The European Union (EU) is expected to announce a $20billion package to deal with COVID-19 effect on food and agriculture on the African continent.
The European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, outlined the EU support package for Africa that should eventually exceed $20 billion during FAO-AU Ministerial (virtual) Meeting on the Impacts of COVID-19 on Food Security in Africa, on Thursday April 16.
The World Bank’s Simeon Ehui also detailed support initiatives, including the possibility of re-purposing $3.2 billion in uncommitted funding. Speaking for the African Development Bank, Martin Fregene concluded with details of a COVID-19 response programme that includes targeted technical and financial support.
Below is the full statement of the FAO after the meeting …
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the African Union (AU) and international partners today described the food and agriculture system as “an essential service that must continue to operate during periods of lockdown, emergency, curfew and other containment measures”.
In a joint declaration, they committed to supporting access to food and nutrition for Africa’s most vulnerable; providing Africans with social safety nets; minimizing disruptions to the safe movement and transport of essential people, and to the transport and marketing of goods and services; and keeping borders open on the continent for the food and agriculture trade.
The document was adopted at a gathering co-organized by the AU and FAO and convened virtually. All 55 AU member states were represented, 45 at minister level. The debate was moderated by the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Josefa Sacko.
In his opening remarks, Director-General QU Dongyu said quick, strategic action was needed to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security in Africa. “Border closures restrict trade and limit food availability in many countries, particularly those dependent on food imports,” he said. He expressed support for measures that do not lead to disruptions in food supply chains: these must be “kept alive,” he stressed.
Angela Thoko Didiza, Minister for Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development of South Africa, joined Qu in opening the debate. The Minister, whose country currently chairs the AU, cautioned against any moves to weaken inter-regional trade. Both officials highlighted the toll taken by lockdowns in a continent where informal markets, rather than supermarkets, provide a lifeline for most consumers.
FAO’s Chief Economist, Maximo Torero, pointed to growing evidence of logistical strains in food markets – strains which Qu suggested should be mitigated by “shortening the chain”: producing more, better, and locally if possible.
Minister after minister intervened to outline the challenges posed by the pandemic, in a region of the world where a fifth of the population is undernourished. The CEO of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Ibrahim Mayaki, warned of risks to social stability if food and cash were to run low among Africa’s urban residents. Many government representatives described strenuous efforts to bolster welfare benefits, often at great cost to national budgets.
Echoing these concerns, the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, outlined an EU support package for Africa that should eventually exceed $20 billion. The World Bank’s Simeon Ehui also detailed support initiatives, including the possibility of re-purposing $3.2 billion in uncommitted funding. Speaking for the African Development Bank, Martin Fregene concluded with details of a COVID-19 response programme that includes targeted technical and financial support.
Ghana doing well with anti-money laundering measures – FIC
The Head of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), Kwaku Duah, has noted that Ghana is scaling up its fight against money laundering in the country.
He said Ghana is performing well per the reports of the Financial Action Task Force, (FATF).
Recently, the European Commission cited Ghana as one of four African countries listed by the European Union for money laundering breaches, a claim the Ministry of Finance dismissed.
The Ministry in a statement described the development as unfortunate because in their view, Ghana has instituted measures to fight money laundering
Mr Kwaku Dua, Head of the FIC said “It is the Financial Action Taskforce that would access Ghana. In fact, that is the world body that sets standards in the fight against money laundering and so the Financial Action Task Force, FATF, has been identified like it’s been explained in the statement that the Finance Ministry came out with.
“The Financial Action Task Force, (FATF), has identified some deficiencies in our Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime,” he said.
He added “…That is our money laundering regime and therefore they have drawn some action plans for us which we are following.
“They have given us up to December 2020 to address them. Then, the EU also comes out with this, meanwhile, per the standards Ghana is doing well.
“They access us periodically. We send reports to them and we do face to face meetings with them. So, per their report, Ghana is doing well, we have not faulted as far as the timelines given us is concerned so they are waiting till December.
