I can’t sanction deportation of Ghanaians from US – Ghana Ambassador

Ghana’s Ambassador to the U.S. has been caught in a cat and mouse game with the American authorities piling pressure on him to sanction the deportation of thousands of Ghanaians.

Dr Barfuor Adjei-Bawuah has described as unfair pressure on him to give his approval for hundreds of Ghanaians to be sent home for violating U.S. immigration laws.

“It leaves me with difficulty to sanction the deportation of my citizen and I have been trying hard to explain this to the authorities,” he told Joy News’ Elton John Brobbey.

According to the frustrated Ambassador, he does not understand why he has to sanction the deportation when there was a contract between the Visa applicants and American authorities in granting entry into the U.S.

“If that is what is to be done, I don’t have to give the U.S. permission to deport the very person they themselves accepted,” he explained.

His comment follows reports that close to a thousand Ghanaians held in detention centres across the U.S. are awaiting their deportation to Ghana if only Dr Adjei-Bawuah signs for that to happen.

Dr Adjei-Bawuah and the U.S. President Donald Trump

Last year in a meeting with a parliament select committee, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert P Jackson confirmed that “7,000 Ghanaians who have overstayed their visas or are staying in the US illegally are in various stages of the deportation processes.”

Related: Deported Ghanaians were not maltreated – US Ambassador

“There will be additional deportations because the 7,000 people who are under deportation orders have either committed crimes in the United States or long overstayed the visas on which they entered,” Mr Jackson said.

The deportees are being sent home for various offences, ranging from drug possession, larceny, assault, theft, sexual assault, identity theft, illegal entry, forgery/fraud, resisting arrest and other non-criminal offences.

US Ambassador, Robert P Jackson 

But Ghana’s Ambassador to the U.S. said he cannot independently confirm that the persons to be deported were taken through legitimate and fair trial and cannot, therefore, be the one to sanction their deportation.

“You can only take it on the strength of the fact that the Americans say the trial was fair because you were not in the courtroom. You don’t know whether the person’s defense lawyer did seriously and adequately question the prosecution,” he said.

“Our argument is that we don’t have to be the final arbiter in the execution of a deportation order because we don’t have the information,” he said.

Clement Apaak, Builsa South MP

Joy News has learnt talks to resolve this standoff has yet to yield the desired results as the Dr Adjei-Barwuah has asked his host country to review their process.

Encouraging the Ambassador to stay strong and act in the best interest of Ghanaians, a member of Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, Dr Clement Apaak said international protocols demand that Ghanaian citizens are treated with respect and human dignity in their host countries.

“We urge our Ambassador to stand firm and not feel intimidated or be pushed to rush and allow for the affected Ghanaians to be deported without the proper and due process being followed,” he said.

The Builsa South legislator said he expects the Foreign Affairs Minister to brief parliament on the latest on the deportation from the U.S.

He said the Minister needs to provide information on who the deportees are, why they are being deported as well as whether they hail from Ghana.

Dr Apaak also called for logistics to be put in place for the Ghanaians so that in the event they are deported they won’t be as traumatic as their exit from the U.S.

 

I’m ready to collaborate with Ghana in corruption fight – Buhari

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has indicated his readiness to partner with Ghana to fight corruption in the two countries.

He commended President Akufo-Addo for his efforts in fighting the canker which he said had become endemic.

“I congratulate both the government and parliament for quick passage of the office of the special prosecutor act and its signing into law. Your Excellency can be assured that you have a good partner in me as I look forward to any form of collaboration between Nigeria and Ghana in tackling the menace of endemic corruption,” he said.

While delivering an address as a special guest at Ghana’s 61st Independence Day celebration at the Independence Square in Accra on Tuesday, Buhari further said he was convinced Africa can successfully eradicate poverty and entrench democracy when its leadership is strengthened.

“Given all these public policies, it is reassuring that with the right leadership, Africa drives to eradicate poverty and entrench democracy is on course,” he added.

President Muhammadu Buhari who has defined corruption as the greatest form of human right violation has through various policies tried to root out corruption from his country especially within the public sector but analysts have described the progress as very slow.

In 2012, a local newspaper reported that Nigeria had lost close to $400 billion since independence in 1960.

