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Latest Ghana Web News - 22.06.2012

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June 03.06.2012 - All Latest GhanaWeb-News -

- Non-Ghanaian retailers close shops as GUTA

  deadline expires
- Forex Bureaux Face Imminent Shutdown
- Gen. Mosquito is NDC’s major threat not

  Rawlings – Adams
- Agogo: Forcible eviction of Fulanis

- Former Miss Ghana's House Burnt Down

  By NDC Supporters
- NDC opinion polls predict Mills loss
- Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) sacks

  37 NYEP interns for misconduct
- Lands Commission Sells Police Building To

  Alisa Hotel
- Police Caution Oil Investors
- No one has divine right to rule - Veep
- Commentary: Shame On Those Who Wish

  President Mills Dead
- EC records 12,000 to 15,000 double

- Break Duopoly On Cement Production -

  World Bank
- Experts to discuss control, elimination of

  Neglected Tropical Diseases


Non-Ghanaian retailers close shops as GUTA deadline expires
* Source: JoyOnline

Some retail business enterprises owned by non-Ghanaians have started folding up in compliance to a directive from the Ghana Union Traders Association to foreign retailers.

GUTA is seeking to enforce Act 478 of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC)that bars foreigners from petty trading, hawking or selling from a kiosk at any place reserved as a market. The law stipulates that any foreigner who wants to engage in retailing must first invest an initial $300,000.

According to GUTA's President, George Ofori the directive is not targeted at any particular nationality but it is seeking to smoke out all non-Ghanaians who are dealing in the retail business in areas such as Makola, Okaishie, Nkrumah Circle and so on.

As a 3-month ultimatum given to the non-Ghanaians in the retail business elapses on Thursday, the Chairman of the Inter-Agency Task Force on non-Ghanaians in Retail Business, Kofi Larbie has revealed that they would start clamping down on those businesses on Monday, June 24.

The task force comprise of institutions such as Registrar General's Department, Ghana Investment Promotions Center, Ghana Revenue Authority, Immigration Service, Police Service, Ministry of Trade and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Meanwhile checks by Joy FM’s Francis Abban at the Tip Toe Lane, Nkrumah Circle, Accra revealed that some of the shops owned by non-Ghanaians have been closed.

He added that some locals have advised the non-Ghanaians to adopt a “wait and see” approach to see whether the task force would carry out its threat.

He reported that some local traders have welcomed the news urging the task force to enforce the law to the letter.

According to Francis Abban, some non-Ghanaians however called on the task force to extend the ultimatum to ensure that they get enough time to fully shut down their enterprises.


Forex Bureaux Face Imminent Shutdown
* Daily Graphic

The Bank of Ghana is putting the activities of forex bureau operators in its monitoring radar for possible sanctions and license withdrawal. Suleiman Mustapha asks why

The Bank of Ghana has threatened to impose severe sanctions including license withdrawal of forex bureau operators who accept deposits and do large foreign exchange transactions.

Central Bank Governor and Chairman of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of Ghana, Mr Kwesi Amissah-Arthur has on the sidelines of an MPC news conference in Accra hinted some forex bureau operators are now accepting deposits and doing large foreign exchange transactions.

The bank is therefore setting out measures to monitor the activities of forex bureau operators in a bid to stem the rising spate of dollarization of the national economy.

“Yes we are worried that some of the forex bureau operators now accept deposits like the normal banks and transact large volumes of foreign exchange business”.

“They are part of the problem and we will soon be rolling out tough measures to stem their illegal activities”, the Governor said.

The Bank of Ghana is even more worried of the growing trend of dollarization, which he partly blamed on the activities of forex bureau operators.

According to the Governor, the central bank will continuously be reviewing the books and constantly monitor the activities of forex bureau operators for possible sanction in breach of the country’s foreign exchange rules.

“It is our view that this will contribute to restoring confidence in the cedi” he said, adding that “the Bank will issue the necessary notices to this effect in due course”.

“They are supposed to do spot transaction of the small foreign currency, which does not require having to go to the commercial banks to exchange”.

