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Ghana’s cocoa production has dropped from a record one million tonnes to 820,000 tonnes currently.
Minority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, who revealed this at Pankrono on Friday, said the country’s cocoa sector had been mismanaged, adding that the country failed woefully to sustain the one million tonnes production.
According to him, the sharp decline in cocoa production indicates that the mismanagement of the sector by government.
He said the entire agric sector was struggling lately due to bad leadership.
Additionally, he bemoaned Ghana’s high importation of maize under the present administration.
The Suame MP appealed to the electorate to vote massively for the opposition to make the necessary corrections in the agric sector.
Urging the electorate to shun falsehood being peddled by the government machinery to win cheap votes, he said all sectors of the economy had been mismanaged.
He said such unpleasant situation should be a wake-up call for all Ghanaians to vote out the NDC administration.
The Suame lawmaker said he was not surprised about the seeming collapse of the NHIS programme introduced by the NPP, saying “even they kicked against it in parliament when we brought the idea so if they collapse it now you should not be surprised.”
The Minority Leader said government had intentionally neglected all developmental projects started in the Ashanti region by the previous administration and implored the people of Ashanti region, particularly Kumasi to vote for the NPP.
FROM I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi
To ensure compliance and expand revenue generation from the country’s mining industry, the Ghana Chamber of Mines (GCM), in collaboration with the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC Fund), has developed a workplan to aid the mainstreaming of the small-scale mining sector.
For this reason, a 13-point action plan has been drafted to help address some of the challenges associated with small scale mining in Ghana.
The work plan seeks to back speedy promulgation of the National Mining Policy, decentralization of the licensing of small scale miners, training of illegal miners in a bid to regularize their activities, registering of small scale miners.
At a policy dialogue in Accra, major stakeholders in the mining industry such as the Environment Protection Agency, Minerals Commission, Office of the Stool Lands Administrator and the Water Resources Commission, admitted that it was important to project and encourage best practices by small scale mining sector.
The policy dialogue discussed how to finalize the national policy on mining, which is currently at the cabinet level and highlight small-scale mining as a serious national issue.
Dr. Toni Aubynn, Chief Executive of the GCM said “even though the law mandates legal small scale mining for Ghanaians, the actual fact is that most operators do so illegally.”
He added that the “small-scale mining constitutes a significant portion of our effort to generate employment, therefore the need to regulate the sector to ensure they operate under the approved laws.”
Ambrose Yenneh, Executive Director of International Center for Advocacy and Social Research, who chaired the function, said it was critical to discourage illegal mining.
By October 2013, the Minerals development Fund Bill, which is being considered by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, is expected to be finalized into law.
Mainly stakeholders expect that the bill would ensure the allocation of some resources from the mining royalties to the small-scale mining development fund for the development of mining communities.
They are also proposing the current 20 per cent of the mining royalties, which is returned to mining communities, to be increased to 30 per cent while government keeps the 70 per cent.
By Esther Awuah & Emelia Ennin Abbey
Dr. Prince Koree Osei has his primary education at Ridge Experimental at Akim Oda and St Johns’ Preparatory at Achimota.
He proceeded to the Presbyterian Boys Secondary School (PRESEC), Legon for his secondary education.
He attained a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Ghana, after which he served as a National Service Personnel and later became a Teaching Assistant at the Mathematics Department.
Dr. Osei studied for an MPhil Degree in Mathematics in the University. His MPhil thesis was on ‘Gauge Formulations of Gravity.’ He was later appointed lecturer at the Department of Mathematics, University of Ghana at the beginning of the 2007/2008 academic year.
Dr. Osei registered for PhD in March 2009 with thesis Title: ‘Non-Commutative Structures In Three Dimensional Quantum Gravity,’ co-supervised by Prof Bernd J. Schroers of the Department of Mathematics, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland and Prof. D. A. Akyeampong, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Ghana, Legon.
The programme was partly funded by The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) Sandwich Scheme.
During the period of his study, he visited the Department of Mathematics & International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS), Heriot-Watt University, Scotland, Department Mathematik, Universitt Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMPT), Cambridge, UK, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI), Waterloo, Canada, African Institute for Mathematical Science (AIMS), Cape Town, South Africa, where part of his research work was carried out.
Over the period, he was also invited to many international workshops and colloquia, including that on “Non-Commutative Deformations Of Special Relativity” at the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS), Edinburgh, U.K. in July 2008, the LMS symposium on “Non-Perturbative Techniques in Field Theory”, Durham, U.K. July 2010 and the conference on “Gauge Theory and Complex Geometry”, University of Leeds, U.K. in July 2011.
