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Cedi to regain strength in two weeks – Finance Minister

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Ken Ofori-Atta – Finance Minister

The Government on Wednesday announced that it was adopting a number of measures, within the next two weeks, to reverse the depreciation of the Ghanaian currency; the cedi.

“I’m very confident that the reversal is going to occur, and make the cedi stable going forward,” Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said at Parliament House in Accra.

Mr Ofori-Atta said the Government was to receive GH¢900 million receipts from COCOBOD and three billion Eurobond, launched last year, and additional bridge finance of $750 million.

Mr Ofori-Atta gave the assurance in an interview with journalists after the House had finished a debate on Government’s request for a two billion Ghana cedis Sovereign Guarantee for Ghana Amalgamated Trust Limited to support indigenous Ghanaian banks.

The Minister said he was sure the Ghana Cedi would stabilise against the major currencies soon.

He said the challenge was how to deal with the country’s imports and at the same time boost export, adding that the country needed to change her import dependency, “otherwise we’ll always be battling this issue, it does not matter which government is in power.”

Mr Ofori Atta recalled that, last year, the Central Bank had to intervene with 1.8 billion dollars.

For the first quarter of this year, the Government has already pumped in 90 million dollars.

Mr Ofori Atta said it was surprising that the cedi should depreciate after government efforts to stabilise the economy including the attainment of single digit inflation.

The vote on the debate to adopt the Finance Committee’s Report on  Government’s request for a GH¢2 billion  Sovereign Guarantee for Ghana Amalgamated Trust (GAT) Limited to support indigenous Ghanaian banks was deferred for lack of numbers.

The Minority supported the recapitalisation of the Agricultural Development Bank and the National Investment Bank, but was, however, against the employment of a private entity, the GAT, arguing that the Government should directly recapitalise the two national banks, rather than throwing them into private hands.

The Majority side, citing JP Morgan as example, however, argued that during the financial crisis of the United States of America, private entities were used to recapitalise the banks, for which the American Government later made good returns.

Source: GNA

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Asukawkaw bridge is a death trap – Assembly

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Danger is looming at Asukawkaw in the Krachi East Municipality of the Oti Region following the gradual collapse of the Asukawkaw steel bridge.

Bolts and nuts of the over 30 year old bridge are weak, making the structure shaky with its metal plate top slippery and posing threat to motorists and other users.

Mr. Hope Gli, the Assemblyman for the area, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) said the dilapidated nature of the bridge is affecting socio-economic activities with many using remote tortuous alternative routes to access market centres and schools.

He said in September last year, a vehicle ran over a 13- year old girl who went to fetch water and slipped on the bridge.

Mr. Gli therefore appealed to the Ministry of Roads and Highway to rehabilitate the bridge in time.

Nana Gyemfi Jonas, Gyasehene of Asukawkaw, said the bad state of the bridge is a great worry to the people and asked the regional administration to prioritize its rehabilitation.

Mr. Patrick Chartey Jilima, Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Krachi East told GNA that the Assembly is aware of the situation and had reported it to the Regional Highway Authority who assured of plans to fix it.

Source: GNA

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Teenage Pregnancy in Upper East rises above national target

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Madam Rofina Asuru, the Upper East Regional Deputy Director of Nursing Services (DDNS) in charge of Public Health activities says the region has exceeded the national target of 12 per cent teenage pregnancy cases.

“We are doing higher than the national target of 12 percent. For the year 2018, we recorded a percentage of 15.8 of the proportion of pregnant women as teenagers who visited our health facilities.”

Madam Asuru disclosed this in an interview with the media in Bolgatanga on the sidelines of the Upper East Regional health sector performance review meeting for 2018.

She said the region is not doing too well to prevent teenagers from getting pregnant, and mentioned Talensi, Nabdam, Bongo, Builsa South, Bawku West and Kassena-Nankana West as Districts in the Region that contributed to the high percentage rate of the teenage pregnancies recorded.