“But what we have observed is that some of them are accepting deposits and moving large volumes of foreign exchange around”, he added.

The Bank of Ghana has mopped up GH¢1.2 billion in excess liquidity from the system in a bid to stem the exchange rate pressure and reduce demand for dollars.

In a move to halt the growing trend of ‘dollarization’ and stabilize the cedi, the Central Bank is also reviewing the currency composition of the reserve requirements of commercial banks.

Dollarization is characterized by a tendency for businesses to sell their goods and services in foreign currencies, particularly, dollars.

The service providers quote exchange rates that are significantly off-market. The fringe exchange rates trickle down into the market and become benchmark rates, unduly influencing market rates.

The situation has fuelled price increases in the country and led the Bank of Ghana to tighten monetary policy, alter bank reserve requirements and reintroduce several bonds.

“The committee notes that the measures have begun to take effect. Increase in the policy rate have led to upward adjustments in rates of money markets instruments and improve the attractiveness of cedi assets compared to foreign currency assets”, Mr Amissah-Arthur said.

According to the Governor, though the Bank of Ghana was not considering abolishing the operation of foreign exchange accounts by citizens, it would move to restore the pre-eminence of the cedi in domestic transactions, which required strict adherence to the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Act 2006 (Act 723) and the accompanying regulations.

The Governor was worried about the large dollar deposits in commercial bank accounts, which he said had significantly contributed to the exchange rate pressure.

At the moment, the share of foreign currency deposits to total deposits in the banking system has increased from 27.9 per cent in April 2010 to 28.2 per cent in April 2011 and further to 31.8 per cent in April this year.

This means that some commercial banks have more foreign currency deposits than domestic currency in their total deposit.

The Bank of Ghana feared that those banks could be importing large volumes of foreign currency to service the needs of their clients.

During the first five months of the year, the cedi depreciated cumulatively by 15.1 per cent against the US dollar, compared to 1.9 per cent depreciation in the same period of 2011.

In recent weeks however, the pace of depreciation of the cedi has moderated as a result of the measures introduced to restore stability.

The real effective exchange rate depreciated by 6.8 per cent in January – April 2012, compared with a real appreciation of 5.9 per cent in the same period of 2011.

But Governor Amissah-Arthur assured Ghanaians that the end of the cedi fall was in sight.


Gen. Mosquito is NDC’s major threat not Rawlings – Adams
* CitifmOnline

The office of former President J.J Rawlings has strongly condemned the National Democratic Congress’ scribe, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, describing him as one of the major threats the ruling party faces in its bid to retain power.

The General Secretary of the NDC reportedly urged party faithfuls to turn Rawlings’ own mantra of positive defiance on him. Speaking at a press conference in Accra, the spokesperson to the Rawlingses, Kofi Adams, stated that the party ought to be very careful of persons it refers to as enemies and rather work towards restoring the principles of the NDC.

He said the party should rather consider tackling the scandals surrounding Mr. Nketia rather than embarking on a fight against its founder.

“I want to tell the Secretary General of the NDC that if he feels the chances of the NDC in the 2012 elections is anyhow threatened, then his actions, his deeds and inactions are the reasons for which the party is facing this challenge that it is facing,” he said.

“We have not heard this kind of behaviours and utterances [from past secretary generals]. I see no reason why if our General Secretary goes to engage in inside trading business, [then] he feels that is safe and good for the image of the party, but the founder who is calling for the restoration of the values underpinning the formation of the party is the one that is destroying the party.

“The General Secretary must be called to order and the time is now. Those who keep calling and wanting unity and coming around to engage some of us, we can’t continue building when we have someone at the centre of affairs destroying,” Mr. Adams said.


Agogo: Forcible eviction of Fulanis recommended
* JoyOnline

The committee setup by the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC) to oversee the movement of Fulani herdsmen from the Agogo traditional area has recommended their forcible eviction.

The committee chaired by the Regional Director of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), Alex Daary, has given the nomads a month’s grace period to leave or be forced out.

It follows their refusal to move voluntarily by the end of last April.

