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Indonesia volcano: Dozens injured as residents flee huge ash cloud from Mt Semeru

One person has died and dozens are injured after a volcano erupted on Indonesia’s Java island, officials said on Saturday.

Residents were filmed fleeing a giant ash cloud from Mt Semeru.

Witnesses described nearby villages covered in debris, and thick smoke blotting out the Sun, leaving them in pitch darkness.

The deputy chief of Lumajang district put the number of injured at 41, saying they had suffered burns.

Indah Masdar called for helicopters to help rescue at least 10 people trapped in buildings.

“We’re in big distress,” she said. “It’s harrowing, their families are all crying.”

Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) later said it knew of 35 people being treated at local medical facilities.

Evacuation efforts have been hampered by choking smoke, a power blackout, and rainstorms during the eruption which turned the debris into mud.

Thoriqul Haq, a local official, told Reuters that a road and bridge from the area to the nearby city of Malang had been severed.

“This has been a very pressing, rapid condition since it erupted,” he said.

People ride a motorbike on a road covered with volcanic ash after Mt Semeru erupted, pictured in Sumberwuluh village in Lumajang regency, East Java province, on 4 December, 2021
Officials say debris and lava mixed with rainfall formed thick mud that has hampered evacuation efforts

Several hundred people have been moved to shelters or left for safer areas, local broadcaster tvOne quoted him as saying.

The eruption took place at about 14:30 local time (07:30 GMT). Local authorities have set up a restricted zone within 5km (3 miles) from the crater.

Airlines have been warned of an ash cloud rising up to 15,000m (50,000 ft).

The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) in Darwin, Australia said the ash appeared to have detached from the summit and was drifting south-west over the Indian Ocean.

The VAAC provides advice to the aviation industry about the location and movement of potentially hazardous volcanic ash.

Campbell Biggs, a meteorologist at the VAAC, told the BBC that the 15,000m plume was higher than the cruising altitude for most aircraft and would cause most flights in the vicinity to divert their flight paths to avoid it.

Ash that solidifies on cooler parts of plane engines can disrupt airflow, which can lead to engines stalling or failing completely.

It also affects visibility for the pilots and can affect air quality in the cabin – making oxygen masks a necessity.

Mt Semeru was quite an active volcano that regularly spewed ash up to about 4,300m, so Saturday’s eruption was a “pretty significant increase in intensity”, Mr Biggs said.

The ash cloud should slowly dissipate, he said.

Mt Semeru rises 3,676m above sea level and previously erupted last December, forcing thousands of residents to seek shelter.

It is among Indonesia’s nearly 130 active volcanoes.

Indonesia is on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates meet, causing frequent volcanic and seismic activity.

Videos shared by emergency officials and local media showed residents running away as a giant ash cloud rose behind them.

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‘I was as surprised as you’ – Masauku scores bizzare winner as West Ham beat leaders Chelsea

Arthur Masuaku said he was as surprised as everyone else when his misdirected late cross beat Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy to earn West Ham victory over the Premier League leaders in a pulsating encounter at London Stadium.

After collecting the ball wide on the left with three minutes remaining, Masuaku’s attempted delivery took Mendy by surprise and flew in at the near post to spark jubilant scenes among Hammers supporters.

The win consolidated West Ham’s place in the top four and means they have now beaten Chelsea and Liverpool, two of the three teams above them this season.

“So, was it a cross or was it shot?” Masuaku said on Twitter. “(Hint: I was as surprised as you).”

“I said to him I thought it was a great cross,” West Ham manager David Moyes joked of the defender’s first Premier League goal.

“It was very fortunate but in football you need a bit of fortune sometimes. In the last few games we have lost it a little bit, but today we got it back.”

Thiago Silva broke the deadlock for Chelsea in the first half, heading Mason Mount’s corner past Lukasz Fabianski via the inside of the post.

West Ham equalised when Mendy brought down Jarrod Bowen following a poor backpass from Jorginho, allowing Manuel Lanzini to stroke home from the penalty spot.

Chelsea regained their advantage in spectacular fashion, Mount sending a superb side-footed volley into the corner from Hakim Ziyech’s low cross for his second goal in two games.

Bowen’s low drive from the edge of the area restored parity once more before Masuaku’s remarkable late winner.

The defeat means Chelsea drop to second after Liverpool beat Wolves and could slip to third if Manchester City win at Watford.

“This is a goal that OK, happens,” said Blues boss Thomas Tuchel. “There are no mistakes, just a freak goal – the problem is that it is the winner.

“Overall we did too many individual mistakes. If you do this for three consecutive games you cannot expect always to get a result.

“The schedule we play and effort we play, sometimes you feel tired, but you just need to accept it and control our risk management.

“We hate to lose and we have to digest it now. It is not a performance to be mad about, but in detail we need to be better again.

“If we won the game nobody would have given us the title and if we lose it I don’t think anybody else gets it this weekend.”

After saying Chelsea lacked “the right attitude” in their narrow victory at Watford on Wednesday, Tuchel will be bitterly disappointed at the manner in which they relinquished their grip on proceedings on Saturday.

They appeared in total control after Thiago’s goal, only for Jorginho and Mendy to gift West Ham a route back into the game.

Mendy had enough time to clear the danger after beating Bowen to Jorginho’s backpass, but he opted to take a touch before scything down the former Hull winger.

Mount’s fabulous first-time strike put the Blues back in the driving seat shortly before half-time.

The England midfielder, who delivered another impressive showing, has now been directly involved in eight goals in his past six league games.

Chelsea started the second period on the front foot too, but West Ham remained a threat on the counter and struck when Bowen was given time and space to get his shot away despite Thiago and Andreas Christensen being in close proximity.

There appeared little danger when full-back Masuaku – a first-half substitute for the injured Ben Johnson – collected the ball near the sideline, but he somehow managed to beat Mendy with a powerful drive to inflict a first away league defeat of the season on Chelsea.

Hammers tactics pay dividends

The win ended West Ham’s run of three league games without a win since their magnificent 3-2 victory over Liverpool before the international break.

Operating with a back three of Craig Dawson, Moussa Diop and Kurt Zouma, West Ham soaked up Chelsea’s pressure before attempting to strike on the counter.

The impressive Bowen almost made it 3-2 moments before Masuaku’s winner when he failed to steer Michail Antonio’s low cross on target.

West Ham are now only six points behind Chelsea in the table and four ahead of Arsenal, who face Everton at Goodison Park on Monday.



Nigerian lady who died in Ivory Coast prison buried in Ibadan

A Nigerian lady who died while in prison at Ivory Coast, Itunu Babalola has been buried in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

It was gathered that the corpse arrived in Nigeria through Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Ikeja Lagos on Friday.

Our correspondent gathered that the Nigerian was wrongly jailed in Ivory Coast.

She later died at the prison.

It was gathered that Babalola died on 14th November, this year.

Our correspondent reports that the remains of the deceased have been buried at Sango cemetery Saturday morning.

The body was lowered into the grave around 11.25am.

The burial was witnessed by officials of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) headed by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.


FULL LIST: Okonjo-Iweala tops Financial Times’ 25 most influential women of 2021


Nigerian-born Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been named among Financial Times’ 25 most influential women of 2021.


Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, was listed as number one although FT said the list is unranked.


It added that “We put the list together in collaboration with FT journalists from dozens of international bureaus, former women of the year and readers like you.


“Across continents, industries and issues, all of these remarkable women have shaped this tumultuous year. Each of them is sure to help shape the better ones to come.”


Christen Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, described Okonjo-Iweala as fierce and talented a competitor.


“I have known Ngozi since 2005 and have seen her work tirelessly as a seasoned negotiator and crisis manager. Her 25 years at the World Bank demonstrated her resolve, including her handling of the food and financial crisis of 2008-09 and her determination to recover stolen assets.


“She has shattered glass ceilings with her complete competence, absolute integrity and good humour, becoming the first female finance minister and foreign minister in Nigeria, where she implemented tough reforms to enhance the transparency of the country’s public finances, and is the first woman and first African to lead the WTO.


“Ngozi is a force to be reckoned with.”


Full list: Okonjo-Iweala tops Financial Times’ 25 most influential women of 2021

1 – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Director-General, World Trade Organization


2 – Lina Khan

Chair, Federal Trade Commission


3 – Mary Barra

Chair and CEO, General Motors


4 – Gita Gopinath

Chief Economist, IMF


5 – Luiza Trajano

Businessperson and philanthropist


6 – Nancy Pelosi

Speaker, United States House of Representatives


7 – Mariam Al-Mahdi

Politician, Sudan


8 – Kate Bingham

Former Chair, UK Vaccine Taskforce


9 – Cathie Wood

Founder and CEO, Ark Investment Management


10- Rosalind Brewer

CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance


11- Tsai Ing-Wen

President, Taiwan


12 – Frances Haugen

Data scientist and whistleblower


13 – Naomi Osaka



14 – Elisa Loncón Antileo

President, Chile’s Constitutional Convention


15 – Agnes Chow

Democracy activist


16 – Liz Cheney

Congresswoman, United States House of Representatives


17 – Vanessa Nakate

Justice advocate


18 – Sotooda Forotan

Student and activist


19 – Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Leader, Co-ordination Council of Belarus


20 – Chloé Zhao



21 – Sally Rooney



22 – Shonda Rhimes

Television producer, screenwriter and author


23 – Scarlett Johansson



24 – Paula Rego



25 -Gabriela Hearst

Creative Director, Chloé; Founder and Creative Director, Gabriela Hearst


New Covid-19 treatment ‘a step forward in our fight’ – MHRA boss

The boss of the UK medicines regulator – which has given the green light to a new Covid treatment that could cut hospitalisation and death by 79% in high-risk patients – says it “signals another significant step forward in our fight against this devastating disease”.

MHRA chief executive, Dr June Raine says: “With no compromises on quality, safety and effectiveness, the public can trust that the MHRA have conducted a robust and thorough assessment of all the available data.”

Chairman of the Commission on Human Medicines, Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed says it has independently reviewed the data and agrees with the MHRA’s regulatory approval of Xevudy.

“When administered in the early stages of infection, sotrovimab (Xevudy) was found to be effective at reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death in high-risk individuals with symptomatic Covid-19.”

The government and the NHS will confirm how the treatment will be deployed to patients in due course.


Mandatory vaccination in Germany may be only way out – ICU doctor

Mandatory vaccinations may be needed to combat the spread of Covid cases in Germany, an ICU doctor tells the BBC.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says a vaccine mandate could be imposed from February next year, if approved by parliament.

Dr Hans Bodeker, a hospital consultant in Dresden, Saxony – which has the highest infection rate in the country – says a rise in hospitalisations is being driven by unvaccinated people. The surge has made him change his mind about forced vaccinations.

“If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have said no I don’t want that. [But] at the moment I think it’s the only way to get out of the situation is vaccinating, vaccinating, and probably it needs to be mandatory to heighten rates,” he tells the BBC World Service’s OS programme.

Bodeker says scepticism about the government and mainstream media is making young people unsure about getting jabbed.

“People are living in their social media bubble – and they think the danger is coming not from the virus but from the vaccination. It’s horrible.”


GhaFFap organises national dialogue on sustainable charcoal and fuelwood production

Charcoal and fuelwood provide more than 80 per cent of energy used in Sub-Saharan Africa, with only a small proportion of this, produced sustainably according to the World Agroforestry Center

In Ghana, charcoal and fuelwood are a popular choices for cooking and heating in both rural and urban areas as they are locally available and by far, the cheapest option when compared to electricity, kerosene, and cooking gas.

It is estimated that approximately 69 per cent of rural and urban households make use of charcoal or fuelwood as a major source of energy.

However, since charcoal and fuelwood are produced mainly from naturally occurring tree resources through unsustainable ways, forest resources are under increasing threat.

GhaFFap organises national dialogue on sustainable charcoal and fuelwood production
GhaFFap organises national dialogue on sustainable charcoal and fuelwood production

Therefore, urgent national attention needs to be brought to the unsustainable charcoal and fuelwood production approaches.

The Ghana Federation of Forest and Farm Producers [GhaFFaP] recently organized the National Dialogue on Sustainable Charcoal and Fuel Wood Production.

 The dialogue which took place in Tamale, the Northern Regional capital, brought together stakeholders; from charcoal producers, traditional authorities, government and non – governmental organisations to discuss issues pertaining to deforestation-free fuelwood and charcoal production.

GhaFFap organises national dialogue on sustainable charcoal and fuelwood production
GhaFFap organises national dialogue on sustainable charcoal and fuelwood production

It was organised by GhaFFaP in collaboration with its local partners including the Food and Agriculture Organisation [FAO], GIZ, Forestry Commission, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Energy Commission, Millar Open University, Tree Aid Ghana and Regional Houses of Chiefs from the savanna ecological zone and with support from the Forest and Farm Facility.

GhaFFAP said the dialogue aimed to create a platform for key stakeholders in the sector to explore actionable policy and practice alternatives that can be brought to scale for sustainable wood energy value chains in Ghana.

GhaFFap organises national dialogue on sustainable charcoal and fuelwood production
Mark Kebo Akparibo, Secretary, GhaFFaP National Executive Committee

The Secretary for the GhaFFaP National Executive Committee, Mark Kebo Akparibo said; “GhaFFaP is calling for a paradigm shift in the existing narrative towards working closely with smallholder producers to adapt and bring to scale, practice alternatives such as grass charcoal and the use of Agri residue for briquettes; hence changing the narrative around charcoal producers as drivers of deforestation to agents of landscape restoration”.  

Representing government at the dialogue was Inspector in Charge of Renewable Energy at the Ghana Energy Commission, Prosper Amuquando.

He said the demand for charcoal on the international market was increasing particularly because of the preference for wood fuel in the middle east for the purpose of grilling meat.

“The taste of meat is preferable when charcoal is used to grill it, than when gas is used so the demand for charcoal is increasing”, Amuquando said.

GhaFFap organises national dialogue on sustainable charcoal and fuelwood production
Prosper Amuquando, Inspector in Charge of Renewable Energy, Ghana Energy Commission

He said the demand meant that charcoal producers now preferred to sell to exporters than to local market consumers which ultimately meant that if steps were not taken to protect forest resources, the country could lose millions of trees to charcoal burning.

