MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Members, I have the pleasure to introduce to you an 11-member delegation from the Parliament of Uganda, which is on a week's study visit to Ghana. The visit is intended to create the platform to deepen the existing cordial relations between the two Legislatures. The delegation comprises the following: 1. Hon Kilza Winfred -- Leader of the Opposition and head of delegation 2. Hon Adeke Anna Edaju -- Shadow Minister, Youth and Children Affairs 3. Hon Osege Asio Angeline -- Chairperson, PAC 4. Hon Alum Santa Sandra -- Whip, Uganda People's Congress 5. Hon Muwanga Kivumbi -- Shadow Minister, Defence and Internal Affairs 6. Hon Julius Ochen -- Shadow Minister, Health 7. Mrs Ruth Ekirapa Byoona -- Assistant Director, Administration 8. Mr Kyaligonza Moses -- Senior Policy Analyst 9. Mr Bwambale Kilion -- Senior Personal Assistant 10. Mr Bukuwa Charles -- Senior Information Officer 11. Mr Niwabiine Meshack -- Policy Analyst Hon Members, on your behalf, I wish them fruitful deliberations and a pleasant stay in the country.
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, on item number 2, we shall have the Correction of the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 9th March, 2017. Page 1 … 14 --
Mr Speaker, let me send you back to page 8. The Hon Majority Chief Whip, Hon Ameyaw-Cheremeh was in the House. Unfortunately, he has been captured as absent. Then Hon Atta Akyea, the Hon Minister for Works and Housing, was also in the House.
Very well. Let the Clerks-at-the-Table take note.
Mr Speaker, on page 8, my name has been captured as absent yesterday, but I was here.
Any more corrections? Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 9th March, 2017, as corrected are adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Majority Leader, Business Statement of the week.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Arrangement of Business Formal Communications by the Speaker Mr Speaker, you may read communications to the House whenever they are available. Question (s) Mr Speaker, the Business Committee has programmed the Hon Minister for Lands and Forestry to respond to one (1) Question in the course of the week. Mr Speaker, we are informed that two other Questions have been admitted by Rt Hon Speaker, and they were due to be transmitted yesterday. If, indeed, they had been transmitted, because of the space that we have for next week, we will work together with the Hon Ministers for them to come and respond to those Questions. So, if it becomes possible, we would rather have three Questions slated for next week, and not one Question. Statements Mr Speaker, pursuant to Order 70(2), Ministers of State may be permitted to make Statements of Government policy. Statements duly admitted by the Rt Hon Speaker may be made in the House by Hon Members, in accordance with Order 72. Bills, Papers and Reports Mr Speaker, Bills may be presented to the House for First Reading and those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day in accordance with Order 119. Papers and committee reports may also be presented to the House. Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the week. Debate on the Financial Policy of the Government Mr Speaker, the House is expected to conclude debate on Tuesday, 14th March, 2017 on the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December 2017. However, this morning, the Hon Ranking Member for the Business Committee and I had some further interactions, and it may be possible to allow for Hon Members to contribute on Tuesday and for the conclusion of the debate rather to happen on Wednesday
and not Tuesday as programmed. It depends on the interest that would be shown, and the number of Hon Members who may be afforded space to make their contributions today. Mr Speaker, it is the intention of the Leadership of the House, as currently constituted, to allow for sufficient deliberation on any matter that comes before the House to the greatest extent possible. It is not intended to cage Hon Members. Mr Speaker, that is why we had this initial understanding that even though the Business Committee had decided to have the debate concluded on Tuesday, we may open a window for the closure to happen rather on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. Mr Speaker, the Estimates are expected to start trickling in today and if they do, depending on the number that come to the House, the relevant committees may be required to take charge of the relevant Estimates that may be supplied to the House. Submission of Committee Reports on Estimates of MDAs and Other Institutions Mr Speaker, committees are entreated to expedite work on the Estimates of MDAs and other institutions and report on same in good time for consideration at plenary. A schedule has therefore, been prepared to guide committees on dates for submission of the reports (schedule is attached). Committees are accordingly entreated to work within the proposed time frame. The schedule may however be varied to accommodate any committee reports on the Estimates, which may be ready prior to their scheduled dates for consideration during the week. Conclusion Mr Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160(2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this Honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week under conside- ration. Questions Statements Presentation of Papers -- (a) Conduct of the Bank of Ghana Mandate and Economic Review for 2016. (b) Annual Report on the activities of the Audit Service for the years ended 31st December, 2012 and 2013. (c) Annual Report on the activities of the Audit Service for the year ended 31st December, 2014. (d) Report of the Auditor-General on the Statement of Foreign Ex- change Receipts and Payments of the Bank of Ghana for the second half year ended 30th June, 2015. (e) Report of the Auditor-General on the Statement of Foreign Ex- change Receipts and Payments of the Bank of Ghana for the second half year ended 31st December, 2015. (f) Report of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana (Consolidated Fund) for the year ended 31st December, 2015. (g) Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General on the Go- vernance of the National Apprenticeship Programme by the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training. (h) Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General on the Imple- mentation of Local Content in the oil and gas sector in Ghana. (i) Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General on the disposal of Government vehicles by the Ministry of Food and Agri- culture and the Ghana Health Service. (j) Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General on Ensuring safety and quality of medicines in Ghana. Mr Speaker, as I indicated, the House would continue with the debate -- Motion That this Honourable House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Moved on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017, by the Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta and seconded on Wednesday, 8th March 2017 by the Hon Member for New Juaben South and Chairman of the Finance
(Conclusion of Debate) Questions
To ask the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources who the current owners of the Aviation lands at Adenta are. Statements Presentation of Papers Motions Committee sittings Statements Presentation of Papers (a) Report of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (b) Report of the Committee on Roads and Transport on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Transport for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (c) Report of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General's Department for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (d) Report of the Committee on Finance on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Office of the Head of Civil Service for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (e) Report of the Joint Committee on Lands and Forestry and Mines and Energy on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (f) Report of the Committee on Finance on the Annual Budget Estimates of the National Development Planning Com- mission for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (g) Report of the Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (h) Report of the Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (i) Report of the Committee on Health on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Health for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (j) Report of the Special Budget Committee on the Annual Budget Estimates for the year ending 31st December, 2017 of the following: i. Audit Service. ii. Public Services Commission (PSC). iii. National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE). iv. District Assemblies' Common Fund Administrator. (k) Report of the Joint Committee on Gender and Children and Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (l) Report of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Local Government Services for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Motions Committee sittings Questions Statements Presentation of Papers -- (a) Report of the Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises on the Annual Budget Estimates of the National Labour Commission for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (b) Report of the Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (c) Report of the Committee on Mines and Energy on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Energy for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (d) Report of the Committee on Environment, Science and Technology on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (e) Report of the Committee on Works and Housing on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Works and Housing for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (f) Report of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (g) Report of the Committee on Education on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Education for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (h) Report of the Committee on Defence and Interior on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Defence for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (i) Report of the Joint Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism and Youth, Sports and Culture on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (j) Report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (k) Report of the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism on the Annual Budget Estimates of the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Motions -- (a) That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢321, 830,698 for the services of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Minister for Local Government and Rural Development) (b) That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢443, 921,709 for the services of the Ministry of Transport for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Minister for Transport) (c) That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢90, 728,106 for the services of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General's Department for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Attorney-General and Minister for Justice) (d) That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢12, 145,580 for the services of the Office of the Head of Civil Service for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Minister for Finance) (e) That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢347, 563,393 for the services of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Minister for Lands and Natural Resources) (f) That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢10, 330,099 for the services of the National Development Planning Commission for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Minister for Finance) (g) That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢46, 910,275 for the services of the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Minister for Youth and Sports) (h) That this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢34, 328,798 for the services of the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs) Committee sittings. SPACE FOR TABLE A AND B, 11.20 A.M [ MR KYEI-MENSAH-BONSU] [ MR KYEI-MENSAH-BONSU]
SPACE FOR TABLE C-E. 11.20 A.M Mr Speaker, we intend for the Committees to have their sittings and begin the consideration of the Estimates in the precincts of Parliament. The Job 600 Office Complex has about ten (10) committee rooms and there are two other committee rooms in the three-storey block -- the Rt Hon Peter Ala Adjetey Block. So, at least, on any given day, fourteen (14) committees could sit. The era where Committees were asked to proceed to consider Estimates in the offices generously given by Ministries should be a thing of the past. All Committees are required to do the consideration of the various Estimates in Parliament. If for any reason it becomes necessary to go outside Parliament, it should not be within the precincts or the offices of the Ministries. Mr Speaker, the Statement is accordingly submitted for consideration and adoption by the House. Maj Derek Oduro (retd) -- rose --
Yes, Hon Member for Nkoranza North? Maj Oduro (retd): Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Hon Chairman of the Business Committee just read the Business for the Week and said on Tuesday, we may extent the period of the debate to Wednesday. He said “may.” Mr Speaker, as legislators, we should be careful with “may”, “shall”, and “will”. He should be bold to tell us that the debate is extended -- [Interruption.] - Yes, be bold - to make room for more Hon Members to contribute. Mr Speaker, but if he says that “we may”, we will approve
Yes, Hon Samuel O. Ablakwa?
I am grateful for the opportunity, Mr Speaker. I would want to draw attention to the second heading of the Business Statement, “Explanatory Memorandum of the Business Statement for the Eighth Week Ending Friday, 17th March, 2017.” Mr Speaker, but the introductory paragraph has “Ninth Week”, which is not consistent with “Eighth Week.” I would want to draw the Hon Chairman of the Business Committee's attention to that inconsistency. Mr Speaker, I would also want to raise the issue for the duration of the debate. Mr Speaker, I would want to appeal to Leadership to consider the period for our debate. The Rt Hon Speaker has said earlier that he would encourage debate in this House, and he would give a lot of room for Hon Members of Parliament to debate. If we look at the current practice where eight Hon Members are taken from both Sides, we will still have a situation where if we are to end on Tuesday or even on Wednesday, which is the possibility of the extension, it will still be far less than half of Hon Members of this House who would have been given the opportunity. I am not suggesting that every Hon Member has a contribution to make or may want to speak. But at least, for such a major document, the number of sectors -- the
Hon Members, order!
Finally, Mr Speaker, on page 1 of the Business Statement, item number 1(iii) (g), it is “Council for Technical, Vocational Education and Training (COTVET)”. Please, take out the “and”; “Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training”. I am grateful, Mr Speaker.
Yes, Hon Dr Akoto Osei?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I sympathise with my Hon Colleague from Ketu North --
He is not from Ketu North; he is from North Tongu.
Sorry about that. Mr Speaker, if Leadership has the opportunity to extend the time for the debate, I encourage them to do so, to allow more Hon Members to debate. I think that we want to debate; we do not want to just talk. So, I would want to encourage Hon Members, that we should really debate. Let us enrich the debate, so that it does not become a fight. Mr Speaker, some of us are here to educate. So, if we do not get the opportunity, it is alright. But I think that I see on both Sides, a store of knowledge that is coming to the House, and we should give them the opportunity. Mr Speaker, we are also constrained by the fact that we have constitutional obligation to approve the Appropriation Bill by the end of this month to allow Government to go on. My experience has been that the Estimates need to be looked at very closely. This is because if we make a mistake, we are in trouble. So, we have to
Hon Member, please, hold on. Yes, Hon Quashigah?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would want to seek a little clarification from the Hon --
Hon Member, you do not intervene to seek clarification. When he finishes, you can. Hon Dr A. A. Osei, please, continue.
My Hon Good Friend from Keta wants to seek clarification on what? [ Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I say this because the Hon Chairman of your Committee is sitting next to me. In the past, what I saw was that the Finance Committee had a lot of burden and we could not finish our work until every sector had done theirs. This was so, so that we can do the Appropriations Act. Looking at the time table first; as of now, we do not have the Estimates. May we get an idea of when they would come? This is because if we do not get them today, it may be difficult for the first one to even come on Thursday. We need to have an idea of when they would come, so that we can prepare. I would want to encourage Leadership to agree to have extended Sittings starting from next week, then we could programme ourselves properly. Thank you.
Hon Member for Keta?
Mr Speaker, when we look at page 4 of the document, from item number (e), (f) and (g), the (e) says, “Minister for Finance”, but when we read, it talks about Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources. I think that there is an error there. [Interruption.] The Ministry is below it? All right. Thank you. I am told it is in the right order. Hon Akoto indicated earlier that some of them --
Hon Akoto Osei, Hon Osei Akoto. [Laughter.] Hon Dr Akoto Osei, Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation.
Hon Akoto Osei, kindly correct him. [Interruption.] Order! Order!
Mr Speaker, he earlier indicated that some of them are here to educate, so even if they do not get the opportunity to contribute to the debate, they are alright.
