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Monday, April 30, 2007

13 UEW Students Die In 4 Months

By Stephen K. Effah, Winneba
Monday, 30 April 2007

Thirteen students of the University of Education, Winneba have died since the beginning of this year.

The causes of death are however not known as the post-mortem reports on their deaths were submitted direct to their families by hospital authorities.

Alarmed at this development, the authorities have decided that starting from next academic year, a yearly medical examination of all its students will be conducted to determine their health status.

Though the examination would not be compulsory, all students would be billed at an average of ¢50,000 for it.

The decision was agreed on jointly by the university authorities and the student leadership.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Jophus Anamuah-Mensah, announced this when the MP for Awutu Effutu-Senya and Deputy Minister of Health, Samuel Owusu-Agyei, presented assorted medical items valued at ¢15 million through the UEW branch of TESCON to the university clinic.

He said the university with the support of Barclays Bank, Ghana, is putting up a ¢1 billion clinic at the campus for the screening and to serve students who fall sick.

He noted that students who fall sick on campus are unable to access medical attention at the various hospitals because of lack of funds and as a result, most of them instead of having thorough check-ups only get first aid treatment.

Prof. Anamuah-Mensah said that after the screeening those found to have emergency cases or serious sicknesses would be referred to a hospital, adding that those with minor cases would be given treatment on regular basis at the university’s clinic.

Legon Campus Crisis: 3 Students Arrested

By Stephen K. Effah
Monday, 30 April 2007

The second semester examination of the University of Ghana was nearly marred on Saturday morning as a result of the smearing of three examination centres with human excreta.

The faecal matter, suspected to have been the work of a group of the university’s students the night before, resulted in the postponement of one of the 17 papers, and a late start of papers that should have started at 7.30 am

History and Philosophy of Science papers which should have been written by level 300 students at the K.A.B. Jones Quartey Building, popularly known as "Tingitingi", was postponed indefinitely pending final determination by the university’s Director of Academic Affairs.

Meanwhile, DSP Michael Teku said three students from Commonwealth Hall have been arrested by police on suspicion of preparing to disrupt the examinations.

When the Times got to the university campus at 7 am, all was calm with both the police and the university security patrolling the campus.

Most study groups of the students were heard discussing the "shit bombing" while others were busily studying close to their various exams centres.

The university’s cleaners were also seen in hand gloves and nose masks busily cleaning up the mess and disinfecting the centres for the exams to start.

The K.A.B. Jones Quartey Building and new ‘N’ block where the faecal matter was spread all over on the floor, tables and chairs were the worst affected.

At the Central Cafeteria, the doors to the main hall were locked, as a result the faeces were poured in the room through the louvres.

At these centres, one could hardly breathe as the stench there was most ‘overpowering’ and even after the halls had been cleaned, most of the students who wrote their papers in adjoining halls continued to complain of the stench.

A number of the students, who spoke to the Times, commended the perpetrators for their action since it was the only option to let the university authorities know that they are against the ‘in’out’out’out’ accommodation policy.

Some students, on the other hand, condemned the act and urged the authorities to ensure that those involved were brought to book.

In an interview with the Times the Registrar of the University, T.A. Konu, described the incident as "disgusting and a behaviour that only befits animals and not university students."

He wondered why the perpetrators were able to undertake the act despite the fact that the doors were locked and were under strict security control and hinted that all university security personnel on duty at those centres would be dealt with.

Mr. Konu assured that the late start of some of the exams would not in any way affect the examination calendar, saying, "The exams will run according to schedule."

DSP Teku later told the Times that the Police were on the campus "because of law-abiding students. We are ready to protect students who are willing to write the exams. We will not talk to anybody or accost anyone."

He indicated that the fact that the police are holding arms does not mean they would be used against students, adding that the police were taking measures to protect those lecturers who were issued death threat by a group of students.

Landlords Accused Of Not Paying Property Returns

By Stephen Kwabena Effah
Friday, 27 April 2007

A Deputy Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), John E.K Sotenga, has expressed concern about non compliance of returns on properties and rent incomes by some landlords.

He indicated that only 60 per cent of landlords pay tax on their properties and rent incomes in the country, adding, "self-compliance level is low. Quite a number of land lords are not coming."

Speaking at the third Revenue Week of the IRS on Wednesday, Mr.Sotenga said returns on properties and rent forms about five per cent of income taxes collected by the IRS.

Under the IRS Act 592 (2000), any person who earns income from rent is expected to furnish the IRS Commissioner with a return on the gross income the end of the year of assessment.

The seminar which was attended by directors, business executives, professional bodies, tax practitioners, accountants, auditors and pay masters, was aimed at making them understand their rights as tax payers and also the various penalties applicable to non compliance with tax laws.