By: Jonas Nyabor/citifmonline.com/Ghana

Nana Addo’s comment on cash-for-seat allegation ‘improper’ – MFWA

The Media Foundation for West Africa [MFWA], has described Nana Akufo-Addo’s submission on the ongoing cash-for-seat bipartisan committee probe as ‘improper’.

According to the Executive Director of MFWA, Sulemana Braimah, the President’s attempt to belittle the ongoing probe is very disappointing.

Speaking to Citi News, Sulemana Braimah said what the President said was hypocritical, because he had previously praised his administration for setting up bipartisan committees to probe cases of alleged corruption.

“In his own introduction, he has alluded to the fact that, in the first year of his administration, there have been a series of bipartisan enquiries and that was something he thought was positive because he said there was none in the previous regime. And if you say this and then later you try to almost rubbish what is going on, then we thought this particular one was not proper at all,” he said.

Although the bipartisan committee hearing allegations of corruption against the Trade Ministry is yet to complete its work and present its findings, President Akufo-Addo, who had already stated that there was no wrongdoing after he was briefed by the Trade Minister, Alan Kyerematen, repeated his conviction that there was no wrongdoing.

Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo, has however defended President Akufo Addo’s comments on the matter saying the President did not wrong.

According to him, the President is armed with some facts to dismiss the allegations.

“He has investigated the matter before and was repeating what he has done, so what is prejudicial about it? The matter came, he requested his ministers involved to give him a report, it is something he himself has investigated and has all the fact,” he said.

Parliamentary probe will clear the air

This notwithstanding, the President said he was in favour of the probe and the transparency it has brought to the process.

“The fact that there is a public enquiry in itself, does not shake my own conviction that nothing untoward had taken place and that is the reason I took that position that I did, so that there can be no question that anybody is attempting to cover up anything, and people can see in the bright light of day on television what took place and make up for themselves their own mind whether or not something had gone on.”

Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Alan Kyerematen and officials from the Millennium Excellence Foundation, organizers of the Ghana Expatriates Business Awards, have all appeared before the committee to give testimony.

But none of the expatriates invited to testify before the committee showed up for the final day of sitting, forcing the Committee to adjourn the sitting indefinitely.

By: Farida Yusif/citifmonline.com/Ghana

Corruption perception can sink Akufo-Addo’s gov’t – Franklin Cudjoe

The Akufo-Addo government may pay dearly in the coming years if nothing is done to correct the perception being created in the minds of Ghanaians following the numerous corruption allegations that have been leveled against the New Patriotic Party administration.

The first year of the New Patriotic Party’s administration has been rocked by a number of corruption allegations including the BOST contaminated fuel scandal, allegations of corruption by A-Plus against the two deputy chiefs of staff, allegations of conflict of interest against the Finance Minister over the issuance of a Bond, and recently the allocation of GHc800, 000 for the creation of a website for the Special Development Ministry.

According to Franklin Cudjoe, President of IMANI, such perceptions may sink the Akufo-Addo government if pragmatic measures are not put in place immediately to correct the impression of corruption against a president who promised to protect the public purse.

Speaking on Citi FM’s news analysis programme, The Big Issue on Saturday, Franklin Cudjoe noted that, Ghana’s political landscape thrives on “a lot of hot air and a lot of allegations,” adding that due to this, despite the good things done or being done by a government “what tends to happen is that, allegations of corruption actually swells at some point, and swallows the government irrespective of how well they are doing.”

“And I think if care is not taken, in spite of the yet to be proven allegations of corruption within this [NPP] administration, it is the perception of people that may eventually sink the administration if they don’t take care. That has been the trajectory in this country. In instances where they’ve even been proven…you end up having government appointees defending what I call the indefensible. So for me, the perception is what we really need to be dealing with. Unfortunately, with corruption, perception seems to be the reality,” he added.

Mr. Cudjoe made the remark when panelists on The Big Issue were reviewing President Akufo-Addo’s first year in office.

He noted that although the macroeconomic indicators look good, “If they [NPP government] don’t take care, these allegations of corruption which incidentally are mostly emanating from their own camp are the ones that will sink them.”

