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IMF to release $236m to Ghana in May

The IMF should be releasing about two hundred and thirty-six million dollars ($236,000,000) to Ghana under the agreement with the Fund, by the first week of May this year.

This will be the total of the fifth and sixth disbursements under the economic support program.

These among others were the highlights at this year’s spring meetings of the IMF/World Bank in Washington, DC.

The release of the figure means the Fund is at least satisfied with Ghana’s performance so far under the agreement.

This also comes on the back of the IMF mission’s review of Ghana’s performance, last month (March).

A Deputy Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah who joined the team to Washington, tells Citi Business News the disbursements should help in financing essential government needs.

“The disbursement generally will go towards budgetary support broadly and at this stage that is how some of these things have been structured. It is rather some of the other items that we are looking at which will go into some of the specific development items that we mentioned before Parliament rose,” he explained.

Aside impressing the Fund with efforts to sustain or surpass the 8.5 percent growth recorded for the first year in office, the government is also pitching for an acceptance of its ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ agenda.

Some government officials have embarked on non deal road shows both in Asia and in the US.

The exercise is expected to culminate in the issuing of bonds as part of restructuring the country’s debt.

But Kojo Oppong Nkrumah tells Citi Business News they should be in the good books of the Fund once the debts are at sustainable levels.

“If you have a prudent budget program which says that no matter what you do, your finances should not go beyond the 4.5 to 5 percent target, then the  bond issues that do not exceed the target,  nobody has a problem with you. So to the extent that we are staying within our prudent budget program, nobody has a problem with us as everybody encourages us to do well to stay within the budget and not to overrun the deficit,” he argued.

Ghana entered into the IMF agreement in 2015 for a credit support of 918 million dollars.

Originally, the IMF program was scheduled to end in April 2018, but it has since been extended to April 2019 after the NPP government agreed to an extension of the program.

By: Pius Amihere Eduku/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana

Ship owners demand explanation on fumigation exercise at ports

Members of the Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana are calling on the government to come clear on the modalities of the Cargo Fumigation Exercise.

This comes after various associations including the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), and Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) kicked against the exercise, stating that, it will add to their cost of operations.

The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) have also expressed their displeasure with the additional cost the exercise brings, while GUTA and GIFF have described the disinfection exercise as poorly planned.

In an interview with Citi Business News, Executive Council of the Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana, Adam Imoru Ayarna said government is yet to explain the modalities of the exercise to them.

“It’s not very clear how this whole disinfection exercise is going to be carried out,  what we know is that it involves import containers and export containers as well”.

He added, “So we need clarity from government and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to see where the responsibilities end, then we can know who is actually responsible for cost”.

Mr Ayarna was of the view that proper clarity of the exercise will inform the affected stakeholders on what decisions to take.

“In business cost, will always be recouped so every business might bear part of the cost but the other aspect is weather the cost really mine. If it’s not mine, then somebody will have to pay for it so I might recoup it,” he remarked.

“So if we understand the dynamics it will pretty much inform us and then we can be in a position to properly advice on either best practice or what we will want to do or not want to do,” he added.

Meanwhile, Responding to the concerns raised by the stakeholders, the Director of Public Health Division of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Badu Sarkodie welcomed calls for further stakeholder consultation on the cargo fumigation exercise.

This, he says will ensure the effective implementation of the exercise.

Speaking to Citi Business News, Dr. Badu Sarkodie said the Ghana Health Service is ready to ensure that the disinfection exercise comes off without any problems.

“The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is responsible for ensuring the technical relevance of the disinfection exercise, which we’ve well established. However it’s important for all the stakeholders to meet and discuss why this is being done and what stake each of them has in the implementation.”

“I agree perfectly that all stakeholders should get together. If by the final implementation stage there are gaps and shortfalls, during the discussions these things will come out. We can then discuss and agree on the best way forward for the country, ”he stated.

By: Anita Arthur and Bobbie Osei/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana

Increase in taxes at ports counterproductive – Economist

Economist, and CEO at the Institute of Certified Economists Ghana, Gideon Amissah has charged the government to consider new ways of generating revenue at the ports since the imposition of high taxes will be counterproductive.

