Saturday, January 31, 2009


All hands must be on deck to pursue national goals - President MillsProfessor John Evans Atta Mills, President of Ghana, at the weekend reminded Ghanaians that the pursuit of the national goals require "all hands to be on deck." He said having completed the elections, Ghanaians must put behind them the past and strive on to face the numerous challenges that confronted the nation in the midst of the global economic crisis.President Mills said this in an address read for him at a national prayer and thanksgiving service organised by the Garrison Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church at Burma Camp in Accra under the theme: "Uniting Ghana through Christ." He mentioned the widespread moral decadence engulfing humanity, the debilitating suffering, hunger, and disease that was taking its toll on humanity on daily basis, and the display of callousness towards each other that was gradually eroding the care and affection that people owe to each other as some of the challenges.President Mills said Ghana "is not an island isolated from these disturbing global trends," and therefore asked Ghanaians to keep calling upon God to renew His Spirit among Ghanaians. "If we close our ranks and unite our strengths in meeting these challenges, our God will never fail us. He who has brought us this far, is waiting for us to come to Him in the spirit of unity, humanity, purposefulness, honesty, hard work, and He will grant us our needs," he said.While exhorting Ghanaians to unite in building together a better Ghana, Prof Mills promised that his government would explore more ways of strengthening public-private participation in developing the nation. "We will provide more avenues of enabling churches and other Non-governmental organizations to complement government's efforts in meeting the needs of our people," he assured. President Mills stated that the National Democratic Congress government was in power to simply serve the people adding, "by the grace of God, we will do our best to provide our people the opportunity to experience personal growth and in the process empower each Ghanaian to enjoy living in and serving his or her country." He expressed the hope that Ghanaians would continue to trust God and said "we will rely on God for His guidance because a nation that gives God His rightful place in its affairs is assured of God's blessings."The President lauded the SDA Church for its unique contributions to the development of education at all levels, and especially its pioneering role in the development of private tertiary education. In addition, he commended the church's Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) for contributing to government's efforts at improving the lives of rural dwellers. President Mills said ADRA has been an active and major partner in the implementation of the United States sponsored Millennium Development Projects in the Afram Plains.On the thanksgiving service, President Mills recalled the numerous prayers of intercession that characterized the period before and after the December 2008 Elections, and noted that God faithfully granted the request of the nation when the people called on Him. As a result, he added the service was in appreciation to God saying "we should thank Him for granting our petitions." Earlier in a Sermon, Pastor Samuel Adama Larmie, President of the Ghana Union Conference of the SDA Church, asked Ghanaians burry their political differences so as to break down the "walls of partition" that divide them. He said they should be united rather to forge ahead and build a united nation.Pastor Larmie reminded Ghanaians that their goal was to ensure that the nation became economically sound, socially good, technologically advanced and politically mature. In a welcoming speech, Pastor Ambrose Waahu, Executive Secretary of the Ghana Union Conference of SDA, said Ghana could only be united through Christ, because in Him we are one people bound by His Precious Blood. Special prayers were said for peace and prosperity for the Nation.


President Barack Obama has promised to help lower Americans' mortgage costs with a new plan, coming soon, that would revive the financial system and "get credit flowing again."
Obama, who has made fighting the country's economic and financial crises the top priority of his young administration, called on the U.S. Senate to approve an economic stimulus bill that the House of Representatives passed this week.
But as economic conditions get worse the president said new strategies were coming to address the country's ills.
"Soon my Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, will announce a new strategy for reviving our financial system that gets credit flowing to businesses and families," Obama, a Democrat, said in his weekly radio address.
"We'll help lower mortgage costs and extend loans to small businesses so they can create jobs."
Obama did not offer specifics about the new plan or say when it would be unveiled. His chief spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said on Friday that the White House would hold meetings next week about financial industry regulation.
Republicans, who opposed the president's stimulus package of over $800 billion largely because of its spending priorities, suggested mortgage help as well, proposing government-backed 4 percent fixed-rate mortgages for "any credit-worthy borrower," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said.
"The availability of these low-interest loans would increase demand for houses significantly and low-interest mortgages would boost household income," McConnell said in a separate radio address.
Obama said his plan would ensure corporate chief executives do not siphon away tax dollars to fund big bonuses, expressing outrage again at reports of big pay-outs in 2008 despite massive job cuts, financial losses and government bailouts.
"We learned this week that even as they petitioned for taxpayer assistance, Wall Street firms shamefully paid out nearly $20 billion in bonuses for 2008," the president said.
"While I'm committed to doing what it takes to maintain the flow of credit, the American people will not excuse or tolerate such arrogance and greed."
The president said he would insist on "unprecedented transparency, rigorous oversight, and clear accountability" for funds that went toward stabilizing the financial system.
He repeated his mantra that the country's economic picture would likely get worse before it got better and seemed to hedge a bit on how many jobs his proposals would create and by when.
In Saturday's address he said his stimulus package would save or create at least 3 million jobs "over the next few years." During his address on January 10, before he had taken over the presidency from Republican George W. Bush, Obama said an analysis by his advisers showed up to 4 million jobs could be saved or created by 2010 through the package.
Obama said he would work with both political parties to ensure a strong stimulus bill eventually made it to his desk.
"Americans know that our economic recovery will take years -- not months," he said. "But they will have little patience if we allow politics to get in the way of action, and our economy continues to slide."
By: Jeff Mason( Reuters)


Ghana for now may be grappling with fiscal and balance of payments deficits , but these are expected to be short-lived as the country is on the threshold of reaping an estimated 50% increase in revenue from oil from 2011, the World Bank has predicted.Mr. Ishac Diwan, Country Director of World Bank, Ghana Office is anticipating a striking improvement afterwards from oil proceeds, a recent Reuters' report which has not been contradicted revealed."Ghana today to me feels like Korea in 1970, which means next 10 years are a real opportunity," he observed, adding, "this country is taking off in front of our eyes".When Ghana won independence from Britain in 1957, its economy was on an even kiln with South Korea. However, after decades of political instability and mismanagement, Ghana's per capita GDP is around $800 compared to almost $20,000 for the Asian country, the report noted.Finance Minister-designate, Dr. Kwabena Duffour and his team are rummaging their economic and finance notes as to how to fill a 13.4% budget deficit, equivalent to 1.34 billion Ghana cedis (US$1.1 billlion), a figure which the World Bank describes as "high and unsustainable " in a report it dispatched to then President-elect Atta- Mills.Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Integrated Social Development Center(ISODEC), Mr. Bishop Akolgo, has urged the Atta-Mills administration to consider reviewing the oil regulatory framework and the master plan to determine whether they are in the best interest of Ghana. He has also advised the government to prudently manage public expectations of the oil revenue if it is not to disappoint those who are expecting 'manner to fall from heaven' too soon.According to him, he had heard members of the past NPP government and the present NDC administration commenting on the oil as if the revenue will start flowing tomorrow. He has thus advised the current government to avoid forecasting oil revenue into its budgets.Instead, Mr. AKolgo is urging the government to insulate the economy from over reliance on oil revenue and through that avoid future effects of a downturn in the sector. He says Ghana should draw lessons from Norway, which initially failed to insulate its economy from oil and learnt bitter lessons. He accordingly suggests the need for three separate entities of accountability, regulation and funds and asset management to be created.Ghana's longest serving Finance Minister, Dr.Kwesi Botchwey of the (P)NDC regimes, has also expressed concerns similar to those of Mr. Akolgo. He observes that some people are behaving as if the oil find is a huge bonanza that would solve all of the country's problems. He said, "there have been new findings and therefore, the numbers should be revisited." "This", he warned "is not a huge bonanza, in any case production is not going to start until 2010 and the reserves may be depleted by 2030."According to him, "the estimates we have on a cumulative basis will be about $20 billion, about a billion dollars per year, which is 10 percent of the budget, and it is insignificant. It is not going to solve our problems; it might even aggravate our problems." The oil find, he said could be the reason for the intense political jostling the country experienced during the 2008 elections.Meanwhile, a group calling itself Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), has dismissed as anti-poor the World Bank's advice to the NDC administration to de-emphasize pro-poor public expenditure as measure to fix the fiscal and balance of payments deficits. "Indeed the NDC government has a duty to add to existing social interventions and development projects, not to withdraw any of them; to increase the real wages of workers, not to reduce or keep them as they are," Godfred Yeboah Dame, a member of AFAG told the media.Kwaku Kwarteng, government's spokesperson on Finance in the NPP administration and a member of AFAG, says the deficit figures are not a legitimate base for what the World Bank is asking Ghanaians to do, especially considering the gross reserves of $2.5 billion the past government left.A visit to the World Bank's offices for their reaction to the issues proved fruitless as Public Agenda was informed that Mr. Diwan was out of the country. Meanwhile, a source close to the World Bank hinted this reporter that the Bank will only comment on the economy again after Ghana's transitional economic team has finished with its work and made its findings known to Ghanaians.
Source:P. A.


