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Land Acquisition, Registration Will See Drastic Change – Bawumia

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Government will this year begin the process of streamlining the process of land acquisition, valuation and records consolidation as part of the process of moving Ghana beyond aid, the Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has announced.

Among other intended measures, plans are far advanced to begin the process of digitizing all land records in the country, a major intervention designed to reduce the turnaround time for land registration and eliminate corruption, while a land reform conference bringing together all stakeholders in the land acquisition and management sector is slated for the end of February 2018.

The Vice President announced when he paid a surprise familiarisation visit to the offices of the Land Registration Division of the Lands Commission in Accra on Tuesday, 13th February 2018, ahead of the Conference slated for February 28, to familiarise himself with their operations and discuss their challenges.

“Ghana will not be able to move beyond aid if we don’t tackle the issue of land title. There is so much land for which people cannot even extract any equity out of it because there is no proper title to it. That cannot and must not continue,” Dr Bawumia underscored.

“We have been living with this problem in Ghana for years but we are not changing it. It is time for us to change the system. We cannot accept the status quo, and the directions of the President are clear: we have to bring change to this whole process of the acquisition of land.

“In many countries land is key in the development of the country [but] in Ghana land is not part of the process in many cases, and that does not allow the development of the mortgage market. So we have come here to familiarise ourselves with the processes, and to discuss some of their challenges.”

Dr Bawumia expressed particular worry at the conditions at the records department of the Land Title Division, and the seemingly disorganised manner of the land management process.

“It is a very scary situation because there’s not enough space there for them to keep the records, and you don’t have these records in digital form so even finding somebody’s file can take you more than a month. Sometimes some of the files – because of misfiling – cannot be found and they will tell you your file has not been found. So we have to change the process and this is why we are taking this whole issue of digitalizing our land documents in Ghana very seriously.

“Thankfully there’s a process that is going to be implemented this year, where we are going to hold a land reform conference and we are going to take some important decisions afterwards to streamline the system.

“The search processes, the consolidation of records, survey department, land title, you have all these records in different places; they are not consolidated. We can’t continue the same way. This is the year we have to consolidate all the records.”

Consolidating all such records, Dr Bawumia added, would facilitate the development of the mortgage market and make it easier to undertake land ownership searches.

“It will allow the mortgage market to develop in this country. There is no modern economy that works without a well-developed mortgage market, and this is where we want to bring change in Ghana. We want all these records across all the land agencies digitalized this year. We are going to put in place the resources and the personnel, such as the Nation Builders Corps. We will provide all these agencies with personnel, all these graduates to help in the digitalization of all these documents.”

Discussions would also be held with the Chief Justice to find ways to address the many conflicting judgments issued in different courts on land issues, the Vice President indicated.

Business

Suspend Tax Stamp Or We Close Down – Businesses

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Businesses say they will be left with no option than to close their factories and make their workers stay home if the Tax Stamp is implemented in its current state from March 1, 2018.

The Ghana Revenue Authority is currently running commercial and sensitization exercises on the Tax Stamp.

But there is uncertainty surrounding the policy as key businesses are calling for its immediate suspension.

According to them, the current state of implementation is poor and need to be readjusted.

They are warning the introduction of the tax stamp will add to the cost of doing business thereby escalating the prices of goods.

The passage of the Excise Tax Stamp Act, 2013, (Act 873) made it compulsory for companies that manufacture or import bottled beverages and water to affix the tax stamps on their products before they are allowed into the market.

Companies are being charged to acquire the machines to aid the process.

The machine is estimated to cost between $100.000.00 – 500.000.00, depending on the size of operation.

Some businesses say the cost of procuring the machine is expensive.

The Executive Secretary of the Food and Beverages Association of Ghana, Sam Aggrey told Starr Business’ Osei Owusu Amankwaah, many bottling companies will have no option than to collapse if the tax stamp remains in its current state.

“We have two companies just waiting to deplete their stock and they will fold up. They have already told their workers. They say, they can’t afford the machine,” Mr. Aggrey said.

The Ghana Freight Forwarders Association also say the move will prolong its operation at the port; making them lose money.