He warned that imposing taxes at the ports without engaging the main stakeholders could rather cause government to lose a lot of money.

His complaints come after stakeholders at the ports raised alarm on increases in import duties.

He stated that it appears there are some attempts to increase taxes at the ports without the consultation of stakeholders.

“Though we were giving some assurance, the economy will be built on production or productivity. It appears that currently, government is relying on taxation to mobilize revenue. We don’t think that going forward, we would have to be depending so much on taxation to expand revenue” he said.

Already, key stakeholders at ports have pointed out that, a cursory observation of taxes at the ports in recent times, indicate a jump in the charges.

Meanwhile, the Poultry Farmers Association, Mobile Phone Dealers Association, as well as the Electrical Dealers Association have all in recent times complained about a 17.5 percent and 20 percent VAT increase at the ports without notification from government.

Mr.  Amissah warned that the decision to increases taxes at the ports may not yield the needed results if the key stakeholders are not engaged.

“It is about time maybe government would have to consider non tax revenue as a way of expanding the revenue base” he stressed.

By: Jessica Ayorkor Aryee/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana

NEDCo, others to comply with tariff reduction amidst discontent

The Northern Electricity Distribution Company,NEDCO,and other stakeholders in the power sector, have stated their readiness to comply with the PURC’s directive announcing tariff reduction, although their expectations were not met.

The utility regulator on Monday, March 5, 2018, announced that it has reduced electricity tariffs between 10 and 30 percent for the various categories of consumers.

The development also followed the completion of exhaustive consultations with the various stakeholders comprising utility providers, consumers and industry analysts.

Commenting on the latest directive, the Public Relations Officer of the Northern Electricity Development Company (NEDCo), Alhassan Ababa, told Citi Business News his outfit will comply albeit contrary to their expectations.

NEDCo, for instance put forward a proposal seeking about 200 percent rise in tariff, compared to the figure approved by the PURC in 2015.

Though Mr. Ababa explains that the latest move might affect their initial operational plan,they will work with it in the interim.

“We feel very strongly that if we had received what we asked for, it would have made our work very easier and enabled us serve our customers much better. But these notwithstanding, the PURC is just not considering our position by rather considering all factors that come into play in the generation and distribution of electricity and they feel that some reduction between 10 and 30 percent is what we should get now and hence they have approved that, we will work with it and see how it will go,” he stated.

He was however hopeful that the decision to maintain the energy service charges for the utility companies should cushion them for some time.

The energy service comprises charges that are imposed to facilitate the response time, resolution of complaints, among others.

“The energy production charges I want to believe comprises what goes into the production, transmission and distribution and those components the PURC considers that something could be done and that have been effected.”

PURC justifies reduction in tariffs

The Executive Secretary of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), Maame Dufie Ofori,justified the basis for the reduction.

Speaking on Eyewitness News, Madam Dufie Ofori attributed the decision to a decline in the key components that form the basis for the tariffs.

“Gas price has come down; at the time they were asking for proposals, the hydro allocation was only 60 percent. Now it is 65 percent which means it is a cheaper source of generation. Because of the renegotiated power purchase agreement, their capacity charges have gone down ranging between 20 to 25 percent and also their losses too have been reviewed,” she stated.

By: Pius Amihere Eduku/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana

Tema Port Expansion project reaches key milestone

On Thursday, the first concrete element was moved from land into sea marking a new phase of the Tema Port Expansion project delivered by Meridian Port Services.

This achievement is significant as it shows the project is on time for building the first 700 meters of quay wall ensuring the new port facility can be operational by June 2019.

At that point, Ghana will have significantly upgraded its container handling facility attracting bigger vessels from the shipping lines.

MPS CEO, Mohamed Samara, explained that over time he expects that the vessels calling Tema will move from a vessel size of 4000-5000 TEU to around 14,000 TEU.

He emphasized that bigger vessel size means lower cost for trade enabling Ghana’s competitiveness globally and it will ultimately drive growth and employment.

