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John Mahama to disclose his running mate today

John Mahama to disclose his running mate today

John Dramani Mahama - Flagbearer, NDC

Flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama will today, Monday, July 6, 2020, announce his running mate at the party’s National Executive Committee meeting.

Report indicates that the flagbearer will present the name of former Education Minister, Jane Naana Opoku Agyeman as his preferred choice for the position.

Other names that have also come up as likely contenders include former Finance Ministers, Prof. Kwesi Botchwey and Dr. Kwabena Duffuor.

The National Executive Committee of the NDC will per the party’s regulations uphold or reject Mr. Mahama’s choice.

On Thursday, June 18, 2020, Mr. Mahama in a Facebook Live said the party structures are currently being consulted on his choice of a running mate.

“Following the easing of restrictions, I have requested our functional executive committee to arrange a meeting of the Council of Elders and the National Executive Committee (NEC) to finalize my constitutional obligation to consult these bodies on the choice of my running mate. We have also agreed on our choice of the 2020 campaign team and will announce this shortly. Our manifesto committee is also wrapping up its work and we expect to launch our 2020 manifesto in August.”

Later last month, the NDC presidential candidate indicated that there was no need unveiling his running mate to join him contest in the upcoming 2020 general elections considering the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

Update on the outcome of the meeting, regarding Mr. Mahama’s running mate, will be announced as and when available.

Extend COVID-19 interventions to support businesses – Economist to BoG

Extend COVID-19 interventions to support businesses – Economist to BoG

Dr. Adu Owusu Sarkodie - Economist

Following various interventions introduced by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) as a result of the outbreak on COVID-19 in Ghana, an Economist, Adu Owusu Sarkodie, has suggested an extension of these interventions introduced three months ago to support businesses.

Some of these interventions capture the central bank’s reduction of its policy rate which triggered a drop-in interest rate among commercial banks to cushion businesses within the period.

In March this year, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of Ghana lowered the policy rate by 150 basis points; from 16 to 14.5%.

The reason for the reduction was based on the fact that the coronavirus pandemic affected economic growth, making economic managers uncertain about the future.

Additionally, the outbreak of the virus led to a subsequent reduction in the interest rate by 2% drop for most commercial banks.

Also, some banks suspended interest payment for all customers whose loans matured during March, April, May and June, whereas others deferred loan repayment for their clients.

This provided some businesses with the opportunity to have access to more liquidity to finance various important projects.

As it stands now, there are several concerns as to whether the BoG’s intervention will be rolled over or exhausted as the operations of banks become uncertain. This is because banks need funds to also run their operations.

However, speaking in an interview, the Economist, Dr. Adu Owusu Sarkodie who also doubles as a lecturer at the University of Ghana said an extension of the incentives will be needed as the country’s coronavirus cases keep increasing with huge impact.

 

“The Bank of Ghana will by now be better informed to advise the Finance Minister or government as to whether they should continue with this package, and I think they should continue so that we can help businesses many of whom are collapsing and have laid workers off, and are not making as much profit as needed.”

“The government’s absorption of the water and part of electricity bills also helped to reduce the operation cost of business, and I think that the central bank should inform the government to encourage the continuation of such incentives.”

 

Interventions by the Government

President Akufo-Addo in April, announced the rolling out of a soft loan scheme of one billion cedis (GH¢1 billion), to support micro, small and medium scale businesses. Initially, a total amount of 600 million cedis was set aside to be used for the programme. But, the amount was later increased to 1 billion cedis following the support of some commercial banks in the country.

Also, commercial banks, with the support of the Bank of Ghana, have instituted a three billion cedi (GH¢3 billion) credit and the stimulus package, to help revitalise industries, especially in the pharmaceutical, hospitality, services, and manufacturing sectors.

This forms part of the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) to manage the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

GPRTU members agitate to either increase fares or pick complete number of passengers

GPRTU members agitate to either increase fares or pick complete number of passengers

The national vice-chairman of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), Mr.Robert Sarbah is appealing to the transport minister to either revise the transportation fares or allow drivers to resume with the normal intake of passengers in a vehicle, as the policy is causing undue financial strain on them.

Speaking in an interview, the vice-chairman of the transport union said,we think that we should appeal to the minister for us to pick the complete number of passengers so that we take maybe the old fare. In the absence of this, we cannot continue to be losing.

The appeal follows demands by drivers for fares to be adjusted to cater for revenue loss due to a slash in passenger numbers, and in

compliance with social distancing protocol.

