Hon Members, it is my pleasure to welcome you back to the House after the recess. I am very much aware of the hectic work at the constituency level which always saps part of your energies otherwise reserved. for the work here in the House. But this notwithstanding, it is my hope that you took some time off your busy schedule to rest and energize enough for this Meeting's work, which promises to be a very busy one. Hon Members, I am happy that you have all come back in good health. I hope and pray that the Good Lord will continue to guide and grant us all strength and wisdom to begin and end the Meeting successfully. Let us with candour approach the work that lies ahead of us and continue with goodwill to complete it. Hon Members, as our House continues to win admiration of the international community, particularly on consensus building between the political divide in the House, let us continue to approach issues from our respective perspectives as usual, but agree to quickly dialogue on the naughty ones for the public good. The Chair's prime expectations for the Meeting are punctuality and regularity to both plenary and committee meetings by Hon Members and commitment to duty as well. I have the confidence that Hon Members will rise up to the challenge. We owe a duty to Mother Ghana and let us all work with zeal and in good spirit. As usual, Leadership, in consultation with the Chair, has made good most of the housekeeping matters and will continue to resolve with dispatch those outstanding. I have no doubt at all that Hon Members will not have much difficulty going about their work during the Meeting.
Hon Members, I have the pleasure to introduce to you a five- member delegation of the Parliament of Uganda who are on a six-day study visit to Ghana. They are here to understudy, among other things, the operations of a multi-party Parliament and also to learn at first hand the role of the Shadow Cabinet in the House. The delegation comprises four'Hon Members of Parliament and a Secretary. They are: Hon- Betty Ocan Aol - Leader of Delegation Hon Lucy Ajok - MP (Opposition) Hon Joseph Ssewungu -- MP (Opposition) Hon Alice Alaso -- Secretary-General (Opposition) Ms Dinah Muhangi - Secretary to the Delegation. Hon Members, I, on your behalf, wish them a pleasant stay in the country and fruitful deliberations. Welcome.
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Votes and Proceedings, being minutes of the Special Sitting of Parliament for Friday, 26th August, 2011 Page 1...6--
Mr Speaker, I wish to make a correction on page 6, item 3, number 14, which states that I was absent. But I was absent with permission, duly complying with standard procedure when an Hon Member is asking for permission to be away. I did comply, so, I would like the correction to be made that I was absent but with permission.
Thank you, very much, Hon Member. The Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 26 August. 2011 as corrected is adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, Official Report dated Monday, 22 August, 2011 -
Mr Speaker, I get the impression that we are supposed to be dealing with the Official Report. There has not been any Official Report today, even though I know that Hon Members were given Official Reports before we rose. In the circumstances, we crave your indulgence if we could defer the Official Reports to tomorrow so that
Hon Majority Leader, I believe that is the position.
Mr Speaker, I have no objection; I think it would be useful for Hon Members to look at the Official Report‘s today and tomorrow; we can make the corrections. And those who do not have their copies can also get them today.
So I suspend that till tomorrow for the Official Reports for the various Special Sitting days to be.distributed accordingly. Item (3)- Urgent Question- which stands in the name of Hon Kwaku Agyeman- manu, the Hon Member for Dormaa West.
Mr Speaker, I beg to indicate that the substantive Minister is not available; he travelled outside the country before we resumed today. But the Hon Deputy Minister in the Ministry, who is also a Colleague of ours in this House, is available to stand in for him. So subject to the convenience of the House, I am craving your indulgence to permit the Hon Deputy Minister to answer the Question on his behalf. But I notice that this is an Urgent Question and it appears the Hon Member who has asked the Question is not here himself and the Question looks like constituency-specific, or it has some bearing to his constituency Dormaa Municipal area. So I do not know whether in the circumstances, we would defer the Question or somebody else would ask it on his behalf, if the Member has the information or the background.
If the Minority Leadership can help us in any way, because this is an Urgent Question; so that we know what to do.
Mr Speaker, we believe an Hon Colleague has been given instruction to ask the Question, especially that it is an Urgent Question, we believe that we have somebody to ask the Question; on his behalf so that we can deal with it. Also, we do not have anything against our Colleague, who is the Deputy Minister standing in to answer the Question.
Very well, we shall proceed.
MrSpeaker, with your permission, I would like to stand in for the Hon Member for Dormaa, Mr Agyeman-Mann, who is not available presently.
Hon Member, you may proceed.
ORAL ANSWERS TO URGENT
MINISTRY OF LANDS AND NATURAL
Mr Speaker, from the Answer given, may I know from the Hon Deputy Minister when the May to October wages would be paid as well.
Mr Speaker, the arrangement for payment normally takes one month. Initially, we had problems; the process starts from the districts where one has to submit an invoice through the district, regional and to head office and then some verification has to be done. But we have identified some problems with this arrangement in that it causes delays and some discomfort to the plantation workers and so we have tried to streamline the process. Now, it takes about one month and they would get their salaries.
Mr Speaker, I want to know from the Hon Deputy Minister, as he is aware, a committee went round and this problem was not actually localized in Dormaa; it is all over the country. So apart from the Dormaa issue, is he also telling us that the Ministry is Working to resolve the ones in other areas in the country?
Mr Speaker, the problem cuts across all plantation sites in the country. We have identified the problem and we know it has caused the Ministry some worrisome moments. We have taken steps to clear every arrears that is owed the plantation workers and we are also ensuring that payments would be very regular.
Mr Speaker, in the light of these problems that he is mentioning, What assurance do we have that people who have worked need not wait for some time before they are paid; can we get the best out of these workers so that the vision of the Government to make sure that the plantation becomes successful would stay on course?
Mr Speaker, we really do appreciate the nature of the problem and we know it has caused some of the workers a lot of problems. We have sat down with all the stakeholders involved in this arrangement -- the private operators, the representatives of the plantation workers and the Ministry itself. We have identified the limitations and we have corrected them. We wish to assure this House that payments would be more regular than they used to be.
Mr Speaker, even though this Question is constituency-specific, the issue at stake is a countrywide issue. In my area, there are about three places where the afforestation programme has started. But as I am speaking now, in all these three areas, the boys and girls have abandoned the project. I would like to know from the Hon Deputy Minister whether he is aware that in most places in the country, the afforestation programme has gone to a standstill.
MrSpeaker, I said we had initial. challenges with the whole programme, especially with paying regular cash inflows and this had to do with certain budgetary constraints. We have resolved the issue and as I speak now, it
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister has alluded to some challenges which afflicted the programme and he alludes to, in particular, budgetary constraints. What are the real challenges? Is it the case that the list of the people to be engaged got bloated along the line which affected the budget?
