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UK Ghana Chamber of Commerce welcomes the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to Ghana

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Chief Executive of the UK Ghana Chamber of Commerce (UKGCC), Tony Burkson has today
welcomed The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to Ghana.
Mr Burkson said: “It is a great honour for me, on behalf of the United Kingdom-Ghana
Chamber of Commerce, to welcome your Royal Highnesses’ The Prince of Wales and the
Duchess of Cornwall to Ghana and to wish you a truly memorable time during your visit.
Ghana and the UK have, for many years, shared a close relationship, and one which we are
very proud to celebrate with your Highnesses’ today.
You come to Ghana at an exciting stage in its history as it grows and develops and looks to play
a major part in a revitalised and reformed Commonwealth, which we know you are very keen
and proud supporter of.
We also know that enterprise, along with the environment and the support of young people, are
areas you are very passionate about. The UKGCC is also very passionate about supporting
enterprise and business initiatives between our two nations and, since our formation two years
ago, we have taken huge strides to promote the interests of UK companies operating in Ghana
and acting as a gateway for Ghanaian companies seeking growth opportunities.”
Their Royal Highnesses will arrive in Ghana on Friday November 2, as part of a historic tour of
three African countries. They will spend four days in Ghana (November 2-6) as part of the visit.

MPs code of conduct to be reviewed …..in a bid to stem allegations of corruption

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The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, (MOPA) Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has disclosed that the leadership  of  Parliament is expected to review the code of conduct of Members of Parliament and also ensure that committee sittings are held in Accra in a bid to address corruption issues facing the legislature.

The first session of the seventh Parliament was riddled with allegations of bribery and corruption among some Committee Members of Parliament was affected the image of the legislature.

The infamous one being, the Member of Parliament for Bawku Central,Mahama Ayariga accusing the Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak of collecting bribe money from the Chairman of the Appointment Committee of Parliament Joe Osei Owusu out of which he distributed ?3,000 each to Minority members on the committee.

He said they collected the monies initially thinking it was a sitting allowance but returned it after they learnt it was a bribe money paid on behalf of Boakye Agyarko to bribe them to approve the Energy Minister nominee at the time.

Subsequently, the Speaker of Parliament, set up committee, led by Joe Ghartey to rule on it, with the accuser made to apologise.

Speaking at a media soiree for members of the Parliamentary press corps, Mr Mensah-Bonsu was asked what his ministry would do to redeem the image of Parliament as far as allegations of corruption was concern in the last Parliament.

He explained that; “Parliament is presently reviewing all code of conduct and also all committee sittings to be held in Accra. These will help us to address corruption issues facing Parliament.”

According to the Minister, the rebirth of MOPA, will help demystify governance and send it to the doorstep of the people.

He also added that the Ministry’s is central to the evolution of the country’s democracy and that their mandate will enhance, hasten and entrench democracy.

“We are encouraging more participation and we will also serve as an interface between the Executive and Parliament.”

Furthermore, MOPA will also coordinate the executive of government business on the floor of the Parliament and also expected to collaborate with the media to inform and serve as a feedback conduit.

Source: Eugene Davis/thebftonline.com/Ghana

September 15, 2017

URL: http://thebftonline.com/politics/26347/mps-code-of-conduct-to-be-reviewed-in-a-bid-to-stem-allegations-of-corruption.html

Minority NDC accuses Speaker of bias

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The conduct of the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, has come under severe criticism, with the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) threatening to initiate impeachment process against him.

In the view of the NDC MPs, the Speaker has since the inception of the 7th Parliament of the 4th Republic, been bias against them, cataloging a number of critical moments where the Rt. Hon. Prof. Oquaye has denied them to either voice out their displeasure or question ministers of state that appear before the legislature to answer to issues relating to their ministry.

“The day before yesterday, when we were doing the motion about the non urgency of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 and the Zongo Development Fund, I stood up and if you noticed, for a long time he refused to call me. What I wanted to say was that the process we were using was wrong. Because the constitution under Article 106 (13) says that it has to be done by a committee but they wanted us to do was to ask the House whether they agree or not. The constitution didn’t say that the House has to decide but rather the Committee that has to do that. So, I decided to draw his attention to that. When that failed, yesterday in the morning, I went to him and when he came I raised these things that Mr. Speaker we are not happy about the way things are going. We argued and ended it and I thought he has taken a cue. Mine was not the first.”

