“Harnessing international skills for national development"
Insurance leader, SIC Insurance Company continued its recent performance, following an appreciable outing last year. The company registered a profit of GH¢5.8 million in 2020, down from the GH¢9.3 million recorded in 2019. This has subsequently impacted positively on its share price though still below its market value. According to its 2020 unaudited financial statement, the insurance giant performance was affected by covid-19 pandemic, largely due to claims from customers which almost doubled to GH¢36 million in 2020, from GH¢18.4 million in 2019. Nonetheless, net premium written went up by 14.5% to GH¢122 million in 2020. At the same time, underwriting loss also inched up by 55% to GH¢9 million. Its shareholder funds however stood at GH¢273.1 million in 2020, compared with GH¢269 million in 2019. Senior Economic Analyst with Databank, Courage Kingsley Martey, is confident the Cedi will sustain its stability against other major currencies throughout the year 2021. The Cedi, which began the year selling at GH¢5.76, has remained strong so far against the US dollar. However, there are concerns that it could come under pressure when the global economy fully recovers from COVID-19 and imports pick up. Speaking at the Pension Strategy Conference organized by AXIS pensions, Mr. Martey noted that his projections about the cedi are based on measures implemented so far by the Bank of Ghana.
The Ghana cedi ended last year with a depreciation rate of 3.93 percent to the US dollar, making it one of the best-performing currencies in Sub Saharan Africa. The impressive performance also makes it the best since 2017 when it depreciated by only 4.88 percent. At the forex bureau, the rate of depreciation was even lower at 2.2 percent. Joy Business learnt the local currency actually appreciated in the final two weeks of December 2020 at the forex bureau, from a depreciation rate of 3.1 percent. Analysts believe that the cedi has benefited from a myriad of factors including the Bank of Ghana ’s Forex Forward Auction and the diversified exports. The government expended GH¢21 billion to clean up the banking sector, the President, Nana Akufo-Addo has announced. Delivering his final ‘State of the Nation’ address to the 7th Parliament , he said “an amount of GH¢21 billion was used to fund the cleaning up exercise. These are painful lessons we all have to imbibe”. The Bank of Ghana embarked on a banking sector clean-up, recapitalization, and other regulatory reforms from mid-2017 to end-December 2018 in line with its mandate to promote the safety, soundness, and stability of the financial system to support economic growth. The management of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has increased monthly pension by 10 per cent for the year 2021. A statement issued and signed by SSNIT indicated that the increment was in accordance with Section 80 of the National Pensions Act 2008 (Act766). This means that current pensioners on SSNIT Pension as of December 2020 will have their pensions increased by a fixed rate of 9.34 percent. An additional flat amount of GH¢6.47 would also be paid per pensioner. Accordingly, pensioners on the current minimum monthly pension of GH¢300.00 will have their pensions increased to GH¢334.49, the statement said. It added that all fresh pensioners from January 2021 will receive a new minimum monthly pension of GH¢300.00. SSNIT is a Statutory Public Trust charged with the administration of the First-Tier Contributory Basic National Social Security Pension Scheme under the National Pensions Act, 2008 Act 766.
The Bank of Ghana has new introduced guidelines for the government securities market, primary dealers and bond market specialists. The purpose of these guidelines is to guide the purchase of government securities in the domestic market to the provisions in the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921). According to the Central Bank, the guidelines shall be used with reference to other directives issued by the Ministry of Finance. Also, securities issued shall be denominated in the local currency-Ghana Cedis (GHS) except when explicitly stated by the Ministry of Finance. Importantly, all payments in respect of subscription and redemption shall be made in the currency of issuance. AngloGold Ashanti said costs and production are on track to meet guidance, and that full-year 2020 free cash flow generation will be the strongest in almost a decade, enabling the miner to double the dividend pay-out ratio. The Company’s guidance was initially withdrawn in March this year due to the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The revised guidance was issued on 21 September 2020, pegging production for the year between 3.03Moz and 3.10Moz, and all-in sustaining costs between $1,060/oz and $1,120/oz. A report released by the Natural Resource and Governance Institute (NRGI) has shown that Ghana has so far accrued an amount of US$5.2 billion in the sale of crude oil. According to NRGI, the money was generated between 2011 to 2020. The NRGI’s report explained the generation came from the sale of 73 cargos of crude oil by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC). The report also noted the sale which was realized in the second quarter of 2020 was made up of 71.1 million barrels with a total value of US$5.2 billion. NRGI's latest report is titled, “Ghana’s Oil Sales: Using Commodity Trading Data for Accountability.”
President Akufo-Addo has officially commissioned New Okaff Industries Limited in the Ashanti Region, an industry operating under Government of Ghana’s One- District-One Factory initiative. New Okaff Industry which has about 200 employees and a production capacity of 5000 litres of AF Confidence per day, will manufacture soaps, sanitizers and detergents. It will as well produce anti-snake repellent, organic fertilizers and agrochemicals to enhance the work of farmers in the country. Commissioning the factory on yesterday, December 3rd, 2020, on day 3 of his 3-day tour of the Ashanti Region, the President stated that the One District One Factory (1D1F) initiative is in fulfilment of a 2016 campaign promise, whose aim is to establish, together with the private sector, at least one industrial enterprise in each of the administrative districts of the country. Ghana is expected to deploy freight drone technology in the coming years to facilitate the timely movement of goods within the country. This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the country’s Aviation Ministry and International Freight Drone (IFD) organisation. IFD is expected to deploy freight drones that are capable of carrying 10-tons of shipping container over 700 kms, and build droneports at various parts of the country. Freight drone technology, when fully developed would help get finished goods and fresh agricultural products from the hinterlands to major towns and cities within minutes.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting that Ghana’s fiscal deficit will reach 16.4 percent of GDP this year, the largest in the country’s history. The record deficit projection comes on the back of the devastating effect of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused a huge shortfall in government’s revenues amidst bigger-than-expected spending in a frantic effort to contain the spread of the virus. The extra expenditure includes the government’s provision of free electricity and water for Ghanaians to cope with the disruption caused by the virus, as well as loans to enterprises. Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, in his mid-year budget presented in July, revised the country’s 2020 fiscal deficit projection from 4.7 percent to 11.4 percent of GDP to accommodate the fiscal impact of the pandemic. The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori Atta, is expected to present to Parliament next week Wednesday, October 28, 2020, an Advanced Budget; covering government spending for the first quarter of 2021. The expected presentation, known as Expenditure in Advance of Appropriation is a standard practice rolled out in election years to prevent transitional challenges in the smooth running of government for the first three months in the year after elections. This was made known by the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu on Friday, October 23, 2020, when he briefed Parliament on its activities in the coming week.
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has disbursed a total of $1.4 million to the first 15 beneficiaries of Grants under the Ghana Tourism Development Project. The scheme, which is being implemented under the Ghana Tourism Development Project of the Ministry, is aimed at supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to develop and improve the various tourist sites and also build capacity within the tourism sector. The team at the Project’s Coordinating Unit, the Grants Management Team, the Grants Committee, in collaboration with the World Bank Task Team has reviewed over 1,400 Expression of Interests (EOIs) since the scheme was launched barely three months ago. These firms, individuals and organisations were then invited to submit their proposals and applicants who met all the necessary requirement were approved to receive support. The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) will next year inject US$200 million into domestic cocoa processing. The money will be given as a loan to augment the working capital of existing local processors that are struggling financially, as well as potential local processors. This amount, which is expected to be used to buy cocoa beans, will add some 50,000 metric tonnes of beans to the country’s local cocoa processing capacity. Currently, COCOBOD has signed an agreement with Cargill to add a new line that will increase its annual processing volumes locally from 60,000 to 90,000 tonnes. President Nana Akufo-Addo in 2017 set the target of local processing to increase from the current 30% to 50% of the nation’s cocoa by the year 2022. The $200 million and the expansion by international processors operating in the country are to facilitate the achievement of the government's target. The Electoral Commission (EC) has processed and cleared 12 presidential aspirants to contest in the 2020 general elections. They are; Alfred Walker; an independent candidate, President Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Christian Andrews; The Ghana Union Movement (GUM), Brigitte Dzogbenuku; People’s Progressive Party (PPP), John Dramani Mahama; National Democratic Congress (NDC). The others include; Akua Donkor; Ghana Freedom Party, Nana Konadu Agyeman- Rawlings; National Democratic Party (NDP), Hassan Ayariga; All People’s Congress, Ivor Kobina Greenstreet; Convention Peoples Congress (CPP), Kofi Akpaloo; Liberal Party of Ghana, David Apasera; People’s National Convention (PNC) and Henry Herbert Lartey; Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP). Out of the total 17 aspirants who submitted their nomination forms to be considered as presidential candidates, the Commission disqualified five of them.
