Ghana adopts Food Safety Master Plan to address food safety challenges


Ghana, through the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and national stakeholders in the food value chain, has adopted a Food Safety Master Plan to address food safety challenges and improve food control systems in the country.

The five-year Master Plan was developed by the FDA together with a constituted national food safety stakeholder committee with support from the African Union Commission to address gaps in the country’s food safety control systems.

This was developed based on a self-assessment of the food control system of the country to identify gaps and develop home-grown recommendations to improve the nation’s food sector.

Mr Roderick Daddey-Adjei, Deputy CEO of FDA in charge of Food Registration, said the plan showed the direction in which food safety and control systems should be pursued in the next five years with specific objectives and expected results.

‘It is also a practical document that would guide stakeholders on how to translate the plan into action with sections on implementation, including
details on activities to address strategic priorities, cost estimates, and roles of key players,’ he said.

Mr Daddey-Adjei said the plan would serve as a blueprint to guide stakeholders from time to time to ensure that foods produced and consumed were safe.

He added that they would be constituting a steering committee that would be championing the implementation and rollout of the plan in collaboration with all other relevant stakeholders.

Mr Daddey-Adjei said the major challenges with food safety identified were the lack of education and knowledge on the proper handling and safekeeping of foods.

He added that the FDA would be engaging in a routine sensitisation with food handlers, especially food vendors, on the right ways to keep and handle food.

Dr Rose Omari, National Consultant in the development of the plan, said there were weak legal and institutional frameworks challenges to food safety and control systems that needed to be addressed.

She said there were overlaps in institutional mandates and a
poorly coordinated institutional framework

Dr Omari, who is also Deputy Director, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (CSIR-STEPRI), therefore proposed that institutional mandates should be clearly defined and their coordination strengthened.

She said the plan had proposed a review of the Public Health Act to make room for the inclusion of a rapid alert system to bind institutions to respond quickly to food safety concerns.

‘The Public Health Act does not make provision for a rapid alert system and emergency preparedness and response. So we are proposing a revision of the Act to incorporate a rapid alert system and emergency preparedness and response,’ she said.

Dr Omari said food safety was everyone’s responsibility, adding that it was everyone’s role to ensure that food produced and consumed was safe and free from contamination.

Madam Winta Sintayehu, Senior Programme Officer, Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa, African Union Commissi
on, said Ghana’s master plan formed part of a continental African Food Safety Agenda they were enrolling in 12 African countries.

He said every year, millions of dollars were lost to food safety challenges, saying, this had become necessary for the Commission to support countries to build regulatory and infrastructural frameworks to address food challenges.

‘This would go a long way to achieve food safety and trade safe food across the continent and ensure the availability of safe and improved food for the citizenry,’ she added.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Amin Adam kicks against Africa’s heavy investment in foreign lands


Ghana’s Finance Minister, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, has kicked against African governments investing significantly in foreign financial institutions using money earned from its most resource-rich sectors.

Rather, he called for the establishment of Regional Funds to draw financial resources for infrastructure development to propel intra-Africa trade, and help solve the recurring economic crisis on the continent.

The Minister, while indicating that the country had enough resources, bemoaned the rate at which many countries saved money in international financial institutions, depriving the continent of needed funds for development.

He was speaking with the media on the margins of the just ended 2024 African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings in Nairobi, Kenya.

‘Some of our African countries are holding our reserves in international banks; Ghana’s Petroleum Holding Funds are invested in US bonds, Nigeria is keeping their oil money in foreign accounts, but why?’ he quizzed.

‘We need to create regional Funds
, so that beyond the African Development Fund and what we get from the international financial world, we also pull resources to together to set up Regional Funds,’ he said.

The Regional Funds, he said, could be sector-specific, like having an African Fund for Energy Development, which would draw resources, including pension funds, to support direct investment in infrastructure.

That, Dr Amin Adam, said would significantly improve the weaknesses in infrastructure and connectivity and catapult the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Reflecting on the state of trade on the continent, he stated that there was room to improve on intra-continental trade, which figures from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) implementation is estimated at 15 per cent of global trade.

In the energy sector, for example, he said those funds could be used to develop the energy pools by connecting the West, East and Central African power pools, to make power cheaper and available to peopl
e and businesses.

