UNIDO and Ghana mark 10 years of trade cooperation

Accra- The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, on Thursday marked 10 years of trade cooperation that has laid the foundation for quality infrastructure development for Ghana.

The Government of Switzerland funded the infrastructure development through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Dubbed: The UNIDO Trade Capacity Building Programme, the cooperation has also led to the development of numerous standards for the wood, fish, cocoa and fruit industries in Ghana.

Under the cooperation, national institutions such as the Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Forestry Research Institute, CSIR-Soil Research Institute, Forestry Commission-Timber Industry Development Division, and the CCOBOD-Quality Control Company, have had their capacities built in the inspectorate and testing departments.

These have institutionalised consumer protection and quality measures.

An export market hub, being hosted by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), has also been developed while several enterprises have been supported within the private sector to implement quality management standards.

Mr Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, commended the Swiss Government for partnering Ghana over the past 10 years to improve upon her trade capacities, standardisation and quality infrastructure to enable Ghanaian businesses to be competitive in the global market.

Speaking on the theme: Challenges of Trade and Industrialization in Ghana, Mr Lindsay said some of the main challenges facing the industrial sector were inadequate skilled labour to man the industries and the low supply of raw materials.

In some cases, the industrial plants are there but because there are no materials to feed them, the machines just lie there idle or are producing below their installed capacity. Examples can be sited as in our Komenda Sugar Factory, the Pawlugu Tomato Factory and the likes.

There is also the problem of lack of enough infrastructural facilities such as good road networks, railways, constant water supply and electricity or energy etc. There was the issue of quality and applying standards in the manufacturing industries.

Besides, most entrepreneurs lack the necessary quality culture hence in their production activities, issues of quality only come to them at the end of production when it is too late, he said.

Mr Lindsay, therefore, expressed happiness that UNIDO, through the Trade Capacity Building programme, had helped Ghana to gradually realise its plan of building a strong industrialisation sector.

He said industry was at the centre of government plans to transform the economy from one reliant on its resource base to one driven by value-added exports.

Therefore, the Government had announced a number of short and long term policies designed to support the industrial transformation agenda and expand production.

In the short-term, government plans to help distressed companies with a stimulus package from the National Budget as part of a wider 10-point programme of reform known as the Industrial Transformation Agenda.

The strategy seeks to decentralise industrial growth through the One District One Factory programme, diversification through the development of strategic anchor industries, the rollout of industrial parks, regulatory reforms to improve the business environment, and support for small and medium-sized enterprises among others as part of the long-term projects.

He said the government would continue to partner its development partners to continue with the upgrading of Ghana’s National Quality Infrastructure as well as effectively train professionals who were manning such institutions and systems.

Mr Markus Dutly, the Swiss Ambassador, said the support to Ghana was intended to help build the SME sector to make them more competitive in international market.

Mr Victor Mills, the UNIDO-TCB Programme Coordinator, expressed satisfaction that through the programme, we have helped to implement a national quality system to provide world class conformity assessment services and improved export competitiveness for the wood, cocoa, fish and fruits value-chains.

Mr Juan Pablo Davila, the Project Manager to the TCB-Programme, announced that UNIDO and SECO have developed a programmatic approach to addressing sustainable and quality standards in SECO priority countries, including Ghana.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Aggrieved workers besiege Zoomlion regional office in Sunyani

Sunyani� Aggrieved workers of Zoomlion, a waste management and sanitation firm in the Sunyani Municipality on Tuesday besieged the regional offices of the company to demand their monthly allowances.

The workers, mostly aged men and women and numbering more than 70 had earlier thronged the premises of Nsoatreman Rural Bank Limited in Sunyani, their bankers, to withdraw their allowances, but they were informed their salaries had not hit the account.

It was extremely difficult for the bank to drive them away, as the visibly angry workers would not accept any explanation.

The Ghana News Agency investigation showed that the company had not paid the workers’ their salaries for the past eight months.

But, the workers rushed to the Bank following an announcement made on a local radio station that the company had effected payment of all arrears.

Operations of the bank, however, halted for some period due to misunderstanding between the bank and the workers.

Tempers flared up between the workers and some staff of the bank but the timely intervention of the Police and other private security operatives calmed down nerves.

Not satisfied with explanations, the aggrieved workers, clad in red attires took to the street of the regional capital and later proceeded to the office of the company but when the GNA went there, the offices were closed.

