Thursday, April 30, 2015

EC COMMITTEE SILENT ON NEW VOTERS’ REGISTER

By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Committee silent on new voters’ register

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) says some of the suggestions it made to the Electoral Reforms Committee formed by the Electoral Commission (EC) were rejected.

According to the NPP’s Committee on Elections, the Electoral Reforms Committee made up of the EC, some political parties and civil society organization were silent on a good number of its proposals and said it felt it could enhance the integrity of general elections and deepen the country’s democracy.

The party made a tabular presentation yesterday comparing what they proposed and what the committee presented in its final draft report.

The Committee had Mrs. Georgina Opoku Amankwaa- Deputy Chairperson (EC), Mrs. Rebecca Kabukie Adjalo (EC), Mr. Asiedu Nketiah (NDC), Mr. Kwabena Agyepong(NPP), Mr. James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr. (CPP) as members.

The rest were Mr. Anin-Kofi Addo(YPP), Dr. Ransford Gyampo (IEA), Dr. Kwesi Jonah (IDEG), Dr. Franklin Oduro (CDD-Ghana) with Mr. Christian Owusu- Parry(EC) as Secretary.

Inaugurated on 23rd January 2015, the committee was tasked to separate the proposals into categories such as those that required changes to regulations as well as proposals that required changes to existing administrative laws.

They were also to determine which proposals were worthy of adoption with detailed justification, indicate the form in which each change to be adopted was to be incorporated into the electoral system, bearing in mind its compatibility with the remaining aspects of the electoral laws.

Bloated Register
The NPP said the committee was silent on the creation of a new voters’ register to replace the2012 register which they said was over bloated saying “we suggested that this register should be created no later than June 2016.”

They said they had suggested that the new register that to be compiled “should be independently audited by an internationally reputable firm before the 2016 election.”

The committee said they suggested that copies of the new voters’ register should be provided to parties in both the electronic (csv file) and (pdf file) formats but the committee was again silent on it in its report.

“The new register should be sorted alphabetically by last name and gender. The new Register should clearly delineate voters registered overseas by country and basis for registration (e.g., mission, scholarship, etc),” they had suggested.

Regulation 1(4)
The party said they had also proposed that Regulation 1(4) be amended to read that a registered voter cannot guarantee more than two (2) potential registrants, saying “Copies of such registrations should be made available to the political parties and should also be accessible by the general public.”

“The statement of poll in each polling station must have a bar code reading to distinguish its unique features from any other. In the (C) section, C3 should be deleted and replaced with ‘What is the number of verified voters on the BVD at the close of the poll before counting of votes commences?’”

Video/Photographs
They suggested further that “the polling agents must be allowed to video record or photograph the pink sheet on completion before it is transmitted to the collation centre,” but the committee was again silent on it.

“High quality carbonless paper must be used that allows multiple copies of the pink sheet to be distributed to the interested political parties, candidates and the pool of reporters,” they suggested.

Unique serial number
They requested that every collation sheet must have a unique identification (serial number) and embossed with the polling station codes, polling station names and symbols of competing parties.

They said the summarised result declaration form for presidential and parliamentary elections is not backed by law and therefore must be discontinued adding “the conventional Seventy-Two (72) hours declaration of the presidential results is not backed by any legislation. We are proposing that it must be backed by law.”

Back-up equipment
The NPP recommended a back-up mechanism and equipment which allows verification of finger print authentication in the event of equipment failure and said that at the close of voting, every Biometric Voting Device (BVD) must give a print out of the number of people who voted for the day.

They said the committee was silent on the call for the fingerprinting system to be centrally networked to prevent any double or multiple registration/voting in the entire country and that appropriate sanctions should be applied to defaulters.

“The EC should ensure that no third-party systems are connected or linked to any of the EC’s own systems without the knowledge and active involvement of the political parties.”

There should be provision on the statement of poll to be signed by a deputy Presiding Officer in the absence of the Presiding Officer.



BOST BOILS

Kingsley Kwame Awuah-Darko

By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tension is mounting at Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) following the alleged sacking of the company’s Chairman of the Professional and Managerial Staff Union (PMSU).

The chairman, Albert Mantey who is an Audit Officer at BOST was reportedly sacked by the Managing Director Kingsley Kwame Awuah Darko for breaching the company’s conditions of service.