‘It doesn’t make sense when Ghana has 90 per cent access to electricity and the next-door neighbour has 30 per cent, Ghana’s Finance Minister said, and called for a swift change in that regard.

While indicating that there was the need to trade petroleum products within the continent, he asked, ‘how do trade in petroleum products if you don’t have the ports?’

He called on African governments to deepen collaborations to develop ports, roads, railway infrastructure, focused on interconnectedness, saying, ‘that’s how we can boost trade amongst ourselves.’

In 2007, the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) was launched in Accra, Ghana during a summit by the African Union to mobilise resources to finance the continent’s infrastructure development.

The latest on the PAIDF as cited on the website of the African Development Bank, only provides information on the nature of the Fund.

It states that the Fund would have a 15-year life, with investment period of eight years from the da
te of the launch, and a seven-year time horizon per investment to build, develop, and grow each investment before exit.

It noted that the regional investment would be in securities of companies that own, control, operate of manage infrastructure, and infrastructure-related assets, and may also participate in joint ventures with corporate and government partners.

Source: Ghana News Agency

DDEP impacts BOG as bank seeks early recapitalisation-Report


The Bank of Ghana has been impacted by the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) as it seeks recapitalization from development partners, a report disclosed.

The BOG, in its 2023 annual financial report, disclosed that DDEP had affected its balance sheet.?

Thus, the bank had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to secure early recapitalization in the medium-to-long term.

This, according to the report, was within the context of the second review of the ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, which concluded on April 12, 2024.?

The report said a Memorandum of Understanding between the Bank of Ghana and the Ministry of Finance on how the recapitalization is to be executed is expected to be signed by the end of the third quarter.?

The report also noted a number of growing concerns for the Central Bank, which included a loss of GHS10.50 billion for 2023 as the total liabilities of the bank and its subsidiaries exceeded its total assets by GHS65.36 billion.?

To avert these losses, the repo
rt also disclosed a number of measures the bank will undertake.?

The measures include ‘refraining from monetary financing of the government’s budget. In this regard, the Bank will continue to adhere to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding on zero financing of the budget signed between the Bank of Ghana and the Ministry of Finance on April 26, 2023.

The bank will continue with policy measures aimed at optimising the Bank of Ghana’s investment portfolio and operating cost mix to bolster efficiency and profitability.’

The report also disclosed that the board of the bank expected that steadfast implementation of these policy steps, along with fiscal rectitude and continued maintenance of a tight monetary policy stance, would provide enough basis for continued operational policy efficiency and the existence of the bank.?

Source: Ghana News Agency

First two-lane carriageway of Adentan-Dodowa dualisation to be ready by November-Contractor


The contractor working on the dualisation of the 22km Adentan-Dodowa road has given November this year for the completion of the first two-lane carriageway.

That will ease traffic on the stretch.

Work on the US$ 114,673,200 project officially commenced in April this year.

Briefing Mr Francis Asenso-Boakye, Minister of Roads and Highways, during an inspection tour , Mr Rosby Kobby Mensah, Project Director for Oswald Investments Limited, the contractor working on the project, said a substantial work on the first phase of the project was almost complete.

He said the clearing, removal and demolition of temporary structures and trees on the right-of-way had been concluded.

Additionally, excavation and replacement of bad soils, expansion of culverts and replacements, construction of roadside drains and earthworks, he said, had either been completed or ongoing

Mr Mensah said considering the level of work done within the past seven weeks, he was optimistic that by November this year the first carriageway would
be ready and opened to traffic.

‘We are showing commitment and I can assure you that by November one carriageway is done, asphalted. We can do it, it’s achievable, we work day and night so we can achieve it,’ he said.

The inspection formed part of the Minister’s nationwide tour, to obtain first-hand information on the conditions of roads in the country, as well as progress of work on some ongoing projects.

He was accompanied by Mr Titus Glover, the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Mr Abass Awolu, Chief Director of the Ministry of Roads and Highways, Madam Adwoa Duku, Regional Director, Urban Roads, as well as directors and engineers of the Ghana Highway Authority and the Ministry, among others.

Funded by the Government of Ghana (GoG), the project when completed would provide adequate linkages between Adentan, Dodowa and Kpong and to neighbouring regional capitals such as Koforidua and Ho.