Adding to this Port Project Director Jesper Kjaerulf-Moeller explained, “including phase 2 we will build 1,400 meters of quay which will enable several big vessels to berth simultaneously giving Tema the capacity to both serve Ghana and become a transhipment hub for West Africa”.

The concrete elements used for building the quay wall are called Caissons and Head of Construction Finlo Paish shared some interesting facts: ‘Each caisson weighs 2,600 tons and is roughly 20 by 20 meters in size’.

He continued: ‘Together with our Marine contractor we have worked tirelessly to reach this milestone and I am very pleased with our progress to date’.

 

Source: myjoyonline

Ghana Trade Fair Company set to build capacity of entrepreneurs

To relive the successes and hay days of trade fairs, Ghana Trade Fair Company has created avenues to educate, inspire and promote doing business in Ghana.

One of such opportunities is ‘The Pitch’, a day’s training event for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs.

The Pitch, in line with the theme for this year’s fair, “Industrialising Ghana: Creating Jobs”, offers opportunities to learn from the failures and successes of established and proudly Ghanaian entrepreneurs.

Commenting on the event, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Trade Fair Company, Dr Agnes Adu said, “in the past, companies like Kasapreko, Chrisaach, EPP, and others got exposure from exhibiting at different editions of Ghana International Trade Fair. We are bringing that and more back.”

She said that industrialisation is a major factor, which will grow the economy and make Ghana the economic hub of West Africa. “We want Ghanaians to know that companies and individuals can indeed succeed and their businesses thrive in Ghana.”

“Experience they say is the best teacher. By following the footsteps of successful entrepreneurs, start-ups will walk an easier path. Topics to be discussed include necessity, desperation or passion: Why are you an entrepreneur; Transition from employee to employer; communicating your business ideas; When to start a business; Raising capital and financing your business.”

The CEO of Ghana Trade Fair Company added the initiative will encourage the participation of locals in creating businesses all over Ghana in support of the government’s one district: one factory policy.

The Pitch comes off on Monday, March 5, 2017, at the conference hall of Ghana International Trade Fair.

Admission is free and open to the general public.

 

Source: myjoyonline

World Bank commends Ghana’s ‘positive’ economic growth

The World Bank has hailed Ghana’s economic growth for 2017, describing it as “positive”.

The World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, Mr Henry Kerali,  has said the country’s impressive growth was due to good microeconomic policy management and economic stabilisation as well as improvement in physical balances.

He made the comments at a recent stakeholder forum organised by the American Chamber of Commerce, Ghana on the topic “Ghana’s Economy Moving from Stabilization to Growth”.

Mr Kerali said Ghana’s inflation rate was close to the central bank’s target of 8 percent and that average lending rate has also come down.

He said although Ghana recorded one of its biggest drops in the latest World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report – from 108 in 2017 to 120 in 2018 – it still did better than other giants in the West Africa sub-region.

Despite the drop, Ghana still took the top spot as the best place for doing business in sub-region, beating Ivory Coast, Senegal, The Gambia, and the biggest economy, Nigeria.

The World Bank Business Report provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies and selected cities at the sub-national and regional level.

It assesses the countries based on 11 indicators such as starting a business, access to a credit facility, registering a property, access to electricity, paying taxes, protecting minority investors, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.

Chairman of Ismael Yamson and Associates, Dr Ishmael Yamson, who also spoke at the forum said the government must not only focus on “Ghana beyond Aid” but also “Ghana beyond Debt” since the country’s debt keeps increasing.

He said there was the need to create avenues to generate money for the country for developmental projects.

He expressed concern about the way corruption had been institutionalised and called on institutions to be proactive and address the menace.

Ms Ayesha Bedwei, Tax Partner at PWC Ghana, said the country is faced with a general problem of indiscipline – tax evasion, corruption and lawlessness – in a way that stifles development.

She called on authorities to sanction individuals who flout the laws to serve as a deterrent to potential offenders.

 

Source: GNA

Ex-pump prices ‘not abnormal’– Hosi downplays COPEC, ICU protest

he CEO of Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors says prices of petroleum products have not gone up inconsistently with global figures to warrant concern or criticisms against the government.