Ghana perhaps, could be sitting on a goldmine, but still poor and debt-ridden. The controversial goldmine is the Oman Ghana Trust Account, which is believed to have a colossal $800 billion or in excess of $3.2 trillion in it, says Gregg Frazier; the man who holds the key to the account.On Thursday, January 29, Mr. Frazier stormed Public Agenda's office with a pile of documents to prove that Ghana had more than $800 billion sitting in account number 17-46-041 at the United Bank of Switzerland.Mr. Frazier lamented that he has spent the last three decades or more trying to persuade successive governments to go for the money, but all his efforts have failed partly due to official diffidence or what he calls 'mis-steps' and mistakes in the retrieval of the Oman Ghana monies.Officially, it is estimated Ghana's external debts are about $ 7 billion, a tiny proportion of the huge $800 billion of Ghana's money supposedly sitting in the Swiss Bank. Viewed against a current account deficit of 13.2 percent and a decline in investment and manufacturing by 2.3 percent, according to the current government, it makes sense for the government to get to the bottom of the issue.In ensuring that a new chapter is opened on the issue, Frazier earlier this week presented documentary evidence to the current Chief of Staff, Mr. John Martey Newman who promised to get back to him after reading the documents. 'I am challenging the Mills Administration to go for the money, if the bank says there is no Oman Ghana Trust Money in the account, I am prepared to go to jail for deceiving the people and the Government of Ghana."According to Frazier, the Oman Ghana concept was started by African and Africa-American investors to kick- start Africa's development using Ghana as a launching pad. He says it was a 49-year development plan, with the first seven years devoted to establishing and developing 27 corporations in Ghana. The subsequent 42 years would have seen the extension of the 27 Ghanaian corporations into new independent African countries to help develop their infrastructure in exchange for commodities they have comparative advantage in. But unfortunately, Ghana's first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah did not stay in office to ensure the maturation of the plan.Frazier says emphatically that he is the only surviving person with full knowledge of the source of the present day quantum and the mandatory code numbers and words to access the fund. He says by the mandatory instructions of the Trust Document accompanying the opening of the Oman Ghana Fund, the fund belongs to no single person, but the Government of Ghana.This explains why he has been trying to persuade successive governments to pursue the money, all to no avail. Frazier recalls that in November 1986, in the company of Attorney General, John Mitchell and himself, the late Mr. Blay Miezah brokered a deal with United Bank of Switzerland to transfer an amount of $47 billion into a current account out of a fixed deposit account. He says at that meeting the bankers produced a ledger showing assets in excess of $400 billion, representing the accumulated deposits of all Ghana's accounts. These monies, according to him were held in six fixed deposit accounts and one current account which bear the same number and are accessible by the same code words. 'I alone know the code words, which I am prepared to disclose upon substantial agreement between myself and Ghana."He alleges that in 2003 and 2007, the Kufuor-administration after obtaining some preliminary information from him, sent a highly powered delegation led by Mr. J.H. Mensah to Switzerland and tried to access the funds behind him, but they failed because they did not have the code words."The bank knows and will demand and insist on full compliance with the original instructions issued by the Republic of Ghana in 1959 to the UBS to enable the funds to be accessed. The instructions are that first; the 'sitting president 'of the Republic of Ghana is the sole Trustee of all the funds known in the Oman Ghana Trust Fund. 'President Atta Mills alone, as sitting President has the authority to access these funds", he stressed. But the President can delegate an individual who is at least 65 years to act on his behalf, according to him. More on this in subsequent editions.
Source:Public Agenda


Various speakers at a public forum organized by Amnesty International (AI)-Ghana has called for the abolition of the death penalty because it is squalid in the context of human rights.They said recent global trends had made the retention of the death penalty an anathema in a democratic culture.Mr Vincent Adzahlie-Mensah, Advisory Board Chairman-AI Ghana, speaking at public forum in Accra said since the launch of the World Day Against the Death Penalty in 2003, national and international institutions and NGOs had rallied together to oppose its use and remind the world that its abolition was a universal struggle.He said the number of countries which had abolished the death penalty for all crimes had increased from 16 in 1977 to 91 by May 2008. Mr Adzahlie-Mensah said the African Human Rights Commission since 1999 had voted to impose a moratorium on the death penalty while the African Union later voted to make Africa a totally death penalty-free zone.He said 27 African states which were parties to the African Charter had abolished the death penalty in law and six had ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty.Mr Adzahlie-Mensah said the problem with the death penalty was that it had been used disproportionately against the poor. He said the concerns about the legal representation in capital cases included lawyers ignoring key factors of mental incompetence, omitting to provide any arguments on sentencing or failing to dispute claims that the accused was under 18 years of age at the time of the crime despite evidence to the contrary.Mr Frank Kwaku Doyi, Growth and Activism Coordinator, Amnesty International-Ghana, said the forum was aimed at initiating a nationwide campaign process of sensitizing and mobilizing public support for the abolition of the death penalty in Ghana.He said the vision of AI was for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.He said AI Ghana since its establishment in 1973 had remained at the forefront of championing the cause of recognized human rights including a strong advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty and the prevention of violence against women. Nana Kwesi Agyeman, a.k.a Geeman a musician who was recently pardoned by former President John Kufuor added his voice to the call for the abolishment of the death penalty. He said the trauma and the emotional stress that prisoners on death roll went through could inadvertently lead to their physical breakdown. He said there were many people in the prisons who were innocent of their charges and all efforts should be made to release them from jail.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Mr. Tsatsa Tsikata, former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), said the law on "causing financial loss to the state" was not constitutional because it was not properly defined in the 1992 constitution. He said even though the Supreme Court had made its own interpretations of the law in previous rulings, he believed the law did not meet constitutional standards.Mr. Tsikata was speaking at a press conference in Accra on issues relating to his incarceration and the abuse of the judicial process by the executive arm of government. He maintained that he never sought the pardon granted to him by former President John Agyekum Kufuor because it was clearly in bad faith from someone who had been the prime mover to have him imprisoned. He said the first Attorney General in the Kufuor administration, Nana Akufo-Addo, had summoned him in the name of the President which clearly shows that the hand of the President had been evident.Mr Tsikata said his pursuit of the judicial process to have his name cleared of the charges against him was in the interest of justice and the accountability of office holders. He also said his complaint to the African Commission on Human and People's Rights to review its earlier decision to raise a preliminary objection on the grounds that he had not exhausted local remedies has been granted. He said the Commission at its session in Abuja on November 2008 decided the matter in his favour and declared that his complaint was admissible and would now put the matter on its merits at the next session in May 2009.He also said even though he believed that he was innocent of the charges against him he was prepared to go back to jail should he lose his appeal at the Supreme Court. "If I was indeed guilty against the state of that offence, I should be made to suffer that consequence," he added. He said Nii Osah Mills, former President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), was forced to resign because of his conviction that he (Tsatsu) was innocent of the charges against him. He said it was important that all actors in the saga disclosed their interest so that members of the Bar Association as well as the public know where they were coming from.Former President Kufuor in a statement on January 6, 2009 granted "free, absolute and unconditional pardon" to Mr Tsikata. On June 18, last year, an Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban, an Appeal Court Judge sitting as a High Court Judge, sentenced Mr Tsikata to five years' imprisonment for wilfully causing financial loss to the State and misapplying public property. Tsikata was charged with three counts of wilfully causing financial loss of GH¢ 230,000 (2.3 billion old cedis) to the State through a loan he, on behalf of GNPC, guaranteed for Valley Farms, a private company, and another count of misapplying public property.gna


Kwame Nkrumah Foundation (KNF), an organization dedicated to the memory and championing of beliefs and ideology of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana on Wednesday launched centenary celebration in memory of his birth.The year-long celebration will see a re-enactment of the declaration of the independence day of Ghana, public lectures among others to whip up Nkrumaism enthusiasm among the peoples of the land. Launching the celebration in Accra, Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, President of the KNF said Nkrumaism was still relevant so long as poverty and deprivation continued to afflict Ghanaians. Professor Akosa who is also a Pathologist and Lecturer at the University of Ghana Medical School said the KNF would work under the code name;"Save Ghana now" to ensure that the poverty gap was bridged in fulfillment of the dreams of the first President of the republic. He mentioned some factories and developmental interventions of Dr Nkrumah which he said were left to lie fallow contributing to the low level of the country's development.He defended the legacy and regime of the late President saying he was not an autocratic leader as being portrayed by some members of the society."We of the KNF pledge that we shall work tirelessly to redeem the image of our selfless leader Osagyefo"He said in view of Nkrumah's passion for education, the KNF would create an ideas bank where writings shall be invited from the public and the most creative submissions awarded with prizes. He said the overthrow of Nkrumah was a dark day in Ghanaian politics and also the beginning of the developmental woes of Ghana. He called on the President John Atta Mills to initiate the process of making September 21, the birth-date of Nkrumah as a national holiday and pay him his well-earned tribute.As part of the activities for the celebration, the KNF hoped to create a library on the premises of Kwame Nkrumah Mauseleum where speeches, documentaries and his writings would be assessed. 28 Jan. 08


A Ghanian man charged with killing his wife was arrested at the Greyhound Bus station near downtown early, said Pittsburgh-area police.
The man, identified as 34-year-old Jude Agbley was arrested around 1:30 a.m. at the bus station. He is accused of strangling his wife, 40-year-old Brenda Agbley, to death in the couple's Forest Hills home on Jan. 23, said Allegheny Police Supt. Charles Moffatt.The woman's body was discovered after her 7-year-old son called police when his mother failed to pick him up from a school bus stop.Moffatt said police took the boy home and eventually got inside, where they discovered his mother dead."She was lying on the sofa with a blanket up to her nose. There were marks on her neck," said Moffatt.The couple was recently married. The child is with relatives, said Moffatt. Agbley is awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania, said Moffatt.

