The defeat of the Black Stars of Ghana by Portugal in their first match of Qatar2022 World Cup dominates the headlines of Ghanaian press on Friday.
The Graphic reports that Ghana began the Qatar2022 World Cup with a 2-3 loss to Portugal.
The loss means Ghana is at the bottom of Group H with Portugal at the top after Uruguay and South Korea played out a goalless draw earlier on Thursday.
Portuguese skipper Cristiano Ronaldo became the first man to score at five Fifa World Cups as Portugal began their campaign by claiming all three points.
Ronaldo was playing for the first time since his controversial television interview last week and his subsequent release by Manchester United following the comments.
And the 37-year-old scored the opening goal from the penalty spot, hammering in after being tripped in the box by Ghana's Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu.
Captain Ronaldo had a couple of chances early on but a low shot was smothered by Lawrence Ati-Zigi and he also headed wide at the far post.
The forward had a goal disallowed for a push on Alexander Djiku while at the other end, Ghana did not have a single shot in the opening period.
The Black Stars improved in the second period as Mohammed Kudus drilled narrowly wide of the far post and got their reward when Andre Ayew equalised from close range.
But Portugal responded with two goals in two minutes to seal the points - Joao Felix converting a delightfully clipped finish and substitute Rafael Leao coolly stroking in just seconds after coming on.
Osman Bukhari headed in a late consolation for Ghana and there could have been real drama in the ninth minute of stoppage time.
Goalkeeper Diogo Costa put the ball down, seemingly unaware Inaki Williams was behind him, but after racing to intercept the ball, the Ghana forward slipped at the crucial moment and a scuffed shot was cleared off the line.
The newspaper says that the agriculture sector has received a huge boost following the announcement of plans to ramp up the local production of fertilizer.
Presenting the 2023 Budget, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori Atta, said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture was intensifying efforts to promote the local production and use of organic fertilizers in the country.
He said the government was also facilitating the establishment and the expansion of local organic fertilizer production plants with support from the EXIM Bank
He noted that in order to improve farmers access to fertilizer, the government had also increased the quota for organic fertilizer suppliers to cover the shortfall in supply of inorganic fertilizers under its subsidy programme.
“Mr. Speaker, the recent global crisis has severely disrupted inorganic fertilizer supply chains. This has resulted in sharp increases in prices making it difficult for farmers to access the commodity and thus threatening food security,” he stated.
He said these measures were therefore meant to help the farmers in these difficult times.
The Graphic also reports that government has assisted 30 Ghanaians firms to secure certifications of origin that will enable them to start trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The certified firms were assisted through the (Ghana) National AfCFTA Coordination Office, which serves as the liaison between Ghana and the AfCFTA Secretariat.
The firms are part of the 230 potential exporters identified to be guided through AfCFTA processes, procedures and protocols as they develop their products to be exported.
A certificate of origin is a document which attests that a product listed has met certain criteria to be considered as originating in a particular country.
It is issued by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI).
The National Coordinator at the (Ghana) National AfCFTA Coordination Office, Dr Fareed Kwasi Arthur, who made this known at the opening of a workshop in Accra yesterday, said two out of the 30 firms had been exporting under AfCFTA since October this year.
The two — Benso Oil Palm Plantation Limited and KEDA Ghana Ceramics Company Limited — exported palm oil products to Kenya and ceramics to Cameroon, respectively.
He said the coordination officer assisted the companies to meet the necessary protocol for the shipment of their consignments.
Dr Arthur said under the initiative, a company needed a certificate of origin issued by a competent authority, such as the Customs Division and the GNCCI.
He said the certificate of origin accompanied the consignment to help the authorities of the designated country determine whether or not the goods were from a member country under the agreement.
The Ghanaian Times says that the Minority in Parliament has urged Ghanaians to brace up for what they called “maximum hardship” in the 2023 fiscal year.
They said the measures outlined in the “nkabom” budget statement and economic policy of government for 2023 as presented by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, in Parliament, Accra, yesterday have no solution to the current economic challenges the citizenry were experiencing.
Presenting the budget, Mr Ofori-Atta announced some austerity measures including a 2.5 percentage hike in the Value Added Tax (VAT), a net freeze on public sector employment, a one per cent flat rate e-levy across all transactions, reduction of fuel allocation to government appointees by 50 per cent, ban on the use of V8 and V6 vehicles except for cross-country trips amongst others.
But the Minority Spokesperson on Finance and National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Ejumako/Enyan/Esiam, Dr CassielAtoForson, told journalists that the measures were cosmetic and offer no solution to Ghana’s economic problems.
“This budget is going to introduce extreme austerity in 2023. I can only urge the people of Ghana to brace up for maximum hardship worse than what we have gone through in 1979 and 1983.
“The budget as read today is nothing but one that would bring intensive and severe hardship on Ghanaians,” he said.
The youth, the NDC MP said would be the hardest hit with unemployment among them at 50 per cent.
“To the youth of this country, there is a net freeze on employment so no hope for you. To the ordinary trader, taxes will go up and for the general Ghanaian people, be ready that prices of goods and services would go up because of the increase in VAT.”
The newspaper reports that the Ministerial Session of the Accra Initiative (AI) ended in Accra yesterday after further deliberations on the need for joint actions by member States to address cross border security issues.
The conference brought together Ministers of Security and Defence of member States of the AI, which are Benin, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger.
Other participants were some representatives of the United Nations (UN) and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS).
The AI was established in September 2017 as a mechanism to enhance intelligent and security cooperation between the security agencies of member states.
Its formation was necessitated by the urgent need to address the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel region and curb the southward drift of the threat of terrorism to Coastal West African States.
Opening the session, Minister for National Security, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, said with strong collaboration between African countries, winning the fight against terrorism in the sub-region could be possible.
He stated that the seemingly deteriorating security situation in some African countries did not mean efforts of leaders of the affected countries to combat violent extremism were in vain.
Commissioner, Political Affairs, peace and security of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Abdel-Fatau Musah, in his remarks bemoaned that terrorism was steadily gaining foothold in the region, especially in the Sahel with the onslaught of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the southward movement towards the coastal member states especially in Benin, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire.
He noted that the incremental gains of a combination of determined efforts by the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), counterterrorism operations across the Lake Chad Basin as well as inter terrorists conflicts which had to some extent degraded the capacities of terrorists groups such as the Boko Haram.
According to Dr Musah, the worrisome incursion of terror acts in Benin and Togo in recent times and the attacks in Cote D’Ivoire in 2016 confirmed the spread of the terrorist menace towards coastal member states.