General News of 2014-01-05

Christian Council wades into Merbank sale

The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) has called on government to, as a matter of national importance, institute measures to arrest the unemployment situation in the country.
In a communique issued in Accra on Sunday, the group warned of dire consequences for the country, if the recent upsurge in unemployment and corruption are not addressed immediately.
On that score, the CCG challenged government to provide adequate information “of what made selling a public asset like Merchant Bank a better deal for Ghanaians”.
Read below the full communique of CCG
COMMUNIQUE ON NATIONAL ISSUES BY THE CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF GHANA
Adopted at the Joint Heads of Churches/Organisations and Executive Committee Meeting of the Christian Council of Ghana held at its Secretariat on December 17, 2013.
We, the Heads of Churches/Organisations and Executive Committee members of the Christian Council of Ghana, having met on December 17, 2013 at the Secretariat of the Council, Accra;
Having discussed issues pertaining to the socio-economic development of our dear nation;
Acknowledging our prophetic role as development partners, which imposes a responsibility on us to continue to support nation building efforts and hold government accountable for the well-being of every citizen of this country; while promoting national dialogue around the search for policies and strategies towards the economic growth, prosperity and peace of our people;
We are concerned that, the recent surge in unemployment, depreciation of the cedi, accidents on our roads, corruption, pollution of water bodies and labour unrest are very worrying and detrimental to the livelihoods of our people;
That, the partisan manner in which we deal with national issues is not helping our development efforts;
To this end, we declare as follows:
That, it is only Ghanaians that can develop this country and that we must find Ghanaian solutions to Ghanaian problems, and we must all support national efforts at building a country where our people can prosper and enjoy their basic rights without restrictions;
That, the government works with every citizen, irrespective of their political, religious, etc inclinations to find viable and sustainable solutions to the development challenges confronting this country;
That, Ghana can leap-frog into achieving economic stability at all fronts if current challenges are identified, and remedial measures initiated collectively to address these challenges;
That, the Ghanaian interest (national interest) and the dignity of the Ghanaian (Ghanaian dignity) must be at the centre of our efforts and national engagements.
To this end, we ask:
Road Accidents
1. That, every life that is lost on our roads is a tragedy
2. That, drivers observe road safety rules and ensure that they are qualified and medically fit to operate a motor vehicle;
3. That, drivers avoid excessive speeding, stop phone conversations and intake of alcohol while driving
4. That, the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Authority fast-track its efforts at eliminating ‘middlemen’ in license acquisition to ensure that only qualified people are given license to drive;
5. That, the Ghana Police Service should be well resourced to arrest every individual driving non road worthy vehicle and also prosecute those who breach the road safety regulations;
6. That, government takes immediate efforts to repair poor roads and also speed up the ongoing road constructions in farming communities;
7. That, construction of highways must factor in the needs of the disable, children and the aged in the society;
8. That, adequate warning and road safety signs are provided on our roads to guide drivers and pedestrians alike;
9. That, the government quickly constructs the required foot bridges needed on the N1 Highway to avoid the current spate of accidents on that road;
Education
10. That, the Ministry of Education should be commended for its efforts at ensuring that all SHS do not charge above the approved fees, and that the efforts be extended to all schools and be sustained;
11. That, the Ministry of Education should be commended for its robust efforts at dealing with the huge teacher absenteeism in our public schools which currently stands at about 25%;
12. That, government should be commended for its relentless efforts at constructing 200 SHS across the country by the end of 2016;
13. That, government works hand-in-hand with key stakeholders such as the traditional leaders, GNAT and religious bodies in the construction of the promised 200 SHS;
14. That, government takes steps to equip public schools, especially those in the rural communities with the requisite resources such as laboratories, workshops, libraries, books, teaching aids and sports facilities to aid teaching and learning;
15. That, government ensures that intelligent students with disabilities are given preferential treatment during admissions at the JHS, SHS and tertiary levels;
16. That, our public schools are made disability friendly;
17. That, government gives special attention to special educational institutions such as the school for the deaf and blind by providing them with the needed resources and facilities to enable them function effectively like other public schools;
Health
18. That, government ensures that cost does not become a barrier to accessing health care, by implementing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) effectively and efficiently;
19. That, the NHIS as it’s conceived presently, should be re-designed to cover diseases whose costs are prohibitive and for which insurance is a necessity;
20. That, government ensures easy access to health care through the provision of easily accessible healthcare facility; 21. That, no effort is spared in equipping and tooling health facilities to deliver quality services
22. That, the NHIA and the responsible agencies especially the Minister of Finance should ensure payment of the huge 5-6 months arrears due Health Services Providers to avoid withdrawal of services;
23. That malaria prevention will require efficient waste management practices and hygienic environment;
Environmental Sustainability
24. That, traditional leaders and government take steps to flush out miners whose activities continue to cause destruction to water bodies and farm lands;
25. That, galamsey activities are properly streamlined to avoid the degradation of the environment;
26. That, the various MMDAs collaborate with the EPA and traditional authorities in implementing strategies to preserve the environment;
State of our economy
27. That, the government should be commended for its initiative to assess its ministers and other political appointees;
28. That, the current economic situation is making it very difficult for business to thrive, thereby increasing unemployment and the poverty levels of our people;
29. That, the Bank of Ghana, as a matter of urgency should take the necessary steps to reverse the depreciation of the cedi against major trading currencies such as the dollar;
30. That, government takes steps to provide the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive through the provision of tax incentives and promote entrepreneurship by providing accessible low-interest loans to indigenous small and medium enterprises so as to facilitate job creation;
31. That, government ensures rapid infrastructure and human development, as well as the application of science, technology and innovation to enhance employment creation and income-earning opportunities for rapid and sustainable development;
32. That, government develops the necessary strategy to manage the nation’s resources prudently to spur economic growth, so as to avoid budget deficits;
33. That, we avoid politicizing our economic challenges and offer better options to improving the economy. Government in this regard must be willing to consider alternative recommendations from citizens with different political affiliations on national issues;
