Full list of beneficiaries under consideration for $335 million 1D1F tax exemptions

In 2021, the Ministry of Finance began the process of granting approximately $335,072,712.13 in tax exemptions to 42 companies as part of the government’s One District One Factory initiative.

The proposal was presented to Parliament in 2022 by the former Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, under The Exemptions Act, 2022 (Act 1083).

This led to a deadlock in Parliament between the two sides of the House over the request for tax exemptions for these 42 companies.

The Minority claimed that the exemptions were a cover for corruption, accusing the ruling government of trying to give the exemptions to their allies and cronies.

However, the Minority in Parliament argued that businesses participating in the One District One Factory initiative needed tax exemptions to succeed in their ventures.

They also stated that the tax exemptions, if approved, would not only boost economic growth but also attract significant investments into the economy.

On May 17, 2024, the Majority presented the request for tax exemptio
ns to Parliament once more for consideration.

Among the companies listed, the newly established Sentuo Oil Refinery Limited is set to receive the highest amount of $164,633,012.00 if approved by the House.

Source: Ghana Web

Sentuo Oil Refinery to receive over $164 million in tax exemptions under 1D1F

The newly established Sentuo Oil Refinery Limited is set to receive the highest amount of tax exemptions, totaling $164,633,012.00, if a request to Parliament is approved.

Sentuo Oil Refinery is one of 42 beneficiary companies listed in a document sent to Parliament requesting approval of approximately $335,072,712.13 in tax exemptions as part of the government’s One District One Factory (1D1F) initiative.

The initial proposal was presented to Parliament in 2022 by the former Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, under The Exemptions Act, 2022 (Act 1083).

This led to a deadlock in Parliament between the two sides over the request for tax exemptions for these 42 companies.

The Minority claimed that the exemptions were a cover for corruption, accusing the ruling government of trying to give the exemptions to their allies and cronies.

However, the Minority in Parliament argued that businesses participating in the One District One Factory initiative needed tax exemptions to succeed in their ventures.

They a
lso stated that if approved, the tax exemptions would not only boost economic growth but also attract significant investments into the economy.

On May 17, 2024, the Majority presented the request for tax exemptions to Parliament once more for consideration.

On January 26, 2024, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo commissioned Sentuo Oil Refinery Limited, Ghana’s first private oil refinery.

The facility was built by the Sentuo Group, Ghana, a Chinese conglomerate located in the Tema Industrial Area.

The refinery was built at a cost of $2 billion and has an initial processing capacity of 40,000 barrels per day, scalable to 100,000 barrels when the facility is fully operational. The facility is also expected to be completed this year and will operate at a production capacity of five million barrels per year.

Meanwhile, two energy institutions in Ghana, the Institute of Energy Security and the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers, in February this year, asked the National Petroleum Authority to, as a matter of u
rgency, shut down the Chinese oil refinery, Sentuo Oil.

According to them, the refinery has not been licensed to distribute fuel in the Ghanaian market.

Source: Ghana Web

TUC demands cancellation of SSNIT’s sale of hotel shares, threatens strike

The Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr. Yaw Baah, has raised concerns over the Social Security and National Insurance Trust’s (SSNIT) decision to sell its interest in six hotels, treating them as if they were financially distressed.

Addressing the media on May 20, 2024, Dr. Baah expressed surprise that the original proposal to sell stakes in six hotels has been reduced to four, suggesting that this change invalidates the entire sale process.

He also noted discrepancies between the proposed payment terms and the original Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

“We find it extremely difficult to understand why SSNIT’s interest in six hotels will be packaged and sold as if all the hotels are in the same financial position,” he said.

“We find it difficult to understand why the original proposal for the sale of SSNIT’s interest in six hotels has been reduced to four. We hold the view that this renders the whole process null and void. We have observed that the proposed payment terms have varied
from the original MoU based on the recommendations,” he added.

Dr. Baah further expressed the TUC’s objection to selling shares to a company owned by a Minister of State, Bryan Acheampong, arguing that it is inappropriate.

“We also find it difficult to understand why SSNIT’s interest in these hotels should be sold to a company owned by a Minister of State. We do not think this is right,” he added.

The TUC demands an immediate halt to the sale process, threatening significant labour action if the Minister responsible for pensions does not intervene.

“We are calling on the Minister responsible for pensions to direct the board of trustees of SSNIT to cancel the process immediately; otherwise, we organized labour will advise ourselves,” he warned.

