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Ken Ofori-Atta faces Parliament’s Appointments Committee today

Ofori-Atta was originally scheduled for vetting on 8 March but had to be postponed due to ill-health following post-COVID-19 recovery complications.

The Appointments Committee of Parliament will today vet Minister for Finance-designate, Ken Ofori-Atta.

Ofori-Atta was originally scheduled for vetting on 8 March but, had to be postponed due to ill-health following post-COVID-19 recovery complications.

He spent about 30 days at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, USA, where he received specialised treatment for post COVID-19 complications.

As a result, the 2021 Budget Statement of government was presented by Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government Business in Parliament.

Prior to his return, Ofori-Atta during a virtual post-budget forum expressed gratitude to Ghanaians for an improving health condition attributing his recovery to the “grace of God and continuous prayers from Ghanaians.”

Key issues to expect

The vetting is expected to be dominated by issues relating to the financial sector cleanup which took place under the watch of Ofori-Atta during the first term of President Akufo-Addo.

The financial sector cleanup which led to the collapse of some insolvent financial institutions cost the taxpayer GHS21 billion.

The cleanup was necessary because of mismanagement at these financial institutions which led to depositors’ funds being locked up with no hope of such funds ever being accessed.

The cleanup has strengthened local banks, making them more resilient to shocks.

Assessing the balance sheets of local banks currently, the financial health of Ghanaian-owned banks is stronger compared to the period before the cleanup exercise.

The banking sector is safe, sound and has the required absorbers to withstand the expected shocks associated with the second COVID-19 wave.

Agyapa deal

The next controversial issue anticipated to be a point of focus for the minority MPs on the Appointments Committee is the Agyapa Gold Royalties deal.

The Appointments Committee spent some two hours questioning Attorney General and Minister of Justice Godfred Dame Yeboah who provided detailed answers backed by documents to defend the deal.

President Akufo-Addo has hinted of the possible return of the controversial Agyapa mineral royalties deal to Parliament.

“The government will come back to engage the House on the steps it intends to take on the future of the Agyapa transaction,” the President told Parliamentarians in his State of the Address Address, the first for his second term.

The Agyapa royalty was a gold royalty company and its main purpose was to offer financing to gold mining companies that wanted to develop new mining projects in exchange for royalties or revenue once the mines started producing gold.

The rational for the transaction is to create and launch Africa’s first gold royalty company and showcase Ghana as the premier destination for gold assets and resource mining, whilst raising non debt funding for capital investment.

This a sure way to attract investment into the sector, increase exploration activity, provide financing to owners of mining concessions looking for equity type of financing to develop their mines and bring them to production as well as ensure rural development.

Income from this transaction will be used in four main areas, health, education, road infrastructure and housing.

Mining communities would be prioritised to benefit from these projects.

Part of the proceeds would also go to support the new National Development Bank as well as the Ghana Infrastructure and Investment Fund.

When listed Government of Ghana through the Mineral Income Investment Fund (MIIF) would be the majority shareholder with at least 51% of the shares.

Budget related issues likely to feature at the vetting includes introduction of new taxes, the huge deficit, the high public debt among others.

Industry players see Ofori-Atta’s cool demeanour, knack for details, ability to mobilise resources, international exposure, strong networks and team player as vital factors that make him the best Finance Minister to help the president steer the country through the devastating impact of COVID-19.

Source: Asaase

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