Mr Speaker, when we started the programme, in our estimation, we made it one Worker to one hectare. In some places, we realized that there was indeed some over-recruitment and so there were payment problems but this has been rationalized. The whole process has been rationalized as we speak now. Some workers have been paid off and we are now within limits. We also had cash flow problems. The private contractors were supposed to use their money to make payments, submit their invoices and then Government would reimburse. But inflows from Government sometimes delayed and With the high interest rates on money these operators used to take from banks -- we had problems, but these have all been resolved with all the stakeholders. As we speak now, the whole system has been rationalized.
Mr Speaker, I want to know from the Hon Deputy Minister whether he is aware that the scheme is in arrears for people who have been engaged in the Western Region, specifically, Juaboso. I have been receiving complaints that for the past six months, they have not been paid and I want to find out whether he is aware. If he is aware, what is he going to do to ensure that those who have been engaged under the scheme would be paid?
Mr Speaker, as I said earlier, we had initial problems of a backlog of payments. These have all been resolved and now, we owe only for September and October. So the Hon Member may have to crosscheck his facts again from the district.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister in answering the Question said that they have had some budgetary problems. Could he tell this House, as of date, how .much has been paid and what was the annual Budget allocated for the programme. It will give us an indication of the difficulties he is having, so that if this House finds it necessary, we can find out ways of approving additional funds for the programme.
Mr Speaker, honestly, I do not have the figures right away. But what I do know is that in the Supplementary Budget that we passed, some adequate funds were made available and that has helped solved the problem.
Mr Speaker, it looks like they would have to do something to the acoustic system. We can hardly hear ourselves and I was not hearing most of the answers given by the Hon Deputy Minister. So I suggest that the Clerk's Office do something about it. It has been like this; most of the time you would have to strain your ears or you would hardly hear what is being said. So I thought I should bring it to your notice.
Thank you very much. I trust that would be taken care of. Hon Members, item 4, Question 885.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF LANDS AND NATURAL
Mr Speaker, in the second part of the Question, the Hon Deputy Minister has done well indicating to the House how disbursements have been made. Can he help us as well with the first part also where GH¢4 million was realized and how it was disbursed?
Mr Speaker, the specific figures are not available. But what happens is that there is a special account and he was the Deputy Minister. He is aware that there is a special account at the Ministry where we lodge sales or revenue from confiscated lumber and these are used for general operations and monitoring.
Mr Speaker, can the Hon Deputy Minister help the House to appreciate the seemingly dangerous trend where individuals will go and do the harvest and then within the sector, some other people front and the illegal lumber is sold out to the very people who went to do the havoc.
Mr Speaker, it is a very difficult situation, especially when one cannot easily identify a particular time when somebody is fronting for another person. But what we do is that, we have intensified the prosecutions at the courts and the courts normally determine how this lumber is to be disposed of and how we should use the proceeds. So sometimes, it is very difficult to determine who is fronting for who. But we usually give priority in the sale to District Assemblies and to other development bodies.
Mr Speaker, his mention of District Assemblies, what measure has also been put in place to avoid the situation where some illegal lumber is purchased and then used on government projects?
Mr Speaker, it is again very, very difficult. But what we are doing from the Ministry is that, we are very soon coming out with a procurement policy to ensure that all public institutions purchase their wood from accredited sources. So from the ministerial level, this is one of the measures we are trying to adopt.
Mr Speaker, would the Hon Deputy Minister enlighten us a bit about who these beneficiary stakeholders are, who received the GH¢15,000.00 plus?
Mr Speaker, when We intercept illegal wood, there are two ways by which we share the revenue that comes out of the sale. If it is from known sources- by known sources-- what we mean is, if we are able to trace that the illegal wood was harvested from a particular source, then the revenue from that source is shared according to law. It is specified in section 37, sub-section 4 of Act 1649. The proceeds, for example, go to the chiefs and then the amount of money given to them is used to develop conservation-related activities in the community. That is when the source is not known. But where the source is known, we share it according to a formula as in the stumpage fee. Returning Compulsorily Acquired Lands Q. 886. Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo asked the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources when compulsorily-acquired lands at Tuba, Plerno, Amanfro and Kokrobite would be returned-to the owners in accordance with article 20 (6) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
Mr Speaker, portions of the lands of Tuba, Plerno, Amanfro and Kokrobite are located within the lands acquired under Executive Instrument No. 61/1979 for Irrigation Project No. 2 at Weija. The acquisition covers a total area of 5,531.542 acres. The purpose of the acquisition was for irrigation development, to make use of the reservoir created by the dam on the River Densu at Weija. The beneficiary agency was the Irrigation Development Authority (IDA) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. No compensation has been paid for the acquisition. The total compensation assessed as of 2007 was forty-one million, four hundred and eighty-six thousand, five hundred and sixty-five Ghana cedis (GH¢41,486,565.00) In 1983, with the assistance of the European Union, about 6 km of canal, two pumping stations, 220 hectares of developed farm land, one large warehouse and 20 bungalows were provided as a pilot scheme for the development of the land. In 1996, another 40 hectares of a drip irrigation project was added as a private/ public initiative. Currently, about 1,000 acres of the acquired land have been developed for irrigation. With the passage of time and due to pressure on land, portions of the land eventually became encroached upon. A portion covering an area of 260.13 was also leased by Government to the Central. Mechanics and Scrap Dealers Association (CEMSDA), following a request from the Central Regional Administration and a portion covering 47.309 areas leased to Medium Dwelling Company Limited for real estate purposes after the company had encroached on the land, following misrepresentation that it was not State land. Mr Speaker, in 2007, Cabinet, after reviewing the status of the acquisition as part of the inventory of State acquired/ occupied lands in Accra, decided that the
"State investments in the land and State leases granted should be protected from further encroachments and that the Executive Instrument should be amended to exclude the encroached portions so that Government retained only the area it had developed and leased out". This decision was communicated to the Lands Commission for implementation. The implementation of this decision required the Lands Commission to do a number of things: undertake a complete inventory and delineation the State investments on the land. amendment of the E.I. to limit the " acquisition to the portion to be retained by the State. a proper planning of the encroached lands to ensure judicious use so as not to blight the State investments on the retained portion. release of the portions of the land not required by the State to the landowners. Mr Speaker, a committee comprising the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Lands Commission, Town and Country Planning Department, and the District Assemblies has been formed to implement the Cabinet decision. The inventory and delineation of the area occupied by IDA has been completed and discussions have been held with the leadership of CEMSDA. As soon as the consultation processes are completed, the Executive Instrument will be amended to release the encroached portion to the owners. Madam Speaker, I wish to point out that the Supreme Court, in the case Nii Kpobi Tettey Tisuru Attorney-General, has ruled that the 1992 Constitution does not have retrospective effect. Article 20 (6) of the 1992 Constitution cannot therefore apply to acquisitions done before the Constitution came into effect. Dealing with the Tuba, Plerno, Kokrobite and Amanfro lands affected by the acquisition therefore requires political decisions and Government will ensure that the right thing is done such that both the State investments in the area and the community rights are respected and protected.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in his conclusion has indicated that article 20 (6) of the 1992 Constitution cannot therefore apply to acquisitions done before the Constitution came into effect. In his own Answer, he has also indicated that a committee has been set up and it is undertaking inventory of acquisitions and that portions that are not to be retained by Government would be released to the landowners. On what basis then is the Ministry going to release such lands to their owners? What is the principle behind the release of such lands?
