You don’t need Aid but skilled workforce to grow- Hungarian Foreign Minister tells Ghana

You don’t need Aid but skilled workforce to grow- Hungarian Foreign Minister tells Ghana

The Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister Péter Szijjártó says Ghana doesn’t need Aid nor handouts from European countries to grow but rather a skilled workforce that can make their know-how available to the Ghanaian economy to ensure rapid development.

Addressing a gathering at a ceremony held at the premises of a newly built facility to officially inaugurate and re-open the Hungary Embassy in Ghana, Mr. Szijjártó said the government of Hungary in light of how it values Ghana and the rest of Africa has decided to increase it’s scholarship grants to the country to ensure that more Ghanaians get trained with skills that can be used to transform the economy.

To this end, the Hungarian Foreign Minister announced that his country’s government has decided to increase it’s scholarship grants to 100 slots from the previous 50.

The Foreign Minister of Hungary described as unfortunate the decision by his country to close their embassy in Ghana some 30 years ago. He associated that decision to the socialist regime that was in power then in his country. He added that the reopening of the embassy in Ghana marks the establishment of permanent diplomatic relations with Ghana.

The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bamumia who was special guest of honour at the ceremony in his speech described as welcome news the reopening of the Hungarian embassy in Ghana. He added that the Nana Akufo Addo led administration is looking forward to increased Trade relations with Hungary.

Dr. Bawumia affirmed the assertion by the Hungarian Foreign Minister that Ghana doesn’t need Aid but a skilled workforce. He therefore welcomed the the gesture of the Hungarian government to award more scholarship awards to students of Ghana.

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Ghana – Hungary Partnership To Boost Agricultural Production in Ghana.

The Ambassador of Hungary to Ghana, Mr András Szabó has said that innovation know-how and research is essential to the development of the agricultural sector in Ghana.

According to him, the future of our agriculture is dependent on these new innovations, technologies, and through research, give insight into the future extra production rather than the small scale farming.The Ambassador said this when he was addressing participants at the first Ghanaian – Hungarian Agriculture Forum in Accra, yesterday.

Mr András Szabo said a team from the Hungarian National Agriculture Research & Innovation Center is in Ghana to do fact finding and explore the Agriculture sector for a further collaboration with Ghana’s research centres and universities, and also introduce their crops and seeds and the application of different modules from Europe to ascertain the best means of improving agricultural production for mutual benefit.

He noted that his country has also held extensive discussions with some Ghanaian farmers in the poultry and animal breeding industry to strategize on quality meat production.

Mr Szabo disclosed the intention to construct food processing units to support the current government’s ‘One District, One Factory’ (1D1F) program. In his remarks, Mr Victor Oppong Agyei, Chairman of Ghana Poultry Farmers Association, said local farmers are ready for the introduction of modern technological advancement of poultry equipment like processing plants and modern poultry houses to improve and enhance broiler production in the country.

‘My recent visit to Hungary has given me a clear indication of the capabilities and importance of Hungarian Agriculture potential and expertise of modern quality innovative technologies applied to the country’s agriculture and with a collaborative effort Ghana can learn, adopt and implement their technological knowledge to advance the aged methodology of farming for a valuable and desirable improvement of our condition,’ he opined. Mr Oppong Agyei, however, appealed to the Hungarian private sector to consider introducing possible investment opportunities to expand and compete with the influx of imported frozen chicken.

In a statement, Mr Davies Korboe, President of National Farmers and Fishers Award Winners Association, Ghana (NFFAG) has implored the Hungarian government to make useful investment into the Ghanaian agricultural sector by considering value addition/cottage industries and capital injections.
This, he said, will help to address some of the challenges including high post-harvest losses and rural infrastructure, being faced by our farmers to the mutual benefit of both countries.

He has, therefore, proposed the formation of Ghana – Hungary Agricultural Chamber to share various ideas and collaborations on farming and value chain,

Havilahpressforafrica (HPA)

GHANA INSTITUTION OF SURVEYORS (GHIS) DONATE BURNS BATH MACHINE TO KOLE-BU

A delegation from Ghana Institution of Surveyors led by their President Mr. Edwin Addo-Tawiah, has donated items including burns bathing machine worth GHC35.000 to the burns department of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. Interacting with journalists over the gesture, Mr. Addo Tawiah, said the donation was borne out of a visit they made Korle-Bu last year where they discovered that the department was in dire need of such a facility. This, he noted influenced their thought to buy one for them from South Africa at a cost of GHC35,000. Receiving the items, Head of the Burns Department of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, lauded the gesture made by the GHIS and urged all Ghanaians to do same since they are in need of more of such facility. The department, he said, until the donation by the GHIS, had only one burnt bath machine. Mr. Tawiah in a sharp response promised that his outfit will do anything within their might to support the department, urging them to look up to them for more of such facility.

