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How Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ+ Bill popped up at White House

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Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ+ Bill, properly referred to as, ‘The Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021,’ continues to generate fierce debate at home and abroad.

Parliament last week started its public hearings on memos it received last month but suspended the process after Day 1 of sitting.

The issue, however, made it into the presidency of the United States of America, the White House during a press briefing over the weekend.

Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary during the press briefing was asked a question about Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ+ Bill and what steps the US president will be taking on the matter.

The journalist who posed the question prefaced it with the fact that the bill proposes five years in prison for LGBTQ+ persons and 10 years for advocates before adding: “Will the President reach out to his counterpart in Ghana or our partner nation on this legislation?”

Psaki’s response reiterated President Joe Biden’s pro-LGBTQ+ stance and added that the US will continue to diplomatically engage with partner nations especially through the Department of State, which is essentially the country’s Foreign Ministry.

“Well, first I would say that the President believes that LGBTQ I rights are not rights just here in the United States but they are rights across the world and they are rights that we should continue to raise and we will continue to raise in our diplomatic engagements.

“I would expect that the State Department will be the first point of contact, so I will point you to them and I can also check with them to see what the conversation has been like,” she added.

The US Embassy in Accra has been one of the known supporters of the LGBTQ+ movement, at a point, it was alleged by a Member of Parliament that the Embassy hoisted a gay flag during their Pride Month celebrations.

The United Nations sexual rights advocate and the worldwide Anglican church are among some foreign entities that have commented publicly on the anti-LGBTQ+ Bill calling for its rejection.

Promoters of Ghana’s anti-LGBTQ+ Bill

The LGBTQ+ Bill before Parliament is titled: “The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021.” It is a Private Members’ Bill sponsored by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

The eight MPs who sponsored the Bill are Sam Nartey George (MP, Ningo Prampram), Emmanuel Bedzrah (MP, Ho West) Della Adjoa Sowah (MP, Kpando), John Ntim Fordjour (MP, Assin South) – the sole NPP MP sponsoring the Bill.

The remaining sponsors are Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini (MP, Tamale North), Helen Adjoa Ntoso (MP, Krachi West), Rita Naa Odoley Sowah (MP, La Dadekotopon) and Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor (MP, South Dayi).

Ghana’s pro-gay collective

A group of 18 academicians and human rights defenders have voiced strong opposition to the bill before Parliament, which is seeking to extensively criminalize the activities of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, LGBTQ+.

The group submitted a memorandum to Parliament seeking that the bill be rejected because it was largely unconstitutional and infringed on basic human rights.

Members of Parliament behind the bill, led by Ningo Prampram MP Sam Nartey George, have rubbished the memorandum and asserted that the bill will be passed into law because it has the support of the wider Ghanaian populace.

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John Mahama turns 63 today

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The 2020 flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, is 63 years today.

The former president was born on November 29, 1958, in Damango to a politically active family.

His father, Emmanuel Adama Mahama, served as a Member of Parliament as well as a regional commissioner in the government of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah.

Wife of the former president, Lordina Mahama, has taken to social to celebrate her husband on the occasion of his birthday.

According to her, being the former president’s wife has been an incredible blessing to her.

“You have always made me proud as your wife. I thank God for your life and new age. Being your wife has been an incredible blessing to me. Our children and I pray that the Good Lord will continue to fill your heart with his presence and everlasting love. Happy 63rd, my love,” she said in a tweet on Monday November 29, 2021.

John Dramani is expected to seek re-election in 2024 to succeed President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s administration having failed to do so in 2020.

He recently handed over a fully renovated dormitory block to his alma mater, Ghana Senior High School (GHANASCO) in Tamale on Friday, November 26, 2021.

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Gov’t to use emergency funding request to run economy after rejection of 2022 budget

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Following the rejection of the 2022 Budget by Parliament on Friday, questions have emerged as to whether the development means an automatic logjam for government business.

According to experts in such rare situations, the disgraced Akufo Addo administration is permitted under Article 180 of the Constitution to resort to emergency funding.

