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Press highlights BoG, German currency technology platform partnership deal, others

The partnership agreement between the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the German currency technology platform, Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) to pilot a…

The partnership agreement between the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the German currency technology platform, Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) to pilot a general-purpose Central Bank Digital Currency is one of the trending stories in the Ghanaian press on Thursday.The Graphic reports that the Bank of Ghana (BoG) has announced a partnership agreement with the German currency technology platform, Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) to pilot a general-purpose Central Bank Digital Currency (retail CBDC).

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the two parties said G+D is providing the technology and developing the solution adapted to Ghana’s requirements, which will be tested in a trial phase with banks, payment service providers, merchants, consumers and other relevant stakeholders.

G+D will provide its proprietary CBDC solution known as Filia to pilot the issuance of a digital form of Ghana’s national currency, the cedi.

The project is part of the ‘Digital Ghana Agenda’, which involves the digitization of the country of 30 million people and its government services. The project will be divided into three phases: design, implementation and pilot.

The digital Cedi, or ‘e-Cedi’, is intended to complement and serve as a digital alternative to physical cash, thus driving the Ghanaian cash lite agenda through the promotion of diverse digital payments, while ensuring a secure and robust payment infrastructure in Ghana. It also aims to facilitate payments without a bank account, contract, or smartphone, by so doing boosting the use of digital services and financial inclusion amongst all demographic groups.

The newspaper says that the government is investing in the maritime sector to tackle the increasing spate of piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, the Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Mr Thomas Kofi Alonsi, has said.

The authority, he said, had embarked on some interventions, including the introduction of new legislations, to deal with the menace.

The Gulf of Guinea continues to be a global epicentre for piracy, according to the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest global piracy report.

The first quarter of 2021, according to the IMB Piracy Reporting Center (PRC), witnessed 38 piracy incidents reported on 33 vessels as well as the kidnapping of 40 crew members within the stated period.

At a Meet the Press event in Accra yesterday, Mr Alonsi said apart from the authority’s own activities, there was an ongoing inter-regional effort by all West African coastal states through the ECOWAS Maritime Security Architecture to minimise the incidents within the Gulf of Guinea.

“The authority, together with other coastal states, has to find ways and means of curtailing the incidence of piracy within our territorial waters,” the GMA Director-General said.

The Graphic also reports that the United Nations human rights experts have urged the government to reject a proposed ‘family values’ bill, saying it seeks to establish a system of state-sponsored discrimination and violence against the LGBTI community in the country.

The first reading of the bill took place on August 2, 2021, and its consideration is expected to resume in October 2021.

“The draft legislation argues that any person who deviates from an arbitrary standard of sexual orientation or gender identity is immediately to be considered dangerous, sick or anti-social,” said the experts in a statement. “Such laws are a textbook example of discrimination.

“The proposed law promotes deeply harmful practices that amount to ill-treatment and are conducive to torture, such as so-called ‘conversion therapy’ and other heinous violations like unecessary medical procedures on intersex children, and so-called corrective rape for women,” they added.

The independent experts, appointed by the Human Rights Council, presented an analysis of the draft bill to the Ghanaian Government, concluding that adopting the legislation in its current or any partial form would be tantamount to a violation of a number of human rights standards, including the absolute prohibition of torture.

“For example, attempts to prevent human rights defenders from organising themselves to defend LGBTI people, and the absolute prohibition of public debate on sexual orientation and gender identity, raises grave concerns about rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and of association,” the statement said.

The Times says that the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on the government to suspend the deregulation policy under which market forces determine the price of fuel in the country.

According to the TUC, the government suspended the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which enjoins it not to create a deficit of more than five percent in any fiscal year, to be able to spend more to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the economy, it is equally important for the government to suspend the deregulation policy, to help reduce the price of fuel to mitigate the growing hardship on workers.

The Director of the Labour Research and Policy Institute (LRPI) of the TUC, Dr Kwabena Nyarko Otoo, disclosed this in an interview after a forum on the 2021 Mid-Year Budget, and said in this difficult time of COVID-19, it would be appropriate for the government to suspend the deregulation policy to help mitigate the cost of fuel.

The programme organised by the TUC for its leadership to dilate on the 2021 Mid-Year Budget Review, was sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a German thing tank and development organisation.

The rising cost of fuel, Dr Nyarko said was bringing untold hardship to workers and worsening their already poor living conditions.

Dr Otoo, who gave a presentation on the 2021 Mid-Year Budget Review, observed that any little adjustment in the price of fuel affected the general price level of goods and services.

The Director of LRPI of TUC further called for a review of the Single Spine Pay Policy as it had failed to address inequities in the pay structure of public sector workers and low salaries paid to workers.

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