Press focuses on new 1.033m tonnes cocoa production record, others

The new cocoa production record of 1.033 million tonnes of beans for the 2020/2021 season and the plans by the…

The new cocoa production record of 1.033 million tonnes of beans for the 2020/2021 season and the plans by the Finance Ministry to begin making various payments to support the implementation of the District and Regional Hospital Projects, Agenda 111 are some of the trending stories in the Ghanaian press on Friday.The Graphic reports that Ghana has set a new cocoa production record with 1.033 million tonnes of beans for the 2020/2021 season.

This comes six weeks before the 2020/2021 cocoa season gets to a close, which means that the figure can still go up before the harvest period ends.

The previous record was 1.024 million tonnes which was recorded in the 2010/2011 season.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, announced this at a press conference in Accra yesterday.

Aside from announcing the new production figures, the press conference was also to introduce new electric weighing scales which have been procured by COCOBOD for the Licence Cocoa Buying Companies (LBCs).

He commended the hardworking cocoa farmers for the feat and said the achievement was also as a result of the support of the government and the determination of the management and staff of COCOBOD.

“Thanks to all stakeholders in the industry, we have been able to achieve this,” he stated.

The newspaper says that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning says it expects to begin making various payments from the GH¢600 million released in 2020 to the Health Infrastructure Account at Bank of Ghana to support the implementation of the District and Regional Hospital Projects, Agenda 111.

A statement issued by the Ministry on Thursday said that claims by the Minority in Parliament that some GH¢636 million had been spent on Agenda 111 even before the sod was cut on Tuesday, August 17, for the project was only speculation, explaining that only GH¢36 million has been released.

“As stated in paragraph 400 of the Mid-Year Review Statement, the project is expected to be implemented in two phases;

•        Phase 1: Pre-Contract Works; and

•        Phase 2: Construction and Execution of projects.

“In 2020, GH0 600 million was released to the Health Infrastructure Account at Bank of Ghana (BoG) to support the implementation of the District and Regional Hospital Projects. This is the equivalent of the 100m US Dollars as announced by Government and will be disbursed to contractors in accordance with the project work plan.

“The said amount had been released into the project account at the BoG but not utilized yet. Project commencement has just begun. So far, only GH£36 million has been released as part of pre-construction mobilization.

“Following the commencement of actual project execution as evident in the sod cutting ceremony of 17th August 2021, we expect to drawdown various amounts from the account which would be managed by the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund (GIIF),” the statement said.

The Graphic also reports that the Trades Union Congress (TUC) is calling for a review of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS), saying it has not served its purpose.

The TUC explained that the SSSS was introduced with clear objectives, one of which was to eventually lead to enhanced pay for people in the public sector.

Speaking at an Economic Forum on the 2021 mid-year budget, which was organised by the TUC, the Director of the Labour Policy and Research Institute of the TUC, Dr Kwabena Nyarko Otoo, said the SSSS was also meant to address some of the inequities in the public sector salary structure and ultimately reduce bargaining centres within the public sector, but noted that all of those objectives had not materialised.

“Pay in the public sector is still very low, pay inequities are still very wide and there is an energetic attempt by some public sector entities to exit the SSSS, with some having already exited, bringing us back to the previous situation when there were multiple bargaining sectors within the public sector,” he said.

The TUC’s Director of Research said if university teachers, for instance, got the $2,000 base pay they were asking for, it would mean that everybody at their level must have that, which might be difficult to do, for which reason the obvious way out was to exit the SSSS.

He also noted that while the SSSS had the objective of bringing all public service entities to one bargaining centre, some of the entities had separate laws that incorporated them, which also defined different routes for determining their salaries.

He said some of them even wrote to the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) that the law said their wages should be determined by their governing boards, not the FWSC.

The Times says that President Akufo-Addo on Thursday presented letters of credence to 13 more envoys to represent the country’s abroad.

They included Dr Winfred Nii Okai Hammond, Ambassador to China, Adagbila Boniface Gambila, Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Nyasembi James Komla, Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Perpetual Joyce Naana Dontoh, Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, Samuel Jojo Effah-Broni, Ambassador to Morocco, Angelina Baiden-Amissah, Ambassador to Holy See, and Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Abdulai, Ambassador to Kuwait.

The remaining are Kwabena Osei-Danquah, Ambassador-at-Large, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, High Commissioner to India, Alhaji Rashid Bawa, High Commissioner to Nigeria, Anselm Ransford Sowah, High Commissioner to Canada, Akua Afriyie, Deputy Ambassador to China and Rita Tani Iddi, Deputy High Commissioner to United Kingdom (UK).

Addressing the new envoys at the Jubilee House Thursday, President Akufo-Addo, charged them to make development of the Ghanaian economy their top priority in all their engagements with the outside world during their tour of duty.

The President added that the new Envoys must do all within their power to promote the image and reputation of Ghana which he said is currently high among the comity of nations.

In view of the fact that Ghana is as the President put it “on very good terms” with all the countries to which the envoys are being posted, with bi-lateral relations that span several decades and strong ties of cooperation, he gave them a charge “your role is to deepen this further as well as explore new areas of cooperation which will inure to the mutual benefit of our respective populations.”

On his part, Ghana’s Ambassador designate to China, Dr Winfred Nii Okai Hammond who spoke on behalf of his colleagues thanked the President for the opportunity.

He appreciated the enormity of the task placed on their shoulders and affirm their firm commitment to achieving the vision of the President.

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