In June 2011, he was invited to give a talk at the North British Mathematical Physics Seminar 30, organized at the University of York, where he spoke on “Semi-Duality and Quantisation Ambiguities In 3d Gravity,” based on results from his PhD research.
Some of the results from his PhD research have been published in a detailed paper in the Journal of Mathematical Physics, and two other papers are in preparation. These results open a lot of new perspectives concerning quantum gravity and should in particular lead to better understanding of non-commutative structures emerging at the Plank scale.
Congratulations to Dr. Osei for such a momentous achievement.
The Association of Freight Forwarders has expressed concern about the constant disregard of calls by professional bodies for government to reduce bureaucracy at the country’s ports.
This, the association noted, had contributed to the current congestion at the various ports in the country.
The concerns were raised by the President of the association, Carlos Kinsley Ahenkorah at its 16th Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Elmina in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA) Municipality of the Central region over the weekend.
The AGM was on the theme, “Supply chain security: An emerging threat to cost of doing business in Ghana.”
Mr. Ahenkorah disclosed that although government consults the association and other organizations for their professional advice on certain decisions, their inputs were ignored.
“In the past whereas security measures were traditionally implemented to protect trade and cargos, today it is more often the trade and cargo itself that has become a security risk,” he added
The Deputy Commissioner of Customs Exercise and Preventive Services (CEPS), Kwesi Yenserah who represented the commissioner of CEPS, reiterated the commitment of his outfit to protect and ensure security of supply chain.
He appealed to the association to call recalcitrant members to order.
The CEPS boss indicated that the country cannot enjoy adequate peace and tranquility if narcotics and other drug related issues are encouraged.
The Mayor of Sekondi Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) Captain Cudjoe (Rtd), who chaired the function, stressed the need to liaise with the government to ensure that their inputs are incorporated into government policies.
Captain Cudjoe called on stakeholders to come together and form a formidable force that will help them lobby the government.
“One day we will redraw our services for government to know how important our work is, since we have been the backbone of the country’s economy,” he said.
The Mayor, who is also a member of the association, charged the public to discard the notion that Freight Forwarders are criminals.
The function was also used to launch the association’s first magazine.
The president bought the first copy of the magazine for GHC1,000.
From Sarah Owusu-Darlington, Elmina
Former Minister of Finance & Economic Planning, Yaw Osafo-Maafo has disputed claims by the current administration that it has improved the economy and attained single digit inflation.
According to him, the decline in working capital and turnover of businesses and industries as a result of currency instability showed that the economy has not improved since 2009.
Speaking on Angel Fm, a Kumasi-based radio station on Monday, the former Finance Minister raised several questions about Ghana’s economy.
“Between 2004 and 2007 while banks were chasing people to come for credit, the opposite is what is happening because there seems to be no correlation between the government’s single-digit inflation and interest rate.”
“Why is it that people are complaining of hardship in the country and prices of goods in the market keep on going up when inflation has remained single digit for about 30 months?” he quizzed.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo disclosed that an improved economy with single-digit inflation would cause the nation’s currency to stabilize and interest rate to fall since those indicators move hand in hand.
According to the econometrist, since government does not believe in its own interest rate policy, it moved the 91-day Treasury Bill from 10.2 percent in January, this year to 22.95 percent.
“The stability of the Cedi is the worst over a long period in Ghana. President Kufuor left a healthy economy than what it is today,” he declared.
The former minister criticized the Vice President, Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur for stating during the IEA’s debate that “the Cedi always depreciates during election period.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo stated that Vice President Amissah-Arthur demonstrated during the vice-presidential debate that he was not astute while leading the Bank of Ghana aside lying to Ghanaians.
According to the economic guru, the Cedi depreciated only 2.2 percent in 2004 as against the current depreciation of about 25 percent.
“What the Vice President alluded to only happens when they are in power. Single-digit inflation must force interest rate to come down and the Cedi to stabilize. We are not getting this because the figures are incorrect and unreliable,” the Minister pointed out.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo, in November 2001, was named Finance Minister of the year alongside his Canadian counterpart, Paul Martin by the World Economic Forum and Finance Minister of the Year 2001 Africa by the “Banker Magazine,” a Financial Times publication.
From Ernest Kofi Adu, Kumasi
Samuel Adam, Executive Director of Integrity and Excellency International, a management and financial consultancy firm, has called on government to adopt the Tax Credit Scheme (TCS) to facilitate the development of infrastructure in mining communities.
TCS scheme allows government to use Resource Developers as “Contractors” to implement infrastructure projects without appropriation from the Treasury.
