‘Restructure economy to improve living condition’

17b2102536466753The Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG) has entreated government to restructure the economy through well thought-out policies and implement pragmatic plans and programmes for a turnaround of the economy.

According to the church, although successive governments had made some satisfactory progress towards turning Ghana into a middle-income country, Ghanaians were still living under difficult conditions.

“This calls for a fundamental restructuring of the economy through well thought-out policies,” the church stated in a communiqué issued after its 13th General Assembly meeting held at Abetifi, Kwahu recently.

Rt. Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Martey, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, touched on the issue of corruption and bribery; raising concerns after Ghana scored 45 per cent on the Transparency International Global Corruption Perception Index for 2012.

He indicated that the rise in the incidence of bribery and corruption, theft, and embezzlement of state and private funds in the country should be seen as number one national enemy, as it was having adverse impacts on the country’s ability to attract foreign direct investment.

“Unfortunately corruption is so pervasive in the country and has so many forms, with seemingly no solution in sight,” he said.

The Presbyterian Moderator further said the thought that the passing of the Public Procurement Law and other laws and instruments would help ‘improve accountability, value for money, transparency and efficiency in the use of public resources’, had turned out to be a mirage.

“We therefore encourage government to adequately resource key state institutions such as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Audit Service and the Attorney General’s Department to promote greater efficiency in their service and help stamp out the menace,” he said.

He further called for the laws of the country to be applied squarely to the ‘givers and takers of bribes as well as those found guilty of embezzlement and theft of state resources.

“The general assembly again calls on the Government to expedite action on passing the Freedom of Information Law.”

source: ghanaweb.com

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Exporters urged to embrace national strategy

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Mr Gideon Quarcoo has asked Ghanaian exporters to embrace Ghana’s new national export strategy to ensure a boost in the country’s non-traditional exports.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the 82nd Izmir International Fair, Mr Quarcoo said GEPA was geared towards working with exporters to ensure that the vision of the strategy was achieved.

The new export strategy for the non-traditional export sector, spanning 2013 to 2017, aims to put Ghana on the global map as a world class exporter of competitive products and services.

It has set a five-billion dollar target for non-traditional exports by 2017 from current export value of 2.46 billion dollars.

Under the strategy 212 districts in the country must identify at least one significant commercial viable agro-based export product to help achieve the target.

Mr Quarcoo said the strategy also aimed at generating considerable number of jobs and improving incomes as well as the standard of living and welfare of the people.

He said the strategy would help strengthen and resource export development related institutions to ensure that the export culture is imbibed nationwide to avoid the dependence on traditional exports.

Mr Quarcoo said the target in the next four years was achievable when exporters picked up their game.

As a first step, he said, GEPA would work with exporters to increase capacity in order to overcome supply constraints and to enable them take advantage of regional exports opportunities within the Economic Community of West African States.

In this direction, he said, a monitoring and evaluation unit would be established within GEPA to help exporters in the districts to identify and get products to enhance the export revenue.

In addition, GEPA would also help exporters to meet international requirements, especially in the area of phytosanitary, and providing exposure to their products through support for their participation in trade fairs.

Mr Quarcoo said there would also be public campaigns on export of services in education, information and communication technology, multi-media and medical tourism into its NTEs portfolio.

He said GEPA’s participation in the 82nd Izmir International Trade fair (IZFAS) in Turkey provided a good opportunity for the Authority to help exporters diversify trade to the Middle East and Asia.

The GEPA is facilitating the participation of 12 Ghanaian companies in the fair, which is running from 29 August to 2 September.

The participating companies include pharmaceuticals, food and beverages and cosmetics.

source: ghanaweb.com

‘Entrepreneurs must take crucial decisions’

brian_tracyBrian Tracy, Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, has challenged entrepreneurs to develop the attitude of taking critical decisions including flushing out incompetent staff and management, if they wish to succeed in business.

He said entrepreneurs should be creative at developing unique products and services and focus on specific aspects of their businesses to enable them attract more customers and generate revenue for their organizations.

The author and business consultant also urged entrepreneurs to reflect on their performance, identify constraints which hinder their competiveness and explore possible avenues to improve on their brands.

Brian Tracy was making a presentation on the subject, “Achieving Personal, Business and Entrepreneurial Success” at the 9th edition of the MTN Business World Executive meeting in Accra. He indicated that entrepreneurs needed to develop their thinking ability and take quick decisions when new ideas emerge because the “ability to think was linked to the successes that one would achieve.”

