS II, Government is taking into consideration the derived objectives of integrating rural and urban economies as well as ensuring lower transport costs through the provision of safe and reliable road infrastructure and services.
Government will fund all 166 districts to construct and tar 15kms of roads in the district over the course of the year. The criteria for selection of the roads will be developed by the end of this year so that implementation of the programme can start at the beginning of 2008.
A projected amount of GH¢199,200,000 is allocated for this initiative. Banks and financial institutions will be encouraged to pre-finance and Government resources will be used to pay as revenue comes in.

In addition, an amount of US$200 million from the US$750 million sovereign bond will be used for the Road sector including the dualisation of the Accra-Kumasi highway. Ninety million US dollars from the sovereign bond has been allocated to build the western corridor of the railway network.
Water for Life, Growth and Brighter Future: The second of the three focus areas of 2008 Budget is to improve infrastructure for water. Five communities in each of the 166 districts will be provided with good drinking water. District Assemblies will select priority towns or villages to benefit from this initiative. The estimated amount for the potable water project is GH¢7,470,000.
Energy for Growth and Brighter Future - Strengthening the Business Environment: Major medium and long term measures have been initiated and 2008 will see to the vigorous implementation of these measures which include:

• Operationalisation of the Osagyefo Power Barge at Effasu;
• Execution of the Bui Hydro Electric Power Project, and
• The Execution of Hemang and Awisam Hydro Electricity Power on the Pra River; Hydro Electric Power on Ankobra River; the Tanoso Hydro Electric Power on the Tano River; and The Juale Hydro River on Oti River.

An amount of US$460 million out of the sovereign bond proceeds will be spent in the energy sector with focus on the transmission and distribution network.
Government will also provide electricity to 5 communities in each of the 166 Districts of the country. The total budget for the electrification project is GH¢613,042,980.
A total amount of GH¢819,712,980 is earmarked for the 3 priority projects in the 166 Districts in 2008. The private sector through Public Private Partnership (PPP) will be invited to collaborate with Government to achieve these goals.

2.3 Cocoa
In the 2008 financial year, cocoa is expected to contribute to increased export earnings and to perform above 600,000 metric tonnes for the 2007/2008 crop season. It is interesting to note that since 2003/2004 when cocoa posted a remarkable output of about 736,000.0 metric tonnes, output has not fallen below 600,000.0 metric tonnes, implying that such record outputs are sustainable.

2.4 Ghana (CAN) 2008
In January the country will host the African Cup of Nations and government is determined to deliver an excellent programme. In that regard, considerable efforts have been made towards the realisation of this agenda. Three out of the four stadia have already been completed; the remaining one is expected to be completed by the end of this month. The necessary infrastructure and logistics have also been provided to ensure a successful tournament.
With the hosting of the CAN 2008 together with the hosting of the UNCTAD Conference in mid-October, we anticipate a high degree of vibrancy in the tourism industry.

2.5 Health
A total of GH¢512.8 million will be allocated to the health sector in 2008. This includes both the GOG and the expected HIPC resources. The target areas in health will include major challenging areas like infant and child mortality.
There has been a shift in the policy orientation of the health sector. Stronger emphasis is being placed on preventive rather than curative health. Another area of focus will be regenerative health through adjustments and changes in the lifestyles of Ghanaians.

2.6 Educational Reforms
Activities in the educational sector towards the implementation of the new educational reforms will be scaled up. The model schools programme will be completed and teacher training facilities will be expanded.

2.7 Oil Management
We are preparing for the establishment of the appropriate regulatory and institutional framework to ensure that we maximise the expected outputs from the discovery of oil.

2.8 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections
The country will be organising its fifth presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008. In connection with that, government has made a budgetary allocation of GH¢36.8 million. Government is cognisant of the challenges of an election year, such as budgetary overruns. We are determined to exercise the necessary fiscal discipline and prudence as we did in 2004 to ensure that we do not derail our hard work and accomplishments of the past seven years.

2.9 Resource Mobilization
The total resource envelope connoted as total receipts for the 2008 fiscal year is projected at GH¢7,107.2 million, equivalent to 43.3 per cent of GDP. Domestic revenue, consisting of tax and non-tax revenue is projected at GH¢4,763.2 million.
Grants from donors are projected at GH¢853.4 million. This is made up of Project and Programme grants of GH¢514.8 million and GH¢201.0 million, respectively. HIPC Assistance from multilateral institutions and, MDRI, are expected to yield GH¢81.9 million and GH¢55.6 million respectively.
Project and Programme Loans are estimated at GH¢485.3 million and GH¢136.2 million, respectively.
Divestiture Receipts are projected at GH¢275.7 million representing 1.7 per cent of GDP.
Exceptional financing made up of HIPC relief from our bilateral partners is projected at GH¢77.5 million.

