Cedi blues: Finance Minister urges calm

Finance minister Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam, has moved to assuage concerns over stability of the cedi, assuring citizens and investors of ‘robust foreign exchange reserves’ with an anticipated disbursement of US$2.32billion within the next six months.

Since end of first quarter this year, the cedi has faced significant pressure – reminiscent of its free fall in the second half of 2022 – and has consequently set off alarm bells, with fears of a recurrence of speculation and the attendant inflationary pressures.

Speaking at the Monthly Press Briefing, Dr. Adam highlighted several measures being undertaken by government to maintain currency stability and avert market uncertainty.

‘We therefore expect total disbursements of at least US$2.32billion before end of the year will add to the significant foreign exchange reserves already built up by the BoG,’ Dr. Adam stated as he sought to reassure the public and market participants.

‘We wish to assure Ghanaians that there is enough foreign exchange supply. Hence, ther
e is no need to rush and buy forex,’ he added.

Currency Performance and Pressures

The cedi has been under considerable pressure since end of the first quarter, echoing its sharp decline in the second half of 2022. The situation has stoked fear in some quarters that the local unit could exchange for more than GHS18 to US$1 before close of the year, especially when pre-Yuletide pressures kick in.

Already, market analysts have stated that the cedi is expected to depreciate further against major currencies like the US dollar in the near-future. This is due to a lack of US dollars in the forex market and high demand from businesses that import goods. The central bank has been trying to support the cedi by selling US dollars, but demand is still outstripping supply.

Analysts predict the cedi could fall to around GHS15.4-15.6/US$ by end of June 2024. This is because businesses need US dollars to buy goods from abroad and there is not enough supply to meet demand.

At close of the penultimate week, the cedi decli
ned 0.85 percent against the US dollar in the interbank market to GHS13.80/US$, 1.77 percent against the Euro to GHS15/Euro and 2.34 percent against the British Pound to GHS17.53/GBP. In the spot market, the US$/GHS pair fell sharply by 3.3 percent week-on-week to GHS14.35/US$.

However, Dr. Adam pointed to notable progress in stabilising the currency. ‘But for recent pressures we are seeing on exchange rate movements, the exchange rate has been largely stabilised with depreciation of the cedi against the US dollar halving from 54.2 percent at end-November 2022 to 27.8 percent at end-December 2023,’ he noted.

‘The cedi’s stability has continued into 2024, with a cumulative depreciation of 14.2 percent as of May 20, 2024, compared to 20.7 percent recorded in the same period of 2023,’ he noted.

Dr. Adam attributed the recent pressures on the cedi to several factors including general strengthening of the US$ against major trading currencies, seasonal forex demand, elevated demand from corporate institutions, p
ayments to contractors and Independent Power Producers (IPPs), high cedi liquidity and speculation.

To mitigate these pressures, the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Bank of Ghana has rolled out a series of measures. The fiscal consolidation process is being fast-tracked by rationalising spending and enhancing revenue mobilisation, he said.

Government is also intensifying its gold-for-oil programme to support the forex market, and increasing its gold reserves to stabilise the currency, he added.

The finance minister highlighted the expected disbursement of the 3rd tranche under the 2nd review of the IMF-supported PC-PEG after IMF Executive Board approval in June 2024.

Additionally, the disbursement of US$150million from ongoing projects, following parliamentary approval, and an expected US$300 million under the World Bank Development Policy Operations (DPO2) in the third quarter of 2024 are anticipated to bolster the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

Further support is expected from the d
isbursement of US$200million to Ghana Export-Import Bank (GEXIM) and GCB by ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) later in the year. The anticipated 2024/25 cocoa syndication proceeds, expected in the fourth quarter of 2024, are also projected to strengthen the cedi by boosting forex supply to the markets.

‘We expect the cedi’s stability to improve into the medium-term as we complete debt restructuring, make more progress on fiscal consolidation and improve our reserves,’ he remarked as he maintained an optimistic tone about the medium-term stability of the cedi.

Discipline needed

An economist with the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), Leslie Dwight Mensah, believes while there are elements of good news, significant fiscal discipline is required for any progress to be actualised.

‘The cedi is in sore need of good news. In that context, the announcement of progress toward a final debt settlement with bilateral creditors – which will unlock the IMF’s next disbursement – is pleasing,’ he said.

Unfortunately, however, the cedi’s fate will remain precarious if the surge of imports in 2024 persists at a time when Ghana’s ability to attract significant capital inflows is curtailed,’ Mr. Mensah added.

He maintained that the appropriate response is to ‘maintain strict fiscal and monetary discipline, not yielding to ultimately pernicious political pressures’ to deviate from the macroeconomic programme for the year.

Source: Ghana Web

University collaborates for Community Development Challenge 2024

The University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD) in Somanya, in partnership with the Eastern Regional Coordinating Council (ERCC), has organised a competition under the UESD Community Development Challenge 2024 in Koforidua.