The alternative to wood charcoal is grass charcoal or grass briquettes which are already being produced in different parts of the country.

The President of the Millar Institute for Transdisciplinary and Development Studies at Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region, Prof. David Millar, has researched the phenomenon of charcoal production and has over the last 6 years, come up with the idea of making charcoal or briquettes from grass instead of trees.

Prof. David Millar has been growing grass in the backyard of his university, which he uses to make charcoal.

GhaFFap organises national dialogue on sustainable charcoal and fuelwood production
Prof. David Millar, President, Millar Open University

He said although grass charcoal is more difficult to produce, it was the best alternative to wood charcoal and the panacea to saving Ghana’s forest resources.

He explained that economic trees like shea trees which take a long time to grow are now being cut down and burned for charcoal because shea trees are said to produce charcoal with the best quality. It, therefore, meant that urgent steps needed to be taken.

“Grass charcoal may have some deficiencies in terms of the quality or even the cost [involved in producing it] but it is for us, the most viable alternative, more so when the grass is a predominant characteristic of the savannah areas”, Prof. Millar said.

German development agency, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH [GIZ] has an ongoing collaboration with GhaFFaP.

GhaFFap organises national dialogue on sustainable charcoal and fuelwood production
Dr Cisco Aust, GIZ

Their representative, Dr Cisco Aust who was at the National Dialogue on Sustainable Charcoal and Fuel Wood Production said their project aimed to achieve more sustainable wood energy value chains in Ghana.

“We are introducing different components. We are introducing, for example, wood lots with fast-growing species as a biomass source for charcoal production, firewood collection and also introducing efficient technologies, improved cookstoves to reduce the demand on charcoal but also to increase the efficiency in charcoal production”, Dr Aust said.

He said in two years, GIZ had worked in ten communities in the Savannah and Bono East Regions and had restored more than 700 hectares of vegetation, planted more than half a million seedlings and engaged more than 2000 people in these communities.

One key stakeholder to the discussions about sustainable charcoal and fuelwood production is the traditional authorities.

The Paramount chief of the Buipe Traditional Area in the Savannah Region, Buipewura Abudulai Jinapor II was at the National Dialogue on Sustainable Charcoal and Fuel Wood Production.

The Buipewiura and his traditional authorities have banned the felling of trees for firewood and charcoal production in their area.

GhaFFap organises national dialogue on sustainable charcoal and fuelwood production
Buipewura Abudulai Jinapor II, Paramount Chief, Buipe Traditional Area

He said the ban forced many people who hitherto would have engaged in charcoal production, to divert into agriculture activities instead.

“This has helped us and from our observation, this year I can assure the country that Savannah Region will be first when it comes to maize and groundnuts [yields]”, the Buipewura said.

He said government needs to help traditional authorities to institute more measures to protect forest resources and sustain them.

The dialogue ended with a resolve that deforestation-free fuelwood and sustainable charcoal production is possible.

However, it will take serious effort and commitment from all stakeholders especially the government, to get Ghana going in this promising direction.


Cocoa’s pre eminence, more pronounced from 2017 – Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Addo Friday said Ghana’s cocoa sector growth, the mainstay of the economy, has been more pronounced from 2017 mainly due to the government’s policy reforms in the industry.

From an average production of 880,000 tonnes, the country hit an all-time record production of 1,047,385 tonnes in 2021, being the highest ever yearly production of cocoa, since it was introduced into Ghana in 1879,” he noted.

Speaking at the 37th edition of the national farmers’ day celebration at the Adisadel College Park in Cape Coast in the Central Region, the President said cocoa the sector had seen a significant transformation that had increased earnings from the crop for Ghana.

This, he said, had been made possible by the introduction of productivity improvement techniques that had ensured higher yields from the same acreage, the adoption of technology and practices that modernised cocoa production in an environmentally, socially and sustainable manner.

Also, the design of policies to address the inequalities in the international marketing system of cocoa by paying a Living Income Differential of $400 per tonne of cocoa to farmers, and the fostering of partnerships and collaborative actions of stakeholders towards greater investments have helped propel the industry.

Noting that his government’s record in the sector had been most impressive, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that the commencement of the provision of a pension scheme for farmers started in 2020 under his government, will guarantee decent livelihoods for over 1.5 million cocoa farmers after retirement.

“The pilot pension scheme has, initially, covered some two thousand, eight hundred (2,800) farmers in the New Edubiase Cocoa District of the Ashanti Region, and a nation-wide registration of all cocoa farmers is on-going under the cocoa management system to speed up the process,” he added.

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) was mandated, under Section 26 of the COCOBOD Law, 1984 (PNDC L.81), to establish a Contributory Insurance Scheme for Cocoa Farmers within the framework of the Social Security Scheme, so that cocoa farmers could also enjoy a well-deserved pension, upon retirement.

The Pension Scheme will enable cocoa farmers make voluntary contributions towards their retirement, while COCOBOD makes a supplementary contribution on behalf of the farmers.

This year’s event, jointly hosted by the ministries of Food and Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and the Ghana Cocoa Board, is being held on the theme, “Planting for Food and Jobs; Consolidating Food Systems in Ghana.

The day recognizes the contributions of farmers and fisherfolks to Ghana socio-economic development. A total of 160 farmers and fishermen across the country are to receive awards for their sterling effort at ensuring food security in the nation.

Alhaji Mashud Mohammed from the Meon District of the Northern Region was adjudged the 2021 Overall Best National Farmer.

He received GHc600,000 from the Agricultural Development Bank, 500,000 worth of insurance cover from GLICO insurance and a study trip to Israel sponsored by Broadspectrum Limited.


A. M. Mas-hood: E-Levy is reminiscence of ‘Kume Preko’, most useless public demonstration against VAT

On November 17, 2021, the Minister of Finance presented the Budget Statement & Economic Policy of Ghana for 2022 where he announced the introduction of an electronic transactions levy (e-levy).

For purposes of emphasis and analysis, this is what the Minister said on pages 15 and 16 of the Budget Highlights:

“Government will introduce measures that will revamp industry and make their products competitive in both the local and international markets. In this respect, it has become increasingly necessary to make the following policy changes:

Introduction of an “Electronic Transaction Levy” or “E-Levy” on all electronic transactions to widen the tax net and rope in the informal sector. The levy will cover mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments, and inward remittances, which will attract an applicable rate of 1.75 percent, to be borne by the sender, except inward remittances which will be borne by the recipient. This will take effect 1st February, 2022.

Transactions that add up to GH¢100 or less per day will be exempt from this levy.” Breakdown of the E-Levy and its Incidence: The controversies, the arguments for and against the electronic transactions levy as well as the misconceptions require some analysis and education.

From the quotation, Government will from February, 2022 subject to the approval of Parliament begin the collection of 1.75 percent of taxes on all electronic transactions, including but not limited to the following categories or classes: 1. The first category are the senders or transferors of money using the mobile money platforms provided by the telecommunication network operators in Ghana. The question of who bears the tax appears to be misconstrued by many people. Passive persons, who merely receive mobile money transfers are NOT liable to pay the 1.75 percent tax even if they go to withdraw their moneys from their wallets. The incidence of the tax according to the Budget Proposal is only on SENDERS/TRANSFERORS.