PZ Cussons Ghana Limited has announced that it has been de-listed from the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) effective Monday, October 19, 2020. The offer results and de-listing have been approved by the GSE, a statement said on Friday. “Offer Results out of a total of 2,079 shareholders represented in the register, 410 shareholders tendered a total of 8,830,143 shares valued at GH¢3,973,564.35, representing 53.37% of the total number of shares under the offer,” said the statement. PZ Cussons (Holdings) Limited, the majority shareholder therefore now holds 160,432,149 shares, representing 95.50% of the issued shares of PZ Cussons. The tendered shares have been transferred to the ownership of PZ Cussons (Holdings) Limited by the Registrar, UMB Registrars. The full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement on January 1, 2021, is expected to see a reduction in customs duties within Africa, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, has said. According to him, the implementation of the agreement will also witness a reduction of unwanted trade barriers which will in turn be subsequently removed. Speaking in an interaction with journalists in Accra last week, Wamkele Mene explained the AfCFTA agreement will see traders within Africa experience a much regulated and efficient trade regime backed and administered by law. The World Bank Group President, David Malpass, has said at the 2020 Annual Meetings Plenary that the global economy is expected to partly recover in 2021 from its worst recession since World War II. He suggested that there is a need to redouble efforts to alleviate poverty and inequality. Covid-19 has dealt an unprecedented setback to the global efforts to end extreme poverty, raise median incomes, and create shared prosperity, he noted. “The global economy is expected to partly recover in 2021 from its worst recession since World War II. Although it is growing again, global activity is expected to remain well below its pre-pandemic trend for a prolonged period. Developments thus far point to shallower recessions in advanced economies and a more robust rebound in China than previous estimates.
Parliament has approved US$20 million Financing Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to finance the Emergency Support to Rural Livelihood and Food Systems (ESRF). The ESRF was established as one of government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic with a primary goal to protect the livelihood, incomes, and resilience of target groups from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and from climate change. The terms of the loan are: the total amount of US$20 million made up of a Loan Facility of US$10 million and Blend of US$10 million. The interest rate on loan is zero percent while that on Blend is 1.3 percent, Service charge on Loan is 1.31 percent whereas that on Blend is 1.33 percent. The Moratorium on Loan is 10 years whilst Blend is 5 years. Fitch Ratings has affirmed Ghana’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘B’ with a stable outlook. Fitch said in its latest report that: “Capitalisation and liquidity have improved, but economic headwinds will delay substantial improvement in asset quality. “Non-performing loans/total loans fell to 14% in 2019, from 22% two years prior, but the ratio will remain high as private-sector credit growth slows in 2020. We expect real private-sector credit growth to remain positive in 2020, but in the low single digits.” Fitch Ratings has affirmed Ghana’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘B’ with a Stable Outlook. The prolonged inter utility legacy debt of US$203 million component of the power sector debt within the energy sector accrued by the end of 2016 has been finally set off. The debt, which involved both state owned corporations and Independent Power Producer, Sunon Asogli Power Ghana Limited affected the operational and financial performance of all parties involved within the power supply chain. A statement signed by Mr Elikplim Kwabla Apetorgbor, Sunon Asogli Manager of Energy Trading, Research and Regulatory Affairs said the settlement of the debt would contribute to the improvement of the credit rating of the various organization within the energy sector seeking for credit facilities from both domestic and international Banks. "It will further reduce the indebtedness of government, ECG, VRA, GNGC and Sunon Asogli Power Limited making their books much better than before," the statement added.
The latest Summary of Macroeconomic and Financial Data from the Bank of Ghana (BoG) has revealed Ghana’s debt stock accumulation has risen to GH¢43.5 billion in seven months. This comes after the total debt at the beginning of 2020 was pegged at GH¢219.6 billion. According to figures from the BoG, the current accumulation brings Ghana’s total debt to GH¢263.1 billion as at the end of July 2020. The central bank said the total amount of new debt accumulated in the first seven months of the years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 stood at GH¢8.7 billion, GH¢11 billion, GH¢21.8 billion, and GH¢28.9 billion respectively. Additionally, the BoG said the debt accumulation for the first seven months of 2020 represents an increase of 19.8 percent in the country’s debt stock from January to July. President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo , has commissioned an Integrated Composting and Recycling Plant at Adagya in the Bosomtwe District of the Ashanti Region. The US$95-million plant, when fully operational, is projected to create employment for 2,300 people, 800 directly and 1,500 indirectly. Speaking at the commissioning of the plant during a tour of the Ashanti Region, President Akufo-Addo said the plant boasts of a production capacity to convert 2,400 tonnes of waste material into by-products daily. The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has signed a syndicated loan agreement of US$1.3 billion for the purchase of cocoa beans in the 2020/2021 crop season. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Aidoo, explained that Ghana would receive the money when the agreement is signed, adding that cocoa farmers are assured of receiving physical cash at all COCOBOD contracted agents’ sales points throughout the country when the season is opened in October 2020. The loan agreement was signed on Tuesday, 29 September 2020. Ghana has been selected among only four initial countries across the world to receive financial support from the COVID-19 Private Sector Global Facility, established by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Global Compact (UN Global Compact) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The other three selected countries are Colombia, the Philippines and Turkey. This was announced by UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner at the SDG Business Forum during the UN General Assembly last week, the largest and most inclusive UN convening of private sector leaders, under the motto “Recover Better Together”.
Volkswagen Ghana and BlackIvy Ghana have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate toward the mutual goal of sustainable mobility, green growth and more affordable cars and homes in Ghana. BlackIvy Ghana is a subsidiary of BlackIvy LLC, a U.S. company that builds and grows commercial enterprises across sub-Saharan Africa. BlackIvy Ghana operates businesses in housing, healthcare, warehousing and industrial real estate. The strategic collaboration between BlackIvy Ghana and Volkswagen Ghana was signed on 16 September in Accra in the presence of Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of Ghana, and Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry. The collaboration follows the official launch of local assembly of vehicles by Volkswagen Ghana in August this year. Ghana is ranked 130th in the 2020 World Bank Human Capital Index. The country made little gains in the index which has been extended to cover 174 countries. According to the report, the government used data to effectively re-target school feeding efforts under the Ghana School Feeding Program (GSFP) after it found that the targeted population was not being reached. However, more need to be done to improve its rankings. The nation fared better than South Africa and Nigeria. Data from the national poverty statistics and food security and vulnerability analysis were combined to improve targeting and reduce leakages. The country’s progress in decreasing impediments has also been largely due to the multi-sectoral approach taken by policy makers. Ghana’s 2020 cocoa light crop season would end at the close of business today, Thursday, September 17, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) announced in a statement released in Accra. The statement, signed by COCOBOD Chief Executive, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, said in order to assist the Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) to obtain the final returns from upcountry stations, the Ghana Cocoa Board has decided that returns on the declared purchases will be accepted up to 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 24, 2020.Cocoa farmers will earn more for their produce in the next cocoa season than they currently receive for the same output of beans in the ongoing season. It follows plans by the government, through the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), to raise the cocoa producer price (CPI) paid to cocoa farmers by more than 21% for the 2020/21 season. ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ Invest in Gh brings another intriguing webinar to you on September 26, 2020 @ 14:00GMT. Dr. Kenneth Donkor-Hyiaman (Real Estate Finance and Economics Lecturer, KNUST) will speak on the topic *"Cost of Building a House in Ghana"*. Visit *www.investingh.info* to register for free. ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ Ghana will in the short to medium term have auto photo maps whereby the entire country will be mapped to serve as a basis for the digitization of the lands in the country. Already all maps in Greater Accra have been scanned and are undergoing digitization. This, according to the Lands Commission, forms part of efforts to address the long-standing issues associated with acquiring and owning land in Ghana. A robust land administration system provides opportunities to unlock the productive capacity of land.
On Tuesday, September 1, 2020, Ghana opened its air borders to international travel. Thus, the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), which was closed to international passenger arrivals since March 21, 2020, when the country recorded its first two COVID-19 cases, has resumed operations. In a televised address to the nation, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the reopening of the KIA was the result of the institution of a raft of measures prioritizing the health and safety of passengers, airport and airline staff. COVID-19 test Passengers arriving in Ghana must possess a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done 72 hours before departure from the country of origin from an accredited laboratory. Upon disembarking, passengers will undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test at the airport terminal and the result would be available within 30 minutes. Passengers are required to pay for the test. Passengers who returned positive test results would be referred to health authorities for further clinical assessment and management. Those who test negative would be allowed into the country. However children below the ages of five would not be required to undergo testing at the airport. Compliance President Akufo-Addo said all airlines had been instructed to ensure compliance with the directive for all passengers wishing to travel to Ghana. Airlines who failed to observe those set of rules would be duly sanctioned, he warned. The country's land and sea, borders, however, remain closed to human traffic until further notice.
The Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Ernest Addison, has stated that all customers of the nine failed banks, and over 95 percent of customers of Specialised Deposit-taking Institutions (SDIs), which were affected by the banking sector clean-up have received their deposits. According to Dr. Ernest Addison, the first phase of the banking sector clean-up involved the revocation of licenses of nine banks, for which all depositors were paid in full. “The second phase has to do with the SDIs – these are the savings and loans, microfinance institutions and finance houses. In their case, for individual depositors who have been fully paid, the data that we have suggests that more than 95% of depositors have been fully paid,” he said. Ghana’s downstream petroleum player, GOIL, is awaiting results of data collected by its partner ExxonMobil for the exploration of crude oil in the Deepwater Offshore Cape Three Points. To this end, the company has also invested in the recruitment of local engineers and geologists to help in the production process. Managing Director, Kwame Osei Prempeh, disclosing this to Joy Business after the virtual annual general meeting of Goil in Accra said, “Even though it is too early to predict, Exxon is very experienced in the field and like I said, they have collected the seismic data to study it in their America office and so far the information they are giving to us is good”. The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Mr. Yofi Grant has told Ghanaians in the diaspora that the centre is ready to assist them to have access to investment opportunities in Ghana. He explained that the GIPC serves as the intermediary between the private sector and the government, hence, their doors are always opened to them. He said this while speaking at a webinar organized for over 100 Ghanaians in the diaspora via Zoom on the topic “Ghana, An Ideal Destination for the Diaspora Investment” and organized by Bank of Africa Ghana (BOA) in collaboration with the Ghana Diaspora Monetary Fund on Friday, August 21, 2020. Co-Chairman of the Abossey Okai Spare Parts Dealers Association, Clement Boateng, has kicked against claims that the implementation of the Customs (Amendment) Act, 2020, Act 1014 will affect the business operations of spare parts dealers in the country. His remark follows claims from various stakeholders within the industry that certain aspects of the Customs (Amendment) Act, 2020 that bans the importation of used cars older than 10 years, and salvaged vehicles also known as accident cars may result in loss of jobs. Speaking to Citi Business News , he appealed to government to conduct more education and sensitization programs on the law as it will be a job-creating avenue for many people. The outbreak of COVID-19 in Ghana has affected the local cashew Industry in the Jaman North Municipality of the Bono Region forcing some out of production. According to cashew farmers, their customers who are mostly outside the region have ceased buying their produce because of the outbreak of the pandemic. One of such is the Kabile Cashew Cooperative located at Kabile which processes cashew and sells to clients in Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi. Joseph Saa Mensah, owner of Kabile Cashew Cooperative tells Citi Business News , the impact of COVID-19 on the business has decreased production. Clement Anane, the Secretary of the National Cashew Farmers Association of Ghana also states that apart from low sales, the price of cashew has also fallen at an all-time low.
Official first-quarter trade figures released by the Ghana Shippers Authority have revealed the severity of the impact of Covid-19 on the country’s maritime sector, with significant declines in all aspects of the business. The total volume of cargo—comprising both containerised and general cargo—handled by the country’s two seaports in the first quarter of 2020 decreased by a whopping 44.9 percent year-on-year, the data showed. The volume recorded was 3.8m metric tonnes compared with the 6.9m metric tonnes recorded for the same period of 2019. The import trade volume for the first quarter stood at 2.7m metric tonnes, representing a 24.5 percent fall year-on-year, while the export trade volume registered 996,331 metric tonnes, representing a 66.1 percent fall year-on-year. The total volume of transit cargo—that is, cargo moved to Ghana’s landlocked neighbours—and transshipped cargo—that is, cargo moved to neighbouring ports by sea—was 79,629 metric tonnes, indicating a 76.1 percent drop year-on-year. The 3% levy charged all consumers of electricity for street lighting has generated GH¢273.9million of revenue to government in 2018 and 2019, Energy Minister John Peter Amewu said when he appeared before Parliament to answer questions from members last Thursday. Out of that amount, the minister noted GH¢134,266,116 was collected in 2018, and GH¢139,610,716 collected the following year. Meanwhile, in his account he also indicated that out of the total amount only GH¢64.5million has been utilised by the Ministry of Energy for payment of energy consumed by traffic, streets, and public lights, as well as the investment and maintenance of same as required by the Energy Sector Levies (Amendment) Act, 2017, (Act 946). An international rating agency, Global Credit Rating Agency (GCR) has upgraded Fidelity Bank Ghana’s national scale long term ratings from A- to A and short-term ratings from A2 to A1, with a stable outlook. In a press release announcing the upgrade of Fidelity Bank, the rating agency indicated that Fidelity’s business profile is positive, supported by its above average distribution network, good spread of local geographic diversification, adequate capitalization and stable funding structure. “Fidelity Bank Ghana’s risk position is sound, balancing the probability of asset quality deterioration due to the COVID-19 related economic shock and modest oil prices, and the better than market gross non-performing loans (NPLs). The bank recorded a regulatory NPL ratio of 2.1% at 31 March 2020, better than its competitors and against the industry average of 14.5%,” stated GCR.
Ghana’s Parliament has approved a US$200-million facility to finance the Ghana Jobs and Skills project (GJSP). In a bid to facilitate the country’s socio-economic development through improved support for skills development and job creation, a financing agreement between the government of Ghana and the International Development Association (IDA) to the tune of $200 million, was approved by Parliament on Thursday, 30 July 2020, under the Ghana Jobs and Skills project (GJSP). The project is structured around five (5) components; Provision of Apprenticeship training for jobs (US$60 million), Provision of Entrepreneurship and Micro and Small Enterprise support for jobs (US$ 100 million). Under component three of the project, an amount of $30 million has been set aside for the operationalization of the Ghana labour market information system, upgrading of District public employment centres and the Independent performance review of select government youth employment and skills development programs. The final tranche of US$10 million will also go into capacity development, technical assistance and project management support for enhanced skills and jobs impact. Parliament has passed a Customs Bill to ban the importation of old vehicles into the country. The new bill, if assented by the President, will stop the importation of what’s popularly known as ‘accident cars’ in Ghana. The amendment is part of a bigger plan towards the implementation of the Ghana Automotive Manufacturing Programme, which has so far attracted several global car assembly plants into the country. The law seeks to provide incentives for automotive manufacturers and assemblers, registered under the Ghana Manufacturing Development Programme. A clause in the amendment empowers the Minister of Finance to specify the date on which the ban will come into force. The document will finally become law after the president assents to it.
Ghana is steadily on the path towards containing and eliminating the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo has said. He said, “at a first glance, it could be alarming to see 32,969 people contract the virus in five months, but a closer look at the data indicates that the country is steadily on the path towards limiting and containing the virus and, ultimately, defeating it.” In his 14th address on the national response to the pandemic on Sunday, July 26, 2020, the President said the recovery rate had improved from 75 per cent of positives a month ago to 89.5 per cent, all in one month. “A month ago, the number of recoveries stood at 12, 994, but today it is 29, 494,” he said. He further noted that the hospitalization and death rates had consistently been very low — one of the lowest in Africa and the world. “The Ghanaian people, mercifully, are not dying of the virus in the hundreds and thousands that were earlier anticipated and predicted, and that are being seen on a daily basis in some other countries,” he stated Phase two of easing of restrictions Noting that life could not be put on hold indefinitely once it was clear that until treatment was found, the COVID-19 would remain a part of life, President Akufo-Addo announced further easing of COVID-19 restrictions covering congregational worshipping, entertainment sites, transport operations and soccer activities. Congregational worshipping On congregational worshipping, he said based on the high level of compliance with the safety protocols demonstrated by religious bodies, from 1st August, 2020, the restrictions on the number of congregants worshipping at a time in church will be lifted, with the length of worship extended from one to two hours per service.” “Church leaders, who are desirous of implementing this enhanced easing directive, must ensure that congregants wear nose masks at all times, and the one metre social distancing rule is scrupulously applied. These same guidelines apply to worship in our mosques,” he added. Entertainment The President also announced the reopening of the nation’s tourist sites and attractions to enable them begin to receive visitors. He said open air drinking spots can now function and tasked the management of these facilities to enforce enhanced hygiene and social distancing protocols. However, beaches, pubs, cinemas and nightclubs remained closed until further notice.