Madam Asuru disclosed that, Nabdam District recorded 21 percent of teenage pregnancies, Bongo 20.6 percent, Builsa South 18.7 percent, Bawku West District 19.7 percent, and  Kassena-Nankana West recorded 16.6 percent.

“These are the Districts contributing to the high teenage pregnancy rates in our region.”

The review was on the theme: “Achieving Sustainable Development Goals for Maternal and Child Health – the Role of Technology.”

Asked why the prevalence was high in these Districts, the DDNS said it was partly because there were no opportunities in the rural areas compared to the urban ones.

“Families are poor, they are unable to support the education of their teenage girls, so, many of them will drop out of school and if they are not involved in any skilled training, the next thing is to get married,” she added.

Madam Asuru said there is the urgent need for an all inclusive approach to reversing the phenomenon. “Everybody should be involved, you the media is one partner that we look forward to educate people about the issues and what we can do collectively. I think we need to pay more attention to that.”

She observed that at the family level, parents were “chasing their daily bread, so they are not really taking care of the girls. Some parents leave home early, they come late, they do not even care to know what has happened in their absence.”

She entreated parents to be more responsible and take care of their children, especially the girls.

Madam Asuru described as “unfair criticisms” from some members of the public who blame the Ghana Health Services for not stepping up its mandate to educate the girls in basic schools on reproductive and family planning issues to avert the occurrences of teenage pregnancies.

“We have always tried. One challenge we have is with the Ghana Education Service (GES), they do not feel comfortable about we talking about contraceptive use for those who cannot abstain. We know that the children engage in sexual activities.”

Madam Asuru said from the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey, about 22 per cent of the population are within the age group of 10 to 19, “So if we have that cohort and they are not productive, you can see that with time we are just going to be a stint, because our future leaders are not going to get any better life.”

Source: GNA

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Ho West Assembly drops in project performance score

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The Ho West District Assembly has scored 66 per cent in the Citizens’ Assessment of Assemblies Project for 2018, dropping from 88 per cent in 2017.

This is contained in a document put together by Ghana’s Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms (GSAM) at a Town Hall Meeting in the Assembly to bring to the fore some projects of the Assembly and their levels of completion.

The scoring, which was done by the citizens and the Global Action for Women Empowerment (GLOWA), a Non-Governmental Organisation every year, targets and assesses two capital projects in a selected district under (GSAM) funded by the United States Agency International Development  (USAID).

The districts are assessed on Project Initiation and Planning (PIP), Contractor Selection and Contracting (CSC), Project Execution (PE), and Citizens’ Perception of Project Benefits (CPPB).

In 2017, the district scored 88 per cent for works done on its two unit kindergarten blocks with ancillary facilities at Holuta and a Community based Health Planning Services compound at Awudome Avenui.

The Assembly in 2018 was assessed based on the construction of a district fire service station at Dzolo Kpuita and the construction of a town council office at Awudome Tsito.

The fire station and town council were pegged at GH₵ 291, 995.76 and GH₵ 108,409.77 with a construction period of between April to September 2018 and November 2015 to July 2016 respectively.

They were all to be funded by the Ho West District Assembly with funding from the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) but the projects were at various stages of completion.

The Assembly was scored 63 per cent in PIP, 100 per cent in CSC, 27 per cent in PE and 75 per cent in CPPB.

In the Project execution analysis, it was scored on the basis of projects lagging behind or being stalled with the Assembly monitoring the projects periodically.

The Assembly scored a 100 per cent in capturing the projects in its 2018 procurement plan and a fair process in its award of the contracts.

On the way forward, the Assembly was advised to call the contractors to site as soon as funds were made available by June 2019, failure for which the contract would be abrogated and re-awarded.

The Assembly was also advised to make information on the projects readily available to the citizens and also brief contractors on the low scores.

The GSAM is a five-year social accountability project that seeks to strengthen citizens’ oversight of capital projects to improve local government transparency, accountability and performance in 100 districts across the country.

Source: GNA

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