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Ghana exports GH¢400m food items



Ghana exports GH¢400m food items

Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto has revealed that Ghana exported 150,000 metric tonnes (MT) of food items worth GH¢400 million to neighbouring countries, including Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Northern Nigeria, last year.

GH¢3.3 billion generated at the farm-gate

Additionally, he said the ministry generated GH¢3.3 billion at the farm-gate from 667,000 farmers who participated in the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ (PFJ) initiative, and created 740,000 jobs in the rural economy under the flagship programme.

Government to end rice imports by 2023

At a media briefing in Accra to announce government’s plans to transform the rice industry and ensure self-sufficiency by 2023, he said government is poised to increase domestic rice production from the current 456,000 MT of milled rice in 2018 to 1,665,000 MT by 2023.

He said government anticipates an increase in rice production to address the current deficit of 656,000 MT to a surplus of 365,230 MT by 2023.

6,825 MT of certified rice seeds to be distributed in 2019

Additionally, a total of 6,825 MT of certified rice seeds is envisaged to be distributed to farmers in the 2019 planting season.

The Minister noted that in 2015 alone, government imported $1.5 billion rice, and believes that boosting domestic rice production would reduce government’s rice import expenditure.

In view of that, he said, Government of Ghana signed a $150 million loan facility with the Eximbank of India for an agriculture mechanisation programme three weeks ago.

The chunk of the funds was expected to go into acquisition of rice milling machines from India and China for distribution to farmers to increase rice production and reduce the import of the commodity.

Outlining some of the interventions to increase rice production, the Minister said government would strengthen the capacity of smallholder rice farmers to adopt good cultural practices, access to domestic market, and improve extension delivery.

In the beginning of the 2017 rice growing season, he said, a total of 1,698 MT of rice seeds were made available for cultivation while 2,400 MT were given to rice farmers in 2018.

243,000 MT of fertilisers to farmers under PFJ

Therefore, government supplied 164,000 MT of subsidised fertilisers to farmers in 2017 and 243,000 MT of fertilisers were supplied to farmers under the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme.

Currently, the Minister said, government was supplying various types of equipment for developing valleys for rice cultivation, including seeders, harvesters, thresher and rice mills to intensify rice cultivation.

2,700 Agriculture extension agents recruited

More so, a total of 2,700 agriculture extension agents had been recruited to augment farmers’ outreach programme for technology transfer.

3,000 Motorbikes and 216 vehicles deployed

Consequently, 3,000 motorbikes and 216 vehicles had been deployed to support the agriculture sector nationwide.

Responding to Ghana’s self-imposed ban of some leafy vegetables to the international market, he said it was a self-policing action in view of the ban placed on the nation by the European Union (EU) in October 2015, which was lifted on December 31, 2018 after meeting the standards set by the EU.

Therefore, government instituted the action to enforce regulation on vegetable export and to ensure zero export of vegetables infested with insects and organisms so that the nation wouldn’t suffer another ban.

He said government would meet vegetable exporters next week to inform them about measures it had taken to enforce the regulations.

Mechanisation intervention

He said government is expanding availability of various types of equipment that are suitable for developing valleys for rice cultivation.

Further to that, other farm power inputs such as seeders, weeders, harvesters, threshers, and rice mills are being made available to support expanded and intensified rice cultivation.

Extension delivering intervention

The Minister stated that a total of 2,700 agricultural extension agents have been recruited to augment the farmers’ outreach for technology transfer. In addition, 3,000 motorbikes and 216 vehicles have been deployed to support the agriculture sector nationwide.

Government would not ban importation of rice

The Minister, however, stated that government will not ban the importation of rice into the country after it reaches self-sufficiency.

“We are very competitive because we use labour-intensive methods, which are cheap and meet international standards.

“They are using higher capital-intensive method, and that gives us an advantage in the local market, and no need for local farmers to worry about competition,” he assured.


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Bawumia in France for 8th EITI Global Conference



Bawumia in France for 8th EITI Global Conference

Ghanaian vice president Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on Monday left Accra for Paris, France to attend the 8th Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Global Conference.

The conference will provide an opportunity for heads of state, civil society activists and industry leaders to discuss emerging trends and best practices in the good governance of natural resources.

Vice President Bawumia will participate in the opening plenary session, which will set the scene for the conference, highlighting global trends and future directions for the EITI and the wider extractives governance agenda. It is under the theme “Open Data, Build Trust – Extractives Governance In A Changing World.”

The Vice President will also hold a number of meetings with key stakeholders, including the incoming Chair of the EITI, Mrs Helen Elizabeth Clark, to deliberate on the emerging issues confronting the extractives industry across the world, but particularly in Africa. Mrs Clark is a former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Vice President Bawumia returns to Accra on Wednesday, 19th June, 2019.


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GH¢43m saved after clearing pension’s payroll – SSNIT



GH¢43m saved after clearing pension’s payroll – SSNIT

The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has saved a whopping GH¢43million as of April this year after deleting over 6,300 ghost pensioners from its payroll.

The Trust in February last year began an exercise to clean the pension’s payroll of ghost names in collaboration with the banks, which monitored dormant accounts over time and terminated those it deemed ghost pensioners.

Dr. John Ofori-Tenkorang, the Director-General of SSNIT who made this known, indicated that cleaning the pensions payroll formed part of the prudent internal and external management and cost-saving practices aimed at building a robust self-sustaining Scheme.

SSNIT has a total of 1,551,718 active contributors as of March 2019 and 205,094 pensioners on its payroll with the highest paid pensioner receiving GHS55,899.57 a month, while the minimum pension paid is GHS300.00.