Hon Akoto Osei, I will give you the opportunity, but I will come to Hon Dakura.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I want to add my voice to what my Hon senior Brother and Friend, the Hon Member for Tafo, mentioned a few minutes ago. It is important that we come here to debate and not just to talk, but I crave your indulgence to help this House on the numerous interjections that take place when we are doing this debate. Sometimes, it seems there is a deliberate filibustering ploy to prevent Hon Members from making serious debates in this House. So, I would crave your indulgence that we, at least, allow some meaningful length of debate before we can interject with meaningful points of order. Yesterday, I realised that my Hon good Friend from Ningo Prampram struggled to make his point. This was because people just did not allow him to do so. I am not saying that it is a crime from that Side, but from both Sides. I crave your indulgence to look seriously into that so that if we extend this debate beyond Tuesday, it should have meaning for the people of this country.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you. May I also note and make some observations on the Business Statement as presented by the Hon Chairman of the Business Committee and Hon Majority Leader. As we discussed with you at pre- Sitting this morning, to agree with him for an additional day for the debate of the Budget Statement to accommodate the interest and enthusiasm in debating the Financial Policy and Economic Statement of Government . Mr Speaker, as you agreed with us, we probably may want to dedicate Wednesday for Leadership to conclude on the debate before we take the Question on the Motion on that subject. It is also my view that probably on Tuesday, we can dedicate a substantial portion of the day to new Hon Members, who want to have a take, to be able to debate on the Motion on the Financial Policy. Probably, 60 per cent or 70 per cent of new Hon Members and then 30 per cent or 40 per cent of old Hon Members, depending on what we agree on for experienced and old Hon Members. So, on Wednesday morning, it would just be one or two persons from the Leadership who would speak, with your guidance, so that we bring the debate to a conclusion. In that respect, I share the view expressed by the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation. We urge the Hon Majority Leader to begin to take urgent steps to facilitate the work of Committees of Parliament in examining the Budget Statement. The adequate steps must include supporting Hon Members for extended Sittings, and taking care of them as appropriate in order that we would be able to continue to enrich the debate. Mr Speaker, my other comment has to do with the work of our Committees, which would examine the Estimates of the Ministries. Again, as the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation -- [ Interruption.] I believe the Hon Majority Leader hinted at it -- the Estimates from the Ministries must be available not later than today. Mr Speaker, even though it is my view and I probably share that with the Hon Majority Leader, Parliament's power over expenditure control remains a constitutional myth. We do not have enough power to add on to. That is why when Committees come here, they end up in their conclusion “we find this inadequate” - because of that myth that we cannot add to the expenditure of Government. Mr Speaker, again, as the Hon Leader and the Hon Minister said, even though our power over expenditure may remain a constitutional myth, the exercise of our oversight begins with the consideration of the Estimates of the Ministries and we should be particularly interested in their performance report for the past year against targets that were set -- the forward plans that they have and more importantly, their financial statement whether there was judicious or prudent use of it. Mr Speaker, in that respect, I agree with the Hon Majority Leader that we cannot exercise oversight and have a committee meeting of Parliament at the Ministries. That would undermine even the work of the Committee. Again, we should take a definite decision that the Hon Leader of Government Business --
Hon Members, there is too much noise in the room, it makes it difficult for other Hon Members to hear the Hon Minority Leader.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Leader of Government Business must facilitate and ensure that all the Committees of Parliament are given enough space to be able to consider the Estimates - and not for them to run for the Ministries to come in, which would sometimes raise issues that undermine the integrity of the work that we do. Mr Speaker, my final comment is on the medium-term expenditure framework and the Estimates of the Ministries. We expect that the Hon Leader of Government Business would ensure that Hon Committee Chairmen and Members get them adequate in time. I am also aware that some other Questions have been filed by Hon Members, which includes a Question from Hon Richard Quashigah and many others. I have realised that one of it has been tabled and we would be encouraged if next week, many other Questions can have your approval and referred to Hon Ministers to respond to those issues. Mr Speaker, we have also seen the time table that has been provided. Many at time, we are not able to work to it and keep fit with it. I trust and hope that Hon Committee Chairmen, supported by Hon Ranking Members, would ensure that that is done. Mr Speaker, you being a lawyer, you know that we have a constitutional limitation travelling beyond 31st March in approving the Budget Statement. This is because what we approve as expenditure in lieu of Appropriation would necessarily lapse. Therefore, we must all times endeavour to work to ensure that that is done. Mr Speaker, for these few comments, I thank you for the opportunity.
Yes, Hon Member for Old Tafo?
Mr Speaker, I have two issues. I would want to remind my good Friend, the Hon Member of Parliament (MP) for Keta, that one of the cardinal functions of an MP is to educate the public. So, he should be mindful of that. Mr Speaker, on the last page of the Business Statement, a signal was given that we may rise on the 24th of March. I used the word “signal” because it does not say so. But when we finish with the Appropriation, I do not know why we would hang around. Is it intended for us to rise on the 24th of March? It is important because we would want to plan. If the Appropriation Bill would be taken by Friday, 24th March, I get the feeling that that is it.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, since you are in the Chair and you are the Hon Chairman of the Appointments Committee, let me say that part of this is to accommodate the work that we have agreed with you, that the Appointments Committee would continue with its public hearing on Tuesday. Mr Speaker, we expect the full complement of the deputy Ministerial list - if it does not even come with additional Hon Ministers of State.
Yes, Hon Ntow?
Mr Speaker, I would want to add my voice to what has been said by the Hon Majority Leader with regard to the Business Statement. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would want to quote item numbered 4 on the Business Statement. “Rt Hon Speaker, Committees are entreated to expedite work on the Estimates of MDAs and other Institutions and report on same in good time for consideration at plenary.” Mr Speaker, I would want to entreat the Hon Majority Leader of the House if letters could be written to these MDAs. I am on the Trade Committee and as I speak now, we have not received any Estimates and we have only about two working days. If they do not expedite action, then we would be found wanting. I would want to plead with Leadership if they can write to the Ministries, so that they can expedite work on their Estimates and present same to the House to enable us work on them. Mr Speaker, it would be found that at the tail end of the Sitting, Hon Members would be forced to stay sometimes to midnight, which I believe, is not the best. So, they should expedite action, so that we can follow up.
