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Energy expert questions Finance Ministry’s authority to unfreeze PDS accounts

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Energy expert questions Finance Ministry’s authority to unfreeze PDS accounts

An energy expert has questioned the Finance Ministry’s move to unfreeze bank accounts of Power Distribution Services (PDS) Ghana Limited.

Kwame Jantuah does not understand why the Ministry is taking steps to unfreeze the accounts when the reasons given by the Energy Ministry before suspending the concession with PDS still holds.

“The Energy suspended PDS based on a law – Clause 27 of the electricity sale license – one of the reasons they give is the validity of the said license becoming impaired as a result of the following events: demand guarantee submitted by PDS to Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) having been disavowed by the issuer and declared null and void.

“Let me go to (c) the decision by ECG to suspend the provisions of right and obligations defined under the Lease and Assignment Agreement (LAA) pending the determination of all consequential matters arising out of the above. So, when did Energy Commission change its mind,” he queried in an interview on Joy FM’s Top Story Friday.

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Last month, the Information Ministry announced the suspension of the concession agreement between the Finance Ministry, ECG) and PDS with immediate effect.

Mr Ofori-Atta said the decision is to ensure that funds are available for payment of worker’s salaries and cater to the operational costs of the company.

This was followed by two letters from the Energy Commission, one purporting to cancel PDS’ licence and another announcing the transfer of the licence to ECG, urging PDS to cooperate with ECG on the process of transferring the licence.

Following this announcement, the Financial and Intelligence Centre last week froze the bank accounts of PDS following the detection of anomalies in the bank guarantee it provided prior to the takeover of ECG’s assets.

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However, after workers of PDS raised concerns about how operational costs and workers will be covered following the freezing of the accounts, the Finance Ministry said it was taking steps to unfreeze them.

But Mr Jantuah who is also CEO of African Energy Consortium Limited raised objections about the decision.

“PDS account is based on a contract and if the contract has been suspended PDS has no right to go into that account.

“If it is that they need money to operate, they should have opened an escrow account. And ECG should have been the one to make sure that whatever monies are taken out of the PDS account into the escrow account is monitored,” he said.

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In view of this, he believes the Finance Ministry has no authority to aid PDS in unfreezing the accounts.

Mr Jantuah wants the investigation ongoing into the deal to cover every institution or company that was involved in the botched deal.

“We are a sovereign country and we should be able to get down to this matter,” he stressed.

Source: Myjoyonline.com

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No more expiry of voice, data bundles – Telcos ordered

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No more expiry of voice, data bundles – Telcos ordered

The Ministry of Communications has directed telcos to roll over all unused data and voice bundles purchased by customers.

This will mean unused data and credit will not expire.

“All unused data and voice bundles purchased by subscribers do not expire and must be rolled over with the next recharge,” the Ministry said in the statement that also directed teclos to cease the instant deduction of the Communications Service Tax (CST).

The Ministry assured that Mobile Network Operators will be subjected to “strict compliance with exiting Quality of Service (QoS) standard to ensure value for the subscribers’ money in accordance with their licence obligations.”

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The directive came in a letter written to the National Communications Authority and was copied the Chief Executive Officers of MTN and Vodafone as well as the two Deputy Ministers of Communication.

The Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said this was part of measures to”minimise the negative impact of deduction of the CST.”

Currently, only AirtelTigo offers data bundles that do not expire.

Source: citinewsroom.com

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Wa Community Co-operative scoops GHC130K profit in 6 months

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Wa Community Co-operative scoops GHC130K profit in 6 months

The Wa Community Co-operative Credit Union (WACCU) made a net surplus of ¢130,426.12 between June 2018 and December 2018, immediate ex-Board Chairman of the Union, Naa Bawa Seidu, has said.

The amount was more than twice the total budgeted surplus of ¢155,833.92 for the period.

Mr Seidu said this while addressing large crowd of members of WACCU during its 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Wa on Saturday for the financial year to render accounts to contributors.

The AGM was also to elect new executives including Board members, and Supervisory Committee members to oversee activities of the Union for the next four years.

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Within the period, the Union made a total income of ¢1,883,545.04 which fell short of its target income of ¢2,180,423.59.

But Mr Seidu added that ¢274,510.97 loan loss provision was made to “cater for our deteriorating portfolio quality and for risk growth”.

He assured union members that their leadership would not relent in their efforts to explore available viable means including effectual loan recovery mechanisms and legal processes to recover overdue loans.