Madam Hajia Ramatu, spokesperson for the aggrieved workers, told the GNA that the company directed them to open an E-Zwich account so that their allowances would be paid through it.

We complied, but when we went to our banks, we were told our allowances has not been paid, she said.

Madam Ramatu said the company owed workers in arrears for eight months and appealed to government to intervene for them.

When contacted, Mr George Manu, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Public Jobs Manager of Zoomlion, confirmed the story, adding that the company is in the process of paying the workers.

He said since the beginning of the week the company has paid two months allowances to 2,500 of the about the 5,000 workers in the region, and appealed to them to exercise restraint, saying all their arrears would be paid by the end of the month.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Second prosecution witness testifies in NCA Trial

Accra- Dr Isaac Yaw Ane, a Deputy Director General in Charge of Management and Operations, National Communication Authority (NCA), on Tuesday narrated to an Accra High Court how the NCA approved four million dollars to purchase a cyber-security monitoring equipment.

DrAne, a second prosecution witness, led in evidence by Mrs Yvonne AtakorahObuobisa, the Director for Public Prosecution (DPP), said he was a member of the Budget Committee of the NCA and he certified its 2015 and 2016 Budget.

According to him the NCA had three levels of financial approval adding that monies less than GH5,000.00 were for directors to approve, monies totalling GH100,000.00 were approved by the Director General of NCA and in cases where it was above GH100,000.00 then the Director General and the Board had to approve.

DrAne was testifying in the case of former senior officials of the NCA being held over a four million-dollar Cyber Security Surveillance Equipment, allegedly purchased for the National Security Secretariat without the approval of the Board.

The accused persons are Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, a former Board Chairman, NCA; William Tevie, a former Director General; Nana OwusuEnsaw, former Board Member of NCA, George Derrick Oppong, Director of Infralock Development Limited, AlhajiSalifuMimina Osman, former Deputy National Security Coordinator.

The witness recounted how NCA dealt with industry support outside the Authority’s Budget noting that it often received requests from the Ministry of Communication to assist certain organisations.

He cited the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and the National Security Secretariat as institutions which had benefited from the NCA industrial support.

DrAne said in the case of the GBC, the Corporation’s request was sent to the then Director General and forwarded to the NCA Board for approval.

In the case of the National Security Secretariat, DrAne said he was in his office, in February 2016, when he had a call from the then Director General, MrTevie, that he should come to his office.

When I got there the Board Chairman, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, was with Tevie.

According to the witness, Baffoe-Bonnie informed him that there was an urgent need for the NCA to procure cyber security equipment and that the National Security Secretariat needed four million dollars to purchase it.

I requested for the letter from the National Security and I was impressed upon by the Board Chairman to prepare a transfer letter, the witness said.

DrAne said he and Tevie signed the transfer request letter.

The witness then tendered the said transfer letter in evidence.

DrAne said two weeks later, the National Security Secretariat brought their request letter; in the presence of Tevie and Baffoe-Bonnie, assuming that the board had approved the transfer of money to Infralock Development Limited.

It was afterwards that I saw in the papers that the NCA Board did not approve the transaction and based on that I was invited by the Bureau of National Investigations and Economic and Organised Crime Organisation (EOCO), DrAne said.

According to the witness the four million dollars was transferred to Infralock Development Limited (IDL), through Ecobank Ghana.

It was transferred from NCA dollar account to IDL, he added.

Answering questions under cross examination by Mr Thaddeus Sory, Counsel for Baffoe-Bonnie, DrAne denied that he knew about the National Security Secretariat purchase of the cyber security equipment long ago.

Hearing continues on October 18 before a Commercial Court, presided over by Mr Justice Eric Kyei-Baffour.

The five accused persons are being held over alleged malfeasance into the purchase of the Cyber Surveillance Equipment.

They have variously been charged with wilfully causing financial loss to the State, conspiracy to steal and stealing, using public office for private gain, in contravention of the Public Procurement Act, Money laundering and intentionally misapplying public property.

The five have all pleaded not guilty and are on a bail of one million dollars each as well as three sureties each.

Sometime in 2015, the accused, without authorisation, took a decision to purchase a Cyber Surveillance system, which they claimed was to be used for anti-terrorism operations.

The system, which was to be used in the fight against terrorism, reportedly has some of its components missing, and it cannot be utilised.

