Politics

Backlog of passports at Ridge office to be cleared by Friday – Minister

Some Ghanaians hoping to receive their passports at the Ridge office in Accra would have to wait a little longer as officials are yet to clear a backlog before printing new ones.

This follows a closure of the office last week due to an electrical fault that affected their printers.

According to a Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Habib Tijani, although the office resumed work last Friday, only one third of the backlog had been cleared.

Mr. Tijani however told Citi News all outstanding passports will be printed by close of day today [ Thursday].

“As at Friday, there was a complete rehabilitation of the place and they started working and started printing passports. Our only problem was how to recover or be able to do the backlog. As I tell you, we have covered one third of what we should have done if the thing had not broken down. We should understand that if there is a backlog, there will be a lot of rush and panic. We use to give people three four days to pick their passports. Definitely it is not going to be as usual, picking your passport between three, or four or five days because of the backlog.I am assuring the public that by the close of day today, [Friday] we will be able to cover the backlog and normal processing will go on”.

Corruption at the passports office’

A survey conducted by the Ghana Integrity initiative anti-corruption Consortium in 2017,  identified the passports office as one of the few government agencies where bribery and corruption is pervasive.

The survey, which was to assess citizen’s understanding of corruption, their perceptions and actual experiences of corruption, show that Ghanaians still perceived the passports office as well as the police service, political parties and the judiciary as being corrupt.

It however revealed that Ghanaians do not regard the payment of what is commonly called facilitation fee as a form of corruption.

Passport acquisition in Ghana

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has given indications that it intends to make the process of passport acquisition in Ghana easy and efficient, a departure from what can best be described as one of the most frustrating processes to go through in the country.

Despite promises by successive governments to improve the process, many Ghanaians are forced to pay bribes, pay exorbitant charges through middlemen popularly known as ‘gorro boys’ or queue as early as 3:00am each day to have their passport applications processed especially at the Accra application center.

The forms for regular application currently goes for GHS 50, and are expected to be processed within 4 weeks, while the forms for express applications are being sold for GHS 100, and are expected to be processed within 2 weeks, although the duration may slightly vary.

Join the fight against child marriage – First Lady urges Ghanaians

The First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has charged Ghanaians to join the fight against Girl Child marriage and also empower girls through education.

This year’s International Women’s Day celebration forum focused on girl child marriage and education.

Speaking at the forum on the Theme, “Press for Progress” Madam Akufo-Addo also acknowledged some individuals who had positively impacted the lives of children in their communities.

“The 2018 International Women’s Day theme is ‘Press for progress’. All over the world, we are experiencing strong and concerted activism towards gender parity. Today is an opportunity for us to add our voices to the discussions to get us closer to our goal.

“I certainly want to have my grandchildren to live in a Ghana where we have gender parity so this year’s theme speaks to something deep within me. For me, it means we move despite the obstacles. That we push forward in spite of the resistance. It means that we do not allow anything to stop us. Today, discussions will focus on two important and related issues. Girls’ education and the elimination of child marriages. Why the focus on these two issues? Because education is the catalyst for the development of the individual and the nation.”

Meanwhile the Centre for Democratic Congress (CDD), in a statement marking International Women’s Day, has commended various stakeholders for their immeasurable contribution towards the fight for women’s rights, justice, and equality.

It, however, maintained that progress towards gender parity remains slow.

According to CDD, inequality is very prevalent in women’s participation in politics, in spite of the policies introduced to increase women representation in key government offices.

Quoting a recent Afrobarometer survey, CDD indicated that statistics had shown that a large majority (72%) of Ghanaians “agree” or “agree very strongly” that women should have the same chance of being elected to political office as men. However, women are rarely encouraged to compete for such positions.

“This was evident in the 2016 elections where there was only one female presidential candidate and only one female running mate, representing 14.3% as opposed to 85.7% male. Though there was an uptick in women representation in Parliament in the elections (37, compared to 29 in 2012) – the highest in the country’s history – this is still very low, compared to 238 elected male parliamentarians,”CDD added in its statement.

CDD-Ghana also noted that Ghanaian women, both in the rural and urban settings are confronted with peculiar challenges which threaten their socio-economic and political development.

The Centre, therefore, recommended that government applies the appropriate policies and measures to accelerate the realization of gender equality in Ghana.

Paramount among these is the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill, which will ensure 50:50 representations of women in key public appointments.

Women’s Day: POWA calls for passage of Affirmative Action Bill

The Progressive Organization for Women’s Advancement (POWA), has charged Parliament to quickly see to the realization of the Affirmative Action Bill as the world marks International Women’s Day.

POWA in a statement said legislators must “expedite action on the affirmative action Bill as an effective means to address the historical and asymmetrical gender power relations in Ghana.”

The Bill is expected to provide legal backing for systems and policies that give women equal participation in Ghana.

POWA also condemned attacks on women in the public eye as disgusting and intolerant.

“The horrific attacks meted out to for example the late musician Ebony Reigns only reflects the ultra-conservative and reactionary outlook of our society towards independent and liberated women. Such bigoted act is not only an affront to the fundamental tenets of our republican constitution, but an antithesis to the very essence that governs our self-determination.”

“POWA calls on all right thinking and progressive Ghanaians to absolutely condemn any such acts in the spirit of equity and inclusiveness,” POWA added.

Find below the full statement

The Progressive Organization for Women’s Advancement (POWA), joins the world to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day.

As Ghana also celebrates its 61st anniversary, P.O.W.A. congratulates all who have been part of the independence struggle and all those who continue to advance the cause of equal citizenship rights.

POWA recognizes that it is only when practical meaning is giving to our democracy and rule of law that every citizen’s right can be protected and social justice achieved for all.

POWA has witnessed with much disgust the intolerant media and public attacks that has been visited on women in public life especially in recent years.

The horrific attacks meted out to for example the late music artist Ebony Reigns only reflects the ultra-conservative and reactionary outlook of our society towards independent and liberated women.

Such bigoted act is not only an affront to the fundamental tenets of our republican constitution but an antithesis to the very essence that governs our self-determination.

POWA calls on all right thinking and progressive Ghanaians to absolutely condemn any such acts in the spirit of equity and inclusiveness.

POWA also appeals to Parliament to expedite action and consideration of the affirmative action bill as an effective means to address the historical and asymmetrical gender power relations in Ghana.

POWA wishes all Ghanaian women a happy women’s day!

VICTORIA HAMAH
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – POWA
+ 233 (0) 551445757

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

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