Source:The Detroit New


The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) have called for the streamlining of clearance procedure of goods at the ports in order to stop corruption and to step up revenue generation. At a press conference in Tema on Wednesday the GIFF expressed concern about unnecessary delays, complications, cost of importing and processing goods through the ports. Mr Stanley R. K. Ahorlu, Executive Secretary of the GIFF, appealed to the government to allow the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) take over its core functions of classification and valuation of imported goods.He described as duplication of functions for the Destination Inspection Companies (DIC) to be in charge of classification and valuation of goods, while CEPS officials offer assistance in its administration.He explained that CEPS, which was previously in charge of the valuation of goods was stopped, with the reason that it lacked the capacity to carry out the job, but its officials were seconded to the DIC to offer assistance.According to Mr Ahorlu, in the maritime industry all over the world, CEPS normally had responsibility over such function, and it was for this reason that a new office facility was built for the CEPS in Tema.It therefore came as a surprise to the GIFF that the eight year contract of the DIC that ended in 2008 was hurriedly renewed in the last days of the previous government, "even without appraisal of their performance, consultation with CEPS, ship-owners, freight forwarders and other related agencies", Mr Ahorlu said.Mr Ahorlu, who is also GIFF's legal advisor, indicated that the DIC's operation from Accra, compounds the problems of maritime related agencies as they have to travel all the way to transact business and this adds to the cost."Inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the classification and valuation of goods by the DICs have created the opportunity for the solicitation of lower values with the effect that Final Classification and Valuation Reports (FCVR) were less relied upon by CEPS as it worsens the effect of duplication of functions in terms of cost and delays". The Executive Secretary expressed worry that the sector was dominated by foreign ship owners and their agents "who are left to operate unregulated" to the disadvantage of the local participation. "It is the firm belief of GIFF that port services such as stevedoring, freight forwarding and ship agency should be reserved exclusively to indigenous Ghanaian individuals," Mr Ahorlu declared.


The West Africa Network of Journalists for Security and Development (WANJSD) has called on the Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mrs Elizabeth Mills-Robertson to urgently reform the police, detach it from the colonial mentality and direct it towards democratic policing.In a statement in Accra, Mr Francis Ameyibor, WANJSD Deputy General Secretary, said the increasing crime wave demanded that security operations did not only focus on normal police practice, but also embraced the role of policing in relation to the government and governing institutions as well as the general public.He described as worrying signals that some senior and junior officers were alleged to have compromised their professional standards in combating crime and involvement in partisan politics. "These accordingly have hampered the Administration's efforts to combat activities of social deviants, as serious crime continues to permeate both urban and rural communities."Incidents of armed robbery, rape, burglary, assaults, auto theft, murder, drug trafficking, fraud, bribery with alleged tacit involvement of some police personnel continue to attract media coverage on a daily basis," Mr. Ameyibor noted. He urged the Acting IGP to weed out criminal elements within the Police Service whose activities continued to erode public confidence and undermine the Police Administration's credibility and integrity.Mr. Ameyibor noted that Mrs. Mills-Robertson's commitment to reduce crime would be a mirage, unless she immediately redeemed the image of the current police systems. "Public sentiments and attitude towards police officials have is therefore imperative for the Police Administration to go through drastic reforms to build its public image," Mr Ameyibor emphasised. He explained that under the current democratic governance, Police officers must conduct themselves in a way compatible with constitutional governments, by adhering to appropriate guidance and democratic principles in law enforcement.The WANJSD Deputy General Secretary reminded the IGP that the police remained critical to the protection of human rights, safety and security of all Ghanaians, "but history has also shown that the police can be abused by the rulers and made to violate the rights of citizens with impunity..This must not happen again". He therefore called for all-encompassing policing which should aim at reviewing their legal framework to ensure that it satisfied the requirements of democratic governance for effective governmental and non-governmental mechanism for accountability.To enhance the capacity and legitimacy of police officials, Mr Ameyibor urged the Acting IGP to initiate measures to build the professional intelligence and investigative capacity of personnel; operational professionalism and efficiency; planning and research; supervision and motivational rewards; responsiveness and civility in relating to citizens. "There is no doubt that the police need to be effective and efficient in both administrative and operational duties, otherwise they and the government will lose public confidence." Mr Ameyibor also urged the Government and the Police Administration to muster the political and operational will to implement the recommendations contained in the Five-Year Strategic Document, which seeks to provide among others far-reaching reforms, including the new Disciplinary Code, the Police Service Administration Regulation and Conditions of Service, to brighten the career prospects of the entire staff of the service.


The Former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong, has formally handed over to his successor Mrs. Elizabeth Mills-Robertson.
Mr. Acheampong who has been IGP since 2005 was retired last Monday, after serving in the Ghana Police Service for 33 years.Mr. Acheampong was grateful to both members of the Police Service and the media for their support during his term of service.He was happy his successor Mrs. Mills-Robertson rose through the ranks to attain the highest position in the police service.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has resigned as deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana, the central bank said in a statement on Tuesday, in a widely anticipated move after Bawumia's political party lost power in December elections.Bawumia stood for the national vice-presidency on behalf of the New Patriotic Party, which lost both the presidential election and its parliamentary majority in the elections.The Bank of Ghana did not name a replacement.


...Mode of disposal of the vehicles questionable One hundred and thirty nine vehicles imported for the office of the President by five motor firms in the country cannot be located by the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS).CEPS has also described the mode of disposal of the vehicles as questionable, as no records on them can be traced.Furthermore, the motor firms involved in the transaction have refused to respond to queries that will enable CEPS to draw some conclusions on the matter.The 139 saloon and 4x4 vehicles were imported on behalf of the Office of the President by Svani Limited, Mechanical Company Ltd, Universal Motors, Fairllop International Lid and PHC Motors Limited.Details of the transactions were contained in a letter signed by the Commissioner of CEPS, Mr. E.N. Doku, to the chairman of the Assets Transfer Subcommittee of the government’s transition team.It noted that “these companies were selected for a closer look because of the interest shown by honourable committee on the mode of importation and disposal of the vehicle which were originally imported for the Office of the President but were subsequently sold to individuals".Giving a breakdown of its finding in the letter dated January 19, 2009, the CEPS commissioner noted that 968 vehicles were imported by the Office of the President between 2003 and 2008 with the value of tax forgone on the said vehicles amounting to GH¢7,892,935.67.It explained that imports made on behalf of and for the Office of the President were tax exempt.On PHC Motors Ltd, CEPS indicated that its current records and enquiries did not disclose the current location or mode of disposal of the 35 Chrysler vehicles imported for the Office of the President. It said Fairllop International Ltd imported 40 Jaguar X-Type, 40 Rover 75, two Rover 75V6 and one Rover 45 for the Office of the President.Out of the number, Fairllop bought back 35 Jaguar X-Type, while CEPS' enquiries did not disclose the location and mode of disposal of the remaining five Jaguar X-Type and 43 Rovers.With regard to Mechanical Lloyd, CEPS said the company imported 50 BMW 730 LI, two Land Rover Discovery, two BMW 745 Li high security, 13 Ford Ranger pick-ups and one Ford Explorer.It said the company bought back 40 of the BMW 730 Ll and sold them to its customers under a specific sale arrangement.It said CEPS' "current records and enquiries did not disclose the location or mode of disposal of two Land Rovers, 10 BMW 730 Li; two BMW Li 745, 13 Ford Ranger pick-ups and one Ford Ranger".The letter noted that Universal Motors imported 36 VW Passat (Comfort Line) for the Office of the President and subsequently released 35 of the vehicles to the custody of the Ghana@50 Secretariat.It said although records indicated that certain individuals were allocated some of the vehicles, "our records and enquiries did not disclose the current location or mode of disposal of 28 of the vehicles".Sources close to the committee and CEPS told the Daily Graphic that the mode of sale to the importing firms had not been proper because there had been no public bidding process.They wondered why the government would sell the vehicles back to the importers after paying 50 per cent of their total cost.The sources said what made the transaction worse was the fact that the sourced companies gave a 40 per cent discount after the government had made a 50 per cent up front payment.They cited the case of the Jaguars, claiming that the government bought each for $36,000, although it was being sold for $23,000.According to them, even if the government was to resell the vehicles, it should have been done by a public bidding process or auction but that was not done."It was a letter from the Chief Director at the Office of the President who, for instance, in a letter to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), asked that the vehicles be registered in the name of Mechanical Lloyd Company Ltd, which it claimed the company purchased the vehicles through a public bidding process," they said.The sources challenged the former Chief of Staff and the Chief Director to provide evidence of the public bidding process.Moreover, they said CEPS and the state valuer should have been part of the process to revalue the cars and also calculate the appropriate duties on them for the buyers to pay accordingly.They explained that under the CEPS Law, although items bought for the Office of the President and the Diplomatic Corps were tax exempt, anytime they were to change hands into private hands the new owner was made to pay the appropriate taxes.The sources said it was important that these facts were put out for Ghanaians to appreciate the anomalies in the transactions.
Source:Daily Graphic