Very well. Before the Hon Majority Leader speaks, Hon Afenyo-Markin raised some issues relating to the conduct of business here and rulings given by the Rt Hon Speaker and other Speakers in the past. The rule is very clear. If an Hon Member comes under Standing Order 91 (a), the Hon Member must state that, one, the Hon Member on his feet is breaching a particular rule wherever it is in the Standing Orders. That ruling has already been made by the Hon Speaker and I believe we should all abide by that. Again, at any point in time that any Hon Member has an issue with the ruling by the Hon Speaker, the rules themselves provide the procedure. I believe it is inappropriate to use this forum to question rulings made by the Hon Speaker in previous Sittings and I suggest that if Hon Afenyo-Markin has issues, he should come formally, so that the matter would be debated. In the absence of the Hon Speaker, I believe it does not lie with me to rule on what he has already ruled. Hon Majority Leader, you may now respond to the issues raised.
Mr Speaker, a few issues have been raised, which clearly fall outside the Business Statement that I submitted for the consideration and adoption by the House. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader himself, who is the Hon Ranking of the Business Committee chose to use this platform to solicit for some information, which really does not belong to the Business Committee. Mr Speaker, when he said that we require to have the full complement of Hon
Deputy Ministers -- that we must have it and so on, I begin to worry. I worry because whereas the Constitution provides in article 76 that; (1) “There shall be a Cabinet… Mr Speaker, the President is obligated to appoint Hon Ministers of State and indeed, article 78 adds an additional fill in and I beg to quote; (1) “Ministers of State shall be appointed by the President with the prior approval of Par- liament…” Mr Speaker, with respect to Hon Deputy Ministers, which is covered by article 79 of the 1992 Constitution, it provides, and I beg to quote: “(1) The President may, in consultation with a Minister of State, and with the prior approval of Parliament, appoint one or more Deputy Ministers to assist the Minister in the performance of his functions.” Mr Haruna Iddrisu — rose --
Mr Speaker, I do not know why the Hon Minority Leader is rising up on this. This is very constitutional. The President may appoint Deputy Ministers —
Hon Majority Leader, your point is well made. Shall we go on with the Business Statement?
Thank you very much. Mr Speaker, I began by saying, that I am going to pursue Questions that have been transmitted by the House through the Clerks- at-the-Table to Ministers. Even though we have programmed for just one Question to be asked and responded to by one Minister, we would see to have more Questions that might have been transmitted to the Ministers. Mr Speaker, I also made a point about expanding the days of debate to include Wednesday. Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said that we are allowing only four days of debate. We are going to have five days, inclusive of Wednesday. We began on Wednesday, and so today would be the third day. We would continue on Tuesday and that would be the fourth day and Wednesday would then be the fifth day. Mr Speaker, the practice in the House has always been for us to do one week of the debate on the principles of the budget. We usually do four days but because we have so many new Members in the House and we want to provide additional space for such Members, we are agreeing to conclude it on Tuesday, even though the Business Committee had already fixed the date. At the pre-Sitting meeting between the Hon Minority Leader and myself, we agreed to add one more day. Even though I must confess we did not confer with the Business Committee. But given the position that we occupy, I thought they would agree with us if we extended it by a day. Mr Speaker, the former Deputy Minister, Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa stated unequivocally, that we picked eight debaters from both Sides on each day. That is not the truth. We picked eight debaters from either Side of the aisle and not both Sides — [Interruption.] — He said I should be consistent with my principles — Yes, I am living to my principles, which is why we are expanding the frontiers and including one more day, even though usually, we would have done just one parliamentary week — that is, four days. We intend to do five days this time round. Mr Speaker, but it depends on the interest. Even today, the time is approaching twelve noon and we have not yet begun. Today is a Friday. Our Hon Colleague Muslims would be exiting for prayers at about 1:30 p.m., and that is why we need to shorten the interventions. Mr Speaker, I spoke to the issue of the Estimates. The Hon Ranking Member has also re-emphasised the point that we need to have them today. Indeed, if we do not have any of them today, it would be difficult for the Committees to begin working on them. If they do come today for the Committees to begin working on them -- the Committees are programmed to start laying their reports by next week Thursday. If they are not here today, it would be difficult to conform to this proposed arrangement that we are submitting to the various Committees. Mr Speaker, once again, let me admit that heckling is allowed in any Parliament. But it depends on the level that we take it to. And I would say that we should endeavour to limit the noise. The cacophony that we generate, certainly cannot be good enough for the House. And we should also ensure that we are not philistinic — And I am talking to my Hon Colleague, Samuel Nartey George, that we should not be philistinic in our interruptions and interjections.
Mr Speaker, I am compelled to come back because, I note that the Hon Majority Leader, in choosing to respond to me, relied copiously on articles 78 and 79 of the 1992 Constitution. I raised no legal issue when I raised the issue on Deputy Ministers. But I maintain my position. If he refuses to be affected by the President being in a hurry and he is not in a hurry, that is his own problem — [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, but for emphasis -- between Budget and Appointment Committee, our emphasis and focus would be on the budget. Therefore, if it is not done within time — I am sure same with my Hon Colleagues, will not be available to sit during recess for consideration of Deputy Ministers. T his is because it would be an exercise in futility. Mr Speaker, and let the Hon Majority Leader be in a hurry — I do not intend to report him. He must advise people appropriately. But we know that they do have intentions. He is relying on the word “may”. Yes, it is not “shall”, but we know that they consummate the “may” in a “shall” — They will bring a list of Deputy Ministers here. But they should bring it timeously, so that the Rt Hon Speaker and the Appointments Committee can look at it early. Before we rise, they would have the full complement of Government. But it appears to me he is not in a hurry — [Laughter] — I can understand that there is no hurry in this matter.
Mr Speaker, let me assure the Hon Minority Leader that we intend to be very timely. Mr Speaker there is a matter that I almost forgot about, which relates to the ad hoc committee we proposed to constitute in respect of sand winning. We have conferred and nominated for consideration and approval by this House, a list of five members: 1. Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh 2. Mr Andy Kwame Appiah-Kubi 3. Dr Samiu Kwadwo Nuamah 4. Ms Sophia Karen Ackuaku 5. Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuie Mr Speaker, that is supposed to be the special committee to deal with the issue on sand winning. Mr Speaker, the terms of reference are in accords with the decision of the House arising from the Statement that was made by Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh. But if we have to define it properly, it would be done and also give them the time frame within which to do the consideration and submit their report to Parliament.
Mr Speaker, the Leader consulted on a three-two formula of Majority/Minority respectively. We accordingly agree, subsequent to your ruling, subsequent to a Statement, which was made by the Hon Annoh-Dompreh on sand winning. Mr Speaker, we would expect that the terms of reference would be the referral as appropriate as you did reference to the Statement, which was made by our Hon Colleague, except to provide them with timelines and probably, to venture into any other matter relative to helping us find a solution to that matter. So, I do concur with the Hon Majority Leader that Parliament considers the five-member committee on sand winning. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, in that regard, may I accordingly move, in accordance with Standing Order 191 --
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this House appoints this special Committee comprising five Members of this House: the Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh, Hon Andy Appiah- Kubi, Dr Samiu Kwadwo Nuamah, Sophia Karen Ackuaku and Hon Okoe Vanderpuije, to investigate the matter relating to the sand winning and report back to this House.