He was accused of granting media interviews on ongoing restructuring exercise and staffing policy without express permission from Mr. Awuah Darko who was the NDC Parliamentary Candidate of Ayawaso West Wugon (East Legon areas) in 2012 elections.

Ernst & Young audit
The BOST brouhaha heightened when a leaked Ernst and Young audit report revealed massive corrupt practices among officials of the company.

The report had said the endemic corruption was as a result of collusion between senior BOST officials and some of the bulk distribution companies (BDCs), a revelation which has sparked war of words between the two players in the petroleum upstream sector.

Dictatorship
In the ensuing confusion, sections of the BOST workers have accused the Mr. Awuah-Darko of being a dictator in relation to the way and manner he is allegedly running down the state facility.

Daily Guide learnt that Mr. Mantey’s employment was terminated on Tuesday, April 28 after he had denied a query letter sent to him on April 21 for breaching Clause 10.6 of the conditions of service which the management said restricted communication on ‘any matter’ concerning the administration of or policies of the company to the media.

The termination letter was signed by Phyllis Asinah, Acting Head of Human Resource of BOST.

Media interview
Even though Mr. Mantey has explained the circumstance that compelled him to grant the media interview, the BOST management is still adamant.

The PMSU Chairman said a staff called Sackey had organized a news conference and leveled allegations against the staff fraternity and he responded to it in his capacity as the leader of the union and said his dismissal was an attempt to stifle dissenting views on the mismanagement at BOST.

Chop chop at BOST
It emerged that BOST, which has been struggling to raise funds for its activities, pays a whopping $43,000 as rent to a property owner called Frontiers Developers Limited at Dzorwulu, Accra every month.

Interestingly, before moving to DEMMCO House at Dzorwulu, BOST had its offices at Airport Residential Area, Accra which had bigger office spaces but reportedly paid $13,000 monthly as rent.

Customized furniture
Additionally, the BOST MD is believed to have ordered new customized furniture for his office from the United States for the new office, a group of workers calling for forensic audit of the state-owned company’s finances claimed.

In a letter they sent to the presidency to investigate Mr. Awuah-Darko’s management style, the  petitioners claimed  BOST entered into an agreement with a company called TSL Logistics (Ghana) Limited where the state-owned company pays of $56,170.21 every month as management fees.

Hefty payments
BOST is also alleged to be paying $594,000 monthly to TSL which they claimed is to cater for ‘reimbursable’ and the amount included money for maintenance, training, standard operating procedures as well as salaries even though TSL Logistics is reportedly using staff of BOST to execute the said contract.

According to the petitioners, the hefty payments were being made without invoices but the alleged payments continue to go through with the endorsement of the MD.

They claimed that TSL Logistics continues to bill BOST for training fees although there was no training while BOST pays separately for their own training and added that BOST paid for a number of pick-up trucks for TSL and TSL in turn gave back four of the trucks to the MD for his parliamentary campaign at the Ayawaso West Wugon constituency.

They further alleged that Mr. Awuah-Darko presented a budget of $8 million as the total cost nationwide automation BOST depots but in less than a year however, he has revised the amount to $16 million with the board’s approval.

The concerned staff claimed the BOST is failing to account for $15 million from BOST’s partnership with the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC).



CLOSAG SENSITIZES MEMBERS ON PENSIONS

Isaac Bampoe Addo, Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG

By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, April 30, 2015

As part of activities marking this year’s May Day celebration, the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG) has held a durbar to sensitize its members on pensions.

Since mid-2014, unions in the public sector, numbering about 12, including CLOGSAG, had been protesting against the government's management of the Tier Two Pension Scheme and the slow pace of the implementation of the overall Tier Three Pension Scheme.

Alhaji Mahamadu Azonko, President of CLOGSAG in a pre-May Day message bemoaned the lack of attention given civil servants by politicians saying “I look forward to the day politicians will spend only five minutes thinking about our welfare.”

He said “we make everything for them to succeed but our success does not mean anything to them,” adding “if there are successful politicians there will definitely be successful and hardworking civil servants.”

Alhaji Azonko said that some powerful forces were trying hard to cripple CLOGSAG but promised that “we will never collapse. In fact, we will strive to make sure our cherished association stays stronger.”

He said the welfare of civil servants was paramount and they were not going to compromise on matters affecting them.

