Last week’s big stories you may have missed

Below is an update of the top news stories from November 23 to 29, 2013.

Saturday November 23, 2013

Prez Mahama: 10% pay cut proof of our resolve to sacrifice

President John Mahama said his decision to cut the salaries of members of the Executive by 10%, is a demonstration of “leadership by example”.

The President further added that it is important for government officials to show Ghanaians that they are prepared to sacrifice in the supreme interest of the country.

MUSIGA visit late Ronnie Coaches’ family

Members of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) led by its President, Bice Osei Kuffour, on Friday afternoon, November 22, paid a visit to the family of the late hiplife artiste of Buk Bak fame, Ronnie Coaches, at Bubuashie in Accra.

The group also included 4×4 (Coded, Captain Planet and Fresh Prince), Pope Skinny, Pastor Bernard Amankwah, Dr. Poh, and K2 visited the family house of the late musician, where they shared their heartfelt condolences with the family head, the artiste's mother and siblings.

Ronnie, 36, died Thursday November 21 morning at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital after a heart attack.

The twists

Barely 24 hours after his death, confusion erupted over who has the right to call herself the legally married wife of Ronnie Coaches.

This was after the name of a certain Ophelia was bandied about as his legally married wife hours after Ronnie passed on.

Ophelia, the supposed wife, subsequently granted interviews to several media houses in Accra in which she spoke of life with the late musician.

But just a day later, another woman, a New York-based Ghanaian who identified herself as Cynthia Blessing Takyiwaa surfaced, claiming to be the legally married wife of Ronn­­­ie.

Speaking on Accra-based Pluzz FM, Blessing, as the ‘new wife’ preferred to be called, said she met Ronnie in 2009 but got officially married to him on January 4, 2013 at Mamponteng in the Ashanti Region. Furthermore, she claimed to be carrying a baby for the ‘kluu blofo’ musician.

Moments after the interview with Blessing, another lady by name Gifty, also waded into the controversy, making the issue murkier.

She claimed to have an eight-year-old son with Ronnie Coaches and confirmed knowing Ophelia as the “recognized wife” of the late musician for which reason she discounted Blessing’s claims.

Gifty, who said she was married to another man, however, alleged that the late hiplife artiste had four kids with four different women.

Just when the dust began to settle, Priscilla Nyarko popped up a with a seven-week-old baby who she claimed belongs to the late hiplife musician.

Ronnie's death not due to lack of oxygen – Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital

Authorities at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital have categorically denied that Ronnie Coaches, a member of Buk Bak duo, died as a result of lack of oxygen at the premier teaching hospital.

"It is therefore not true that he died as a result of oxygen shortage in the hospital", a press release issued in Accra, Monday, November 25, by its Public Relations Officer, Mustapha Salifu, stressed.

EPA kick starts waste segregation program to improve waste management

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the implementation of a waste segregation program to improve waste management in the country.

Under a pilot scheme some institutions and schools have received specific coloured waste bins to separate solid waste like paper, bottles and food at source and pursue actions to make the environment sustainable.

Hundreds join PPP-led anti corruption demo in Kumasi

Hundreds of demonstrators crowded the streets of the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi to protest against what they describe as high corruption and bad economic governance in Ghana.

It was the second demonstration organised by the Progressive Peoples Party’s Anti corruption campaign coalition.

EOCO probes 30 over GYEEDA rot

Since September this year, more than 30 people have been interrogated by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) in connection with alleged malfeasance at Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA).

They include two ministers, a former minister, a Member of Parliament and 23 officials of GYEEDA.

Sunday November 24, 2013

Ghana needs critical thinking graduates – Mahama

President John Dramani Mahama has noted the ability of Ghana to compete and face the challenges of the new millennium depends on the quality of its tertiary education.

The President made the observation in a speech read on his behalf during the second batch of the 18th congregation of the University of Education, Winneba on Saturday.

A total of 6,708 students graduated during the two-day period and were conferred with certificates, diplomas and degrees.

Mahama: Venting frustrations on radio won't build a better Ghana

President John Mahama called on critics of his government to join him develop the country rather than "venting their frustration" in the media.

According to President Mahama, it is the responsibility of every Ghanaian, to contribute towards building the nation in unanimity.

He was addressing the 120th Anniversary of Accra Archdiocese of the Catholic Church at the Independence Square.

"The quest to build a desirable, prosperous and better Ghana is the responsibility of all of us", the President said.

Mahama's brother to pay GHS175m owed Merchant Bank by December 15 – Baako reveals

Ibrahim Mahama, brother of president John Mahama will settle a GHS175 million debt his company owes Merchant Bank by December 15, 2013, Kweku Baako has revealed.

Kweku Baako said the President's brother was in the process of repaying the loan which his Engineers and Planners firm contracted from the bank in 2007.

