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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Government Must Stop Cheating Ghanaians


The National Women’s Organizer of the New Patriotic Party Otiko Afisah Djaba has said the failure by government to make good use of the revenue it receives from Ghanaians through taxes is upsetting and that government “must stop cheating Ghanaians”.
Speaking on Adom FM's morning show Dwaso  Nsem she said the people of Ghana deserve to have value for their money and deserve to live good and comfortable lives.
From Monday July 14 petroleum products will be sold a little over 20 percent higher than the current prices, according to figures from the National Petroleum Authority (NPA).
The price of petrol is said to go up by some 23.08 percent. This means a litre of the commodity which previously sold at GH 2.73 per litre will now sell at GH 3.36 per litre.
Also kerosene and diesel will go up by 23.75 and 22.01 percent respectively whereas Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) will increase by 15.68 percent with Premix fuel going up by 25.60 percent.
This will be the third time the NPA has increased fuel prices this year.
The Public Relations Officer of the NPA Yaro Kasambata speaking on Joy FM's Super Morning Show said the increments are due to government’s removal of subsidies on these commodities, therefore the consumer will have to pay more.
However the National Women’s Organizer has said there is no basis for the current increment because fuel prices on the global market have not increased.
She said the government should rather solve the current depreciation of the cedi which in her view is the only way the economy can be stabilized.
She went on to say it was necessary for the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) to be revamped in order that it is able to refine oil for the people of the country adding that the people of Ghana are looking for hope and is looking up to the government for solutions to the hardship they are plagued with daily.
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The Economic Crisis Of The Country

Parliament

absolutely unbelievable the level at which the deepening economic crisis of the country continues to affect every facet of state institutions without any immediate recourse. Recently it was the third arm of government, the judiciary which was hit so badly by the financial woes of the country to the extent that the Appeal courts in Cape Coast and Kumasi were shut down.
The situation was such bad that the Ghana Bar Association issued a press statement over the inability of the judiciary to run effectively due to financial challenges because government has not released their annual subvention.
Now it is the turn of the Second arm of government, the Legislature, who is broke to the extent that the lawmakers may be forced to go on recess come Friday, 18th July. Interestingly, it was the same financial problem that compelled parliament to postpone their reopening thrice last month.
I vividly remember that they went on recess on the 28th of March 2014, and were expected to reconvene on the 27th of May but the Speaker failed to reconvene the house to government business due to financial constraints.
The Speaker however rescheduled the sitting date to 3rd of June but just a day before the sitting, the Public Affairs directorate of parliament issued a statement that the date has been changed to 10thJune instead.
The Head of Government business and the leader of the house Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor in presenting the business statement for this week shockingly hinted that the house may rise ‘’sine die’’ come Friday. Members of Parliament were taken aback by the announcement because although they knew they will go on recess but not so early.
Chiefly among the reasons given by the Majority Leader was that the contractor to embark on the renovation of the chamber is ready and the house must go on recess to enable the contractor begin the work and complete it on time.
But source close to the seat of the leadership of the house told me there is pressure on them to go on recess because there is no money and their continuous stay in the house is draining government coffers.
I remember very well that the Deputy Minority Leader and MP for Bimbila Dominic Nitiwul in an interview with Adom news a day before the house resumed from break said parliament is saddled with huge debt to service providers such as Travel and Tour Operators, suppliers of A 4 sheet papers, various Parliamentary Committees and MP‘s in terms of fuel and per diems.
According to him, even the money secured by leadership to enable the house sits was  such small that it can only take care of parliamentary business for less than a month but they have no choice because they have to work for the people of Ghana who have put them there.
He explained that if parliament was actually looking for money to service their huge debt to suppliers, the house wouldn’t have reconvened. He hinted that the house may be force to go on early recess if additional money did not come to argument what they have.
The announcement made by the Majority Leader Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor Last Friday, confirms exactly what the Deputy Minority Leader Dominic Nitiwul said that financial constraints may compel them to go on early recess

Monday, July 7, 2014

130 million fake ‘Be Safe condoms’ into the country.

