The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has concluded its eighth review of support for Ghana under the Extended Credit Facility signaling an end to the four-year programme.
“This will make available to Ghana the cumulative amount of SDR132.84 million (about US$185.2 million),” the Bretton Woods Institution said after its review.
It added: ““The authorities have achieved significant macroeconomic gains over the course of the ECF-supported program, with rising growth, single digit inflation, fiscal consolidation, and banking sector clean-up. Continued macroeconomic adjustment should underpin these improvements, as the 2020 elections approach.
“In a sign of the authorities’ commitment to fiscal consolidation, the end-2018 fiscal targets were met. Sustained fiscal discipline is needed to reduce financing needs and anchor debt dynamics. As stronger revenue mobilization is critical, the submission of the tax exemption bill is welcome, but needs to be complemented by efforts to strengthen tax compliance. Fiscal space is needed to support priority programs, while off-budget expenditures should be avoided.”
Below is a full statement issued after the review:
On March 20, 2019, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the seventh and eight reviews under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) supported arrangement. This will make available to Ghana the cumulative amount of SDR132.84 million (about US$185.2 million).
Considering the authorities’ resolved to tackle difficult reforms, the Executive Board also approved the authorities’ request for a waiver of the nonobservance of a few program targets.
Ghana’s three-year arrangement was approved on April 3, 2015 (see Press Release No.15/159) for SDR 664.20 million (about US$925.9 million or 180 percent of quota at the time of approval of the arrangement). It was extended for additional year on August 30, 2017 and is to end on April 2, 2019. The arrangement aimed to restore debt sustainability and macroeconomic stability in the country to foster a return to high growth and job creation, while protecting social spending.
Following the Executive Board’s discussion, Mr. Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement:
“The authorities have achieved significant macroeconomic gains over the course of the ECF-supported program, with rising growth, single digit inflation, fiscal consolidation, and banking sector clean-up. Continued macroeconomic adjustment should underpin these improvements, as the 2020 elections approach.
“In a sign of the authorities’ commitment to fiscal consolidation, the end-2018 fiscal targets were met. Sustained fiscal discipline is needed to reduce financing needs and anchor debt dynamics. As stronger revenue mobilization is critical, the submission of the tax exemption bill is welcome, but needs to be complemented by efforts to strengthen tax compliance. Fiscal space is needed to support priority programs, while off-budget expenditures should be avoided.
“Progress on structural reforms needs to be intensified. Plans to improve public financial management and supervision of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), the establishment of a fiscal council, and the fiscal rule are welcome. Stronger monitoring of fiscal operations, including for SOEs, will help mitigate fiscal risks.
“Debt management has improved, though reliance on foreign investors has increased Ghana’s exposure to market sentiment and exchange rate risk. Debt collateralization and revenue monetization should be limited to avoid encumbering revenues. Planned infrastructure projects should be transparently managed, be consistent with debt sustainability, and ensure value for money.
“While achieving single-digit inflation is commendable, monetary policy should remain vigilant to guard against upside risks to inflation, also stemming from exchange rate developments. Rebuilding international reserve buffers, including through careful foreign exchange liquidity management, is welcome and critical to support greater resilience to external shocks.
“The authorities deserve praise for strengthening the banking sector and for resolving nine banks. Completing the financial sector clean-up, as planned, will support the provision of adequate and affordable credit to the economy.
“The Fund congratulates the authorities for successfully completing the ECF supported program and stands ready to support Ghana in its quest for economic prosperity.”
Japanese car maker, Suzuki Motors Corporation, has announced its intention to establish an assembling plant in Ghana to start production of Suzuki vehicles to feed the company’s growing African market.
The Department General Manager for the Middle East Africa Automobile Department of Suzuki Motors, Mr. Koichi Suzuki, made the announcement on the 19th of March 2019, when he led a delegation to pay a courtesy call on President Akufo Addo at the Jubilee House.
According to Mr. Koichi Suzuki, the proposed Assembly Plant will be a joint partnership between Suzuki, CFAO and Toyota Tsusho Corporation. He further indicated that the partnership is seeking to replicate the success story of Suzuki vehicle production in India where it started production in December 1983.
As at 2017, Suzuki produced 1.6 million vehicles in India alone and they currently have 50.30% of the vehicle Market share in the automobile industry in India. The vehicles mostly produced in India, Mr. Suzuki, said are affordable, reliable, safe and very fuel efficient and they are very accepted by the India people.
“I am stationed in India and my mission is to find the next India in the continent of Africa. We came to know from Toyota Tsusho that the Ghanaian government is planning to introduce a new automobile policy. We are highly interested in participating in such an initiative made by the Ghanaian government. We wish to start production here and to expand it and grow it” Mr. Suzuki noted.
President Akufo Addo in his remarks said the news Suzuki Motors Corporation has brought is very encouraging. “These three companies, [Suzuki, CFAO and Toyota Tsusho corporation], who have come together to push an idea here in Ghana is one that we have to welcome.”
The President further indicated that his administration is “interested in developing a vibrant and dynamic automobile industry in Ghana”.
