By Frank Amponsah
President Akufo-Addo said Government will come back to Parliament and engage members on the steps it anticipates to take on the future of the Agyapa transaction.
Delivering his State of the Nation (SONA) yesterday, the President said disclosed that the controversial deal that failed to see the light of day in the 7th Parliament would be resurrected in the 8th Parliament.
It would be recall that the Agyapa Royalties deal generated so much storm from several quarters because of the allegation without proof, of conflict of interest, amongst others.
Some 15 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) under the umbrella; Alliance of CSOs working on Extractive, Anti-Corruption and Good Governance also demanded the immediate suspension of the implementation of the controversial Agyapa Royalties Limited established by government though the Minerals Income Investment Fund.
Former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu’s Corruption Risk Assessment on the Agyapa deal also raised red flags over the deal, describing the deal as fraught with corruption.
In November 2020, the President directed then Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to send the deal back to Parliament after the Assessment.
Office of the Special Prosecutor
The Special Prosecutor in a statement issued Monday morning [November 2, 2020] announced that he had completed the Corruption Risk Assessment about two weeks ago and submitted his report to the presidency.
The President also disclosed that his government has begun absorbing registration fees for candidates writing the West Africa Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) in public schools across the country.
According to the President, the absorption of WASSCE registration fees forms part of several interventions by his government at the Senior High School level.
He further disclosed that the Minister for education will soon “detail an action plan for the implementation of the National Teacher Policy.”
He added that: “Government has also introduced several interventions at the High School level, some of these are the GHS198 million academic intervention programme dedicated for extra classes for students in SHS.
“Implementation of free internet connectivity for secondary schools, full absorption of BECE registration fee for all for students in public junior high school from 2017 till date, and full absorption of WASSCE registration fees for students, which started last year.”
Meanwhile, the President has also revealed that government through the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) will introduce new measures to curb examination malpractice among examination candidates in the country.
“A key objective of our effort to improve quality education and ensure that our students become globally competitive is to maintain the integrity of our examinations and assessment. In connection with this, government, working through WAEC, will introduce new measures to curb examination leakages and malpractices,” Nana Akufo-Addo stated.
The President said, Ghana cannot afford to pursue interests that will leave the nation and its citizens the poorer for it since COVID-19 has impacted heavily on economic activities, created uncertainty, weakened global growth conditions, whilst putting undue strain on already weak and fragile health systems, particularly in developing countries.
He pointed out that the cost of COVID-19 has been enormous and “Our overall economic growth rate for 2020 was revised downwards from 6.8% to 0.9%….The resultant fiscal deficit for 2020 was, thus, revised from 4.7% of GDP to 11.4% of GDP. This was done to reflect the impact of the pandemic.”
He revealed that there have been the formulation and implementation of the COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, tracing, testing, treatment, waiver of personal income tax and provision of an additional fifty percent (50%) basic salary allowance to healthcare workers, expanding the capacities of laboratories to increase COVID-19 testing, establishment of isolation centres in all regions and districts, fumigation of markets and schools, provision of food packages and hot meals for residents in areas affected by the partial lockdown, provision of free water for all households, provision of free electricity for lifeline consumers and a fifty percent (50%) discount for all other consumers.
According to him, Ghana will be defined by integrity, sovereignty, a common ethos, discipline, and shared values urging all to work with a forward-looking vision, “enabling us to confront our challenges and embrace our opportunities, not one fastened in the rear-view mirror. It is a Ghana beyond aid.”