Mr Speaker, it is obvious that large portions of the land have been encroached upon. [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, large portions of the land have been encroached upon and Government thinks that it is in everybody's interest, especially when the request was also made by the Central Regional Administration to regularize this so that, some portions of the land could be made available to the people who have encroached upon it. We are doing this basically on, I think, good faith and not on law, just good faith.
Mr Speaker, on the principle of reversal rights to the landowners, it is a principle that is fundamental and rests in natural justice. But let me ask the Hon Deputy Minister; he has indicated that assessment had been done way back in 2007 and the compensation amount stood at that time, at forty-one million, four hundred and eighty-six thousand, five hundred and sixty-five Ghana cedis (GH¢41,486,565.00). May I know whether this amount relates to the total land acquisition or portions of the acquisition?
Mr Speaker, I think it relates to the total acquisition.
Mr Speaker, on page 17, the last paragraph, the Answer indicates that as soon as the consultation processes are completed, the Executive Instrument would be amended to exclude the encroached portions to the owners. Nothing has been indicated anywhere in the Answer for payment of compensation. Could the Hon Minister tell us whether the Government is going to pay the compensation and if so when?
Mr Speaker, we have a whole lot of compensation to pay for Government acquired lands. There is a great deal of backlog of compensations. We will definitely pay compensation to the landowners -when? I cannot tell but we would definitely pay compensation to the owners.
Hon Aidoo, that will be the last intervention.
Mr Speaker, I thought that was just.
Mr Speaker, the Deputy Minister in his Answer, indicated that the Ministry is holding discussions with the CEMSD; now there is no consultation taking place or any discussion going on with the landowners. This has not been indicated anywhere in the Minister's answers. Mr Speaker, may I know, whereby the land that would be released to the landowners, would it include land which the Ministry, that is Government, released to the Mechanics and Scrap Dealers Association as well as the Medium Dwelling Company Limited. I am asking this because the purpose for acquisition was for irrigation and the Ministry on its own discretion released portions of the land to CEMSDA and the Medium Dwelling Company Limited but not for irrigation. So if now the Minister has admitted that portions that are not intended for irrigation are going to be released to the landowners, would the release include these two, parcels of land, one is 260.13 acres and the other one is 47.309 acres?
Mr Speaker, let me say that if you look at the 2007 Cabinet decision, you will realize that Government is interested in two things, first of all in protecting the investments it has made so far on some portions of the land. Government also feels that because of the levels of encroachment and with the intervention of the Central Regional Administration of some lands, the encroachment should be regularized. These are two things Cabinet decided in 2007. So Government will definitely protect its interest and release those lands that have been encroached upon to the CEMSDA and others. But it would be an omission if in the answer, we did not
Hon Aidoo, would you want to clarify - the last intervention.
Mr Speaker, the Minister just circumvented my question. The answer was not specific. Mr Speaker, this land had been acquired more than 32 years back but no compensation had been paid. And the Ministry after having compulsorily acquired the land on its own, released portions to private individuals or private entities. My question is, in returning portions that the Government will not use in the interest of the State, including portions that have been given to private entities, would the Ministry consider giving all these portions, that is, including the land given to CEMSDA, which is a private entity and the land given to the Medium Dwelling Company Limited which is also a private entity. Will he consider releasing them to the landowners?
We want to uphold the policy decision of the Government in 2007, we want to go by it, we do not intend to change anything. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, if you look at the Executive Instrument (E.l.), the number shows that the land was acquired in 1979. I would like to know from the Deputy Minister, from 1979 until now, if he is aware of the Farm Lands Act, that any land which has been left for 8 years automatically goes back to the landowner. Therefore if today landowners say, this land was our farmland therefore we have to go and acquire that land back, has he any problem with that?
Mr Speaker, the question posed by the Hon ember offends the Standing Orders relating to Questions. He is making assumptions not even of facts but of law and e is not supposed to make assumptions when he poses Questions to Ministers, that on arm lands, there is a law stating that 8 years ---
Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah, you refer to the Order and then you argue.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I will refer you to Order 67 (1)(a) and it states -- "Questions must comply with the following conditions: (b)a Question shall not contain arguments, expression of opinion, inferences, imputations, epithets or controversial, ironical or offensive expressions or hypothetical cases." And if you also look at (e) it states: "a Question shall not solicit the expression of opinion or the solution o an abstract legal case or a hypothetical" proposition". Mr Speaker, the combined effect of these expressions make the Hon Member's question contrary to Order 67 and ought not to be allowed by the Chair, particularly Mr Speaker, that portion of the Question that states that there is a Farm Lands Act. I do not know any law in this country called the Farm Land Act, which provides that 8 years when a farm land is not developed, it belongs to the State. That can never be a statement either of law or fact. It is an assumption that emerges in the Question and solicits the Minister's opinion where opinions are not supposed to be solicited in respect of Questions. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
I think if a reference to a law or order is not appropriate in the circumstances, the Hon Deputy Minister for the appropriate Ministry will be in a position to tell that as part of the Answer. Hon Minister, you may please answer the Question.
Mr Speaker, I am not aware of any Farm Land Act. Maybe if the House will indulge me, I will go and research and if I get the answer, I will come back to the House to give it to the Hon Member.
Thank you very much, Hon Deputy Minister.
Hon Members, you intend to pursue the matter?
Yes, Mr Speaker, first, I want to say, my Senior Colleague --
Hon Member, you are out of order --- [Interruption] Order! Order! Hon Member for Weija, I recognize you.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Deputy Minister's Answer, and I refer to the very last sentence, it talks about Government making sure that the right thing is done. Would the Hon Deputy Minister tell the House, whether the right thing would include payment of compensation to people Whose properties were demolished in the last demolition exercise a few months ago on that very site? This is because he says it needs a political decision and I think this is something that should be looked at as well as making sure that the land is protected for the farmers - those that have been sold; and with this, some of them predate 2007. There was a demolition exercise which is why this Question was asked. Would the Hon Deputy Minister tell us whether compensation would be paid to people whose homes were destroyed?