Luv FM’s Kwabena Ampratwum reports that Mr Alex Daary who presented the report to the Ashanti Regional Minister, said the committee recommended the eviction of the Fulani Herdsmen among others.

“Several opinions expressed by this committee are that the activities of the Fulani herdsmen have adversely affected crop cultivation and disrupted social life in the Agogo area.

“And therefore, as the High Court has ordered, the cattle and for that matter the Fulani herdsmen have to be flushed out from the villages mentioned earlier in the report.”

He noted that as at the end of April, only two cattle owners had voluntarily vacated the area as the rest failed to comply with the agreed decision.

“The committee hereby recommends to REGSEC the application of forceful eviction with the herdsmen and their cattle from the Agogo land, the implementation of this should be in accordance with the action plan, which is submitted.”

However, the Ashanti REGSEC has given the herdsmen up to the 21st of July to vacate the area.

Ashanti Regional Minister, Dr kwaku Agyemang Mensah said the security personnel would be on standby to flush out the Fulani herdsmen if they flout the directive.


Former Miss Ghana's House Burnt Down By NDC Supporters
* Daily Searchlight

The entire building of the NDC Parliamentary candidate for the Ledzokuku Constituency, Mrs. Benita Sena Okity-Dua, a former Miss Ghana has been razed down by fire suspected to have been set by her own party supporters who do not want her to be their candidate.

So far, properties worth over forty million new Ghana cedis have been reported as destroyed, though there were no human casualties.

The incident occurred on Wednesday between 4:30 and 5pm. Athorities are still investigating with arson high on the list of suspicions.

In an interview with Benita Sena Okity-Dua, she hinted that even though the Fire Service is yet to confirm the cause, she suspects foul play.

She therefore accused some people in her area of seeking her downfall, to force her to resign as the parliamentary candidate for the party. The NDC Parliamentary candidate thanked God that no casualty was recorded and said there is no success without a story.

She assured that the party will maintain the seat in the up-coming general elections.


NDC opinion polls predict Mills loss?
* New Statesman

A string of internal opinion polls carried out by the ruling National Democratic Congress is causing fear and panic among party officials as all the polls point to one result: President Mills is set to become the first one-term President in Ghana’s history.

A March 2012 opinion poll, conducted by a South African PR Firm, which has been contracted by the NDC for the December election, put the Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo-Addo, at 49.07%, with President Mills lagging behind with 47.07%.

This development did not amuse the NDC party hierarchy and therefore subsequently commissioned “pollster” and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Dispatch Newspaper, Ben Ephson, to conduct an “independent” opinion poll in April on the chances of President Mills ahead of the 2012 poll.

Ben Ephson’s poll, according to sources at the party office, killed the morale of the top functionaries of the NDC as the results made for grim reading.

The results of Ben Ephson’s poll, after being asked ‘Who they will vote for in the 2012 elections’, had Nana Akufo-Addo obtaining 50.05%. President Mills fared rather worse in Ben Ephson’s poll, as he received 44.40% of respondents sampled.

The results of Ben Ephson’s April poll had Nana Akufo-Addo defeating President Mills in seven out of the 10 regions in the country, with President Mills winning only the Volta, Upper East and Upper West regions.

The regional breakdown of Ben Ephson’s polls is as follows: Ashanti-79.8% for Nana Akufo-Addo, 19.1% for Mills; Brong Ahafo - 55 .7% for Nana, 40.4% for Mills; Central Region – Nana Addo, 59.8, with 39.4 for Mills; Eastern - 68.9% for Nana Addo, 31.4% for Mills; Greater Accra -48.2% for Nana Addo, 46.9% for Mills; Northern - 51.3% for Nana Addo, 44.5% for Mills; Upper East - 39.8% for Nana Addo, 60.1% for Mills; Upper West - 40.4% for Nana Addo, 52.1% for Mills; Volta - 18.9% for Nana Addo, 74.9% for Mills; Western - 52.8% for Nana Addo, 41.5% for Mills.

Results from the two latest opinion polls informed decisions taken at an NDC Manifesto Committee meeting held earlier this month. At the meeting, it was accepted that the only way to defeat Nana Akufo-Addo was through vitriolic attacks as results from the poll show that the NDC has lost out on issues.