On December 22, last year, three persons, including Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, former NCA Board Chairman and two others were hauled before the court over the alleged fraudulent purchase of the Cyber Security Surveillance system at a value of eight million dollars without approval of the Authority’s Board.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Fritz Baffour joins Bagbin Campaign Team

Accra, Mr Fritz Baffour, former Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma South, has endorsed the candidature of Mr Alban Bagbin for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) presidential candidate position, describing him as the best.

He said his choice of Mr Bagbin was not based on any malice towards anyone but that he was a good man who deeply cared about the development of the country.

All the contestants for the NDC flagbearer position are people I know and have respect for. But this is a democratic dispensation and a process, so I have come out to support Alban Bagbin, he said.

Mr Baffour made the comment when he was introduced at a press conference in Accra as the new Director of Campaign and Communication for the ASK Bagbin Campaign team.

Mr Fritz Baffour, a journalist and communications consultant, brings on board his vast experience as a media expert and communication specialist.

He called for clean political campaign among the various NDC flagbearer aspirants devoid of insults.

He said as a committed member of the Party, who believed in the ideals of the Party, likewise Mr Bagbin also upheld its values.

Mr Baffour, also a former Minister for Information, urged the flagbearer aspirants to avoid adversarial politics and rather focus on messages that would bring hope to the rank and file of the Party.

The NDC is a Party that stands for probity, accountability, integrity and justice for all and the person to lead that Party is Alban Bagbin, he said.

Mr Bagbin, on his part, expressed delight that Mr Baffour was joining their campaign team.

He said the Team Bagbin Campaign was trying to change the NDC to focus on its principles and values, describing Mr Baffour as a wise counsellor, matured, disciplined and focus.

He debunked claims by a section of the media that members of his campaign team were defecting to the camp of former President John Mahama.

He said his team had made it clear that it would not engage in any politics of insults but would be decent and focus on the core values and principles of the NDC.

Source: Ghana News Agency

‘Continue to blaze the trail for holistic education’

Accra- The Patron of St. Augustine’s College, Archbishop Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, has challenged the St. Augustine’s Past Students Union (APSU) to continue to blaze the trail for the continuous development of the College.

Archbishop Palmer-Buckle, who is the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast, said this when he received members of the APSU Executive Council, Central Regional leadership, and the Headmaster of the College.

The team was at the Archdiocesan Secretariat to pay a courtesy call on the Metropolitan Archbishop and the College Patron, following his appointment.

Dr Ernest Anthony Osei, the President of APSU, who led the delegation, welcomed the new Patron and outlined some interventions the Union had undertaken to ensure effective provision of quality education for students.

Dr Osei, who is currently the Chairman for the College Board of Governors, informed the Patron about the displeasure of past students who, after making huge sacrifices into the development of their alma mata, were unable to secure admission for their wards.

The APSU President commended Archbishop Mathias Kobina Nketsiah, the immediate past Patron, for his immense support to APSU during his tenure.

Mr Joseph Connel, the Headmaster, briefed Archbishop Palmer-Buckle on the current situation in the College, especially the challenges it was facing and steps being taken to address them.

The meeting took the opportunity to discuss other matters of interest, including preparations towards the upcoming 89th Speech and Prize Giving Day, 90th College Anniversary Celebrations and its strategic direction into the future.

Archbishop Emeritus Nketsiah, on his part, applauded APSU for the huge investment it made into the College during his tenure.

He said he was even more excited with the efforts of APSU, which culminated in the publication and launch of the College Reference Book, a project he viewed as an icing on the cake.

The Archbishop Palmer-Buckle expressed gratitude to the delegation for the visit and applauded the efforts of APSU over the years.

He said he had been keenly following with interest the strides of the College and pledged his commitment towards its continuous development.

He expressed the hope that workable solutions would soon be found to the challenges the College was facing.

Most Rev. Palmer-Buckle was hopeful that being the first Catholic Secondary School, St. Augustine’s College, together with APSU, would step up their efforts to spearhead the delivery of quality holistic education, which could be replicated in other Catholic senior high schools in the country.

Present at the meeting included Bernard Yaw Atta-Sonno, APSU Vice-

President, Eric Atta-Sonno APSU Secretary, Robert Oracca-Tetteh, APSU Organising Secretary, and George Asare Afriyie, Assistant Organising Secretary.

Others were Dr Lawrence Honny, the Member of the APSU National Council, and Dr Eugene Dartey, Vice-Chairman of the APSU Central Regional Branch.

Source: Ghana News Agency