Mr Speaker, we will ensure the right thing is done- We will ensure compensation is paid to the landowners, we will also ensure that other related matters are dealt with appropriately. But as to the specific issue of paying compensation to people whose properties were demolished, I cannot take that decision here.
Mr Speaker, I am surprised at the last statement made by the Hon Deputy Minister. Let me remind him of his own statement. It states as follows: ". . . government will ensure that the right thing is done such that both the State investments in the area and the community rights . . ." ' And he is saying that people who build property do not have a right? He said they cannot do anything about that. Mr Speaker, that contradicts his own statement. Mr Speaker, he should come again.
Mr Speaker, compensation would be paid but when it would be paid, I do not know. We will ensure the right things are done.
We move to the next item. Question numbered 980, standing in the name of the Hon Member for Asunafo South?
Mr Speaker, Hon George Boakye is not available and has asked me to crave your indulgence to ask this Question on his behalf.
Hon Member, you may proceed. Measures to save Abonyere Forest from Illegal Chainsaw Operators Q.98O. Mr Andrew Adjei-Yeboah (on behalf of Mr George Boakye) asked the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources what measures the Ministry had put in place to save the Abonyere Forest in the Asunafo South District from destruction by illegal chainsaw operators.
Mr Speaker, the Abonyere Forest Reserve is one of the eight (8) forest reserves managed by the Goaso Forest District. It covers a total area of 41.18 km with a total perimeter of 43.64 kilometers. It is located within the jurisdiction of Asunafo South District Assembly and owned by the Kwapong, Akrodie and Sankore Stools. It is predominantly a production forest reserve and the Timber Utilization Contract (TUC) is owned by Messrs Logs and Lumber Limited (LLL). Threat by chainsaw operators Despite the enormous production potential of the forest reserve (consisting of 35 production compartments), it has been subjected to wanton destruction in recent years by chainsaw operators and a number of interventions have been put in place to reverse this negative trend. Interventions to save the forest reserve The interventions include the following: i. Collaborative Forest Resource Management has been initiated by holding a maiden durbar with the Omanhene of Sankore Traditional Area and his subjects to solicit their support in dealing with the problem. The response was generally positive With the Omanhene pledging his personal commitment to bringing the situation under control. ii. Four (4) military personnel have been permanently attached to the District Forestry Office to embark on frequent monitoring operations jointly with the staff of the Forest Services Division (FSD). This had led to the arrest of six (6) people who have been prosecuted. at the Goaso Circuit Court with four (4) jailed six months each with hard labour and two fined one thousand, eight hundred Ghana cedis (GH¢1,800.00) each. iii. Messrs Logs and Lumber Limited (LLL) have constructed one v permanent security gate and also created 3 blockades with heaps of sand at strategic locations to help ward off persistent encroachers on the forest reserve. They have also beefed up their own security in the area. iv. The Forest Services Division has intensified community sensitization through the local media to gain support from the fringe communities in protecting the forest reserve. Challenges 1. Difficulty in coping with the challenges of nocturnal chainsawing operations.
Hon Member, your follow-up questions.
Mr Speaker, if it is the production reserve that has been given out to a concessioner, how come that illegal activities can get to such height to merit such questions being asked here?
Hon Deputy Minister, if you do not get the question, you may ask that it be clarified.
Mr Speaker, this concession is quite a big area. Apparently, the one holding the Timber Utilization Contract (TUC) definitely might not have adequate capacity to ensure that he secures the whole concession. Chainsaw operators too have become very daring and their activities are also very, very complex. So, it is not surprising that sometimes, you have illegal chainsaw operations in these areas. But from the Answer I gave, the Forest Services Division (FSD) itself is ensuring that the area is protected, the contractor himself, the one who owns the concession, is also ensuring that he does his best to protect the area. No matter how secure a forest reserve is, there are always problems with illegal activities. We are constrained by lack of personnel, we are constrained by lack of logistics. The concessioner himself does not have adequate capacity and resources to ensure water tight security arrangement and so these things are normal. But the most important thing is that we will continue to monitor and we will continue to fight the illegal activities.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Deputy Minister's Answer, he mentioned e appreciation of the fact that nocturnal activities have been very rampant, With such appreciation, can they also device a means of apprehending and arresting them if they know they are nocturnal in nature?
Mr Speaker, in my Answer, I did say that our attempts have yielded some dividends. Some people were even arrested, arraigned before the court and some have even been jailed; some have been fined. The security operatives will continue their normal monitoring activities. Sometimes, they work in the night and during the day and so, it is not an easy situation to deal with it just so easily. They continue to change their tactics and so you also will have to continue to change your tactics to be able to meet their operations and that is what we are doing We are aware it is a big challenge but we are doing our best to flush them out whether in the day or night.
Mr Speaker, I want to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister, if the fines imposed on these stubborn chainsaw operators are enough to serve as a deterrent to them. This is because once they go back to repeat their actions, it means something is not being done right.
Mr Speaker, that is something that is in the domain of the courts which we may not be satisfied with. We have had some discussions with the Judiciary to be able to express some worrisome developments in this sector but these are still in their domain and we have no power over them.
Hon Deputy Minister, while we look at what the Judiciary can do, we pass the laws and prescribe the sentences so, (perhaps, Hon Majority and Minority Leaders may want to know those penalties and see whether the House can be proactive and assist. Yes, the last Question on this.
Mr Speaker, these chainsaw operators who operate in the Abonyere forest do not operate in the night. It is Just as we are here discussing this problem, if you go there now, they are there operating. The situation is so serious that if care is not taken, the whole forest would be depleted. So I want the Hon Deputy Minister to tell us what measures the Ministry is putting in place to stop this illegal chainsaw operation. It is a serious matter.
Mr Speaker, we are fully aware of the menace of chainsaw operators. As I said earlier, they have become more daring and their activities are very, very complex these days. But we really have challenges and we are trying to do our best. We have logistics challenges, personnel challenges, and we have so many bottlenecks. We have developed so many strategies. I think that one of the Questions will even outline some of these measures in a holistic manner to you. So we are aware of the problem but we would take his concern with this particular forest reserve seriously and we would sit down with the Security and see how best we can curtail this menace.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister. The next Question is numbered 1073 standing in the name of the Hon Member for Agona East, Hon John Agyabeng. [Pause] Well, we shall move on them. The next question is the Question numbered 1095 standing in the name of Hon Benito Owusu-Bio, on Member for Atwima Nwabiagya.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague is not available and I have his permission to ask this Question on his behalf.