Even for the NDC’s so-called flagship sector, Agriculture, where it claims to have chalked unprecedented successes, the results of the opinion poll suggested otherwise.

Representatives of the South African PR firm engaged by the NDC thus advised the party that it cannot win when it concentrates on issues alone. Therefore, the only way the NDC and President Mills can emerge victorious is to find a way to scare Ghanaians off the opposition leader, Nana Akufo-Addo.

This scare-mongering is to be done through a rollout of some “serious avalanche of negative campaigning” against Nana Akufo-Addo in the last few months in the run-up to the December polls.

This tactic of trying to rundown Nana Akufo-Addo in the print and electronic media seems to have been stepped up in recent weeks, as per the advice of the South African firm, by NDC communicators and newspapers.

It is also recalled that in September 2011, having been confronted with empirical evidence of their defeat at the 2012 polls at a secret strategic retreat held at Shai Hills, the hierarchy of the ruling National Democratic Congress resolved to embark on a sustained and brutal character assassination of Nana Akufo-Addo, as this represented the only way the NDC could win the 2012 general elections.

Day three of the retreat themed “Communications skills and Strategy session” was chaired by Kofi Totobi Kwakye. During this session, the results of surveys commissioned by the NDC were presented and this clearly was not pleasant news to the NDC gurus gathered.

It was disclosed that a survey commissioned by the NDC and conducted by an international research and polling firm put President Mills at 39% and Nana Akufo-Addo at 57% if elections were held last August.

More bad news followed.

The results of another survey conducted by Bureau of National Investigations were also disclosed to participants. The BNI’s survey was conducted in the Volta, Central and Greater Accra Regions.

Results from this survey had the New Patriotic Party winning in the Central Region and the Greater Accra Region; regions the NDC won in 2008.

The NDC leadership thus came to the conclusion that since the “Better Ghana” agenda and the declaration of this year as “Action Year” had obviously not worked based on the results of the surveys conducted by the two bodies, a desperate course of action had to be taken.

It was therefore agreed that the only way forward for the party in their hope of winning the 2012 election was to attack Akufo-Addo, attack his personality and attack his family.

But Ben Ephson has denied the publication.

In an exclusive interview with Peacefmonline, the renowned pollster stridently denied the story saying "it is not true".


Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) sacks 37 NYEP interns for misconduct

The Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) has sacked 37 personnel of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) attached to the Assembly for misconduct.

This has come in the wake of street protests and strike actions over unpaid monthly allowances of NYEP personnel.

The dismissed persons reportedly accused the management of the Assembly of deliberately refusing to pay them and made false allegations against some of its officials on some local FM Radio Stations in Kumasi.

A press release signed by Mr. J.K. Anhwere, Chief Personnel Officer, said by their actions, they had brought the KMA into disrepute, in contravention of Section 76 (1) D of the Service Law, Section 27 (1&2) and 28 of the code of conduct of the Service.

It asked the affected personnel to hand over their uniform and other items to the Metropolitan Security Coordinator.

Meanwhile, the sacked interns on Friday continued with their demonstration in front of the KMA’s office building.

They insist their dismissal is nothing but political victimization.


Lands Commission Sells Police Building To Alisa Hotel
* The Informer


At the time when people are calling for the Ghana Police Service to be adequately resourced so as to enable it perform its traditional role of maintaining law and order as spelt out in Chapter 15 of the 1992 Constitution, the Greater Lands Commission, is fast derailing the effort of government in its quest to crystallize the expectation of the constitution and the ordinary Ghanaian.

Totally setting aside the above-quoted constitutional provision, members of the Greater Accra Lands Commission, in the character of conscious-less spivs, decides to sell an office accommodation at Ridge in Accra, duly allocated to the Police Institution by government to help in the discharge of its duties, to Alisa Hotel.

The facility which was recently rehabilitated with financial assistance provided by the British government had served as the Headquarters of the Police Intelligence and Professional Standards Bureau (PIPS) – the very division that ensures professionalism in policing in Ghana.