The scope of the project is the design and construction of the 22km Adenta Dodowa road section of the R40 that starts
from the junction at Adentan on the National Route 4 (N4) to the town of Dodowa.

It includes two-lane service roads of about 14km on both sides of the road; pedestrian bridges or underpasses; provision of streetlights; and toll booths.

Mr Mensah added that 7km of road had, so far, been done while seven out of 39 culverts are expected to be constructed had also been completed.

Mr Asenso-Boakye said the project was critical to government as its competition would bring relief to many Ghanaians who plied the road.

He expressed satisfaction over the progress of work and commended the contractor for the work it had accomplished with the past seven weeks.

‘So far he’s done about 7km and he’s done seven major culverts with the view to improving the drainage challenges in the area. I’m very satisfied with the work and I have been assured that by November, a substantial part of the work will be completed and it will be opened to traffic,’ he added.

The Minister also inspected Three Junction to Kojo Ashong road, t
he dilapidated Kojo Ashong bridge in Amasaman in the Ga West Municipality, the partial reconstruction of the Abokobi-Teiman road, rehabilitation of the Kwabenya roundabout-Taifa roads and the School Junction-Motorway project at Borteyman, in the Ga East Municipality, and the Dome-Kitase road.

On the Three Junction to Kojo Ashong road, Mr Asenso-Boakye, said the stretch was awarded on contract sometime ago but due to unforeseen challenges, it was abandoned.

He said the ministry would take an immediate step to terminate the initial contract and re-award it for work to begin.

‘We will terminate that contract, repackage it and re-scope the project and give it to a new contractor,’ he emphasised.

Regarding the dilapidated Kojo Ashong bridge, the Minister said he had instructed the Bridge Maintenance Unit of the Ghana Highway Authority to assess the extent of damage for the necessary intervention to be made.

The bridge serves as a linkage between Amansaman, Domeabra and Kasoa.

On the 23km Dome-Kitase road pro
ject, Mr Asenso-Boakye said work on the project had not been affected despite government’s debt exchange programme.

However, he explained that with government about to conclude negotiations with the Paris Club and the International Monetary Fund, all resources would be mobilised to ensure timely completion of the project.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Finance Minister pushes for friendlier tax systems in Africa


Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, Ghana’s Finance Minister, has called on African governments to reform tax systems to make payment simple and fast, and friendlier to businesses and individuals.

That, the Minister said would engender compliance, increase domestic revenue, and reduce the continent’s heavy reliance on expensive international loans to finance the continent’s development.

According to the World Bank, low-income countries, including those in Africa face an estimated annual financing gap of half a trillion dollars to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

However, in most Sub-Saharan Africa economies taxes collected amount to less than 15 per cent tax-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which the World Bank says is barely enough to carry out basic state functions.

During an interview on the margins of the just ended 2024 African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings in Nairobi, Kenya, Dr Amin Adam said, ‘we must reform our tax system to become fairer, and treat the taxpayer well.’

‘I’m
not saying we should overtax our people, but ensure that we bring efficiency to bear on our revenue collection and tax system… and have a system that is friendly to taxpayers and simple,’ he said.

While calling for incentives to make people pay taxes, Dr Amin Adam urged taxpayers to be honest with their payment, explaining that the frequent audit and ‘harassment,’ resulted from tax avoidance and the non-disclosure of income.

‘We must make sure that we bring in the informal sector because a few people are paying the taxes, therefore, if we expand the tax net and bring in more people,’ the Minister said.

That, he said would not only reduce the burden on the few who paid taxes, but also expand the continent’s tax base to generate more revenue ‘to support our own development.’

He also called for continuous education and sentitisation of the people on the need to pay taxes, and leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital solutions to improve efficiency to make people spend less time to collect and pay ta
xes.

‘More importantly, we must spend the tax money prudently in areas that can generate more money so that we have value for money,’ Dr Amin Adam said.

Meanwhile, Ghana, last month, instituted a monthly stakeholder engagement initiative with the Diplomatic Corps as well as the trade in business community to that effect.

The engagement is to discuss, find and implement solutions to make taxes friendlier, ease the business climate, and track the progress made with solutions on the ease of doing business and increasing domestic revenue mobilisation.