Zain Ghana has rewarded its first customers with over GH¢100,000 worth of credit in the first week of its "You Pay, Zain Pays" bonus offer month.

The "You Pay, Zain Pays" offer was introduced last month to celebrate the entry of the company into the country and to reward its first customers.

As per the offer, customers would receive as credits to use in the next month whatever they spent in the first month of subscription. A statement by Zain Ghana said the offer was on first come, first served basis and beneficiaries would enjoy it for at least one year.Mr Ransford Nyarko, Marketing Director of Zain Ghana, said the company's main priority was to provide customers with value for money. He urged all prospective customers to subscribe to the Zain network so that they did not miss out on the offer.


The Christian Council of Ghana today launched a video documentary on child trafficking in Accra. The launched video documentary revealed various ways and forms Ghanaian children were been traffic, traumas they go through and how traffickers deny them of their basic human rights such as freedom to attend school among others. According to the video documentary the worst form of the trafficking deal was that, children are bought as low as GH 50 cedis and parents never know what their children go through. Speaking at the launch, the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana Rev.Dr.Fred Deegbe said his outfit was committed to help the trafficked children to go back to their home and enjoy the best of their lives. "The council is well placed to join government and other civil society groups to fight trafficking especially in children as it has a large constituency and can make an impact". He said the council's initiative code "Fight Against Child Trafficking" (FACT) project which began in November 2006 supported by the Rights and Voice Initiatives (RAVI) has really helped in the fight against trafficking protecting the integrity of creation and giving voice to the voiceless. Rev.Dr.Deegbe reiterated that "parents should not give away their children to traffickers no matter the rate of poverty associated with the family because it's always a daily struggle to survival for the children and how dignifying life is denied them". He said the various traffickers caught through the project have been handed over to the police to be dealt with and caution people to desist from that negative practice of engaging other peoples children and maltreating them. "We will make sure the law deals with them" Rev.Deegbe also called on the media to help in the advocacy of the tape to create the necessary awareness across the country to help eliminate the negative act. The public was also urged to get a copy of the tape to really witness "what chid trafficking was about" at head office of the Christian Council at Osu.

Monday, January 26, 2009


TheGhana@50Secretariat charged to organize Ghana's Golden Jubilee celebrations two years ago is in arrears of more than GH¢18 million to contractors.The Secretariat has reportedly already spent US$60 million and with the arrears, the expenditure so far incurred stands at US$78 million against the US$20 million which Parliament approved for the celebration in 2007.Government auditing officials on Monday told the sub-Transition Team on Executive Assets sitting in Accra that only one out of 25 toilets for which an amount of GH¢19 million was allocated had so far been provided.Auditor General, Mr Edward Dua Agyemang responding to questions from the Committee said the audit report prepared by the Auditor General on the activities was in response to a request by Ghana@50 Project. He suggested to the Committee to invite the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Secretariat, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby to answer the quiz on the expenditure of the Secretariat.Mr Dua Agyemang told the Committee of an apparent low level of skills of the Accounting Staff of the Secretariat, most of whom, he said, were on contract or worked on part-time basis, which made it difficult to get information for the auditing process.Also, at the time of the auditing the CEO, whom the staff were expecting to give information for the auditing, he had left for London for three months.He said neither staff nor records to assist in the auditing were available, and the Auditor General's Department had to put receipts and payments together to determine whether there was value for money."We just had to put things together to be able to form our opinion. There wasn't any account over the $60 million account," Mr Agyemang said.Mr Patrick Nomo, head of the Internal Audit Agency, said the Ghana@50 Secretariat did not have internal audit coverage, explaining that the Secretariat was a project under the Office of the President. He, however, said with hindsight there should have been an internal audit, but that should not prevent management from taking money without prior approval. gna


The Progressive Journalists Union of Ghana (Pro-JUG) would like to condemn acts of violence meted out on journalists both members and non-members of the union by persons believed to be supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

The Vice President of the union, Mr. Jeorge Wilson Kingson, and other members of the association were beaten by supporters of the NPP on December 31, 2008 at Nana Akufo Addo’s, East Legon residence.

Their crime was that they have overtly declared their support for Professor John Evans Atta Mills and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and therefore must not be seen anywhere near an NPP funtion. Irrespective of whether they are officially assigned or not

Other journalists whose media houses have in one way or the other made mention of Professor John Evans Atta Mills and or the NDC of winning the election were maltreated, heckled or beaten.

In our opinion, the frequent occurrence of such acts under a regime and a leadership that boast so much of impressive human rights records must be condemned by all. We share in the believe that democracy thrives more in a society where the media is very much independent, irrespective of the season or time.

It is therefore heart warming to hear that the general secretary of the NPP, Nana Ohene Ntow, has come out categorically to condemn the acts.

It is our hope that the party will take measures to ensure that such acts are not repeated in future.


Some companies, especially those which were set-up during the previous government's tenure of office, are apprehensive of the present President John Atta Mills' government.In spite of assurances by President Mills that his government "means well to the business community," the companies are having difficulty working without looking over their shoulders.Some management executives of these companies, who spoke with B&FT on condition of anonymity, said some people in government have begun harassing them with several questions about their businesses.Most of these companies are foreign-owned multinationals which have entered into big project contracts with the previous government."Having to provide answers to verbal queries with regard to how we entered the country, and which Ghanaian group or individuals facilitated our entry, among other issues, is rather frustrating,” said one foreign investor.Yet another investor explained they have no problem with government requesting explanations with regard to terms of the agreements in the contracts, "however, other matters that are extraneous to the contracts that we have to deal with becomes problematic. Our intention is to do good business in Ghana, and we can only hope for a cordial relationship with our benefactors. "However, government sources told B&FT that the government has no intention of pursuing vendettas, especially when the President is bent on working assiduously to make good his campaign promises, and also build a better Ghana for everyone."These various acts of harassment are not coming from the government, but perhaps from some individuals who want to flex their muscles and also want to pursue their own personal selfish agenda," one government official told B&FT.The government official promised that the allegations would be investigated and such culprits would be brought to book."These criminal acts do not at all reflect the philosophy, and the true intent of Professor Mills' government," the official assured.These allegations again run counter to President Mills' avowed aim. Recently, when a three-man delegation of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) called on him at the Castle, Osu, Accra, President Mills said there was need to take a fresh look at the private sector to give it the pride of place in building a robust economy.The AGI delegation, led by its President Mr. Tony Oteng-Gyasi, called to congratulate President Mills on his assumption of the high office and to reassure him of their readiness to team up with government to deliver jobs, development and prosperity.
Source:Business & Financial times


Press Release signed by Kofi Ahovi Acting General Secretary (Pro-JUG).

The Progressive Journalists Union of Ghana (Pro-JUG) wishes to congratulate Professor John Evans Atta Mills and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on their victory in the just ended 2008 general elections. We of Pro-JUG commend the president elect and the NDC for their composure during the entire election and would like to advise the NDC supporters that in celebrating the victory of the party they should not indulge in any act that might provoke their opponents.