What measures the Ministry is putting in place to prevent non-Ghanaian citizens from acquiring Ghanaian passports. Hon Samuel Okudzato Ablakwa

Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, had asked hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, what measures the Ministry is putting in place to prevent non-Ghanaian citizens from acquiring Ghanaian passports.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, Thursday, told Parliament that the passport office is seriously embarking on various measures aimed at ensuring that only citizens of Ghana are issued with Ghana passports.

The Ministry, she noted, has consistently taken a number of measures towards enhancing the security and integrity of the Ghanaian passport as well as instituting safeguards to prevent the acquisition of Ghanaian passports by foreigners.

A significant and most important measure in this regard, she added, is through rigorous or physical verification of an applicant as well as their citizenship document by the security agencies and the passport office as well as the Birth and Death department.

She made this observation, Thursday, when she appeared before Parliament to answer to questions relating to what her outfit is doing to prevent the acquisition of Ghanaian passports by foreigners.

The Rt. Honourable Speaker of Parliament led a Parliamentary delegation to the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Rt. Honourable Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye on Friday 13th October 2017 led a Parliamelntary delegation to participate in the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly which took place in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 14th – 18th October 2017.

The Rt. Hon. Speaker as part of his participation, delivered a keynote address at the IPU General Assembly Meeting. He underscored the need for the developed countries to support Africa to consolidate economic and political development.

He described the consolidation of the economic and political development as a second wind of change in Africa and acknowledged the role played by development partners to bring about the change.

The Rt. Hon. Speaker also touched on the need for the developed countries to be concerned about poverty, diseases and misery in Africa. He made it clear that there cannot be a fair global order in which a whole continent of Africa is compelled to gravitate towards Europe in search for greener pastures.

He therefore drew the world’s attention to the need to actively offer quality partnership to African countries to address these challenges. He noted the need for a New World Economic Order that will be mutually beneficial.

The Speaker was accompanied by both the Majority Leader, Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu. Other members of the delegation included: Hon. Matthew Nyindam, 1st Deputy Majority Whip, Hon. Ahmed Ibrahim, 1st Deputy Minority Whip, Hon. Mercy Adu-Gyamfi, MP, Hon. Naana Eyiah Quansah, MP, Mr. Emmanuel Anyimadu, Clerk to Parliament and Alhaji Ibrahim Gombilla, Deputy Clerk.

The Rt. Hon. Speaker and the delegation also held a joint meeting with Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the delegation from the Nigerian National Assembly.
The delegation also held an interactive meeting with some Ghanaian students in Russia.

The theme for the IPU Assembly was: “Promoting Cultural Pluralism and Peace through Inter-faith and Inter-ethnic Dialogue.”
Some of the issues discussed at the IPU Assembly included: the draft resolutions on the 20th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Democracy (by IPU standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights), the role of the UN General Assembly in International Governance (by IPU standing Committee on United Nations Affairs), briefing on the parliamentary contribution to the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference and a debate on engaging the private sector in implementing the SDGs, especially on renewable energy (by the IPU standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and trade).

Others were the expert hearing on sustaining peace as a vehicle for achieving sustainable development (by IPU standing Committee on Peace and International Security) and the election of a new IPU President. The delegation was back in the country on Friday 20th October 2017.

GHANAIANS DESERVE GOOD SERVICE FROM FOREIGN EMBASSIES. Hon Okudzato Ablakwa

Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, is urging Parliament to intervene in ending the maltreatment that are meted out to Ghanaian visa applicants by the various embassies in the country.

He wants the legislature to play a front line role in bringing offending embassies to order, noting that Consular courtesies must be fair to all persons and on both sides.

Delivering a statement on the floor of Parliament, Wednesday, on how Ghanaian visa applicants are treated by some embassies in the country, the North Tongu lawmaker said he has taken the pain to visit a number of embassies during their interview appointment periods and what he observed needs much to be desired.

The shabby and dehumanizing treatment many Ghanaian visa applicants are subjected to as well as issues of extortion, he noted, are very rampant in the embassies he visited.