However, we should note that prior to this e-levy proposal, senders of ‘momos’ pay transaction or service fees and the receivers drawing from their mobile wallets also pay 2 transaction fees. These fees which are distributed between the telecom operators and the mobile money vendors according to their governing agreements are not taxed at all and this will be analyzed shortly. What is clear though, is that Senders will bear the tax of 1.75% in addition to the transaction fee which is dependent on the amount being transferred.

The consequential effect is that cost of sending or transferring money using the platforms provided by telecom operators and the banks will increase. The illustration is that assuming, ‘T’ is transferring ¢100 to ‘A’ and has to pay ¢1 as transaction fee. With this 1.75% e-levy, it means ‘T’ in addition to the transaction fee will pay ¢1.75p as tax to the government for using either the services provided by the telecos or the combination of the services provided by the banks and telecom operators. Cumulatively, charges on the ¢100 will now be ¢2.75p to be borne by T. The difference between the transaction fee and this e-levy is that, whilst the fee can or may be deducted from the actual amount being transferred, the tax should NOT be made to be withheld from the actual amount. If the e-levy were to be withheld from the actual amount, the implication is that the RECEIVER will carry the burden of the tax instead of the Sender and that will be contrary to the Budget proposal or the intend of government.

The second categorization are the senders or transferors of money using the platforms provided by financial institutions mostly banks and they will also bear a tax of 1.75 percent. Thus, if ‘A’ transfers money from her bank account to either her mobile wallet or to ‘B’s mobile wallet, ‘A’ (the Sender) will be obligated to pay 1.75 percent as tax. Note again, that Banks also charge transaction fee which is dependent on the amount being transferred from the bank account and importantly, those fees are also not taxed.

Again, the incidence of the tax is on the SENDER. However, if the banks withhold the tax on the actual amount being transferred from the account, the incidence of the tax will shift to the receiver or transferee. Further, a seeming unpalatable and an unnecessary double taxation rears its ugly face in the following illustration: If ‘A’ transfers ¢500 from her bank account to her mobile wallet and charged both e-levy and bank transaction fee. Whilst the ¢500 remain in the wallet, it will not be taxed, however if ‘A’ decides to transfer the money to ‘B’s mobile wallet, ‘A’ will have to pay another 1.75 percent tax on the same ¢500 which tax was first withheld by the bank and now is obligated to pay another tax for using the platform of the telecom operators.

There is even potential for triple and quadruple taxation of the same amount in so far as that amount is moving from one wallet to another. And so, the best way to avoid this tax, tax avoidance being legally acceptable is to engage in cash transactions. There is a solution though, to solve this issue and that lies in technology, perhaps, a system I called the neutralization of double taxation of electronic transactions.

The third group of persons to be affected by the e-levy are Receivers/Transferees of inward remittances. Interestingly, here, the RECEIVERS carry the burden of the tax of 1.75 percent and not the senders. Rightly so because, the senders are not within Ghana and it will be an exercise in futility if government were to impose the tax on the senders. Thus, remittance receivers will receive their funds either through banks or mobile transactions less the withholding tax of 1.75 percent on the principal amount. This illustration is 3 instructive: Assuming ‘A’ lives in London, UK and transfers £100 to ‘B’ in Ghana. ‘B’ will receive the cedi equivalent of £100 (about ¢824) less the withholding tax of 1.75% (¢14.42p) as well as bank charges. Note also that the bank charges on remittances which had always been there are untaxed.

Again, the consequential effect is that the amount expected to receive will decrease as a result of the e-levy. 4. The fourth class to suffer this tax are the senders or payors to persons who engage in the business of buying and selling of goods dubbed Merchandise Business. In short, the payments to merchants, referred supra as merchant payments will also attract a tax of 1.75 percent on those who make such payments. Clearly, the incidence of the tax is on the PAYORS. Merchant payments can be made either by cash, credit or debit cards or some other form of electronic payment.

However, the tax will affect any form of electronic or online merchant payment. In effect, by opting to pay cash, one can avoid the e-levy. On the contrary, if one decides to pay for a merchandise through an electronic means, in addition to value added tax (VAT), one will still carry the burden of the e-levy. Here too, the consequential effect will be that the purchase price of the merchandise will be high. Analysis of the E-Levy Some 1000s of years back, it was reported that two things in life were as certain as the dawn: death and taxes but that whilst there were astonishing cases in which people escaped death, taxes are completely unavoidable.

With this assertion, it is significant that we briefly remind ourselves of some historical antecedents. In 1995, when the government of the late President J.J. Rawlings and with Prof. John E.A. Mills, as the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) proposed the introduction of value added tax (VAT) in Ghana for the first time, the current President, Nana Akufo-Addo, then spokesperson for Alliance for Change organized a massive, perhaps, the biggest ever public demonstration against the government.

The demonstration resulted in the death and maim of many innocent Ghanaians for a very useless course. Posterity has since proved that the demonstration against VAT defied common sense and in fact, had turned logic upside down. Today, nemesis is paying back, what the current president did to his predecessor. Some may argue that he deserves it. Be that as it may, I would analyze this e-levy from a very professional perspective. Suffice it to say that a threshold question which must be resolved is whether it is right, legal or moral to pay taxes and for that matter this e-levy? The answer, which forms the foundation of my analysis lies in the Gospel: And they came to him, calling Teacher, Teacher! we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion.

Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax. And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this? They said, Caesar’s. Then he said to them, Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. 4 A clear admonition that we need to pay taxes because there are two broad ways of revenue generation for the sustenance of every government in the world.

The first category is through sustainable revenue generation which basically is through taxation and nothing else; and the second category is the unsustainable revenue generation through borrowing, grants, revenues from natural resources – which are finite, and revenues from illegitimate means such as unlawful occupations of other countries to syphon their resources etc. The latter clearly are unsustainable either in the medium or long term. Therefore, the only legitimate and sustainable means for the government of Ghana to raise revenue to fix the country as we have been agitating is through taxation. Borrowing and grants by now is clear to all of us that they are not sustainable and so if we do not support any government, whether NPP or NDC to widen the tax basket in order to generate enough revenue, then we should expect the same thing with our roads, utilities and everything else.

Issues with the E-Levy: From tax policy perspective, every tax just like this e-levy must be subjected to the three prong-tests to determine its appropriateness. These tests are the economic efficiency of the tax; its simplicity in terms of administration; and equity or fairness. In effect, is the tax system efficient, is it equitable and is it administrable? In the preliminary assessment of the e-levy guided by these tax policy techniques, it is my view that the e-levy meets the requirements of an efficient (not a lazy) tax system. The e-levy is also simple to administer because the platform exists already and it is fair and equitable that everybody must pay tax once you earn an income even if it is a gift beyond the allowable threshold. To argue, otherwise, will be affirmatively misleading. That notwithstanding, the e-levy is not sacrosanct. It has a fair share of its criticisms. First, as a matter of business economics, it is regrettable that the incidence of the e-levy is shifted to the Senders.