The University of Cape Coast (UCC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Park Agrotech Ghana Limited, to ensure the cultivation of enhanced sugarcane for full-scale sugar production for the Komenda Sugar Factory in the Central Region. The Vice-Chancellor of UCC, Prof. Joseph Ghartey-Ampiah appended his signature on behalf of the university, while the Managing Director of Agrotech Ghana Limited, Lalit Mishra, signed for the company. Mr Mishra said that the agreement was a start towards a brighter future and indicated that, the company would invest about $21 million into the factory for the four-year period. He noted that, the deal with UCC was very crucial as the company required quality planting material to produce sugarcane to feed the factory. Golden Star Resources Ltd has said it has entered into an agreement with Future Global Resources for the sale of its 90 percent interest in the Bogoso-Prestea Gold Mine. The agreement stipulates that an initial purchase price of $55 million shall be paid with a further contingent component of up to US$40 million staged payments to ensure FGR focuses investment capacity on the asset itself while providing Golden Star with exposure to its long-term growth potential. A statement from the mining company noted that operations are planned to continue at the Prestea underground operation, which includes the use of alimak mining on 24 Level and long hole open stoping mining activities on the newly developed 17 Level Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has announced the planned establishment of an Automobile Industry Development Centre to coordinate licensing of vehicle assemblers and manufacturers, and monitor their compliance with industry regulations. With the expected implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) once the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control, Mr. Ofori-Atta said the establishment of the centre, together with other policy decisions to facilitate the assembly of automobiles in the country, will lead to the export of vehicles from Ghana to the rest of the continent. The AfCFTA had been expected to come into force on July 1, but the impact of the pandemic on participating countries has led to the postponement of the start date. A new date is yet to be communicated. Based on the number of participating countries, the AfCFTA is the largest trade agreement since the formation of the World Trade Organisation. Its implementation will form a US$3.4tn economic bloc with 1.3bn people across the continent.
The Receiver of the defunct 347 Micro Finance Companies, 23 Savings and Loans and Finance House Companies, Eric Nana Nipah, says he is undertaking a detailed asset tracing of the owners of the collapsed financial institutions. This is to enable him have access to more liquidity in settling outstanding claims following the collapse of the companies. The assurance by the Receiver comes on the back of an announcement by the Bank of Ghana that it will pre-finance payments to former workers of these entities. The Central bank says the decision was taken to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 on the ex-staff. The negotiations towards the full payment of the outstanding salaries and negotiated and exit packages was expected to start on Monday, July 13, 2020. The Receiver further noted that he will only fully settle outstanding salaries and exit packages of former employees which have been duly validated, agreed and in the resolution process. The Bank of Ghana (BOG) has granted one of the country’s leading FinTech companies, IT Consortium Limited (ITC), an enhanced Payment Service Provider (PSP) license. The acquisition of the license, which is the highest license within the PSP category, follows the passage of the Payment Systems and Services Act, 2019 (Act 987) which creates an enabling regulatory and supervisory framework for non-bank entities such as FinTechs to participate in Ghana’s payment ecosystem. Aside providing financial technology solutions in areas such as insurance, investments, pensions, loans, etc, the license will also enable ITC to pursue services in merchants’ aggregation, print personalized EMV Card, deploy POS solutions, facilitate International remittance services and payment aggregation among many other services. The license further allows other companies to plug in through IT Consortium’s systems to provide these services under its direct supervision. Oil prices fell on Tuesday on worries that new restrictions to stem surging US and Asian coronavirus cases could threaten a recovery in fuel demand just as OPEC+ producers prepare to increase output from August. Brent crude futures fell 44 cents to $42.28 a barrel by 0840 GMT and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slid 53 cents to $39.57. The governor of California, the United States’ most populous state, on Monday ordered bars to shut and restaurants, movie theatres, zoos and museums to cease indoor operations as coronavirus cases soared. California’s moves follow the recent reinstatement of some restrictions in other states, such as Florida and Texas. New restrictions were also introduced in Asia and Australia. Under the existing supply pact, OPEC+ is set to taper its record production cut of 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) to 7.7 million bpd from August through December. The oil market is moving closer to balance as demand gradually rises, OPEC’s secretary general said on Monday. The Minority in Parliament has cautioned government against what it terms as unnecessary borrowings from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, GNPC. Governments have over the years either borrowed directly from GNPC or externally on their books. The development has affected activities relative to the core mandate of the corporation. Currently government owes GNPC over $300 million dollars. Speakings to Starr News after the approval of $500 million dollars for 2020 work plan for the GNPC, the deputy ranking member for the Committee on Mines and Energy Dela Sowah urged the Finance Minister to cease treating the corporation as a financial institution. In a related development, Parliament on Tuesday approved a €56,153,500.000 facility from Deutsche Bank AG and Global Services (UK) Limited for the construction of health facilities in parts of the country.
The receiver of the defunct microfinance and savings and loans companies is set to begin payment of claims of ex-staff of these institutions. A statement from the receiver, Eric Nana Nipah of PricewaterhouseCoopers said tracing the assets of the defunct companies have been difficult due to asset diversion among others. “The consequence in pursuing this recovery route is that creditor claims including employee related claims in the resolution of the affected MFCs and S&Ls are not likely to be settled any time soon,” he said. However, “the Bank of Ghana has agreed to pre-finance full settlement of employee related claims which otherwise rank as unsecured claims in the receiverships of these companies,” the receiver said. The Chief Executive of the Petroleum Commission, Egbert Faibille Jnr., has disclosed Ghana lost GH¢5.7 billion (US $1.04 billion) in oil and gas revenue following the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Faibille indicated that just like the adverse effect of COVID-19 which is crippling the economy, the upstream oil and gas sector continues to suffer extensively as a result of the mishap. He made this known at the opening session of a three-day virtual conference organised by the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP). According to him, “the industry had suffered significant shocks which did not only affect the economy but also impact on work obligations and operations adding that the shortfall in revenue was very significant and that companies had to invest heavily to enable staff to work remotely to keep the industry running.” The Ghana Commodity Exchange has successfully begun integrating Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) into its Warehouse Receipt Financing (WRF) Programme. So far, five out of the over 140 RCBs operating all around the country, have been integrated into WRF system and the process can be expected to eventually incorporate most of them into the programme which began eight months ago. Indeed, GCX under the warehouse receipt financing model has engaged 15 rural and community banks across the country so far, which means 10 more RCBs are already getting set to join the five now fully incorporated – a major step towards developing an efficient and effective agricultural finance channel for the agriculture sector.
Transport fares are to be increased by 15 percent, effective Saturday, July 11, 2020. The Deputy Transport Minister, Titus Glover made who made the announcement said the move is to cushion drivers who continue to bear the brunt of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. A group known as Concerned Drivers Union has over the past few days threatened to increase fares by 30 per cent due to the increase in fuel prices. Commercial drivers have not hidden their displeasure over the fact that fuel price keeps increasing but they’ve been compelled by the government to reduce the number of passengers they pick to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The drivers’ unions presented a petition to the Ministry on Monday and were promised that the issue will be studied.Hon. Titus Glover stated that the government has decided that transport fares go up by 15% across board. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has signed two agreements with the Ghanaian government to construct a flyover at the Tema Interchange as well as offer scholarships to some Ghanaians. The grant amount for the Improvement of the Tema Motorway Roundabout Phase 2 (Detailed Design) project is One Hundred and Nine Million Japanese Yen (JPY 109,000,000.00), equivalent to about US$ 1 Million. Whiles the grant aid for the Project for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS) program for the year 2021 was Two Hundred and Sixty-three Million Japanese Yen (JPY 263,000,000.00), equivalent to about US$ 2.4 Million. The Tema Interchange Project will complement the completed phase 1 interchange project to alleviate serious traffic congestion and improve logistics from/to Tema port to boost trade among Ghana and neighbors’ countries. The eurozone economy will sink deeper into recession than previously thought due to the effects of the pandemic, the European Commission (EC) has said. The bloc will contract a record 8.7% this year before growing 6.1% in 2021. It compares with the EC's May forecast of a 7.7% slump and 6.3% growth. France, Italy and Spain will struggle the most, the EC said. Its revised forecast comes amid concerns about the US economy after a surge in infections. This has prompted several states to delay or reverse lifting restrictions. A representative of the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA), has revealed that 50 percent of potential mortgage and housing deals have come to a halt as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. According to him, the adverse impact of the pandemic, has led to an operational capacity of 30 percent for real estate and house developers. “The coronavirus pandemic had led to estate developers operating at a maximum capacity of 30 percent, with more than 50 percent of potential mortgage deals being cancelled or put on hold while the servicing of existing ones had been distorted,” the representative told GhanaWeb in an interview. However, a housing expert, Foster Osae-Akonnor told GhanaWeb the demand for housing and mortgages in general has since dwindled across the country. According to him, government needs to provide incentives for architects and contractors in order to sustain the sector from a collapse.