We also commend the leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and their supporters for their self-control during the elections. Once again the Electoral Commission (EC) has proven that it is very independent and capable of handling any electoral challenge. We particularly commend Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan for exercising in professionalism in ensuring that our beloved Ghana had a more transparent, free and fair election.
We also congratulate the media, security agencies and all observer groups for a good job done.
Finally, irrespective of the isolated skirmishes recorded, Ghanaians must be praised once again for well-behaving in an electioneering period.
Again Ghana has proven to the continent and the entire world that democracy and the rule of law can be practiced in Africa.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


A High Court in Koforidua on Friday ordered the removal of all the ballot boxes in respect of the just-ended parliamentary election in the Asuogyaman Constituency from the Electoral Commission (EC) office in the constituency to its regional office in Koforidua for them to be properly guarded by the police. It also ordered that the removal of the ballot boxes should be done on Tuesday, January 27, 2009, with all the parties involved, including the EC. The court, presided over by Justice Owusu Kwarteng, gave the order at its sitting on Friday in the case in which Mr Kofi Osei Ameyaw, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary candidate for the election in the constituency had sought three reliefs. They are a declaration that the election of Mr Asare Akoto, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidate for the election, as the MP for the constituency is null and void; a recount of all the ballot papers in respect of the election in the constituency and a declaration that he (Osei Ameyaw) is the duly elected MP. A Koforidua barrister, Mr Francis Polly, who represented Osei Ameyaw, prayed the court for the removal of the ballot boxes from the EC's office in the constituency, which he said was a wooden structure, since there was the possibility of the place being burnt down, as happened to the EC's office in the Tain Consstituency. He also stated that there was the possibility of EC officials tampering with the ballot boxes if they were to remain in the present location. The judge, after listening to Mr Polly's argument, ordered the removal of the ballot boxes from Asuogyaman to the EC's office in Koforidua. No date was, however, set for the continuation of the case. Another High Court in Koforidua which is hearing the case in which the NDC parliamentary candidate for the Akwatia Constituency in the just-ended elections, Baba Jamal Ahmed Muhammed, and two other independent candidates had filed a writ to compel the EC to re-run the parliamentary election in all the polling stations in the constituency, instead of only six, adjourned sitting to Wednesday, January 28, 2009.
Source: Daily Graphic


THE FORMER President and the founder of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, has stated that the recommendations in Mad. Chinery Hesse’s report on ex-gratia award for former Presidents was not only an attempt by ex-President John Agyekum Kufour to rip-off the nation, but also to cover up his ill-gotten wealth during his administration.Describing the recommendation as ridiculous and outrageous, he said “It is absolute thievery at the highest level. It is just an attempt to hide the stolen wealth.”Speaking through his spokesperson, Mr. Kofi Adams, he said Mr. Rawlings was not in a position to accept such recommendations, knowing the conditions of Ghanaians.“He will not rip-off the nation under the name of serving the nation, whilst people wallow in abject poverty and squalor.” Mr. Adams contended that such whooping sums of money could have been used to help people get good drinking water and quality education among others. To him, the two houses, six cars and other emoluments for the former President was uncalled for. Mr. Adams also denied the allegations that Mr. Rawlings was given 17 cars when he left office.He said, currently the former President has no state vehicle at his disposal and that even two of his personal vehicles were seized by the then administration, under President John Agyekum Kufuor. Asked whether his boss would accept the recommendations if the sitting President, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills approves the recommendations, he responded in the negative. “He will reject it outright. He thinks of the ordinary masses more than himself. It was his view that such money should be given out to support the needy, build more schools for the nation and to get good drinking water among others, for the suffering people.”In a telephone interview with this paper yesterday, Mr. Adams noted that the only thing that the former President Rawlings, whose protocol privileges were withdrawn by the then Kufuor led regime, through Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, was the house that he is currently occupying.According to him, the Ridge residence of the former President belongs to the state, but everything within the household was financed by Mr. Rawlings himself. He could not understand why the NPP administration failed to apply the Greenstreet Report for Mr. Rawlings and rather deprived him of all his entitlements till date.On his part, the former Special Assistant, Mr. Emmanuel Victor Smith, also rubbished the assertions that Mr. Rawlings took home 17 state vehicles. He admitted that the cars were brought to him, but his former boss rejected them and ordered that they be sent back to the Chief of Staff.Victor-Smith explained how the household of Flt. Lt. Rawlings suffered in the hands of the NPP administration in terms of remuneration as against the Greenstreet report.According to him, upon consistent complaint, the approval was given that some staff of the former President should be paid. He stated that they received their salaries in November-December 2007.It would be recalled that the retirement facilities were compiled by the Chinery Hesse Committee, approved by parliament and forwarded to the then Chief of Staff, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani on January 6, this year, for implementation.The Committee recommended that former Presidents should be provided with 6 fueled and chauffer-driven vehicles to be replaced every four years, offices and residences in and out of the nation’s capital, three professional and personal assistants, non-taxable ex-gratia awards plus pension benefits, entertainment at the expense of the state and $1million for a foundation.The Chinery Hesse Report on the retirement facilities and privileges of ex Presidents states; “Fully furnished residence in the nation’s capital, provision of office facilities and guest accommodation to be maintained by state protocol.The residence should not revert to the state in the event of the demise of the former President in order not to destabilize the family, in line with best practices.The quality of accommodation should be of a standard befitting a retired Head of State, who must be called upon to receive and entertain the network of dignitaries including Heads of States which would have been cultivated during the period in office.The standard of accommodation must be determined in consultation with state protocol. A model design is attached to the report.Out-of-Capital residence at a location of the former President’s choice, which should also not revert to the state in the event of the demise of the former President for the same reason. Adequate residential support staff for the residences in and out of the capital, to be provided by the state.Office facility, fully equipped furnished and staffed with five professionals and adequate secretarial support within the nation’s capital at the State’s expense, at a location to be determined in consultation with the former President.Six fully maintained comprehensively insured, fuelled and chauffeur-driven vehicles; vehicles to be replaced every four years. The vehicles should be three saloon cars, two cross country vehicles and one all purpose vehicle (armoured car). Travel in congested traffic should be facilitated appropriately with police escort, bearing in mind security considerations. Overseas travel once a year with a maximum duration of 45 days for former Presidents and spousesA former President who has served two consecutive terms should be entitled to a period of 60 days overseas travels, taking into account the longevity of service and accompanying stress given the demands of the office.Three professional and personal assistants and adequate security should accompany the former President in all overseas travels at the expense of the state; this is in line with best practice.Medical and Dental services at the expense of the State. Adequate 24hour security service should be provided at all times. Entitlement to Ghana diplomatic passport, and diplomatic courtesies for former president and spouse. Entertainment; adequate provision by state protocol. Non taxable Ex-gratia award: Equivalent to 12 months Consolidated Salary for each full year of service or pro-rata.Where the President has served for a second consecutive term, an additional nontaxable resettlement grant of 6 months of consolidated salary for each full year of service, or pro-rata prepaid with nontaxable ex-gratia of 12months of consolidated salary for each year served.The Committee also acknowledged that the former Presidents should be put in a position to use the experience which they would have garnered during their time in office; this would also have the advantage of mitigating withdrawal pangs after a life of prominence and importance.In addition to mobilizing resources from the many international Development Partners who have expressed the willingness to support such a cause in promotion of good governance and democracy, the Committee recommends that the State should provide seed money, equivalent to one million US dollars as an endowment to launch this project.This Institute might be associated with one of the tertiary institutions or a think, which might give technical and professional support during the nascent period.



One of my favourite authors is Ambrose Bierce. He was a friend and rival of Mark Twain. He appeared, as in born, in June 1942 and disappeared, as in disappeared, in 1913.He left home at fifteen, went to a military institute and fought as a soldier in the American Civil War. He became a columnist, publishing in newspapers in San Francisco as the “Town Crier” and later for William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers. Bierce’s sense of probity made him a scourge of every one --- from self-absorbed military and civil service careerists to self-righteous Christians and pompous politicians, that is to say all politicians. He set off to Mexico, or so he said, to see the evolution of the Revolution. No reporter reported coming across him or having been crossed by him. He was contemptuous of Realism and defined it in his classic compilation, “The Devil’s Dictionary,” as “The art of depicting nature as it is seen by toads….”Following our recent elections in Ghana, I thought I should consult Bierce’s “Devil’s Dictionary” to see what he would have thought about our polls and our pols.Enjoy.Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.Politician, n. An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the super-structure of organized society is reared. When he wriggles, he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared to the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive.Vote, n. The instrument and symbol of a free man’s power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.Elector, n. One who enjoys the sacred privilege of voting for the man of another man’s choice.Oppose, v. To assist with obstruction and objection.Opposition, n. In politics the party that prevents the Government from running amuck by hamstringing it.President, n. The leading figure in a small group of men of whom – and of whom only it is positively known that immense numbers of their countrymen did not want any of them for President.Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamoured of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.Reporter, n. A writer who guesses his way to the truth and dispels it with a tempest of words.Representative, n. In national politics, a member of the Lower House in this world, and without discernible hope of promotion in the next.Compromise, n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due.Critic, n. A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please himOther classic Biercian definitions:Plunder, v. To take the property of another without observing the decent and customary reticences of theft. To effect a change of ownership with the candid concomitance of a brass band. To wrest the wealth of A from B and leave C lamenting a vanished opportunity.Egotist, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.Christian, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbour. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.Friendship, n. A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but only one in foul.Future, n. That period of time when our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.Responsibility, n. A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate Fortune, Luck or one’s neighbour. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star.Nonsense, n. The objections that are urged against this excellent dictionary.
Credit: Kwaku Sakyi-Addo


