Government to fix damaged bridge on Chiana-Sandema Road – Amoako-Attah

Mr Kwasi Amoako-Attah, the Minister of Roads and Highways, has informed Parliament that the Government will fix the damaged bridge on the Chiana-Sandema Road in the Upper East Region.

He noted that the Government was taking action on the bridge under this year’s budget; saying “We are treating it as an emergency project because of its importance”.

Mr Amoako-Attah gave the assurance on Friday on the floor of Parliament in his response to an urgent question by Mr Thomas Dalu, National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Chiana-Paga.

The MP asked the Minister of Roads and Highways what plans the Ministry had to fix the damaged bridge on the Chiana-Sandema Road.

The Minister said the Chiana-Sandema Road was a classified 13-km interdistrict road connecting the Bulsa North Municipality and the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region.

He said the road was an engineered interdistrict graveled surfaced road, which was in fair condition.

He said the bridge in question was a 10 by 4 cell culvert in varying dimensions and that the culvert had lost its structural integrity and was gradually caving in.

Mr Amoako-Attah said the Ministry had advised the Bulsa North Municipal Assembly to take the necessary steps to block motorists from plying the road to save lives and property.

He said currently, there was no programme on the drainage structure, but the future programme, and, the Department of Feeder Roads had carried out an assessment on the drainage structure and had recommended culverts to replace the existing structure.

He said works on the project would be considered under the emergency funding of the Ministry of Roads and Highways under the 2023 budget.

He noted that the road was a critical road and the culverts used in constructing the bridge, which was a 10 cell culverts informed that it was a major bridge.

Adding that for a culvert to have as many as 10 cells already suggested that the structure was a major one.

He said before the replacement of the culvert would be done, to prevent imminent danger and to protect life and property, the Ministry had advised that the road should be closed.

He said where the culvert was a feeder road, but there was the main highway which could be used for the diversion as they worked to fix the bridge.

Mr Amoako-Attah said they would take advantage of the dry season to fix the damaged bridge because it was sited in a river channel.

He noted that where the culvert was a river channel and that when it rains, it would impede efforts by the contractor to replace the culvert.


Government to raise GH¢2.78 from T-bills this week

Government is expecting to raise ¢2.78 billion from Treasury bills this week to refinance maturing bills worth ¢2.55 billion.

This is to be secured through the 91-day, 182-day, and 364-day T bills.

The government exceeded its treasury bill target by 75% in its latest auction held on February 24, 2023.

According to the Bank of Ghana results, the government secured GH¢5.06 billion from the 91-day, 182-day, and 364-day bills.

The 91-day bill gathered GH¢2.93 billion, the 182-day bill secured GH¢665.99 million and the 365-day bill secured GH¢1.46 billion.

Interest rates hovered around 35.5% which is still quite high, a situation many analysts have raised concerns over.

The target for the auction was GH¢2.88 billion therefore the oversubscription was 75% away from the target.

Analysts have noted that the interest rates are too high for the government and may cost the government more when they mature.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta noted that the main financing source for the 2023 budget is treasury bills and concessional loans.

According to him, this has become the case because of the closure of the international domestic bond market.

He made the comment when he appeared before parliament on February 16, 2023.

“Mr Speaker, as the domestic international domestic bond markets are shut, for the financing of government programmes, we are relying on treasury bills and concessional primary sources of financing for the 2023 budget,” he noted.

Source: Ghana Web

The various phases of Ghana’s currency from independence to date

History according to the Bank of Ghana has it that after independence, the West African pound, shillings, and pence remained the units of currency in Ghana until the first currency reforms in July 1958 when the Bank of Ghana issued the Ghana Pound (£G) as the main currency to further consolidate the political independence.

Another currency reform took place in 1965, as Ghana adopted the widely accepted decimal system for its new currency issue, named the ‘cedi’.

The word ‘cedi’ was derived from the Akan word “sedie” meaning cowry shell which was one of the commodities widely used as a medium of exchange (currency) for transactions prior to the colonial era.

The third and fourth currency reforms in 1967 and 1972 respectively, were all undertaken after a military coup d’etat, reflecting the political and economic uncertainty during those periods. Subsequently, in 1979 another currency reform took effect, where the cedi was rediscounted mainly as a tool to control liquidity.