Our investigations indicate that, the “new owners” (Alisa Hotel) have sought to consecrate their unlawful gains by going to court to secure an order to eject the police from the facility, a just refurbished edifice, part of which they have already pulled down.

Presently, the division (PIPS) is operating from an unbefitting structure with electricity and water supply completely cut off, by the supposedly “new owners” of the said property, when The Informer investigations team visited the area to have first-hand information about developments as regards the sale of the facility.

The division’s commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP), (Mr.)Timothy Ashiley, in an exclusive conversation with this paper, expressed shock about the conduct of the Greater Accra Lands Commission, in its decision to sell the facility to Alisa Hotel, when it knew it has an occupant. According to him, the Lands Commission should have informed the police of its intended plan, so that they could be appropriately relocated by government following the sensitive role the police play with regards to the security of the nation.

“In fact, the commission should have weighed the pros and cons of its action, judging from the pivotal role they play as far as the security of this nation is concerned”, DCOP Ashiley averred.

Asked when he will finally vacate the premises since the “new owners” have secured a court order to eject them, he replied that so far as he takes instructions from the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), he will wait patiently for his advice.

However, credible information gathered has it that, the authorities of Alisa Hotel have asked the police to look for another office apartment for them to pay for, and we wonder what really might have influenced their mental process to come with such an idea.

In fact, those of us at The Informer hold the view that with the financial valour of Alisa Hotel; they could look for land at other prime areas owned by private individuals to buy instead of fighting with the police over a government property.

The decision by both the Greater Accra Lands Commission and Alisa Hotel is morally wrong and we expect that whoever instituted the sale action, must, with immediate effect reverse it or face our wrath.

We are also calling on the government to institute a serious action against Alisa Hotel’s pulling down of the refurbished office apartment of the aforementioned division, since their action can lead to strain relations between Ghana and the British government.

The British government used part of its taxpayer’s money to renovate the facility and government shouldn’t allow any self-seeking entity to amass wealth to the detriment of ordinary Ghanaians since their security cannot be compromised.


Police Caution Oil Investors
* Daily Guide

THE MILE 7 Police Commander DSP Peter Yembila has cautioned persons who wish to invest in the oil sector to be wary of fraudsters who are taking advantage of the oil find to defraud investors.

The police chief was worried over the emergence of some fake products such as CMC oil drilling grade or cement and oil drilling sealant being used to defraud unsuspecting victims of colossal sums of money.

He explained that police have had several complaints but unfortunately the fraudsters always bolted before they were traced.

The Mile 7 police have since taken custody of many related exhibits.

Meanwhile, the Accra Regional Command according to Crime Officer Chief Superintendent Frank Adufati has arrested 30-year-old Isaac Otoo in connection with an oil fraud case.

Otoo was arrested on Friday, June 15 at Sakaman near Odorkor while trying to dupe a restaurant operator.

According to C/Supt Adufati, the restaurant operator who is the complainant in the case said she received a call from a certain Nii the previous day telling her of a business contract which could fetch her much profit.

Claiming that they had met in her restaurant where he came to dine with some expatriates, he introduced himself as a worker of the Jubilee Fields at Cape three points in the Western region.

Isaac Otoo went further to say his company was in dire need of a product called the CMC oil drilling grade but the complainant who became suspicious feigned interest and reported the matter to the police.

The suspect, who posed as Nii, told the complainant that she would need $12,000 for him to get her samples from a white man who deals in the product.

The complainant informed the suspect that the money was ready and a meeting was scheduled for Friday June 15 at Sakaman.

However, the police ambushed the fraudster.

When the suspected fraudster popped up and started a conversation with the complainant the policemen appeared on the scene and arrested him together with a jute bag (Ghana must go), with the supposed CMC oil drilling grade concealed in it.

Suspect Otoo is currently caged in the cells of the Striking Force Unit at Accra Central.


No one has divine right to rule - Veep
* Joy Online

Vice President John Dramani Mahama has said the expansion of governance at the local level to include ethnic and religious minority is key to averting conflicts.