Delta Airlines continues to treat their Ghanaian employees as outcasts with their low wages, no health benefits or personal days. These Ghanaians workers from Delta Airlines work under stressful conditions and intimidation from their America bourgeoisie who are the elites. The Delta agency known as Debill monitors their security at the departure check points and their ticket service counter at the Kotoka International Airport. They have the audacity to treat them as foreigners in their own land. Many of these Ghanaian employees have become terrified of this Debill agency. If they say something about their conditions they will loose their jobsDelta Airlines has benefitted from this Ghana Accra and New York J.F.K Airport route with numerous passengers moving around to other places in the African continent by using Kotoka Airport as their transit base. However, they continue to think that their Ghanaian employees are elated to be subjected to their unfair labor practices. As a result of this, Delta Airlines cannot acknowledge that these employees who they regard as their vassals are no different for Delta employees within the U.S . “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights...”Ladies, Gentlemen, and Nananum, with all the millions of dollars Delta Airlines make from Ghanaians who travel with their airbus on a daily basis. Delta Airline has only three employees as their permanent employers who are on their payroll as Delta staff in Ghana. The saddest aspect in this is that these aforementioned permanent employees of Delta are paid only three thousand dollars a month for all three. They are all being Ghanaians. Some of them are former Ghana airways senior staff members who are now running this successful business for them. One of the three employee is being paid (2,000) two thousand dollars a month and the other two are being paid five hundred dollars ($500) each a month. The combined yearly income for these individuals is $36.000. This is what just one of their counter service employees makes a year over here in America. This is an insult for these individuals who are all college graduates and this includes the majority of their staff that are working for the Delta Debill agencies at the Ghana Accra Airport. Furthermore their Delta American Debill agency workers who monitor the security and the ticket counter treat these Ghanaians workers as under class. Meanwhile these Americans make thousands of dollars biweekly in salaries. One can compare and contrast this to other International Airlines that operate from the same avenue in Ghana such as British Airways, KLM and other Airlines. Delta Airlines treatment of their Ghanaian employees is an insult not only to their employees but to all Ghanaians. If one fails, we all do. No one wins until we all do. I urge the labor committee in parliament to look into these cruel practices from the Delta Airlines labor remedial agreement with government to rectify this unfair disastrous labor accord with their Ghanaian staff. If Delta has rebellion by their egocentric greedy and do what they want without obeying Ghanaian labor regulations. Delta cannot, should not continue to treat their African employees as Sixth class Citizens. After all they are all cyclical employees without benefits and health coverage. While the majority of these staff have personally made human capital investments for their future already, but due to the unemployment situation in the country that should not become an opportunity for Delta Airlines to treat them like this.
BY: Nana Kofi Amankwah (New York)
Source:Amankwah Nana Kofi


The Vatican has condemned President Obama's move to restore US funding for family planning clinics abroad that give advice on or carry out abortions.One Vatican official warned against the "arrogance" of those in power who think they can decide between life and death.Another official said it dealt a blow to groups fighting against "the slaughter of the innocents".The White House says the move aligns the US with other nations fighting poverty and promoting health care.On Friday, Mr Obama ended a ban on giving US federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information about them.Robust languageIn an interview published in an Italian newspaper on Saturday, senior Vatican official Monsignor Rino Fisichella urged Mr Obama to listen to all voices in America without "the arrogance of those who, being in power, believe they can decide of life and death.""If this is one of President Obama's first acts, I have to say, in all due respect, that we're heading quickly toward disappointment," Mr Fisichella, who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, told the Corriere della Sera.Another Academy official, Monsignor Elio Sgreccia, said it had dealt a harsh blow to US Catholics and people across the world who are fighting against "the slaughter of the innocents".The criticism from the Vatican adds to concerns from evangelical Protestant groups that the US decision could presage a wider dismantling of the legal limits of abortion.Critics of the former funding ban had long argued that it hurt some of the poorest people in the world by denying money to groups that might support abortion, but also work on other aspects of reproductive health care or HIV/Aids.The ban was first introduced in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan. It was rescinded by President Bill Clinton, before being reinstated by President George W Bush in 2001.
Source: BBC


PITTSBURGH, USA— Pittsburgh-area police Saturday charged a Ghanaian man with homicide because they suspect he strangled his wife to death.
As of late yesterday, authorities were searching for Jude Agbley, 34, a native of Ghana, who recently married Brenda Agbley.
Brenda Agbley, 40, was found dead in her Ogden Avenue home late Friday afternoon. Police went to her house after they were told she did not pick up her son, who is in first grade, at the bus stop.
Police have issued a warrant for Agbley's arrest, and the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office has ruled the death a homicide.Jude Agbley, who uses the name Vincent Coffie and possibly other aliases, is about 5-feet, 9-inches tall, thin and speaks with an accent, according to police.A list of Allegheny County Marriage Licenses dated Aug. 6 indicates a Delai Kudjoe Agbley married Brenda Lee Lorigan.Paul DeVito knew Brenda Agbley and her son, Corey, from Cub Scouts. Agbley was a den mother for Cub Scout Pack 90 in Forest Hills. DeVito is the pack's cub master."She was a nice person. I feel horrible," DeVito said. "I tried to call her today because we had our pinewood derby yesterday and she wasn't there. It's a big event for the kids ... she will be greatly missed."DeVito said he had recently trained the woman to be a Tiger cub leader."She has done a great job with the kids, very patient and she was very well-liked," he said. "Her son is a really nice kid. I can't even imagine what the family is going through. It's horrible."Brenda Agbley's family has suffered through violence before.Her daughter, Heather Turk, was severely injured when she stabbed her in her apartment in May. Turk, who is in her early 20s, was unable to breathe on her own for a while after the attack.Brenda Agbley's ex-husband Thomas Lorigan was killed in the attack. Two people were arrested and charged in the crime.Turk has undergone extensive physical rehabilitation.DeVito said Brenda Agbley had mentioned that her daughter was going to be able to return home soon.Neighbor Albert Sciullo, 52, said he occasionally saw the Agbley family, but he did not know them. Sciullo said he was shocked to see a coroner's van parked across the steep, residential street when he arrived home late Friday after having his car repaired."It's really a nice, quiet street. People around here have jobs," he said. "We want to know more about it."Jude Agbley was arrested twice for burglary in 2003, police said.After failing to appear in court, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest and federal immigration officials issued a deportation warrant.He is known to have friends and family in New Jersey, Kentucky and Virginia. Police said they believe that Jude Agbley has used false Social Security and resident alien cards.

Source:The Associated Press


Stakeholders in the rice sub-sector of the agricultural sector held their annual general meeting yesterday and, not surprisingly, fired a petition to the new government. Not only did their petition not surprise anybody; to Ghanaians who have been following the fortunes of this staple, it had, indeed, been long expected. Their shopping list has not changed since the last time they were seen waving it at the face of the Ministry of Agriculture. It ranges from irrigation facilities, through high interest rate on the loans they take from the banks and lack of milling facilities. Most Ghanaians do not know, but they would not be surprised by news that local rice farmers produce only 30 per cent of the country's requirement. The remaining two-thirds, worth 500 million dollars, are imported! The figure is alarming when it is juxtaposed against the situation in 1999-2000 when the rice import bill was 100 million dollars. Eight years down the line, rice production (and processing) is still at an infant stage, in a country where it is a staple. The cost of production, for the farmer, is simply too high. Against this background, the Times pauses to commend the untiring efforts of the Finatrade Group of Companies, best known by its popular brand, Ricemaster, one company which has for years now, pumped millions of cedis into rice production by pre-financing the farmers' groups. It has gone further, financing the education of dozens of Agriculture students in all the public universities in the country. Currently, an advertisement from the company is running in the national dailies through which it whetting the appetite of Ghanaians for local rice. Unfortunately, Finatrade's vision is a solo effort: it is alone in this, for which reason, its best efforts still look like a drop in a big ocean, and therefore, not very much appreciated. Meanwhile, rice production (and processing) continues to suffer. There are too many challenges that have been allowed to persist for too long, and for which the people do not seem to have an answer! There are no mills worth the name in the country. No wonder, locally produced rice is still full of stones. It is instructive to find out for how long.
Source: Ghanaian Times