Isaac Bampoe Addo, Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG said the numerous concerns raised by workers in the implementation of the Three Tier Pension Scheme as well as bringing an end to multiple pensions in the public service were valid.

“We ought to constantly remind ourselves that our current conditions of service have been attained through continuous struggle in the past and the present by various workers’ unions and association.”

He said “it would be self-deception if we presume that our future aspirations would be achieved on a silver platter.”

Mr. Bampoe Addo said that CLOGSAG was very much concerned about the improvement in pensions for workers especially those within the civil and local government services saying “CLOGSAG bemoans the deplorable conditions of retired public officers and would unceasingly pursue activities to improve the lot of pensioners and those about to retire.”

He said that “the hope for the realization of better pension has become a mirage,” adding “at each point in time when workers desire to see clear improvements in levels of pension scheme, their aspirations were dashed and had to wait for another long time in the future.”

He added “we see no end to the ‘promise and fail approach’ for better basis for payment of pension.”

The programme had the theme: ‘The Three Tier Pension Scheme is Kpakpakpa!”They later presented awards to members who were retiring from the civil service this year.




Monday, April 27, 2015

OCCUPYGHANA CONDEMNS FLAGSTAFF HOUSE GH¢1,000 SOLI

By William Yaw Owusu
Monday, April 27, 2015

News about a good number of journalists receiving huge sums of money after a meeting with the Chief of Staff at the Flagstaff House, the seat of government, continues to generate heated debate.

The latest group to condemn the action is OccupyGhana (OG), a fast-growing pressure group campaigning against widespread corruption whilst promoting good governance in the country.

According to them, the payment of ‘Soli’ to about 200 journalists by the Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah is clearly an act of corruption and comes at a time when the government is not able to support basic needs of the people with funding.

Soli
Paying of monies to journalists known in the media fraternity as ‘Soli’ - coined from the word ‘Solidarity” with journalists - has been going on for years and it generates heated debate whenever such incidence occur.

 “OccupyGhana is concerned about the brewing story that after a social event for journalists organised by the new Chief of Staff, Mr. Julius Debrah, envelopes containing amounts of money (reportedly GH¢1,000) were distributed to the journalists. Considering the number of journalists present, it has been estimated that nearly GH¢100,000 was distributed after that event.”

The group said the Chief of Staff was dolling out cash to journalists at a time when “SHS' in the Northern part of Ghana are unable to re-open for the third term because of lack of funds,” adding “it comes at a time when Ghanaians are having to struggle with DUMSOR, which is due, at least in part to the government's inability to pay its debts to the Electricity Company of Ghana and the Volta River Authority, estimated to amount to some GH¢1.7 billion.”

Gov’t Indebtedness
The group said the media was inundated with news about MMDAs owing the Ghana Water Company Limited some GH¢106 million in unpaid water bills and said “university students have been notified that from the next academic year, they would be expected to pay utility bills, probably for the first time in this country's history.”

“Although GH¢100,000 may look and sound like chicken feed to some, the country's economic situation is so dire and desperate, that this is the time that every brown pesewa of public funds ought to be channelled into fixing our problems.”

Insult to Ghanaians
“Surely, this is not the time to splurge, overindulge and grease the gravy train. It is an insult to the Ghanaian who is forced to sleep in the heat or who has to suspend work on account of the harsh effects of the DUMSOR, to read that ranking high on the Government's priorities in these times, is the distribution of free monies to journalists for no work done. This 'Father Christmas' mentality ought to stop forthwith!”

Soli Is Despicable
According to OccupyGhana, “there is no doubt in our minds that Soli is a wrong, despicable and repugnant act of corruption, especially when it is the taxpayer's monies that is being used to fund and support it.”

Abuse Of Power
They said “even if it is claimed that the Government was not the source of those funds (which would be a barefaced lie), the fact of the person occupying the high office of Chief of Staff of the Republic of Ghana, doling out cash to journalists for no work done, is at the very least an abuse of power.”

They challenged President Mahama to publicly condemn the Soli sharing and “rebuke the Chief of Staff in no uncertain or qualified terms,” adding “we challenge the President to make a public announcement that henceforth there will be no distribution of monies or any other forms of inducement to any persons at any state functions.”



Friday, April 24, 2015

NDC JOB CUTS IN 2017

By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, April 23, 2015

It has emerged that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government agreed to cut public sector jobs in their latest dealings with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which has brought about $918 million bail-out cash.

