Mahama pays courtesy call on Khalifa of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in London

Former President John Dramani Mahama, flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), during his recent visit to London, paid a courtesy call on the Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad.

The former President in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency said: ‘We had a wonderful conversation, and he fondly reminisced on his time living in Ghana’.

He noted that Khalifa Ahmad also offered prayers for peaceful and successful elections in December.

‘I am grateful for his kind words and blessings. Let’s all work towards a peaceful and united Ghana,’ Mr Mahama stated.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Ablakwa petitions CHRAJ to investigate sale of SSNIT’s hotels to Rock City Hotel Limited

Mr Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, National Democratic Congress (NDC), Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, has petitioned the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate and stop the sale of Social Security and National Insurance Trust’s (SSNIT) six hotels to Rock City Hotel Limited.

Mr Ablakwa, who made this known on Friday at a press conference at Parliament House in Accra, indicated that intercepted documents in his possession confirmed that SSNIT was far advanced in selling a controlling 60 per cent stake in six of its hotels to Rock City Hotel Limited owned by Mr Bryan Acheampong, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Abetifi and Minister of Food and Agriculture.

He reiterated that Mr Acheampong was a Director and the sole beneficial owner of Rock City Hotel Limited.

According to Mr Ablakwa the six SSNIT hotels being sold were Labadi Beach Hotel, La Palm Royal Beach Resort, Elmina Beach Resort, Ridge Royal Hotel, Busua Beach Resort and Trust Lodge Hotel.

The North Ton
gu Lawmaker noted that he was inviting CHRAJ to investigate grave matters bothering on conflict of interest, abuse of power, lack of due process, procurement breaches, cronyism, and graft.

He said he had also drawn attention to blatant violations of Article 78(3) and 98(2) of the 1992 Constitution as diligent checks from Parliament’s Committee on Office of Profit revealed that Mr Acheampong had not applied and did not have the permission of the Speaker of Parliament to hold an office of profit.

He said 16 years ago, he and Dr Omane Boamah dragged the late Mr Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, who was then a Minister of State, to court over attempts to buy his official bungalow; saying ‘I have always maintained that it is wrong, unethical and reprehensible for public officials, particularly, Ministers of State to participate in the purchase of state assets. It is a matter of principle.’

He mentioned that a number of these SSNIT hotels were very profitable and one wondered the rationale for the sale.

Mr Ablakwa cited t
he Labadi Beach Hotel was one of the viable state hotels, which had been paying dividends to the Government.

He said the Minority in Parliament was going to follow up on the petition to its logical conclusion.

He urged CHRAJ to be bold and fearless and carry out their investigations according to their constitutional mandate in a very timely order, adding that because time is of essence because they (SSNIT) had given the minority shareholders at Ridge Royal Hotel 45 days, which had elapsed.

He appealed to CHRAJ to save these six state hotels and the Ghanaian workers.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Parliament approves 24 Ministerial Nominees despite Minority boycott

Parliament has approved 24 Ministerial Nominees of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo despite a boycott by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentary Minority.

Prior to the Minority boycott of the approval of the Ministerial Nominees, Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, the Minority Leader, informed the House that his side did not support the approval of the Ministers Designate because of the difficult times the country had gone through and continue to go through, including crippling employment crisis, food insecurity and dumsor (eratic power outages) and debt crisis as a result of reckless borrowing by the Government to finance construction.

‘Mr Speaker, ordinary Ghanaians continue to bite the bullet and businesses are suffering under high tax regime, and a high inflation. Mr Speaker, and again slide depreciation currency,’ he said.

‘Mr Speaker, in times like this, we expect the Government to signal to the people of Ghana and the investment community that the Government is ready and willing to do thi
ngs differently restore the needed confidence in our economy.

‘Right Honourable Speaker, it cannot be the case that while the Government asked the people of Ghana to tighten their belts, this Government will rather lose their belt.

‘Mr Speaker, merely piling up Ministers and Deputy Ministers does not signal to the people of Ghana that the President understands the seriousness of mess that has been created in this administration.’

He said there was the need for the President to down size his Government to signal to the people of Ghana that he cared and that the Government was ready to reverse some of the economic losses.

Mr Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin, the Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business, said the NDC Minority was part of the approval process of the Ministerial Nominees at the Committee level and that the Committee’s report for the approval of the Ministers, which has been laid before the House was by consensus.

‘Mr Speaker, only for them to make a last minute turn to say that they d
on’t want to be part of this, hence the report should be amended to reflect the majority decision. Mr Speaker, that is their right, we’ve granted them. But Mr Speaker, that does not stop, Government from conducting the business of Government and for us to approve these Ministers for them to mount the various Ministries to deliver what is expected of them for the benefit of the people of Ghana.’

Speaker Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, who congratulated the Ministers Designate on their approval by the House, reminded them that they were both accountable to the President and Parliament.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Parliament approves $150 million additional loan for Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development Project

Parliament has by majority voice votes approved the Additional Financing Agreement between the Government and the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group for an amount of $150 million.

