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General News
Parliament approves the MCA, but .... 2/3/2007
... Some Clauses Tramples Upon Country’s Sovereignty
Accra, Feb. 2, GNA - Parliament on Friday approved the Millennium Challenge Compact agreement between Ghana and the Government of the United States of America after hectic debate on the conditions which touched on national sovereignty, auditing issues and tax exemptions.
There was a long debate involving professional lawyers from both sides of the House on the pros and cons on the implications of the legal conditions of the agreement.

The Deputy Minority Leader, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho had noted that the nation had missed the January 2007 target for the money to come due to the delay of Parliament to approve the agreement.

Under the Compact, Ghana is to benefit from a 547 million dollar facility from the United States Government for a five-year project focusing on an integrated agricultural programme aimed at growing the economy and reducing poverty.

Mr Mahama Ayariga, NDC-Bawku Central, drew attention of the House to the fact that the Compact bound the nation not to effect changes in constitutional provisions during the period of the grant and thereafter.

He also noted that the excessive tax exemptions for all kinds of imports from the US including personal property for persons involved in MCA projects would not make accountability effective.

The intervention of Dr Benjamin Kumbour, NDC-Lawra Nandom, in reaction to a point-of-order from the Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Kwame Osei-Prempeh on the points raised by Mr Ayariga sparked a long display of legal and constitutional knowledge from both sides of the House.

These included Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Foreign Affairs Minister; Mr Edward Salia, NDC-Jirapa; Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing; Mr Alban Bagbin, the Minority Leader; Mr William Ofori-Boafo, Deputy Minister of Defence, and Mrs Frema Osei-Opare, Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing.

But the Speaker, Mr Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi-Hughes allowed Dr Moses Asaga to intervene just before Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, Minister of Public Sector Reforms to sum up the points for the approval of the Compact to raise issues on economics and developments that related to the Compact.

Mr Bagbin later drew the attention of the House to the fact that provisions on final authority on auditing were not clear. He stated that the amount of 7.5 million dollars in respect of auditors from the US within the five years period of the Compact could be used to raise the capacity of the Auditor-General Department of Ghana.

He called on Parliament to assert its authority and independence after the Compact was ratified.

The Majority Leader and Acting Minister of Transport, Mr Felix Owusu-Adjapong commenting on the numerous interventions called on the House to use the leadership of the committees in resolving matters of such nature.

The Government of Ghana and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States of America signed a Compact on August 1, 2006 to implement a programme to reduce poverty through agricultural transformation.

Ghana was one of 16 countries worldwide to benefit from the MCA, set up by US Government to fight poverty in developing countries.

Ghana initiated steps to withdraw from the MCC administered accounts by establishing the Millennium Development Authority through an Act of Parliament, Act 702.

The Act was subsequently amended by Act 709 to over see the management and implementation of the Ghana country programme as provided in the Compact under the MCA.

Funds to be provided from the Compact are to be applied in three project areas - agricultural, transportation and rural developing projects.
The Compact, which was signed by Accra and New York in August 2006 in accordance with Article 75(2) of the 1992 Constitution, is expected to contribute to the attainment of Ghana''s goal of reducing poverty by half and increasing per capita income to 1,000 dollars by 2015.


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