Press zooms in on BoG’s directive to stop funding rice, poultry importation, others

APA – Accra (Ghana)

The directive by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to banks and other financial institutions to stop providing foreign exchange (FX) to fund the importation of rice, poultry, vegetables and ceramics, among others is one of the leading stories in the Ghanaian press on Friday.

The Graphic reports that the Bank of Ghana (BoG) has stopped providing foreign exchange (FX) to banks and other financial institutions to fund the importation of rice, poultry, vegetables and ceramics, among others.

The central bank withdrew the support this month as part of efforts to maximise the country’s reserves while encouraging domestic production and the consumption of local substitutes.

The decision has been communicated to the lenders electronically.

BoG said the affected items included rice, poultry, vegetable oils, toothpicks, pasta, fruit juice, bottled water, ceramic tiles and other non-critical goods.

A source at the central bank confirmed the development to the Daily Graphic yesterday, but said it did not amount to asking importers to stop importing the listed items.

It said it only meant that BoG would not be funding their importation.

BoG said in the electronic message that its decision followed a directive by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during his October 30 address to the state.

“In accordance with the President’s directive issued at his recent address to the nation on the Ghanaian economy, on October 30, 2022, BoG will no longer provide FX support for the imports of rice, poultry, vegetable oils, toothpicks, pasta, fruit juice, bottled water, ceramic tiles and other non-critical goods.

The newspaper says that the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) have expressed divergent views on the account into which petroleum revenue of $100.7 million should be paid.

While PIAC insists it should be paid into the Petroleum Holding Fund, the GNPC says it should be paid into Jubilee Oil Holding Limited, a subsidiary of the corporation.

The amount was realised from the lifting of 944,164 barrels of oil from the Jubilee fields and Anadarko CWTP Company in the first half of 2022.

Testifying as a witness before the ad hoc committee of Parliament hearing the censure motion on the Minister of Finance yesterday, the Vice-Chairman of PIAC, Nasir Alfa Mohammed, said the money was rather paid into an offshore account.

“We have established that they have not paid that quantum of money, which ought to have formed part of the petroleum revenues of Ghana, into the Petroleum Holding Fund, and in our view that is contrary to the law,” he told the committee.

However, the GNPC said PIAC got it all wrong.

The Deputy Chief Executive (CEO) of the GNPC in charge of Commerce, Strategy and Business Development, Joseph Dadzie, who also testified as a witness before the committee, said the money was paid into Jubilee Oil Holding Limited, which was legally clothed with the authority to receive the money.

He, therefore, disagreed with PIAC that the money should have been paid directly into the Petroleum Holding Fund.

Both witnesses were testifying in response to the proponents of the censure motion against Ken Ofori-Atta on the ground of illegal payment of revenues into an offshore account, in flagrant violation of Article 176 of the Constitution.

The Graphic also reports that former President John Mahama has urged the senior national soccer team, the Black Stars, to stake claim to the World Cup trophy in this year's FIFA World Cup tournament in Qatar.

He said the time has come for the Black Stars to make their present felt at the world cup, saying "We have a rich history at the world cup where we have held the world spellbound with our unique brand of football."

For him, the team has what it takes to win the trophy, noting that the team brought joy and happiness to many Ghanaians in 2006 and 2010 tournaments and can do it again.

The former President in a post on social media said also called on all Ghanaian citizens to give the team their full support, saying that supporting the team must be seen as a national duty.

He said the 26 players for the competition and the technical team has done their part by answering the national call to represent Ghana and that it was time the citizens to also do their part by supporting the team.

"They've toiled through the qualification and secured us the right to be counted among the best 32 footballing nations on Earth,” Mr Mahama said, pointing out that the qualification alone to the World Cup competition is significant and worthy of celebration.

The Black Stars is playing in Group H with Portugal, South Korea and Uruguay.

The Ghanaian Times says the outlook of the Ghana cedi will depend on whether Ghana reaches an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and obtains funding in the months ahead.

According to Fitch Solutions November 2022 West Africa Monitor Report, though it expected the cedi to remain on a depreciatory trajectory in the immediate term, the outlook depended on whether Ghana reached an agreement with the IMF for a programme.

“Although we expect that the cedi will remain on a depreciatory trajectory in the immediate term, the outlook depends on whether Ghana will reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and obtain funding in the months ahead,” the report said.

The country announced in July 2022, it was seeking support from the IMF to address the present economic challenges.

Fitch Solutions pointed out that though it believed that the two parties would reach a deal in the first quarter of 2023, there were downside risks to this view which would have negative implications for the cedi.

It stressed that the reason the Ghana cedi had suffered rapid depreciation this year was due to downgrades of its credit rating by the international rating agencies.

“This is on the back of the country’s poor fiscal economy as a result of high-interest payments, rising debt levels and large fiscal deficit, forcing foreign holders of Ghana’s bonds to sell off,” it said.

Fitch Solutions concluded that with Ghana being unable to tap international capital markets, the country’s foreign exchange reserves fell to 3.4 months of import cover in June 2022, which would continue to limit the Bank of Ghana’s ability to defend the exchange rate over the coming months.

The newspaper reports that the European Union has allocated €17 million to the government to expand the green skills development component of the National Green Jobs Strategy.

It followed the efforts the government was making in implementing the National Green Jobs Strategy which aimed at promoting the creation of decent green jobs through inter sectoral linkages and cooperation.

The strategy focused on enhancing coordination of interventions that impact on green jobs across the sectors, promoting green skills development, support green enterprises to grow and expand, facilitating the mobilisation and accessibility to green financial resources.

The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, who said these in a speech read on his behalf, was of the view that “when these interrelated components are well implemented, an enabling environment would be created for the green and circular economy to blossom and its impact effectively harnessed for job creation.”

He was speaking at the 2022 Green Job Fair on the theme, “Green and Circular Economy: A Sure Way of Creating Decent and Sustainable Employment and Jobs.”

It is aimed at connecting potential employers with job seekers in the Ashanti Region.

About 1000 job seekers, mostly the youth, filled the Prempeh Assembly Hall to get connected with potential employers, on Tuesday.

The fair was under the auspices of the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation as part of its European Union funded Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities in Ghana (GrEEn) project.

According to the minister, the job fair approach had proved useful and practical in terms of linking job seekers, particularly the youth to available job vacancies “with records showing that over 10,000 job seekers had been employed directly through the job fairs.”

He noted that under the SNV Ghana Opportunities for Youth Employment training programme which provided employable skills to unemployed youth as well as coaching and mentoring support to entrepreneurs and starters, about 30,000 youth had been trained in various skills and 5,000 been placed in internships and job vacancies under the GrEEn project.


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