GHANA'S DEBT DOWN TO $6.1 BILLION
Ghana's debt stock reduced from $7.1 billion in 2003 to $6.1 billion as of Wednesday, December 15, 2004.
Currently, debt relief enjoyed by the country from her donor partners stands at $1,355 billion.
The Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Samuel Nii Noi Ashong, made this known in Accra after the signing of a $2.4 million grant agreement between Ghana and China.
Dr. Ashong signed the agreement on behalf of the government, while the Chinese Ambassador of Ghana, Mr. Zhang Keyuan, signed for his government.
The Minister said, the two countries would continue to hold discussions on how to utilise the facility on priority projects they would agree upon later. HOUSE APPROVES PROVISIONAL BUDGET FOR GOVERNMENT BUSINESS Parliament has approved the withdrawal of six trillion, nine hundred and fifteen billion cedis (¢6,915,575,000,000.00) as provisional estimates from the consolidated Fund to meet government expenditure on vital services before the Appropriation Act for the 2005 financial year comes into operation.
It takes the first quarter of the year (January to March) to consider the annual estimates of ministries, departments and agencies to pass the Appropriation Act.
Consequently, pursuant to Article 180 of the Constitution, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, acting on the authority of the President, this month requested the House to approve, by resolution, the withdrawal of the amount from the Consolidated Fund for the first three months of the financial year, prior to the reading of the budget. INNOVATION AT KORLE-BU TEACHING HOSPITAL The Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) has made a significant innovation in patient care with the production of its own chest drainage equipment.
This is an equipment which is vital in the management of patients who have sustained chest injuries and are bleeding into the chest cavity as a result of a puncture of the lungs.
It is also used to drain pus from the chest cavity of patients who have pneumonia, tuberculosis, measles and other chest infections.
Until this development, the hospital used to import 2,000 pieces of the product, at the cost of ¢524 million annually. It is now being produced at a cost of ¢242 million.
The equipment was designed by a team led by Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Chief Executive of KBTH, and manufactured by Continental Plastics, a private firm in Accra. HOPE FOR HERBAL CURE FOR AIDS Investigations and research being conducted by a team of scientists of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) on the potency of a herbal mixture known as “Koakro” have shown that the product could effectively manage HIV/AIDS and possibly cure the menace.
The six-member team made up of lecturers and technicians of the Biochemistry Department of KNUST, found that the product was effective in the fight against most “microbes that infect HIV/AIDS patients”
The head of the six-member team, Mr. Ebenezer Okletey Terlabi, said the research started a year ago and it is an effort being made by the department, in collaboration with herbalists, to seek a cure for the HIV/AIDS menace.
The 'Koakro' herbal mixture is the product of Mr. Kamara Agyepong, a herbalist. PROFESSOR APT ELECTED VICE-CHAIRPERSON OF HELP AGE INTERNATIONAL The President of HelpAge Ghana and Dean of Academic Affairs of Ashesi University College, Professor Nana Araba Apt, has been elected Vice Chairperson of the Board of HelpAge International.
This was at the board meeting held in London, from November 15 to 17, 2004. Professor Apt was elected unopposed. The Chairperson of the Board is, however, from the United States of America.
HelpAge Ghana is a global network of non-profit organizations with a mission to work with and for disadvantaged older people world-wide to achieve a lasting improvement in the quality of their lives. CHINA DONATES COMPUTERS TO BOAMANG-MAASE JSS The Chinese Embassy in Ghana has presented three computers and their accessories, and a quality of library books valued at about $5,000 to the Boamang-Maase JSS in the Afigya Sekyere District of the Ashanti Region.
Making the presentation, Mr. Wang Jinghua, Chancellor of the Chinese Embassy in Accra, said China had a cordial relationship with Ghana and expressed the hope that the donation would establish close relationship between China and the people of the community.
Mr. Junghua said, China had achieved a lot through education and hard work and there was the need for the Chinese government to strengthen its relationship by supporting the effort of the Ghana government to promote quality and affordable education in the country.
30,000 TO BENEFIT FROM ANTI-RETROVIRAL DRUGS
About 30,000 Persons Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Ghana are to benefit from anti-retroviral drugs by the end of 2005.
Currently, some 1,700 PLWHA are receiving the therapeutic drugs, Mrs. Justina Anglaaere, Anti-Retroviral Drugs Campaign Co-ordinator of the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), announced this in Tamale during a round table discussion on access to the drugs.
The forum was organised by ISODEC, for civil society organizations, regional directors of health, representatives of the Regional House of Chiefs and the Regional Co-ordinating Directors from Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Brong Ahafo regions.
GPHA RELEASES MODALITIES FOR FREE FOR ALL SYSTEM
The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), has released modalities and procedural policies to ensure the smooth implementation of competitive stevedoring operations, scheduled to re-start at the Tema and Takoradi ports from January 1, 2005.
The “Free For All System”, which would replace the quota system, would allow ship owners and their agents choose any of the nine stevedoring companies to load and or unload their cargo, without any company being imposed on them.
The Director of Ports, GPHA, Mr. Gordon Anim, said the modalities covered issues such as tariffs, royalties, performance monitoring mechanisms and punitive measures against long berth occupancy.
He said, GPHA had invested in equipment, spare parts and training of staff to strategically position itself to thrive in the competitive era.
HOUSE APPROVES $21.4 MILLION FOR POLICE
Parliament last Friday approved a suppliers credit agreement of $21.4 million from the Paramount Logistics Corporation of South Africa to procure aircraft, vehicles and protective equipment to enhance the work of the police.
The credit facility, which is to support the first phase of a programme to improve upon the operational efficiency of the Police Service, involves the purchase of four observer aircraft, and two helicopters to assist the rapid transportation of security personnel in emergency situations.
Other equipment under the programme are seven amoured patrol vehicles fitted with VHF and HF communication and video cameras, five amoured carriers, 25 Scorpio Station Wagons, 50 Bolero Station wagon vehicles and pistols. The protective clothing would include anti-riot shields, bullet proof shields and vests.