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved US$315 million from the International Development Association (IDA) to support job creation, skills development and digital transformation in Ghana. The package includes US$200 million for the Ghana Jobs and Skills Project and an additional financing of US$115 million for the eTransform Ghana Project. “The two projects are aligned with the priorities of the Government’s Coordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development and are even more relevant and timely in the current COVID-19 context. Restoring jobs and livelihoods for micro, small and medium enterprises is critical for promoting the economic recovery of the country and is at the heart Ghana’s COVID-19 response,” said Pierre Laporte, World Bank Country Director to Ghana. President Nana Akufo-Addo has directed Metropolitan, Municipal, District Assemblies (MMDAs) and other Government agencies to prioritize locally assembled vehicles when making buying decision for new vehicles. Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare made this known in a statement. According to the statement, the directive takes effect from July 2020. It says the Ministry of Trade would provide information about assembling vehicles in Ghana. German auto manufacturers, Volkswagen, Chinese Sinotruck and Japanese Toyota are three of the companies assembling vehicles in Ghana. The statement urged all MDAs, MMDAs, and other Government establishments to comply with the policy. The newly introduced Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS), which began a month ago at the Terminal Three of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), has yielded a total revenue of GH¢55.4 million. This represents a 20 percent increment over last year’s revenue performance for June, which was about GH¢46 million. Mr Festus Mensah, the Chief Revenue Officer in-charge of General Duties at the KIA, disclosed this to stakeholders at a forum in Accra. The forum, which was organised by the Accra Airport sector of the Custom Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, at the Terminal Three, revealed that revenue mobilization under the new system was doing quite well. The Finance Committee of Parliament has tasked the management of the Micro Finance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) to improve on its loan recovery as the scheme recovered only 55% of loans disbursed in 2019. This follows a drop in the recovery rate from 64% in 2016 to 55% in 2019. Presenting a report of the Finance Committee on the budget performance of the office of government machinery for 2019 on the floor of the House, Chair of the Committee Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah disclosed many targets set by the management of MASLOC in the year under review were not met.
Ghana’s economy will grow strongly at 5.9 percent, in 2021, after the looming dismal outlook for 2020, thanks to the COVID-19 crisis. The projection was made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The outlook for 2021, according to the Fund is positive with the 5.9 growth rate well above that of the country’s peers in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) and even that of the world. The Global Economic and External Sector Development Report published by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) quoted the Fund’s projection, noting that Ghana’s growth rate will be among the highest among advanced, emerging, frontier and developing economies. The IMF is forecasting a 1.5 percent GDP at worst for Ghana in 2020, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the economy, according to the Fund will grow very strongly next year, buoyed by immense activities in the services and industry sectors. The IMF estimates that the global economy will recover to 5.8 percent in 2021. The National Board and Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) has disbursed some GH¢1m to micro-business owners in the country. This amount is part of the special fund set up by the government to cushion micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from the impact of the coronavirus disease ( COVID-19 ). On Wednesday, June 24, 2020, the NBSSI begun the disbursement of GH¢1 million to 1,000 applicants under the first tranche of the GH¢1 billion Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) business support scheme. They include food sellers, hairdressers, tailors, among others. The beneficiaries, who met the rigorous criteria designed by the NBSSI, received up to GH¢2,000 via mobile money under what is known as the Adom Micro-Soft Loans, for micro-enterprises. The special fund is categorised into Anidaso and Adom special loans, with an interest rate of three percent, payable within two years after a moratorium of one year. The Ministry of Finance has revealed that the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) successfully registered 1,394,842 taxpayers in the year 2019. This brought the total number of taxpayers registered with Tax Identification Numbers (TINs) to 3,394,488 as of 31st December 2019, resulting from the drive to improve tax administration and expand the tax base. These were contained in the ministry’s budget performance report for 2019 presented to Parliament on April 8, 2020 by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta . Presenting the Finance Committee’s report on the budget performance, Dr. Mark Assibey Yeboah said the Finance Ministry in the year under review “undertook some major technological initiatives to offer enhanced online services to taxpayers.” The Chief Executive Officer of Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA), Mr Felix Mensah Nii Anang-La, has disclosed that the assembly recorded 18 percent growth in revenue generation in the 2019 fiscal year. This, according to him, was due to the deployment of robust revenue mobilization techniques. Addressing the first ordinary meeting of the first session of the 8th assembly here yesterday, Mr Anang-La said the assembly raked in revenue of GH¢35.39 million out of a budget of GH¢44.50 million. He explained that money collected was made up of internally generated funds of GH¢23.29 million and Government of Ghana grants and other transfers amounting to GH¢12.10 million. Mr Anang-La said the assembly incurred an expenditure of GH¢35.70 million on programmes and projects within the same period. He said to boost revenue mobilization, the assembly would introduce mobile money payment system.
The Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Reverend Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, has revealed that the GRA has recruited a specialist in the area of data matching and data analysis to ensure the right taxes are being paid. This comes after the GRA and the Ministry of Finance jointly inaugurated a new Tax Audit and Quality Assurance Unit to ensure a centralized audit planning process and guarantee quality auditing. During the launch of the unit, Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah expressed optimism the new development will enhance tax collection in the country. The Ministry of Business Development yesterday launched this year’s Presidential Pitch aimed at providing startup capital for young entrepreneurs across the country. The initiative, as part of government’s efforts to curb the high unemployment rate, will see 10 successful applicants pitch their business ideas before a jury in a final competition slated for July 1, 2020 to qualify for financial support. This year, government has earmarked a GH¢1 million grant for successful applicants to realise their business ideas and improve livelihoods. Despite the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic at the beginning of this year, the Hotel and Restaurants [hospitality] sub-sector recorded strong growth higher than the national growth rate of 4.9% in the first quarter of 2020. According to figures from the Ghana Statistical Service, the sub-sector grew by 6.4% in quarter one, sweeping away the presence of COVID-19 . It grew by 7.6%, 3.2% and 6.0% in the years 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively. However, many analysts believe the sub-sector, which was severely hit by the three-week partial lockdown of the country from 30 March, 2020, will be felt when the second quarter 2020 figures are released later. This is because many hotels and hospitality firms have closed down due to low patronage and high cost of running the business.
For the period between June to August this year, the Government plans to issue securities to the tune of GH¢17.84 billion (gross), of which GH¢15.81 billion is to rollover maturities and the remaining GH¢2.03 billion is fresh issuance to meet Government’s financing requirements, the Bank of Ghana has said. The central bank said It expects that the 2020 June to August Calendar will meet the requirements of market participants. “We assure all stakeholders and the general public that we continue to strive for greater predictability and transparency in the domestic bond market,” the BoG said. As part of Government’s effort to improve market transparency in the issuance of Government securities, the BoG has released calendar for the perusal of the investing public. Aker Energy Ghana Limited (“Aker Energy”) has entered into a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Yinson Holdings Berhad (“Yinson”) to award a bare-boat charter and an operations and maintenance contract for a floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel at the Pecan field, offshore Ghana. “We are continuing with our preparations for the Pecan project and awarding an LOI for the future contracts for the FPSO vessel is certainly a key milestone,” says Mr. Svein Jakob Liknes, CEO of Aker Energy. “As one of the world’s leading FPSO providers, we have a strong belief in Yinson’s ability to deliver on time, at the required quality, and to the highest safety standard.” The LOI follows a competitive tender and demonstrates Aker Energy’s intention to award the forthcoming bare-boat charter and operations and maintenance contract for the FPSO for the planned development of the Pecan field in the Deepwater Tano Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) block offshore Ghana. The contracts will have a firm duration of ten years followed by five yearly extension options exercisable by Aker Energy as operator on behalf of the license partners Lukoil, Fueltrade and Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).