The issue gained public attention after Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, an MP for North Tongu, called for scrutiny of the sale.

Ablakwa petitioned the CHRAJ to investigate potential conflicts of interest, abuse of power, and other legal breaches, citing specific articles
of the 1992 Constitution.

In response, SSNIT defended its decision, stating that Rock City Hotel Limited presented the best proposal in a transparent process compliant with the Public Procurement Act.

SSNIT said its aim was to partner with an investor to raise capital and improve hotel management. However, both Ablakwa and the TUC have expressed their disagreement with SSNIT’s justification for the sale.

Source: Ghana Web

Savings as a holistic approach to financial well-being

For many people, discussions about savings often revolve around stashing away money for future expenses or unforeseen emergencies. However, a deeper understanding reveals that savings extend beyond merely setting aside funds.

It includes what I call delayed consumption or delayed gratification. Delayed consumption or gratification is when you choose to deliberately postpone a purchase, an expense, or immediate pleasure for a later date, usually with a much bigger and long-term goal in mind.

For example, your budget suggests that you can spend GHS 50 on food each workday, and if you choose to spend GHS 30, you have effectively ‘saved’ GHS 20. That is the difference between what you could spend and what you chose to spend. This is different from stashing money away, which we commonly term as savings. A true savings culture is about a mindful approach to your finances, one that fosters long-term security and empowers you to achieve your goals.

However, there is a need to find a balance between immediate spend
ing and postponing the purchase, especially in an inflationary environment. It is a skill you need to master to achieve your long-term goals. In this article, we will explore how cultivating a savings culture is a holistic approach toward financial well-being.

Pay Yourself First

Many people often say what they earn is never enough for them. As true as this may be, I have also realized that for most people, the first thing we do when we get money is our expenditure instead of our savings. We must understand that the foundation of building a strong savings culture lies in prioritizing your financial transactions.

Ordinarily, we are taught to allocate a fixed percentage of our income to savings. While this approach is good, it overlooks the individuality of financial circumstances. Rather than adhering to a fixed percentage, prioritize consistency and discipline in setting aside a portion of your income towards savings before expenses.

This not only encourages a habit of saving but also instills a sense of f
inancial security and empowerment.

Avoid Lifestyle Inflation

As income increases, so do aspirations and expenditures. Yet, unchecked lifestyle inflation can erode potential savings. Recognizing the subtle shifts in spending patterns and consciously curbing unnecessary expenses are important in preserving financial resources. Be practical in maintaining a balance between enjoying the present and preparing for the future. It is possible to navigate lifestyle changes without compromising long-term financial goals.

Downsize Where Necessary

In a consumer-driven society, you need to distinguish between what your needs are and what your wants are to help you allocate finances accordingly. When you are able to do this, you can downsize where necessary. Downsizing presents an opportunity to reassess priorities and optimize resource allocation.

Whether it is downsizing housing, transportation, or leisure activities, embracing a minimalist approach allows for greater financial flexibility and resilience. By priorit
izing value over volume, you can redirect savings towards meaningful endeavors.

Track Your Expenses

A well-defined budget serves as a roadmap for financial decision-making, differentiating between essential and discretionary expenses. Categorizing expenditures enables you to allocate resources judiciously, ensuring that savings remain a non-negotiable component.

Furthermore, diligent expense tracking shows spending patterns and facilitates informed adjustments to align with your savings objectives. It is not just about budgeting but also about actively monitoring and improving expenses to maximize savings potential.

Have a Mindset of Financial Wellness

Savings alone cannot guarantee financial prosperity. It necessitates a holistic approach encompassing prudent investment, debt management, and risk mitigation. Cultivating a mindset of financial wellness involves continuous learning, adaptability, and resilience in navigating economic uncertainties.

By advancing financial literacy and seeking professional
guidance when needed, you can empower yourself to make informed financial decisions and secure your long-term well-being.

Developing a savings culture goes beyond the mere act of setting aside money. It requires a shift towards intentional living, where financial decisions are guided by foresight, discipline, and purpose.

By embracing a holistic approach to financial management, individuals can pave the way toward a more secure and prosperous future. Remember, the journey towards financial well-being begins with a single step – prioritize yourself, embrace mindful spending, and cultivate a mindset of abundance.