Hon Member, please, proceed. Plantation Development Fund (Disbursement from 2009 to 2011) Q.1095 Mr Isaac K. Asiamah (on behalf of Mr Benito Owusu-Bio asked the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources how the Plantation Development Fund had been disbursed from 2009 to 2011 and which companies were the beneficiaries.
Mr Speaker, in 2009, no disbursement was made. In 2010, the Board effected a one-time disbursement of GH¢4,000,00O to support the National Forest Plantation Development Programme. A total of one million, one hundred and eighty seven thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢1,187,000) has so far been disbursed in year 2011 based on a criterion prepared in line with the relevant portions of the Act establishing the Fund (Forest Plantation Development Act, 2000) (Act 583) and on regional bases. The summary of regional distribution is in the table below with the details on the beneficiaries attached.
With regard to disbursement, the following criteria have been approved for fund disbursement. i. Land size for plantation development: The minimum land size to be considered for support would be 4 ha to ensure the economic viability of the venture. ii. Gender consideration: Women, disabled people and the vulnerable groups within poor rural communities would be given priority .in fund disbursement. iii. Support to co-operatives and plantation groups: Priority would be given to plantation groups and local communities from rural communities. However, individuals who meet the full criteria for support would also be considered. iv. Types of species for planting: Support would be given to people who plant appropriate tree species. Care would be taken to ensure that the selected species match the site for plantation development. v. Suitability of land for plantation development: Land holdings of prospective applicants should be suitable for forest plantation development- Applicants with marginal lands will not be eligible for benefits under the fund. With respect to loan disbursement, all the above stated criteria and under grant disbursement will have to be met. In addition, the following criteria would also have to be met by the applications: vi. Secured Land tenure, proof of user-rights or ownership of land for plantation development: Applicants should have the documentation to prove that they have user-rights over land for plantation development, including: Lease document or Land Title Deed. Statutory declaration of user right of land for plantation development, in accordance with the Statutory Declarations Act, 1971 (Act 389), and bearing the signature or seal of the village chief, family head and notary public officer or court registrar. A site plan depicting the land earmarked for forest plantation development. vii. Counterpart (matching) funds/ support: The demonstrated ability of applicants to contribute labour, materials or even matching funds to incentives provided by the Board would improve the chances of support to an applicant. The Board is of the view that people are likely to take better care of the plantations if they spend their labour or part of their own funds on the maintenance of the plantations. viii. Business plan: Large-scale plantation growers would have to submit business plans for review before their applications are supported. Small-scale farmers will not be required to submit business plans.
Mr Speaker, the criteria applying here,.there is a gender consideration. I Want to find out what percentages of women and disabled were considered for this grant or loan.
Mr Speaker, unfortunately, I do not have that figure.
Hon Member, you may come with your Question but on notice.
Mr Speaker, if he can provide.
Hon Member, proceed.
Mr Speaker, another issue is about counterpart or matching Funds. Once again, what percentage is required for one to benefit from this loan facility; in terms of counterpart funding?
Mr Speaker, these criteria were drawn by the Board and they are a bit independent of our operations. I do not have the figures as to the exact percentages or to the exact ratios. But if the Hon Member is very keen, I could come back later with more details on it, thank you.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister. Yes; last intervention.
Mr Speaker, in the loan conditions, for example, there is a provision for performance contract and I want to find out from the Hon Minister-- it is not stated whether that performance contract has been signed. The wording is not clear, so l want to find out from him whether indeed they have gone through this performance contract?
Mr Speaker, usually, before the deal is concluded, you sign the performance contract. So it is something that we strictly adhere to, to ensure that
Mr Speaker, on page 23 of the business plan, the Hon Deputy Minister is saying that the concern of the Board with respect to loan disbursement is the current high inflation and interest rates. Mr Speaker, -when was this response written, and what does the Hon Minister precisely mean by this, when We have been hearing of single digit recently?
Mr Speaker, I do not know where single digit is coming from, but of course, there is a general hue and cry. Businessmen are complaining and banks are not responding to the growth that we are achieving. So it is a fact that interest rates are generally still high. The inflation- [Interruptions.] This report was written a few days before these things started coming --- [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, in the Answer given by the Hon Minister, gender considerations-- [Interruptions] Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, he said that women, disabled people and vulnerable groups would be given priority in the Fund disbursement. However, I would like him to link his statement from (ii) to (vi). If you read (vi), the kind of documentation that is required, is it not likely to exclude women because of our land tenure system? So I want him to look at that gender consideration and the possibility of other criteria that will encourage and indeed give priority to the women and other vulnerable groups.
Mr Speaker, this is the criteria that we have, but depending on the circumstances of the applicant, we are not so water-tight. We are generally keen on helping the most vulnerable groups and women fall into this group. So depending on the circumstances, we are able to see what we can do to support genuine applicants. But let me also make this appeal that, it is becoming obvious that people are accessing the Fund. You can see from the regional distribution table that some regions have not benefited at all from the whole arrangement. So we call on Hon Members to make this information available to their constituents and we want them to encourage-serious minded plantation developers to access the Fund. Thank you.
Hon Aidoo, you will be next, so Hon Member please proceed.
Mr Speaker, in my constituency at Bekwai, I have received several complaints from people who are employed on the plantations and indeed, many of them have abandoned the plantation farms. In view of the huge sums of money disbursed, may we know what process we are taking to ensure that indeed the plantations do exist as we speak.
Mr Speaker, I am not very sure about which category of plantation the Hon Member is talking about. The one I talked about is different from the National Plantation Development Programme (NPDP) where plantation gangs are employed. That was dealt with previously, if he is talking about that; we have paid them and we only owe them from September up to October. But this is a whole different arrangement where people who are interested in developing
Mr Speaker, the essence of this Fund is to engage the private sector in helping the development of forest lands in the country. Mr Speaker, from 2003 to date, an amount of GH¢7,517,400 has so far been disbursed. Would the Hon Minister tell us What total acres of forest land had been developed by this private sector to warrant the disbursement of this amount that is GH¢7.5 million; is it worth the disbursement?
Mr Speaker, I do not really have the figures, I can supply them later to you. Thank you.
Hon Members, we will move on to Question numbered 981 standing in the name of the Member for Prestea/Huni Valley -- [Pause-] The Hon Member is not available. It is a Written Question and the Answer has been communicated. In that case, Hon Minister, we thank you very much for attending upon the House -- 1041 is not in the name of the Hon Minister- and answering our Questions. Thank you very much. With regard to Question 981, I am informed that the Answer to the Question has been communicated to the Hon Member. I therefore direct that in accordance with Standing Order 64(4), the Answer to the Question be published in the Official Report of the day's proceedings.