Mr Speaker, Hon Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu is an expert of procedure and he knows that the matter before you now is Business of the House, even though I have no disagreement associating myself with it. But I second that Motion when you are procedurally wrong. Mr Speaker, but since we are masters of our own procedure and his desire and intentions are a good one, I beg to second the Motion. Thank you.
Very well. I will suggest that we take a decision on this one to be incorporated into the Business of the House. So, Hon Members, the Motion has been moved and seconded. Question proposed. Maj. Derek Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, when the Statements on sand winning was presented in the House, I think Mr Speaker referred the issue to the joint committee including Defence and Interior Committee. The Ad Hoc Committee has been set up, now excluding the Defence and Interior Committee. So, I would plead that if we are setting up an ad hoc committee, then consideration should be given to a member from the Defence and Interior Committee. Thank you.
Hon Members, the Motion is on the floor; it has been moved and seconded. You are either speaking for or against it. Before we take a decision, the Motion is that an ad hoc committee in accordance with Order 191 be formed to address the matter. So, I will invite Hon Members to make a contribution. Hon Woyome, you wanted to make a contribution on the matter?
Hon Member, you were not paying attention; a ruling has been made on that. You are out of order, please. Resume your seat.
Mr Speaker, first of all, it is difficult to meaningfully debate this Committee. First of all, we do not know the terms of reference of this Committee. People have made several Statements on sand winning, destruction of our environment through all kinds of things. The referral now is being subjected to a committee. We should at least, be given the terms of reference and the time frame for us to be able to discuss whether it is reasonable. In any case, some people are also claiming that Mr Speaker referred the matter to two subject area committees. I think that as a House, we should have terms of reference properly spelt out for us all to know before we endorse any committee, otherwise, we would be setting up too many committees. The second issue is that we have subject matter committees and why should they be there -- Indeed, if there is a need for a joint committee, you do so. But we want to be setting up ad hoc committees to replace the committees that we have in Parliament; what would they be doing? I think it is a duplication and we need the terms of reference and why it should be a special committee. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, you are right. It is also not true that this referral was made to the Committee on Defence and Interior. I think my Hon Colleague was mixing up a Statement on the activities of Fulani herdsmen. That was what attracted the inclusion of the Defence and Interior Committee -- certainly, not this one. This one had to do with Local Government and Environment. Mr Speaker said Leadership should constitute a special committee to deal with it. So, if my Colleague, the Hon Yieleh Chireh now would want to question the decision of the Speaker, he should come by a Motion and he knows what to do. But that was the referral to Leadership and that is why we have proposed for the composition of the Committee this way. If anybody does think that perhaps, we could further improve on the composition, so be it. It is a proposal coming from Leadership.
Mr Speaker, indeed, if it was the decision of the Speaker that a committee should be set up and the Hon Member is coming by a Motion, that a committee should be set up, it is still perfectly possible if the Motion is put to a vote for that decision to be defeated. So, if there is no room for us to challenge the decision of the Speaker, then this is not the procedure to adopt. This is because once he moves the Motion and it is seconded, you are allowing us to debate; you would put the Question. If we reject it, what is the implication of that rejection on the decision of the Speaker? So, I think if we are implementing a decision of the Speaker, then we should find other procedure because this procedure still gives us an opportunity to reject the decision.
Hon Majority Leader, I will want to hear you on this before I rule.
The composition of ad hoc or special committees, which is covered by Standing Order 191 comes within the general remit of the composition and establishment of Standing and Select Committees. When we have done so, it is for this House to approve of the composition. So, if the Hon Colleague would apply his mind critically to that, he would agree with me that the route that we have chosen is the proper one.
Hon Members, I believe the position is clear on this matter. The Hon Speaker's decision is that Leadership should compose a committee under Standing Order 191. That committee, when composed, must be brought before this House to be approved of. What the vote seeks to do is to approve the membership of the composed Committee. If Hon Members have a challenge with regard to the membership, they may raise it. But the decision by the Hon Speaker, that an ad hoc committee be formed, I believe that is done. If anybody wants to challenge that, the appropriate procedure is to come by a proper Motion.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Let me quickly congratulate my respected Leaders, the Hon Minority and Majority Leaders for building consensus on this matter. I am very happy about it. I am one person very passionate about this matter. But just to refresh my respected Leader's memory, if he would recall, when the Statement was made the last time, it was as a result of a number of Statements which were made about undue mineral exploitation and then land degradation. Then I personally made a Statement on sand winning. I just wish to suggest that if we could possibly vary the terms of reference to make it much more inclusive, so that we could include land degradation also as a concern. This is because there is a constitutional provision that gives this House a role to play in this whole business. I believe it is article 268 of the Constitution. So, I harmlessly would want to suggest to my respected Leader if we could expand the terms of reference, so that we do not limit ourselves to only sand winning but galamsey and undue mineral exploitation. That becomes much more encompassing. Thank you.
Hon Members, I will now put the Question on the composition as put forward by the Hon Majority Leader, seconded by the Hon Minority Leader and the terms of reference as suggested. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Hon Members, the Business Statement as presented by the Hon Majority Leader is hereby adopted. Hon Members, item numbered 5 --
Yes, Hon George, are you to debate?
No, Mr Speaker I just wanted to draw the attention of the Hon Speaker that in the course of the discussion, the Hon Minister for Education walked in. Unfortunately, he is talking at the moment but if he listens --
Hon Minister for Education?
Thank you, Mr Speaker -- [Uproar.] Mr Speaker, I am not worried because they just want to be noticed. I am not worried that an Hon Member of the House feels so insecure that he would have to get up in this Chamber and speak to expose his ignorance. [Uproar] Mr Speaker, this is no school uniform. For the Hon Member to use such words, he exposes his ignorance. [Laughter.] What he is wearing -- The
Hon Member should know that today is Friday and we have Friday wear. Could he show me where in the Standing Orders it is said that one cannot wear short sleeved attire in Parliament? I wonder why he is bopping up in his seat. If he cannot stand the heat, he should not get into the kitchen. Why is he bopping up like a cat?
Hon Minister for Education, words like crass ignorance are unparliamentary. Kindly withdraw them.