Whilst one do not begrudge government for deciding who carries the burden of the tax, it is totally inconceivable to shift the burden of the tax on the Senders in a volatile economic environment. What a smart government will do is not to burden the senders, but to rather impose the e-levy on the commissions or fees generated by the telecommunication network operators, the vendors and the banks. Lets look at this illustration: Assuming, ‘T’ is transferring ¢100 to ‘A’ either through ‘momo’ or the banking system. The telecom network operators will take a commission or fee of ¢1 either out of pocket payment or deducted from the ¢100.

When the Recipient/Receiver (A) goes to withdraw the money, he will be charged another ¢1 as withdrawal charges or commission. Now assuming that the transfer charge and the withdrawal charge are withheld from the ¢100, the Receiver (A) will receive ¢98. Note that a cumulative ¢2 have been withheld as commission to be shared by the telecos and the mobile money vendors according to their terms of engagement. Giving the market vicissitudes, a prudent government will start by imposing the e-levy on the commission or fee charged by the telecom operators and the banks for money transfers.

This way, the burden of the tax is on the telecom operators, the vendors and the banks. In the illustration, government e-levy of 1.75 percent of ¢2 will be 0.033pesewas. Even though, the revenues that will be generated will not be significant relative to directly taxing 5 the actual or principal amount, this will set the tone and consciously or unconsciously prepare the minds of the people for events that will unfold in the future. If the telecom operators and the banks decide to increase their commissions or fees, it will invariably increase government revenues as well from these transactions.

Secondly, there are no rational grounds as to why the government do not tax the commissions or transaction fees earned by the telecom operators and the banks from mobile money transactions. It is inherently unreasonable because the commissions or transaction fees do not form part of the core or traditional business of telecom operators. Government’s cavalier approach in intending to tax the people and leave the commissions paid by the same people to these industry players is unfortunate. Perhaps, the most poignant criticism of this e-levy has to do with the issues of potential double, triple or even quadruple taxation of the same money.

Take for instance where ‘A’ transfers ¢500 from her bank account to her mobile wallet. The bank withholds the e-levy of 1.75 percent and bank transaction fee. Whilst the ¢500 remain in the wallet, it will not be taxed, however, if ‘A’ decides to transfer the same money to ‘B’s mobile wallet, ‘A’ will have to pay another 1.75 percent tax on the same ¢500 which will be withheld by the telecom operator. There is even potential for triple and quadruple taxation of the same money if ‘B’ also decides to transfer part to ‘C’ and to ‘D’ in so far as that money keeps moving from one wallet to another.

And so, the best way to avoid this tax, tax avoidance being legally acceptable is to engage in cash transactions. Concomitantly, the government appears fixated or obsessed with the amount of money, ¢6.9billion we are told that will be generated by this e-levy and they failed or she has not been properly guided about the propriety of this tax vis-à-vis the Communication Services Tax (CST). The people are already burdened with the CST of 9% for every purchase of credit or data. The purchase of data or credit are electronic transactions for which the people are already taxed.

Thus, in the realities of politics, any additional tax in respect of mobile money transactions ought to have been proposed with a correspondent decrease in CST for the meantime, and for political purpose. Finally, it is clear beyond cavil that the intention of government is to raise revenue and for good reasons. What government should do which has greater potential for substantial revenue generation is for the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to work assiduously on issues of transfer pricing in the petroleum and the mining sectors.

Another notable area of interest is profit repatriation by these foreign companies in the petroleum, mining, telecommunications, and the banking sectors. The mechanisms to avoid tax through transfer pricing and profit repatriation ought to be seriously investigated, instead of this happenstance e-levy. Conclusively, the e-levy, notwithstanding its challenges, just like VAT is a good source of revenue for government today and any government tomorrow.

The discussions should focus on fine-tuning the tax and not to scrap it. Any opposition to this tax today for political reasons other than sound principles of tax, economic, financial and social considerations will come back to hunt those opposing it. Its advantages far outweigh its disadvantages and scrapping it will not be in the interest of government which include the people. Let pay the e-levy, and hold government seriously responsible to fix the roads, the hospitals etc. and all the goods things we all want from the government.


Debate over 2022 Budget is Parliament at its best – Kofi Bentil

Senior Vice-President of IMANI-Africa, Kofi Bentil, says it is not disgraceful for Parliament to scrutinise and hold government to account on policies that affect everyone.

Commenting on the tussle to approve the 2022 Budget statement, he said it is in the right direction for the Minority group to effectively push the Executive to do what is right.

Speaking on Newsfile on Saturday, the private legal practitioner indicated that “this is the purpose of Parliament” as it changes the ‘winner-takes-all’ narrative in the House.

“Much as there seems to be quite a lot of chaos, and we are not happy with the kind of indecorous and dishonourable behaviour we see in Parliament, we need to bear in mind that this is not a bad thing. It is not a bad thing for Parliament to scrutinise and hold the Executive to account and the ultimate test of holding somebody to account is to look in the person’s face and say ‘no’.”

“When you have a situation like this when the Minority effectively is going to have a say and determine somehow what happens in the Executive’s budget, then you cannot claim that you have a winner takes all so I’d like us to keep in mind that this is not a bad thing and indeed we should improve on it,” he told Samson Lardi Anyenini.

Parliament on Tuesday reversed an earlier rejection of the budget and approved it after the National Democratic Congress (NDC)’s MPs staged a walkout.

Debate over 2022 Budget is Parliament at its best - Kofi Bentil
Senior Vice-President of IMANI-Africa, Kofi Bentil

Members of the Majority and Minority groups subsequently engaged in dramatic displays that nearly led to fisticuffs on Wednesday, December 1, as they took entrenched positions to defend their respective interests over the fiscal policy.

Commenting on this, Mr Bentil noted that one way of ensuring that Parliament is independent of the Executive is by amending the Constitution to ensure that Ministers of State are not chosen from the members of Parliament.

“I am one of the people who believe that we should we should stop connecting Parliament to the Executive and have a Parliament which is purely about legislation and oversight and make sure that our Parliament is capable and actually act to be a check on the Executive, failure to do that create a lot of problems.”

“This is the purpose of the Parliament and I am one of the people who believe we should stop taking Ministers from Parliament; if we amend our constitution, that’s the first thing to amend so you have a Parliament where people go in and stay in Parliament and they act as professional parliamentarians, representing their people and be a check on the government,” he noted.

He, however, conceded that there were certain actions by the legislators which must be condemned and not tolerated.

“I didn’t say everything is to be happy about; I said we need to take out the indecorous conducts, we need to take out basically the hooliganism and please there are crimes being committed in Parliament.

“We cannot lump everything together and say it’s all good or it’s all bad [but] what I am saying is that everything we are seeing happening in Parliament is not necessarily bad.”

“What is bad is the illegal, indecorous, dishonourable conduct and when those things happen it is in the interest of Parliament and in the interest of the rest of us.”

Meanwhile, the Editor-In-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, has described the happenings in Parliament as unfortunate.

The disappointed veteran journalist stressed that such a behaviour will affect the country’s international image.

According to him, “one cannot be happy as a Ghanaian” over the recent events in the legislative chamber.

“It’s not good. The institutional integrity, the corporate integrity of the House of Parliament is at the brink. We’ve had one or two instances before but those were on a lower scale.

