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Parliament amends GMet Act

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Parliament on Friday passed the reviewed Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet); Act 682. The amended Act specifies the percentage of charges to be used as source of money for the National Meteorological Fund and for related purposes.

The Ghana Meteorological Agency Act, 2004 (Act 682) was passed by Parliament in 2004. The Act provided for the establishment of the Ghana Meteorological Agency under the Ministry of Communications to replace the Meteorological Services Department set-up under the civil services as a department responsible for providing weather forecast for the activities related to agriculture, marine, civil aviation and mitigation of natural disaster.

The Agency under Act 682 is mandated among others to ensure the delivery of accurate weather and climate information to organizations  in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, as well as its domestic obligations to aviation, industry, tourism, agriculture and hydrology sectors and to the ordinary citizens as a whole for the socio-economic benefit of the country.

After fifteen years of implementing the Act, the Ghana Meteorological Agency has faced a number of challenges inhibiting the full realization of the objects of the Act. To address these challenges, Government found it necessary to amend it to strengthen the finances of the Agency and expand the representation on its governing board.

Both the International Civil Aviation Organization and the World Meteorological Organization acknowledges the need for meteorological agencies across the globe to recover costs for the provision of aeronautical services for the aviation sector.

These organizations however deferred the decision on how member states should fund their meteorological agencies to the state either from the central government or on a cost-sharing basis. During the Chicago Convention in 1944, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the World meteorological Organization decided that the meteorological agencies should recover costs from the services rendered to the aviation sector. Ghana ratified this convention on 9 May 1957.

Although, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and the Agency on the 11th of September 2008 in which the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority agreed to cede ten percent of the landing charges to the Agency for the payment of aeronautical meteorological services, the lack of specificity in the Act 682 made it difficult for the Agency to get the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and then later the Ghana Airport Company limited to pay the Agency to cover its cost of services to the aviation sector. They however provided some limited support to the Ghana Meteorological Agency periodically.

According to the Minister of communications, Mrs. Ursula Owusu Ekuful,  to resolve these challenges permanently, the amended Act would provide for a cost recovery arrangement within the aviation sector which will bring finality to the matter.

Through the  efforts of the Minister of Communications, the e-transform project financed by the World Bank, procured and installed Ten (10) Automatic Weather Stations for the Ghana Meteorological Agency.

The automation of GMet weather stations is part of the digitization drive of the Agency. The Automated Weather Stations will aid in the provision and transmission of accurate and timely data. It is also expected to check the errors in data collection and improve service delivery to the clients of the Agency.

The benefits to be derived from the amendment with respect to specifying the percentage of charges from aviation sector to form part of the sources of money for the national meteorological fund include an increased confidence in the use of Ghana’s airspace thereby making Ghana the aviation hub of the sub region, safeguarding life and property by providing accurate and reliable information to prevent avoidable disasters caused by weather and climate changes, the coverage of the entire nation by establishing stations with equitable distribution of human resources to gather data and the timely contribution of shared data to the world meteorological Organization and related organization.

The role of the Agency in actualizing the vision of Ghana to become an aviation hub of the sub-region can be achieved if the Agency is well positioned to provide timely and reliable weather and climate information.

Clause 1: of the bill amends the section 4 of the act to expand the representation on the governing board. The amendment will enable the appointing authority the flexibility and discretion to draw from the wide array of scientists and researchers available from a university in Ghana offering meteorology and climate science and other disciplines related to climate and environment.

Claus 2: amends section 12 of the Act to specify the percentage of charges from the aviation sector to form part of the sources of money for the national meteorological fund. These are ten percent of all landing charges based on actual receipts for the period in question; ten percent of over-flight or enroute charges collected by the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and five percent of passenger service charges collected by airports in the country. The amendment seeks to ensure certainty and predictability in the financing of meteorological activities and would allow the Agency to collect fees and charges from the Ghana Civil aviation Authority and the Ghana Airports company limited and other institutions which use the services of the Agency.

The amendments would to a large extent reposition the Ghana Meteorological Agency to deliver on its mandate of providing cost effect weather and climate services to support the socio-economic development of Ghana.

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