Mr Speaker, I withdraw that phrase. I would want him to apologise for saying that I am wearing a school uniform. The school uniforms their Government distributed freely, which school got this uniform? [Laughter.] He should withdraw and apologise. [Uproar] He is still shouting. After displaying his mind, he is shouting. He does not know that it is even unparliamentary to shout. Mr Speaker, I beg that in order to bring sanity here, the Hon Member should be asked to withdraw and apologise.
Hon Members, order! I will want to listen to him, please.
I thought he would probably advise himself to just withdraw some of the unsavoury words. It does not augur well for this House. I would want to believe that he was just joking. [Interruption] Please, Mr Speaker, you may find out from him. Do we not crack jokes here sometimes?
Hon Majority Leader, the issue about appropriate dressing for the House is what has been called to question. I will want you to advise. I have seen a few Hon Members of the House wearing short sleeved shirts. It is not the formal -- [Uproar.] Can I have some order? Hon Majority Leader, I am not referring to those wearing tropical suites as it is, but those wearing short sleeved fabric shirts. I would want your guidance on that.
Mr Speaker, we are still in the process of firming up the proper attire for the Chamber. Every now and then, we have raised these matters but there is nothing on paper to serve as a useful guide for us. Which is why occasionally, people walk on that path. Mr Speaker, my worry, however, is that sometimes, as Jesus Christ said that people would not remove the beam in their eyes before -- they jump at any instance to call for the removal of the speck in other people's eyes. But I agree with you that we should come to a firm determination on this. This is because we are degenerating and it is certainly not good enough for the image of the House. So, for now, I guess we would let sleeping dogs lie while we advise ourselves on the appro- priateness of our dresses for both males and females. Mr Speaker, so, I believe that we should determine for ourselves in absolute terms, appropriate dressing for the Chamber.
Well, my observation has been that on Fridays, we tend to relax a bit. However, I would have thought that the principle of formality in this Chamber would still be respected. Some of the shirts I am seeing now, are way too casual and I would have thought that in future, we would look at -- at the very least, if one is wearing the locally sown fabric shirt, it would be long sleeved, so that it should appear a bit more formal as suggested by the Hon Majority Leader -- formality has not been defined but if we see one, we would all identify it. I recall a particular Judge who was called upon to define profanity. He said, well, if he is asked to define profanity, he would not be able to define it, but when he sees one, he would identify it. So, I may not be able to define what is casual but if I see one, I will see it. I suggest that we should be a bit more formal even on Fridays when we relax our dressing. Hon Members, the debate may continue now. I do not have any guidance as to the Hon Members that are to take their turn today. [Pause] -- Very well. Hon Members, item numbered 5 on the Order Paper. I will start from Hon Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu (Bibiani- Anhwiaso-Bekwai)
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for this great opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, as we all know, the theme of the maiden Budget Statement of His Excellency the President --Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is; Sowing the Seeds for Growth and Jobs. Mr Speaker, His Excellency the President could not have chosen a better theme for this year's Budget Statement. I believe that as Hon Members of this House, we all see on a daily basis -- if we meet 10 people everyday, at least, eight of them would be talking to you as an Hon Member of Parliament about the opportunities for jobs or employment. Mr Speaker, it is against this background that I believe that the theme for this Budget Statement is the most appropriate one. The Budget Statement actually seeks to solve this problem of unemployment in this country.
The goal as stated in paragraph 13 of this year's Budget Statement is: “…to build the most business- friendly and people-centred economy in Africa, which will translate into job creation and prosperity for all Ghanaians.” Mr Speaker, how do we achieve this noble goal in the midst of all the challenges that a new Government is facing? To touch on a few of the challenges that the new Government is facing, I refer you to paragraph 14 of this year's Budget Statement. It is clearly stated that the commitment of the Government to achieve these goals are hampered by: low revenue collection; expenditure overruns and corrup- tion; high wage bill; rigidity of fiscal structure caused by heavy earmarking of tax revenue; and high debt service payments. Mr Speaker, I would like to touch on at least two of these constraints that are hampering the achievement of this noble goal. We all know that most of these constraints are not actually caused by external factors. They are caused by the incompetence with which the economy of this country has been managed over the years.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member purported to refer to the Budget Statement and he said that expenditure overruns and accumulated areas caused by fiscal indiscipline, excessive sole-sourcing and corruption. The language of the Budget Statement is not corruption, it is weak commitment controls. They are two different things.
Did he indicate that he was quoting from the Budget Statement?
Mr Speaker, he was making a reference to the Budget Statement.
Did he say that he was quoting from the Budget Statement?
Mr Speaker, he said that according to the Budget Statement and that is very important.
Hon Aboagye-Gyedu, if you are quoting the Budget Statement, quote it properly.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I would refer my Hon Colleague to page 2 paragraph 14 of the Budget Estimates. The very last bulleted point is, “expenditure overruns and corruption”. It is clearly stated there. Mr Speaker, why do I say this? I happen to be an Hon Member of your Committee on the PAC and on a daily basis, we do hear and read a lot of corrupt practices, weaknesses in the revenue and the public financial management of this country. Mr Speaker, to refer your goodself to some of the issues and findings of the Auditor-General, in paragraph 17, page 7 of the Auditor-General's Report, on the Public Accounts of Ghana for the year ended 31st December, 2014. As much as GH¢612,500 being withholding tax on a single transaction that was supposed to be withheld was never done. A foreign company was allowed to run away with as much as GH¢612,500.00 into another country. This is clearly a leakage of the revenue. Mr Speaker, as if that is not enough, if you go to paragraph 19 of the same report, an amount of GH¢91.9 million, which was supposed to be credited to the Ghana Revenue Authority was never done by the Ghana Commercial Bank for over 60 months and this is five years. This is also stated in paragraph 19 of the same Auditor-General's report that I have quoted. Mr Speaker, if we have a system where a bank, which is supposed to credit the Government of Ghana account with GH¢91 million and over is able to sit on such deposit for five years, then what do we expect? How could we get revenue to run the machinery of Government? Mr Speaker, I would move to another paragraph of the same report where we have GH¢123 million, although credited to the Ghana Commercial Bank account of the Government of Ghana, the amount was not transferred to the Consolidated Fund for over two years. Mr Speaker, if we have all these issues, the effect is that the Government of Ghana would be forced to go to the money market to borrow when it would have equivalent resources lying idle somewhere. Government is borrowing from itself by paying huge interests on such amount --
Are you the Hon Member for Techiman North?
Mr Speaker, thank you. I am not the Hon Member for Techiman North but Lambussie.
Thank you for the correction.