2.10 Payments
Total payments for 2008 is projected at GH¢7,107.2 million. Out of this amount,
GH¢728.9 million equivalent to 10.0 per cent of GDP is estimated for statutory payments and GH¢5,378.2 million is projected to be used for discretionary payments.

2.11 Overall Budget Balances
The 2008 budget envisages an overall budget deficit equivalent to 4.0 per cent of GDP. The domestic primary balance is expected to be a deficit equivalent to 1.7 per cent of GDP.

2.12 The Fiscal Anchor
The domestic-debt-to GDP ratio continues to be the fiscal anchor, and we will keep monitoring the target to ensure that this remains sustainable over the medium to long term. The net domestic-debt-to GDP ratio is projected to be 8.0 per cent in 2008 declining from a projected 12 per cent in 2007. It is estimated that the gross domestic debt to GDP ratio will go down from the projected 21.2 per cent in 2007 to about 16.0 per cent in 2008.

2.13 Balance of Payments
Projections of the Balance of Payments (BOP) for 2008 indicate a growth rate of 15.9 per cent in exports to a level of about US$4,973.66 million, while imports are projected to grow marginally by about 4.0 per cent to US$8,633.63 million resulting in a projected narrowing of the trade deficit to US$3,659.97 million in 2008.

3. 2008 POLICY INITIATIVES
3.1 Improving Regulatory Structures for Doing Business
An initiative will be launched in 2008 to strengthen the regulatory environment of doing business to promote private sector led growth. Specifically the initiative will focus on simplifying the current regulatory regime applicable in Ghana, reviewing the functions of regulatory agencies to remove overlaps, scale down on the number of regulatory authorities and establish benchmarks for good practices.

3.2 Importation of Incandescent Lamps
To promote efficient use of energy, Government will introduce a legislation seeking to phase out the importation and use of incandescent lamps in Ghana. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) will be the only lamps to be imported into the country to replace the high power consuming incandescent lamps in the system. Furthermore, energy efficiency standards and labels will be developed and introduced to reduce the rate of energy waste through refrigeration.

3.3 Promoting Alternative Energy Sources
The Energy Commission will in 2008 undertake the following activities aimed at ensuring that renewable energy is integrated into the national energy mix. The Commission will:
• Develop and facilitate the passage of a Renewable Energy Law; and
• Develop and enforce standards and codes for renewable energy technologies. This will include standards for bio-fuels, solar lighting and solar water heaters.
To encourage the production of biodiesel, the government will introduce special incentives, including the removal of excise duties, VAT and all local charges on biodiesel for a minimum of 20 years. This will encourage the participation of private entrepreneurs in the energy sector.

3.4 National Transportation Policy
In 2008, Government will adopt an integrated Transport Policy which combines various modes (road, rail, maritime including inland water transport and aviation) of transportation together to achieve maximum benefit for the transportation system.

3.5 Bond Market Development
As part of the objective to develop the long term investor segment of the domestic capital market in order to lengthen the yield curve of Government debt, Government will issue for the first a 10-year domestic bond in 2008.
In addition, Government will rationalise the issuance calendar to achieve issue predictability and to encourage secondary trading between issues.

3.6 National Switch and Biometric Smartcard Project
The Bank of Ghana is establishing a National Switch, the E-ZWICH, to allow the establishment of a common platform for all payments transactions, both on-line and off-line, in the country.
Associated with the E-ZWICH is a biometric smartcard that eliminates the need to have basic literacy and numeracy to operate a bank account since it relies on the identification features of finger prints. The E-ZWICH is a major vehicle for financial inclusion. The smartcard can also be used for payment of wages to workers on the government payroll. The use of the biometric identification system will remove ghost workers on the public payroll.
The National Switch and smartcard project would serve as the vehicle to transform Ghana from a predominantly cash economy to one dominated by electronic transactions using modern state of the art technology.

3.7 Promoting Financial Literacy
Government will in 2008 establish a financial literacy program, anchored by an Annual Financial Literacy Week. The aim is to raise awareness of the range of products and services available to consumers and the rights and obligations of consumers and service providers to help Ghanaians better understand and manage their finances. The proposed Financial Literacy Week will be a cooperative effort of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, regulatory agencies, industry associations and consumer groups.

3.8 Enhancing Access to Agricultural Finance
A number measures will be introduced in the course of the 2008 to address the problem of decreasing flow of credit to the agricultural sector in recent times. These measures will include:
• Tax incentives to financial institutions to increase not only the flow of credit to the sector but also to reduce interest rates on agricultural loans to the 5%-10% range and to lengthen the maturities of term loans to between 5 and years; and
• The development of an agricultural investment Fund/Farm Credit Corporation with 100% agriculture focus to provide a range of financial services such as working capital and term loans, insurance, and leasing.