“Mr. Speaker, it is indeed sad to observe that most of these embassies in question have made no provision whatsoever for a decent and safe waiting area where visa applicants may be hosted as they wait their turn during visa interview appointments. You find fellow Ghanaians standing in open places; some left to wait at street shoulders and roundabouts with no one caring about the associated risk posed by motorists; others are left at the mercy of the vagaries of the weather – to these embassies, they couldn’t be bothered if the sun is scorching, if it’s raining or even if there is a category five hurricane – they simply don’t seem to care,” he noted.

“What is even more worrying is the fact that often some of the embassy staff who treat Ghanaian visa applicants with such disdain are fellow Ghanaians. A new trend is also emerging where some embassies, apart from their standard visa processing fees, demand all kinds of extra fees and charges under various guises. These guises range from express fees, early appointment fees, email fees, text message fees and so on and so forth. The sad reality is that in many instances, despite the fact that applicants pay through the nose, the embassies who charge all these extra fees do not keep to their side of the bargain while these vulnerable visa applicants are made to keep paying for the inefficiency and unreliability of the embassies,” he stated.

Apart from the inhumane treatment meted out to Ghanaians, Mr. Ablakwa also raised issues bothering on huge non-refundable sums for the visa services the embassies seek, poor reception, disparaging remarks as well as poor human relations and outright insults, which he said, are becoming rife.

He added “Mr. Speaker, the time has come for all of us to accept that visa applicants from every nation on this planet have rights. Visa applicants deserve respect. Visa applicants do not lose their basic human dignity because they have applied for a visa. These principles must apply whether the visa request will be granted or not.”

Worried about the ordeal Ghanaian visa applicants go through, Mr. Ablakwa said it was about time Parliament steps in and fights for the citizenry.

“Mr. Speaker, I believe now is the time to demand action as the people’s representatives. The people whom we represent demand a change of attitude and a change in how visa applicants are treated and perceived by officials at these embassies.

It is my fervent prayer that this House will consider all available options at our disposal to seek reforms in how these embassies treat our citizens,” he noted.

MPA, Rotary Int’l walk to stop polio

Rotary International, Ghana, together with its partners, One Million Community Health Workers (1CHWs) Campaign of Millennium Promise Alliance (MPA), Saturday, stepped up efforts at eradicating polio by walking through some principal streets countrywide to raise about the polio disease and the need to immunise against it.

The exercise which was led by the Ghana National PolioPlus Committee (GNPPC) saw about 500 rotarians walk through the Longor Street through the Oxford Street, Osu in Accra and ended at the Mandela Park where a durbar was held to educate the community, especially, mothers with children under five years, about the need to immunize their wards against the polio disease.

Over 20 Community Health Workers (CHWs) were also deplored to to render their services from house-to-house where children under five were immunised against polio.

Similar exercises were held in all the regional capitals of the country.

Chairperson of the Ghana National PolioPlus Committee, Ms. Theresa Osei Tutu addressing the durbar said since Rotary first over-met its funding pledge for polio eradication in 1985, it has consistently fuelled the efforts with resources, advocacy and genuine hard work on the ground.

Rotary’s advocacy efforts with both endemic and donor country governments have maintained the dream of a polio-free world over the past 30 years, and brought polio to the brink of eradication, she added.

She said the campaign to eradicate polio from the world has been 99.9% successful, urging all to join hands to fight against the 0.1%, stressing that so long as one child is at risk, everyone is at risk.

John Eliaso, the Technical Advisor of Millennium Promise Alliance on his part said his outfit is more than prepared to deplore all the tools under its disposal including ICT to assist Rotary International in its fight against polio.

According to him, although Ghana is already certified as polio-free, it still remains at risk, noting that until polio virus transmission is interrupted from the three remaining remains endemic countries – Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, all countries remain at risk of importation of polio.

Dr. David Plate from the Ghana Health Service on his part since 2008, Ghana has not recorded a single case of polio, urging the citizenry to sustain the gains made so far.

He urged all mothers with children under five to ensure that all their children are immunized against polio.

Ghana will tap the knowledge and expertise. Joseph Osei Owusu

A 5-member delegation from Lithuania have paid a courtesy call on the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Joseph Osei – Owusu in Parliament.

The meeting was to discuss matters that will improve the 25-year diplomatic relation existing between the two countries. It also afforded the bilateral strengthening and sharing of ideas about common areas of interest that will promote the common agendas of Lithuania and Ghana.