He argued that, drivers commuting from Kaneshie to Takoradi are experiencing the pain of loss as the stress of vehicle maintenance compounds the already dire situation of these drivers.

We must petition the transport minister, our members are seriously agitating that they want to increase the lorry fare by themselves. We’ve been able to prevail upon them to suspend that in view of we getting a petition to the minister and see what the minister can do. We have given a timeline up to Wednesday, in case we do not hear anything, and we’ve done what we could do by also assisting to ensure that this COVID do not spread.

He intimated that, the elimination of a passenger affects them in an enormous way, as the policy has changed everything.

 

He said, we are greatly losing …the lorry fare came with the number of passengers that we were taking previously and the number has reduced, and therefore by simple calculation everybody will know that we are losing. We cannot break even and this is why we said we need to increase the lorry fare”.

 

Mr. Sarbah suggested however that, in the absence of an amelioration effort, drivers should be allowed to resume the normal intake of drivers despite the rising and prevalent cases of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union, Kwame Kumah, in a separate interview said they will await a response from the government before a nationwide increase in fares.

He said, we cannot do anything on our own, in terms of increasing transportation fares. That is why as a union, we have decided to present a petition to the Transport Ministry and subsequently to the Presidency for any further action. We are all aware of the impact of this pandemic on our businesses, so it either we are made to take the original numbers or increase fares.

Further commenting on the percentage they envisage adding, the National Chairman for GPRTU said the union will allow the authorities to take it up.

For the margin of increase, we are not too sure for now since the situation is different from how we would have calculated increment if it had been triggered by increase in fuel prices”.

Ghana’s Housing deficit: Disparity created due to the lack of a comprehensive housing policy

Ghana’s Housing deficit: Disparity created due to the lack of a comprehensive housing policy

Bernard Arthur, a Planning and Urban Development Consultant has requested for the inclusion of a comprehensive housing programme from political leaders as they prepare their manifestoes, considering the importance of housing to Ghanaians.

Speaking at the launch of the Manifesto Project organized by the Center for Democratic Development Ghana (CDD Ghana), he indicated that the dearth of a comprehensive housing policy and a financial strategy for implementation of housing projects has blighted Ghana’s housing sector.

The Report launched by CDD-Ghana was titled ‘A compilation of issues and Evidence on Key sectors in Ghana’, Promoting responsive and responsible Manifestoes for national development.

According to Mr. Arthur,This is serious and within that same population dynamics, you find out that we have outdoor sleepers and it has been compounded with the slum issues.  Accra alone has over 217 slums and that is not even the slum pockets but slum settlements. When you get into East-Legon and other peri-urban areas you find a lot of slum pockets and this is not because the people chose to be there, but because there is an absence of a comprehensive program within national planning and by and large a lot are driven from the manifestos.

“Acts of God” and Inadequate Research are some of the reasons banks don’t lend to the Agric Sector.

“Acts of God” and Inadequate Research are some of the reasons banks don’t lend to the Agric Sector.

Two experienced finance professionals have pointed out some of the reasons why banks in Ghana are reluctant to lend to companies or individuals in the Agriculture Sector.

Kwame Adu-Darkwa the Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Ghana Export-Import (GEXIM) Bank has indicated that because of uncertainties in the Agricultural Sector and the paucity in the flow of information, banks are reluctant to aid businesses in this sector.

He made it clear that the banks are “worried of Acts of God, which will be fire or” any other unforeseen happenings which are prevalent in the Agric Sector. He also raised a concern that the banks “just… don’t know” much about the sector.

Sewu-Steve Tawia, who is an angel or private investor with 20 years of experience also pointed out that, it is important for banks and other investors to be furnished with industry data to make them more willing to invest in the sector.   

“I was working in Agriculture, in poultry value chain in the Bono and the Ashanti Region.  It is quite important to make bankers understand the ecosystem and the value chains and sometimes there is a big help that would probably need to be done. …the loan officers in financial institutions needs to understand the cash flow of those companies to be able to lend to them. So there is a bit more work to be done on the research, especially data availability for investors and other organisations to come in.”  

He however indicated that the past few years have witnessed some activities in the research field and made known some of the research areas and he has done considerable study on.

“I will say that over the last five years, different organisations have… been put in place to find” the gaps in the sector. “And there’s a number of organisations that I’ve done consistent research on. What is the layout of the ecosystem? What are the social entrepreneurials? What are the tech entrepreneurials? What are the meat size companies?”