As part of the stringent conditionalities attached to the bail-out, the John Mahama-led NDC government begged the Breton Wood institution to shift the arrangement to 2017 because of the political implications especially in an election year and the fund appeared to have agreed.

Senchi Consensus
The government prior to the deal had organized a National Economic Forum in June, last year and came out with what was termed as ‘Senchi Consensus’ which they called a homegrown solution and later presented for the bail-out.

Interestingly, the opposition NPP had boycotted the forum and said it was not going to be used as a bait to get them to endorse the harsh conditionalities attached to IMF loan including job cuts.

Bawumia Prediction
Prior to Senchi, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, who is NPP’s Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo running-mate for the 2016 election predicted massive job cuts but the government conveniently claimed it was going to the IMF to solicit its support in implementing what they claimed to be “home-grown’ policies to heal the ailing economy and vehemently denied the bail-out bit.

The renowned economist cum banker had again said recently that the Mahama government was only baiting Ghanaians to retain them in office in December 2016 in order to embark on the massive job cuts in early 2017.

"My understanding is that government wants the IMF agreement to delay the worker layoffs until after the 2016 election. I wonder why? I suppose the message is ‘vote for me before I fire you’,” he said in a 70-page presentation at Central University College, at Miotso in March.

‘Right-Sizing Exercise’
At page 17 of a document titled "Request for a three-year arrangement under the extended credit facility" posted on the IMF website on April 21, the government had pledged to bring reform to the Civil Service by forming a task force to make  recommendations to the government as part of the “right-sizing exercise.”

“The government aims at bringing the wage bill-to-revenue ratio down from 53 percent in 2014 to 35 percent over the medium term, in line with the regional ECOWAS target,” the document said adding “this will require wage restraint over the full three year program period, with increases consistent with expected disinflation.”

“The authorities will design a civil service reform strategy during 2015 with the assistance of development partners, which will aim at increasing the productivity and rationalizing the size of the civil service. As part of this reform, the government intends also to review the role of subvented agencies.”

Also, the report gives details of Ghana's programme with the IMF, including the conditions that the country is expected to meet before further disbursements are made.  

The report said that Ghana should get its next disbursement of $144 million by July 15, another one in November if government meets certain conditions. Even though the program will end in 2017, the last tranche will be advanced to Ghana in March 2018.

Bail-out background
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in early April approved a three-year arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) for Ghana in an amount equivalent to SDR 664.20 million (180 percent of quota or about US$918 million) in support of Ghana’s medium-term economic reform programme.

According to the IMF, the programme aims to “restore debt sustainability and macroeconomic stability to foster a return to high growth and job creation, while protecting social spending. The Executive Board’s decision will enable an immediate disbursement of SDR 83.025 million (about US$114.8 million).”

The government’s three-year economic reform programme seeks to support growth and help reduce poverty by restoring macroeconomic stability through an ambitious and sustained fiscal consolidation, a prudent debt management strategy with improved fiscal transparency, and an effective monetary policy framework.

The programme foresees a pick-up in economic growth, starting in 2016, supported by expected increases in hydrocarbon production, lower inflation and interest rates, combined with a stable exchange rate environment would help support private sector activity.



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BACK OFF LA LANDS A-G TELLS MILITARY

By William Yaw Owusu
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Attorney General has asked the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) to stay off lands belonging to developers at East Dadekotopon in La, Accra because the military has not lawfully acquired the property.

The military has indicated its intention to create what it calls “security buffer zone” requiring an area of 2,456.55 acres or 994.15 hectares around Burma Camp but they faced fierce resistance from the owners of the land led by the East Dadekotopon Development Trust who have gone ahead to sell the lands to private developers with land titles.

The land owners have not been at peace as the military in Rambo style led by a certain One Star General has been terrorizing them, regularly pulling down their houses.

But the deputy attorney General says it was unacceptable and nothing short of lawlessness.

The A-G came to the conclusion after the government set up a joint team to investigate whether or not the military had the authority to create the buffer zone using the lands in contention, especially when they were not part of the acquired lands for military installations.