“You arrival here is at an opportune time. Our policy has taken some time to develop but it is ready” the President added.
He urged the on going discussions between Suzuki, its partners and the Ministry of Trade and Industry to be fast tracked to ensure that the main aim of producing affordable Suzuki vehicles in Ghana materializes sooner rather than later.
Suzuki Motor Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation headquartered in Minami-ku, Hamamatsu. Suzuki manufactures automobiles, four-wheel drive vehicles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), outboard marine engines, wheelchairs and a variety of other small internal combustion engines.
In 2016, Suzuki was the eleventh biggest automaker by production worldwide. Suzuki has over 45,000 employees and has 35 production facilities in 23 countries, and 133 distributors in 192 countries.
The worldwide sales volume of automobiles is the world’s tenth largest, while domestic sales volume is the third largest in the country.
No single security person has been prosecuted for the attacks on more than 25 journalists and media employees since 2006.
Although the perpetrators in some of the cases are identified, the cases are settled sometimes with apologies.
In most cases, however, no compensation is paid, while the security organisation involved promise to offer better working relations with the media.
Checks by the Daily Graphic have revealed a tall list of victims, including reporters, photojournalists, station managers and editors, who have been brutally assaulted by soldiers and policemen.
Some of the attacks have left journalists with serious medical conditions. For instance, the Daily Graphic’s Victor Kwawukume has lost his sense of smell as a result of being beaten by the Ho Police while covering a swoop on criminals.
In another instance, Mr Latif Iddrisu, a journalist with the Multimedia Group, was left with a fractured skull after the police had brutally assaulted him in front of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters in Accra while reporting on a protest by some members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) against the detention of the then Deputy General Secretary of the party, Mr Koku Anyidoho, in July 2018.
But when it comes to prosecution, in some instances the police told the victims that the dockets on their cases were missing, turning the case into what is known as ‘foolish case’.
“My case did not get anywhere. It got to a point where they were just tossing me up and down at the Police Headquarters. Eventually they said they couldn’t find the docket.
There was no apology, no prosecution; just frustration,” Ms Gifty Lawson, a photojournalist with the Daily Guide, recounted the aftermath of her assault in 2012.
She was assaulted when she was covering the cocaine-turned-soda case which led to the dismissal of Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mrs Gifty Tehoda, who was later reinstated after winning a suit against her dismissal.
For two weeks Ms Lawson said she stayed at home, traumatised and scared.
Memories of officers of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) threatening to shoot her for taking pictures of a suspect, while more than 30 policemen looked on unconcerned, gave her nightmares.
The latest incident involving 10 policemen who allegedly assaulted three journalists of the Ghanaian Times last Thursday has raked the wounds of the past, with journalists urging their umbrella body, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), to declare a blackout on police activities nationwide.
A photojournalist with the Ghanaian Times, Mr Geoffrey Buta, who was also beaten in Tamale in March 2014 for trying to take a picture of a confrontation between some military personnel and some youth of the area, told the Daily Graphic that until drastic action was taken, such as prosecution and a blackout, the situation would continue.
“In my case, they said they would deal with our Accra office to handle the issue. Nothing came out of it. It became a foolish case. With this current incident, we must not allow it to go.
Something must be done, otherwise they know they can beat us and get away with it.
“Tomorrow, they will invite us to cover their assignments, then beat us the next day and apologise. If these people are not prosecuted to serve as an example to others, they will continue to disrespect us,” he said.
The President of the GJA, Mr Rowland Affail Monney, told the Daily Graphic that the issue was a complex one that needed a collective decision.
He said for the current situation, the GJA was consulting lawyers and would take the necessary action after the police had reacted to the incident.
Mr Monney cited the example of 2018 when the GJA called for the boycott of a forum jointly organised by the police and the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) until the police could produce their men who assaulted Mr Iddrisu.
However, he said, most media houses defied the request, attended and reported on the event.
“It is a collective responsibility because the GJA cannot do this alone. We need support from civil society and media consumers. The people in whose interest we work should rally to our support as well,” he said.
In a statement last Friday, the police said it was investigating the incident in which Mr Malik Sulemana, a reporter, and Mr Salifu Abdul-Rahman, Senior Assistant Editor, both of the Ghanaian Times, were assaulted, alongside another reporter, Ms Raissa Sambo, a nursing mother, who ended up on admission at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital.
Commenting on the lack of prosecution of security personnel who
assaulted journalists, Mr Monney described the situation as unfortunate.
He said the GJA had, in the past, resorted to dialogue with the security services because “we need each other”.
The GJA President said contrary to the perception that the association was not doing enough, it always had the interest of journalists at heart.
He cited the example of photojournalists Nii Martey Botchway of the Graphic Communications Group Limited and Vincent Dzatse of the New Times Corporation who were compensated after an assault on them by military men during Independence Day celebrations at the Black Star Square in Accra in 2013.
He said the military hierarchy also gave an assurance that it would deal with its men found culpable.