Dr. Ofori-Tenkorang was speaking at an educational forum organised by SSNIT in collaboration with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to discuss social security issues, particularly, on pensions and benefit computations.

It was aimed at promoting knowledge of the SSNIT Scheme, empowering organised labour as peer educators for the Trust and demystifying controversial issues surrounding computation of benefits to contributors.

Dr. Ofori-Tenkorang stressed that sustainability of the Scheme was very essential and urged all institutions to ensure that the Trust run efficiently and effectively.

He said the external actuarial valuation suggested that the contribution rate necessary to pay benefits over the next 50 years and to accumulate assets representing three years of total expenditure was around 19.2 percent.

Last year, he said the Trust spent GH¢2.5 billion on benefits payments and indicated that GH¢230million was being spent in funding pensions payment to over 200,000 pensioners monthly.

Dr. Ofori-Tenkorang added that more than one million Cedis was spent on Invalidity Pension every month, adding that SSNIT was committed to paying all legitimate claims.

He said there were no myths surrounding benefits computation and that, pensions were direct reflections of salaries on which contributions were paid, saying “with the SSNIT pension Scheme, what you put in is what you get”

He said SSNIT had embarked on an aggressive public education agenda to promote knowledge of the scheme among Ghanaians and that the Trust was leveraging on its large social media followers to educate and engage millennial.

Mr. Joseph Poku, the Pensions Manager who took participants through the SSNIT benefits computation, enumerated the three factors that were considered in the computation of benefits under the National Pensions Act 2008, Act 766 as age, average of best 36 months’ salary and earned pension right.

He said a contributor was entitled to a pension right based on the number of months contributed to the Scheme and gave the minimum and maximum pension right earned for 180 and 420 months as 37.5 and 60 percent respectively.

He said salary was a key factor in the computation of pensions and so the higher the salary one contributed, the higher his pensions.

Mr. Joshua Ansah, the Deputy General Secretary of TUC, noted with concern that some workers connived with their employers to pay little contributions to SSNIT and deposit huge sums to the private trust funds.

He advised workers to be interested in consolidating their salaries in order to have meaningful pension instead of bagging huge allowances, which had no bearing on the computation of pensions.

SSNIT was established in 1972 under NRCD 127. It manages the First Tier Contributions of 13.5 percent of workers’ basic salary. Eleven per cent of the amount is invested in the Social Security Fund, while 2.5 per cent goes into the National Health Insurance Scheme.


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Gov’t has not borrowed GHC80billion – Oppong Nkrumah



Gov't has not borrowed GHC80billion - Oppong Nkrumah

Gov’t has not borrowed GHC80billion – Oppong Nkrumah

Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has rejected claims by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that the NPP government has in the past two years borrowed 80 billion cedis with no development projects to show for it.

The minority at a press conference had sought to create the impression that the NPP government had borrowed funds in excess of ¢80 billion since the party assumed office in January 2017.

They dared government to point to the various projects that the borrowed funds have been used for suggesting that the borrowed funds have been used for ‘consumption’ placing Ghana in a debt distressed position.

But contrary to their claims, evidence from the central bank and the Ministry of Finance, provided by the Information Minister has exposed the seeming untruth in the claims by the opposition.

Rebutting the claims by the opposition on Accra based Citi TV Mr Oppong Nkrumah challenged the figures put out by the minority arguing that members of the opposition NDC were only ‘confusing themselves’ with Ghana’s ‘debt stock’ and Ghana’s ‘borrowed funds’.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah explained that the nominal debt stock in cedi terms refers to the cedi equivalent of Ghana’s external and domestic debts at a point in time. This figure he further explained was affected by about five different items only one of which was new borrowing by the Akufo-Addo administration.

The Information Minister noted that the ¢80billion that the minority claim the Akufo-Addo government has borrowed represents the change in the cedi equivalent of the nominal debt.

“We can say that the debt stock has changed by $76 billion. But what we are saying is that you cannot go out and make a claim or suggestion that the change of $76 billion in the debt stock means the Akufo-Addo government has borrowed $76 billion dollars”, the minister explained.

He further explained that the $76 billion is not an amount of money which has been borrowed by the NPP government. He noted that it was rather the amount of money that has been added to the debt stock since the NPP assumed office. He explained that a number of factors including the disbursement of loans contracted in the previous administration, exchange rate differentials and transactional effect account for this $76 billion dollars.

“What we are saying is that apart from old loans that are being disbursed, there are some of the new additions to the debt stock that are not monies that comes to the administration to be used for projects and we have given examples. Take the Extended Credit Facility (IMF bailout) that my brother Ato Forson and my very good friend Seth Terkper literally led us into under IMF. We are to receive about $1 billion in support that goes to the bank of Ghana. This money doesn’t come to the central treasury for the central bank or for the central government to use for any developmental project. If you take that nearly $1 billion, it is about GHS 5 billion in contemporary terms because it is part of our external debt and I used the current exchange rate”.

He continued that, “about $5 billion in Ato Forson’s $80 billion change in debt stock, he (Ato Forson) knows it is not money that comes to the central treasury to use for any project, yet they want to create the impression that, it is money that president Akufo-Addo has borrowed and must be able to show for it”.

Providing a list of old loans contracted before President Akufo-Addo assumed office, which is now being disbursed, Mr Nkrumah further challenged the minority that the claim that Akufo-Addo had caused an 80b change could therefore not be sustained.


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