The loan became the subject of controversy follwing the proposed sale of Merchant Bank to FirstRand of South Africa. The sale, according to sources close to the shareholders, has been necessitated by huge debt profile of the bank

Ghana qualifies for Female U-17 World Cup

The Black Maidens of Ghana have qualified to the FIFA Female Under 17 World Cup after defeating Equatorial Guinea 3-2 in Malabo on Saturday.

The Female U-17 team advanced to the World Cup on 5-2 aggregate over two qualifying legs.

Ghana defeated  their Equatorial Guinea counterparts 2-0 in the first leg in Accra two weeks ago, and coach Evans Adottey’s girls continued their impressive run in Malabo in the second leg, and impressively won away from home.

Withdrawal of teacher trainee allowance won't affect continuing students – Ablakwa

Deputy Minister for Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has explained that continuing students at the Colleges of Education will not be affected by a decision to withdraw allowances paid to teacher trainees.

Mr. Ablakwa therefore described as factually inaccurate, the claim that the policy has been scrapped.

His comment was in response to the threat by teacher trainees in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions to wear red arm armbands to protest the decision to withdraw the allowance which they say is their source of survival on campus.

Two students from Knustford University drown in Volta river

Two third year students from the Knustford University College, East Legon, Accra drowned in the Volta river.

The deceased, Edward Alele 22 and Charles Honesty 20 all Nigerians, were part of about 200 students from the school who had travelled to Akosombo as part of activities marking the school's Students Representative Council (SRC) Week celebrations.

According to the National Disaster Management Orgnasition (NADMO)  in Asuogyaman District, the students got drowned after a local canoe they had hired to cruise on the river capsized Friday, November 22 at about 2:15 pm.

Finance Minister says Ghana’s middle income status impedes infrastructural dev’t

Finance Minister, Seth Terkper said Ghana’s lower middle income status has taken a toll on the country’s ability to borrow on soft terms thereby delaying key infrastructural projects.

Answering questions on the 2014 Budget which he presented to Parliament last week the Minister said policy initiatives in this budget were in response to changes that has come about as a result of Ghana’s status as a lower middle income country.

However, Franklin Cudjoe, Founding President of IMANI-Ghana says although there is some truth in the Finance Minister’s assertions, the main reasons for the state of affairs in Ghana's infrastructural development is because of "bureaucratic inertia in accessing loans already approved by the World Bank for projects."

Monday November 25, 2013

KT Hammond, Dapaah appear before Judgement Debt Commissioner over sale of oil drill ship

Former Deputy Energy Minister, Kwabena Tahir Hammond took his turn at the Judgment Debt Commission, in an attempt to understand the mystery surrounding the sale of a GNPC drill ship in 2001.

Click here for a full text of what he said at the Commission

NPP MP calls for full disclosure on Fortiz, Merchant Bank deal

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Ayawaso West Wuogon, Emmanuel Kyeremateng Agyarko has demanded full disclosure on the controversial sale of Merchant Bank to a private equity fund, Fortiz.

Fortiz has acquired 90 percent stake in Merchant Bank originally owned by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and the SIC Financial Services.

The GH¢90 million takeover has generated a lot of controversy with the Minority in Parliament calling for its abrogation.

Government likely to overspend in 2014 – Fitch

International ratings agency, Fitch, has doubted the possibility of government not overspending in the 2014 fiscal year as promised by Finance Minister, Seth Terkper.

Fitch, in a press statement issued on Monday, stated emphatically that it does not think that Ghana’s 2014 budget statement presented to Parliament last Thursday, will effectively address the deterioration in government finances.

“The 2014 budget targets a deficit of 8.5% of GDP, following an upward revision of the 2013 deficit to 10.2% against a target of 9% at the time of the previous budget. The budget also pushes back a year (until 2016) the target deficit of 6% of GDP . We maintain our view that the pace of fiscal consolidation over the next two years will be slower than the government projects, with Fitch forecasting a deficit slightly above 9% for 2014.”

Politicians talk too much-Judgment debt Commissioner

The sole commissioner appointed to investigate the phenomenon of judgement debt has chided politicians for talking too much, even when they are uninformed about the issue they are called to comment on.

"If you are not conversant with the issue, why do you talk?" Justice Yaw Apau questioned when former Energy Minister and chairman of the Parliament's Accounts Committee appeared before the judgement debt commission to assist in investigating the circumstances surrounding the sale of a drill ship owned by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation.

Resignation of four Merchant Bank board members shows Fortiz deal is nasty- Akomea

The former Director of Communications of the New Patriotic Party Nana Akomea said the resignation of four Board members of the Merchant Bank is a testimony that an on-going deal to have the bank sold to Fortiz is nasty.

Quoting portions of the resignation letter by Marian Banor the Board Chairman, Nana Akomea said corporate governance issues were compromised in the proposed sale for which reason the chairman and three other members resigned.