“What happened on 6th January [prior to the election of the Speaker] and what happened recently is completely unpardonable. It affects Parliament itself, its moral AUTHORITY, its legislative authority and Ghana’s international image,” he stated.


Popular Televangelist who discouraged vaccinations, dies after being hospitalized for Covid-19

Prominent Christian televangelist and anti-vaccine advocate Marcus Lamb died after being hospitalized with Covid-19, his family announced Tuesday.

Lamb founded Christian television network Daystar Television Network in 1997.

His wife Joni Lamb, announced the televangelist’s death on Daystar’s programme streamed to Facebook Tuesday. She said her husband had diabetes but was healthy and was hospitalized after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

“He never talked about that, but he had diabetes, but he kept it in check. He was very healthy, he ate healthily, he kept his weight down, and always kept his sugar at a good level. But with trying to treat Covid and pneumonia, the different protocols that are used, including many of the protocols we talked about here on Daystar, and we used those, and I used them and breezed through Covid.

It caused his blood sugar to spike and just a decrease in his oxygen and that’s why he went to the hospital, so he could have oxygen,” Joni Lamb said.

“He 100% believed in everything that we’ve talked about here on Daystar and helping so many people around the world with early protocol treatments for Covid. We still stand by that, obviously.” Joni Lamb said her husband’s “heart just gave out.”

Marcus Lamb often spoke out against the Covid-19 vaccines on his show. In an episode earlier this year featuring anti-vaccine activists Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Del Bigtree, Lamb said the Covid-19 vaccine was “not really a vaccine,” but an “an experimental shot” that was “dangerous. Marcus Lamb alleged that people were dying or having neurological disorders from the vaccine.

Joni Lamb described the illness as “riding a roller coaster” on that same episode. She asked people in November to “pray specifically for [Lamb’s] lungs to clear, Covid pneumonia, and pray for his oxygen levels to continue to be strong and to go up and so that we can wean him off of oxygen and then bring him home.”

A statement from Daystar Television Network said in part, “the family asks at this time that their privacy be respected as they grieve this difficult loss, and they wish to express their deep love and gratitude for all those who prayed during Marcus’s health battle. Continue to lift them up in prayer in the days ahead.”


Prioritize PWDs in COVID-19 vaccination – ‘Voice Ghana’ to GHS

VOICE Ghana, a leading NGOs for People with Disabilities (PwDs), has advised the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and stakeholders to give priority to PwDS during the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

The institution explained PwDs are the most vulnerable in society and most marginalized.

“VOICE Ghana joins the disability fraternity globally, particularly in Ghana as well as the international community, to bemoan the challenges and barriers being faced by people with disabilities including people with mental health conditions, especially during this time of COVID-19. We see disability inclusion as very essential for health system planning, development, and decision making in this critical time.”

“For this reason, we call on our government to prioritize the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination for people with disabilities including people with mental health conditions”, it stated.

This was contained in a press release by the group to commemorate the International Day of People with Disabilities under the global theme; “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”

VOICE Ghana is also entreating vaccinators to ensure they set up centers at locations that are accessible and user friendly to PwDS, “and where necessary, sign language interpretation arrangements are made, to foster full participation by all categories of the disable.”

It extended an appeal to the PwDs, which includes people with mental health conditions from age 15, and their families and caregivers, to get vaccinated against the coronavirus which is devastating to human health.

The group reiterated a call on stakeholders towards building an all-inclusive society where PwDs are given opportunities to lead and be part of decision-making in their respective societies.

“We also call on the general public, to start using positive non-discriminatory languages for people with disabilities including people with mental health conditions, and to relate with them with dignity and respect”.

“We hereby salute our hardworking farmers and fishermen on this Farmers’ Day, and congratulate award winners at all levels”, the release concluded.

VOICE Ghana established in 2002, is one of Ghana’s leading NGOs for people with disabilities.

The organization has recently transformed into a disability institute and has a mandate of advancing inclusive development and social justice for people with disabilities including people with mental health conditions in Africa, particularly Ghana, through research, policy advocacy, and public consultations.


B5 Plus Limited adjudged best Covid-19 Healthcare Response Company

A steel manufacturing company, B5 Plus Limited has received top awards in the country for its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives and investment in business for the year 2021 under review.

Sustainability & Social Investment awards 2021

At the just ended Sustainability & Social Investment awards, 2021 held last week Friday, November 26, B5 Plus Limited was adjudged the best Covid-19 Healthcare response company.

It will be recalled that B5 Plus Limited gave a huge relief to Ghana’s Covid-19 fight by offering free oxygen refilling to all Government and Private Hospitals in the country till the day Covid-19 is defeated in the country, an intervention that earned massive praise in the country.

The purpose of the SSI Awards is to create awareness and encourage companies in delivering high impact CSI/CSR projects that align with government’s focus on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), to adopt a multi-stakeholder approach that leads to excellent outcomes and also, to infuse corporate social investments and innovations in the form of approach, usage of technology and expertise towards solving developmental challenges faced by the society, individuals and communities as a whole.

These Awards are created to recognize businesses that creatively approached corporate social responsibility and reward those who are creating new standards, committing their organization to make social responsibility an integral part of their business.

B5 Plus was further cited as a steel company with the indomitable spirit and a focused vision and relentless efforts of its employees under the astute guidance of its Chairman, Mukesh Thakwani, who has been at the company’s helm from its inception and has carried it forward to its present position of prominence.

“Governed by Mr Thakwani, one of the best entrepreneurial visionary endowed with an enterprising spirit and ability to discern future trends, the company has grown by investing in the country. Duke of Edinburgh’s International Awards Association, therefore, honoured Mr Thakwani for his generous contribution towards the socio-economic development of Ghana”.

Top Executives of B5 Plus Ltd. including N.V.V. Chalapathi Rao and Sandeep Sawlani were present at the awards ceremony to receive the company’s award. Mr. Chalapathi Rao thanked the organizers for the honour and assured them that B5 Plus Ltd. will eschew complacency but strive hard to deliver top-notch services and also continue to contribute its quota towards national development.

B5 Plus Limited adjudged best Covid-19 Healthcare Response Company

Below are some of the awards B5 Plus Ltd. won for the year 2021 under review;

B5 Plus Limited adjudged Best CSR Company of the year, 2021 by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI)

At the 10th AGI Ghana Industry & Quality Awards 2021, B5 Plus Limited was adjudged best CSR Company in Ghana whiles the company’s Chairman, Mr. Mukesh Thakwani was appointed as a Member of the AGI Governing Council.

2021 Ghana Industry CEOs Awards

Mr. Mukesh Thakwani was honoured as Ghana’s most respected CEO. The Ghana Industry CEOs awards aimed at identifying the most respected CEOs in Ghana through public votes and the practice of Good Corporate Governance across a wide range of sectors.

CIMG Annual National Marketing Performance Awards

The CIMG’s annual National Marketing Performance Awards also awarded B5 Plus Pre-Engineering Buildings as the Product of the year, 2020 (manufacturing).

National Customers’ Choice Awards Ghana (NCCAG) 2021

The National Customers’ Choice Awards Ghana also honoured Chairman of the B5 Plus Ltd., Mr. Mukesh Thakwani as the Industrialist for the year 2021 for his innovativeness in business approach.