WRITTEN ANSWERS TO
MIINISTRY OF LANDS AND
Mr Speaker, Golden Star Resources, having acquired the Bogoso Gold Limited open pit operations in 1999 and the Prestea surface concessions in 2000, assumed control of the Prestea Underground through the formation of the New Century Mines (NCM) Joint Venture in March, 2002. Since that time, the underground mine has been on a care-and-maintenance basis only. However, there has been significant exploration drilling along with several engineering studies to resume operations. Company Activities from 2002 to 2010 In total, Golden Star Resources (GSR) has invested well over US$55 million towards the maintenance, refurbishment, evaluation and exploration of the Prestea Underground. Some of the major highlights of activities include: Significant refurbishment of the Central Shaft facility to improve integrity and safety 64,000 meters of Underground and Surface exploration drilling. Purchase of new pumping and mining equipment
Pre-feasibility Study in 2008 for West and Footwall Reef. Strategy for Resuming Mining Operations Golden Star Resources has carried out several scoping and pre-feasibility level studies in order to identity an effective strategy for resuming mining operations. One of the major limiting factors to these evaluations was the obsolete mining infrastructure inherited. In addition, drastic changes in both the national and worldwide economic climate (such as the cost of oil and electricity) posed significant pressures on the financial viability of the project. However, given the significant increases in gold price over the past two years, a re-examination of the strategy was carried out that aimed at re-starting mining operations on a smaller production scale than previously targeted. It is envisioned that this would facilitate a phased approach to the refurbishment of the infrastructure and development of the mining areas. In addition to the over US$55 million invested by Golden Star Resource since 2002, an equally significant investment is required to develop the mine. Viability of the Prestea Underground Mine The continuing "robust gold prices (US$1,200 per ounce) in recent times and the planned optimization of mining costs will support ongoing development of the underground operations. However, one of the major costs to the underground is electrical power. Should domestic power rates dramatically increase over the near term, economic viability of the underground could be drawn into question. Thus, from the foregoing, it is evident that the Prestea mine is a potentially viable enterprise based on the significant investment the company is doing to finalize the feasibility studies for the eventual re-opening. Currently, GSR has recruited 150 people from the local area, 60 of whom have already been sent to AngloGold Ashanti mine in Obuasi for underground training.
[Printed under Standing Order 64 (4)]
The Hon Minister for Tourism may now -- Question number 1041 stands in the name of the Hon Member for Chjana/Paga- Hon Minister for Tourism's Question.
ORAL AN SVVERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF TOURISM
Mr Speaker, the Paga Crocodile Ponds and the Pikworo Slave Camp are some of the major tourist attractions in
the Kassena Nankana District of the Upper East Region. The two attractions have been documented in several brochures and the website of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), contributing to the good patronage they have been witnessing. The two ponds-the Chief Pond and the Zenga Pond, which are located at opposite sides of the main Navrongo- Paga Highway, according to the GTA office in Bolgatanga, generated a total of GH¢5,736.50 in 2010 and in the 1st quarter of 2011, the total number of visitors within the period was 3,577 people made up of 2,748 residents and 829 non-residents. Mr Speaker, the popularity of the two attractions, especially the Page Crocodile Ponds can be attributed to their location on a major transit highway between the land-locked countries of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Ghana. Mr Speaker, good infrastructure is a prerequisite for the development of any tourist attraction. That is why the Ministry of Tourism is committed to ensuring that basic infrastructure is provided at these sites. However, Mr Speaker, since tourism development is mainly a private sector- driven activity, the Ministry has always encouraged private individuals to invest in the development of tourism infrastructure since by so doing, the small and medium-scale tourism enterprises such as hotels, restaurants, entertainment] recreational facilities, souvenirs, shops and transport services will be created to, among others, create jobs, provide income to operators in these sectors and improve the local economies of these areas. Currently, the District Assembly has provided a modest visitor center with facilities such as washrooms, restaurant, information office and entertainment area, where cultural performances are held. The Ministry intends to expand the facility to meet required standard in future if resources are available. Mr Speaker, the Ministry and the GTA are also working closely with the Kassena Nankana West District Assembly and other stakeholders to promote tourism in this district and in other Districts across the country in view of the socio-economic benefits that tourism development brings. The Ministry will also provide training and capacity building for service providers to improve standards and quality service to tourists. Mr Speaker, under PNDC Law 237, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) have greater responsibility for urban and sub-urban infrastructural development. The Ministry has, recently, therefore, appealed to the MMDAS to invest in tourism development since such investment will inure to the benefit of their people, in terms of job creation, revenue generation and the overall development of their respective districts. MMDAs including the Kessena Nankana West District Assembly, in particular, are hereby called upon to incorporate tourism development in their annual plans and budgets. Finally, Mr Speaker, permit me to use this platform to invite the participation of all stakeholders, including the private sector, to contribute to the sustainable development of tourism, not only in the Kassena Nankana District, but in other parts of the country.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister indicated that the District Assembly had provided a modest Visitor Centre and the Ministry would like to expand that in future. I want to find out when that expansion is going to take place as it is not easy to determine what the
Mr Speaker, as I said in my response, we would do the expansion when funds are available-
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I thought that when we have a budget, that is, when resources are going to be available. So I thought that the Hon Minister was going to tell us that they are making provision in the current Budget. In any case, she also mentioned - I want to find out which service providers have been identified, and what kind of support is to be given them to be able to take on board the responsibilities that she is calling on them to take up to be able to make the tourist sites there attractive? What kind of capacity building is she talking about?
Mr Speaker, capacity building will be provided to tour guides, operators of restaurants and souvenir shops and other people in the district. Talking about resources, the Ministry has made some provision in our budget for 2012 for expansion and development and capacity building but I cannot say presently whether the funds available to the Ministry would be enough to cover every site in this country. So we will prioritize the sites and provide the services as and when necessary.
Mr Speaker, I would like to further draw the attention of the Hon Minister to the road leading to the Zenga Pond. It is in a very deplorable state and in the dry season the pond is dried up and the crocodiles leave for other ponds. I want to find out because I have personally taken up the issue of feeder roads in the district and Government had already indicated that they would be desilting a number of dams in the Upper East Region and I expected that, that would include the ponds at Paga. I want to find out from the Hon Minister is she going to do anything urgently, like liaising with the Ministry of Roads and Highways to get that road done quickly as well as with the Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture to have the Zenga Pond desilted?