Negotiation Team
The government’s team was led by Deputy Attorney General, Dr Dominic Ayine with Major General B.G. Saagbul, Commanders B.F. Asante and S.W. Anim, Colonel M.K. Gyekye-Asante, Lt. Col. P.K. Apenkwa and Mr. N.A. Ayamdoo as members while representatives of the East Dadekotopon Development Trust were Kojo Graham (lawyer), E. Odoi-Yemo (Chairman of the Trust), Ebenezer Lassey-Quaye and Joeph Adjei (both trustees) and L.S.N. Akuetteh (lawyer).

True Owner
After series of meetings the Deputy AG wrote in a letter to both parties “It was abundantly evident from the negotiations and from all the documentation made available for that purpose that the Ghana Armed Forces have not disputed the fact that the land, the subject-matter of the negotiations belongs to the East Dadekotopon Development Trust”.

“Indeed, the Ghana Armed Forces in the letter of July 8, 2014, the Ghana Armed Forces admitted  that though there had been an attempt in the past to acquire the land, the process of acquisition was not completed,” he added.

High Court Decision
The minister said when the trust sued the government through the AG over the land, the court was “very categorical” that it was the duty of the state to go ahead and acquire the said land under the State Lands Act as provided by law and pay due compensation to the owners and until that was done the military had no business to act in the manner inconsistent with the plaintiff’s ownership of the land.

Dr. Ayine said the A-G takes took the view that the East Dadekotopon Development Trust “has a constitutionally protected right to compensation for the proposed taking of its land for the security buffer zone,” adding “even without a High Court decision, the Ghana Armed Forces could not proceed to use the land without following due process of law and paying compensation.”

He also said that the High Court decision had been overturned on appeal by the defendant saying “until that is done, it is binding on the government and for that matter the military and must of necessity be respected,” and added “any attempt to enforce the creation of a security buffer zone outside of the framework of law is unconstitutional.”

AG’s Advice
The AG said if the military intended to proceed with the creation of a security buffer zone they should commence the formal process through the Ministry of Defence for the compulsory acquisition and pay prompt and adequate compensation to the owners of the land saying “as was evident from the negotiations, there is no dispute respecting the legitimate security and, for that matter, public purpose to which the land with be put.”

He said until that was done, the military “must not engage in acts of trespass to the land or by means of the use of force to seek to prevent the current land owners from developing their lands.”

Complaint Of Harassment
On April 2, 2015, land owners of the area in contention held a news conference and alleged acts of intimidation and illegal destruction of property carried out by persons claiming to act for the Ghana Armed Forces.

They claimed the military through the media had also justified the demolition of their property on the land but insisted that the claim by the military of the ownership of the land was not correct.

“For any land to become public land, including land acquired for use by the military, it must have been properly acquired by the State in keeping with the constitution and relevant laws,” the land owners had insisted.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

PROSECUTION CLOSES ABUGA PELE CASE

By William Yaw Owusu
Tuesday, April 21, 2015

After about a year of proceedings, the prosecution in the trial of Abuga Pele, the former National Coordinator of National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) now Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) has finally closed its case.

It is now left with Abuga Pele who doubles as NDC MP for Chiana Paga in the Upper East Region and his co-accused Philip Akpeena Assibit, CEO of Goodwill International Group (GIG) to open their defense.

However, both defense counsel indicated their intentions to file a submission of no case immediately Mrs Evelyn Keelson a Chief State Attorney announced at the Accra Financial Court yesterday that the prosecution had concluded its case.

Raymond Bagnabu, representing Assibit told Justice Afia Serwah Asare Botwe trying the case that “we are desirous of putting in a ‘submission of no case’ for Mr. Assibit.”

Karl Adongo who is counsel for Abuga Pele also added “It is the same with us. We believe no case has been established by the prosecution so far.”

The court then set the timelines for both teams to file the necessary processes by May 15 for the defense and June 5 for the prosecution before adjourning the case until June 19 for ruling.

Prosecution’s Witnesses
The prosecution was able to call a total of 7 witnesses including Mrs Diana Adu Anane, an investigator at Economic and Organized Crime Organization (EOCO) who was the last witness to be cross-examined.
Nuru Hamidan former NYEP Deputy National Coordinator in charge of Operations and now MCE for Asokore Mampong, Gladys Ghartey current Head of United Nations Systems at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Mohammed Pelpuo, Head of the Business Development Unit at NYEP as well as Clement Kofi Humado, former Minister of Youth and Sports whom the defense team insisted should have also been on trial, have since testified and cross-examined.
Dr. Shaibu Ahmed Gariba, who until September 2014 was the Director General of Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI) as Eric Sunu, an Accountant attached to the GYEEDA have also testified and cross-examined.