4th Ghana Business Awards, 2021

At the just ended Ghana Business Awards, 2021 which provides the platform to recognize individuals and companies that play a significant role in the growth and development of their business sector, B5 Plus Limited, was adjudged Manufacturing Company of the year.

Ghana Shippers Awards, 2021

B5 Plus Limited also won the Dry Bulk Importer of the year category at the Ghana Shippers Awards, 2021. B5 Plus Ltd was cited for playing a significant role in the growth and development of the shipping industry.

Latest News in Nigeria News

Buhari writes National Assembly, seeks passage of finance bill to support tax reforms


President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the national assembly to pass the 2021 finance bill seeking to support the tax reforms of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).


A finance bill is a legislative bill proposing changes to taxes, levies, and duties in a fiscal year.


On Tuesday, the National Economic Council (NEC) endorsed a memorandum on finance bill for the 2022 budget.


In a letter read by Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the House of Representatives, during the plenary session on Thursday, Buhari said the bill will prioritise “critical public financial management reforms regarding the FlRS’ vital role in coordinating tax administration”.


 “The finance bill, 2021 seeks to support the implementation of the 2022 federal budget of economic growth and sustainability by proposing key reforms to specific taxation, customs, excise, fiscal other relevant laws. Specifically, this bill provides for enhanced domestic revenue mobilisation efforts to increase tax and non-tax revenues. Tax administration and legislative drafting reforms, particularly to support the ongoing automation reforms by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS),” the president said.


Buhari said the bill will “accelerate international tax reforms of non-resident individuals and companies that nevertheless derive profits from Nigeria. Implement financial sector reforms to support ongoing capital market reforms relating to securities lending transactions, real estate investment trusts, unit trust schemes and the recapitalisation of insurance companies”.


According to him, the bill will also “prioritize critical public financial management reforms regarding the FlRS’ vital role in coordinating tax administration as well as the enforcement of key fiscal rules under the 1999 constitution, finance (control & management) act and other relevant laws”.


Buhari asked the lawmakers to pass the bill into law to provide fiscal support necessary for the implementation of the 2022 budget.

Latest News in Nigeria News

Germany donates 5.16m COVID-19 vaccine doses to Nigeria


Germany has donated a total of 5,164,643 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Nigeria over the past seven weeks.


The most recent badge arrived in Nigeria on 29 November 2021, containing 2,240,243 doses of Johnson&Johnson vaccines.


The German Ambassador to Nigeria, Birgitt Ory on Friday said “Nobody is safe until everybody is safe. We must continue to work together to ensure access to vaccines.


“Therefore, Germany is a strong supporter of COVAX as well as the co-founder and second-largest donor of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT Accelerator),” he said.


According to him, the German Government is working to ensure the fair and efficient distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world.


He said Germany will pass on 100 million doses, primarily to developing countries, the majority of which will be distributed through the COVAX vaccine platform.


“The pandemic can only be overcome if it is brought under control all over the world.


“Germany, therefore, opted at an early stage to focus on finding joint responses to the pandemic in a spirit of solidarity.


“Germany co-founded the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT Accelerator) last year. ACT-A promotes equitable access for all to vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics and aims to strengthen health systems throughout the world,” he said.


In addition to donating vaccines, Germany is the second-largest donor to the ACT Accelerator at present and has provided 2.2 billion euros to date. Most of this support is going to the international vaccine platform COVAX.


Ghana spends millions of dollars importing iron rods – Aliu Mahama

Ghana is said to be spending millions of dollars in importing iron rods which could be produced locally.  

The worrying trend, according to Board Chair of Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation (GIISDEC), Farouk Aliu Mahama, could be reversed if local companies such as Fabrimetal Ghana Limited take up the challenge.   

Speaking to Joy Business at the launch of a $10 million section mill by Fabrimetal at Tsopoli in the Greater Accra region, the Member of Parliament for Yendi, was impressed with the quality of products on display.

“First of all, we have to understand that the iron and ore industry is very interested in partnering with Fabrimetal. The country imports over $3 billion in iron rods”.

“We are here with the management of GIISDEC to witness samples of iron rods being manufactured. Why should we spend all this money on importation when we have a local company like Fabrimetal,” he asked?

Mr. Aliu Mahama encouraged the company to go beyond the downstream sector of manufacturing to upstream where it can mine raw material needed for manufacturing, which GIISDEC is ready to support.

Fabrimetal over the past few years invested $30 million in the local steel manufacturing industry bringing its investment to $40 million with the commissioning of the section mill to produce merchant bars.

The company continues to churn out high quality steel products which meet international standards due to investment in technology and workforce.

Ghana spends millions of dollars importing iron rods – Aliu Mahama

This has created great demand for these steel products locally serving as import substitution.

Deputy Trade Minister Michael Okyere Baafi was delighted at the attainment of Fabrimetal.

“The ministry’s main aim is to support public and private sector businesses to thrive. If they do, there wouldn’t be much pressure on government. If the private sector expands, it means they are going to employ a lot of people,” he explained.

Mr Okyere Baafi assured Fabrimetal of government’s support through the ministry.

Meanwhile, Managing Director of Fabrimetal, Rohit Raj said its new products will create jobs and help improve the country’s economy.

“With the launch, we’re manufacturing new set of products called angle, flat, channel and square bars. These products meet international standards as our products are known for,” he assured.

The company believes Ghana’s political stability, social environment aside other factors will contribute to its success.

Fabrimetal has since 2020 been supplying oxygen to health facilities to support Ghana’s response to Covid-19.

This year, the company also partnered with Forestry Commission under the ‘Go Green Initiative of government to plant over a thousand trees.

Other dignitaries, business partners, workers, police, among other stakeholders were present to support the company.  

Entertainment News

Home Alone house available to rent on Airbnb for one night only

The original house from the 1990 film Home Alone will be available to rent on Airbnb during the festive period.

The holiday rental platform has announced people will be able to rent the McCallisters’ home, in the Chicago area, on December 12.

Up to four guests will be able to stay in the house for just one night for $25 (£19) with the address to be given once the booking is completed.

Up to four guests will be able to stay in the house for just one night for $25 (£19) with the address to be given once the booking has been complete. Pic: Airbnb
Airbnb says guests will be treated to a fully decorated house. Pic: Airbnb

The Airbnb listing on the website shows the stay is being hosted by Buzz McCallister, with the description reading: “You may not remember me as particularly accommodating but I’ve grown up, and I’d be happy to share my family home – my pizza, even – with you this holiday season. Just try not to let my tarantula, Axl, loose this time.”

During their stay, Airbnb says guests will be treated to a fully decorated house, the chance to set up booby traps, a real-life tarantula, a viewing of the film franchise’s latest movie Home Sweet Home Alone, pizza, as well as a candlelit dinner of microwave macaroni and cheese.

Guests will get their own aftershave and to then scream in the mirror. Pic: Airbnb
Guests will get their own aftershave – to slap on and scream while looking in the bathroom mirror. Pic: Airbnb

In a statement, Airbnb said: “This season, fans are set to have their dreams come true with an overnight stay in the original Home Alone house.