Parliamentarians in Accra and within the Tema Metropolitan Areas began a year-long clean-up exercise to rid the country of filth in fulfilment of President John Atta Mills' initiative to Keep Ghana Clean within the first 100 days of his administration. The exercise undertaken in collaboration with management of Zoomlion Ghana was code named "Keep Ghana Clean".The year-long exercise to be extended to other regions included distilling of drains, sweeping and collection of refuse. Speaking to journalists,the member of parliament for Ashiaman mr.Agbeshi commended Zoomlion for their good initiatve and pledge total contribution anytime the need arises. "We at Ashiaman have done alot of cleaning this morning and refuses in Zenu is been collected by Zoomlion staff ". Mr Fritz Baffour, Member of Parliament for Ablekuma South and Mr Jonathan Nii Tackie Komme, Member of Parliament for Odododiodoo said their constituencies within fishing communities had high incidence of malaria, cholera and typhoid fever."There is therefore, the need to rid the communities of filth to ensure good health for the people," they said. "Being the heart of the metropolis, there is the need for us to get involved as Parliamentarians to join the citizenry to fight these preventive diseases."At Madina/Abokobi Constituency, Alhaji Amadu Sorogho complained of lack of dumping sites to dispose off refuse and called on the people to participate in the exercise to be in good health to achieve middle income status set for the country in 2020. He encourage Zoomlion to keep up to their good work and pledge governments total support.


When Ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor cut the tape to commission the presidential palace complex, which was to become one of his legacies, many Ghanaians were still in a limbo as to how much of their tax money was to be been pumped into the monstrous edifice.Contrary to suggestions by many of the then ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) government spokespersons that Ghanaians should be grateful to them for the complex, since it was largely being funded by a benevolent Indian Government, it has emerged that the project is costing the Ghanaian taxpayer GH¢176 million.This figure represents three times the cost given to Ghanaians by the government.Official correspondence from the Indian Consultants to the project, STUP Consultants Limited, put the cost of the Golden Jubilee Presidential Palace complex at $135 million.According to the consultants the project covers an area of 16,750sqm, consisting of a 'presidential and vice presidential offices, the president's palace, ceremonial public spaces and allied service buildings.'The cost of the project, which was originally estimated at 36.9 million dollars, was said to have shot up with the provision of additional facilities to enhance external and internal security. The new cost was however, never disclosed.The new figure would certainly come as a surprise to many Ghanaians who have believed all along that the project was principally being funded with a $30miIlion Indian grant.The amount was part of a $60m facility that has a 50 per cent grant element, at an interest rate of 1.75 percent, repayable in 25 years, including a five-year moratorium. Shapoorji Pallonji of India is undertaking the construction of the project, which started in 2006.Since the terms of the facility allowed the donors' home companies to execute the project, it means the Indians had used their $30million grant bait to win a $135million contract for their people!On November 10, 2008, when the former President hurriedly commissioned the complex in order to get his name inscribed on it, the government could still not tell Ghanaians how much the project was costing the taxpayer.Describing the concept of the Palace the consultants, STUP, said the complex design is "a monumental form' which" depict African culture in a progressive and contemporary manner and to incorporate symbols of the aspirations of the people of Ghana,' adding that it 'communicates power; stability, democracy and freedom.'Even though both the offices and residential complexes take the shape of a stool, which could be described as depicting 'African culture,' none of the designs in the outer wall, which is most visible to commuters and pedestrians alike, depict any of the well-known Ghanaian adinkra symbols.Former President Kufuor attracted a lot of criticism from minority parties and sections of the Ghanaian public, when commissioning the project, for not seeing to the priority needs of the people, such as addressing the acute water shortage and lack of capacity to deal with sanitation in the cities, and described the choice as amounting to a misplaced priority.The former President stated while inaugurating the first phase of the project that the Government at every stage of the construction had been sensitive to the financial implications of the venture as well as the conditions of life of Ghanaians.He received further flak for deciding to use the offices even as the complex was uncompleted, against an earlier statement he had made that he was not going to be the first to occupy the premises.The criticism followed government announcement that Presidential staffers were moving into the uncompleted premises to await the President's arrival.Mr. Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, President Kufuor's Minister for Information and National Orientation had told Voice of America's (YOA) Peter Clottey at the time that Ghanaians should be proud of having a historic national monument befitting a seat of government after half-a-century of political independence. ."The president and of course the government today commissioned the new seat of government for the Republic of Ghana. And within it we have the Nkrumah heritage house, which is the old flagstaff house that housed the first president and his family and now has been turned into heritage, where we would exhibit some of the monuments and things that we used to have."But today is very significant and it is a day that we have all welcomed the arrival of the new home for the seat of government and for the first family and the second family. It also houses a very imposing administrative structure that you can see from anywhere in Accra," Asamoah-Boateng pointed out."Today we did the unveiling or the christening and also the naming of it, but the work is not complete. What we've completed is the administrative block for the offices to run. What I know”' is that some sections of the staff of the president from the castle would start moving in today. They were packing 'away from the castle last night and they would be there from today. So we need to have a gradual movement of the staff. But of course, the staff would have to settle down to know where everything is and then the president also moves in. I know he would move in but the time I cannot tell you."Sometimes, President Kufuor keeps things to himself for a while, so I think I would give him that as the president to keep those things close to his chest. But we've discussed it and I know he would move in," Asamoah-Boateng revealed.“The other thing is what this new building brings to us is the efficiency of work. Here, we have enough space and in most of the offices there are stretches of room where there are only small partitions where at least managers or directors would see their staff and work with them. It brings that kind of culture of togetherness and every office or organization needs that culture to hold people together," he said.At the commissioning of the project, President Kufuor explained that the mansion was being named 'Golden Jubilee House' because the construction started around the 50th Anniversary of Ghana's Independence.The commissioning ceremony was attended by the Minister of State of External Affairs of India, Anand Sharma.Facilities within the complex include a Clinic, Bank and a Fire Service Post. The then Chief of Staff and Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani indicated that the second phase of the project was expected to be competed soon.The Archbishop of Cape Coast Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson conducted the consecration ceremony, after which dignitaries were taken round to inspect the edifice.As at press time, transition team members were still unable to put a cost to the edifice, as they said they were still scouting for information.


Friday, January 23, 2009


President Atta Mills has made the following appointments
Nominated Ministers
Mr. Mike Hammah Ministry of TransportMr. Alex Tetteh-Enyo Ministry of EducationMs. Hannah Tetteh Ministry of Trade and IndustryDr. Oteng Adjei Ministry of EnergyMrs. Betty Mould Iddrisu Ministry of Justice and Attorney-GeneralMs. Akua Dansua Ministry of Women and Children's AffairsMrs. Juliana Azumah Mensah Ministry of TourismMr. Collins Dauda Ministry of Lands and Natural ResourcesMr. Haruna Iddrisu Ministry of CommunicationsMs. Shirley Ayitey Ministry of Environment, Science and TechnologyThe full list of nominated Regional Ministers is as follows:Mr. Mahmood Khalid Upper West RegionMr. Nyamekye Marfo Brong Ahafo RegionNii Armah Ashitey Greater Accra RegionMr. Ofosu Ampofo Eastern RegionMs. Ama Benyiwa-Doe Central Region
Colonel Larry Gbevlo-Lartey (Rtd): Acting National Security Co-ordinator.
Yaw Donkor: Acting Director of Bureau of National Investigations (BNI)
Yaw Osei: Acting Director, Research Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
John Henry Martey Newman - Chief of Staff.
Brigadier General Nunoo-Mensah -- National Security Advisor
Hon. Mahama Ayariga --- Presidential spokesperson.
James K. Bebako-Mensah --- Secretary to Cabinet
Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo -- Speaker of Parliament
Doe Adjaho --- First Deputy Speaker. MP for Avenor Ave
Temporary Appointments
Akwasi Oppong-Ofosu - Minister for Local Government Rural Development and Environment
Vice Admiral E.O. Owusu Ansah -- Defense Minister
Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni ---- Interior Minister.
Togbe Afede XIV (head), Moses Asaga and Kwabena Duffuor - Finance Ministry.