The delegation was made up of the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, His Excellency Mr Linas Linkevicius, the Honorary Consul of Lithuania in Accra; Mr Arturas Roskoviskis, the Head of African Division, Department for Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific; Ms Audrone Markeviciene, the Head of the Export and Investment Promotion Division, Department for External Relations; Ms Asta Slavinskaite and a journalist from the Lithuanaian National Radio and Television, Mr Giedrius Vitkauskas. Mr Linas Linkevicius, who led the team, said that Lithuania is open for more reconnaissance exercise and stressed on the need for a Ghana – Africa – European Union collaboration to create more jobs and investments, transfer technologies, education and networking, IT expansion.

Hon. Joseph Osei – Owusu, who welcomed the delegation, was very optimistic that Ghana will tap the knowledge and expertise in areas such as renewable energy, cyber security, trade, and agriculture especially in the production of fertiliser to increase the yield of our farmers. He said despite the differences in Parliament, the majority and minority have a strong tradition of respect and cooperation that keeps the majority on it toes.

Minority Leader and Member of Parliament for Tamale Central, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, on his part, suggested to the team to assist the Electoral Commission of Ghana to build a robust IT Infrastructure to enable the timely collation of election results.

Hon Iddrisu is expectant that the upcoming EU Youth Summit will address the unemployment issue especially in Ghana, and how the EU relate to us in order to develop a strong manufacturing sector ‘especially for fertiliser because we do make a lot of use of fertiliser for COCOBOD and other farmers’.

Member of Parliament for Builsa South, Hon Clement Apaak, in a remark said there is the need for exchanges in the area of education because it is only when we understand our cultures and traditions, natural and cultural factors that motivate our behaviour that we can move forward as partners.

LET ENFORCE THE LAW WITHOUT CRITICS: Hon Ursula Owusu Ekuful

The minister briefed Parliament on the situation of the action taken by the National media commission in a statement.

Minister for communication hon Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has refused to give in to critics from the minority side in Parliament over sanctions levelled against some 131 radio stations.

She explained save some defaulting community radio stations that the Ministry will “deal a little leniently” with, the others will have their authorisations given to new applicants if the fines are not paid.

NCA has sanctioned over 100 FM stations; and revoked some 21 licences of radio stations.

About 131 FM Authorisation Holders were slapped with sanctions for violating various aspects of the Electronics Communications Act (2009), Act 775 last month.

The voice ferrous Minister told Parliament Thursday, the National Communications Authority (NCA) deserves to be commended for having the “gut” to sanction media houses for breaching the law. Advertisement
“We cannot continue to flout our laws [because] the evidence of our lawlessness is everywhere,” the Ablekuma West Member of Parliament (MP) said.

The NCA also revoked the license of 21 others said to be operating “illegally” because they refused to renew their authorisations after expiration.

The Minority in Parliament has been dissatisfied with the action, describing the sanctions as “draconian”
The opposition lawmakers said the exercise was a “deliberate attempt” to shut down radio stations that are not aligned with the government, asking the NCA to rescind its decision.

Draconian NCA fines troubling – NDC Minority
But the Communications Minister has dismissed suggestions that the exercise was carried out to target opposition radio stations.

Mrs Ekuful said actions based on “statutes” cannot be termed political persecution or threat to press freedom as the Minority claimed.

Although a founding director of Accra-based Radio Atlantis, the Minister told her colleagues the station was part of the 131 others sanctioned by the NCA.

Ursula Owusu as affectionately called challenge radio stations that believe they were unfairly dealt with to file their complaints with the NCA.

“I am inclined to deal a little leniently with the community radio stations but even they will pay a significant fine,”
She said.

The communication minister has also confessed that some 10 media houses have petitioned her out for reconsideration.

K. T. Hammond fight back over Ameri deal.

At a meeting with the Mines and Energy Committee, Wednesday, over the issue, Hon. Hammond said issues of misrepresentation on the part of the Africa & Middle East Resources Investment Group (Ameri Group) informed his decision to move the motion for the House to rescinds its decision over the deal.

MP for Adansi Asokwa and former Ranking Member of the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament, K. T. Hammond has strongly put up a defense why Parliament should rescinds its decision over the approval of the controversial US$510million Ameri Energy agreement.

Parliament on March 20, 2015, approved the contract agreement for a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) between the Government of Ghana and Ameri Energy.

In a ten page document read before the Committee which was boycotted by the Minority members, Hammond alluded to the fact if the Mines and Energy Committee of which he was the Ranking Member during the Sixth Parliament were presented with full disclosure of information about the deal the country entered into with Ameri Energy, Ghana would have got value for money and wouldn’t have ended up paying Ameri Energy for US$150million for no work done.

The agreement was for the provision of 250MW fast track power generation solution by the installation of ten (10) GE TM 2,500 + aero derivative gas turbines in Ghana. The agreement was dated February 10, 2015.