GHc800,000 website row

There is currently intense pressure from the Minority in Parliament for the Minister of Special Development Initiatives, Mavis Hawa Koomson, to resign following revelations that her ministry intends to blow GHc800,000 on the creation of a website.

Her Ministry had requested for about GHc1 billion to undertake a number of projects including warehouses, boreholes, procurement of ambulances and vehicles, among other things.

But the GHc800, 000 budget request for the creation of a website has caused public uproar, with the Minority accusing the government of negligence.

False corruption claims will not distract us 

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in responding to these accusations of corruption which he described as attempts to tarnish his government, said they will not be distracted by the claims.

He feels there have “been systematic efforts to try and tag [his] government with corruption.”

Speaking at at Kyebi during his tour of the Eastern Region, the President stressed that attempts to falsely accuse his hardworking officials of corruption will not deter him from carrying out his mandate.

Nana Addo’s appointees showing signs of corruption – Rev. Martey

This comes on the back of an observation made by former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Reverend Professor Emmanuel Martey, who said some officials of the NPP administration, are already showing signs of corruption.

The man, who blatantly criticized officials of the erstwhile Mahama administration for being corrupt and having mismanaged the country, appears to be turning the heat on the Akufo-Addo administration.

 

Source: Citifmonline

 

First Aid Kit charge: Drivers can file for refund – Transport Ministry

The Ministry of Transport has indicated that, vehicle owners who have already been charged for  the unapproved First Aid Kits by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), can file for a refund.

This follows a directive by the board of DVLA that halted the implementation, after the Transport Ministry said the DVLA acted arbitrarily in implementing the policy.

Speaking on Eyewitness News,  a Deputy Transport Minister, Titus Glover, said potential claims should be “looked at case by case,” whilst reiterating his earlier assertion that the situation was totally unacceptable.

“They should make an application. So long as the board has instructed that they should stop it entirely. It should be looked at on a case by case [basis], and if you make the application, why not,” the deputy Minister stated.

The DVLA halted the charges on the instructions of the Ministry of Transport.

The Ministry said that stakeholders involved were not properly engaged ahead of the policy’s implementation.

The DVLA  introduced the compulsory charge of GHc 108 for the acquisition of the kits for new vehicle owners seeking to register their vehicles.

The charge was met with stiff opposition from vehicle owners, who argued that they reserved the right to purchase such items by themselves at a cheaper cost.

Minority MP calls for probe

Meanwhile, the Minority Spokesperson on Roads and Highways, Kwame Agbodza, has told Citi News the Transport Ministry must immediately set up a committee to probe the matter.

“Who actually at the DVLA decided that in the name of this country called Ghana, drivers should be charged GHc 108 for First Aid Kits? The Ministry [should] quickly set up a committee, identify this individual or individuals and sanction them appropriately.”

“Ghanaians are not going to take this apology and go home and say that is the end of it,” Mr. Agbodza stated emphatically.

By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana

GPHA suspends new tariffs indefinitely

The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has indefinitely put on hold its proposed review of charges at the ports.

The GPHA says this is to address all concerns raised by the various stakeholders involved.

The GPHA, last year announced its decision to review port tariffs on imports beginning January 2018.

According to the GPHA, port tariffs on imported goods were going to be increased by 20 percent, while that on exported goods were to be increased by 15 percent.

The GPHA made the decision to review the charges upwards after four years of not reviewing its charges.

Following this announcement however, the GPHA met with various stakeholders who will be affected by the review.

These included the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, the Ghana Shippers Authority, Ship Owners’ and Agents Association as well as the Freight Forwarders Association of Ghana to discuss the review of the various charges.

However, the General Manager for Marketing and Corporate Affairs at the GPHA, Esther Donkor tells Citi Business News the decision has been put on hold indefinitely.

“It’s no more effective this January , it’s been postponed to a further date that we will agree upon and then inform the general public, fact being that we are still in discussion with the major stake holders,” she said.

According to her, the decision is to reconsider the reduction of the proposed charges following an outcry from the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana to have it reduced.

“In some of the areas, some of the stakeholders felt the five percent increase was going to be too harsh so we are still discussing with them until we reach an agreement, so it is possible that there will be a possible decrease in some of the areas”.