The government has also echoed its commitment not to overburden taxpayers, but, use effective means to collect revenue from those who evade taxes, while making tax payment easy and fast.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Ghana pushes for international financial system to protect vulnerable nations


Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has addressed a forum of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Antigua and, alongside several leaders, advocated strongly for change to the structure of the international financial system to protect vulnerable nations.

‘Ghana is committed to the fight of the SIDS because it is right, it is necessary, and because we have the moral duty to do so,’ Ms. Botchwey told the gathering which included UN Secretary-General Antonio Guttierez, and leaders from all over the world.

‘Ghana urges support for the 2022 Bridgetown Initiative for the Reform of the Global Financial Architecture,’ said Ms. Botchwey, referring to a global financial policy reform proposal initiated by Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados whose capital city the idea is named after.

There are 39 countries categorized under SIDS, with 18 associate members. They constitute one percent of the global population, but are at the receiving end of disproportionate battering by climate disasters and stark eonom
ic conditions, due to their geographical remoteness, small populations, land size, and their citizens’ dependence on the ocean for their livelihoods.

Ms. Botchwey said: ‘Apart from the vulnerabilities we share as a result of climate change, and the solidarity we feel for the SIDS as the most impacted, we are in this together. The success of SIDS would be the success of the entire globe. We are committed to their fight for resilience.’

SIDS were recognised as a special case both for their environment and development at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil 32 years ago.

‘SIDS face high import and export costs for goods and irregular international traffic volumes. Yet, they must rely on external markets for many goods due to the narrow resource base,’ a UN office, dedicated to SIDS, Landlocked and Least Developing countries, explains on its website.

The Bridgetown Initiative suggests a desperate and widely-acknowledged need for adequate funding for climate action, which would simultaneo
usly close the large infrastructural gaps that plague low- and middle-income countries, in order to achieve a more equitable and sustainable future for all.

Ms. Mottley, who commands rock-star status at international public forums, agreed with Ms. Botchwey, saying: ‘We must build a more responsive, fairer and more inclusive global financial system, and we must do so with pace and with scope. Speed and scope are what is missing.’

She said Ghana was in support of the call for debt relief by creditor countries and increased concessional finance and investment in SIDS.

Ms. Botchwey reminded her audience that a large number of SIDS were linked by blood with Africa including, in particular, those in the Caribbean, which has been categorized by the African Union (AU) as one of its six regions.

Ghana was heartened by the significant deepening of partnerships with the Caribbean, including through bilateral trade and investment agreements, technical cooperation and exchange of best practices and membership of the A
frican Development Bank (AfDB) and Afreximbank, she said.

The key policy lesson from recent records of how the most vulnerable countries had performed is that ‘business as usual is no longer a viable option,’ Ms. Botchwey said.

‘Continuing to apply the past models of development will not usher in the achievement of new outcomes. Building the economic resilience of developing countries, and SIDS in particular, is the imperative of our time.’

Ghana also chairs the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), comprising 68 of the most climate-vulnerable countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific.

In April, VCF Finance Ministers meeting on the sidelines of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual Spring Meetings in Washington, DC., also called for major reforms to the international financial system to allow developing countries to access the finances needed to enable them meet climate goals.

A communique issued at the end of that meeting said high levels of external sovereign deb
t and debt service were crowding out the ability of governments to make the investments required to achieve their climate change and development goals.

Ms. Botchwey expressed condolences on behalf of Ghana to Papua New Guinea, following a landslide that killed and displaced thousands of people.

She also held bilateral meetings with several leaders and Ministers, including from Mauritius, Maldives,Nauru, Tsonga, Tuvalu and Antigua.

Ms. Botchwey, one of Africa’s top diplomats, is candidate for Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations.

The organisation, with 56 coutries, a population of 2.6 billion and combined annual GDP of $13 trillion dollars, will choose a new leader in October. Thirty-three of its members are small states, including 25 SIDS.

Source: Ghana News Agency

THP-GHANA inaugurates Vocational centre to empower teenage mothers


The Hunger Project-Ghana (THP) has inaugurated a Vocational Training Centre at the Supriso epicentre, near Suhum in the Eastern Region, to train and empower school dropout girls.

