Ghana: Central bank gold watches hullabaloo, cleaner fuel reported in Ghana

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – Hullabaloo over gold watches for central bank workers who have worked for 30 years and the decision of the authorities to import cleaner diesel from next January were some of the stories highlighted by the media this week.

Some members of the public have reacted with anger at the disclosure that the Bank of Ghana (BoG) is to purchase watches said to be worth about 450 Euro for 72 workers who have served the central bank for more than 30 years.

“BoG blows 2 million Ghana cedis on Gold watches for staff,” was the headline of a story on the website of an Accra-based radio station Starr FM on the story.

It said 24 units of 18 carat ladies gold watches and 48 units of gents gold watches were being bought from Messrs A Swiss Watch Company.

The central bank said the reason behind the procurement of the watches, was to serve "as an award to deserving members of staff who had served with the Bank for thirty years or more and are due to retire compulsorily from the service of the Bank in the years 2016 and 2017".

The central bank has came back strongly to state that it has broken no law in the acquisition of the watches for its staff.

“BoG broke no law in procurement of gold watches,” was the headline of a story in the state-owned Graphic which quoted a statement by the bank as saying they had not gone against the procurement laws.

“No procurement rules were breached in presenting sole sourcing justification to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) for approval. PPA is an independent public institution whose work cannot be influenced by the bank or any other institution,’’ it said.

According to the statement, the procurement of the watches was part of the conditions of service of staff of the bank and “a long tradition” meant “to boost staff morale and commitment to the goals and ideals of the institution”.

“The award scheme has been the convention of the bank since the 1970s. In the year 2012, the bank decided to procure the gold watches once every two years (i.e. 2012/13 etc.) in order to control cost and make savings on foreign exchange, ‘’ it said.

A former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Emmanuel Asiedu Mantey, has also come out to defend the decision to purchase the watches for its retiring staff saying the public outcry that it is from tax payer's money was a pure “misconception”.

“That’s not true,” Mr. Mantey said, explaining that the Central Bank drew its own balance sheet and budget at the beginning of every year. So, it is its internally generated revenue that is being used to do this, not tax payers’ money. That misconception also needs to be cleared,” he added.

Some angry members of the public are, however, demanding a probe.

The Graphic, in a story under the headline, “NPA revises sulphur specification for diesel,” reported that National Petroleum Authority (NPA) had revised the national sulphur specification for diesel from maximum 3,000 parts per million (ppm) to 500ppm.

“Additionally, all suppliers of fuel to Ghana are, by this revised specification, allowed to import diesel at 10ppm or lower. This means that while the revised national specification will be at 500ppm, suppliers of fuel could import ultra-low-sulphur diesels (ULSD) to Ghana as pertains in Europe,” a statement the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NPA, Mr Moses Asaga, said.

It was issued barely 24 hours after the Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) had issued a statement advocating for the revision of standards in the amount of sulphur in diesel to meet European specifications.

“It is our recommendation that the standards be revised to 10ppm and a transition road map developed by industry, in conjunction with representative consumer groups and civil society organisations,” a statement issued in Accra by the CEO of the CBOD, Mr Senyo Hosi, said.

The lower the sulphur content in diesel, the better, but Ghana currently has between 2,000 and 3,000ppm in its diesel products.

"Dirty Diesel", a report published by Public Eye on 15 September, reveals how Swiss commodity trading firms exploit lax regulatory standards to sell African customers fuel with high sulfur content.

Produced by the trading firms themselves, these types of fuel have long been banned in Europe, the report said. "They contribute significantly to the rapidly rising air pollution in African cities and jeopardize the health of millions of people," it added.
-0- PANA MA 8Oct2016

08 october 2016 06:54:31

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