She however gave the assurance that the GPHA will meet with the various stakeholders next week to decide on the final review.

“In fact we are scheduling another round of meetings for next week to discuss and agree on the final review”.

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Samson Asaaki Awingobit says the gesture by the GPHA is commendable.

“I must recommend GPHA for having listened to stakeholders like us and having responded to us not only on telephone calls but also writing an official letter to us which we think deserves applause. So from this, we have come to the realization that gone are the days that GPHA or any other agency working in the port and in the clearing chain just implements policies without our consent”.

By: Anita Arthur & Jessica Ayorkor Aryee/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana

Committee formed to investigate shady sale of State lands

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, on Friday, inaugurated a five-Member Committee to investigate the wanton sale of state and public lands between 2013 and 2016 without recourse to the head office of the Lands Commission.

The Committee, which is chaired by Dr Opoku Adusei, the Deputy Director of the Ghana Standards Authority, is required to submit its report to the Chairman of the National Lands Commission in two weeks.

Mr Benito Owusu Bio, a Deputy Minister of the Ministry, during the inauguration of the Committee, tasked them to investigate the 24 land transactions in the prime areas in Accra, given to private developers without proper procurement processes.

The Committee is also to investigate 25 transactions, which were declined, as well as  the veracity of some of the transactions, which were conducted based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Works and Housing to the purported leases.

The Deputy Minister noted that, under the MoU, the leases were just required to build some apartments for the Government in exchange of the lands at the prime areas.

He said: “Investigate whether or not the method for the selection of the purported Lessees followed the due procurement process as stipulated in the Public Procurement Act, 2003, (Act 663) and the Public Procurement (Amendment) Act, 2016, (Act 914)”.

Mr Owusu Bio asked the Committee to ascertain whether or not the principle of value for money was considered as the basis of the MoU since the Land Valuation Division of the Lands Commission was not engaged to assess and advice on the market value of the lands.

He entreated the Committee to assign very clear reasons to decisions taken on those transactions, in order to cure any mischief, perceptions and speculations.

The Committee is supposed to submit recommendations on the preparation of a National Policy to regulate redevelopment and in-filling schemes on State and Public lands across the country.

It is to advise the Government on the lifting of the ban on State and Public lands allocations and any other issue as the Committee may deem credible and fit to investigate.

The rest of the Committee members are; Professor Felix Hammond, Mr Kofi Dankwa Osei, Mr Alex Quainoo and Alhaji Sulemana Mahama.

Source: GNA

Akufo-Addo’s government 'mastered stealing legally' in 2017

Akufo-Addo’s government ‘mastered stealing legally’ in 2017 – PPP claims

The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) says the Akufo-Addo government performed “below average” in 2017 largely due to cronyism, nepotism, corruption, mismanagement and outright incompetence.

It claimed that the Akufo-Addo government which took over the governance of the country on January 7, 2017 “mastered the art of stealing legally from government coffers”.

According to the PPP, corruption allegations against the government and its officials were “swept under the carpet” without proper investigations and proper accountability.

In its assessment of the Akufo-Addo government in 2017, the PPP held the current government just as the previous ones Ghana has had since 1993, cannot develop the country as they are clueless about how to do that.

The PPP said the government is repeating the mistakes of the John Mahama administration, indicating “Promises made to Ghanaians during the 2016 electioneering campaign by the NPP have, upon assumption of office, been postponed, adjusted, and in most cases completely reneged upon. Not a single promise has been honoured in its entirety as at the end of 2017”.

It has thus urged Ghanaians to be awake, read between the lines and make the right choices in the next elections.

In its view, inflation of government contracts are worse off than that of previous regimes, adding ethnocentric comments and partisan bigotry are still rife with impunity among public officials.

A statement issued and signed by the General Secretary of the PPP, Murtala Mohammed underscored the need for the Akufo-Addo-led NPP Government to tackle the liquidity problem in the country.

That, the PPP said would make living in Ghana easy for the average Ghanaian” as times are harder nowadays”.

“Government must translate the so-called economic gains from our oil discovery into the pockets of poor Ghanaians.

