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NDC Party Rejects Light Bill Reductions By The NPP Government

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is fighting against the recent reductions in electricity tariffs by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.

Some NDC Members of Parliament (MPs) have argued that the measures put in place by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to bring down electricity tariffs, effective March 15, are counter-productive and will bring back erratic power supply, known in local parlance as dumsor – which reigned supreme when the NDC was in office.

Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, has denied that the tariff cut will bring back dumsor, saying dumsor is gone with NDC.

NDC believes that the electricity tariff reduction was political because the NPP had promised to reduce tariff of power when elected.

Strangely the same NDC had accused the NPP of not fulfilling its campaign promise of reducing tariff and other promises.

One of those opposed to the tariff cuts is Edward Bawa, NDC MP for Bongo in the Upper East Region, who worked at the Ministry of Energy as a communication specialist. 

Reduction Fears

He said after the PURC’s announcement, he feared the reduction in tariffs was going to bring about power crisis because it was going to compromise the revenue projections of the utility providers and power generators and expose them to debts.

“If you look at the challenges that brought us into dumsor, apart from the capacity and fuel security, it also had to do with the financial health of the utilities,” Bawa, who is a ranking member of the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament, said on Citi FM.

“The current move, the reduction is on the energy charges, it is an encroachment on their revenues because energy charges are one of the accruals that the utilities will make,” he noted.

He insisted that the NPP government is risking the energy security of the country in the name of promises it made during the 2016 electioneering campaign.

“I know the factors that took us to dumsor. Those factors are still lingering. My fear is that if we don’t consolidate and make this system robust, and just because of the fact that we want to satisfy electoral promises, we go into situations like this, we may expose ourselves to yet another dumsor,” Mr. Bawa posited.

Taxes & Levies

He proposed that President Akufo-Addo’s government should be “focusing on the burden it puts on the tariffs in terms of taxes and levies. For example, you have a VAT of 17.5 percent on it. In all these arrangements, the take that goes to the state and the take to the government have not been touched.”

According to the MP, “Industry will expand; they will make profits; you tax those profits. They expand; they employ people and you still tax incomes. This is how you will get it (revenue). It is an indirect road but you will eventually get the money. That is the proposal I am making,” the MP said.

The PURC announced a general reduction in electricity tariffs and in the announcement, residential customers will enjoy 17.5{c7e1ea036219e27bc6ac4bf85fe23486b28176cd83137fc774c6983643018848} reduction, while non-residential customers will see tariffs cut by 30{c7e1ea036219e27bc6ac4bf85fe23486b28176cd83137fc774c6983643018848}.

Those in the mining sector were given a 10{c7e1ea036219e27bc6ac4bf85fe23486b28176cd83137fc774c6983643018848} tariff cut, and 25{c7e1ea036219e27bc6ac4bf85fe23486b28176cd83137fc774c6983643018848} cut for Special Load Tariff Customers (LV, MV & HV).

Ahead of the PURC announcement, the NDC had lambasted President Akufo-Addo for announcing some average power tariff cuts of 14{c7e1ea036219e27bc6ac4bf85fe23486b28176cd83137fc774c6983643018848} in January, claiming the president was usurping the powers of the independent regulator (PURC). 

Energy Minister

In January, Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko exposed the minority spokesperson on energy, Adams Mutawakilu, who had claimed that the ministry did not make any proposal to the PURC to be factored into the calculation that led to the reduction of tariffs as captured in the 2018 budget.

“The ministry sent a proposal to the PURC on the 17th of November, and he is welcome to see copies of these matters. Indeed, it is within his power as the ranking member to summon me to the Mines and Energy Committee (of Parliament) for such a verification,” the minister rebutted, adding, “We have submitted our proposal and I can say that without fear of contradiction, because I know that is what the truth is.”

NDC Cynicism

The NDC has always been cynical about the government’s plans to reduce electricity tariffs in the budget.

In November last year, they rejected moves by the Akufo-Addo administration to reduce the cost of electricity when the budget was read by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.

Adam Mutawakilu, NDC MP for Damongo in the Northern Region, had told Joy FM that the government had no power to reduce the cost of power.