Source: Ghana Web

Thinking globally about the war in Ukraine: three takeaways from Munich

A billboard with the bold message “Ukraine is You” hung near the entrance to the 2023 Munich Security Conference, showing a graphic depiction of a fallen civilian and their bereaved partner. The image was stamped with the presidential seal of Ukraine—a clear message from Vladimir Zelensky to global leaders attending the premier annual gathering of international peace and security actors. In his speech delivered to the conference by VTC, Zelensky portrayed Ukraine as a “David on the Dnipro,” fighting the Russian Goliath, but in need of a modern-day “sling” to win decisively. Speaking in English on the eve of the war’s first anniversary, he asked for more sophisticated weaponry to be delivered as quickly as possible.

From the opening concert to the closing panels, the long shadow of the war in Ukraine covered all aspects of the conference. Speaker after speaker stood at the main podium, attempting to mobilize support for the war effort against Putin’s Russia, and in echoes of the bipolar Cold War order, the fight was often framed as a historic battle between democracy and autocracy.

However, away from the main stage, a more complex picture came into view. Here are three takeaways that our team from the International Peace Institute found to be most notable during their time at the conference.

The Transatlantic Partnership is Central

In a 2019 interview with the Economist, French President Emmanuel Macron warned that Europe could no longer rely on the United States (US) to guarantee its security, and that NATO was becoming brain-dead as a result. If there were doubts about the US commitment to collective defense under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, Europe must invest—the argument went—in becoming an independent geostrategic power, and not be simply an economic union of states with separate foreign and defense policies. In this context, Europe sought to play a mediating role between the US and Russia, in particular on energy policy.

The war in Ukraine has changed that completely. NATO is reinvigorated with a new purpose to oppose Russian aggression, and the role of the US as the guarantor of European security and the lead supplier of military aid to Ukraine has been critical. There was very little discussion of Europe as an independent strategic actor in Munich. Indeed, the panel dedicated to discussing “European Strategic Sovereignty” commenced somewhat quietly on Sunday morning, during the lower-profile final hours of the conference. With the exception of clear European displeasure over the protectionist elements of the US Inflation Reduction Act, the strength of Euro-American solidarity was on full display, contributing to the sense that the world was being divided into two camps once again.

However, if tensions in the North Atlantic partnership were not evidently present, another source of geopolitical tension rose to the top of many discussions.

The North-South Divide Gains New Attention

One could detect a tone of surprise and irritation from many of the North Atlantic leaders that some members of the Global South were not more immediately aligned against Russia. In particular, India and South Africa have been noticeable in their unwillingness to condemn Russia. South Africa continues to conduct security cooperation with Russia, and India has stepped up its purchases of Russian oil. Debates about the reasons for this disconnect were prevalent in Munich.

In part, it begins with history. Europeans see the war in the context of their bloody past and the experience of how a regional conflict can sow global disorder. On the other hand, many in the Global South see the West’s demand for allegiance through a post-colonial lens or the specific histories of Soviet support for liberation movements during the Cold War. More recently, recalling the wars in Iraq and Libya, there is a sense of double standards, making righteous calls for the defense of territorial integrity and the rule of law less convincing.

Further, this sense of disconnect has only deepened with a perceived lack of solidarity during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the inequality of vaccine distribution, and the opposition of many countries to Covid vaccine patent waivers that would have facilitated domestic production in the developing world. The call for global solidarity from the North rings hollow for many in the Global South, given this experience. And this dynamic of disconnect between Global North and Global South is evident far beyond debates about Ukraine. We see similar dynamics in climate negotiations, discussions for a potential pandemics treaty, and calls for reform of the International Financial Institutions and the United Nations (UN) Security Council, among other contexts.

It is about More than Ukraine

Speaking in Munich, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg argued that the conflict in Ukraine was a global fight, not a regional one. His comments were reminiscent of others’ statements that the battle for Ukraine is the “fulcrum” by which the 21st century will turn, and that the very fate of the international order depends upon what happens in Ukraine. Indeed, any acquiescence to Russia’s aggression could have a real impact on international norms, emboldening not only Putin, but potentially China and others that may aspire to alter the territorial status quo. Beyond the normative impact of the war, the material effects, including food and energy prices, have dramatically affected people across globe, in particular those already in crisis.