“If you remember it is the same problem when Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader stood up for almost fifteen minutes and the Speaker will not call him. We raised this objection with him in-camera in his holding room. How many times must we remind and I remember in one instance, the Majority Leader, Hon. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had to lead the Minority to talk to the Speaker about our displeasure over the way he is handling our issues. How many times do we have to do that? When we respect the chair and we come to you in your holding room and for the past six months we are just being frustrated.”

“We have used all avenues to address it but it is failing. So we are left with no other option than to vent our anger on the floor. So, you have to understand us. Just yesterday we drew his attention to it and in less than 24 hours, he is repeating it. What else does he want us to do? It is out of respect for the chair that we are not using all those avenues that we have. But if we are pushed to the wall, we will be left with no option than to trigger all the avenues that are available to Members of Parliament – that if the Speaker is not being mindful, we will use any of them. If you look at our Standing Orders, there are many avenues and we will use it. We have the numbers to do whatever that we want to do,” Minority Chief Whip, Hon. Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka noted in an interview with journalists on the sidelines of Thursday’s sitting.

The Minority Chief Whip’s comments were at the backdrop of an incidence that occurred on the floor of Parliament on Thursday, when the Minister for Food and Agriculture appeared before on the floor to answer to some questions relating to the Planting for Food and Jobs campaign.

Getting to the end of the question time, the Speaker of Parliament called on the Minority side of the House if they had any question to ask the Agric Minister.

Hon. Mubarak-Muntaka got up and asked two questions. But just when the Speaker was about to turn to the Majority side of the House, the Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu stood up and as he was about to ask his question, the Speaker intervened and told him that an opportunity was offered to the Minority side which had been utilized by the Minority Chief Whip and that for want time it would be proper for their side to select one person to speak for them next time.

The Speaker however granted Hon Iddrisu the opportunity to ask one question.

But his comments did not go down well with the Minority Leader who argued that he had several questions to ask and if he had been given just one opportunity, then he will no more ask whatever he had planned to ask the Agric minister.

The Speaker then thanked the Agric minister for attending to the House to answer to some questions relating to his ministry. He was then granted the permission to leave.

But Muntaka who was livid about the actions of the Speaker poured out his frustrations insisting that the bias towards them were becoming too much.

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu reacting to the concerns of the Minority NDC MPs said their actions were uncalled for.

He said if they (NDC MPs) had any concern with regards to the conduct of the Speaker, they come with a substantive motion, referencing Order 93(5) of the Standing Orders of Parliament to buttress his point.

Order 93(5) of the Standing Orders of the House states that “The conduct of Mr. Speaker, Members, the Chief Justice and Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature shall not be raised, except upon  a substantive motion, and in any amendment, Question to a Member or remarks in a debate on a motion dealing with any other subject, any reference to the conduct of the person mentioned shall be out of order.”

Source: thebftonline.com/Ghana

URL: http://thebftonline.com/politics/25619/minority-ndc-accuses-speaker-of-bias.html

July 27, 2017

Traders kick against excise stamp policy

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Traders’ associations across the country are up in arms against government over the implementation of an excise stamp policy which they argue will lead to an increase in their operational cost.

Not only are the associations fighting the implementation of the policy, but are accusing the Finance Ministry of not consulting them enough before passing the Excise Tax Stamp Act, 2013 (Act 873).

The controversial Act was passed in 2013 with the aim of applying a special hologram to products that attract excise duty in order to prevent tax evasion.

The policy, which was to begin last year, was suspended when various traders’ associations rejected it and asked the previous government to engage them for their inputs as it contained clauses that will impact negatively on their business.

But, the current government, last week, without recourse to the traders’ associations, launched the policy, which it argues, will ensure tax compliance and help generate more revenue.

The implementation is set to begin with government absolving full cost of affixing the stamps for the first six months, and half of the cost from June to December 2018, and then finally, wean itself off and transfer the full cost to the traders thereafter.