Mr Speaker, I would want to draw the attention of my Hon Colleague to all the relevant questions that he is trying to put out. Those are agencies and he has not actually stated the years of every agency that he is mentioning in the paragraphs. We are not aware of the years and so, let us know the years. Besides, those agencies are in charge of the collections and so, what is the relevance of those issues you are mentioning to the Budget Statement?
Hon Member, what is your point of order?
Mr Speaker, what is the relevance of all that he is mentioning in relation to the Budget Statement?
Hon Member, you are out of order and so, resume your seat. Hon Member, please continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Going further, at paragraph 100 of the same report -- Non Tax Revenue collected by some Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) properly quoted or their names stated in the Auditor-General's report to the tune of GH¢21 million -- even
Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you. I believe that the Hon Member just made a statement, which should not be allowed to stay in the records. He says that any time the word “corruption” is mentioned, the Hon Members on my Side of the House feel uncomfortable. Mr Speaker, I do not know the system that he used to determine the comfortableness or uncomfortableness of Hon Members whenever he does that. Mr Speaker, so, for the purpose of doubt, he is imputing bad motive on our Side of the House. We are not happy with that statement and so, he should withdraw and apologise to our Side.
Hon Aboagye-Gyedu, your time is almost up. But how did you determine that they are not comfortable?
Mr Speaker, look at how many times that they have got up to interrupt my presentation. That alone, is an indication of how uncomfortable they are.
Hon Member, but they say that they do not feel uncomfortable. So, do not assume that.
Mr Speaker, I am sorry if they do not feel uncomfortable. [Interruption.] I said that I am sorry. [Interruption.] I have withdrawn it. Mr Speaker, I would now move to expenditure overruns and proper corruption.
Hon Member, you have two minutes to conclude.
Mr Speaker, we are all very much aware of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) issue; so much money was sunk into waste and unnecessary expenditure under SADA. Mr Speaker, if I have time to go through the Auditor-General's Report, paragraph 1874, as much as GH¢32.5 million was given to a company to plant trees and that company was found to have no experience whatsoever in tree planting. This happened in this country where we have expert State agencies like the Forestry Commission, which is charged with the responsibility of tree planting. This GH¢32.5 million went to total waste and as if that was not enough, if we get to Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA), as much as over GH¢118 million was given to people to do all sorts of things. The irony of it is that, most of the time, proper records were not kept for us to even trace the service providers to take our money back. Mr Speaker, in my view, that is corruption and if we have such corruption and incompetence in the system, how could we get money to do what we are supposed to do? I believe strongly that the new Government would succeed in plugging some of these loopholes and for that matter, we would be able to generate enough revenue to prosecute its agenda. Mr Speaker, the last issue I would want to touch on, is the issue of the National Identification Scheme. Most of us have been out there before and we have seen how competently and efficiently identification is working in other jurisdictions. I was lucky enough to be a member of one of your committees that had the opportunity to visit a private sector organisation last week. They are also taking the trouble to do what they call Digital Address System --
Hon Member, conclude.
Mr Speaker, if this should succeed in addition to the National Identification Authority, I believe strongly that we could rope in a lot of individuals and private sector companies that are not paying taxes currently. That would help the Government to be able to mobilise adequate resources to prosecute its agenda. Mr Speaker, thank you very much for this great opportunity.
Hon Adam Mutawakilu.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion, that this honourable House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, I would want to tailor my contribution to the energy sector and with your permission, I beg to quote page 55 of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Manifesto, paragraph 2; “The oil and gas sector has been poorly managed to the extent that our oil is exported in crude form, even though we have a refinery that can add value to it.” Mr Speaker, the performance of the Government in respect to the oil sector was measured by our inability to refine our oil. Mr Speaker, I beg to refer to page 47, paragraph 206 of the State of the Nation Address -- The 2017 Benchmark Revenue and Table 19 states, Sources of Petroleum Revenue in 2017. Under Royalties, there is Crude Oil -- Carried and Participating Interests, we would still see crude oil. Mr Speaker, I realised that for this year, they would export crude oil but they are not going to refine it. Mr Speaker, my reference is also made to page 38, paragraph 4; the first two paragraphs of the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) Manifesto. It states, and I beg to quote:
“Rather than redeem its indebted- ness, the government chose to burden the Ghanaian people with suffocating electricity tariffs and vanishing power credits…”
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, this is a House of records, and people must back up their statements with facts. He categorically made a statement that the impact is insignificant. He has not told us what “insignificant” here means. [Interruption.] No! He should support it.
Mr Speaker, he is being barbered; he should wait, when I finish, then he can look into the mirror. He should not be touching. He should wait. Mr Speaker, I have in my hand the gazetted tariffs for the year 2017. They were gazetted on 23rd December, 2016, effective 1st January, 2017. [Interruption.] If he wants copies, I have made plenty duplicates -- I have many copies, if he wants some, he could come. Mr Speaker, I also have the reckoner that outlines and makes it possible for every consumer to be able to trace. The units he consumes, he could easily trace the amount he is expected to pay. And my emphasis is also on the Minister for Energy, when he was being vetted. On page 9 of 24, he stated that his special interest was on lifeline consumers. Let me pick the lifeline consumers. They are consumers who consume between 0 and 50 units in kilowatt-hours. With the 50 units in kilowatt-hours, the bill of a lifeline consumer consuming the highest unit is GH¢17.66. The contribution of Public Lightening Levy and National Electrification Scheme Levy is GH¢1.64. When one reduces it by 2 per cent and 3 per cent respectively, one is only given the highest units consumed by a lifeline consumer as GH¢0.84 per month. That means that the relief for a lifeline consumer is GH¢0.84 but they initially said these tariffs were suffocating.
Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
Mr Speaker, I would want to be sure that the Hon Member understood what he said. Mr Speaker, the National Electrification Scheme Levy reduced from 5 per cent to 3 per cent, the reduction is 40 per cent. It is not 2 per cent. [Interruption.] Of the 5 per cent, it is 40 per cent and not 2 per cent. It is simple calculation.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, it is true that the reduction could be 40 per cent. 40 per cent of 100 is 40, but 40 per cent of 1 is GH¢0.40. So, he should take it on board.
Mr Speaker, he should not say the reduction was 2 per cent. The reduction is rather 40 per cent.
Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, let me go into detail. From the reckoner, assuming the lifeline consumer consumes 50 units per kilowatt-hour, the 5 per cent is GH¢0.84. If one reduces it to 2 per cent, he would get GH¢0.34. So, GH¢50 is the relief for public lighting. [Interruption.] It is 50 units per kilowatt-hour. [Interruption.] In the first place --
Hon Mutawakilu, could you address the Chair and go straight to your point? Your time is running.