The three-year project funded by THP-Switzerland is to improve the livelihoods of 10 school dropout girls in the area through the Vocational Training skills.

Dr Kofi Essien, who spoke on behalf of the Country Director of THP-GHANA, said the objective was to ensure that the lives of the beneficiaries were enhanced to be able to contribute to community and national development.

He admonished them to embrace the training as a game changer in their lives and take the training seriously to improving on their living standards.

Mr Dennis Kumi, Head of Business Resource Centre at the Suhum Municipal Assembly, indicated that similar government project to empower the youth especially drop out school girls was ongoing and commended THP for complementing governments efforts in that direction.

He said the Assembly would collaborate with the
Hunger Project to enrol the beneficiaries on the National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) examinations for certification as part of the training to enhance their skills acquisition.

Mrs Patricia Osei Amponsah, Focal Person for Gender and Child Protection of The Hunger Project-Ghana (THP) said the training was fully sponsored to ensure beneficiaries had a successful training.

The sponsorship includes provision of equipment such as sewing and knitting machines, all materials for practicals including sewing threads, needles, and daily stipend for each of the 10 beneficiaries.

These provisions have been made to remove all impediments on the way of these young girls reaching the goals of this project which sought to change the living conditions of rural communities.

The Hunger Project-Ghana is a not-for-profit organisation focused on women and children’s welfare by empowering rural communities through the Epicentre strategy.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Amnesty International launches report on human rights in Ghana


Amnesty International (AI) Ghana has called on the government to look at human right violations that occurred in 2023 and address them accordingly.

They included women’s and girls’ right, LGBTI people’s right, freedom of expression and assembly, right to health, death penalty and executions and the right to a healthy environment.

Launching its 2023/24 human right report in Accra on the theme, ‘State of the World’s Human Rights,’Ms. Genevieve Partington, Country Director of AI Ghana said in December 2023, Ghana recorded a total of 187 persons on death row and since 1993 there had not been execution but there was the need to completely abolish the death penalty.

She said in July 2023, Parliament voted in favour of the amendment of two acts that would ensure abolition of the death penalty, more than 95% of persons on death row were for murder cases.

Ms. Partington said the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly continued to be threatened, and authorities used excessive force to disperse protes
ts.

For instance, four years after the murder of Ghanaian investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale, the investigation was ongoing and no one had been brought to justice.’

Adding that, ‘in April this year, a coalition of media associations asked for a repeal of Section 76 of the Electronic Communications Act and Section 208 of the Criminal and Other Offences Act, arguing that these laws had been ‘weaponized’ to arrest several journalists and restrict the right to freedom of expression.’

She said the right to health were limited in the country, ‘in February, Ghana Health Service revealed that 27 pregnant women in Bawku municipality had died between 2021 and 2022 due to their inability to access medical services.’

‘While some were unable to get to the hospital on time, others died due to staff shortages.’

Mr. George A. B. Aggrey Former Board Chair said Ghana had a lot to do regarding fighting for the rights of every individual regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc.

He called on the Presi
dent of Ghana to act on areas, highlighted in the report:

He said regarding women’s rights, the government should ensure strict enforcement of existing laws against Female Genital Mutilation, with a focus on protecting vulnerable girls and prosecuting offenders.

‘Address procedural issues promptly and sign the Anti-Witchcraft Bill into law to criminalize accusations of witchcraft, providing protection and justice for accused individuals.’

‘Prioritize and expedite the legislative process to pass the Affirmative Action Bill aimed at increasing women’s participation in governance and decision making at all levels.’

‘Remove import taxes on menstrual hygiene products and make potable water accessible, likewise sanitation, and hygiene facilities.’

On freedom of expression, he said government must expedite the investigation into the murder of Ahmed Hussein-Suale, dedicating sufficient resources and expertise to resolve the case.

He said the government must uphold the constitutional rights to peaceful assembly
and protest ensuring that law enforcement agencies facilitated and protected these rights, rather than suppressing them.

On the right to good health he said the government needed to address barriers to health care, particularly for pregnant women by allocating resources and funding to improve healthcare infrastructure in rural areas, ensuring that pregnant women had access to essential medical services and facilities.

Source: Ghana News Agency