According to Mr. Mahama, government is continuing to provide the kind of leadership needed to consolidate and deepen decentralization at a faster pace.

Mr. Mahama was speaking at this year’s annual consultative meeting between government and development partners on Thursday.

He said the promotion of better engagement with traditional authorities and civil societies will ensure that the decentralized government becomes an arena where citizen fulfill their aspirations.

According to the Vice President, as Ghana goes into an election, there is the need for everyone to keep a level head.

He further added that no one has the divine right to rule the country.

Mr Mahama also stated that “the honour to serve as a government is one that is bestowed by the free will of the people of Ghana”.

He assured government’s commitment to ensuring a peaceful general elections in December.


Commentary: Shame On Those Who Wish President Mills Dead
* The Informer

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) ought to fight a common enemy, which is the New Patriotic Party (NPP), yet the NDC problems, seem boiling within, with self-destruct menacingly staring it in the face.

When the latest political mischief of ‘President Atta Mills’s death’ broke last week, the large majority of Ghanaians and political observers believe the mischief, as it happened in the 2008 election year, was being re-enacted by the opposition NPP.

However, when an intel picked from the Osu-Castle, pointed to the fact that the latest news of another ‘death’ of President Mills emanated from the Castle itself, the Informer wasn’t only flabbergasted, but was also sad.

The Castle doom-mongering prophets, believe Ghana was going to experience Nigeria’s Musa Yar’Dua’s debacle and whispered this through the secret megaphones, loud and clear into the opponents’ quarters for onward relay to the cacophonous media which pounced on same without cross-checking the fact. The NDC needs, as matter of urgency, to look within for a quick solution to the basket-mouth epidemic it is inflicting upon itself, especially so, in an important year of a competitive elections which must be won ‘at all cost’ and won within ‘all die be die’ atmosphere.

The NDC is, arguably, becoming escalated bits of self-destruct individuals with personal interests to safeguard than a political party with a common purpose, industry and destiny – which should hold itself together with single purpose of pulling together, the so-called floating voters, without whose magnanimity the party couldn’t have returned to power in the first place.

The individual interest in political office, has today over-blotted collective party interest; and this is, on daily basis becoming a bother, and creating sleepless night for those who seem to have loved that party than even themselves.

When these bunch of egocentric individual would climb up top on the tree of NDC, but unwisely cut down the trunk from the top, with unwise-thinking that the tree would fall and they survive, the Informer, would give its candid advice that when the tree they are cutting eventually falls, they would become the most-hurt individual victims of the disastrous result than the party supporters and floating voters.

To cite a case-study as it happens in the Ledzokuku Constituency in Accra; A local apex decision-making body went to congress to elect a parliamentary candidate it feels could stand up to the challenge. However, certain individuals who think their sheer opportunity to serve on various governmental department boards; in ministries, as Municipal Assembly Heads etc. choose to behave ultra vires the party decision, therefore, end up creating animosity, public hatred and apathy towards once a vibrant NDC party.

Indeed, in the NDC today, people think more about their individual interest than the party’s ; and therefore the party continues to suffer under the excruciating burden of this petty liability, than asset, of people who seem to forget that they are in an elections year, which cruises on, menacingly toward the fast-approaching December.

But to those who choose to destroy the party, and to large extent, the Castle from within, The Informer says SHAME!!! on them.


EC records 12,000 to 15,000 double registration
* Source: GNA

The Electoral Commission (EC) recorded between 12, 000 to 15,000 multiple registrations at the end of the biometric voter registration exercise, Mr. Safo Kantanka, Deputy Commissioner in-charge of Finance and Administration has said.

He said the EC was still compiling the registration figures nationwide and also cross checking to find out areas of multiple registration and accidental multiple registrations.

Mr. Safo Kantanka said this at the opening of a one-day workshop in Koforidua on Thursday, to educate political party executives on the in-built integrity of Ghana’s electoral process.

The programme, which was organized under the theme “The in-built integrity of Ghana’s electoral process”, was attended by 22 regional executive members from nine registered political parties in the Eastern Region.