Source: Ghana Web

Food price hikes hit hard on households – Agric expert calls for subsidy on farming inputs

Prices of basic food commodities are continuously on the rise each market day across major markets in Accra and Kasoa in the Central Region, a market survey by the Ghanaian Times has observed.

Prices of ingredients like tomatoes, pepper, garden eggs, and eggs had increased across the major markets surveyed on each visit.

A sack of gari, for instance, which used to sell at GHS1,600 last month, now goes for GHS 1,800, while the quantity of gari measured with the standard six-cup tin, locally referred to as olonka, which was previous­ly sold at GHS25.00, is being retailed at GHS28.00

With the daily minimum wage at GHS18.15, hikes in prices of basic foods appear to hit hard on household budgets, as fami­lies are grappling with having to adjust upwardly their budget for food almost every market day.

For instance, the market survey (at Agbogbloshie in Accra) showed that a bag of garden eggs which was sold at GHS600.00 a month ago was being sold at GHS699.00, while a mini-size bucket of red pepper, which was sol
d at GHS100.00, is now sold at GHS130.00, and a mini-size bucket of green pepper, which was sold at GHS70.00 was sell­ing at GHS85.00.

A sizeable bunch of ‘Kon­tomire’ (cocoyam leaves), which used to be sold at GHS5 and in some instance three for GHS10, was being sold at GHS10 per bunch at Kasoa market in the Central Region.

A tuber of yam goes for be­tween GHS30 to GHS35.

Also, a bucket of fresh toma­toes which used to be sold at GHS650.00 few days ago is now up at GHS750.00, while that of smashed and slightly rotten ones which were sold at GHS 200.00 is now sold at GHS400.00.

The survey in the Zongo communities showed that ‘Ku­likuli,’ ‘Massa,’ and ‘Koose’ made from groundnut paste, corn and bean dough, which are delicacies in the communities, sold between GHS1 and GHS2, up from between 20 pesewas and 50 pesewas.

In separate interviews with the Ghanaian Times, the cus­tomers and traders described the situation as unbearable.

According to some of them, they had to spend more than they used to when they
visited the market to make purchases, while others said they had to reduce the quantity of food prepared at home.

Traders, customers and agri­culture experts have called on the government to put in place appropriate measures to help address the situation.

Dr Nyaaba Charles, an agri­culture expert and Chief Execu­tive Officer of Akuafo Nketewa Company, the Business Unit of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, in an interview with the Ghanaian Times, said the hikes in prices of foodstuffs in the markets were due to the high cost of input used for production, some of which are imported.

According to him, farm im­ports such as tractors, agricul­tural machinery, spare parts and fertiliser were all subsidised by the government.

‘But over the past two years or so, these subsidies had been withdrawn by the government to the extent that a tractor which is today bought at $20, 000.00, from Europe attracts nearly $10,000.00 import duty, which was the not case a few years back,’ he stated.

He said a 40-foot contain
er of pesticides which used to cost about GHS 60,000 to clear from the port was now being cleared for about GHS166,000.

Dr. Nyaaba said the charge for tractor service to plough a farm for cultivation has gone up such that the farmer could not afford not to add all these costs to the produce as the final products.

Until these subsidies are restored by the government, he said the prices of farm produce will continue to rise, thereby leading to hikes in prices of basic staples in the major markets.

According to Mrs. Jane Yaa Boateng, a trader at the Agbogbloshie market, some traders contributed to the worrying situation of the price increment as they hoarded food commodities and sold them at higher prices when they became scarce.

Mr. Collins Obi, a hygiene supervisor, who bemoaned the cost of preparing food, said he used to spend GHS120 on the preparation of rice and stew for his family of six, but now spends GHS220.

Also, Nana Boakye, a car dealer, said he had increased the amount he gave to his family for
weekly upkeep from GHS1,000.00 to GHS1,500.00.

‘Now if you want to prepare the same quantity of food, it would be difficult because the prices of food commodities are expensive. So, you either have to add to the money you went to the market with previously or you reduce the quantity of food you prepare,’ he added.

Traders and shoppers at the Kasoa and Akweley markets in the Central Region are also grappling with soaring food prices, expressing worry that the increases in prices are driving away customers, leading to serious lower sales.

A 25kg bag of perfumed rice, which once sold for GHS650, has now gone up to GHS720, with price differentials in-between, depending on the brands.

Similarly, the cost of beans ranges from GHS500.00 to GHS900.00 per bag, reflecting the type and quality.