“If by December we have not been able to address all the action items that is where they themselves will blacklist us,” he told Citi FM.
Ghana returns to investors to raise funds via three-year bond
The government of Ghana is back to the investing public to raise some funds to pay off maturing debts.
To this end, the government, through the Bank of Ghana, will, on Thursday, 28 May 2020 issue a 3-year bond.
The debt instrument, which is expected to mature in 2023, will be opened to both resident and non-resident investors.
It is unclear how much the government is seeking to raise but the central government may accept all the funds that will be bid by the investors.
This is because the COVID-19 pandemic might prevent many investors from subscribing to the bond due to liquidity challenges.
Analysts are, however, hopeful that the yield will not go beyond 19%.
The minimum bid for the bond is GHS50,000 and multiples of GHS1,000 thereafter.
Each Bond will, however, have a face value of one Ghana cedi.
Absa, Databank, Fidelity, IC Securities, Stanbic are joint lead managers for the issuance of the debt instrument.
The government of Ghana, on 8 May 2020, accepted all bids of a 2-year bond, amounting to GHS668.76 million.
The yield on the debt instrument, which is expected to mature in 2022, was 18.75%.
A chunk of the money was used to settle maturing debt (principal and interest.
Source: Class FM
Coronavirus: GCAA, Airports Company waive landing charges indefinitely
The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and Ghana Airport Company (GACL) have waived landing charges indefinitely for all flights that use Ghana’s airports.
The move is to help alleviate the plight of airlines and other stakeholders in the aviation space due to the effect of COVID-19 on their operations.
Managers of the country’s aeronautical and non-aeronautic space say considering the loss of revenue to the airlines, the decision was a no-brainer.
The Director General of the GCAA, Simon Allotey, told the B&FT in an interview that: “As at now, we do not know when the COVID-19 will ease; so we have taken a decision that until the situation improves, landing charges have been waived. The important thing is sustainability of the domestic industry.
“We realise that it is important to operate in a safe and efficient manner, and at the same time abide by the Ghana Health Service’s COVID-19protocols so that Ghanaians will be transported safely to do their business and go about bringing whatever will lead to sustainable economic development. So, we cannot give a time limit for the waiver on landing charges.”
He was quick to add that the situation is being keenly monitored and decisions will be made per changes that occur in the industry as time goes on, and as measures are being put in place to ensure the country’s readiness to open its air for full operations.
Even before this decision, the GCAL had announced a three-month waiver for rent, parking, lighting and also royalty payments from April to June. Due to the fact that the Kotoka International Airport has been partially closed except for domestic airlines, tenants of restaurants, gift shops, forex bureaus and others have also had their rent waived for the same period.
According to Mr. Allottey, the move by the two agencies is coming at a great sacrifice as their revenue flow is running into the negatives. “It is a difficult situation for everybody, but as the agencies involved we need to offer some support to the service providers and the industry even though we are also hurting so badly.
“We have a responsibility as state agencies responsible for the industry to make sure airline operators and other service providers can recover as early as possible from this COVID-19effect on the industry.”
The move, industry players believe, will provide some respite for domestic airlines who have had to cut down their passenger numbers and also invest in the implementation of some safety protocols amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
The Aviation Minister, Joseph Kofi Adda, told this Paper that his ministry will be holding a forum with major stakeholders in the sector next week; to draft measures in the bid to get prepared for the commencement of full commercial operations.
The current pandemic has pushed the global aviation industry almost to the wall, with major international airlines cutting thousands of jobs and asking governments for bailouts. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that the pandemic could cost the industry about US$250bn this year.
According to IATA, worldwide flights were 70 percent lower at the start of the second-quarter this year. The association predicted a further decline as restrictions rise in a number of regions. It projected that though airlines have little or no revenue coming in, they have to spend about US$60billion in the second-quarter, as “some costs cannot be avoided and ticket refunds [are] also burning cash”.
Source: B&FT Online
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