However, in April 2013, the military exonerated its men involved in the assault, saying “the outcome of investigation, diligently and dispassionately conducted, suggests no wrongdoing on the part of the soldiers, as they acted within the rules and guidelines governing activities at the time of the anniversary parade”.
But the Executive Director of the MFWA, Mr Sulemana Braimah, told the Daily Graphic that the lack of prosecution “breeds a culture of impunity, where people think they can do anything and get away with it”.
He said it was time media houses showed that they cared about their journalists by pursuing those cases to their logical conclusion.
He, however, observed that there had been instances when journalists decided not to pursue those cases, although the foundation and other stakeholders had insisted on holding the perpetrators’ feet to fire.
“It’s something that happens quite often when the victims accept compensation,” he said, adding that under the circumstances, the victims could only report such cases to the police and hope that they would take the necessary action.
When contacted, Assistant Commissioner of Police Mr David Eklu, the Director-General of the Public Affairs Directorate of the Ghana Police Service, asked for the list of cases to speak to the issue.
In an email response, Mr Eklu wrote: “The list you sent did not indicate whether a complaint was lodged by the victims at any police station. It will be good to know whether that was done to make follow-ups on police action possible.”
Some of the cases reported in the Ghanaian media and by the MFWA include Christopher Serlom Adzivor, The Independent, Samuel Ebo Bartels, Citi FM; Anas Aremeyaw Anas, Crusading Guide; Halifax Ansah-Addo and Gifty Lawson, both of Daily Guide; Victor Kwawukume and Nii Martey Botchway of the Daily Graphic and Mr Erastus Asare Donkor of Luv FM.
Others are Vincent Dzatse and Geoffrey Buta, Ghanaian Times; A crew of Tv Africa; Muftaw Mohammed, Metro FM; Ebenezer Kwame Abaka, TV3; James Fordjour, Patrick Nti, Edgar Appiah and the Station Manager, Edgar Appiah, all of Star FM and Kendrick Ofei, a freelance journalist.
The rest are Nana Adu Kyei Danso, Skky Power; Christopher Kevin Asima and and Kendrick Ofei, a freelance journalist.
Asante Kotoko have crashed out of the Caf Confederation Cup at the group stage after they were defeated by Zesco United on Sunday.
The Porcupine Warriors, who needed a win to qualify for the quarterfinals, threw away a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 to the Zambian side at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola. Kotoko stunned the host when they opened the scoring in the 46th minute through substitute Stephen Nkarko. The attacking midfielder headed into the net after Zesco goalkeeper parried a shot into his path.
However, the lead lasted for eight minutes as Jesse Were restored parity with a close-range effort. Two minutes later, Kondwani Mtonga scored to make it 2-1 for the Zesco.
The defeat for Kotoko means Al Hilal of Sudan and Zambian side Nkana qualify from Group C despite Hilal thumping Nkana 4-1.
President Akufo-Addo has assured members of the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election Commission of Inquiry that their recommendations will be given all the necessary attention in order to avert violent occurrences in future elections.
Addressing members of the Commission after they presented their report to him at the Jubilee House, Thursday, President Akufo-Addo expressed excitement the work of the Commission had finally come to an end.
“The findings and the recommendations that have been made will, of course, be given the greatest possible attention by me and the members of my government,” he said, adding, “government has the responsibility of maintaining law and order in the country and that responsibility is not one that can be abdicated on in any occasion.”
According to him, the Commission’s findings and recommendations “can help us advance the course of law and order in this country. “I welcome it and it will be the subject of close study. Not sure if the circumstances of this Commission will call for the issuance of a white paper on our part, but we will look at all of these matters and we will respond appropriately,” he stated.
Chairman of the Commission, Justice Emile Short, in his remarks before presenting their report said: “all necessary grounds have been covered by the Commission and that government will find the findings and recommendations useful in shaping important reforms for the future.”
He thanked the President for setting up of the commission to investigate the cause of the violence that characterised the by-election that saw the mistress of the late Member of Parliament for Ayawaso West Wuogon Lydia Alhassan elected to represent the constituency.
Members of the Commission were sworn on February 8 by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia. Tasked to probe the events of the violence which occurred during the by-election, the Commission started its public hearings at the Christiansborg Castle, Osu, Accra on February 14.
The membership of the Commission was Justice Emile Short as the chairman, Mrs Henrietta Mensah Bonsu, legal luminary and jurist, and Mr Patrick K. Acheampong, former Inspector General of Police. Mr Ernest Kofi Abotsi, former Dean of the Faculty of Law, GIMPA and a private legal practitioner, served as Secretary to the Commission.
The terms of reference of the Commission according to the statement that announced its formation were; to make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the circumstances of, and establish the facts leading to, the events and associated violence during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on the 31st day of January 2019; to identify any person responsible for or who has been involved in the events, associated violence and injuries; to inquire into any matter which the Commission considers incidental or reasonably related to the causes of the events and the associated violence and injuries; and to submit within one month its report to the President giving reasons for its findings and recommendations, including appropriate sanctions, if any.