There has been huge public outcry over the sale of 90 per cent shares of Merchant Bank to Fortiz at a cost of 90 million cedis.

Paramount chiefs in V/R petition President to withdraw DCE nominee

Barely a week after the President had nominated a new Chief Executive for the Kadjebi District in the Volta Region, the paramount chiefs of the eight traditional areas in the district have made a petition for the withdrawal of the nomination because of scandalous allegations against the nominee.

According to the petition signed by the paramount chiefs of the Ahamanasu, Ampeyo, Asato, Dapaa, Kadjebi and Pampawie traditional areas, and distributed at a press conference last Thursday, the nominee, Mr Jacob Alebinde Asogonde, was allegedly involved in a scandal at his workplace at the Department of Social Welfare and consequently transferred from Ho to Kadjebi in 1996.

The petition further alleged that the nominee had to resign from the Kadjebi office of the Department of Social Welfare under similar circumstances and later founded a non-governmental organisation known as Better Life Organisation.

Gov't priorities questioned after spending GH¢ 4m on Agric but GH¢ 32m on 'capacity building'

A former Finance Minister, Akoto Osei, has identified what he believes is a lack of priorities in government's expenditure this year.

He is lamenting why government would allocate a paltry GH¢ 4 million of its exhaustible and precious oil revenue on Agriculture but 8 times that number on 'capacity building'.

He was speaking on Joy FM and Multi TV's Newsfile political programme that focused on the 2014 budget presented last Tuesday in Parliament by the Finance Minister, Seth Terkper.

"For me one of the biggest challenge I have is the use of oil revenue..2012 we still have not solved the problem", he said.

EU budget support for Ghana end in 2014

The Head of Delegation of the European Union, Ambassador Claude Maerten has indicated that the “present EU budget support for Ghana ends in 2014”, subject to review. 

This is to be continued or discontinued depending on the outcome of the review.  Ambassador Maerten made the exposѐ on Tarzan’s Take on JoyNews, MultiTV.

Samini stings Shatta Wale at Guinness Eruption Concert

Rising music sensation, Shatta Wale left many of his fans livid after he failed to live up to the challenge of the durable Samini at the Guinness Eruption Concert Saturday night at the Accra Sports Stadium.

Majority Leader, President Mahama disagree over code of ethics for public officers

The Majority Leader in Parliament Dr. Benjamin Kunbour was skeptical about President John Mahama's plan to legalize a code of ethics to regulate conduct of public officers.

He believes that the law will not work because institutions in Ghana are weakened by deep-seated nepotism and favouritsm.

Dr. Benjamin Kunbour  is urging caution as government seeks parliamentary approval for the bill.

Tony Aidoo, Zita Okaikoi, Victor Smith et al appointed Ambassadors

President John Dramani Mahama has appointed a number of former ministers to ambassadorial positions.

A release from the Flagstaff House also named the following as ambassadors-designate:

1. Former Information Minister John A. Tia

2. Former Eastern Regional Minister Emmanuel Victor Smith

3. Former Northern Regional Minister Moses Magbengba

4. Former Secretary to Cabinet Ben C. Eghan

5. Former Minister for Youth & Sports Madam Akua Dansua

6. Former Minister for Tourism Mrs. Zita Okaikoi

7. Former Acting CEO of the NPRA Sam Pee Yalley

8. Former Brong Ahafo Regional Minister Kwadwo Nyamekye Marfo

9. Former Upper West Regional Minister Mahmoud Khalid

FDA boss hell-bent on running down TOBINCO – Drug Importer alleges

Ghanaian pharmaceutical giant TOBINCO is accusing the Chief Executive of the FDA, Dr. Stephen Opuni, of masterminding a campaign to run down the company and force it out of business.

Special Report: 'Great Satan' meets 'Axis of Evil' and strikes a deal

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and counterparts from Britain,China, France, Germany and Russia were brought to a conference room to approve a final text of the agreement which would provide limited relief of sanctions on Iran in return for curbs to its nuclear programme.

At the last minute, with the ministers already gathered in the room, an Iranian official called seeking changes. Negotiators for the global powers refused. Finally the ministers were given the all clear. The deal, a decade in the making, would be done at last.

Now that the interim deal is signed, talks are far from over as the parties work towards a final accord that would lay to rest all doubts about Iran's nuclear program.

Confirmed! Mohammed Polo is new Hearts Coach

Mohammed Polo has confirmed he will be named Hearts of Oak manager by the end of the week, revealing that his admiration for the club made his decision to coach easier.

Tuesday November 26, 2013

Funeral held for 21st whale washed ashore in Western Region

On Wednesday, November 21, 2013, the people of Domunli, a coastal community in the Nzema East Municipality in the Western Region, held a funeral for a 10.4 meter long dead sperm whale that washed ashore at the beach.