This is to finance the Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development (GARID) Project.

The approval came amid strong opposition from the Minority.

The facility is for the construction of storm drains within the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) as part of efforts by the Government to address the perennial flooding situation in the nation’s capital, Accra.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentary Minority, which voted against the approval of the facility said they had concerns about the application and utilisation of the mother loan facility of $200 million so far allocated to the same Project.

They claimed that out of the $200m approved, only about $65 million had been awarded on contract for works, and only $8 million disbursed in these works out of a draw of $127m.

therefore, took the position that the solution is not extra resources but the accelerated implementation of works and speeding up of disbursement of the project funds to warrant the approval of additional funds for the project.

Mr Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng, Chairman Finance Committee of Parliament and New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Obuasi West, in his report to the House noted that in the aftermath of the June 3, 2015 floods in Accra, there was renewed commitment by the Government and all key stakeholders to prioritise issues that were crucial for resilient urban development and flood mitigation.

He said the commitment to reduce the vulnerability of people, livelihoods, property and the economy at large to flood related risks led to the development of the Greater Accra Spatial Development Framework (2017-2037) and the City Strength Diagnosis (2017).

He reiterated that the flooding in the Greater Accra Region (GAR) was usually severe along the Odaw River Basin due to the impact of Clim
ate Change, poor solid waste management, informal settlements and low income communities along the banks of the Odaw Raver.

He said the flooding situation along the Odaw River Basin was exacerbated by Weak Integrated Planning and Coordination among Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the project area.

‘To address these challenges, the Government of Ghana, among other interventions, initiated the GARID Project in 2020 with a financing of $200 million from the Bank,’ he explained.

‘However, in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, an amount of $65 million was reallocated to finance COVID related expenses.

‘Additionally, the original financing does not include compensation for affected persons.’

Mr Kwarteng said this additional financing had, therefore, become necessary to reinsure the $65 million and to make funds available for the payment of compensation to the affected persons.

The Chairman said by a majority decision, therefore, the Committee, having examined the financing agreemen
t for the GARID Project, recommended to the House to adopt its report and approve the Additional Financing Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the IDA of the World Bank Group for an amount of $150 million to finance the GARID Project in accordance with Article 181 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

The Minority also stated that the refund of $65 million re-allocated from the project to support COVID-19, if refunded by the Government, would augment the resources to the project, and should be prioritised.

The NDC Minority, however, expressed their concerns about the extent of borrowing by the Government, saying that the Government should rather deepen measures to maximise domestic revenue.

They strongly objected the approval of many the tax exemption applications before Parliament, which they cited as as avenues from which domestic revenue could be mobilised.

Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah, a Member of the Works and Housing Committee of Parliament and NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for Ho West, in his s
ubmission said a visit by his side of the Committee to the project areas indicated that one of them was at 25 per cent completion stage, while another was at 20 per cent.

The project development was initiated in 2020.

He said for two years now the Odaw drain had not been desilted, adding that on their way to the Project site at Nima, they called the contractor on phone, and that the contractor, who had already been paid $2 million for mobilisation, had informed them that he was yet to move to site and that he (the contractor) did not know the Project site.

Mr Bedzrah, therefore, urged the House to conduct a forensic audit of the Project to ensure value for money.

Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, the Minister of Finance, in his remarks, noted that the Government would address the concerns raised by the NDC Minority.

He said, he would be providing the House with an update report on the state of the project within two months.

Source: Ghana News Agency

A new constitution needed to fight corruption – Dr Nii Amu Darko

Dr Nii Amu Darko, the presidential aspirant of the First Alliance of Independent Reformers (FAIR) in the upcoming 2024 elections, has suggested a new constitution to limit the appointing powers of the President.

He said the move would help eradicate and reduce corruption within the country’s governance system.

‘When you have a constitution that gives unlimited power to the president it gives room for corruption and Ghanaians should not deceive themselves because bad company ruins good morals,’ he stated in an interview with the Ghana News Agency.

The president appoints ministers, supreme court judges and other heads of institutions and until that was changed the country would not make progress.

‘So, now if the president lost a critical case at the Supreme Court, he could appoint more persons to review the case in his favour. So, that is where the problem is. We need a new constitution to cure the immorality in the system,’ Dr Nii Darko, who is also the President of the African Reform Movement, said.

He s
aid; ‘America of all with a 330 million population with 27 trillion dollar GDP has nine members of its supreme court while Ghana has 18 members of the supreme court, which does not speak well for a developing country like Ghana.’

Source: Ghana News Agency

Over 800 applicants challenged in the Volta region in seven days

The Volta Regional Directorate of Electoral Commission (EC) has recorded a total of 808 applicants, whose registration has been challenged, seven days into the national exercise.

They were alleged to be either minors or foreigners.

Mr Eric Dzakpasu, Regional Director of EC, revealed this to the Ghana News Agency during a visit to the registration centre on Tuesday.