The 2024 Challenge is a competition among students in Senior High Schools (SHS) on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 related issues.

The SDG 12 seeks to ‘Ensure sustainable consumption and production,’ and the theme for the challenge is ‘Responsible consumption and production, targeting Sustainable Development Goal 12’.

Four SHS, namely, Ayirebi Senior High School, Akokoaso Senior High Technical School, Asesewa Senior High School and Donkorkrom Agriculture Senior High School participated in the semi-finals of the challenge.

After the debate, two schools emerged as winners and will proceed to the finals on June 19, 2024, at the UESD campus.

Professor Edward Wiafe Debrah, the Pro-Vice Chancellor of UESD, said in a world where the consequences of production and consu
mption patterns were becoming increasingly evident, it was imperative that ‘we critically examine and rethink our approaches.’

He said the competition on the topic: ‘We do not need Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for E-waste management in a changing Ghanaian society, speak For or Against the motion,’ gave students the opportunity to come up with brilliant ideas and innovative solutions aimed at fostering a more sustainable and equitable world.’

Professor Debrah encouraged the students to be mindful that as they engaged in the debate, they did so with the goal not only to win an argument but to advance their collective understanding and commitment to responsible stewardship of our planet.’

Mr John A. Donkor, the Chief Director at the Eastern Regional Coordinating Council, said the government would continue to support such programmes that empowered young people to take action on sustainable development.

He promised to ensure the provision of the needed resources and mentorship to help students turn th
eir innovative ideas into reality.

At the end of the semi-finals, Donkorkrom Agric SHS emerged as the winner, followed by Ayirebi SHS, while Asesewa SHS came third and Akokoaso Senior High Technical School placed fourth.

The students recommended the introduction of the ‘polluter pays concept,’ which involved making polluters responsible for both paying for their environmental harm and cleaning up the environment.

The other was the concept of resource transition, which involves recycling waste.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Cardinal Namdini supports catchment area basic schools with books.

Cardinal Namdini Mining Limited (CNML), has supported some basic schools in its operational area in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region with learning materials worth GH?59,576.40.

The gesture comprised 14,636 Note one Exercise books and donated to over 1,800 pupils in six schools, namely Bapeela, Biung, Datoko, Elim, Sheaga and Tolla basic schools with each pupil receiving at least eight books.

CNML is a subsidiary of Shandong Gold, which has acquired lease to undertake open-cast (surface) gold mining in the Talensi District with an initial Life of Mine of 15 years.

At a brief presentation at Digaare, Mr. Feng Baoli, Vice President in charge of General Administration, Public Relations, and Security, CNML, said CNML believed that education was the pillar for accelerated development of every community and all efforts must be geared towards promoting it.

The Vice President indicated that by investing in education, significant progress would be made to unlock potentials of individuals and communitie
s as well as laid the necessary foundation for inclusive development.

He said education and community development had been prioritised in its operations, programmes and interventions and reiterated its commitment to progress of its operational areas.

‘By this donation, the Company aims to support and promote education in its project area, by burden-sharing the financial cost parents go through in procuring books for their wards’ education’, Mr Baoli underscored.

‘The donation of the exercise books will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the learning experience of the pupils in these communities as they will use them for notes taking to enhance their literacy and numeracy’.

The Vice President disclosed that the Project was at its construction phase and expressed optimism that all mining infrastructure needed for the project to take off would be completed soon to allow them to pour their first gold in the last the quarter of 2024.

‘This phase, nonetheless, CNML pays deliberate attention to the wellbeing
of our communities and publics in keeping with our principle of shared value. We believe that our communities must grow together with the project and must not be left in the situ.

‘Thus, significant contributions towards promoting community development have been made in the areas of skills development for the youth, promotion of culture, agriculture, capacity building, social enterprise inclusions in the project construction and supplies and employment,’ he added.

He, therefore, implored the relevant stakeholders to support activities of the Company when it fully begins operations to enhance accelerated development.

Receiving the gesture, Madam Christiana Ayinzoya Azure, Talensi District Director, Ghana Education Service, thanked the CNML for contributing to the development of education in the area and charged the teachers of the beneficiary schools to help the pupils put the books into good use.

She appealed to the Company to include more schools in the district in their subsequent interventions to ensur
e holistic development.

Mr Thomas Duanab Wuni Pearson, Talensi District Chief Executive, urged the management of CNML to integrate some schools in the area in their project to make them model school and provide incentives for teachers to motivate them to provide quality service to the pupils.

Pupils of the Elim Basic schools expressed appreciation to the Company for the gesture and pleaded for more assistance for computers to boost their IT teaching and learning.

Source: Ghana News Agency

GNAT calls on teachers to remain calm, negotiations ongoing

Mr Thomas Musah, the General Secretary, Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), has called on teachers across the country to remain calm while leadership engages the government to resolve their challenges.

He said negotiations with the government were ongoing to address teachers concerns with regards to the poor condition of service.