Stop selling lands like ‘Keta school boys’ – Minister to lands commission

The Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu has bemoaned the indiscriminate sale of state lands to private individuals at prices cheaper than the cost of anchovies, popularly known as Keta School Boys on the market.

Recently, there were concerns over the decision of the Volta Regional Lands Commission to lease strategic government lands to private individuals in what the commission claimed was an in-filling exercise.

The situation, the Minister said, denies government installations that are yet to begin operation in the region space to operate.

“Over the last 8 years, Volta Region has faced a lot of difficulties over the land titles administrations, lands were sold so cheaply to the extent that, the prices of “Keta School Boys” far exceeds the cost of lands that have been sold to others. Hence the rational of aggressive disposal of government lands for private political interest can no longer be allowed to continue”

Speaking at the inauguration of the Volta Regional Lands Commission in Ho, Peter Amewu charged the 30 member Commission to fend off such temptation and put in measures to resolve protracted land disputes in the region to stimulate development.

The Commission is chaired by Mama Dzidoasi of Gbi Abansi Traditional Area in the Hohoe Municipality.

In her acceptance speech, the chairperson expressed her gratitude for the appointment and pledged her commitment to ensuring effective land administration in the region.

The Commission is made up of representatives from various statutory bodies including the Regional House of Chiefs, Ghana Bar Association, Town and Country Planning Department, Ghana Institute of Surveyors and Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen.

By: King Nobert Akpablie/citifmonline.com/Ghana

Gov’t must tackle youth unemployment – Chief Imam

The Chief Imam, Sheik Dr. Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, has called on government to address the high unemployment rate in the country.

According to him, the current levels of unemployment in the country are worrying, and must be dealt with swiftly in 2018.

Speaking to Citi News, Spokesperson for the Chief Imam, Sheikh Aremeyaw Shaibu, also asked the government to prioritize the implementation of policies that will provide job opportunities for all.

“Unemployment is an issue and young people who are growing would have to have hope. When they go to school, they want to return and also do something for themselves so we want a situation where policy will be directed towards ensuring that greater opportunity is created.”.

The Christian Council of Ghana in its new year’s message also called on the government to prioritize the development of the youth by investing in them.

The General Secretary of the Council,  Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni Frimpong, who made the call said:“One area that attention must be given to is the development of our young people. Ghanaian young people are not lazy. They are determined, they want to work, but we must be a country that gives hope and opportunities to our young people and it should not be hope outside us, it must be hope within and those who have resources to invest, must invest in this country for young people to get employment.”

‘Foundation laid’

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo recently said that the government has put structures in place to ensure that the country’s unemployment challenges are addressed.

According to Nana Addo, despite inheriting an economy in dire straits, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration has worked assiduously towards ensuring that job opportunities are created for Ghanaians.

“We’ve had important challenges; Invincible and Delta Forces and the tensions at the grassroots of the party over jobs. I appreciate very much the anxiety over jobs. What I’m saying is that, the foundation has been laid for jobs. It has not been easy because we inherited a bankrupt economy, but because of the ingenuity of the people I’m working with, we’ve been able to lay a good foundation,” the President said in December.

Unemployment rate doubles in two years

Ghana’s unemployment rate stood at 11.9 percent in 2015, according to a report from the Ghana Labour Force Survey Report by the Ghana Statistical Service.

This was about twice the figure recorded in 2012/2013 (5.8%) based on the Statistical services strict definition of unemployment – where “one was not working, actively looking for a job and available for work.”

However, the definition changed for the 2015 studies which was based on a relaxed definition where “one was available for work and not working within the last seven days before an interview.”

The report, which is the first of its kind and most detailed, was designed to guide government’s plan in resolving the alarming rate of unemployment in the country.

‘Ghana’s biggest problem’

A survey conducted by the Institute of Economic Affairs, (IEA) also identified unemployment as the foremost problem confronting the majority of Ghanaians today.

According to the survey, urban dwellers, females, and the majority of people living in the Western, Eastern and Central regions, identified unemployment as their biggest problem in Ghana.

The survey, conducted between November and December, 2015, sampled 1,500 respondents from across the ten regions of Ghana, who were 18 years of age, and above.

By: Marian Ansah & Bobbie Osei/citifmonline.com/Ghana