Majority Leader Haruna Iddrisu was also skeptical about the government’s ability to cut energy tariffs.

He had said ‘Hallelluya! after the budget had been read and the proposed reduction was made.

He had said sarcastically, “We look forward to the proposed reduction.”

Paradox

Bizarrely, the NDC is the same political grouping whose members are on the neck of the government to reduce the economic burden of Ghanaians.

Recently, the Energy Minister revealed how NDC appointees during the Mahama administration padded the cost of power purchasing deals, forcing electricity tariffs to skyrocket and the NPP government had to re-negotiate with the power producers to bring the cost of producing power down, thereby enabling the government to make proposals to the PURC to cut down tariffs.

The NDC, although claiming to be a social democratic party, has been against every pro-poor policy and social intervention that has been introduced by the NPP government and its hatred for the Free Senior High School initiative is a classic case.

DAILY GUIDE learnt that the NDC would soon come out with a robust response to the tariff cuts and it is going to be in defence of the power producers as against the public.

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education

Mfantsipim SHS turns away first year students

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Some first year students and their parents who turned up at the Mfantsipim Senior High School (SHS) in the Central Region with their trunks and chop boxes on Sunday have been left stranded after they were turned away by authorities of the school.

The school’s authorities claim the students who were placed in the school under the self-placement module of the Computerised School Selection Placement System (CSSPS) were wrongly placed; thus they should go back home.

One parent who spoke to Graphic Online said upon arrival at the school, authorities asked them to go back home because her son’s name was not on the list of students who have been placed at the school.

According to her, following her son’s placement, she picked up the prospectus last Wednesday and was asked to report to the school on Sunday.

“My ward was given Visual Arts. We came here on Wednesday after my ward was placed at Mfantsipim and they gave us a prospectus. We’ve sewn uniforms, bought all the items and now they are asking us to go back home. We won’t go,” she told Graphic Online.

“When we came on Wednesday, they took our phone numbers and so if anything at all, they should have called us or sent us messages to that effect. The number of students doing visual arts on the notice board is just 22 so parents suspect there is more to it than meets the eye. They say they are not admitting but we have been given prospectus since last week to report today only to be given this news,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Education Service (GES) says no student was wrongly placed by the CSSPS.

According to the Deputy Director General in charge of Quality and Access, Kwabena Tandoh, students were placed according to their choice of schools.

In an interview, Mr Tandoh explained that students were placed by merit and thus it was impossible for anyone to complain that he or she was not placed in schools or programmes of their choice.

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568 Vehicles Provided To The Police; 320 Housing Units Being Built – President Akufo-Addo

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The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says Government, in recognition of the difficulties and dangers confronting police personnel in the discharge of their duties, is committed to resourcing the Police Service, in terms of provision of adequate personnel and logistics, to enable them to deliver on their core mandate.

According to President Akufo-Addo, “despite budgetary constraints, the Akufo-Addo government has, in two and half years in office, provided 568 vehicles, including 15 operational buses to the Service, a feat unprecedented in the history of the Service.”

President Akufo-Addo

With many more vehicles expected to arrive in the country in the next few months, the President noted that when he took office in January 2017, the Service had a total of 492 serviceable cars.

President Akufo-Addo made this known on Friday, 13th September 2019, when he addressed the graduation ceremony of the 49th Cadet Officers Course of the Ghana Police Service.

Additionally, the President noted that 320 housing units are being constructed at National Police Training School to reduce the accommodation deficits of the Service.

President Akufo-Addo

“Modern communication equipment677 and 4,500 fragmentation jackets have been procured and delivered to the Service to protect officers, and ensure effective policing,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo continued, “Government has also secured three (3) helicopters for the Service, with the construction of hangars at the National Police Training School almost nearing completion. I am happy to inform you that six (6) officers are currently undergoing training in South Africa to become pilots for the helicopters, and serve as the Air Wing of the Police Service.”

Twenty (20) horses, the President said, have also been procured to assist the Police in riot and crowd control, with a Canine (K9) Unit, made up of thirty (30) dogs, also in the offing.