Mr Adu-Darkwa also called the attention to some government initiatives that are ensuring banks become more confortable with lending to high risk sectors.

He said that, government through the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) is facilitating access to “small loans” to “small companies” which makes the banks more certain about the security of their investments.

He also added that the provision of “a proper address” system “serves this purpose.”

This, according to him gives the banks an opportunity to “scrutinize those coming in for the loans.”

According to the Oxford Business Group, the past ten years has witnessed a decline in Ghana’s agriculture sector. Regardless of this, the sector is still instrumental in employing Ghanaians.

“Over the last decade the relative size of the agriculture sector in Ghana has more than halved, amounting to 15.3% of nominal GDP as of the second quarter of 2019, down from 31.8% in 2009. Nonetheless, the sector retains its strategic importance as a major employer, comprising 44.7% of the labour force.

Metro Mass staff begin “No Pay, No Work” strike today

Metro Mass staff begin “No Pay, No Work” strike today

The Staff of the Metro Mass Transport Limited (MMTL) will from today, Friday, July 3, 2020, embark on a sit-down strike in efforts to prompt authority’s attention over issues of unpaid salaries.

According to them, they have not been paid salaries for May and June 2020 after taking half salaries for April.

In a statement from the Senior and Junior Staff Union at MMTL, their strike will be in force until further notice.

 

“Given the foregoing, the workers through the leadership of the Unions will be embarking on a peaceful sit-down action from Friday, July 3, 2020, until further notice if no attempt is made to pay workers’ salaries.”

 

In solidifying their decision taken on the strike, the transport company said:

 

“It is instructive to note that the directives from the Sector-Ministry which are intended to regulate the operations of all commercial transport service providers in the country have affected MMTL so much in the area of revenue generation, and this has gone a long way to affect the salaries of staff and their welfare.”

 mass

Lamenting the drop in revenue due to the new protocols guiding the number of passengers to be on a bus, as part of measures to control the spread of the coronavirus, MMTL says this has also to a large extent, affected revenue generation, hence, causing a negative impact on their standards of living.

The situation, they say, has “befallen the company” and “needs the intervention of the Central Government”.

 

“While deeply regretting the delay and nonpayment of staff salaries, workers hope that management would restore our salary payment cycle. It is also hoped that Management would take note and act accordingly to obtain the government’s support to alleviate workers of this company from these hardships,” the staff of the company added in the statement.

 

The union has however added that it will ensure their proposed action, themed “No Pay, No Work” is intended to be peaceful and nonviolent.

 

“All members are therefore enjoined to ensure that they appreciate the directives given to them by the leadership of the unions for a peaceful and harmonious action.”

 

What the situation will have on the economy

The outbreak of the coronavirus in Ghana has caused a break in economic activities in Ghana, causing some businesses to fold as well as job losses.

In the case of the Metro Mass Transport Limited (MMTL), their strike action will affect passengers who use the services from one point to their destinations. Already, the coronavirus, which has resulted in the closure of borders, has affected revenue from import and export activities.

Also, individuals who rely on the services of the MMTL for specific reasons, will be optionless than resorting to other means of transportation.

I want to see a statement or a line about that three billion cedis as the Finance Minister is going to read the mid-year budget

I want to see a statement or a line about that three billion cedis as the Finance Minister is going to read the mid-year budget

The President of the Ghana Hotels Association, Dr. Edward Ackah-Nyamike Jnr. has urged the Ministry of Finance to expedite the process on how government intends to augment their businesses in the upcoming mid-Year budget review following the adverse impact of the pandemic on their businesses.

Dr. Ackah-Nyamike Jnr. in an interview said a meeting with President Akufo-Addo along with other stakeholders in the hospitality industry afforded them the leeway to express their concerns on their exclusion from GHS1 billion cedis stimulus package being disbursed by the National Board for Small Scale Mining because their staff strength exceeds 95.

He said despite applications made by members for the 9 million dollar World Bank grant and the GH1 billion NBSSI disbursement of which they are supposed to benefit from, his members have not received support from any of the funds even though they have applied.

We haven’t had any clear feedback on when that money is coming, how it will be sourced and how it will be disbursed. I want to see a statement or a line about that three billion cedis as the Finance Minister is going to read the mid-year budget. I must also say that time is of the essence and if the support does not come early, it will end up destroying a lot of businesses. So, we urge government to ensure that these interventions come in at the right time so that the industry players will benefit from it.