Mr. Adam explained that “with the scheme, approved government projects are funded, managed and implemented by the developer and expenditure thereof set-off against tax payable by the developer/company for the year.”
He noted that when adopted the TCS would help address the growing discontent among the youth, chiefs and communities in resource development areas for lack of infrastructure development.
He added “the general perception that the country is not getting its fair share of benefits from the exploitation of its abundant mineral, oil and gas resources would be eliminated if the TCS is effectively adopted.”
Mr. Adam was speaking at the 2nd Mining for Development forum organized by the Ghana Chamber of Mines in Accra on the theme, ‘Mining for Development: Thinking outside the box.’
In his address, Dr. Toni Aubynn, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, stated that the absence of a national mining vision and policy over the years has also contributed to the perception that mining communities are not receiving enough of developmental projects.
He said despite the huge taxes that mining companies pay to government they are committed to ensuring that host communities and the country as a whole benefit from the rich resource.
The mining industry in 2011 contributed about $540 million to the Ghana Revenue Authority, representing 27.61 percent of total Internal Revenue collections in 2011.
According to Dr. Aubynn, the sector voluntary contributed an amount of about $27 million to their communities and the general public.
He indicated that “companies returned about $3.1 billion, representing 75 percent of their mineral revenue through the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Commercial Banks in 2011 against statutory requirement of 25 percent. About 80 per cent of all mineral proceeds are retained by the Central Government and less than 10 per cent goes to mining communities.”
He said mining revenue and royalties go directly into the Consolidated Fund thereby making it difficult to effectively track the revenue.
He therefore called for collaborative effort by stakeholders in the mining industry to ensure that mining projects and developmental programmes are properly communicated to the populace.
By Esther Awuah
The World Bank-led Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) partnership has called on oil producers, both countries and companies, to reduce flaring of natural gas associated with oil production by 30 percent by 2017.
This would reduce flaring from 140 billion cubic metres of gas (bcm) flared in 2011 to 100 bcm by end of 2017, a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to taking 60 million cars off the road.
“A 30% cut in five years is a realistic goal,” said Rachel Kyte, the Bank’s Vice President for Sustainable Development.
“Given the need for energy in so many countries—one in five people on the planet are without electricity—we need to raise our ambition. We simply cannot afford to waste this gas anymore.”
The GGFR partnership has already helped reduce gas flaring by 20% from 172 billion cubic meters in 2005 to 140 bcm in 2011. This cut translates into the prevention of 274 million tons of CO2 emissions roughly equivalent to taking 52 million cars off the road.
Ms. Kyte made her remarks at a Global Forum of 200 representatives of GGFR partners hosted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The Forum aims to review progress since the partnership was launched at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
The GGFR partners have reduced flaring by establishing a global standard for gas flaring reduction, sharing best practices on regulation and technology deployment and identifying and supporting gas utilization projects.
In addition to taking stock of progress, GGFR partners are planning for the next phase of work. They have agreed to deepen their collaboration to reduce gas flaring by working along the whole gas value chain, both upstream and downstream.
GGFR partners will focus on helping countries develop gas infrastructure and gas markets as a way of expanding access to cleaner electricity and cooking fuels.
“To increase flaring reduction, countries and companies need to work together to nurture viable gas markets and build adequate gas infrastructure. Partners can seize business opportunities while reducing emissions and expanding access to modern energy—a key goal of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative,” said Ms Kyte.
The Sustainable Energy for All initiative, launched by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and supported by the World Bank Group, called on governments, businesses and civil society to achieve three goals by 2030, namely universal access to energy, including electricity and clean cooking fuels; double the renewable share of power from 15% to 30% of the global mix and double the energy efficiency improvement rate.
A business desk report
Millison Narh, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) is calling for a new approach in the banking system to develop innovative products and services to meet the specific needs of customers.
He said the move would ensure that banks stay competitive and remain in business.
“The traditional lines of banking businesses are shrinking and diminishing, and banks that do not innovate may face dwindling number of customers and rising operational cost,” Mr. Narh emphasised.
He noted that “when innovation fails, the entire financial system pays the price and the lessons of the global financial crisis are still fresh in our minds.
“It is therefore necessary for bank management to design the necessary control system to measure, mitigate, monitor and manage all inherent risks associated with the innovated products and services.”
Mr. Narh was delivering a keynote address at relaunch of First Atlantic Bank Limited (FABL) in Accra.
He called on banks to invest in technologies that would increase access and lower the cost of use of banks services.
“Increase in the banking population is expected to lower the overall cost of innovations and increase banks’ income as well as reduce the cost of use of banks’ service.”