Failure to pay returns within three months, he said attracts a 10 per cent penalty of the amount due and after three months, it attracts 20 per cent of the amount due.

He therefore appealed to land and property owners to comply with that aspect of the law which, he noted, many people are not aware of.

He said the IRS regularly carries out rent survey to improve property and rent tax in the country.

The Deputy Commissioner conceded that a number of Ghanaians are not conscious of section 108 of the IRS Act 592 which requires gifts to be taxed, saying that gifts received are supposed to be declared to the IRS for appropriate taxation.

He said because it is difficult to establish a mechanism to check non- compliance, many people are avoiding it but noted that it is along the line found as an individual submit returns on capital gains.

The Commissioner of IRS, Maj. Daniel S.Ablorh-Quarcoo (Rtd), advised tax administrators to share always accurate information with the IRS and co-operate with the service officials.

He observed that, often times, tax payers do not provide enough information to the IRS for appropriate taxation and therefore advised them against such acts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cocaine Barons In Jail-Break Attempt

By Stephen K.Effah & Edith Laari
Wednesday, 18 April 2007

A grand plot to break jail by 13 inmates in custody at the James Fort Prison in Accra last week, was uncovered by the prison’s intelligence network.

The names of the 13 were not disclosed but according to the prison authorities, they are made up of three narcotic drug dealers and10 suspected armed robbers.

They allegedly conspired to raise money to hire thugs in town to attack the prison’s main gate to create confusion and avenue for escape.

They have since been transferred to the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons.

This came to light when the Minister of the Interior, Albert Kan-Dapaah and the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Sheikh I.C Quaye, toured the prison yesterday following the abortive plot.

Deputy Director of Prisons in charge of James Fort prison, Alhassan Kariba Legibo, said preliminary investigation revealed that the inmates had planned that the thugs would attack the prison guards at the main gate to the prison yard while they (the inmates) also attack the officers in the yard to escape.

He told the ministers that the action of the 13 inmates was reported to the Prison Headquarters which immediately ordered their transfer to the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons.

Mr. Legibo said about 100 out of the over 900 inmates in custody at the prison are there as a result of narcotic offences, and they constitute a threat to the prison’s security because the fort built in 1640, is "collapsing" with all the facilities broken down.

He also expressed concern about the lifestyle of the inmates, saying, "they don’t work, they just eat and sleep for the long period that some of them spend here".

This situation, coupled with the lack of a system for training and reformation hardens them especially because the inmates mingle together and they learn from each other.

Mr Legibo called for the speedy disposal of cases by the courts to ease the pressure on the prisons, citing the James Fort Prison which was designed to take 450 inmates but now has 966.

He appealed to the ministry to assist the prisons with the requisite tools for training of the inmates to equip them with vocational skills to enable them to lead responsible lives after their discharge.

Sheikh Quaye cautioned the inmates against any plan to escape from custody, saying they should shun all intentions of escaping from custody that would land them into another problem.

He said the authorities are making every effort to ensure that those who have their cases, hanging are heard speedily.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Health Surveillance System Advocated

By Stephen K. Effah, Dodowa
Wednesday, 11 April 2007

The Director of the Dodowa Health Research Centre, Dr. Margaret Gyapong has advocated a surveillance system in all 10 regions of the country to monitor new health threats in the country.

She explained that such a system, known as a "demographic surveillance system" would also help track population changes and assess policy interventions.

"The demographic surveillance system acts as a platform for any health intervention and generate data for planning," she said when members of the Africa Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), visited the centre to acquaint themselves with its activities.

The trip, which was sponsored by Indepth Network, was also to sensitise the public and policy-makers to the centre’s on-going research works.

Dr. Gyapong said that at present, only Dodowa, Kintampo and Navrongo health centres in the Southern, Middle and Northern belts respectively are involved in the country’s demographic surveillance system.

She stated that the system is key to determining the level of reduction in child mortality, improved maternal health, malaria, HIV and other diseases as in the Millennium Development Goals.

"With demographic surveillance system in place, many MDG indicators can be produced annually," she noted and pointed out that the Dodowa demographic surveillance system has now become significant to the Dangme West district stressing, "it has now become useful to the district assembly for planning in the districts."

She added that the Dodowa demographic surveillance system plays a significant role in all the centre’s researches noting that the District Health Management Team has been using the system for its health interventions.

However, she mentioned the problem facing the system as the numerous requests for all kinds of data and its sustainability which she said is "costly."

Dr. Gyapong called for support for the maintenance of the demographic surveillance system so as to provide adequate and accurate information base for development.