This was the 21st dead whale washed ashore on the coast of Ghana since 2009.

IEA offers antidote to high deficit

Economic think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), wants the government to beefup its efforts at raising more necessarily increasing the existing tax rates in the country.

The IEA said the low levels of revenue the government raises from taxes were, among other things, the result of the narrow tax net, adding that the effort also falls below standards when compared to other middle-income countries, even though tax rates in Ghana are high.

“Ghana’s tax effort is low by middle-income country standards, which means that more effort is required to beef it up. But this does not mean that tax rates are low In fact, the few Ghanaian taxpayers are overburdened,” Economist and Senior Fellow at the IEA, Dr J. K. Kwakye, told a section of the media in Accra.

Elizabeth Ohene recalls how the U.S spied on her Daily Graphic reports

Ghana's Elizabeth Ohene recalls how the US spied on reports she filed nearly 40 years ago from Ethiopia.

Ghana, South Africa hold talks on branding

A dialogue was held in Accra on Monday on how to redefine the image of Ghana and South Africa to ensure accelerated development.

The platform was organised by Brand Ghana and Brand South Africa to share experiences and come up with strategies to promote the image of the two countries.

Jim Iyke ‘move mountains’ to get a pink limousine for Nadia Buari on her birthday!

Even with all the rumors going around about the two lovers having tough time, they are willing to prove us wrong. Jim Iyke and Nadia Buari toured the world in a pink limousine to celebrate her birthday.

However, Jim Iyke shared the above photo with the caption "Her Fav colour is pink. Had to move mountains to find a Pink Limo.Well, I always get wat I want"

Nadia thanked everyone who wished her well and she says "Thank u guys for all the *well wishes*… I had an amazing birthday.

GNPC drillship saga: Tsatsu Tsikata takes turn at Judgement Debt Commission

Former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Tsatsu Tsikata, was on Tuesday questioned by the Judgement Debt Commission over the controversial sale of the corporation’s drill ship in 2001.

It was during Mr. Tsikata time that the corporation entered into an oil hedging transaction with French multinational bank, Societe Generale, that went bad.

The GNPC's Discoverer 511 was sold for $24 million to defray a judgement debt owed to Societe Generale as a result the bad hedging deal.

Although the bank was in 2001 paid $19.5 million in judgement debt after Mr. Tsikata exited office, documents on the payment are unavailable. Societe Generale claims it does not have any such a document covering the transaction.

The remaining $3.5 million  can also not be traced.

Kufuor was a “debt collector” for Societe Generale – Tsatsu

Former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Tsatsu Tsikata, says former President John Kufuor was virtually a “debt collector” for French Bank Societe Generale as far as the Corporation's indebtedness to the Bank was concerned.

Kufuor charges at "irresponsible" Tsikata comments on drill ship

Aide to ex-president John Kufuor has described as reckless and irresponsible comments made by the former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation Tsatsu Tsikata when he appeared before the Judgement Debt Commission.

In a statement Frank Agyakum said attempts by Tsikata to impute wrong doing to Mr Kufuor were unfortunate, adding the measures taken by the ex-president to restructure the Corporation were based on expert advice from competent committee "set up to clear the mess that had been created at the Corporation over the years."

The statement is in reaction to comments made by Tsatsu Tsikata when he appeared before the Judgement Debt Commission, Tuesday, to assist in unravelling the mystery behind the sale of an oil drill ship belonging to GNPC and a judgement debt said to be owed and paid to the French Bank, Societe General.

Oil drill ship sale was ill-advised- Tsikata

Former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) Tsatsu Tsikata has questioned the sale of the controversial oil drill ship by the John Agyekum Kufuor administration in 2001.

Mr. Tsikata said the oil drill ship was making so much revenue for the country, it should not have been sold.

Whilst vehemently denying allegations that the drill ship was used as a collateral to secure the funding transaction with Societe General, Mr. Tsikata also questioned the valuation of the ship which was subsequently sold for 24 million dollars to defray a negotiated 19.5 million dollars debt owed Societe Generale.

Mr. Tsikata made these revelations Tuesday, when  he appeared before the Justice Yaw Apau Commission constituted to investigate the phenomenon of judgment debts in the country.

Confident Tsikata dares critics to cross-examine him on oil drill ship saga

Former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Tsatsu Tsikata has thrown a challenge to doubting thomases and even to critics who disbelieve his testimony to the Judgement Debt Commission to come forward and cross examine him.

Tsikata insists his testimony before the Commission is factual and a true representation of what transpired during his tenure as GNPC boss.

 He was explaining to the Commission the role GNPC played in a judgement debt scandal involving GNPC and Societe Generale in which an oil drill ship belonging to the former was sold at a cost of 24 million dollars to pay $19.5 million debt owed Societe General.

Female teacher 'beaten' to death in Ashanti region

A female teacher is reported dead after allegedly being assaulted by relatives of a pupil she had punished for wrong doing.