Reiterating the position of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Senyo Hosi said the current ex-pump price of petroleum products appropriately fits into the dictates of external factors that determine the pricing of the commodity.

“Crude prices are about 24% above what it was one year ago. Diesel international prices are about 27% up, pump prices are 13% up…it is not abnormal. It’s actually a function of the entire international situation,” he said Tuesday evening on PM Express, a current affairs programme on the Joy News channel on Multi TV.

His comments follow a planned protest march on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) and Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU).

Senyo Hosi

– Senyo Hosi

Executive Director of COPEC, Duncan Amoah, who was also on the current affairs programme, said the current administration must move to mitigate the burden of the increasing prices of fuel.

COPEC and the ICU have said the last five months have seen a persistent increase in the prices of petroleum products with corresponding hardships.

“The increases always take us by surprise. By the time we realise the prices are already up but we cannot increase our fares. When we complain, the government will say we should hold on,” a member of the ICU told Joy News.

Meanwhile, the National Petroleum Authority, the sector regulator, has urged the two organisations to seek clarity about the situation to “ensure that the public is not misled by those who are motivated by reasons other than those of national interest.”

NPA said in a release Tuesday evening that since February 1, 2018, the Price Stability and Recovery Levy (PSRL) on petrol (GHp12/Lt) and diesel (GHp10/Lt) have been completely neutralised to reduce the impact of rising prices on the international market on Ghanaian consumers.

“This means that government has forfeited the revenue it would have collected on these products for the period 1st – 15th February 2018 in order to cushion consumers,” the NPA said.

But when the protest begins on Wednesday, COPEC and ICU will be hoping to get the government to do even more about fuel price hikes.

President-listen-copec

– Duncan Amoah raises one of the signs that will be paraded during the protest march today during

Bigger picture

Senyo Hosi has urged the government to look at the bigger picture and fashion out a more sustainable solution to the perennial agitations against fuel price increases.

He suggests investments in mass public transport system to cushion Ghanaians from the economic hardships that come with ex-pump price increases of petroleum products.

“We are here primarily because we allowed politicians to deceive us. We also acted in ways that encouraged them to do so. We have subsidised this economy and this sector by 2.5 to 3 billion dollars since 2011 and for me as an economic policy analyst, it’s ridiculous. That was money we should have spent transforming our mass transportation sector,” he said.

He envisages that the dynamics will change once government invests significantly in mass transportation infrastructure.

Watch more from the discussion in the video below.

Use Lithium to develop Volta Region – PIAC urges gov’t

Vice Chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Mr Kwame Jantuah, has urged the government to use the newly discovered mineral, Lithium, to develop the Volta Region.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a training workshop organised by the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) and GIZ in Koforidua recently, he called on the government to ensure the new mineral was not exported in its raw state so the country could derive the maximum benefit from the resource.

“We shouldn’t take out and export. Any company that wants to come and mine, [the company should] open a small processing company in the area so that we create more jobs, build capacity and we make sure that the people in the community would benefit” he suggested.

According to Mr Jantuah, many areas in the Volta Region are covered by water, rendering the region relatively poor in terms of economic viability and high in unemployment.

Kwame Jantuah

– Kwame Jantuah

He said the discovery of Lithium should be actively channelled into creating jobs and making the economy of the area better.

The PIAC Vice Chair further urged the government to put in place a comprehensive plan to extract the resource and not to repeat the mistakes made in the extraction of gold, bauxite, diamond and oil.

“With the discovery of lithium, we shouldn’t do it the way we have done our gold, our diamond and other minerals. If it has to stay in the ground till we develop the capacity of the people in the area so that they too can get jobs out of it, it would be best,” Mr Jantuah said.

Ghana announced the discovery of Lithium in commercial quantities in the Volta Region in January this year.

Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, Mr Kwaku Addai Antwi-Boasiako, disclosed the mineral was identified during a nationwide exploration exercise.