Mr. Kantanka said some of the multiple registrations were accidental in cases where an EC official who was not satisfied with the quality of the picture of a voter during the registration exercise, requested to retake the picture and the biometric registration machine registered it as a multiple registration.

He said the EC supported the presence of polling agents of the political parties at the polling stations to enable the parties to witness the conduct of the elections as part of the in-built integrity process of the system.

Mr. Kantanka appealed to political parties to appoint knowledgeable people as their agents and said polling agents who understand the electoral system would not cause problems at the polling or registration centres.

He said during the elections, the EC would be providing verification machines at all the polling stations in the country with back-ups in case of break downs.

Mr. Kantanka said as part of planning for the smooth running of the elections, the EC would be engaging the representatives of the political parties at the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) to decide what should be done in a situation where a verification machine breaks down and the other equipment brought in to replace it also breaks down.

He said if the verification equipment arrived early, it would be tested during the exhibition of the voters register in August.

Mr. Paul Boateng, the Eastern Regional Director of the EC, said ensuring the integrity of an electoral system was a collective responsibility which would only work if all the stakeholders in the elections would play their roles and be prepared to work within the confines of the electoral law.


Break Duopoly On Cement Production - World Bank
* Source: Daily Graphic

The recent hike in the prices of cement has reignite debates on the impact of the Ghana Cement Company (GHACEM) on prices of cement and the building and construction industry in general.

The World Bank is uncomfortable with the continuous dominance of the Ghana Cement Company (GHACEM) and the Diamond Cement Company in the construction and sale of cement in the country.

The bank is worried that GHACEM and Diamond Cement’s more than 80 per cent hold of the market suppresses competition in the sector with dire consequences on prices and the supply of the product to the building and construction industry.

It has thus called for urgent steps that would liberalise the market “to engender competition and drive down prices.

“I do not see any justification for a ‘monopoly’ in the cement market in Ghana. It makes no economic sense,” a World Bank Lead Economist in the country, Mr Sebastien Dassus, said in a recent interaction with financial journalists in Accra.

The Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors of Ghana (ABCECG) recently expressed similar misgivings on the matter.

The Chairman of the association’s Technical Committee, Mr Rockson Dogbegah, had earlier said in an interview with that the government needed to break GHACEM and Diamond Cement’s de facto duopoly in the cement business or leave the nation’s construction and building sector to the whims and caprices of the company.

“We need a conscious effort to get other cement factories into the system because where you have only Diamond Cement and GHACEM controlling the market, it means that we (builders and contractors) will continue to be at their whims and caprices,” he said.

The recent increase in prices of the product partly as a result of the weakening cedi has since reignited that debate over the impact of the two companies’ actions on the building and construction industry as far as prices and supply of cement was concerned.

Currently, GHACEM comfortably controls close to 60 per cent of the market share. Diamond Cement, on the hand accounts for about 35 per cent of total cement sale and production bringing to over 90 per cent the stake of the two companies in the industry.

Fears are that the dominance of the two companies in the sector, however accidental it was, makes it possible for them to ‘technically’ determine prices of the product nation-wide.

Concerns over artificial shortages created by key distributors aligned to these market leaders in favour of price hikes also abound, allegations GHACEM and Diamond Cement have often denied knowledge of.

Given these companies’ dominance in the sector, their actions with regards to pricing and supply of cement have become more of a roll-over effects on competing cement producers and suppliers like Greenview, and the other cement companies which all together account for less than 20 per cent of cement production and sale in the country.

According to the World Bank’s Lead Economist, having a de facto duopoly in the manufacturing and sale of an essential commodity like cement is not good for the country, especially given the rising housing and infrastructural deficit.

With Ghana’s status as a developing nation and undertaking lots of infrastructure and housing projects, Mr Dassus said “liberalising the cement sector will help drive down prices and create more jobs for the teaming youth.

“The more there is competition in the sector, the better for consumers,” he added.

On fiscal and monetary issues, Mr Dassus also advised the Ghana Government to double up on tax collections and pull back on unprofitable expenditures or risk missing its fiscal targets for the year and subsequently pushing the entire economy into disarray after the December 2012 general elections.