But for many, the changing climate, the rise of China, the fate of economic development, the next global pandemic, or the advance of artificial intelligence will have more far-reaching consequences. Even the 2023 Munich Security Index, which tracks public perceptions of risk across 12 countries (G7 plus Brazil, India, China, South Africa, and Ukraine), shows an economic or financial crisis as the aggregate #1 perceived risk among the public polled, followed by climate change.

Moving on From Munich

On February 23, a few days after the close of the Munich Security Conference, 141 UN member states voted in favor of a General Assembly resolution calling for Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine, with just seven member states voting against. In this sense, overall global solidarity against Russia’s war of aggression remains strong. However, if the North Atlantic leadership is going to maintain this broad coalition against Russia’s invasion over time, it will need to do a better job in understanding how the conflict is seen outside of Europe and the United States.

Too often member states that have abstained from the UN resolutions, demurred from taking part in the sanctions regimes, or avoided vocally condemning Russia are depicted as “fence sitters.” However the notion of fence-sitting assumes these member states are waiting to choose sides in a bipolar world, rather than taking a strategic position to maximize their national interest in a multipolar world. This point was raised strongly at the side event in Munich on “Centering the South,” organized by the International Peace Institute.

Today’s global order is not the same as that of the Cold War, and framing alignment as an “us versus them” proposition fails to take into account the dynamics of the current system. Multipolarity ought not be conflated with the rise of authoritarianism. Yet, some of the current rhetoric suggests that unalignment with North Atlantic liberal democracies concerning Ukraine is a choice to be aligned with authoritarian order.

Not only do UN voting patterns on Ukraine not reflect a clear democracy-autocracy divide, but such a framing is perceived by some as an attempt to preserve the power of the old system, which has been experienced as unequal, lacking in solidarity, and out-of-date.

In some ways, the war in Ukraine has demonstrated the solidarity of the international community and a shared commitment to upholding the UN Charter. Yet, there is real work to be done to further strengthen global solidarity across regions.

Speaking at the opening Town Hall in Munich, the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo said, “We on the continent have been left to defend ourselves. If we indeed have cooperation between the South and the North, the fundamental requirement of solidarity in the political world is to overcome the ‘them and us.’” And in order to do that, he said, we must reexamine the institutions of global order.

The Munich Security Report 2023 calls for a “Re:Vision” of the global order. To be successful, such a reenvisioning must be about more than preserving the past. It must be about a vision for the future and a more inclusive and equitable world order for all—North, South, East, and West. That is something we can all agree is worth fighting for.

Source:International Peace Institute

Ghana’s Ambassador to China makes appeal over debts owed Chinese government

Ghana’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the People’s Republic of China, Dr Winfred Nii Okai Hammond has called on the Chinese government to reschedule the maturities of debts owed the Chinese government to enable Ghana to reach its debt targets as set by the International Monetary Funds (IMF).

According to Dr. Hammond, Ghana is counting on its bilateral creditors to reschedule loan maturities and reduce interest rates.

“Ghana’s debt owed to China amounts to US$ 1.9bn which is more than one-third of the total bilateral debt. The first illustrative debt treatment scenario we have devised does not anticipate any principal haircut. To reach the IMF debt targets, we would need our bilateral creditors to reschedule the maturities (Principal and Interest) falling due during the period of the IMF program

(2023-2026) at low rate (c. 2%),” he explained.

He added that, in addition to reduced interest rates, he requested a grace period of c.10 years and repayments of up to 17 years on the rescheduled amounts to generate sufficient relief.

“We would need a grace period of c. 10 years and repayments up to 17 years on the rescheduled amounts to generate sufficient relief. We would also need to cap the variable part of interest rate under floating rate facilities. This effort is expected to be significantly lower than what has been asked by others.”

These remarks were made at a meeting on March 2, 2023.

The engagement of the Chinese delegation with Ghana’s Vice President, and the two Cabinet Ministers of MoF and MFARI, was orchestrated by H. E. Dr Hammond and his team at the Ghana Embassy in Beijing, who have been engaging in a series of discussions and negotiations with their host Ministry of Foreign Affairs, prior to this visit. Ambassador Hammond further facilitated the mission of the Chinese delegation to Ghana by accompanying and engaging in all their deliberations.

Source: Ghana Web