But Benjamin Yeboah, Executive Member of the Ghana Union of Traders Associations told the B&FT they are against the move.

“When we read the Act, we realized that if they had sought our inputs, we will have a more properly crafted Act than it is now. Per the law, we are talking about things like carbonated drinks, tobacco, canned foods, bottled water, non-alcoholic beverages, among others.

Even though there are not many items captured under the Act, it still gives the privilege to the Finance Minister to add on.

“Imagine you are importing those items, once the items get to the port and you have paid the requisite duties, levies, taxes and all that, you still have to move those items to a specified location within the port.  These items will be again offloaded from the container and then the tax stamp affixed on them. Our problem is that who is paying for the stamps?

The Finance Minister has said that they will give the tax free, but it will eventually become the expenses of the importer to pay for those tax stamps.”

Also, Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Samson Asaki, complained about the cost of infrastructure for the policy, saying, it is too expensive to implement by manufacturers and importers.

“We have serious concerns about the excise stamps. In the case of manufacturers, we understand that the cost of acquiring the machines to affix the stamps on the products is about half a million Ghana cedis thereabout. And for importers, there is a hand-held one that we also understand cost US$5,000 thereabout. How can we afford this?

And again, the cost of the tax stamps themselves is a problem. They say it will be free for the first six months, and they will take half after six months, and after a year, they will push it on the importers to bear it. If you [government] wants to collect your revenue, why should the business community bear the cost? You have to bear the cost on your own to get your money. So, we are not against government, we just have concerns,” he said.

Deputy Finance Minister, Kwaku Kwarteng has, however, reiterated that implementing institutions will not hesitate to crack the whip on any business which fails to abide by the directives when the programme is fully rolled out.

Source: Richard Annerquaye Abbey & Obed Attah Yeboah | thebftonline.com

September 7, 2017

URL: http://thebftonline.com/politics/26208/traders-kick-against-excise-stamp-policy.html

 

A strong and stable democracy

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Ghana is considered one of the more stable countries in West Africa since its transition to multi-party democracy in 1992, the country has made major strides towards consolidating its democratic achievements.There have been five free and fair elections in the past 20 years and two peaceful transfers of power, which is enough in itself to attract substantial investor interest

Ghana ranks 26th globally and 2nd in Africa in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index which measures the pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalist in each of the 180 countries in the ranking.The broadcast media in Ghana is the strongest, with radio being the most far reaching medium of communication putting Ghana in an enviable political position and formidable social capital.

Ghana’s governance has received significant progress through the strengthening of its democratic credentials. There are 24 registered political parties in Ghana according to the Electoral Commission. The landscape is dominated however by two parties. The longest traditional democracy in Africa has been practiced by Ghana.

Democratic Role Model

The 1992 constitution mandates a multi-party system of governance with the President as the Head of State. The tenure of the President is limited to a maximum of two terms of four years each. One of the principal attractions of Ghana as an Investment destination is its status as one of the best governed and stable states in the Sub Saharan region.

The Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance which assesses the performance of various countries by measuring the extent to which they meet the expectations of citizens politically, socially and economically has ranked Ghana 7th in the 2016 index.On Safety and Rule of Law, Ghana placed 6th but was ranked 14th, 23rd, 11th and 5th in the sub-categories of Rule of Law, accountability personal safety and national security respectively.

The administrative region of Ghana is divided into 10 regions which are sub divided into Metropolitan and District assemblies. Of the assemblies, 70% is elected by universal suffrage with the remaining 30% based on experience or ability to excel in a particular field.

The independence of the Judiciary has helped strengthened the country’s good governance and reputation and where weaknesses in the system has been identified, the authorities have acted swiftly to remedy these weaknesses.

Unity

The country also has a strong sense of national identity and unity that supersedes other affiliations such as ethnicity and tribe, arising out of an educational system in which people from different backgrounds tend to mix.

While religious sentiment is strong, tensions between various religious groups are low. An estimated 70% of  Ghana’s population is Christian, divided between Pentecostals, Protestants, Catholics and other denominations. About 16% is Muslim and around 9% follow traditional religions.

Source: GIPC Ghana

URL: http://www.gipcghana.com/invest-in-ghana/why-ghana/political-stability.html