He said a total of 14,888 new voters in the Region were registered within one week of the limited voter registration exercise.

He said apart from the initial two days’ glitches of dysfunctional kits and network challenges, all had been smooth.

The Director disclosed that all registration centres, including the mobile teams, had been equipped with generators and internet turbo routers to facilitate the exercise.

Festus Agbolosu, the New Patriotic Party’s agent at the centre, commended the Electoral Commission for the peaceful nature it had conducted the exercise so far.

He urged the qualified citizens to participate in the exercise to get the
card so they could vote for the party come December 7.

He said the NPP party had done a lot for the country and should be given the opportunity to continue to transform the country.

In a related, some 1,706 new voters were captured in the Ho Municipality of the Volta Region within the same period.

The number comprises 631 males and 1,075 females with 17 registrants having their applications challenged on the grounds of either being foreigners or minors.

Nana Oduro Numapau, Ho Municipal Director of the Electoral Commission (EC), disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency during a visit to the register centre on Tuesday to observe the exercise.

The Director said with the exception of the network difficulties they faced at the start of the exercise, the process had been smooth and without a hitch.

Nana Oduro advised all eligible persons to take advantage of the opportunity to obtain a voter card in order to participate in the next elections and any other electoral activities in the country.

Meanwhile, at the
time GNA visited the centre, a significant number of students from some second-cycle institutions had flocked to the EC’s office to have their names added to the voter list.

Close to 100 students from OLA Senior High School and and Wallace Academy Senior High School were seen at the centre in queue waiting patiently to go through the process to acquire the voter card.

Their delighted expressions indicate that they were pleased to have turned 18 years old, which made them eligible to apply for a card that would allow them to vote in national elections.

After getting their cards, a few students, who spoke with the GNA, expressed happiness, describing the process as fast and smooth.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Limited voters registration: Over 12,400 new voters captured in Upper East Region

A total of 12,449 new voters, comprising 5,380 males and 7,069 females, have been enrolled onto Ghana’s Voters Register after seven days of limited Voter registration in the Upper East Region.

Provisional statistics from the Electoral Commission reveals the figure also include 19 persons with disabilities and 34 persons captured as traumatised cases.

The Commission also indicated that out of the number of people provisionally registered, majority of them used the Guarantor System, recording 6,968 persons while 5,476 and five persons registered with the Ghana Card and the Passport respectively.

Mr William Obeng Adarkwa, the Upper East Regional Director of the Commission, who revealed these to the Ghana News Agency, noted that 37 people had so far had their registration challenged.

According to the Regional Director, apart from the initial challenges with the online registration system due to poor network in some areas particularly the rural communities, the exercise has been moving smoothly.

‘We currently
use both systems, that is, the offline and online for the registration… when the network is good, we register people using the online system but when we have challenges with the network then we have the option of offline, so the registration has been smooth,’ he said.

Mr Adarkwa noted that the 51 registration centres including the 15 district offices, two University campuses and mobile registration teams were activated to start the registration in the region.

He said apart from the 15 district offices that were mandated to register persons for the whole of the stipulated 21 days, the rest of the centres would fold up if those centres are not recording high numbers.

He urged all persons who have turned 18 years to register to afford them opportunity to vote in the upcoming 2024 General elections.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Police Commander advises party agents against interfering with electoral process

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Mr Alex Acquah, the Oti Regional Police Commander, has advised Party Agents assigned to the Voter Registration centres to desist from interfering with the electoral process.

He said their unnecessary challenges of potential registrants could create chaos at these centres, so they must cease and rather follow the due process.

The Regional Commander said instead they should allow the applicant to go through the process and a Challenge Form filled against, but not prevented from registering.

ACP Acquah gave this warning, when he visited the premises of Kadjebi District Office of Electoral Commission (EC) to observe how the Limited Voter Registration exercise was going.

ACP Acquah, who was accompanied to the E.C Office registration centre by Supt. Frank Nana Asomaning, the Kadjebi District Police Commander, said Ghana needed peace before, during and after the December 7 polls.

Mr. Christian Bokode, Deputy District Electoral Officer, Kadjebi gave the Police Commander th
e total number of registered voters as at close of work on Monday, May 13, 2024 as 1,352 Voters including; 719 males and 633 females.

Kadjebi District is having the exercise in five hard-to-reach communities and E.C District Office in Kadjebi, making six Polling Stations.

The communities include; Dodo-Fie D/A Primary School Polling Station where registration took place between 7-8 May, Dodi-Akum D/A Primary School Polling Station from 9-10 May, Dodi-Aboabo D/A Primary School Polling Station from 11-12 May, Obuase D/A Primary School 1 Polling Station from 13-14 May and Yaadzo D/A Primary School Polling Station from 15-16 May, while the E.C District Office, Kadjebi runs from 7-27 May, 2024.

The 21-day nationwide exercise commenced on Tuesday, May 7 and ends on Monday, May 27.

Source: Ghana News Agency