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Business News of Wednesday, 5 April 2017


Affordable houses no longer affordable - Freda Prempeh

The Deputy Minister-designate for Works and Housing, Freda Prempeh, has revealed that the cost of the one-bedroom ‘affordable’ housing apartment has jumped from GH¢12,000 to GH¢175,000 and that of a two-bedroom apartment from GH¢25,000 to GH¢220,000.

The previous New Patriotic Party (NPP) government introduced the affordable housing programme to help reduce the housing deficit in the country.

She said the current prices of the apartments could no longer make them affordable for the average Ghanaian, stressing that the current NPP administration would look at how the average Ghanaian could be assisted to own or rent the housing units being constructed across the country.

The deputy minister-designate made the observation when she was being vetted by the Appointments Committee of Parliament yesterday.

Ms Freda Prempeh indicated that currently, there is a housing deficit of 1.7 million and that the NPP government, under President Nana Akufo-Addo, would make a conscious effort at addressing the deficit by completing all the abandoned projects initiated by the previous NPP government.

She said the government would also encourage the use of bricks from clay and other local building materials by contractors to make housing cheaper for the working class and the youth who are coming up to start their lives.

She said that the government, in partnership with the private sector, would construct decent and affordable houses for the security personnel, noting that lack of decent accommodation is indirectly affecting their work.

Ms Freda Prempeh said it’s also important that the Public Works Department of the ministry is well resourced to be able to do maintenance works on most of the public buildings to help prolong their life spans.

The deputy minister-designate indicated that the Rent Act was being reviewed or revised so that people who would be renting private properties would be made to pay rent allowance of one year instead of the current six months, which is being flouted with impunity by landlords.

She said the rent allowance of one year would be more acceptable to both the landlord and the tenant and that the Rent Control Department would be strengthened to ensure strict compliance of future new rent law.

Regarding the perennial flooding in the cities, particularly in Accra, the nation’s capital, the nominee said that it had been a worrying situation and that together with the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, officials of the ministry were touring some of the flood-prone areas in the city and had started massive desilting of primary and secondary drains to help minimize the effect of heavy rains in the coming raining season.

She said education must also be intensified for people to desist from throwing rubbish and other things into open drains since that leads to the choking of gutters which eventually prevents the free flow of rain water.

The deputy Minister-designate for Employment and Labour Relations, Bright Wireko-Brobby, also told the Appointments Committee that a new labour bill was being prepared by his outfit that would protect the rights of workers or employees in the formal and informal sectors.

He said it had been realized that abuse of workers by employers in the informal sector is becoming rampant and that the new bill when passed, would protect workers’ rights.

The Deputy Minister-Designate for Youth and Sports, Pius Enam Hadzide, said that it is the intention of the government to create a lot of employment opportunities for the youth of the country through sports.

He said the ministry would be touring the various educational institutions in the country to identify students who have special talents in sports and help nurture those talents so that they become national assets.

Mr Hadzide made it known that the NPP government would construct five more stadia in the country, especially in the regional capitals, to help unearth sports talents in those regions.

Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, Deputy Minister-designate for Trade and Industry, said that the ministry would ensure that the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) works according to its prescribed mandate and apply the laws strictly to ensure that the right and fair environment is created for effective investment drive.

He told the Appointments Committee that the government would seriously look at unauthorized fees charged on freights and help completely review them.

He said for instance, that a fee of either $200 or $300 collected from clearing agents by shipping agents as administrative charge is unlawful because shipping agents are supposed to be paid by their parent shipping companies; and so the government would scrap that fee and by so doing, help to reduce the dollar’s pressure on the cedi.