The deceased, identified as Charity Nyarko, 22, was a Kindergarten teacher at the St. Joseph Anglican Preparatory School at Nsuta in the Sekyere Central District.  Sources at the education office confirmed the incident but are unable to give details.

According to Nhyira FM's Ohemeng Tawiah, the deceased, who  taught at the Kindergarten department of the school, had disciplined a pupil who suffered injury as a result. The family assaulted her last Friday after the incident.

Women with big buttocks are smarter – Oxford Study

When Sir Mix-A-Lot burst onto the music scene declaring "I like big butts and I cannot lie" – he may not have been simply commending a curvy aesthetic, but nodding to greater intelligence and health.

According to a study – that the bootylicious will welcome with open arms – women with bigger bottoms are healthier than those with a lesser gluteus maximus.

Results from 16,000 women show that gals who carry their weight around their hips à la Kim Kardashian may be more resistant to chronic illnesses.

AGI wants 30% of govt procurement sourced locally

The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) is pushing for government to seed at least 30 per cent of its procurement to its members.

It said such an initiative will help grow indigenous businesses, majority of which are small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs).The move, the association said, could help boost the industrialisation drive in the country.

The Vice President of the association in-charge of Large Scale, Dr Dawson Amoah, made the appeal at this year’s Africa Industrialisation Day (AID) in Accra.

Missing $3.5m used to pay salaries of staff of Ghana's High Commission?

Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Kweku Baako claims he has evidence to prove that part of the controversial $3.5 million realised from the sale of a drill ship, was used to pay the salaries of staff of Ghana's High Commission in London.

Mr. Baako said he had "seen three dubious" withdrawals that suggest part of the money was used for that "weird" purpose.

The sale of the Ghana National Petroleum Commission's (GNPC) Discoverer 511 drill ship in 2001, has become a subject of debate at the hearing of the Judgment Debt Commission. It was sold for $24 million to defray a debt owed to Societe Generale as a result of a hedging deal.

Jacob Zuma pledges more support for Ghana

South Africa and Ghana have signed three bilateral agreements towards promoting trade between the two countries.

With these agreements, both countries are expected to exchange expertise and resources in the areas of trade, transport and energy. The two countries also agreed to deepen cooperation in the fields of science and technology.

This was disclosed at a joint news conference at the Flagstaff House Tuesday held by President John Mahama and his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma, who is on a three day state visit to the country.

British Woman Defrauds Osaze Odemwingie Of £70,000

A British woman has appeared in court charged with conning thousands of pounds from Premiership footballers while working as their “lifestyle coach.”

Claire Duke, 38, is accused of defrauding high-profile clients – including Cardiff City FC striker Peter Odemwingie – out of more than £70,000 over a one year period.

It is alleged Duke received money for holidays and flights from clients but kept the money for herself.

Dog bites off boy’s penis in vicious attack

A five-year-old boy’s penis was severed in a vicious attack from a blood-thirsty pit bull.

The young boy was visiting relatives two weeks ago in Yonkers, New York, when the attack happened in an apartment where dogs over 25 pounds are banned.

The dog has since been euthanized and the adults involved issued citations, according to the Rockland Journal News. The boy is still in the hospital.

Sir John chased out in Tamale by angry NPP youth

General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, was reportedly chased out of Tamale by angry youth, chanting and cursing the party leaders for  showing little or no concern to five incarcerated members of the party.

The youth, numbering a little over 100, have also warned all the national executives not to step foot in the region to campaign ahead of the party's internal elections.

The action by the youth is in solidarity of the five NPP members, who were incarcerated by a Tamale High Court for murdering another person said to be a supporter of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Shatta Wale goes ‘mad’!..Threatens to sue Graphic Showbiz if….

Dancehall artiste Shatta Wale and his Shatta Movement crew, are very furious after reports that Samini, outshined him on stage at the just ended “Guinness Big Eruption Concert”, which took place at the Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday, November 23, 2013.

Speaking in an interview with Neat FM, the “Enter the net” hit maker vented his anger on “Graphic Showbiz”, warning them not to publish anything about him again, and even went ahead to threaten court action, if the well-respected paper decides to go against his warning.

“Like what Graphic Showbiz has written, I can say that I don’t want any publication from Graphic Showbiz again in my life, because when I find it I can sue them. I don’t need them to hype me; I don’t need them to say anything about me. They are nobody”, he stated with so much anger.

Service charges by MDAs to go up by 200%

Fees and charges by some government ministries, departments and agencies are expected to go up by 200 percent as the committee on subsidiary legislation presented the facts before parliament as a means of generating enough revenue for governmental activities.

Parliament has amended the instrument authorizing the fixing of the fees. This is likely to affect fees and charges paid at hospitals and all government agencies offering services in the country.

