The payment of $937.5 million to three independent power producers (IPPs) for excess capacity charge between 2017 and 2020 by the government and the Bank of Ghana’s programme to purchase gold from local producers to help shore up the country’s gross international reserves are some of the leading stories in the Ghanaian press on Friday.The Graphic reports that the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has told Parliament that the government paid $937.5 million to three independent power producers (IPPs) for excess capacity charge between 2017 and 2020.
He said out of the amount, AKSA was paid $347 million, Karpower $359 million and Cenpower $251 million.
Giving a breakdown of the payments, Mr Ofori-Atta stated that AKSA was paid $35.7 million in 2017, $59.4 million in 2018, $136.8 million in 2019 and $115.3 million in 2020.
In the case of Karpower, he said, the company received $65.5 million in 2017, $108.9 million in 2018, $138 million in 2019 and $46.8 million in 2020.
With regard to Cenpower, the finance minister indicated that the company received no payment in 2017 and 2018 but was paid $86.5 million in 2019 and $144.8 million in 2020.
Mr Ofori-Atta disclosed these when he answered a question by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale North, Mr Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini, who asked which IPPs had received payment from the government for excess capacity charges and how much was paid to the companies in the last four years.
The MP also sought to know the quantity of megawatts (MW) that was determined to be the excess power for which the $937.5 million was paid.
The newspaper says that the Bank of Ghana (BoG) has launched a special programme to purchase gold from local producers to help shore up the country’s gross international reserves (GIR).
The first of its kind, the central bank is hopeful that the initiative will help double its gold holdings in the GIR in the next five years to help foster confidence in the local currency, enhance currency stability and create a more attractive environment for foreign direct investments to spur economic growth.
The bank also expects to leverage the increased gold holdings to raise cheaper sources of funds to provide short-term foreign exchange liquidity for the economy.
It comes at a time when the bank’s gold holdings has remained static at 8.77 tonnes for 15 years, although the country has been producing gold for more than a century, becoming the lead producer in Africa in 2019.
Central banks of developed countries such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany and other European countries, keep part of their reserves in the precious metal as a store of value and buffer for their currencies.
Some investors also do that as a hedge against currency depreciation, the tumbling of markets (shares prices).
The Governor of the BoG, Dr Ernest Addison, said at the launch in Accra yesterday that the initiative was historic, as it marked the first time the central bank was embarking on domestic gold purchasing to augment its foreign reserves.
The Graphic also reports that the Customs officials at the Tema Port have intercepted three assault rifles concealed in consolidated cargo declared as containing personal effects and vehicles.
The rifles, made up of a 10-millimetre Aero Survival Rifle, fitted with binoculars, an HK 416 semi-automatic rifle and a 4 x 32 premium scope crossbolts dead silent rifle, were detected yesterday during a physical examination on the consignment which arrived from the United States of America in a container numbered MEDU4810912.
The container had on board four vehicles and personal effects loaded in blue barrels, one of which was found to be holding the weapons.
According to customs officials, an agent, Mr Bernard Adjei Kwarteng, who processed the container for clearing, was assisting them in investigations.
A seizure notice has been placed on the weapons and conveyed to the State Warehouse facility at the port.
A Principal Revenue Officer of the Ghana Revenue Authority in charge of the Golden Jubilee Car Park at the Tema Port, Mr Cyril Ekahe, told the Daily Graphic that the importation of the weapons contravened customs regulations, which required importers of weapons to secure the necessary permits before bringing them into the country.
He said the diligence of the examination officer led to the detection of the weapons, since the container scanners were usually not able to vividly determine nor isolate items in containers arriving at the ports.