The management of WACCU, according to him, was pursuing ten loan cases in court while 26 others had been handed over to Purple Holdings Debt Recovery services to recoup monies due the Union, without resorting to the court.

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“These court actions, though expensive to the Union in money and time, are meant to send a strong signal that the Union will never renege to use the legitimate processes to defend the rights of its members and secure the Union’s resources,” Mr Seidu said.

The newly elected Board Chairman of WACCU, John K. Seidu, pledged that the new board would work to ensure progressive and sustainable growth of the co-operative Union in both membership and financial bases.

He said they would do a feasibility assessment to map out districts and areas to extend their services and ensure its easy access by WACCU members for their mutual benefits.

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As at December 2018, the Wa Community Co-operative Credit Union had 12,208 members with 10,747 fully paid up members, comprising 4,767 females, 5,939 males 1,502 groups and organisations.

Source: ghananewsagency.org

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Africa’s three richest men have more wealth than the poorest 650m people across the continent

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Africa’s three richest men have more wealth than the poorest 650m people across the continent

Three African billionaires today have more wealth than the poorest 50% – or 650 million people across the continent, reveals a new Oxfam report today.

The report, called “A Tale of Two Continents”, is launched as African political and business leaders gather this week for the World Economic Forum Africa meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. It shows how rising and extreme inequality across Africa is undermining efforts to fight poverty.

A Tale of Two Continents reveals that while the richest Africans fortunes are increasing, extreme poverty is rising in the continent. The report also looks at how unsustainable levels of debt and a rigged international tax system are depriving African governments of billions of dollars in lost revenue each year – money that could otherwise be invested in education, healthcare and social protection.

The continent is rapidly becoming the epicentre of global extreme poverty. While the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day has plummeted in Asia, this number is rising in Africa. The World Bank estimates that 87% of the world’s extreme poor will be in Africa by 2030, if current trends continue.

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Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said:

“Africa is ready to rise – but only once it’s leaders have the courage to back a more human economy that works for the many and not a few super-rich men. They can achieve this by investing in inequality-busting, universal and quality public services like health and education and by developing truly progressive tax systems. These are particularly powerful for women and girls living in poverty. They can also back a transformation towards decent and dignified work that protects the rights of workers, especially in the age of the African Free Trade Area and the new digital era.”

The report features a first-ever ranking of African nations on their commitment to tackling inequality. The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, developed by Oxfam and Development Finance International, ranks countries on their policies on social spending, tax, and labour rights – three areas the organizations say are critical to reducing inequality. South Africa and Namibia take first and second place respectively, with their strong social spending and a progressive tax system. Nigeria meanwhile has an unenviable distinction of being at the bottom of the Africa ranking, as well as the global ranking for two years running.

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The report shows that:

3 African billionaires now have more wealth than the poorest 50% – or 650 million people across the continent

The most unequal country in the region, Swaziland, is home to one billionaire, Nathan Kirsh, who is estimated to have $4.9bn. If he worked in one of the restaurants that his wholesale company supplies on a worker’s minimum wage, it would take him 5.7 million years to earn his current level of wealth

The combined wealth of the 5 richest Nigerians is more than enough to end poverty in Nigeria. Nigeria’s girl population makes up 60% of the more than 10 million children who do not go to school.

75% of the wealth of African multi-millionaires and billionaires is held offshore, as result the continent is losing $14billion annually in uncollected tax revenue.

Dangerous and unsustainable levels of debt are hurting social spending. In 2018, Angola spent 57% of government revenue on debt repayments while public spending was cut by 19% between 2016 and 2018. Similar trends are present in Ghana, Egypt, Cameroon and Mozambique

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African women and girls are also most likely to be poor. They also stand to lose the most when public services like healthcare and education are underfunded. In Kenya, a boy from a rich family has a one-in-three chance of continuing his studies beyond secondary school. However, a girl from a poor family has a 1-in-250 chance of doing so. Women and girls also bear the brunt of failing healthcare systems, clocking in hours of unpaid care work looking after sick relatives. In Malawi, women spend seven times the amount of time on unpaid care work than men.

Ms Byanyima said:

“African political and business leaders face a clear choice. They can stay on the path of increasingly extreme inequality, where poverty continues to rise while wealth in the hands of a tiny elite and foreign companies’ spirals. Or they can choose another way: towards a more prosperous and equal Africa that invests in and respects the dignity of all its people.”

Source: Oxfam International

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