He said business owners should not be enthused about engaging in a variety of ventures which may not yield positive results but they should rather concentrate on particular activities in which they had the expertise to operate efficiently.

Touching on how to achieve individual success, he advised individuals to develop the habit of planning and setting specific goals for themselves and monitor progress on what had been achieved and make amends where necessary. He mentioned that individuals should be courageous and be willing to take action even when there was no guarantee for success.

“Courage is the mark of a leader. There is no security in life, only opportunities. Therefore you must resolve to act as if it were impossible to fail,” Brian Tracy said.

The public speaker, with over 30 years’ experience in the business community, highlighted the need to develop a sense of urgency in the approach to work as an important factor in the quest to be successful in any venture.

Erick Nsarkoh, General Manager of MTN Business Solutions, stated that the forum, organised quarterly, was to bring together resource persons to inspire entrepreneurs to network and share ideas on how to sustain their businesses.

source: ghanaweb.com

Vodafone provides free access to Whatsapp

vodaVodafone in partnership with Nokia Ghana, is offering its customers 30 days of free Whatsapp access on the new Nokia Asha 210, Nokia Asha 302 and Nokia 206.

Mr Ebenezer Ampadu, Head of Terminals at Vodafone Ghana said at a press conference that the promotion would give customers the opportunity to enjoy freely, the latest channel of communicating with loved ones through the Whatsapp messenger.

“At Vodafone, we have always been at the forefront of providing innovative and user friendly mobile internet experience for our customers and our partnership with Nokia to offer our customers free Whatsapp access is yet another step in making mobile internet more fun, engaging and easy to Ghanaians”, he said.

He said, apart from the selected Nokia Asha 302, 210 and Nokia 206 for the promotion, interested persons could also enjoy the offer by purchasing any Ghana warranty Nokia phone from any Vodafone retail shop to enjoy the offer.

“Customers upon purchase of any of the selected Nokia phones will have to activate this offer on *179# to enjoy free data to chat on Whatsapp for thirty days”, he said.

source: ghanaweb.com

Business activities bounce back

maBusiness activities in Accra have returned to normal, a day after the Supreme Court affirmed Mr John Dramani Mahama as the validly elected President in the 2012 elections.

When the Daily Graphic toured the streets of the city yesterday, most of the places that had been quiet on Thursday had started bustling with normal activities.

The shops and stalls had opened for business. Corporate institutions, including the banks and the ministries that were deserted last Thursday had also resumed operations.

Busy marketplaces such as the central business district (CBD) that were virtually empty on Thursday were back in business, as traders were seen busily selling their merchandise.

The commercial transport business had its fair share as ‘trotro’ and taxi drivers were spotted shouting for passengers at their respective stations.

As is normal in Accra on Friday morning, there was vehicular traffic on some major roads, while hawkers and traders that were out of sight from the roads last Thursday had returned to business.

The Atmosphere before the judgement on Thursday

An unusually quiet atmosphere, closed shops, empty streets and deserted markets were the defining features of Accra while the country awaited the landmark Supreme Court judgement on the 2012 election petition.

The fear of violence as a reaction to the pronouncement of the ruling was the cause of the empty streets, markets and closed shops.

The typical rush hour traffic that is seen in most parts of the national capital was absent.

The closure of the shops, stalls and kiosks resulted in deafening silence uncharacteristic of the CBD, known for its chaotic atmosphere occasioned by human and vehicular congestion and the host of hawkers and head porters.

Business activities are slow
Although business activities had resumed, most traders at the various markets, including Kantamanto, Kaneshie and Makola, complained that business was yet to pick up.

They attributed the slow pace of business to the purchase of bulk items, especially foodstuffs, on Wednesday, in anticipation that there would be violence after the ruling.

‘I did not go to my shop on Thursday because of the fear of violence.

‘However, by the grace of God everything went on peacefully and so I  also have returned to my business. But the pace of buying is slow,’ Madam Rita Donkor told the Daily Graphic.

At the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Market, it was observed that most of the traders, mostly hawkers, who were not on the streets on the day of the judgement had taken over the streets again as they sold their wares.

Reactions to the verdict
While most of the people described Thursday’s ruling as victory for the country, others congratulated Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on accepting the judgement.

‘The victory went for President John Mahama, but it was the attitude of Nana Akufo-Addo that united the country,’  a trader at the Makola Market, Madam Adwoa Kyerewa, said.