Corruption
34. That, government should be commended for launching the Code of Ethics for ministers and political appointees.
35. That, government should be commended for tasking the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to secure refunds of monies wrongfully paid to or appropriated by any individuals or companies from contracts with SADA, GYEEDA and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), and to retrieve the monies wrongfully paid to Waterville and Isofoton as Judgement Debts;
36. That, government should be commended for abolishing the policy that allows public officers to purchase state bungalows and vehicles allocated to them;
37. That, government should be commended for its decision to publish contract above GH5 million with recurring multiple budgets in the newspapers;
38. That, government comes public on the status of its promise to retrieve monies wrongfully paid to Waterville and Isofoton as judgment debts, and from contracts with SADA, GYEEDA and GRA;
39. That, government explains why it has not executed some of the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee;
40. That, government investigates the misappropriation of the over GH2 billion cedis by public officials as contained in the 2012 Auditor General’s report and prosecute the culprits accordingly;
41. That, the instituted anti-corruption agencies together with the private sector work at identifying the systemic loopholes in our public sector that continues to create avenues for corruption;
42. That, state institutions be well-resourced and allowed to investigate and prosecute public officers who are corrupt, especially when it involves notable public figures with political connections;
43.That, citizens expose public officers who are corrupt and be rewarded accordingly for exposing corrupt practices;
44. That, Christians in public service should bring their Christian values to bare in their public life and not compromise on any act of corruption;
45. That, the church should use its pulpit to consistently preach against corruption;
46. That, the church should use its platforms to help imbibe the act of integrity among its congregants, especially those in public office;
Electoral Reforms
47.That, political parties should avoid the politicization of national efforts towards reforming our electoral process;
48. That, the media makes deliberate efforts to reform its programmes and publications to avoid the polarization of our electoral system;
49. That, the Electoral Commission works closely with the political parties and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to undertake the electoral reforms, with inputs from religious bodies, etc;
50. That, the EC prepares the voters’ registrar on time to give political parties and other stakeholders the needed time to review and plan their electoral plans;
51. That, the EC develops a more structured and systemic recruitment and training of election officials;
52. That, an appropriate regulations together with a code of conduct be developed for all electoral officials including the volunteers;
Merchant Bank Sale
53. That, government/SSNIT provides adequate information of what made selling a public asset like Merchant Bank a better deal for Ghanaians;
54. That, government/SSNIT shares with the public what made the Fortiz Private Equity Fund offer better than that of First Rand and others;
55. That, government explains to Ghanaians why it decided to go ahead to sell Merchant Bank to Fortiz Equity Fund despite the controversies surrounding the entire deal and the public outcry that came with it;
56. That, all political parties, especially the NPP and NDC should stop the partisan manner in which they discuss the Merchant Bank sale in order to help the ordinary Ghanaian appreciate the real issues about the sale;
Tobinco Pharmacy & Food & Drugs Authority
57. That, the Ministry of Health and the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health be commended for their efforts in intervening in the issue;
58. That, efforts to resolve the issue be hastened in order to restore the dwindling fortunes of Tobinco Pharmacy;
59. That, the FDA must rather use its offices to facilitate Tobinco Pharmacy and other related companies to become more viable to be able to compete with those in other parts of the world;
60. That, we take the necessary positive efforts to protect indigenous industries by helping them meet international quality standards;
61. That, Tobinco Pharmacy must ensure that it takes the necessary efforts to meet the required FDA regulations in the production and distribution of drugs;
62. That, Regulatory Authorities ensures that the necessary sanctions are applied objectively to any entity (local and international) when they go contrary to applicable standards;
New Year Message: Renewal of Hope
63. That, we put our trust in God to help make Ghana great and strong in 2014
64. That, we continue to support the government and assist it in developing a Ghana where everyone can prosper and enjoy his/her basic rights;
65. That, we work diligently and put the interest of mother Ghana first in all that we do;
66. That, we express respect and love towards one another irrespective of ones political, religious, social etc affiliations;
67. That, we believe and hope in God to make 2014 a better year;
Our Commitment as a Council
68. That, we will continue to pray for the prosperity and safety of mother Ghana;
69. That, we will continue to remain non-partisan and play our prophetic role in public advocacy and education;
70. That, we will continue to contribute to the provision of quality education, healthcare and shelter to the people of this country through our various member churches;
71. That, we will continue to work with our brothers and sisters from other faith such as Islam, traditional religion, etc to develop Ghana;
72. That, we will continue to promote religious harmonization for national cohesion and development;
Finally, we admonish everyone with Apostle Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 12:20-25 which reads: “20 As it is, there are many parts but one body. 21 So then, the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don't need you!” Nor can the head say to the feet, “Well, I don't need you!” 22 On the contrary, we cannot do without the parts of the body that seem to be weaker; 23 and those parts that we think aren't worth very much are the ones which we treat with greater care; while the parts of the body which don't look very nice are treated with special modesty, 24 which the more beautiful parts do not need. God himself has put the body together in such a way as to give greater honor to those parts that need it. 25 And so there is no division in the body, but all its different parts have the same concern for one another.”
Signed:
Rt. Rev. Francis Amenu
Chairman, CCG
Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong
General Secretary, CCG
General Secretary