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Press focuses on Finance Minister’s mid-year budget review in Parliament, others

The mid-year budget review of the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta in Parliament where he expressed gratitude to the Organised…

The mid-year budget review of the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta in Parliament where he expressed gratitude to the Organised Labour and Employers for their roles in concluding wage negotiation with government in May is one of the leading stories in the Ghanaian press on Friday.The Graphic reports that the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta has expressed gratitude to Organised Labour and Employers for what he says was their role in concluding wage negotiation with Government in May.

He says the “negotiations were marked by a shared understanding of the state of the economy, that we cannot share what we do not have; a collective will to improve productivity, raise more revenue and ensure decent wages in the years to come.”

According to the Minister of Finance, Ghana took innovative, decisive and bold actions to tackle the Covid-19 crisis, which interventions he says stabilised the situation, protected lives, supported businesses and preserved jobs which would otherwise have been lost.

Appearing before Parliament on Thursday to present the mid-year budget review, he said although the workload from the public sector had to be reduced in many cases, Government never embarked on any programme of laying off workers all through the COVID crisis but “continued to pay all workers and even proceeded to employ more in some critical areas such as Security and Health services.”

The Finance Minister said the hardships that the “COVID-19 pandemic visited on people’s lives, the stress on parents, the frustrations of young people, the negative impact on businesses, for both employers and employees, the worsening of the unemployment situation, the effect on the public debt and the stress on revenue mobilization, was unprecedented as no country in the world had prepared for the crisis that unfolded.

“That is why, a year ago, on Thursday, 23rd July, 2020, I came before this House to present what I called an extraordinary Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the 2020 Budget Statement and Economic Policy, and secured more funds to provide an immediate and appropriate response to the severe economic impact of the pandemic.”

The newspaper says that COVID-19 National Trust Fund that was set up under Act 1013 to receive and manage contributions and donations from well-meaning individuals, groups and corporate bodies has so far received a total of  GHȼ57.15 million in cash donations.

These donations were made between the period April 2020 and March 2021.

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori Atta, who disclosed this during the presentation of this year’s mid-year-budget in Parliament on Thursday, July 29, 2021, said “As at 30th June 2021, the Fund had disbursed an amount of GH¢52,501,540.44, for various programmes as well as procurement of items.”

The Graphic also reports that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, has said the NPA will not hesitate to revoke the licences of industry players who continually flout the rules.

Dr Abdul-Hamid said this at a meeting with board members of the Association of Oil Marketing Companies (AOMCs) at GIMPA last Monday.

The meeting was part of his stakeholder engagements meant to open channels of dialogue for the smooth operation of the industry.

“We shall not hesitate to revoke the licences of industry players who continually flout the rules.

“Over the years, the NPA has been too lenient with people who flout the rules, and this has given opportunity to many people to flout these rules with impunity,” he said. “We cannot all be in a conspiracy to run down our country and yet turn around and blame the government for what goes wrong,” he added.

Dr Abdul-Hamid said illegal bunkering, third-party supplies and failure to pay taxes and levies due the government were all gross violations of the law and henceforth, those found culpable would face the full sanctions as permitted by law.

He said it was in their own interest that the market was regulated properly, “otherwise when the industry collapses, your businesses will collapse with it”.

The CEO, whilst seeking the support of AOMCs in order to sanitise the industry, assured them the authority would itself play by the rules and ensure an even playing field. “The lawyers tell us that they who seek equity must come with clean hands,” Dr Abdul-Hamid stated.

The Times says that about 1,900 Ghanaian migrants have been supported to voluntarily return home since 2017 under a Joint Initiative (JI) between the European Union (EU) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Majority of the returnees came back from Libya, followed by Niger and Algeria while 800 of them have so far received reintegration assistance, including economic, social and psychosocial support to sustain their stay.

This was revealed by the Project Manager, Pooja Bhalla, at an event held in Accra on Wednesday to mark the four-year achievement of the intervention dubbed “EU-IOM JI for Migration Protection and Reintegration in Ghana.”

Funded by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the initiative is part of a regional programme covering 26 African countries with the aim to improve protection, facilitate voluntary return, provide sustainable reintegration and contribute to strengthening migration governance.

The event brought together representatives of key state and non-state organisatrios who have been supporting the initiative.

Ms Bhalla said the economic support given the returnees, involved microbusiness including auto mechanic shops, retail trading in secondhand clothes, groceries, welding and fabrication, which were done either individually or in groups, as well as training opportunities.

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