Prices of cooking oil have also skyrocketed, with gallons priced between GHS200 and GHS1,500 based on size and brand.

Prices of tubers of yam have seen significant increases as well; smaller tubers, which cost GHS15.00 just
three months ago, are now sold for GHS25.00, while larger tubers can cost up to GHS60.00.

Cassava and potatoes start from GHS20.00, and fruits have not been spared as a single pineapple costs between GHS15.00 and GHS20.00.

Tomatoes have become particularly expensive, with a bowlful going for GHS120 and a wholesale basket priced at a staggering GHS6,000.00 or more.

A trader at the Kasoa market, Mrs. Araba Ankrah, told the Ghanaian Times that the high cost of staples was impacting daily life in the market.

‘Sometimes our goods perish, leaving us in debt because customers cannot afford what we sell,’ she lamented.

Another trader, known as Auntie Mansah, who sells at the Akweley market, said ‘the situation gets worse by the day’ and expressed hope that things would improve as soon as possible.

Source: Ghana Web

Pwalugu multipurpose dam will be done – Dr. Bawumia assures

Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has revealed that the Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam is dear to his heart indicating that he will get it done.

During his visit to the Upper East Region as part of his interaction with religious leaders and other stakeholders, he reiterated the significance of the project fits into his agenda of prioritizing agriculture under his administration.

‘I have no doubt that I am championing the Pwalugu multipurpose dam, and by the grace of God, we will do it,’ he disclosed.

The project which feeds into his agenda for agriculture, he reiterated, is a major priority adding; ‘My first priority, if you make me president, is going to be agriculture – large-scale commercial agriculture and mechanized agriculture with the application of technology.

“This initiative has been lacking. We have the lands, we have the water, so we need to move in this direction.’

Project Delays

Following the cutting of sod by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in N
ovember 2019, expectations were high over the commencement of the construction work. However, the outbreak of the coronavirus disease further dashed the hopes of many over the actualisation of the project in due time.

According to the Volta River Authority, work will proceed notwithstanding the pandemic.

Project Coordinator of the Pwalungu Multipurpose Dam at the Volta River Authority, Kwaku Wiafe explained that human resources have been sourced from Chinese Engineers who were already in Ghana overseeing the construction of the Tamale Interchange prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

‘The lead Contractor is Chinese and it is important that right from the beginning, we assure the community that there is no risk of any virus transmission. And the reason being that, we will put in place a number of precautions.

“Firstly, all the people who are going to work on the project at this initial phase, should have been quarantined but they have spent significant time in Ghana and show no symptoms’ Mr. Wiafe told
Bolgatanga-based A1 Radio in May 2020.

Parliament in February 2020 approved a loan facility of over $900 million for the project, sealing off concerns over the government’s ability to fund the project locally as indicated by the President at the sod-cutting ceremony.

The project covers an irrigation facility, which will also serve as a flood control mechanism, a 60MW of Hydropower and 50 MW of Solar power to augment electricity supply to the five regions of the North.

The entire project will be executed by Power China International and supervised by the Volta River Authority over a period of 52 months.

The 50MW solar power electricity will be sited at Kurugu in the East Mamprusi Municipality in the North East Region while the 60MW hydropower will be sited at Nungu in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region.

Source: Ghana Web

Shippers’ Authority takes proactive steps to ensure reduction in cost of cargo clearance

In a proactive move aimed at addressing the recurring issue of high business costs at the port, the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) has initiated processes to develop unique value propositions tailored to various categories of shippers.

This initiative is designed to facilitate access to needed services provided by the GSA while simultaneously reducing port and cargo destination costs.

The Chief Executive Officer of GSA, Kwesi Baffour Sarpong, announced this during a breakfast meeting with Shippers held on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Takoradi.

The meeting, convened by Mr. Sarpong, signifies a strategic effort to fortify the GSA’s relationship with shippers, with a specific emphasis on enhancing value throughout the cargo shipment and delivery process.

The inaugural session of this gathering in Takoradi included intimate one-on-one sessions between the CEO and shippers, including those whose annual import/export volumes exceed $20 million and are situated within the Western Zone.

Mr. Sarpong underscored the
significant economic impact of shippers and hence the prioritization of their needs.

He said going forward, GSA is considering assigning Relationship Managers to some categories of shippers as part of the revisioning and realigning agenda to create value for shippers at Ghana’s various ports in real time.