Per the dictates of the agreement, Ameri Energy was to deliver, install and commission the ten (10) GE TM 2,500 + aero derivative gas turbines; operate, maintain and repair the equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and prudent industry practice; ensure that the equipment is operated by qualified operators; be responsible for scheduled overhauls of the equipment as requested recommended by the manufacturer; provide on-site practical training to qualified and experienced employees six months prior to the end of the term of the agreement; and grant to the State access to the plant on biannual basis for the purposes of inspection of the site, the equipment and maintenance of records among other things.

The agreement had a clause that made room for Ameri Energy to assign their obligations to any of their subsidiaries or affiliates. However, such assignment required the prior consent of the Government of Ghana.

The said provision made it clear that if such an assignment was permitted by the Government of Ghana, then the government would not be relieved of any its obligations under the agreement.

The clause on assignment also provides that Ameri Energy may assign their right to payment under the agreement to its lenders. That means Ameri Energy would resort to borrowing to undertake its obligations.

The period for the agreement is five years with a total payment of US$102million per year.

But two years down the line, Hammond contends that per available documents he has changed upon, it was proper for the House to consider and grants his wish.

“Mr. Chairman, in the last couple of weeks, I have come by some critical information which for me, is a game changer. It is my view that if the committee had been aware of the matters contained in these documents, it would not have recommended to this August House to approve the agreement in question.

Certainly, Mr. Chairman, if I as Ranking Member had been aware of these developments, I would not have seconded the motion for the adoption of the report under any circumstances “, he noted.

He argued that per the documents he has changed upon, Ameri Energy did not provide the fast track power generation equipment by them selves. Ameri Energy, he noted, after the approval of the agreement by Parliament, promptly assigned its rights, interests and obligations under the agreement to an affiliate called Ameri Energy Power Equipment Trading LLC (Ameri Equipment) on March 6, 2015.

He alleged that per the dictates of the documents available to him dated July 17, 2015, Ameri Equipment was established as a sole purpose vehicle set up for the sole purpose of the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) Agreement.

Ameri Equipment, he added, was registered by the Department of Economic Development, Government of Dubai on February 23, 2015, barely thirteen days after Ameri Energy had entered into the BOOT agreement with the Government of Ghana.

Ameri Equipment, he further alleged, did not undertake the construction of the project themselves but rather also assigned its obligations to another company called Power Project SANAYI, a Turkish registered company commonly known as ‘PPR’, according to a document dated September 17, 2015.

This assignment, he argued, did not receive a prior consent of the Government of Ghana “as it should done for validity”.

“Mr. Chairman, Ameri Energy and Equipment did not raise any loans from any bank. Indeed, Ameri Energy and Equipment did not raise any capital from their own internal resources. They raised nothing on their own. The two separate agreements dated July 17 and September 17, 2015 and made between Ameri Energy, Ameri Energy Power Equipment Trading LLC and Power Project SANAYI of Turkey demonstrates clearly that neither Ameri Energy nor Ameri Energy Power Equipment had any intention to raise any loans for the project. Mr. Chairman, the agreement dated July 17,2015, is an EPC Deferred Payment Faulty Agreement.

It required. Power Project SANAYI of Turkey to provide the required financing for the implementation of the project.

Neither Ameri Energy nor it’s affiliate, Ameri Energy Power Equipment bore any financial risks whatsoever”, he explained. He added “These fixed sum agreed under this contract for the construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance and overall management of the project was US$360million.

For the EPC project cost, the agreement of July 17,2015 defines these costs to mean all costs that relate to engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning of the project under the EPC and O&M&M contract amounting to US$300million. For the O&M&M costs, the agreement defines these as the amount of US$60million as provided for in the O&M&M agreement.

The agreement was a Deferred Payment Facility Agreement and it provided for the terms and conditions for the repayment of the EPC Deferred payment amount. This facility was to be repaid to PPR in sixty equal monthly installments, commencing from the time the Government of Ghana initial payment to the Ameri Energy/Power Equipment under the BOOT agreement. It was PPR which bore all the financial risk. It was PPR which daises the required capital and undertook the EPC work.

PPR was paid on monthly basis out of the monies the Government of Ghana was obligated to pay under the actual BOT agreement approved by this House. PPR was to be paid an overall fixed sum of US$360millio. And for doing basically nothing, and taking no financial risk, Ameri Energy made a whopping killing of US$150million in one fell swoop at the expense of the poor tax payers of this country. This is not what was represented to the Mines and Energy Committee.”