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Cocoa Farmers In Ashanti Region Hail Introduction Of Pension Scheme   
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COCOA farmers in the Ashanti Region have hailed the introduction of a pension scheme announced by the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, in the 2017/18 Adwuma Budget.

According to some prominent farmers in the region, the scheme, which takes off almost immediately, was long overdue.

In his reaction to the budget, the acting Executive Secretary of Kuapa Kokoo Co-operative Cocoa Farmers and Marketing Union Limited (KKFU), Mr Nelson Adubofour, said the announcement would no doubt encourage farmers to work harder to increase their yields.

‘With this, our dream of meeting the one million tons and the desire to overtake Cote d’Ivoire as the number one producer in the world could be achieved sooner than expected’’, he said.

For their part, members of the Ashanti Business Owners Association (ABOA) said they were yet to study the budget before making any comments.

The Secretary of ABOA, Mr Mark Osei Boakye, however, said the association had expected the government to react to the recent request to review the three per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) which eventually increased the cost of doing business.

Benjamin Xornam Glover reports from Tema that the Protocol and Administrative Officer at the Tema Development Corporation (TDC), Mr Ian Okwei, described the budget statement as one that was in tune with the times.

Mr Okwei, who is also an assembly member at the TMA, said the $2 billion integrated aluminium industry proposed to be established in 2018 would greatly revive the Volta Aluminium Company, (VALCO), an aluminium company based in Tema and the entire aluminium industry not to mention the level of capital inflows and employment rate.

He noted that the government’s intention to allocate a minimum of GH¢2 million in 2018 to each district for the implementation of the One District, One Factory,(1D1F) project must serve as a challenge to the local authorities in the various districts, together with the private sector to take full advantage of these funds.

A freight forwarder, Mr Richard Nana Amoako, said the importers felt the valuation of cargoes had increased astronomically, thereby making their overheads high.

From Tamale, Samuel Duodu reports that there were mixed reactions to the 2018 budget statement delivered by the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta on the floor of Parliament yesterday.

Some traders, farmers, residents and government workers interviewed at the central business district (CBD) area in the metropolis expressed varied opinions about the budget.

While some said the budget would bring some relief to Ghanaians in the area of electricity tariffs and stable power, others said they doubted whether the government would be able to implement the lofty fiscal policies stated in the budget.

Some market queens and traders said the cost of living was still high, with prices of goods and services increasing by the day in spite of the government’s promise to improve upon the general economic environment.

A trader at the Tamale Central Market, Hajia Wasila Suhudoo, said she was anxious of the implications of the budget on trade and general business, saying “my brother, the prices of items on the market keep on increasing and I hope the 2018 budget will address this issue to help stabilise the prices of goods.”

Mary Anane-Amponsah reports from Ho that the people welcomed some of the interventions of the government to better the lives of Ghanaians in the budget, especially with job creation for the youth.

Although they said the government had not been able to implement all the policies in the previous budget, they hoped it would work on those that affected the majority of Ghanaians.

A journalist, Mr Kosi Kuma Hovi, noted that the issue of unemployment was important and needed urgent attention for the future of the youth and, therefore, supported the government’s move to address it.

Some said they did not listen to the whole presentation but were excited to hear of a reduction in electricity tariff.

Some traders too said they were disappointed not to have heard a reduction in fuel prices as it was a major contributor to the high cost of living in the country.

Shirley Asiedu-Addo reports from Cape Coast that residents of Cape Coast received the budget for 2018 with mixed reactions.

While others thought it was reassuring of the government’s commitment to ease the economic burdens on Ghanaians, others thought it was “the same old story.’’

The Head of the Department of Finance of the School of Business of the University of Cape Coast, Dr John Gatsi, said the government must not usurp the responsibilities of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) in its quest to fulfil its campaign promises.

He said while a reduction in tariffs would relieve the Ghanaian of hardships, it would be prudent for the government not to usurp that mandate from the PURC.

Kofi Maison, a stationery dealer, said the effort by the government to provide employment for the many unemployed youth would have very positive effects on society.

From Sunyani, Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah and Biiya Mukusah Ali report that landlords and tenants have commended the government for its announcement in the 2018 budget to reduce residential and non-residential electricity tariffs by 13 per cent.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Techiman Processing Complex, Mr Wil Aparloo Ofori, said: “We have been expecting this move for a long time and we thank the government for its efforts to lessen our burden.”

He was also hopeful that the government would fulfil its promise to provide small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with flexible loans to enable them to expand their industries and produce more for the local and international markets.

A landlady, Madam Comfort Pokuaah, described the move by the government to liaise with the PURC for the reduction of residential and non-residential electricity tariffs by 13 per cent as welcome news.

From Wa, Michael Quaye reports that the Upper West regional branch of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) said the intervention of the National Petroleum Authority has not been helpful to the transport industry.

He said transport owners were at the mercy of the NPA, saying the authority’s periodic price adjustments had been mostly unfavourable to transport owners and the industry.

Alhaji Nuhu Mahama, the Industrial Relations Officer of the Upper West branch of GPRTU, said it was their wish that the government took control of the pricing of petroleum products.

“The regular reviews of petroleum prices have not favoured us at all,” he said.
“This year (2017) alone, prices have been reviewed upwards at least three times without the corresponding adjustments in transport fares,” he added.

Vincent Amenuveve reports from Bolgatanga that some residents of the Upper East Region described the government's budget as one that provides hope for citizens and the poor considering the electricity tariff reduction of about 13 per cent.

They noted that such a move would help reduce pressure on household incomes.

"For those of us in this part of the country, where a significant number of families can't raise GH¢100 in a year or even two, some of these measures will ultimately impact positively on our incomes," a trader, Madam Rita Achana indicated.

The Executive Director of the Rural Initiatives for Self Empowerment, Ghana (RISE), Mr Awal Ahmed, said in all these "we must not leave the government alone, if we don't hold duty bearers accountable, these ideas, lofty and noble as they may sound, might not get implemented and the citizens will suffer."
Source: Daily Graphic

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