He outlined the GSA’s overarching objective: “to drastically reduce port costs outside of statutory costs, including cost items like clearance expenses, container deposits, demurrage fees, and other avoidable charges, while also providing institutional support through permit acquisition/exemptions and proactive alerts,” among other initiatives.

Agnes Asamoah-Duku, Head of the GSA’s Western Zonal Office, affirmed the organization’s commitment to open dialogue with shippers to swiftly address any challenges they encounter.

The shippers expressed gratitude to GSA for prioritizing their needs and pledged to be active participants in the various zonal shipper committees to contribute their quota to the improv
ement of the sector.

Source: Ghana Web

Experts foresee brighter future for fintech with advanced technologies

As the fintech landscape in Africa continues to evolve, industry experts foresee a brighter future fueled by advanced technologies and collaborative efforts.

Mr. Dario Bianchi, Chief Digital Officer of MTN Ghana, emphasised the importance of breaking silos and fostering dialogue across stakeholders to propel Africa’s fintech industry forward.

He stressed that a collaborative approach between the private sector-including telecommunications and fintech companies- regulators, and government entities, is essential to creating regulations conducive to fintech growth and extending its benefits to a broader demographic.

‘The future will be bright if we collaborate and if we come together to create regulations that can help the fintech and can also help more people benefiting from a modern connected life,’ he noted in an interview with the BandFT on the side of the 3i Africa Summit held in Accra.

According to him, the integration of AI technologies also stands to significantly enhance the accessibility and securi
ty of digital services, adding that it’s potential extends to language support, fraud detection, and other critical areas, ultimately facilitating greater inclusion in the digital and fintech spheres.

While acknowledging USSD’s (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) historical significance in driving mobile money adoption across Africa, Mr. Bianchi underscored the imperative of embracing digital platforms to unlock new functionalities and enhance user experiences, such as QR code payments.

He also expressed his vision for seamless digital transactions, noting his aspiration for swift QR code payments, illustrating the transformative potential of digital innovation.

Open banking

Mr. Bianchi further advocated the concept of open banking, citing its potential to revolutionise the fintech landscape by providing customers with consolidated access to financial data across multiple accounts.

While open banking has gained traction in regions like Europe, its adoption in Africa hinges on regulatory frameworks
and industry readiness.

He, however, expressed confidence in the imminent realisation of open banking within the next two years, underscoring the importance of industry-wide collaboration in driving progress.

Charting the course for next decade

In addition to his insights, Sylvia Otuo-Acheampong, Head of Products and Innovations of Mobile Money Limited (MTN Ghana) said it is important to deploy advanced technologies such as blockchain and AI to propel the growth of the fintech ecosystem.

Speaking to the BandFT on ‘Africa’s fintech revolution: charting the course for the next decade, she also noted blockchain technology’s capacity to process millions of transactions efficiently, enabling scalability within shorter timeframes.

Also, AI’s role in transforming raw data into actionable insights, enabling predictive analytics and personalised customer experiences adding how by leveraging AI-driven tools fintech companies can analyse consumer behavior patterns and offer tailored solutions, thereby enhancing cus
tomer engagement and satisfaction.

She added the pivotal role of cloud technology in scaling storage capabilities to accommodate the increasing volume of transactions.

She emphasised the need for a seamless digital experience for customers, highlighting the importance of simplifying transaction processes through digital platforms while ensuring robust data security measures.

Ms. Otuo-Acheampong said it is important for regulatory frameworks to guide the responsible adoption of emerging technologies.

Digital micro-pensions services

For her part, Chief Enterprise Business Officer, Angela Osei Poku speaking on ‘Digital micro-pensions services for an equitable and inclusive world’ highlighted the inherent trust and accessibility of mobile technology, emphasising its role in fostering financial inclusion and providing individuals with peace of mind regarding their savings and financial security.

She indicated the cultural and societal influences on financial behaviors and how mobile technology’s role is prov
iding security and empowerment.

Noting the diverse needs of the informal sector, she stressed the importance of tailoring solutions and leveraging telcos’ existing customer relationships to expand the reach of micro-pension services.

Ms. Osei Poku emphasised personalised approaches to ensure inclusivity and advocated for telcos’ role in driving financial empowerment, especially for women and youth, through innovative digital micro-pension services.

Source: Ghana Web