Accused Persons
Abuga Pele and Philip Akpeena Assibit are standing trial for the various roles they played, which the Attorney General’s Department said caused huge financial loss to the state.
The MP is accused of wilfully causing financial loss to the state to the tune of GH¢3,330,568.53 while Assibit is being tried for defrauding the state of an amount equivalent to $1,948,626.68.
The two have pleaded not guilty and are currently on bail. They were present in court yesterday.
Charges                                               
The NDC MP is facing six counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state under Section 179A (3) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 Act 29, two counts of abetment under Sections 20(1) and 131(1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and one count of intentionally misapplying public property, contrary to Section 1(2) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977 (SMCD) 140.
Mr. Assibit, who is the first accused person on the other hand, is facing six counts of defrauding by false pretences, contrary to Section 131(1) of the Criminal and Offences Act 1960 (Act 29) and five counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property contrary to Section 2(1) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977 (SMCD) 140.

Concluding case
Mrs Adu Anane before exiting the witness’ box told the court under cross-examination by Mr. Adongo that the GYEEDA investigations were ongoing but the aspect involving the NDC MP and Assibit was completed.

She said Mr. Humado approved the payment based on the justification memo sent by Abuga Pele after the demand letter by Assibit’s GIG.

She admitted that Abuga Pele did not have the responsibility to approve payment beyond GH¢20,000 and said that responsibility rested on the sector ministry and the directors but insisted that “the minister approved the payment based on the justification by Abuga Pele.”

The investigator also said GYEEDA did not have internal audit office and that it used the ministry’s outfit for the pre-auditing of authority’s finances and said it was because Mr. Humado was not sure about the work done by Assibit that he recommended payment to be made into the accounts of MDPI instead of GIG.

When counsel put it to her that it was wrong for Mr. Humado to recommend payment to MDPI which the prosecution said had no contract with GYEEDA and had not done any work instead of GIG, she said the recommendation letters had said the work was done by MDPI/GIG consortium.




IEA JOINS AfDB PRESIDENT SELECTION

By William Yaw Owusu
Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The debate to select the next President for the African Development Bank AfDB was held last Thursday in Washington DC, United States.

The two-hour debate organized by Centre for Global Development (CGD)- United States in partnership with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the African School of Economics in Cotonou-Benin was viewed live via video link at the IEA Conference Hall in Accra by distinguished personalities including, ministers, politicians and academics.

In all 8 well-groomed African economists and bankers are vying for the single slot to become the next AfDB President after Donald Kaberuka of Rwanda leaves office in mid 2015.

The candidates in alphabetical order include Akinwumi A. ADESINA   of Nigeria, Sufian AHMED of Ethiopia (who did not take part in the debate), Jaloul AYED of Tunisia and Kordj√© BEDOUMRA of Chad.

The rest were Cristina DUARTE of Cape Verde, Samura M. W. KAMARA   of Sierra Leone, Thomas Z. SAKALA  of  Zimbabwe as well as Birama Boubacar SIDIBE  of Mali.

Organizers of the ‘AfDB Decides’ debate envisaged that the debate would expose audience worldwide to the most experienced of the candidates in key issues pertinent to the development of the continent while showcasing their understanding of the work of the AfDB.

They are hoping the contestation of ideas will ultimately enable the Board of Governors of the bank to make an informed choice of the most suitable candidate to take up the position of president of the bank.

Moderated by former BBC TV journalist Rajesh Mirchandani, there were questions from the organizers as well as a broad spectrum of personalities, be it academics, politicians or economists in either French or English and the candidates answered with precision.

Questions covering the role of the bank in stabilizing African economies, the bank’s role in fragile and pos-conflict states, its role in natural resource management, Africa’s relationship with China as an emerging economic powerhouse and how the bank could ensure financial inclusion on the continent, were addressed.

Birama Boubacar SIDIBE of Mali said building the capacity of the private sector in fragile and post-conflict states was critical for accelerated growth while Cristina DUARTE of Cape Verde said measuring the impact of funding in an efficient and transparent manner will boost economic growth.