Pre-tertiary teacher unions in the regions have embarked on demonstrations, demanding the immediate disbursement of their allowances and other conditions of service.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, the General Secretary assured the teachers that the negotiations had not broken down and pledged that the national leadership would ensure that engagement with the government benefited the interests of all teachers.

He said the Labour Commission had directed the Office of Special Prosecutor to ensure that teachers whose salaries were blocked unjustly were restored to them without delay.

The OSP has withheld the salaries of 1310 teachers, citing an investigation
into ‘ghost names’ on the government payroll.

Out of the figure, the OSP has released 906 teachers, while 404 are yet to receive their pay.

In view of that, Mr Musah said the national leadership was pursuing the directives to ensure that the issues were resolved amicably.

‘The Labour Commission has given the Office of the Special Prosecutor up to June 26 to address the issues, but we have concluded negotiations before the timeline,’ he said.

He said the leadership of the union had met with the government and stakeholders to address their concerns.

The stakeholders include the Ministry of Finance, the Controller and Accountant General, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust, and the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations.

Mr Musah said the meeting set up a five-member technical committee to conduct feasibility studies on the data of teachers relating to tier two pension contributions, past credit issues, and the implementation of the GLICO report, among others.

He said the committee was e
xpected to submit the report to resolve the issues concerning their conditions of service.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Sekondi Methodist Diocese honours outstanding students, teachers

The Sekondi Diocese of the Methodist Church of Ghana has honoured some students, teachers and schools under the Methodist Educational Unit (MEU) in the Western Region for their outstanding performances during the 2022/2023 academic year.

Held on the theme: ‘The role of the church in nurturing learners to grow into Christian maturity,’ the Fourth Excellence Awards was organised through the Co-ordinating office for Education and Youth Ministries in collaboration with the MEU at Shama.

In all, 92 students who excelled in the 2023 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), and five others who distinguished themselves in the 2023 West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE), were recognised for their exceptional academic achievements.

They received certificates of recognition, an undisclosed amount of money, Bibles and books as their prizes.

Ms Ekua Kessewa Gyesi, currently a student at the Holy Child Senior High School (SHS) in Cape Coast, was adjudged the Overall Best Student for the B
ECE category.

Six teachers received microwaves and refrigerators as prizes for their outstanding contributions to the excellent performance of the students for the year under review.

The Hotopo Methodist Basic School in the Ahanta West Municipality emerged the Best Performing School, Anto Abosso Methodist Basic School in the Shama District came second and Dixcove Methodist Basic School, also in the Ahanta West Municipality placed third.

Their prizes were a chest freezer, and television sets..

The Right Reverend Emmanuel Kwesi Ansah, the Sekondi Methodist Diocesan Bishop, said the event was to celebrate the recipients for their hard work and dedication in raising the academic performance of schools under the MEU and to motivate the rest to give off their best.

Ms Gyesi said the gesture was part of the Church’s vision of imbibing good Christian values in the students, so they became useful for society.

Rt. Rev. Ansah asked the students to take their studies seriously and work hard to excel in their academ
ic performance to be recognised in the next edition of the awards ceremony.

Mrs Felicia Agyeibea Okai, the Western Regional Director of Education, commended the Methodist Church for their continuous efforts in promoting quality education in the country.

She said the awards was a step in the right direction and encouraged other school managers to emulate the efforts of the Methodist Church by instituting motivational packages for both students and teachers to give off their best.

The Very Reverend Francis K. Ennuson, the General Manager of Methodist Schools, congratulated the Sekondi Methodist Diocese for organising the fourth edition of the awards ceremony, it would project the image of schools under the MEU.

He asked members of the Church to support the awards scheme to help ensure its sustainability.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Provision of quality education a shared responsibility

The provision of quality education for Ghanaian children is a shared responsibility, Nana Kugbeadzor-Bakateyi II, Bono East Regional Director of Education, has stated.

To this end, there is the need for all stakeholders in education to pull both resources and ideas together to help provide the Ghanaian child a holistic quality education.

Nana Kugbeadzor-Bakateyi made the statement when the members of the Bono, Ahafo and Bono East Regional Conference of Managers of Education Units (COMEU) paid a courtesy call on her at Nkoranza.

She explained that the government alone could not provide the kind of quality education Ghanaian children needed to be able to compete in the 21st century labour market.

It required the efforts and contribution of all other stakeholders, particularly the Missions and other faith-based organizations.

Nana Kugbeadzor-Bakateyi encouraged the Managers to continue to contribute their quota to the provision of quality education to children in the various mission schools in the country.

he said the role of the Managers of mission schools could not be underestimated in the development of Ghana’s education and thanked the group for calling on her.

She said the COMEU was the first group to call on her since she assumed office as the new Regional Director for Bono East Education.

Mr Abdul-Mumin Abubakar Sampane, Regional President of the Conference of Managers of Education Units, expressed the willingness of the members to collaborate with the new regional director to improve the learning outcomes of learners in the mission schools in the region.

Source: Ghana News Agency