The upward adjustment of the fees became topical in the country, when the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital reviewed their charges before the instrument even matured in parliament.

Finger print verification to be enforced in future elections

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and political parties in the country have agreed to enforce Biometric verification ahead of the 2016 general elections.

The agreement is contained in electoral reform proposals submitted to the Electoral Commission (EC) on Tuesday, November 26.

Key among the proposals is the authentcation of finger prints before a person is allowed to vote.

Wednesday November 27, 2013

Fortiz-Merchant deal: SSNIT's reason for rejecting First Rand's bid a lie – Awuni

Executive Director of the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy, Mr Andrew Awuni, has denounced claims that First Rand did not get the nod for the acquisition of Merchant Bank because they were unwilling to service the latter's bad debt.

Mr Awuni says the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), who owned majority shares in Merchant Bank, lied when it said while Fortiz, the new owners of the bank, was willing to clear the bad loans, First Rand was not.

Fortiz, Merchant Bank deal was the best – Bank of Ghana

The Bank of Ghana has defended the controversial sale of Merchant Bank to Ghanaian-owned equity firm, Fortiz, insisting that it was the best deal.

The Central Bank approved the bid by Fortiz to acquire 90 percent stake in Merchant Bank for GH¢90 million after SSNIT, majority shareholder of Merchant Bank, rejected an offer from First Rand Bank of South Africa.

But the Minority in Parliament objected to the deal alleging fraud and called for its abrogation. They questioned the rationale behind the rejection of a higher offer  made by First Rand Bank in the value of 176.4 million Ghana cedis for a-75-percent stake.

Subpeona call records, bank details of supreme court justices! – Kofi Jumah to Vikileaks committee

Former boss for Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly is insisting the telephone records and bank details of the nine Supreme Court judges who heard an Election Petition to be looked into as the integrity of the judiciary has been questioned.

Maxwell Kofi Jumah said the committee set up by the Chief Justice  to look into claims of former Deputy Communicaions Minister, Victoria Hammah, on a leaked tape should request three weeks of calls made by the judges before they delievered the judgment on the 2012 Presidential Election Petition.

Mob beats policeman for enforcing law

A group of civilians in a mob-like fashion on Tuesday afternoon severely beat up a policeman, who tried to arrest a motor rider for nearly knocking down his colleague.

The incident, which happened about 100 metres adjacent the headquarters of the Northern Regional Police Command, left the uniform of the police officer, Constable Frank Mensah dishevelled, while his name tag and mobile phone were removed.

Constable Mensah also lost his beret but was later found by a Samaritan and returned to him.

Next Eurobond targets at least US$1bn

The Finance Ministry will soon seek Parliament's approval to make a third appearance on the international debt market next year to raise at least US$1billion to finance capital projects in the 2014 budget.

The debt will be sold when the ministry sees the right window to enter the market, Deputy Minister of Finance Kweku Ricketts-Hagan told the B&FT.

He said the ministry will also try to get leeway from Parliament to sell more debt than offered for sale if excess bids are received, adding though that international capital market rules limit the extent to which this can be done.

Prof. Adei slams FDA

A Management Consultant, Professor Stephen Adei, has criticised the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) over its handling of the alleged fake drug issue involving Tobinco Pharmaceutical Limited.

According to Prof Adei, who is widely accredited with the transformation of the Ghana Institute of Management of Public Administration (GIMPA),the action of the FDA in the Tobinco affair smacked of gross abuse of office.

He said it was inconceivable that a company and its officials who had been accused of importing fake drags into the country would be walking about freely without any charge.

Anglican Priest arrested for rape

A 39-year- old priest of the Anglican Church, Rev. Fr Emmanuel Quartey, was on Monday remanded in prison custody when he appeared before a Cape Coast Circuit Court for allegedly raping a 20-year-old woman.

His plea was not taken and will be re-arraigned on December 11.

Chief Inspector Ockom told the court presided over by Mrs. Eva Bannerman Williams that on Sunday October 17 Hannah, a resident of Siwdo in Cape Coast approached Rev. Quartey to help her break a blood covenant she had with her boyfriend.

Shatta Wale's abysmal performance at Big Eruption Concert blamed on ill-health

Ghana's acclaimed  'Dancehall King', Shatta Wale, was discharged from the Nyaho Clinic in Accra from where he moved straight to the Accra Sports Stadium to perform at the Guinness Big Eruption Concert last Saturday.

News One reports that the musician was seriously ill and had been advised to take a complete rest for two weeks when he was discharged Saturday night but he flouted the medical advice and headed straight for the concert where over 30,000 music lovers were waiting for him and had been chanting his name for hours.

NGOs in health warn against new K'bu approved fees and charges

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in health are warning the new approved fees and charges for Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and other government health agencies will hinder the poor’s access to health.

The NGOs say newly approved high levies for medical treatment could hinder government’s efforts to ensure access to healthcare, especially for the poor.