But while that happens, World Bank’s Lead Economist said the government, policy makers, development partners and all political parties in the country also needed to find a long-term solution to the classic destabilisation of the economy in and after every election years.

He said such actions were necessary to help save the country the cost of rebuilding the economy after every other election year. He was however optimistic that the country will achieve its fiscal targets for 2012 despite having to surmount some risks in the months to come.

The government is aiming to achieve an overall growth rate of 9.4 per cent, end-period inflation of 8.5 per cent, overall budget deficit equivalent to 4.8 per cent of GDP and not less than three months of import cover in 2012.

Many analysts and economic watchers are however sceptical about the government’s ability to attain those targets given the current depreciation in the cedi, rising government expenditure and the decline in the country’s foreign reserves from U$5.4 billion in December 2011 to US$4.3 billion as at June 8, 2012.

This is equivalent to 2.5 months imports cover of goods and services.

To Mr Dassus, however, those targets are achievable provided the government exhibits the needed political and economic discipline.

“I think Ghana can definitely meet the fiscal targets for 2012, but it is the question of will.

He said the recent fluctuations in gold, cocoa and crude oil prices in the commodity market also posed “real risks to the government and the economy” hence the need to “accelerate tax collections and spend wisely” in this election year.


VRA seeks private investment in some of its assets
* JoyOnline

The Volta River Authority,VRA is engaging some private investors to develop some of its assets as part of measures to generate more revenue for its operations.

The assets include some of the authority’s land properties lying fallow and unutilized as well as hotels.

The Chief Executive, Kweku Awotwe revealed this to JOY BUSINESS at a knowledge forum organized by the Ghana Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management.

“We have Akosombo Hotel Company, Kpong Farms and Volta Lake Transport among others. All these we are preparing business plans for them that would allow us to do a market study of the available opportunities to attract these prospective investors" he noted.

“We started with the process to identify partners for this and we are getting a lot of interests expressed. In the Akosombo and Akuse areas in particular we have many lands we think we can develop for hotel establishments. What we are looking for is to create value by getting rent or income and help the authority cut overhead-costs and retain my workforce” he concluded.


Experts to discuss control, elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases
* Source: GNA

More than 100 experts, policy makers and heath leaders will gather in Accra from June 25-27, to discuss ways of scaling up interventions to control or eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the Africa Region of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

A statement issued in Accra on Friday said the three-day Regional Stakeholders’ Consultative Meeting on NTDs would bring together representatives of endemic countries, donor agencies, pharmaceutical firms, WHO and other partners to discuss and agree among other things, coordination mechanisms at national and regional levels for NTD programme implementation.

It said participants at the meeting, which is aimed at obtaining stakeholder commitment for funding NTD financial resource requirements, would exchange experiences on the use of country Master Plans for decision making regarding NTD control.

The meeting would discuss and agree on the major elements that would constitute the regional roadmap for accelerating control and elimination of NTDs in endemic countries.

The statement said high on the agenda for the meeting would be the inauguration on June 27 of the WHO Regional Advisory Groups on NTDs.

“The principal briefs of the advisory group are to provide WHO with high quality, well considered advice and recommendations on NTD control and elimination, as well as facilitate and monitor the scale up of interventions for the control of NTDs.”

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Luis Sambo, said, “Genuine partnership and effective coordination of initiatives and actions are key to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of tools and interventions for the control and elimination of these poverty-related diseases.

The outcomes of this consultation should propel countries to establish, by 2015, suitable NTD control programmes.”

Among those expected to address the meeting are former President John Agyekum Kufuor, who is the current NTD Special Envoy of the Global Network for NTDs, a Washington-based initiative which works with governments, partners, business and civil society worldwide to improve access to NTD treatments to those who need them most.

The consultative meeting will be followed by the annual NTD National Programme Managers’ Meeting on Preventive Chemotherapy to be held on June 28.

The statement said the meeting would provide a platform for national NTD programme managers and their partners to review current programme strategies and performance, as well as share experiences and clarify future plans to control and eliminate NTDs in endemic countries.


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