Mr Speaker, it is true that most roads leading to our tourist sites are in a very bad shape and the Ministry therefore has taken it upon itself to lobby or talk to our Colleague Hon Minister for Roads and Highways to help with the development of some of these roads next year. I do not know whether that particular road has been captured but I take his word for it, because he is an Hon Colleague and I know that whatever information he provides is the truth. So I will follow up with my Colleague. As to the desilting of the two ponds, these ponds actually do not fall under the Ministry of Tourism, but it is our responsibility to follow up with the appropriate agency to ensure that indeed the ponds are desilted. But there is one challenge that has been brought to our notice and it is the fact that, some of these ponds are owned by individuals and so whenever our people go close to try and develop the area, the owners of these ponds do not actually co-operate with them. They are kind of a bit difficult and I want to believe that the Hon Member would help us to try to get to the owners of these ponds to co-operate With the Ministry and also the appropriate agency to desilt the ponds.
Mr Speaker, my heart grieves sometimes. I have had the privilege of speaking to my sister Colleague about tourism and the sites that we have. Mr Speaker, this is relevant; even Namibia and some countries advertise on Cable News Network (CNN), on British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) inviting people to come --- Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, every place. One sits down and wonder, what is happening to our- tourism industry in Ghana? The size and everything - I am afraid, Mr Speaker -- [Interruption]
Mr Speaker, if we do not have a focused programme and invest in tourism, the potential that has been touted all over would not be realized and an example is precisely what the Hon Minister is discussing now. So I really want to know from my Sister Colleague, when will the world get to know that there is a country called Ghana where there is much to see including the Crocodile Ponds? When are we going to advertise on CNN, BBC or Al Jazeera and all these news channel? It helps tremendously. Within one hour of CNN programme, Malaysia has four advertisements and everybody knows "Malaysia, truly Asia". And this is Ghana, the pride of Africa and absolutely nothing -- It is dead. When are we going to see something on this issue, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, I am very happy that my Colleague has brought up this issue because until this point, tourism is one sector that has not been given the needed attention over the years. In fact, people tend to see the tourism sector as one that is just full of entertainment; so nobody takes us seriously when it comes to budget allocation and all of that. But I am happy to inform the Honourable House that we have been making some attempts over the past few months to change the face of tourism in this country, to get the co-operation of Hon Colleagues in this House when it comes to the approval of our budget for next year. We look forward to bigger resources being given to us so that we can be in a position to do some of these advertisings on the major news channels like CNN, Al Jazeera and the rest. I am also happy to inform the House that at the recent General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Korea, we had the opportunity to participate in a session with CNN and we exchanged ideas as to how they can help Ghana to promote our tourism industry on the world market. So I look forward to one of their officers visiting Ghana, perhaps, in the first quarter of next year, so that we can sit down and look at modalities of getting Ghana promoted on the international scene. When it comes to our budget, I would like appeal to Hon Colleagues to help us get at least, a decent budget that would enable the sector to do something. We also need to change our attitude towards the tourism sector. Mr Speaker, I want to use this opportunity to invite Hon Colleagues to participate in a cruise on the Dodi island. Very soon we would be putting out some information encouraging Hon Members to participate in this cruise so that when we get to the island, we would see the potentials that exist there, and this way, I believe, Hon Colleagues would be in the position to help the Ministry get investors, private sector people, even Hon Colleagues who
Mr Speaker, passing by some of these ponds, especially during the dry season, one gets the impression that there is over- population. May the Hon Minister kindly inform the House what the population density is like in the Paga Pond. If it is indeed overpopulated, what measures are being taken to control the population? - [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, can I go on? What measures are being taken to stabilize the population so that we do not have disastrous ecological problems? Ms Dansua; Mr Speaker, I did not understand the question - [Laughter] Is he talking about overpopulation of human beings or crocodiles?
Mr Speaker, the ecological entities here are crocodiles, so I am talking about crocodiles. And the fact that during the dry season, one gets the sense that there is overpopulation. So can the Hon Minister kindly give us an idea about the population density of crocodiles and if indeed -- [Laughter] -- If indeed, there is overpopulation, what measures do they normally take to stabilize the population? So Mr Speaker, I am talking about crocodiles, not human beings; human beings are not in the water.
Mr Speaker, I am not an expert in that area ---
I would not have called upon the Hon Minister but the Hon Minister has been so fast, so the Hon Minister may continue.
Mr Speaker, I am not an expert in that area and I do not manage the crocodiles in the pond.
And perhaps, the Hon Member may want to come on notice so that a whole research would be done on crocodiles and then an answer would be given.
Mr Speaker, well said; thank you.
Mr Speaker,I would like to ask the Hon Minister whether she, being the Minister --or even prior to being the Minister - has visited the crocodile center at Mombasa in Kenya; or whether any of her staff has had that experience? Hon Minister, the Question is asked in the context that --- I have visited Paga on two separate occasions and there is absolutely nothing there to develop it into a tourist attraction. But perhaps, if the Hon Minister would be so advised to get a delegation, if none of the staff have been there -- I suspect that the records would indicate that some have been there - to use it as a model to organize Paga in such a way that we would have thousands -and not thousands local residents but thousands external people coming in to spend money such that we would make decent income and not the GH¢5,000 that we are seeing. This is because I believe that if we really fashion our crocodile ponds in Paga, around the model that I have seen in Kenya, we can really get more visitors to our sites and therefore make tourism a serious income generating business that it deserves, especially given the security in Ghana.
Hon Member, you may soon be making a statement. Hon Minister, I am sure you have duly noted - [Pause] - The Hon Minister has taken due notice of this beautiful advice. I think that would end the time with the Hon Minister. Hon Minister for Tourism, we thank you for attending upon the House and answering our questions. Leadership, any indications?