Parliament on Monday amended the instrument authorizing the fixing of the fees. In effect, fees and charges by some government ministries, departments and agencies are expected to go up by 200 percent.

FITCH  predicts further increase in Ghana's public debt in 2014

Rating agency FITCH is warning that  Ghana would end 2014 with its public debt going up substantially in  relation to the value of the economy. 

In the agency's new  report on the budget,  FITCH  said that the  public debt would increase to 54 percent by end of next year from the current 49 percent to GDP .

The agency  is also  warning  that government would spend more than projected 9 billion Ghana cedis by the end of next year.

The Bank of Ghana as at August 2013 puts the public debt at almost 44 billion Ghana cedis.  But with FITCHs' warning it means that Ghana's debt would go up to levels  that analysts say might be unsustainable.

Akufo-Addo challenges Justice Appau to invite him

The 2012 NPP flagbearer Nana Akufo-Addo is requesting the Judgment Debt Commissioner, Justice Yaw Appau to invite him to answer questions over the controversial sale of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation’s drillship in 2001.

Nana Akufo-Addo was Attorney General at the time when the transaction took place.

He advised government on the transaction and his office drafted the power of attorney that was handed former Deputy Energy Minister K. T. Hammond to go sell the ship.

FDA dares Adei to mention names of companies dealing in fake drugs

The Food and Drugs Authority has expressed surprise at criticisms levelled against the Authority by the former Rector of GIMPA, Prof Stephen Adei and has challenged the former Rector to mention names of companies dealing in fake drugs so the Authhority will take action.

Prof Adei was reported to have accused the FDA of abusing its office in the long-running battle between Tobinco Pharmaceuticals and the Authority.

Addressing the opening session of the eighth annual Internal Audit Forum in Accra, Prof Adei wondered how officials of Tobinco Pharmaceuticals would be allowed to walk free if it was the case that they had imported fake drugs into the country.

Merchant Bank sale was transparent – Fortiz

Private equity firm, Fortiz has maintained that its purchase of Merchant Bank was transparent and it is determined to turn around the fortunes of the ailing bank.

A statement issued in Accra Wednesday by the Directors of the firm said the firm has satisfied all the necessary stipulated conditions required in such transactions.

But many including the Minority in Parliament and the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy say the country has been shortchanged in the deal. They therefore want the transaction they described as "fraudulent" abrogated, but SSNIT, who are majority shareholders of Merchant Bank, as well as the regulator, the Bank of Ghana, have justified the decision to sell the bank to Fortiz. 

18 million free government condoms confirmed fake; no compensation yet to users

Eighteen million "Be Safe" condoms distributed into the Ghanaian market for free under a government programme have been confirmed fake.

The Prof Alex Duodu Committee constituted to investigate the efficacy of the condoms has concluded the "condoms had holes in them" and had dire health implications on the users.

He was however categorical that no compensation would be paid to the users because it was difficult getting information on who had used the condom and the ailment they may have suffered after using it.

Parliament to create 'Office of Scrutiny'

The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, has revealed that his office is liaising with the United Kingdom House of Commons to establish an Office of Scrutiny.

He said the new Office of Scrutiny will be engaged in providing services for the conduct of independent expert analysis of policy measures including the scrutiny of international loan agreements introduced in the House.

Mr Adjaho, who said this at a workshop on the theme; ‘Retooling MPs For Effective Scrutiny of the 2014 Financial Policy of Government’, further explained that the Office of Scrutiny would also work to assist committees of the House with expert opinion.

DVLA rape victim threatened with death

The woman, who alleged that her boss, a manager at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) at 37 in Accra, attempted raping her is now claiming her life is in danger.

She says she received a phone call Tuesday evening from a man, who threatened her with death for making public, claims of the attempted rape on her.

The victim first filed a complaint at the Domestic Violence Victim Support Unit of the police service on Monday. She made another report to the police with the audio recording of the phone conversation between her and the man threatening to teach her a lesson on Wednesday.

Thursday November 28, 2013

New VRA boss assures energy sufficiency

The new Chief Executive of Volta River Authority (VRA), Kirk Cofie, says he will focus on the development of thermal power to help make the country energy sufficient.

Mr. cofie was earlier this month appointed as the chief executive of the state power generator taking over from Kweku Awotwi.

GNPC drillship saga: Evidence prove "missing" US$3.5m was deposited in UK bank

New Crusading Guide is reporting that it has documents to prove that the missing US$3.5 million was deposited in a UK bank upon the instruction of Ghana’s High Commission in the UK in 2001.

Their evidence indicates that on July 25, 2001, the Treasury Officer at the Office of Ghana’s High Commissioner to the UK, Mr. Emmanuel Bani, in a letter titled: OPENING OF ACCOUNT- TREASURY OFFICER SPECIAL DOLLAR INVESTMENT ACCOUNT, instructed the Ghana International Bank (GIB) to open a dollar account for the Commission.