Government, through the Ministry of Business Development, has launched a support programme for startups and small businesses across the country. The project, dubbed: “Presidential Business Support Programme”, aims at training and funding small scale and startup businesses to grow their capacities and create more jobs. This year’s edition, which marks the 3rd phase of the programme, will see a total of 26,000 startup and small business owners receiving training in various fields and sectors of the economy. Of this number, 5,000 businesses will receive financial support after the course. The support package ranges from GH¢5,000 to GH¢10,000 depending on the nature of participant’s business. Ghana has been appointed as a member of the Independent Advisory Committee (IAC) of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFTC). This nomination is due to Ghana’s political commitment and human right-centric approach to developing its cybersecurity as well as its active engagement at the regional and international levels to promote the responsible use of the internet. The GIFCT was established in July 2017 by a group of companies dedicated to disrupting terrorists’ abuse and misuse of member platforms. The original Forum was led by a rotating chair drawn from the four founding companies — Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube. The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has finally resolved its long-standing battle with pensioners over disagreements on Past Credit owed the latter ever since the three-tier Pension Scheme Act 766 was implemented. A press release from SSNIT stated that it has released GH¢59,612,321 which hit the accounts of the 19,918 affected pensioners on Thursday, June 11, 2020, thereby, bringing the matter to successful conclusion as agreed between government and sections of organized labour on the interest rate applied to the accrued Past Credit which is a one-time benefit for pensioners who are retiring under the National Pensions Act, 2008, Act 766. This comes in the wake of 12 public sector worker unions, on Wednesday, threatening to strike after they gave a two-week ultimatum to government to ensure that the Past Credit and other issues regarding their pensions are resolved. Parliament has approved a request to waive Domestic VAT totaling US$3.1 million on local purchases and services in the rehabilitation and upgrading of equipment in Technical Universities, Polytechnics and Technical and Vocational Training Centres. The request for the VAT exemption complies with the Concessional Loan Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Export-Import Bank of China. Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, Chairman of the Finance Committee presented the Committee’s report on the floor Parliament indicated that Parliament had in July 2018 approved by a resolution the Supplementary Contract Agreement Nos. 1&2 as well as the Commercial Contract between the Government of Ghana, acting through the Ministry of Education and Messrs AVIC International Holding Corporation of China for the implementation of the project. An industry discussion has commenced between players in the insurance sector and the regulator – the National Insurance Commission (NIC) – for a possible extension of the GH¢50 million new minimum capital requirement set to take effect in June next year. The insurers, under the auspices of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ghana (IBAG) and Ghana Insurance Association (GIA) are requesting an extension of the minimum recapitalization as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic that has severely impacted on all business activities across the globe. The new minimum capital requirement with a 230 percent increase from the initial GH¢15 million to GH¢50 million for both life and non-life (general) insurers created fierce controversy among industry operators following its announcement.
The national year-on-year inflation rate was 11.3% in May 2020, which is 0.7 percentage points higher than last month, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), has announced. Month-on-month inflation between April 2020 and May 2020 was 1.7%, the GSS added. This is lower than the 3.2% recorded between March and April 2020, but higher than the average month-on-month inflation recorded in the months from October 2019 to March 2020 (0.7%). Only two of the thirteen Divisions had higher than average inflation rates; Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages and Housing, Water, Electricity, and Gas (both 15.1%). At the regional level, the overall year-on-year inflation ranged from 3.1% in the Upper East Region to 13.3% in Greater Accra. When comparing Food to Non-Food inflation, there are clear differences between regions. Ashanti (22.3%) and Western Region (19.8%) had the highest rates of Food inflation, while Eastern Region saw the highest The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said it will be able to decide on the payment schedule for customers of defunct Fund management firms by the end of June 2020. According to the Commission, it is in the process of finalising the validation process of affected investors. This would influence how the payment would be carried out. Director-General of SEC noted that “So what we have done, firstly, is to get the liquidation process to start and that means that the official liquidator that the Registrar General is in court. “We can’t tell when that process will terminate because it’s an issue of the court process so that is in the works,” the Director-General explained to JoyNews June 9, 2020. He however expressed confidence that: “by the end of this month, the SEC will be in the position to make a definite announcement so by the end of this month, I believe that everybody should be clear as to what to expect and when to expect it.”
The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has revealed that the government’s budgetary operations for 2019 recorded a deficit of 4.8 percent of GDP, slightly higher than the revised target of 4.7 percent. The deficit was financed from both domestic and foreign sources, the Central Bank noted in the 2019 Annual Report. Total government receipts amounted to GH¢53.0 billion (15.2% of GDP), marginally below the revised target of GH¢54.6 billion (15.6% of GDP). The major components were tax revenue of GH¢42.4 billion (80.0% of total receipts), non-tax revenue of GH¢7.6 billion (14.3% of total receipts) and grants of GH¢1.0 billion (1.9% of total receipts). Total government payments for the year amounted to GH¢67.7 billion (19.4% of GDP) which was below the revised budget of GH¢70.2 billion (20.1% of GDP). Exports of cocoa beans and products increased by 5.0 percent to US$2.29 billion in 2019, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) has said in its 2019 Annual Report. The report said cocoa beans exported amounted to US$1.45 billion, an increase of 3.2 percent compared to the value in 2018. The average realised price of cocoa beans increased by 8.8 per cent to US$2,366.94 per tonne, while export volume fell by 5.2 per cent to 613,184 tonnes. Earnings from cocoa products increased by 8.2 per cent to US$0.84 billion, on account of both price and volume effects. The report further indicated that the value of timber exports fell by 23.7 per cent to US$0.17 billion, the Bank of Ghana has announced. Ghanaian agribusiness company, Park Agrotech, has received Cabinet’s approval as the preferred strategic investor for the Komenda Sugar Factory, Trade Minister Alan Kyerematen has disclosed. The Minister told Parliament, in Accra, that Agrotech was expected to work with STM Projects Limited, an Indian company with extensive experience in the management and operation of Sugar Mills and plantations both in India and other parts of the world. Accordingly, following the approval by Cabinet as required by conventional practice, the Transaction Advisors entered into final negotiations with the successful bidder with the view to entering into concession agreement for the operations of the Komenda Sugar Factory. Mr Kyerematen, who was addressing the current state of the Komenda Sugar Factory, said over the first three years of the agreement, Agrotech would invest US$28 million in capital expenditure and working capital, and would pay an annual concession fee of US$3.3 million for a period of 15 years.
Ghana’s railway sector is set to witness a major transformation after the signing of a 500-million-dollar agreement between the Ghana Railways Development Authority and Amandi Holdings Ltd. The project will see the construction of sections of the Western Railway Line (Standard Gauge Line) between Takoradi Port and Huni Valley, forming a total of 102 kilometers of continuous single-track railway line. The project is expected to last for 42 months after commencement in October, 2020. Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Minister for Railway Development, Joe Ghartey, touted the benefits of the project towards the improvement of the country’s rail network. The Bank of Ghana is working on establishing a sandbox to promote innovation in the financial market and also test some concepts including the establishment of a Central Bank Digital Currency. First Deputy Governor, Dr Maxwell Opoku-Afari, who was speaking at a Virtual Stakeholder Workshop on Payment Systems and Service Act in Accra, said there had been phenomenal transformation as a result of growing adoption of digital technology over the past decade. He said individuals, businesses and government had shown strong preference for digital payments for reasons of convenience, efficiency, speed, affordability, round the clock availability and robust audit trail. The Government of Ghana has found a strategic investor for the Komenda Sugar Factory, Trade and Industry Minister, John Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, has announced. Mr. Kyerematen in April 2019, reported to parliament that the government was in search of a strategic investor with the requisite technical and financial capacity to operationalize the sugar factory efficiently and profitably. In an answer to a question by the Member of Parliament for Chereponi, Samuel Abdulai Jabanyite, Mr Alan Kyerematen said an investor had been settled on and that the factory was set to take off. Ghana’s tourism and hospitality industry has lost a whopping US$171m due to the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the industry. According to Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, an initial assessment of the loss from March to June 2020 revealed this amount, owing to the lack of operations. She also noted that a further assessment will be done to ascertain the full impact of Covid-19 on the sector. Speaking at a Ministry of Information press conference today, she indicated that the effect may be minimized as the government will provide some support for some key players in the industry.
The Bank of Ghana has released an amount of GH¢5.5 billion as first tranche of the GH¢10 billion of the COVID-19 Relief Bond, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta announced in Parliament in Accra on Thursday. In a memo to the House, the Minister said, the programme, launched earlier by the Government of Ghana is to trigger the emergency financing provision as result of challenges brought on by COVID-19 pandemic.The GH¢5.5 billion first installment of the bond was released on May 15, 2020. With high hopes of Ghana’s economy to rebound after the pandemic, Mr Ofori-Atta characteristically, and in a prayerful tone made biblical allusions with hope in God that Ghana would regain its economic strength. Ghana's is expected to lose about GH¢15.85 billion in revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a report from the Ministry of Finance states. The nation is targeting about GH¢67 billion in revenue (tax and non-tax) for this year. According to the Finance Ministry, Ghana's fiscal gap as a result of the COVID-19 will hit about GH¢21.42 billion. This is made up of Revenue Shortfall Impact of GH¢15.85 billion and COVID-19 related expenses of GH¢5.57 billion. Due to this, the government submitted to Parliament to access emergency financing of GH¢10 billion from the Bank of Ghana consistent with the provisions in Section 30 of the Bank of Ghana Act, 2002 (Act 612), as amended. Ghana accepted all the GH¢751.33 million bids from investors via the issuance of the 3-year bond. The yield however was 18.85%, 0.10% higher than the 2-year bond issued last month, according to auctioning results. The government raised GH¢668.76 million at 18.75% from the issuance of the 2-year bond last month. Analysts had forecast a yield of less than 19%. Because of the impact of the COVID-19 on the global economy, the amount raised from both domestic and foreign investors was good, some analysts told Class Business. Chunk of the funds will be used to finance maturing debts. The debt instrument, which is expected to mature in 2023, was be opened to both resident and non-resident investors. Absa, Databank, Fidelity, IC Securities, Stanbic were joint lead managers for the issuance of the debt instrument.