‘I also like the fact that Ghanaians listened to the message of peace and, indeed, heeded the pieces of advice by our leaders and stayed away from violence,’ she added.

source: modernghana.com

We must overhaul our Mining Laws – Wacam

Wacam, a human right, environmental and mining advocacy Non Governmental Organization (NGO), has called for a comprehensive review of the Minerals and Mining Act (Act 703) 2006 to ensure that Ghana derives maximum benefits from her mineral resources.

Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, the Associate Executive Director of Wacam while addressing the press stated that “Past and present administrations have adopted a piecemeal approach to resolving the concerns of the people of Ghana with respect to mining and thereby allowing mining companies to do whatever they wanted in pursuit of their corporate interests, to the detriment of the people and Government of Ghana.”

“The mining industry goes through a boom and a bust. The high gold price peaked around $1,910 per ounce in 2011 from $290 per ounce in 1999 and $405 per ounce in 2004.

“In 2004, Newmont used a gold price of about $400 for its profitability analysis and even at that low level of gold price, the Company deemed the Ahafo Project as a profitable venture.”

She emphasized that today, with a cash cost of Newmont around $600.00 and the price of gold hovering around $1,400, many mining companies like Newmont “are making a lot of profits while the State is losing out in terms of benefits”.

The statement observed that: Though the Act states that a development agreement is subject to ratification by Parliament, the discretion granted the Minister responsible for mines on a wide range of benefits to companies whose investment is more than US$500 million is the cause of the facility granted to Newmont in the investment agreement for the retention of 100% of its earnings in an offshore account.

“The problem is with the Mineral Laws of our country, and the opportunity for a comprehensive review of the Minerals and Mining Act of Ghana is now because we are already late in taking advantage of the gold boom” the statement reiterated.

Calling for a review of the Minerals and Mining Act to the Minerals Commission, Mrs. Hannah said the review of the minerals and mining law should take on board the inclusion of the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) principle which gives mining communities leverage in the decision-making process that must be free from intimidation to accept or reject a mining project

“The Law must provide for No Go Zones to protect our environment, especially Forest Reserves, from mining. It must also incorporate the Polluter Pays Principle for mining companies to absorb socio-cultural; environmental; civil; political and economic cost of their operations.”

Wacam said the Law must enjoin holders of mining rights and other businesses related to mining to respect and promote human rights including the rights of women, children and workers arising from mining activities, which include but not limited to making adequate provision for the progressive realisation of economic, social and cultural rights as they relate to mining activities and empowerment of women.

It called for the review of the fiscal regime for mining with respect to tax exemptions, stability clauses and the implementation of windfall profit tax to increase benefits to the country.

“Wacam recognizes that the Government of Ghana has signed and gazette the ECOWAS Directives on Harmonization of Guiding Principles and Policies on Mining, and it is expected that by 1st July 2014, Ghana would have internalized the provisions of the Directives in our laws to make the provisions justifiable,” the statement said.

source: Ghanaweb.com

Base pay of public sector workers increased by 10%

ashNii Armah Ashietey, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, has announced that the 2013 Base Pay of teachers and other government workers has been increased by 10 per cent.

He indicated that the base pay which was previously GH¢4.84 had been increased to GH¢5.32, explaining that the increment aimed at improving the financial status of public sector workers.

He, therefore, implored the workers to reciprocate the gesture by working hard to justify the increment so as to enhance productivity.

Nii Armah Ashietey made the disclosure at the 10th National Delegates and Second Biennial Conference of the National Association of Graduate Teachers in Takoradi.

The Minister revealed that the government and its social partners would soon begin negotiations towards the determination of the 2014 National Daily Minimum Wage and Base Pay, which would be factored into the 2014 Budget

The conference was on the theme: “It all starts with a good teacher,” which brought together graduate teachers all over the country to take stock and strategise for the future.

Professor George Kofi Twentoh Oduro, Chairman of the Takoradi Polytechnic Council, urged teachers to be self-disciplined and meticulous in all their endeavours.

He appealed to them to eschew negative behaviours since it could affect the quality of teaching and learning in schools.

Prof Oduro noted that teachers could not peruse quality education if they are not motivated and, therefore, entreated the government to support them adequately in order for them to give off their best.

He noted that little would be achieved if requisite teaching and learning materials are not provided, saying “no matter how effective a teacher is, little achievement will be recorded if there is no laboratory equipment, positive learning attitude by pupils and professional support”.

Prof Oduro observed that currently, trainees at the teacher training colleges are trained academically just to pass their examinations rather than towards professional competence.

He therefore appealed to the authorities concerned to consider the calibre of students admitted into the colleges of education in order to ensure that they have strong foundation in subject content in order to build on their professionalism.

source: Ghanaweb.com