Commonwealth Day will be celebrated on Monday, 13 March 2023 with observances, speeches, exhibitions and cultural events across the 56 Commonwealth member countries.
With ‘Forging a Sustainable and Peaceful Common Future’ as its theme, the day aims to unite 2.5 billion Commonwealth citizens in celebration of their shared values and principles, and in pursuit of a common future, centred on sustainability and peace.
This will be the first Commonwealth Day presided over by His Majesty King Charles III as King and Head of the Commonwealth. The day will also mark the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Commonwealth Charter, which outlines the values and principles that unify the 56 Commonwealth countries, representing one-third of humanity.
In her Commonwealth Day Message, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, paid tribute to Her late Majesty The Queen for her seven decades of service and welcomed His Majesty The King for his first Commonwealth Day as the new Head of the Commonwealth.
Speaking on the role of the Commonwealth in her message, she said:
“We stand together now to face the challenges of the moment and seize the opportunities of tomorrow. Where there is violence and conflict, we work for peace. Where there is insecurity, we protect the culture, process and institutions of democracy. Where there is poverty, we tackle it. Where there is injustice, we challenge it.
“Where our brothers and sisters have their lives threatened and disrupted by the impacts of climate change, we stand with them, working tirelessly for climate action and a more sustainable world. I believe profoundly that our family of 56 nations and 2.5 billion people is stronger, more vibrant, more connected and more purposeful than ever.”
Drawing attention to the growing co-operation within the Commonwealth at a time of polarisation, Secretary-General Scotland added: “Our unique qualities and advantages mean that the Commonwealth in 2023 is not simply a part of the international system, it is a beacon within it. These qualities shine in the fact that, with a multilateral system under strain, the Commonwealth is growing, precisely because of what we stand for and what we can deliver.”
She continued: “So, on this tenth anniversary of our [Commonwealth] Charter, as we renew our commitment to its values and to each other, let us resolve together to ensure that in the years to come, we make the peaceful and sustainable common future we all strive for a reality for the whole Commonwealth.”
Around the Commonwealth, cities will host inter-faith, multi-cultural observances to mark the day. One of the largest gatherings will be the traditional service at Westminster Abbey in London and will be attended by The King, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, senior government officials, other dignitaries and hundreds of young people.
At the service, the theme will be expressed through musical performances, testimonies and readings from individuals representing several Commonwealth countries, including ‘Amalgamation Choir’, an all-female choir from Cyprus.
Commonwealth Day has been celebrated on the second Monday in March every year since 1977. In recent years, there has been a shift away from a single-day observance towards a full-week celebration, with Commonwealth Day as its focal point.
This year, as part of the Commonwealth of Nations Flag for Peace initiative, each Commonwealth country and every UK city will receive a flag, which they can raise on Commonwealth Day in celebration of the values of the Commonwealth Charter, including democracy, human rights, sustainable development, equality and respect.
Parliamentarians, mayors and high commissioners in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, the Pacific and Europe will also mark the day with various activities, including speeches and cultural events.
The Commonwealth Secretariat has also produced a special quiz for students to learn more about the modern Commonwealth and its diverse membership. Schools around the Commonwealth can download and use the quiz free of charge.
Gov’t to restrict importation of rice, ‘yemuadie’ and other products
The government is set to lay before Parliament today, November 21, a Constitutional Instrument (C.I) seeking to restrict the importation of selected strategic products into the country.
The items, numbering over 20, will include rice, tripe (popularly called “yemuadie” in Ghana), and diapers.
The government said the move is part of efforts to enhance local production.
Speaking during a press briefing in Parliament, the Minister of Trade and Industry, K.T Hammond said, “Stomach of animals, bladder and the chunk of intestines (yemuadie), the country had had to put in an amount of about $164 million towards the importation of these items. We are taking steps to ensure that in terms of rice, there’s no poverty of rice in the country.”
He emphasized, “By these restrictions, we are not going to ensure that there’s no food in the country at all; that is not the point at all. There have to be some efforts by the government to ensure that we go back to Acheampong’s operation feed yourself. There are about 22 items on the list, one of them, I think, is diapers.”
He announced the introduction of the Ghana Standards Authority Regulations 2023, which also seeks to streamline the manufacturing of cement to ensure competitive pricing.
Mahama doesn’t understand 24hr economy; don’t vote for him – Bawumia
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia says former President John Dramani Mahama does not understand the 24-hour economy policy he is proposing.
According to the Vice President, that policy is already being implemented in the country, as hospitals, fuel companies, among others, operate a 24-hour system.
Dr. Bawumia, therefore, urged Ghanaians to ignore Mahama during the 2024 polls since he has nothing new to offer and vote for the New Patriotic Party.
“John Mahama says he has a new idea. What is the idea? He says he wants a 24-hour economy. He doesn’t even understand that policy. Today in Ghana, our hospitals work 24 hours, our electricity company works 24 hours, our water company works 24 hours, our fuel stations work 24 hours, and many chop bars work 24 hours. Today because of digitalisation, you can transfer money 24 hours, you can receive money 24 hours… So he doesn’t understand his own policy. It doesn’t make sense.”
“So I want you to vote for me in 2024 because I will bring a new vision, I will bring a new policy. Mahama is the past, Dr Bawumia is the future. If John Mahama was there, we would say we have a dumsor economy, you can’t have a 24-hour economy in dumsor. So, you want to vote for Dr Bawumia in 2024, we will take the country to new heights,” Dr Bawumia stated.
Bagbin rebukes IMF over alleged pressure to pass some bills under certificate of urgency
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has accused the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of pressuring the House to pass a number of bills under a certificate of urgency.
Mr. Bagbin cited bills such as the Affirmative Action Bill, which is allegedly being pushed by the IMF as part of the conditionality for the balance of the $3 billion credit facility for Ghana.
Speaking at the Speaker’s Breakfast Meeting on Monday, Alban Bagbin insisted that the House will not be coerced by the IMF to pass the bill.
“Even in this budget, you can see the arm of the IMF in a lot of provisions in the budget. A critical bill like the Affirmative Action Gender Equality Bill has come to Parliament under a certificate of urgency. Please, it won’t happen; we won’t pass it under a certificate of urgency.”
“There are critical stakeholders we must consult and make sure we go together. We will not be dictated by the IMF; that one, you can be assured. This is a very critical bill that the IMF should know that we need the buy-in of the stakeholders to be able to implement it,” Alban Bagbin said.
The Affirmative Action Bill, when passed into law, would seek to expunge the historically low representation of women in decision-making spaces and promote democracy and development through all-inclusive participation.