The recent establishment of the Police Intelligence Directorate, he said, is ensuring that police operations and investigations are increasingly being carried out on the basis of intelligence.

President Akufo-Addo

“The Criminal Investigations Department will, by the end of the year, be equipped with a digital forensics’ laboratory, and, for the first time in the history of the Department, crime officers are given a monthly allowance to support their investigations. We are retooling the CID Forensic Science lab; the CID building has also now become disability-friendly, and there is continuous training of CID officers,” the President said.

Touching on recruitment of new police personnel, President Akufo-Addo noted that Government has given approval for the recruitment of four thousand (4,000) personnel to augment the strength of the Police Service.

He revealed that 961 of these recruits passed out between 22nd and 31st July this year, in various Police Training Schools throughout the country.

“The second batch of one thousand (1,000) recruits are also due to graduate by the end of this month. Another batch, made up of two thousand (2,000) men and women, is scheduled to report for training by the end of this month,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo

These measures, according to the President, have been put in place by the Government to reform the Police Service and make it fit for purpose.

Condemnation of Attacks
The recent attacks on some police officers, which have resulted in their deaths, he said, must no longer be allowed to continue.

“I condemn these attacks in no uncertain terms, and I assure the Police Service and the general public that, in so far as we are a nation governed under the rule of law, such criminal acts will not go unpunished. No one deserves to be killed under any criminal or extra-judicial circumstance,” President Akufo-Addo explained.

He continued, “Personnel of the Police Service should not be seen as enemies, but rather partners in the fight against crime. I am happy to note that the Police Administration has, in all these cases, acted promptly, and arrested the perpetrators, who are now facing trial. The Ghanaian people are expectant that such rapid arrests will also be carried out when the victims are ordinary citizens.”

In the same vein, the President was expectant that, any police officer who breaks the law, and abuses the freedoms and human rights of any member of society must not be spared, and should be brought to face the full rigours of the law.

On the missing Takoradi girls, President Akufo-Addo indicated that “the families of the three missing Takoradi girls and the recently discovered fourth person, are waiting anxiously for news of their whereabouts from the Police Service, and I fervently hope the Police Service will respond soon.”

Government, the President reiterated, is determined to help create a security service, including the Police Service, that is professional and efficient in the discharge of its duties.

“Promotions within the service have to be based on merit, and not on political affiliation. The political affiliations of serving officers should manifest themselves only in the polling booth on election day. Once they don the uniform, the population and I expect them to carry out their duties impartially, without any political coloration. That is the basis on which I have proceeded since I assumed office on 7th January, 2017,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that the political leanings of any of the commanding officers of the various security agencies, including the Police Service, are not his concern.

“My concern is their ability to deliver. That is the best way we can build a credible security and police system,” the President stressed.

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3 helicopters coming to aid your work – Akufo-Addo to Police

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says his government has secured three helicopters for the Ghana Police Service as the construction of hangers at the National Police Training School in Accra almost near completion.

Nana Akufo-Addo also expressed joy that six Police officers are currently undergoing training in South Africa to become pilots for the helicopters and serve as the air wing of the Police Service.

The President said these when he addressed graduates and attendees of the 49th cadet officers graduation parade at the Police Academy, Police Depot, Tesano, Accra, on Friday, 13 September 2019.

To further resource the Police, Nana Akufo-Addo noted that 20 horses have also been procured to assist the police in riot and crowd control, with a canine (K9) unit, made up of 30 dogs, also in the offing.

“Despite budgetary constraints government has in two and a half years in office provided 568 vehicles including 15 operational buses to the service,” he said adding that “320 housing units are being constructed at the National Police Training School to reduce accommodation deficits of the service.”

The President further said modern communication equipment and 4,500 fragmentation jackets have been procured and delivered to the Service to protect officers and ensure effective policing.

He stressed that his government is determined to help create a security service, including the Police Service, that is professional and efficient in the discharge of its duties adding that “Promotions within the service have to be based on merit and not on political affiliation.”

In all, the 49th cadet officers graduation parade saw 143 cadet officers graduating.

For the first time, a female cadet officer, Theodora Ntirwaa, graduated as the overall best cadet officer.wikimedia

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