Dr. Akinwumi A. ADESINA   of Nigeria said he would ensure that Africa traded on its own terms with China while Samura M. W. KAMARA   of Sierra Leone said he would ensure funds for development “get to where they are supposed to go to.”

Thomas Z. SAKALA of Zimbabwe said he would ensure the continuous strengthening of financial institutions and create the enabling environment for the private sector while Jaloul AYED of Tunisia said he would encourage public private partnership (PPP) to control infrastructural development.

Kordjé BEDOUMRA of Chad also said he would promote private sector participation in infrastructural development and intensify creation of jobs for the youth.

After the debate, Dr. John Kwakye of the IEA said “this was a grilling process for the candidates” and hoped “whoever is chosen will deliver on his/her promise.”




Thursday, April 16, 2015

LAWYER ACCUSES AG

By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, April 16, 2015

A lawyer in the infamous Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) scandal trial has accused the Attorney General of mounting a prosecution driven by ethnocentricity.

According to Joseph Kpemka the prosecution of Former Coordinator of National Youth Employment Programme now GYEEDA Abuga Pele and Philip Akpeena Assibit, CEO of Goodwill International Group (GIG) was ethnically motivated.

Concluding the cross-examination of Mrs Diana Adu Anane who is an investigator at Economic and Organized Crime Organization (EOCO), Mr. Kpemka a former DCE in the Mills administration told Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe trying the case that the team composed by the government to investigate the GYEEDA issues were all from the Volta Region and the team had targeted his client Assibit who is of northern extraction.

Abuga Pele who is the current NDC MP for Chiana Paga in the Upper West Region with Assibit are in court for the various roles they played at GYEEDA, which the Attorney General’s Department said caused huge financial loss to the state.

The MP is accused of wilfully causing financial loss to the state to the tune of GH¢3,330,568.53 while Assibit is being tried for defrauding the state of an amount equivalent to $1,948,626.68.
“This was a grand ethnic conspiracy by top EOCO officials to witchunt Assibit,” Mr Kpemka said at the trial which took virtually the whole day.
He started by asking the investigator to mention the names of the members of the investigative team and when the judge asked counsel what he sought to achieve with that, Mr. Kpemka said “I am trying to build a foundation to make a case.”
The investigator then mentioned all the names of all the members and some of the witnesses including Clement Kofi Humado, then Minister of Youth and Sports who was used as witness and it turned out that all the investigators apart from Mrs Adu Anane who is from the Ashanti Region all hailed from the Volta Region.
Chief State Attorney Marina Appiah Opare, who was prosecuting the case objected vehemently to the line of questioning by the defence counsel and said it had no relevance to the instant case but Mr. Kpemka insisted that it was a grand conspiracy against some people from the north including his client.
The judge was initially uncomfortable with the line of questioning but later said “I’ll allow it for what it is worth. I don’t want you to say I gagged you.”
According to Mr. Kpemka it was clear from the evidence adduced that some officers from the Volta Region including Mr. Humado who should have been on trial for their roles in the whole GYEEDA scandal were left ‘off the hook’ and Assibit and Abuga Pele who are not from the Volta Region targeted.
The investigator dismissed the ethnicity claim and told the court that after a thorough investigation the AG advised that the two be charged and that was what they had done.
Counsel also told the court the investigator herself benefitted from the government’s oil and gas training programme for which Assibit’s GIG organized and she admitted but insisted that the oil and gas issue was not the subject-matter of the instant case.
Earlier, the investigator told the court that she doubted President John Mahama’s statement that the government had secured $65million facility from the World Bank for Youth Entrepreneurship and Skills Development to be facilitated by GYEEDA.
According to the witness, the World Bank wrote on the request of the EOCO to tell them that Ghana had not even completed the first (out of four) preparatory stage needed to access the facility.
Then Vice President now President Mahama reportedly told announced that the government secured the facility and it is the prosecution’s case that Abuga Pele sent a memo to Mr. Humado asking for approval of payment for work supposedly done by Assibit’s GIG on the World Bank facility which had been ‘secured’.
As a result, the prosecution said Assibit was paid $2million which represented 3% of the $65million (after initially asking for 15%) but the facility is yet to be accessed and that Assibit never did any work.
Later, Karl Adongo representing Abuga Pele also cross-examined the witness who admitted that some of the things counsel asked for were not in the investigator’s diary of action but added that she had all the statements they took from witnesses were available.