3.9 Fiscal Responsibility Act
Government intends to introduce a Fiscal Responsibility Act which aims at ensuring better discipline and efficiency at all levels of Government to achieve the following objectives, among others:
1. to set out fiscal targets and fiscal principles for the State;
2. to make it a goal for the Government to pursue its policy objectives in accordance with those fiscal targets and fiscal principles;
3. to provide for reports on departures from those fiscal targets and fiscal principles to be prepared by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning; and
4. to provide for corrective measures when fiscal targets are missed.
3.10 Special Initiative on Sustainable Development of Northern Ghana
The development gap between Northern Ghana and Southern Ghana has been a long historical process dating from the colonial era. The recent floods that affected most of the North have exacerbated the gap.

Government of Ghana is preparing a medium to long-term development strategy that will transform the economy and society of Northern Ghana, in a manner that will ensure effective utilization of the region’s competitive advantages in food production, adding value to agro-processing, boosting private sector confidence and improving incomes and general living conditions.
In the interim, Government has earmarked an amount of GH¢25.0 million as seed money for the establishment of a Northern Ghana Development Fund, and will encourage Development Partners to contribute to the Fund.

3.11 Easing the Burden of Importing Vehicles
In line with Government policy of easing the burden of transportation for Ghanaians, government has since July 2007 established a Committee to review the valuation, depreciation of values and the age penalties of vehicles.
Government will shortly announce new policies for imported vehicle valuation and age penalties that will reflect a significant simplification of the existing regime and ease the financial burden of vehicle acquisition.

3.12 Managing Our Oil Resources
Government will set up a taskforce to prepare a master plan for the emerging oil industry. The taskforce will examine the social and economic implications of Ghana becoming an oil-producing country. The taskforce will in 2008 present proposals that will among others, ensure that oil revenues will be used for economic diversification for the benefit of all Ghanaians, and to minimize the potential social and economic dislocations associated with oil wealth. Additionally, the task force will identify the requisite legal and regulatory framework, as well as the infrastructure and human resource needs of the new sector.

3.13 Establishment of a Stabilisation Fund
The Government will in 2008 design a Stabilization Fund to serve as a measure to insulate the economy from external shocks, specifically the unpredictability of export earnings from our major exports i.e. cocoa, gold, timber, and oil in the near future. The fund will be invested to ensure protection as well as the growth of the Fund.

3.14 Excise Tax on Mobile Phone Airtime
Government has decided to abolish import duty and import VAT on all mobile phones imported into the country and introduced a more effective means of taxing mobile phone usage. Consequently, Government proposes to impose a specific excise duty per minute of airtime use.

3.15 Tax on Stated Capital for Companies
Government will initiate a comprehensive review of the stamp duty of 0.5 per cent on stated capital with a view to eliminating its negative impact on the capitalization of capital.

4. MAJOR CHALLENGES FOR THE 2008 BUDGET

4.1 Maintaining the Macroeconomic Stability
Even though the government has made major strides in maintaining macroeconomic stability, continued efforts are still needed to sustain the stability posed by the following challenges:
• Maintaining debt sustainability as part of debt management strategy;
• Public sector reform and high wage demands; and
• Unpredictability of fuel prices and supply constraints in power.

4.2 Meeting the Millennium Development Goals – Improving under-five Child Mortality Rate
Though Ghana is performing creditably well in most of the MDGs, the target of reducing under-five Child Mortality rate continues to pose a major challenge.
Reduction in poverty levels has been found to have a direct positive impact on reducing under-five mortality rate. Despite Ghana’s success in reducing poverty coupled with a number of interventions (viz NHIS, intensification of immunisation against the five-killer diseases, introduction of insecticide treated nets, etc) believed to impact positively on Child Mortality, progress on this goal has been slow over the past 3 years.
The Ministry of Health has been focusing on these areas to identify the causes of this stagnation to guarantee that appropriate interventions are implemented to ensure that Ghana by 2015 achieves the goal of reducing by two-thirds the under-five mortality rate and maternal mortality.

4.3 Election Year and Fiscal Management
In 2008 the country will be holding its fourth Presidential and Parliamentary elections under the Fourth Republican Constitution.
Election year comes with its own challenges. There are always enormous political pressures on government to undertake developmental projects. However, in the 2004, government was able to break the past record of fiscal slippage in an election year and is resolved to continue to exercise the same discipline and prudence in fiscal management to ensure that the nation does not derail her accomplishments for electoral benefits.

4.4 Towards Fair Wages
The Fair Wages and Salaries reform process is on going and the major challenge is managing labour expectations especially in an election year.
The Fair Wages and Salaries Commission will begin the necessary consultations with key stakeholders and also educate public sector workers, employers association, and organised labour on its recommendations, in order to facilitate the task and implementation of the new conditions of service including pay policy. In the interim, government will ensure that the real income of workers is protected.


Source: MOFEP