THIS WEEK IN PARLIAMENT [July 9 - 12]


Here are the major highlights from the chamber this week - starting Tuesday, July 9

Ghana To Host AfCFTA Secretariat

The mood at Parliament House on Thursday was full of hope and optimism as MPs took turns to praise efforts that successfully secured Ghana’s hosting bid for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat in Accra. Reading a prepared statement on the floor by Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, 54 out of 55 countries in Africa have currently signed the AfCFTA/CFTA, 27 countries have ratified the agreement. This, he adds, was made possible because 22 countries had to ratify the agreement in order to bring it into full force. 

The Minister listed the following as benefits that Africa with a population of 1.2 billion seeks to derive from the AfCFTA:

  • Increase in intra-Africa trade which is estimated to increase by $35 billion (52%) per annum by the year 2022;

  • Address the challenge of small fragmented markets in Africa by creating a single continental market leading to economies of scale;

  • Added value to Africa’s abundant natural resources and promote economic diversification and industrialisation;

  • Develop regional value chains and facilitate cross border investments on the continent; 

  • Enhance access to an expanded market for SMEs on preferential trade terms; 

  • Attract FDI into Africa with strong regional and local content;

  • Facilitate integration of African economies into global markets;

  • Significant enhance youth employment for Africa’s youth.

On Ghana hosting the AfCFTA secretariat in Accra, Mr Kyerematen said it could not have come at a better time as Africa is rising; Ghana is rising as well. He explained that in spite of Ghana’s role at the forefront of the liberation struggle of Africa and subsequent contributions to integration, she has not had the honour and privilege to host any AU organ, therefore, the decision to host the AfCFTA secretariat is a “historic one”. He said Ghana stands to benefit immensely by hosting the secretariat; among the benefits include becoming the new commercial capital of Africa, a regional trade hub and an economic epicentre and the new gateway to the continent. Also, he said the secretariat will promote Ghana as an attractive investment destination and actively facilitate FDI into the country; and jobs. 

He is however optimistic that Ghana’s new place as CFTA’s headquarters will enhance the government’s industrialisation agenda and contribute to the diversification of the local economy as well as open up new market opportunities under preferential terms for Ghanaian producers particularly SMEs. Mr. Kyerematen is also hopeful that Ghana will have the opportunity to host continent-wide meetings and AfCFTA associated events.

He concludes his statement by saying Ghana’s hosting of the Secretariat “is going to be a game changer” and provide a launchpad for indigenous private businesses to ‘explore’ and ‘exploit’ opportunities in Africa.

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, was given an opportunity to comment on Alan Kyerematen’s statement where he said that Ghana has a trade surplus of $1.7 billion (2.7% GDP) with $2 billion worth of export to Africa. Also, AfCFTA will create a combined GDP of $3 trillion for a population of 1.2 billion in Africa adding that the coming into force of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is the ''beginning of economic emancipation'' in Africa. The AfCFTA becomes that biggest free trade area in the world outside the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu (MP, Tamale South) on his part implored the Ministers of Trade and Industry and Finance to work together on improving the economy and also consider moving the Ghana Export Promotion Authority from under the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Deputy Majority Leader, Sarah Adwoa Safo (MP, Dome/Kwabenya) said the art of diplomacy nowadays has moved from ''diplomacy simplicita to economic diplomacy'' and shared her joy that the AfCFTA Secretariat in Ghana is a manifestation of the commitment to pursue economic diplomacy.

 

Presentation of Papers

The following papers were presented during the week under review: 

  1. annual statement by the audit committee of the Food and Drugs Authority for the year 2018

  2. annual statement by the audit committee of the Ministry of Communications for the year 2018

  3. annual statement by the audit committee of the Ministry of Energy for the year 2018

4. A loan agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development for an amount of Kuwaiti Dinar 7 million ($24 million) to finance the rehabilitation of the Dome—Kitase Road project and ancillary works.

5. Annual statement by the Audit Committee of Ghana Prisons Service for the year 2018

6. Annual statement by the Audit Committee of the Ghana Police Service for the year 2018

7. Annual statement by the Audit Committee of Ledzokuku Municipal Assembly for the year 2018

8. Annual report of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) on management and use of petroleum revenues for the year 2018. 

9. Request for waiver of import duties, import VAT, GETFund levy, EXIM levy, & NHIL Levy, & other imposts amounting to €15,737.00 (GH¢92,579.00) on equipment to be procured by RePATRN Limited under the implementation of the One District One Factory programme.

10. Facility agreement between the Government of Ghana (represented by the Ministry of Finance) & Deutsche Bank, London Branch (as Agent, Arranger, Structuring Bank and Original Covered Lenders), as well as UK Export Finance (as Original Direct Lenders) for an amount of €233,963,982.08 [including the UK Export Finance support fee] relating to financing the design, construction & commissioning of potable water infrastructure project in Tamale. 

11. Commercial facility agreement between the Government of Ghana (represented by the Ministry of Finance) and Deutsche Bank AG, London Branch (as Agent, Arranger, Structuring Bank and Original Phase I and Phase II Lenders), for an amount of €43,007,885.97 relating to financing the design, construction and commissioning of a potable water infrastructure project in Tamale.

12. Contract agreement between Ghana Water Company Limited (acting on behalf of the Ministry of Sanitation & Water Resources for the Government of Ghana) & Biwater International Limited of England for an amount of $272,287,980.00 in respect of the project known as ''Tamale Water Supply Scheme''.

 

 

Frank Bruce | PARLIAMENT House, ACCRA

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