Ghana Government received US$170.3m in petroleum revenue for the first quarter of the year, an increase of 93 percent over earnings of US$88.3m in the first quarter of 2019. The receipts came from the sale of crude oil by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) as well as payments from the oil companies, the Finance Ministry revealed in the Petroleum Receipts and Distribution Report for the first quarter of 2020. During the period, GNPC sold 1.9 million barrels of crude oil produced from the Sankofa and TEN oilfields, but there was no lifting of cargo by the corporation from the Jubilee field. The government received an average price of US$63.5 per barrel for the crude oil sold, a price which is now out of range as the impact of the corona crisis on global oil demand has more than halved international crude oil prices in the last two months. The continuous increase demand for gold as a safe haven for investors in the current times of global economic uncertainty, has driven producer inflation for April 2020 upwards to 7.4 percent, representing a 0.6 percentage point increase relative to the rate recorded in March 2020 of 6.8 percent, data from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has shown. The mining and quarrying sub-sector’s producer price inflation increased by 14.3 percent over the March 2020 rate of 23.7 percent, to reach 38.0 percent in April 2020. The price of gold on the international market shot up from about US$ 1,639 per ounce on the April 01, 2020 to US$ 1,760 per ounce as at April 15, before then declining slightly to US$ 1,688 per ounce by the end of April. However, the commodity is currently trading at US$ 1,753 per ounce as at May 20, 2020. The interest rate on Ghana Government's 600m stimulus package for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) has been reviewed from 5 to 3 percent. This information was revealed on Thursday, May 21, 2020 when the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) was giving updates on COVID-19 alleviation program at the Ministry of Information press briefing. Addressing the press, the Chief Executive Officer of NBSSI Kosi Yankey Ayeh said after stakeholder deliberations, the 5 percent interest rate was reduced to 3. “After deliberations with the president, finance ministry and the industry. After conducting a survey of about 1700 MSMEs in Ghana, initially we had suggested 5 percent but the president in consultation with the team decided to review that interest rate due to the plight of the Ghanaian MSMEs at a time such as this, to 3 percent.” She however noted that the one-year moratorium remains unchanged and “businesses have the option to ensure that they choose a moratorium that works best for them.” The NBSSI boss also indicated that businesses with over 99 staff are not eligible for the GH¢600m stimulus package.
The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank has kept its policy rate unchanged at 14.5 percent following a sudden rise in inflation, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Dr Ernest Addison has said.This follows an earlier March 2020 meeting which saw a 150-basis-point reduction in the monetary policy rate to 14.5 percent, with some commercial banks impressed upon to further slash on lending rates to ease access to credit. Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, May 15 at the central bank, Dr Ernest Addison said; "On the growth outlook, baseline projections show a sharp downturn in GDP growth with the economy operating below capacity in the medium-term. Under the circumstances and given the balance of risks to inflation and growth, the Committee decided to keep the policy rate unchanged at 14.5 percent." The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has agreed to loan up to GH¢5.5 billion to government to curtail income revenue shortfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic by close of the year, Governor of the central bank, Dr. Ernest Addison has disclosed. Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, May 15 to announce the monetary policy rate, Dr Addison explained the BoG's financing of government’s deficit forms part of the Bank’s assets purchase programme which was set aside due to an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Adding, the first tranche of GH¢5.5 billion has been advanced to government at a rate of 14.5 percent which prevails the current monetary policy rate. The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has announced on Wednesday May 13 that the year-on-year inflation of imported goods was 4.9%, while the inflation of local goods was 13.1% on average. The GSS said this is the highest rate of local inflation and the lowest rate of imported goods inflation since the rebasing in August 2019. Month-on-month inflation for imported goods was 0%, while month-on-month inflation for local goods was 4.5%. The main contributor to local inflation was the inflation of locally produced foods, the GSS added. Regarding the national rate, the GSSS said inflation jumped from 7.8% in March 2020 to 10.6% in April 2020, an increase of 2.8%. The GSS blamed the upward trend on the partial lockdown of the Greater Accra, Greater Kumasi, Kasoa and Tema areas due to the coronavirus pandemic
The Bank of Ghana (BoG), has authorized its first Dedicated Electronic Money Issuer license, to a local Financial Technology (Fintech) company, Zeepay Ghana Ltd. This move is in line with the Payment Systems and Services Act, 2019 (Act 987). According to the central bank the authorization forms part of efforts to deepen financial inclusion in the country. The Payment Systems and Services Act, 2019 (Act 987) is to provide the legal and regulatory framework for the orderly development of the payment system due to the emergence of new payment streams, institutions such as financial technology companies and the general acceptance of electronic money. Under the licence, Zeepay Ghana Ltd is allowed to operate as a Dedicated Electronic Money Issuer, providing the ensuing services: Cash In, Cash Out, P2P Transfers (Peer to Peer), Bill Payments, Airtime Top-Up and International Money Transfer (IMT). Banks’ investment portfolio as at end-February 2020 was in favour of long-term debt instruments, the Bank of Ghana revealed. The latest banking sector report which made this known, said banks’ share of securities further increased to 70.4 percent in February 2020 from 66.3 percent in February 2019. It said the proportion of short-term bills in total investments accordingly declined to 30.9 percent from 32.7 percent between the two periods, while the share of investments in equities remained negligible at 0.9 percent. It added that the share of fixed and ‘other’ assets, which constituted the non-earning assets of banks, remained virtually unchanged at 8 percent. The central bank says it is hopeful that the reduction in primary reserve requirements will broaden and expand the coverage of additional funds to support lending to all critical sectors of the economy. According to the Bank of Ghana’s latest banking sector report for March 2020, the reduction in primary reserves from an initial 10 percent to 8 percent is expected to cushion external shocks in the formal and informal sectors. “The Bank of Ghana is hopeful that the reduction in the prudential capital adequacy ratio from 13.0 percent 11.5 percent will compliment the reduction in primary reserves by helping to boost credit expansion to support all sectors of the economy,” the report added. Meanwhile, the BoG adds reduction in provision for loans in other loans mentioned in the category, from 10 percent 5 percent, could minimize the impact of the potential challenges of non-performing loans on loan loss provisions and profit margins of banks.
