Today is Denmark’s Constitution Day

BY: Kate Baaba Hudson
Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Madam Tove Degnbol
Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Madam Tove Degnbol

Denmark marks the 169th anniversary of its Constitution today.

Speaking on the significance of the day and the level of cooperation between Denmark and Ghana ahead of a reception being organised by the Embassy of Denmark in Accra today, the Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Madam Tove Degnbol, said: “Although ambitious and challenging, we believe that ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ is the right agenda for Ghana.”

She indicated that considering the need to fund health, education and infrastructure, and with poverty still prevailing, especially in the northern part of the country, it was important, however, that a domestically generated revenue replaces the income previously provided by international development partners.

“This must be said loud and clear; citizens and businesses all have to contribute to fill the government coffers by paying tax,” she stated.

Development cooperation

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Madam Degnbol pointed out that their development cooperation was still ongoing, concurrent with the ‘aid to trade’ agenda, and one of the activities that was very dear to them was the support to decentralisation.

 “This is an area that Denmark has supported for many years, and it was very positive news when President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced that a referendum on direct elections at the decentralised level will be held in 2019,” she emphasised.

The ambassador said in her view, the referendum held the possibility of substantially improving accountability and initiating a completely different dynamic between the two major parties.

She said Denmark was happy to support the awareness-raising campaign in preparation for the referendum.

In the years that have passed since their last Constitution Day celebration, she said they had seen the relationship between Denmark and Ghana further strengthened.

The ambassador  referred to their support to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and said Denmark was concentrating its activities on the customs area, which included efforts to counter over- and under-invoicing, which currently resulted in massive outflow of funds from Ghana.

Madam Degnbol estimated that illicit financial flows from Ghana accounted for an amount corresponding to about 56 per cent of total development cooperation, adding that that obviously was a major problem for Ghana’s economy, and their cooperation aimed at closing the leak of resources.

She touched on the maritime sector and said there had been a positive relationship between the Danish Maritime Authority and institutions in the maritime field in Ghana, namely the Ghana Maritime Authority, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and the Ministry of Transport.  That cooperation had proven to be beneficial to both Denmark and Ghana, she added.

The ambassador was happy to note that this year, Ghana had been celebrated as the fourth country worldwide to implement e-navigation, which registers and distributes warnings for all maritime vessels on natural hazards and piracy, as well as other threats at sea. The advancement in technology as a result of the Danish e-navigation project had been a great success, she emphasised.

Queen’s state visit

Ambasssador Degnbol said the long and well-established relationship between Denmark and Ghana was strengthened by the state visit to Ghana in November last year by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

The Queen was accompanied by two Danish ministers and a large business delegation of 39 companies. This was her first visit and she was very happy about the warm reception given her and her team.

The presence of the Queen and Ghana’s Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia at the business conferences made it much easier for participating Danish businesses to establish contacts with key        decision-makers, ministries and Ghanaian companies, the ambassador noted.

The theme for the business conferences was: ‘Ghana — a market within reach.’ This underlies the options offered by Ghana as a market and is in line with the government’s strategy for ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’.

Several Danish companies signed memoranda of understanding with Ghanaian ministries, while others established close contacts with Ghanaian business partners.

The ambassador observed the wide coverage by the media of the state visit, both in Denmark and in Ghana, which made many Danes aware of the attractions in Ghana.