“While the McCallisters are away on their annual trip (all of them but the pet tarantula, this time), four guests will get the opportunity to relive their favourite scenes from the holiday classic and let their inner eight-year-olds run free for the evening without the interruption of pesky intruders.

The holiday rental platform has announced that people will be able to rent the McCallister's home in Winnetka. Pic: Airbnb
Up to four guests will be able to stay in the house for just one night for $25 (£19) with the address to be given once the booking has been complete. Pic: Airbnb

“Big brother Buzz McCallister will join thousands of hosts on Airbnb by opening the doors to his family’s Chicago home as the ultimate gift this month.”

It added that guests will need to adhere to local COVID guidelines and are responsible for travelling to and from Chicago.

The original house from the 1990 film Home Alone will be available to rent on Airbnb during the festive period. Pic: Airbnb
Guests will have the opportunity to set up booby traps during their stay

They added that they will offer guests $1,000 in Airbnb travel credit if it becomes necessary to cancel the stay due to coronavirus.

Those wishing to book the stay can do so from 7 December.

The Home Alone franchise started with the first film in 1990 and includes the famous one-liner of ‘Merry Christmas ya filthy animal’.


Akufo-Addo receives ‘International Nation Builders Award’ from black US legislators

The National Black Caucus of State Legislators of the United States Congress have presented President Nana Akufo-Addo, with the first-ever International Nation Builders Award of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

Presenting the award, the president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators of the United States Congress, Congressman Billy Mitchell, explained that the ‘Nation Builders Award’ was established “to recognise those African-Americans who have distinguished themselves to live-long service and dedication to enfranchisement and inclusion of Americans of African descent into the national body of politics.”

Akufo-Addo receives 'International Nation Builders Award' from black US legislators
Photo Credit: Jubilee House.

Speaking at the award ceremony on Wednesday, at the 45th Annual National Black Caucus of State Legislators in Atlanta, Georgia, Congressman Billy Mitchell explained the nation build award ceremony was renamed in 1995 to honour the late David P. Richardson, a 23-year member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and NBCSL’s third President.

“I must say as the President of NBCSL, it is my belief, that we must unite and partner with our brothers and sisters of the continent and throughout the diaspora. It is not lost on me that Ghana is widely regarded as the hub of pan-Africanism and the final resting place of many of our great thinkers, yes, even W.E.B. Du Bois,” he said.

Akufo-Addo receives 'International Nation Builders Award' from black US legislators
Photo Credit: Jubilee House.

Describe himself as “a student of Kwame Nkrumah”, Congressman Mitchell, I know we are stronger together and when we unite and advance the causes of our people, internationally, we are all better.

“It is, for this reason, I present to you this award Mr President, for your commitment to working collaboratively to achieve the liberation of African people despite where we were born. Mr President, I present to you, the first International Nation Builders Award of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators,” he added.

Ghana and the Diaspora

Akufo-Addo receives 'International Nation Builders Award' from black US legislators
Photo Credit: Jubilee House.

In his remarks, President Akufo-Addo noted that Ghana’s connection with the African Diaspora pre-dates her independence, stating that “currently, we are creating platforms for adoption of legal frameworks in key sectors to drive diaspora engagements. This has culminated in the Homeland Return Bill, on which we are currently working.”

The Homeland Return Bill, he explained, recognises Ghana’s moral and spiritual obligation, as an African nation, to facilitate the return of diaspora Africans to Ghana and the motherland, and to initiate the legal and regulatory processes for integrating them into Ghanaian society.

Akufo-Addo receives 'International Nation Builders Award' from black US legislators
Photo Credit: Jubilee House.

“When enacted, the Law will provide the much-needed regulatory and practical changes to improve the requirements for the acquisition of Ghanaian citizenship and permanent residence by diasporan Africans. Indeed, in the Year of Return, I granted citizenship to126 members of the diasporan community in Ghana of African-Americans and Caribbeans,” the President stressed. 

He continued, “It will, in fact, be a critical indication for business and investment, presenting an avenue for Africa in the diaspora to work towards partnerships, and establish Ghana as a launchpad to the rest of the continent of Africa through the AfCFTA”.

The President told the gathering that “We, in Ghana, and in Africa as a whole, have a keen interest in how you in the Diaspora fare. If you flourish, it will reflect well on us in Africa. Your success will boost our confidence. If we do well, and the continent flourishes, you will have an easier time of it here.”  


MMDAs supported to digitize revenue collection systems

Data collection in domestic revenue mobilization is one major concern of Metropolitan, Municipal and district Assemblies (MMDAs) across the country.

Available data indicate permanent revenue collectors at some MMDAs are unable to collect enough to pay their salaries each month.

A digital revenue collection system is being promoted by the Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA) and OXFAM to improve the situation.

Studies carried out by international organizations have shown that if the Internally Generated Fund (IGF) is digitized, the systems will be collecting 83 percent of the revenue.

According to FOSDA, 45 percent of youth businesses are taking steps to digitize their operations.

Most districts that have taken advantage of digitization are positioned to make the most of such businesses.

“From the dialogue we had last year, we realized that some Municipal Assemblies have digital platforms and they’re making progress with that.

Even though not all MMDA’s have the capacity to digitize their IGF system because of the cost involved, all the 29 districts in Greater Accra have some form of digital platform,” Programme Officer, Solomon Okain noted.

MMDAs supported to digitize revenue collection systems

Assistant director at Techiman Municipal Assembly, Joseph Frimpong is convinced, “the digitization and political will, will help in mobilizing more revenue”.

Districts with low IGFs are unable to undertake significant development projects and provide services that will improve the lives of citizens.

Planning officer at the Mampong Municipal Assembly, Prince Adu Gyamfi, believes, “lack of commitment from revenue collectors and other stakeholders hinders revenue mobilization”.

Digitization of the economy has been touted as a growth pole for revenue mobilization in Ghana


12 women in court for using ‘juju’ to stop road construction

Some 12 women are in court for allegedly plotting to stop the ongoing construction of the Yenagoa-Oporoma road by Bayelsa State Government with juju (charms).

Police arrested the women who led a demonstration demanding that the road should pass through their community to give residents a sense of belonging.

The suspects include; Nerisa John, 43; Christiana Famous, 36; Dolphina Ochai, 34; Flora Clinton, 55; Ayibanua Lucky, 33; Motoko Oyibadoemi, 54; Amilo Brandy, 30; Tuebi Romeo, 25; Ayibaegben Godbless, 40; Becky Williams, 37; Ayababy Kwoli, 50; and Falaba David, 30.

They were accused of conspiring to commit a felony.

The charge against them read: 

“That you (all the accused) and others at large, on the same date and place in the aforesaid magisterial district, with intent to carry out a common purpose, did assemble in such a manner by blocking the ongoing Oporoma-Yenagoa Road construction with sticks, plantain, juju, palm fronds, causing persons in the neighbourhood to fear and tumultuously disturb the peace of the people using access road without reasonable occasion, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 54 and punishable under Section 55 of the Criminal Code Law, Cap. C14 Laws of Bayelsa State.”

The women, however, pleaded not guilty and were granted bail by a magistrate’s court in Oporoma division, in the sum of N50,000 each with one surety who owned landed property.

Presiding magistrate, A.N. Asuku, adjourned the case to December 6, 2021.