“The mining activities will start but we want to attract investments into the Volta Region. That is where we have the Lithium and all these rare minerals. These are the minerals of the future. Lithium is about green energy and renewable energy.

“So if you have Lithium and all these rare minerals in the Volta Region, you will want to expand the base of mineral production. The presence of these minerals is as important as having the money to mine them… for now, we know we have it,” he had said.

Mr Antwi-Boasiako assured Ghanaians the Minerals Commission will follow due process in issuing licenses to companies to mine the mineral, emphasizing it will consider electronic applications from interested investors to avoid issues of corruption.

Lithium, among the top 10 most expensive minerals in the world can be used for the manufacture of batteries, heat-resistant glass, and ceramics while Lithium stearate is mixed with oils to make all-purpose and high-temperature lubricants.

Lithium hydroxide is used to absorb carbon dioxide in space vehicles and it is alloyed with aluminium, copper, manganese, and cadmium to make high-performance alloys for aircraft.

Lithium metal has the highest specific heat of any solid element and it is sometimes used as battery anode material electrochemical potential).

Lithium-based compounds such as lithium carbonate are used as drugs to treat manic-depressive disorders.

 

Source: myjoyonline

Gov’t moves in to stop under-valued gold exports

The issue of undervalued revenue generated from Ghana’s export of gold continues to be a challenge to the mining industry.

Government has announced some measures to block the leakages in the revenue generated from the export of gold.

Citi Business News has been speaking to some industry players to seek their perspectives on the effectiveness of the interventions in raking in the required revenue from gold exports.

It suggests that the government will among other things have to strengthen the institutions mandated to check the revenue streams to track down on possible instances of under declaration.

Gov’t admits under-declared gold export revenue

The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia at this year’s edition of the annual New Year school at the University of Ghana, lamented the loss of revenue through undervalued gold exports.

He assured that government will take steps to address the situation.

“What we are going to demand is a transparent account for all our natural resources that we are exporting; for the most part we are just told that we are exporting this amount of gold, how sure are we that that is the exact amount of gold that is being exported, we are going to insist on a transparent accounting for our natural resources.”

Dr Bawumia has also said that government is working on a law that will give some state agencies the power to check and inspect the total production of gold before it leaves the country.

His comments followed the disclosure of about 5 billion dollars worth of gold unaccounted for in the export of the commodity from Ghana to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Gold exporters demand more from regulators

However in a bid to proffer some solutions, the Treasurer of the Association of Gold Exporters, Dr. Abu Grant has called on the Minerals Commission to take steps to prevent recalcitrant Gold exporters from exploiting the Commission’s systems.

“The Minerals Commission needs to be steadfast and make sure the systems they’ve put in place are not abused. Everything that has to be done to prevent gold revenue losses has already been done. Every licensed gold exporter has at least two to three weeks to repatriate the proceeds after exporting gold. If you flout the repatriation rules and you want to export, you should face some difficulty”.

He, however, blames the previous board of Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) for its role in the loss of revenue from Gold exports in recent times.

“We know that through the PMMC, a lot of people have exported gold without repatriating back the proceeds. A lot of Indians back then were exporting a lot of gold through the PMMC without returning the proceeds. I definitely blame the previous management of PMMC. They created all the loopholes that people are taking advantage of,” he asserted.

Following the development, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu  is not happy with the trend in the industry.

Like the Vice President, he says government will soon roll out an audit for all mining companies to ensure that the companies declare the accurate revenue.

“As a government, we have been short changed for a long time within the history of a country that is involved in mining; what the ministry in collaboration with government agencies seeks to do now is to introduce what we call an operational audit of mining firms and this is going to be across all mining companies that are going to work in this country”.

Mines Chamber declare support for probe

Director of External Affairs and Communications at the Ghana Chamber of Mines Ahmed Nantogmah has stated that  mining companies will support the intention of the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry to roll out the audit.

“Definitely I’m sure they will have modalities as to how they will have it done and when they will have it done and definitely as mining companies, I don’t think anybody will say no so we will wait for the Minister to send us the modalities and then we will take it from there.”

By: Anita Arthur/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana

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