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.

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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.”

The Deputy Minister for Information, Hon. Nana Ama Dokua Asiamah-Adjei, has tasked journalists and media practitioners, to publicise the good works of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and also constructively criticise the court, as excellence and perfection in international criminal justice is pursued.

The Deputy Minister for Information, Hon. Nana Ama Dokua Asiamah-Adjei, has tasked journalists and media practitioners, to publicise the good works of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and also constructively criticise the court, as excellence and perfection in international criminal justice is pursued.

She said this at the opening ceremony of the African Centre for International Criminal Justice’s (ACICJ) training programme for journalists and media practitioners, at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), in Accra.

The Deputy Minister noted that the goal of International Criminal Justice is to bring justice to victims of these various unlawful and criminal acts of individuals in society, adding that the ‘masses must know the ICC is our court.’

She reiterated that the court was created through the demand, and with overwhelming support, of African states and civil society alike, to overcome legacies of massive human rights violations, genocide and multiple civil conflicts.

She stated that the masses must know that the issue of the ICC targeting Africa is without any basis but rather it is African victims who are accessing their Court in pursuit of justice, adding that the mandate of the ICC is hinged on the principle of complementarity.

The Deputy Minister also said that the ICC is a court of last resort which only intervenes where states are either unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute serious crimes.

She observed that public engagement is key if international justice is to have any significant effect beyond The Hague, adding that the courts must do more than speak, stressing that they must be heard. She added that media engagement is an obvious way to inform and educate the public about the work of the courts.

She charged the media to search and provide the right information to the various communities for whom the Court was created.

The training programme, themed, “International Criminal Law & Justice: An Overview”, aims at building legal capacity across the continent through innovative international criminal law education programmes and workshops for African journalists.

The ACICJ seeks to pursue research and scholarship, to develop international criminal law curricula and to provide training and short programmes for Ghanaians and the people of the African continent. It also provides a research and scholarly unit for deliberations on key issues affecting international criminal justice.

Source Ghana Justice.

Ms Kate Addo, the acting director of Public Affairs at Ghana’s Parliament and an alumnus of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, has returned to campus to mentor the current level 300 journalism students.

Ms Kate Addo, the acting director of Public Affairs at Ghana’s Parliament and an alumnus of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, has returned to campus to mentor the current level 300 journalism students.

For two consecutive days, Tuesday, November 3 and Wednesday, November 4, Ms Addo interacted with up to 300 hundred students as part of the Alumni Mentoring Program introduced by Peter Agbeko, the course lecturer, and fellow GIJ alumnus.

Ms Kate Addo, acting Director of Public Affairs at Ghana’s Parliament

Ms Kate Addo, the acting director of Public Affairs at Ghana’s Parliament and an alumnus of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, has returned to campus to mentor the current level 300 journalism students.

For two consecutive days, Tuesday, November 3 and Wednesday, November 4, Ms Addo interacted with up to 300 hundred students as part of the Alumni Mentoring Program introduced by Peter Agbeko, the course lecturer, and fellow GIJ alumnus.

The program is a new initiative aimed at developing and complementing GIJ students’ classroom education with practical and professional workplace experiences and career advice from mentors with first-hand appreciation of GIJ’s learning objectives.

The mentorship program promotes and supports a structured and formalized relationship between alumni and students during which alumni share their professional experiences, personal insights and also pass on career advice to the students. Student-journalists benefit from practical advice provided by top-notch professionals giving them an opportunity to not only get career advice from people who have been in their shoes but also by providing them life advice.

Both days kicked off with opening remarks by the course lecturer followed by a live tutorial during which Addo took the students through the steps involved in writing good feature articles. She noted that feature articles, also referred to as human interest stories differ from news stories in that they allow for creativity, provide a more relaxed pace and allow for greater detail, research and in-depth analysis.

Ms. Addo shared the following key points; “Stay focused – don’t bounce around between topics; be a storyteller- tell the tale you would like to read; if it doesn’t interest you, it won’t interest the reader; vary the pace – follow long sentences with short, punchy ones; use simple sentences to convey complex information.”

She focused on technique and also used the occasion to deliver some practical advice about life as a communication practitioner.

As expected, she fielded questions from students on both days.

Agbeko said the initiative also is advantageous to students because of their increased access to alumni, which can facilitate meaningful exchanges about career choices, key introductions, and job searches.