FABL, one of the few banks that were licensed to operate commercially in Ghana, is now operating under the Class 1 Banking License.
It is expanding its business proposition to incorporate the full suite of commercial banking solutions to enrich its banking experience.
At the relaunch in Accra, Martin Ofori, Acting Managing Director of FABL said “today, FABL, a rebranded offshoot of the old merchant banking concept is launching its new brand on the brink of an outbreak of innovation solutions anchored on technology upgrade and service redefinition.”
He stated that in line with this, the bank is to reposition itself to become a technology providing financial solutions rather than a financial institution using technology to deliver solutions.
“In our bid to facilitate a speedy and convenient service delivery to our customers and enable a stress free banking experience, First Atlantic Bank is upgrading all Information Technology equipment and thus presenting new ideas, mobile and internet focus, flexibility in operations and a strong customer focus in order to make a remarkable difference.”
He emphasised that the bank would build customer trust, provide tailor-made products and services both online and offline.
Odun Odunfa, Director, FABL also stated that “we are preparing internal stakeholders audience to live the new brand by conducting service training, improving our service processes, working on our various product portfolios to make them more enjoyable to our various external customers. We will prepare a new strategic plan for 2013 to ensure that we live up to the new brand promise.”
By Esther Awuah
The National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) has announced new farm gate minimum guaranteed prices for maize, paddy rice and soybeans for the 2012 and 2013 crop seasons.
The prices were determined and approved by NAFCO in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and other relevant stakeholders.
Eric Osei-Owusu, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NAFCO, who announced the new prices at a press briefing in Accra yesterday, said an 85 kilogrammes bag of paddy rice would sell at GH¢50 instead of the GH¢40.00 for the previous season.
He said a 100 kilogrammes bag of rice would go for GH¢60 instead of the GH¢45.00 previously.
Mr Osei-Owusu reiterated that a 100 kilogrammes bag of soybeans would also be sold at GH¢60.00 as compared to last year’s price of GH¢70.00.
Explaining reasons behind the price reduction in soybeans, he said getting a good yield reduces prices and now that farmers are doing things right, the prices would definitely go down.
“We expect that all farmers should do the right thing to get the expected yield so as not to be affected by the reduction of the price. Those who fail to do the right thing are those going to suffer.”
He therefore urged farmers to take advantage of the directive and not sell their produce below those prices to help ensure food security and sustained incomes for farmers.
The CEO of NAFCO also called on farmers to contact his outfit in terms of any clarification and make good use of the various licensed buying companies (LBCs).
“We want the farmers to abide by the directives to prevent undercutting of food prices from the farm gates, which could make them record losses,” he explained.
He indicated that the minimum guaranteed prices would help farmers to sustain prices.
By Stella Danso Addai
The implementation of the tourism development levy has commenced in the Greater Accra region.
The levy is sanctioned by an Act of Parliament that compels private tourism sector operators in the country to pay a monthly tax of 1 percent to the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) for tourism development.
Akua Sena Dansua, Minister of Tourism, commenting on the levy, said the levy was not the solution to all challenges facing the sector.
She said it would help develop the sector and advised operators in the industry to team up to ensure that the levy worked for their mutual benefit.
She however warned that any tourism operator who refused to comply with the law would be liable to summary conviction of a fine of not less than 500 penalty units.
Ghana ranked 108th in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index in 2011 in the area of tourism development and placed 10th in Africa.
She explained that the global tourism market was increasingly expanding, adding that it was imperative that any country desiring to compete in the market should improve its legislation, policies, infrastructure and quality of service.
Ms Dansua emphasized that the critical role of tourism in national development in terms of jobs and wealth creation could not be underestimated.
Available statistics from the GTA showed that tourism arrivals and receipts doubled between 2005 and 2010 growing at double digit yearly over the period.
The number of hotels, she stated, increased by 34 per cent within the same period on the supply side while average room size per hotel increased from 14 to almost 16.
According to Abraham Otabil, Public Relations Officer at the Ministry, “The accounts have been opened so we will send the account together with the invoices to the Greater Accra office to be distributed to the hotels until they receive certificates. Without the certificate numbers, they cannot pay the levy.”
By the foregoing, any patron of hotel services in the country will be paying 1 percent on anything they buy or any service they enjoy there. “They will be given an invoice indicating the levy.”
At the end of the one month collection period, the hotels will submit their returns.
Mr Otabil stated that the collection of the levy would be different from VAT.
“We have also given out the booklets for our invoices. Proceeds from the Tourism development Levy will be channeled into the tourism development fund.”
By Samuel Boadi