It has now been established that the country spent US$60 million (GH¢60,179,481) in celebrating its 50th anniversary (Ghana@50) in 2007. In addition, the nation still owes huge sums of money to Fairilopp Company, the motor firm which imported luxury vehicles for use during the celebration. Sources within the government's transition team disclosed to the Daily Graphic that five accounts, four at Prudential Bank and one at the Bank of Ghana, were operated by the authorities in the name of the project. They said in view of the debt, the motor company had demanded that a certain number of cars should be returned to it to cover the amount owed by the state. "The state paid only 50 per cent of the total cost of the vehicles purchased by the motor firm and had since defaulted" the sources told the Daily Graphic. According to the sources, when Dr Charles Yves Wereko-Brobby, the Chief Executive Officer {CEO) of the project, appeared before the committee, he indicated that he had reported all transactions on the project directly to the former Chief of Staff, Mr Kwadwo Mpiani, who was the supervising Minister for the Ghana@50 celebrations. The sources added that Dr Wereko-Brobby said he acted on behalf of the former Minister of Presidential Affairs at the project secretariat and for that matter if the committee wanted further explanations on some of the issues which did not go down well with it, it should direct them at the former Chief of Staff. They added that when the Auditor-General appeared before the committee, he denied knowledge of the estimates on the project, since his outfit did not have a report on them.He, therefore, pleaded with the members to appear before them again next Monday, by which time he would have collected bits and pieces on the matter to prepare an interim report. The sources gave the breakdown of the revenue and expenditure of the project as: Release from Government of Ghana Treasury, GH¢34,596,013; Funds from African Union Consortium, GH¢12,790,000 and Overdraft Facility from the Prudential Bank, GH¢1,226,645.Others were: Direct Payment from the Bank of Ghana to Jospong Company Limited, GH¢5,585,000; Proceeds from hiring of vehicles, GH¢773, 236, 75; Sale of Land, GH¢1,028,485 and Sale of Souvenirs GH¢318,417.The rest were: Proceeds from Sponsorship, GH¢1,882,530; Sale of Vehicles, GH¢1,881,602, and Sale of Household Furnishing Items, GH¢97,572.The sources said another irony of the situation was that while GH¢12 million was raised and used for the procurement of Jubilee Souvenirs, only GH¢318,417 was realized as proceeds from the sale of those items.
Source: Daily Graphic


Zoomlion will be organising a mega national clean-up exercise tommorrow to rid the nation of filt.The exercise is to ensure complete cleanliness in the aftermath of the christmas festivities and election 2008,which brought together many people leading to the increased accumulation of refuse.Speaking the at the launch of the Zoomlion-media collaboration on public education programmes and clean-up,the communication manager of Zoomlion Mr.Oscar Provencal who read a statment onbehalf of the Chief Executive Officer of the company Mr.Joseph Siaw-Adjapong said the clean up which will start tommorrow 24th January,will be subsequently followed by a regional clean up exercise in colloboration various MMDA's and other stakeholders within the the shortest possible time. " Our major challenge is the negative attitude of the general public towards filt".It is against this background that Zoomlion is collaboration with the media to fight against this canker that has eaten deep into the fiber of society" he added. Mr Provencal said on the bid to foster change in the habit of citizens,Zoomlion called on various media houses to design environmental sanitation programmes that is geared towards attitudinal change. "Zoomlion shall support in the public education programme with the media also playing their role to ensure desired impact". He also called on all NGO's in water and sanitation,religious bodies,Ghana Journalist Association among others to fully support in the campaign by submitting their public education initiatives to Zoomlion for collaboration".

BY:Michael Amedor

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


As Questions emerge over approval process......
IT’S VULGAR”, NOTED law lecturer Ace Ankomah, irked by what he saw as an insensitive retirement package for immediate past president John Agyekum Kufuor and other former presidents. “It’s fraud! What kind of nonsense is that?” is the way the NPP MP for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, Hon. P. C. Appiah Ofori, put it, suggesting that the Clerk of Parliament and officers of the former seat of government are attempting to pull a fast one on Ghanaians.
“There was nothing like that in Parliament; it is perpetration of fraud. Go to Parliament and check the Hansard. I vehemently oppose it. What kind of nonsense is that? I am prepared to go to court on that,” noted the eccentric accountant who has represented the former ruling party and current opposition party in parliament since 2000 on JOY FM.
In the wake of the massive condemnation of the package, there are now questions over the approval process involved in okaying the report, with so many parliamentarians claiming they are unaware any retirement package has been approved.
Even those who say they were aware now say the process was akin to a 419 scheme. Some say they were enticed with recommendation on their ESB and while they debated, that of the president and others were smuggled in.
Appiah-Ofori who said he was in Parliament on the day the approval is said to have occurred in a letter sent to the presidency by the then Clerk of Parliament has challenged the so-called approval.
He has alleged that nothing of the sort alluded to by the Clerk of Parliament happened on January 6, when the 4th Parliament of the 4th Republic went on recess. “On December 7, we were on recess and could not have approved it”, he further asserted.
According to him, Parliament did not discuss the emoluments payable to former presidents on that day, let alone approve same. “The matter was not raised at all”, he stated on radio, insisting that anybody who says otherwise “is a criminal.”
“Go for the Order Paper and show whether it’s been slated” he furiously asked his host when he was told some of his colleagues have insisted that they approved the retirement package.
“If it was approved, who proposed it and who seconded”, he asked, saying “”I am prepared to go to court on that.”
Asked if Parliament may not have met elsewhere, Appiah-Ofori insisted that few members of the House cannot meet elsewhere and take decisions in the name of Parliament.Appiah-Ofori is not the only NPP man angry with the retirement package birthed by the Kufuor administration through a Committee chaired by the woman who later became an Advisor to the former president.Former NPP General Secretary, one-time Information Minister and current MP for Okere, Honourable Dan Botwe could not help but ask on Peace FM yesterday: “Why should we give our ex-presidents these expensive things while people in Nima and other places in the country lack public toilets?”Chastising the former government for accepting what he considers the offensive retirement proposal and taking it to Parliament, he said he will be shocked if former president Kufuor asserts that he has not seen the retirement package.“The Committee cannot recommend and approve the retirement package without showing it to him because he set up the Committee,” he said, noting that during their campaigns all the presidential aspirants declared their assets and they all had houses. “So why can’t they stay in those houses”, he asked, wondering why former president Kufuor in particular cannot live in the same house he has governed Ghana from over the past eight years.”Interestingly, even the MPs who approved the controversial package are running away from rationalising it in the wake of the huge public uproar over the multi-million dollar per president package.Former Minority but current Majority Chief Whip, Hon. John Tia, acknowledged on radio Tuesday morning that Parliament mistakenly okayed the package without at least a sneak preview or knowledge of the content on presidential emoluments because MP were excited over their own End of Service Benefits (ESB).We were hoodwinked with the deal for us, he suggested.According to him, Parliament did not discuss the emoluments payable to the president because it was not raised, suggesting that the non-discussion and lack of insight of the emoluments could be interpreted to mean that that part of the package is null and void.His colleague, Hon E. T. Mensah, also said as far as he remembers, no such retirement package or ESB was tabled before Parliament on the said day it was approved. “No such issue was even discussed, he said.The only defence on a day of back-lashing for the sweet ESB deal came from the current Minority leader, Hon Kyei Mensah Bonsu, who admitted that the issue was not debated, discussed or mentioned. He noted, however, that it was part of the package approved by the MPs for themselves.Meantime NDC hardliner, Dr. Tony Aidoo, says the explanation that the retirement package will motivate presidents to leave office peacefully “is sheer nonsense.”He said people who have been voted for by Ghanaians cannot say they will not leave office when their term of office expires.“We don’t need soldiers or police to push them out, the people themselves will go and push them out,” he told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show host, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah.Aidoo was responding to claims by former deputy Information Minister and spokesman for the NPP side of the Transitional team, Mr Frank Agyekum, that the retirement package will ensure presidents live comfortably after they exit executive office and by so doing discourage them from hanging on to power.For Tony Aidoo, such explanations are unreasonable and untenable, especially when numerous Ghanaians live under despicable socio-economic conditions.In terms of amount, the former MPs, who looked the other way while the controversial package was snaked through parliamentary processes, have a lot to benefit.Reports suggest that former Speaker, Begyina Sekyi Hughes takes home a lump sum of GH¢126,600, a saloon car and an all-purpose vehicle to be maintained by the state.He is also entitled to a non-taxable pension package, free medical and dental care for him and his spouse, all at the expense of the state.A deputy speaker takes home a lump sum of GH¢100,000 and will be entitled to purchase a one duty-post vehicle. Like the former Speaker, he and his spouse and children less than 21 years will receive free medical and dental care.The Majority and Minority leaders and their deputies; Chief Whips and their deputies will receive a non-taxable ex-gratia and settlement grants ranging between GH¢90,000 and GH¢100,000. They will also be entitled to pension and the right to purchase a duty-post vehicle.The Chinery Hesse report recommends former MPs be given a lump sum of GH¢56,000 and should be entitled to their full pension.As part of the retirement package, the Chinery Hesse Committee recommended that president Kufuor should be entitled to a lump sum of $460,000 (equivalent to ¢4.6 billion) among several other benefits.