Per Article 180 of the 1992 Constitution, if the Appropriation Act, which is the Bill passed by Parliament after approving the budget, is unable to come into operation at the beginning of a financial year, the President, can seek approval of Parliament to authorize the withdrawal of funds to run government business.

The “prior approval” that will be required from Parliament will be in the form of a resolution and the amount of money that the President can withdraw should be enough to run the country for three months at a time until the Budget is approved by Parliament

Therefore, if by January 2022, the budget is not passed by Parliament, President Akufo-Addo can seek approval from Parliament and withdraw money from the Consolidated Fund to meet government expenditure for three months.

If after three months the budget is still not passed, then the President can, with the approval of Parliament, do another emergency withdrawal.

On Friday, a one-sided Parliament rejected the 2022 budget on account of the Minority NDC’s unmet demand for the unpopular e-levy to be removed and for government to make allocations towards the Keta Sea Defense project.

Article 178 of the 1992 Constitution gives Parliament the sole authority to approve funds for the government’s expenditure. According to it, “no money shall be withdrawn from the consolidated fund” except the money has been authorised by an Appropriation Act, or by a supplementary estimate approved by a resolution of Parliament or by an Act of Parliament”

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Five issues Minority wants captured in a revised 2022 Budget

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The Minority Caucus has highlighted five issues it wants a revised 2022 budget to address before it gives its support.

Parliament on Friday, November 26, 2021, rejected the 2022 budget after members of the Majority Caucus staged a walkout following disagreements over a vote on a last-minute request from Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to meet leadership of the house on the policy document.

Even though the Majority Caucus has asked Ghanaians to disregard the said rejection of the budget, the Minority has insisted that the document has been thrown out and there is nothing the Majority side could do about it.

In a statement issued on Sunday, November 28, 2021, and signed by Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority wants government to abandon the proposed electronic transaction levy and Agyapa royalties deal in its revised budget.

The Minority also wants the government to provide solutions for the ravaging tidal waves in Keta in the Volta Region and also review the benchmark values on imported products.

“We hope the NPP government will do what is right and proper when considering a revised budget. The NPP Government should critically take on board the view of the Minority and sentiments of the Ghanaian populace and bring a Budget that is acceptable and address the issues of the general public. The NDC Members of Parliament have no issue with approving a Budget that addresses the generality of the concerns of the Ghanaian people.”

Read the Minority’s full demands below:

The NPP Government should rather concentrate on bringing a revised Budget that will, among
others, address the following:

1. Suspend the Electronic Transaction Levy (E-Levy): The Government should suspend the E-Levy and properly engage stakeholders to agree on a reasonable policy. How can mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments, and inward remittances be charged 1.75 percent? The policy is not retrogressive, not pro-poor, and does not support the much-touted digitalisation agenda and cash-lite economy that we all yearn for.

2. Withdrawal of Agyapa: The NDC Minority will not support any collateralisation of our revenues, particularly mineral resources. The future of our country will be bleak if we continue in that regard. We cannot jeopardise the future generations of our country just for our present desires.

3. Provide for Tidal Waves Disaster: The Government should incorporate in its revised Budget adequate measures to address the issue relating to the Tidal Waves Disaster in Keta and other communities. The victims should be supported. And the Phase II of the Blekusu Coastal Protection Project must find space in the Budget.

4. Properly re-construct the wording relating to the Aker Energy:  Relating to GNPC acquisition of stake from Aker Energy and AGM Petroleum, the revised Budget should reconstruct paragraph 829 of the rejected Budget to reflect the decision of the House as captured on 6th August 2021 Votes and Proceedings of Parliament.

5. Review the Benchmark Value for Imports: Government should, in a revised Budget, reconsider paragraph 247 of the rejected Budget which sought to restore the Benchmark Values of imports by suspending the 50 percent discount on selected General Goods and the 30 percent discount on vehicles. Some concession should be given to the importers.

Source:citinewsroom.com

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