Credit conditions tightened in the country – BoG survey

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) on Wednesday said its latest survey shows that it has become very difficult to get loans from banks in the country.

Dr Kofi Wampah, BoG Governor, said the credit stance for all loan types tightened during the period 2013.

'Don't pass Plant Breeders Bill, it will destroy Ghana's food chain', CPP charges Parliament

The CPP has raised "serious" concerns that if Parliament goes ahead to pass the Plant Breeders bill, it will introduce dangerous modifications in the DNA of foods causing diseases and deformities.

The Party at a press conference Wednesday says the bill which has entered consideration stage in Parliament, is an attempt by "an overwhleming lobby" of multinational companies such as Monsanto, Du Pont, Sygenta, Bayer to push a "sinister" agenda to control Ghana's food chain through unsuspecting lawmakers and on the blind side of Ghanaians.

Assembly rejects President’s nominee for the fourth time

The Kwahu East District Assembly has, for the fourth time, rejected Mr Samuel Asamoah, the President’s nominee for the post of the District Chief Executive (DCE) for the area.

CJ's Committee summons Vicky Hammah

The Justice Samuel Kofi Date- Bah Committee set up by Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, has summoned Victoria Lakshmi Hammah, a former Deputy Minis­ter of Communications, for ques­tioning over statements she made on a leaked tape.

Subah now in talks with telcos following GRA’s request

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for the first time formally wrote a letter dated October 28, 2013 to all telecom operators in the country asking them to allow Subah Infosolutions Limited to fix auditing equipment on their respective networks to check domestic call flows for revenue assurance.

President John Kufour ready to testify before Judgement Debt Commission

Former President John Kufuor says he is ready to testify before the Judgement Debt Commission investigating the controversy surrounding the sale of the GNPC drill ship.

Flying 'wizard' crash-lands

A man believed to be in his 70s, who claimed a wizard, was on Wednesday found on the banks of the Okrudu River at Kaimebre, a settlement near the Kasoa New Market in the Central Region.

South Africa nominates Ghana for peace award

South African President, Jacob Zuma has announced Ghana's nomination to receive the prestigious Africa Peace Award slated for South Africa next year, in recognition of her shining example in promoting democracy, good governance, peace and security.

Ghana-Ivory Coast maritime dispute affects investors' confidence in Ghana’s oil

The dispute between Ghana and Ivory Coast over the ownership of the oil rich south deepwater Tano basin appears to be undermining investors’ confidence in the oil sector.

My life is in danger – B/A regional minister cries

The Brong Ahafo regional Minister claims his life is being threatened by some unknown persons over the appointment of a new Chief Executive for Techiman.

Sir John faces CJ's committee over Vicky Hamah's leaked tape

The General Secretary of the opposition New Patriotic Party Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie will on Monday appear before the committee set up by the Chief Justice to investigate allegations that the verdict of 2012 Presidential Election Petition was compromised.

Tobinco resorts to nationwide prayer sessions to ward-off evil spirits

Workers of pharmaceutical giants Tobinco, have organised a nationwide fasting and a prayer session to ward-off all evil attacks on the company.


Court adjourns suit against sale of Merchant Bank to Dec 5

An Accra Fast Track High Court has adjourned hearing of the case in which the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy is challenging the sale of Merchant Bank to private equity fund, Fortiz, to December 5, 2013.

KB Asante calls for the head of Merchant Bank directors

Retired Diplomat, KB Asante, has called for the heads of the Directors of Merchant Bank, whose actions or inactions have led to the seeming collapse of the bank.

Govt reacts to FITCH's concerns with 2014 Budget overruns

Government has rejected criticism by rating agency FITCH  that the 2014 budget has failed come up with measures to check excess spending.

Parliament wades into FDA, Tobinco impasse

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Health has stepped into the ongoing wrangling between the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and some drug importing companies.

Fair Wages, Vice Chancellors dodge Labour Commission hearing teachers' grievances

The National Labour Commission (NLC) is to subpoena the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) and the Vice Chancellors Ghana (VCG) for failing to appear at a hearing between them and the Federation of Universities Senior Staff Associations of Ghana (FUSSAG) on Wednesday.

Koforidua Poly to start medical programmes

The Koforidua Polytechnic is poised to establish a medical school to advance academic work of the school and augment the need for medical specialists in the country.




TOBINCO welcomes Parliamentary inquiry into impasse with FDA

Ghanaian Pharmaceutical giant, TOBINCO has welcomed the decision by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health to resolve the impasse with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).

Friday November 29, 2013

Cocobod worries over rising crop production cost

Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) has expressed worry over continuous rising crop production cost over the years as it worked to raise cocoa output from a previous 400,000 tonnes per annum to about 900,000 tonnes at present.