“In the port, anything that extend time increases cost and if cost is increased you and I will be buying it in the market,” said the President of the Ghana Freight Forwarders Association, Nana Ofosu Appiah.

The Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Sampson Asaki and the President for the Ghana Union of Traders Associations (GUTA), Dr. Joseph Obeng say the current state of the tax stamp will require that products are stamped in the origin of import. This they believe will make their operation cumbersome.

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“Extinction Of Pangolins Will Affect Planting For Food And Jobs”

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Ghana’s agriculture sector is likely to be affected if Pangolins known locally as ‘Aprawa’ are extinct.

Pangolins feed on termites and it is estimated that each pangolin eat about 70 million termites a year.

This helps to regulate the population of termites with the potential to affect Agriculture and human activities.

Some termites eat into the taproots of seedlings immediately below the soil surface, destroying the central root portions, and fill the resulting cavities with soil. Termite damaged plants wilt and may die within a few days particularly under drought conditions.

Some termites can attack the roots of maize and sorghum, and crop plants to damage and topple the plants. Termites may also travel up through the roots into the trunk and branches, disrupt movement of nutrients and water through the vascular system resulting in death of the plant.

Therefore experts say, if the population of termites are not regulated the brunt will be on agriculture hence the need to protect Pangolins to play that natural roles.

At the commemoration of World Pangolins Day on February 17, 2018 at Bunso and Nsutem stretch of the Accra to Kumasi Highways in the Eastern region organized by AROCHA Ghana with support from USAID and the Wildlife Division of the Forestry commission, Joseph Yaw Oppong, Public Relations Manager of Wildlife division of Ghana believes extinction of pangolins may have negative impact on farming in Ghana.

“God has given this particular creature very important role to play in our environment or the ecology, Pagolins eat termites and ants. It is researched and established that one of these creatures could eat as many as 200,000 termites a day.

“It means that it control termites and ants on the farm and by nature of their crawling they are also able to dig the soil, to loosen it and support growth of plants. Without them, termites and ants can cause havoc to farming. So their role is to protect termites and insects so that farmers can have little holidays on their farms,” he said.

On his part, Emmanuel Ackom, Eastern regional Manager of AROCHA Ghana said Ghana needs to do more to protect these important species through awareness creation and enforcement of Wildlife laws.

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Petroleum Commission To Up Local Content Requirement In Oil & Gas Sector

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The Petroleum Commission has served notice it will by the end of the year increase the local content requirement for foreign companies operating in the oil and gas sector.

The move follows the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) call on the Commission last month to expedite action on developing the required local technical skills that will enable the country take control of the production and management of its oil resources.

Contained in the audit report of the Auditor General on the implementation of local content in the oil and gas space of Ghana, PAC also advised the Commission to support local firms to raise capital to enable them increase their shareholding in future oil blocks.

In November, 2013, LI2204 was promulgated to inter alia promote maximisation of value-addition and job creation through the use of local expertise, goods and services business, financing in the petroleum industry value chain and their retention in Ghana. The Local Content Committee established by the Board of the Commission is required to oversee the implementation of LI2204.

Currently, there are a number of services which have been reserved for locals under the act that established the commission. But many local firms are unable to meet the requirements.

Speaking at the first local content procurement conference in Accra, the CEO of the Commission Egbert Fabille Jnr hinted that the local content requirement will be upped to ensure Ghanaians are playing critical role in the production and management of the country’s oil and gas resources.

Also, he warned that the Commission will not approve petroleum contracts that do not fulfill the three months’ mandatory notice ahead of its implementation.

“…From April 1, anybody in the upstream sector who has any contract of a hundred thousand dollars and above to give up, will have to submit that contract to the Petroleum Commission at least two months before the award of the contract so that we will get to know what is involved and will alert all those companies that could put in bids to do so; the time for short term and knee-jerk approaches is over,” he said.

Touching on the Mr Faibille said, “The Conference is in fulfillment of the commitment of the Board and management of the Commission to ensure transparency in the upstream oil and gas tender process and promote participation of indigenous Ghanaian companies in the provision of goods and services in the sector.”

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