Business News of 2013-12-15

SADA operations dominate parliamentary debate

Operations of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) took centre stage in the deliberations of Parliament on the 2014 budget estimates of the government machinery.

Two ventures by SADA — the promotion of high-tech production of guinea fowls for local consumption and export; and the planting of five million trees in the three northern regions as well as parts of the Brong Ahafo and Volta regions — generated a lot of heat in the House.

The Finance Committee of Parliament stated in its report that SADA entered into a joint venture agreement with the Asongtaba Cottage Industries to promote high-tech guinea fowl rearing.

While SADA contributed Ghc12 million towards the project and an additional Ghc3 million to promote out-grower schemes in the SADA zones, Asongtaba contributed Ghc15 million.

The committee stated that progress had been made in the construction of ultra-modern facilities that would promote an out-grower guinea fowl scheme with the potential to create employment for 10,000 farm families.

On the tree planting scheme, the committee said the programme ran into challenges due to the long dry season and bush fires.

But the Deputy Minority Leader, Mr Dominic Nitiwul, said even though the idea to produce high-tech guinea fowls on a commercial basis was laudable, its implementation left much to be desired.

But some Majority MPs, particularly Mr Alban Bagbin (Nadowli-Kaleo) and Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan (Mion), said since guinea fowls were delicate birds, they required a conducive atmosphere to survive, hence the investment in infrastructure.

On the tree planting venture, Mr Nitiwul said whoever took the decision to plant the trees during the dry season had done a disservice to the country.

"It was intentional for those who planted the trees to do so during the dry season, so that they will die," he said.

But when he was unable to show evidence that those who planted the three did so during the dry season in order to kill the plants, the Speaker, Mr Edward Adjaho, prevailed on him to withdraw that aspect of his submission.

The Finance Committee reported to the House that the National Pension Regulatory Authority (NPRC) had so far engaged 11 private pension fund managers and registered 50 trustees to help manage contributions of workers to the Second Tier Occupational Pension Scheme.

The second tier Private Pension Fund has grown significantly, with total asset value of Ghc1.179 billion.

But the Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, raised issues with the management of the fund and called for transparency.

Dr Akoto Osei called for measures to invite officials of SSNIT, the NPRA and the BoG to Parliament to answer questions relating to the fund.

The Majority Leader, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, promised that efforts would be made to ensure that officials of the three institutions appeared before the committee to give further explanations to issues raised on the floor of the House.

The Minority also raised issues with an amount of Ghc600,000 that has been earmarked in the budget of the Government Machinery for the Brand Ghana Office.

Dr Akoto Osei argued that since the office was not created by Parliament and operated as a non-governmental organisation, it was not proper for the House to approve the amount.