Mr Speaker, item number 6 on page 2 of the Order Paper, the Renewable Energy Bill will be taken later tomorrow. We will defer that for today so that we can get the Hon Chairman, the Hon Ranking Member and the Hon Minister or their Deputies to be present in the Chamber to be able to do that work. So, we would defer that until tomorrow. In that case, we would be left with Committee -meetings for the rest of the day. Mr Speaker, if you would indulge me, I would want to make some short interventions to apprise Hon Colleagues of the programme of action we have for this Third Meeting. Mr Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to apprise Hon Colleagues of the tall order of business that we have for this Meeting. We are likely to rise a few days to Christmas and I know the Business Committee will be scheduling the work week by week. But at this .stage, it is only fair for me to acquaint Hon Members of the nature of work that we have before us between now and our rising in December. Mr Speaker, we have 23 Bills for Presentation; two Bills for Second Reading; five Bills at the Consideration Stage and 16 Bills before various committees at various stages. I would explain that later. We also have 27 Legislative Instruments to be laid; 28 Papers to be laid; two committee reports (from ECOWAS and Pan-African Parliaments); 66 other referrals to committees. These also include Questions to be asked of Hon Ministers. So, from this itinerary, we have a long. list of items to do. So, I had the opportunity of meeting the Hon Ministers yesterday and we have decided that when the Business committee meets in the future, we have to prioritize the work that we have between now and December ending. Suffice it to add, Mr Speaker, that on or by the middle of November, we have to be taking the Budget from the Hon Minister for Finance and Economic Planning for and on behalf of the President. So, I recall that if the Budget starts sometime in the middle of November, it will be difficult to take legislation or other activity side by side with the Budget because the Budget is of prime importance for us to pass before we rise. So, I have to take this opportunity to implore Hon Members, particularly Hon Chairpersons and Ranking Members of Committees to be able to deliver their responsibilities timeously in the Chamber. I also take the opportunity to urge Hon Members to be punctual in our work in the Chamber; not just to be punctual but to be available in the Chamber for us to
do some work. I appreciate that the committees will have to work but we have to deliver in the Chamber as well. So, it is a tall order and I am confident that Hon Members will be up to the task as we have done in the past. I want to join Madam Speaker, who earlier on sat in the chair this morning to welcome Hon Members back on board and to urge everybody to deliver before we rise in December. Mr Speaker, another matter of prime importance to us is the issue of the striking doctors in the country. It is a very delicate affair. I think that our responsibility is not just making good laws to govern this country but we are also interested in the welfare of our constituents. Mr Speaker, the consequences of this strike action on our constituents is trite knowledge and it will be notorious for somebody to echo the trauma and the desperation going on in our country today. So, as an institution that has a responsibility for assisting to manage the affairs of this country and particularly the interest of our constituents, I think that we cannot pretend not to be part of the solution to this problem. Against this background, Mr Speaker, Leadership is trying to meet the Speakership so that we can draw a road map as to how we can engage the various stakeholders in this exercise. So that at the end of the day, we can come to an amicable solution so that our constituents will have the peace of mind to take care of their health and to work diligently. Mr Speaker, while we are trying to draw the road map to engage the various stakeholders in this exercise, let me take this opportunity, on behalf of this august House, to appeal to our striking doctors, the Ghana Medical Association, to exercise restraint and to try to save lives and souls of our constituents while we, as an independent body, also intervene to try to see how we can solve the matter. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Majority Leader, after that what else? I thought you will complete and then--
Well, my completion will be to move for adjournment of the House.
Hon Majority Leader, you complete your part.
Mr Speaker, in the circumstances, I beg to move, that we adjourn proceedings of this august House until tomorrow at ten o'clock.
Mr Speaker, before seconding the Motion moved by the Hon Majority Leader, I may want to add my voice to welcome Hon Members to the House. As he intimated, we have lots of unfinished business, in particular Bills which we started working on before Parliament went on recess - five of them in all. We now have just about three weeks to attend to those uncompleted businesses. So, it is important that the committees that are handling the work assiduously, bring them to Parliament for plenary to consider same and approve or disapprove of them before the Budget enters Parliament. Mr Speaker, it is also important to appeal to the Executive, in particular, the Hon Minister responsible for Finance and
Economic Planning to come early to this House with the Budget. The imposition of the Constitution requiring us to consider and approve of the Budget before the financial year comes to an end really constricts both space and time needed to deal scrutinizingly with the Budget that comes before us. That is Why if Budgets delay in coming, then we are left with, sometimes, about just four weeks to consider and approve of the Budget. That is not good enough. Parliament requires, at least, eight weeks to deal with the Budget. Increasingly, it is becoming difficult for us to have space and time to deal most diligently with Budgets that are presented to us in this House. So, let us urge the Government and also our Colleague the Hon Majority Leader, who is the Leader of Government Business, to dialogue with the Hon Minister so that this time round, we will have the Budget in the early weeks of November. If it is possible to have it, maybe in the first week of November, we will have more time dealing with it. Let us not forget, we have fashioned for ourselves a programme which allows us, after the presentation of the Budget, to engage experts to have a second look at it and then have a workshop with the various committee chairmen and Ranking Members to open our eyes to certain critical areas which may otherwise elude us. So it is important that we have this broad fold. Mr Speaker, let me also remind us that there is one critical matter that is outstanding which we have not found sufficient time to deal with. It relates to putting together and having plenary approved of this committee to delve into the unbridled activities of Fulani herdsmen. While we were away, this matter resurfaced and there were several agitations at various places in the country. Can we attend to this, possibly in the course of even this week, put a team together, a group together, resource them and allow them to begin to work? Mr Speaker, it is also true that in spite of some strides that we have made, our countrymen and women continue to be afflicted with many challenges, in particular, challenges relating to poverty, unemployment and disease. The fruits of democracy must be the enhancement in the. quality of the lives of our people. Anything short of that would cause people to lose faith in democratic governance. That is why nobody in this country can be happy about the deadlock in the negotiations between the striking doctors and Government parties. Mr Speaker, if there is anything that we as a House can do to contribute to resolve this impasse, we would need to take those steps urgently as we can, to try to have this problem resolved. Yesterday, I was woken up by my constituency chairman, informing me that a local chairman in one of the electoral areas in my constituency had lost his daughter; a pregnant woman who had gone to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital to deliver. There was nobody to attend to her; they went round scampering for help, they could not touch base with any ready hands and the woman perished, the unborn baby perished; as well. Certainly, this cannot be right. Now is not the time to apportion blame; it is important for us to look at it dispassionately, very objectively to see how we can help to resolve this matter that is before us. Mr Speaker, next year would certainly witness elections. Last year, around this time, when we had the Budget, there were some outstanding matters relating to
Thank you very much. Hon Members, the --
Hon Majority Leader, something special?
Yes. I just wanted to add some flesh to one or two issues raised by the Hon Minority Leader --
Mr Speaker, I think once the Motion has been moved and seconded, you put the Question. This is because the Hon Majority Leader will always get the chance from tomorrow to do whatever more he wants do. Mr Second Deputy Speaker? Hon Majority Leader, this is why I advisedly asked that this whole statement should be that, in doing so, you are moving for adjournment. And in doing so, you have the liberty to say a few words; and your few words, you did say. I think if we do not take care, we may turn this into a debate. So Hon Members, the Motion for adjournment has been duly moved and seconded. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 12.17 p.m. till Wednesday, 26th October, 2011 at 10.00 a.m.