Ghana has made the wearing of face masks mandatory following the lifting of the three-week partial lockdown imposed on parts of the country. In his eighth address to the nation on Sunday, April 26, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo encouraged Ghanaians to wear masks wherever they went to help contain the spread of the virus, adding that the Ministry of Health was going to come out with guidelines on the wearing of masks in the country. “Like the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently advised, I want to encourage you to wear a mask wherever you are, as it will help you not to contract the virus and keep it clean. Following the President’s statement, the Ministry of Health has said it is mandatory for the public to wear mask when going to places where social distancing cannot be maintained. Directive A directive issued by the sector minister, Mr. Kwaku Agyemang-Manu said “I hereby direct the use of face masks in all public places where it may be difficult to maintain social distancing. The general public is encouraged to wear mask or face covering when going out whether sick or not or attending to a sick person. Incorrect use of face mask carries a high risk of infection.” “The following groups or persons are required at all times to wear masks: Food vendors and sellers at markets, commercial vehicle drivers and attendants, commuters on public transport, persons in public and commercial centers, facilities and buildings including but not limited to offices, bars, workshops, restaurants, sports arenas and spas, salons, shopping malls, churches, clinics and hospitals and all other facilities accessible to the public whether privately or publicly owned”. The directive, the minister said was in pursuant of section 169 of the Public Health Act, 2012, (Act 851). Mr. Agyemang-Manu however indicated that where masks were not available homemade ones could be used. He stressed that homemade masks should be produced following laid down Food and Drugs Authority guidelines to ensure all masks met safety standards.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development, (IFAD), has approved a request of US$20 million for Ghana’s food production. The amount is also to help to deal with emergencies that may arise following the COVID-19 pandemic, Agric Minister Dr. Owusu Afriyie-Akoto, has revealed at a press briefing on Thursday April 23, adding that the funds will available in a week or two. “The target is to take agric growth to a double digit of 10% in the next two to three years,” he said. Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto also outlined a raft of measures being rolled out ahead of the upcoming planting season. They include market surveillance, where market prices and food availability on the markets are monitored; provision of PPE for Extension Agents, development of guidelines for production, public education through video and print and facilitating inputs distribution. The Bank of Ghana has recently instructed banks in Ghana not to pay dividends to shareholders for the 2019 and 2020 financial years because of the Coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) pandemic and its effects. Banks in Ghana would have, normally, declared and paid dividends, as approved by their shareholders at the Annual General Meetings (AGMs), around this time of the year in Ghana, but that is not to be because of such instructions from the central bank - the Bank of Ghana, given reasons for such a decision as how the banks would be negatively impacted if they (the banks) should dole out such monies. The Volta Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Trade and Industry has unveiled eight development projects under government’s One-District-One Factory (1D1F) with two of such projects already existing. Mrs Josephine Dzotsi, the Volta Regional Director of Ministry of Trade and Industry, disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Ho. She said Caltech Ventures Limited, which is into the production and processing of cassava into ethanol and carbon dioxide and the Volta Forest Products Company (VFPC), a wood processor, were receiving financial re-engineering and facilitation from government through the Exim Bank to bolster their businesses. She said six new projects had emerged under the flagship programme and sited at various locations in the Volta and Oti regions, namely, KOP Farms Consultancy Limited, which are into the cultivation and processing of grains at Volo, in the North Tongu District.
The government of Ghana accepted all bids submitted for the 3-year bond auctioned on Thursday, 16 April 2020. According to the results, the government accepted all the GH¢849.24 million total bids submitted for the debt instrument which will mature in 2023. The initial pricing guidance was between 18.50% and 19.00%. But the clearing coupon rate is estimated at 19.00%. Class Business understands that the majority of the funds raised will be used to settle the maturing debt. The instrument was opened to both resident and non-resident investors. Each Bond has a face value of GH¢1, whereas the minimum bid was GH¢50,000 and multiples of GH¢1,000 thereafter. Absa, Databank, Fidelity, IC Securities and Stanbic Bank were the joint book runners. The government of Ghana’s fiscal deficit is projected to reach 9.5% of GDP by the end of this year. That is according to a revised forecast by the International Monetary Fund. Excluding energy and financial costs, the budget deficit of GDP will, however, be 6.4% of GDP. This is higher than the targeted 4.9% of GDP projected by the government this year. According to the Fiscal Stability Act, the benchmark for fiscal deficit to GDP ratio is 5%. However, the expected higher budget deficit is due to the coronavirus pandemic which obviously will affect certain sectors of the economy and thus depriving the nation some revenue.
The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has launched the Ghana COVID-19 Tracker App to track contacts of persons affected by the virus through various datalinks and connect such people to health professionals. The app would provide information on people who happened to be at the same event, location, country or other defined location and to know where they might have been as a group over time. It uses telecom data that is shared from a common platform to facilitate contact tracing, quarantine reliability and other means necessary to put an end to the disease. Launching the App Launching the app via livestream teleconference, Dr Bawumia said the tracker would also periodically provide a list of telephone numbers to the Ghana Immigration Service of people who had visited certain countries around the world in recent times for possible use in determining who to target for an extra screening. He explained that the tracker was also useful in obtaining reliable information on people in quarantine. “If people who were required to self-quarantine were doing so and information is provided in advance, it would allow the country to respond quickly to treat them, “Dr Bawumia said.
Ghana has imposed restrictions on the movement of persons within the Greater Accra and Kasoa as well as Kumasi and its environs in order to give the government the opportunity to stave off the COVID-19 pandemic. The areas under partial lockdown have been identified as the hotspots of the coronavirus transmission. The country now has 378 confirmed coronavirus cases, six deaths and four recoveries. Two are in critical condition and 370 are mild cases who are in isolation and are been managed at home or at treatment centers. The president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo first imposed a 14-day partial lockdown on March 30, 2020 and extended it for a week in his sixth address to the nation on Ghana’s enhanced response to the Coronavirus Pandemic on Thursday, April 9. The extension takes effect from Monday, April 13. He said the lockdown measures imposed to combat the disease have so far yielded moderate successes, however “this fight is not yet over and we are by no means out of the woods yet.” Closed borders The country’s borders remain closed as part of measures to deal with the pandemic. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo said the decision to keep the country’s borders shut was based on data which indicated that the overwhelming majority of confirmed cases came from travelers or from people who had come into contact with travelers. “We now see that the decision to closed down our borders has been justified. One hundred and five of the cases came from those who were mandatorily quarantined and tested on their arrival on March 21 and 22 March. One hundred and ninety-two of the cases came from travelers who entered our country before the closure and their contacts. Seventy-nine per cent of the 378 confirmed cases are thus imported,” said President Akufo-Addo
The Bank of Ghana has clarified that all banks and financial institutions will remain opened to the public during the two-week partial lock-down of parts of Accra and Kumasi from Monday, March 30, 2020. This follows the announcement by President Nana Akufo- Addo indicating that some essential service providers such as banks and other financial institutions will not be affected by the partial lock-down. Regardless of that announcement, some Ghanaians have been trooping to the banks and other financial institutions to make withdrawals. A statement from the Bank of Ghana, also urged the banks and other financial institutions to operate with a minimum number of staff and make available Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and all digital platforms as part of measures to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic could affect Ghana’s growth rate from 7 percent on average to 2.5 percent if the situation persists till the end of 2020, President Akufo-Addo has stated. The President, who made the announcement last Friday when he announced a partial lock-down in parts of Accra, Kumasi, Tema, and Kasoa, said the projection was made by the Bank of Ghana in the worst-case scenario. Ghana has so far confirmed 152 cases, with five deaths and two recoveries. President Akufo-Addo however assured that government will do all it can in its effort to stabilize the economy to protect the vulnerable.
Ghana’s total exports exceeded imports by US$780 million as at February this year, representing 1.1 percent of the total value of all goods and services produced in the country. This year’s figure is also an increase compared to the US$378 million or 0.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), recorded in February 2019. According to data provided by the Bank of Ghana, this was due to the fact that the country’s imports declined for the period, while it also benefited from increase in some prices of commodities like gold and cocoa. For February 2020, Ghana raked in a total of US$2.76 billion from the export of traditional commodities like cocoa, gold and oil. This is an increase from the US$2.67 billion recorded in the previous year. The Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Ltd (GhIPSS) has waived off charges on electronic payments services used by its partner financial service providers. This initiative is in collaboration with banks, fintechs and mobile money operators across the country. According to GhIPSS, the suspension of charges is in line with the measures outlined by the Central Bank of Ghana to contain the impact of Coronavirus pandemic on the Ghanaian economy. “This waiver is regardless of the volume and value of transactions, until further notice,” GhIPSS said. A statement released by GhIPSS and copied to GhanaWeb said, from Monday, March 23, 2020, all banks, fintech and mobile money operators, leveraging the following platforms to offer electronic payment services to the general public shall not incur any service charges:
Ghana has banned travellers who have been to any country with more than 200 Coronavirus (covid-19) cases as a measure to prevent the spread of the ravaging Coronavirus. The ban took effect on Sunday, March 15, 2020, a day after the country recorded six confirmed cases of covid-19. A statement from the Ministry of Information said, however, that Ghanaian citizens and persons with Ghanaian resident permits would be allowed into the country but would be made to observe a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. On the night of Monday, March 16, 2020, two Italian nationals travelling from Europe, were prevented from entering Ghana in compliance with the travel advisory directive issued by the government and currently the country has refused entry to 31 passengers, while a number of airlines were not allowed to disembark passengers. In a message to the nation on Sunday, March 15, the President announced that an earlier travel ban for all government functionaries was still in force
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has lauded actor Boris Kodjoe and international marketing executive Bozoma Saint John for the key roles they played in making Ghana's Year of Return a success. The 'Year of Return, Ghana 2019', was a major initiative inviting the Global African family, home and abroad, to mark 400 years of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Jamestown, Virginia.
When President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo proclaimed 2019 as the Year of Return, his vision was not just to attract the diasporan community to make a birthright journey home. It is now clear that the president also intended to strengthen the ties of solidarity among all people of African descent by bringing together Africans, well-wishers and lovers of freedom to strengthen the collective commitment to ensure that the blots in Africa’s history, such as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and slavery, never reoccurred.