On feature writing, he said: “At the heart of all feature stories is human interest. Features differ in style, pace and structure from news stories. The writer can often have more freedom – and sometimes space – to analyse a subject.”

Columns, comment and editorials are all types of opinion writing, which also differ from news reports and have more emphasis on the views of the writer. Often the writer is an expert on their subject, or has personal experience which gives them a unique perspective. Columns can be highly personal, or may be on a specific subject.

The course lecturer added that “The five Features of Effective Writing are focus, organization, support and elaboration, style, and conventions”. He went on to explain that;

“Focus is the topic/subject established by the writer in response to the writing task; Organization is the progression, relatedness, and completeness of ideas. The writer establishes for the reader a well-organized composition, which exhibits a constancy of purpose through the development of elements forming an effective beginning, middle, and end.”

Other key writing characteristics are, “Style, the control of language that is appropriate to the purpose, audience, and context of the writing task. The writer’s style is evident through word choice and sentence fluency. Skilful use of precise, purposeful vocabulary enhances the effectiveness of the composition through the use of appropriate words, phrases and descriptions that engage the audience. Sentence fluency involves using a variety of sentence styles to establish effective relationships between and among ideas, causes, and/or statements appropriate to the task; Conventions involve correctness in sentence formation, usage, and mechanics. The writer has control of grammatical conventions that are appropriate to the writing task”.

On a final note, Addo urged the alumni to return to mentor and inspire existing students.

Thus far, three other alumnus, Messrs. Kobby Asmah, William Nyarko and Isaac Yeboah have interacted with the students, and we look forward to many more such engagements. By Peter Agbeko.

Eschew diversionary actions that derail good government programmes- Joe Osei Owusu

The first Deputy Speaker , Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu is at the head of a seven member delegation to Burkina Faso, attending the opening of the second ordinary session of their National Assembly.

The opening follows the sudden death of their previous President of the National Assembly, Dr. Salifu Diallo and the subsequent election of the current Speaker Bala Alhasane Sankade. In his maiden speech, H.E Sankade pledged to continue with the policies of the late Dr. Diallo that sought to bring development to Burkina Faso.

It also comes after the October 2014 rioting that led to the burning of the previous parliament. Referring to that incident, the President of the Assembly sated that it was an indication that the youth will take matters into their hands if they felt that those in authority are not seeking their best interest. He also spoke about the need to strengthen social dialogue and work to encourage social responsibility.

The opening is occurring at a time when there is tension all over the world, Threats of nuclear war is real and present. The President of the Assembly called on countries to discourage the proliferation of nuclear weapons and asked countries to protect their borders to avoid terrorist attacks. Special mention was made of women and children and other vulnerable groups and a call was made on government to protect them.

The 1st Deputy Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Hon Joseph Osei Owusu in a special address to the Assembly, urged the Burkina Faso legislators to ensure that laws passed reflect the needs and aspirations of the people they represent. This he said, requires the strengthening of the structures of governance to allow more citizen participation and to promote accountability.

Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu the 1st Deputy Speaker indicated that like Ghana, Burkina Faso needs to eschew actions that will the good programmes of government.

He called on the two countries to take advantage of their close proximity and form closer trade and political ties that will inure to their mutual benefit. The Ghanaian delegation is expected to hold further discussions on similar issues with their Burkinabe counterparts on Thursday before their return to Ghana.

Ghana Institutions of Surveyors,led by it’s president,Mr.Edwin Addo-Tawiah donate to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

The Ghana Institutions of Surveyors today donated items of Brand new three projectors and one computer which cost a total sum of GHC10,000 ten thousand Ghana Cedis to enhance learning at the institutions.
They also set up GHC15,000 fifteen thousand Ghana Cedis aside as fund to support students research.

This came up when the GHANA Institutions of Surveyors went to the KNUST to ‘re-afairm a memorandum of understanding they already have with the school.

Ghana Institutions of Surveyors to allow its students who want to understudy surveying can equally register with KNUST. Mr.Addo-Tawiah used the occasion to mention some of the affiliates The institutions of Surveyors have across the world to the vice-chancellor of KNUST.

The vice chancellor of Kwame Nkrumah Science and Technology Prof, Kwasi Obiri Danso,also used the occasion to explain some of problems that confront students who take up the Surveying course goes through,after successful completion of the course and finished with their national service.

He also pleaded with the Ghana Institutions of Surveyors,if there could be a way to assist these students in their research.