Hanny Sherry Ayittey
Ghanaian company allegedly involved in the importation of some 130 million fake ‘Be Safe condoms’ into the country.
The ‘Be Safe Condoms’ were confirmed to be fake or substandard after an investigation.
According to an unimpeachable source at the Ghana Health Service (GHS), there a total of four (4) companies responded to the original tender request in June 2011. The companies were Pharmadrug Production GmbH; Beautiful Creations Company Limited; Vicdoris Pharmacy Limited and Global Unilink Ventures.
Preliminary tender evaluation results from the GHS disqualified Beautiful Creations (for providing insurance from a non bank financial institution) and Vicdoris Pharmacy was also disqualified (for providing an expired tax clearance certificate).
The other two companies, namely Global UniLink Ventures and Pharmadrug Production bid for the male and female condoms respectively, making them the defacto sole sourced winners of the bid in each category.
The Daily Express has gathered that the tender should have been reopened, but that was not done. Instead, the GHS went ahead to award the bid to the companies by calling them the ‘lowest bidders’ for male and female condoms.
The US$4 million contract award to Global UniLink Ventures to supply the male condoms was later increased by 35% and a 28% reduction on the quantity of the supply.
It has been discovered however that the condoms delivered to Ghana were supplied by Harley’s of Kenya who initially were claimed by Global UniLink Ventures to be the manufacturers. But much later in the year, Global UniLink Ventures admitted that the condoms were manufactured in China and not in Kenya as earlier claimed.
The Daily Express checks at the Chinese Embassy in Accra indicates that the Chinese manufacturer contacted by Harley’s in Kenya was only able to export 25 million pieces the condoms to Ghana, amounting to only 17% of the total order.
There is no information about where the rest of the condoms were gotten  from The committee, set up by the Minister ofHeath,Madam Sherry Ayittey to investigate the importation of the 130 million pieces of fake condoms for the Ghana Health Service (GHS) found that there was a serious rift between the procurement units of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and GHS over who should do the procurement. It was also a question of who the real GHS procurement manager is for the purposes of pharmaceutical procurement.
It was revealed that the GHS awarded tenders to importers who were not registered with the Food Drug Authority (FDA).
“When goods arrived at the ports they (GHS authority) mysteriously get cleared from the ports without the full knowledge of FDA,” the committee report revealed.
Meanwhile, the sector Minister has disclosed that the supplier, Global UniLink Ventures will be asked by the government to refund at least US$5 million to the state.
The Minister said government will not accept replacement of the condoms. “The company must refund the money to the state,” she affirmed.
“The Ministry of Health will seek for a full return of funds from the supplier of the sub-standard condoms and the supplier will bear full responsibility for the proper disposal of the sub-standard condoms,” said the Minister.
The committee was inaugurated on the 14th of May 2013 by the Minister to investigate the procurement processes leading to the award of contract for the condom; find out whether the manufacturer registered with the Food and Drugs Authority prior to the supply of the condoms; find out whether the necessary rules were adhered to at the entry point at the harbour before delivery of the condoms at the Central Medical Stores; investigate whether quality assurance measures were put  in place before and after the distribution of the condoms; any other issues pertinent to the investigation; and make recommendations to the Ministry to avoid future recurrence.
The Committee was tasked to finish its work within one month; however the Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Alex Dodoo said they asked for extension and it took them seven (7) months to complete their task due to the complex nature of the whole process.
The money spent on the importation of the 130 million pieces of condoms belonged to the Global Fund and was meant to be used in the fight against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in the country.
According to the Minister, “if we have to go to the international court to get our money we will do so.”
After receiving the committee’s report, Madam Aryittey enlisted the advice and assistance of the Attorney General’s Department to prosecute all those who were part of the whole condom procurement transaction.
“For the criminality of the report we will rely on the Attorney General to advice us on those who need to be criminally prosecuted and I think that we will stand by the recommendations of the committee,” she added.
During its investigation, the Committee considered all issues relating to the procurement of the condoms and identified lapses in the overall supply chain process.
The Committee found that the procurement and supply chain system is associated with serious challenges. The existence of separate procurement units at the health sector was also an issue of concern to the committee.
“The lack of implementation of policy and institutional review of the procurement and supply chain system has contributed to several loopholes. The lack of adherence to both the letter and the spirit of the Public Procurement Act resulted in a situation where a presumed international competitive tender essentially ended up being a sole-sourced tender,” said the committee.
It stated that the Food and Drugs Authority appeared to impose a weaker regulatory regime on the public sector leading to cases where unregistered products are procured and imported, adding that the clearance of goods at the ports of entry and the receipt, storage and distribution of goods by the Central Medical Stores were associated with serious anomalies and inconsistencies.