Mr Speaker, of the National Electrification Scheme Levy, the 5 per cent is GH¢0.84; 3 per cent of that is GH¢0.50. It means the relief there is GH¢0.34. If we add the two, we would get GH¢0.84. [Interruption.] He could have this, if he wants to. Mr Speaker, I would not move to the second band, that is between 51 units per kilowatt-hour and 300 units per kilowatt- hour. So, I would take the highest, which is 300 units per kilowatt-hour. If a person consumes 300 units per kilowatt-hour, he is expected to pay GH¢216.85 per month. The Public Lighting Levy is GH¢10.10 and the National Electrification Scheme Levy is GH¢10.10. If one takes off the net value of the 2 per cent reduction and the 3 per cent reduction, one would get a total of GH¢10.10. That means that with somebody who pays GH¢216.85, there is only a relief of GH¢10.10.
Hon Member, what was the reference to him?
Mr Speaker, I have watched him on TV 3, and I have noted the date. If he would want the transcript, I would follow up and get if for him, where he had made it categorically clear that the light bill that we pay today is more than rent. And I thought that, this reduction should have made it possible to go --
Hon Member, you should address the issue and avoid this controversy. It is more than the cost of rent of somebody's house, depending on where a person lives.You should just continue with your argument. You had one minute when I came in.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker it has become clear that this Budget Statement, and especially what has been provided with respect to the tax aspect, is just “419” to Ghanaians --
Hon Member, how do you expect them to capture that in the Hansard? [Interruption] -- Anyway, you have thirty seconds -- just wind up.
Mr Speaker, it is evidently clear that what former President Mahama did was on the right track. They need to accept it and go along with us. We would want to see it when they process their crude. They should tell us -- they have no answer. It is not captured in even the Budget Statment, so, they should think about it. Mr Speaker, with these few words, thank you very much.
Hon Patrick Yaw Boamah? [Pause] -- Hon Members, let me advice that we have agreed to rise at 1.30 p. m. So, as soon as we get to 1.30 p. m., no matter the number of people that would remain, we would close. So, if you avoid the interjections and controversy, we would have more time for many people to contribute. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion numbered 5 on today's Order Paper. Mr Speaker, I would make a quick reference to the President's inaugural speech, and connect it with paragraph 259 of the Budget Statement on his foreign policy. Mr Speaker, on the 7th of January, 2017, this was what the President said, during his inauguration and I beg to quote: “…We will rekindle the spirit that made Ghana the leading light on the African Continent, and make our conditions deserving of that accolade. We will work with our neighbours and friends on the continent to enhance peace, democracy and political stability in our part of the world. We will reassert vigorously the Pan African vocation to which our nation has been dedicated. Integration of our region and of our continent will be a strategic objective of Ghanaian policy…” Mr Speaker, paragraph 259 of the Budget Statement also states that it is the vision of the President to build a well- resourced Ministry -- the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, capable of establishing, developing and sustaining international goodwill, solidarity, and attracting support from development partners for national development. Mr Speaker, what have we seen or got out of this Statement from the President? We saw the election of Ambassador Kwesi Quartey on Monday, 30th January, 2017, as the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union's Commission in Addis Ababa, and he is a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). He got a whopping 82 per cent of the votes cast by the Heads of State. That Ambassador took a commanding lead in Ethiopia. Mr Speaker, we also saw the election of Kathleen Quartey Ayensu to serve on the African Union's Commission on International Law. Mr Daniel Batidam was also elected to serve on the Advisory Board on Corruption. Mr Speaker, these are the traits of a leader, who would want to see Ghanaians aspire to greater heights all over the world. Mr Speaker, we recently also saw the visit of the United Kingdom's (UK) Foreign Secretary to Ghana. During his visit, we saw that the British Government unlocked a whopping sum of US$18.5 million to the health sector for the purchase of equipment by a company named Cteq, to equip nine hospitals. These were the Wa, Kumasi, Madina, Salaga, Insokor, Tepa, Konongo, and Twifu Praso Hospitals. Mr Speaker, following up on that was the visit by the Moroccan King. This also saw the signing of over twenty-eight Agreements that I believe would help this country generate the needed jobs and opportunities that this President has envisaged within the Party's Manifesto, in his Budget Statement, and also in his good vision. Mr Speaker, this morning, I went to the World Bank's website on doing business and it is heart-breaking to find Ghana's position on that log. We lie at a comfortable 108 on the ranking, out of 200 countries; which is very comfortable for the NDC. Mr Speaker, it is for one of these reasons that the President, in his wisdom, has appointed a Minister for Business Development, which my Hon Colleagues do not understand. With respect to the starting of a business, Ghana was ranked 110, dealing with construction permits 117 -- getting electricity, 120 -- regulating property -- 77 and paying taxes -- 122. Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah -- rose
Hon available Leader?
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague has just made statements -- I do not know whether they are statements of facts. He may produce evidence. He said it was from the website of the World Bank.
Hon Leader, you did not pay attention. The Hon Member said the World Bank's --
If he could produce it, because --
The website is available. It is a public document.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I read online, a statement by the outgoing Danish Ambassador on corruption in Ghana, and it was also heart- breaking to read this piece from him. He says: “Danish companies are reporting that they often find it difficult to do business in Ghana because they are confronted with requests of illegal payments of services or facilitation money.” Mr Speaker, this is from the outgoing Danish Ambassador to Ghana. That is why the President, in his Budget Statement said that he would not pay lip service to corruption. Mr Speaker, we sat in this Chamber for four years, and we had the Right to Information Bill before us. It was never passed by the NDC Government because they had a Minister of State in charge of Government Business, who was supposed to have ushered into being that Bill. What happened? [Interruption.] The NPP did not boycott it. This is because they were not serious with that Bill, and that was why it did not see the light of day. Mr Speaker, this President has assured the good people of Ghana that, he would ensure that this Bill would be passed into law. Mr Speaker, they choose loans over the Right to Information Bill, and engulfed the country with a huge debt stock of over GH¢122 billion.
Hon Member, you have two minutes more.
Mr Speaker, we also have in this Budget, at page 149, the establishment of the Airport Free Zones, a Financial Stability Council and a reactivation of the International Financial Services Centre. Mr Speaker, 60 per cent of the investment that goes to India originates from Mauritius because of their financial services. Genser, Isle of Man and all those small islands have grown because of this simple legislation. When the NPP lost power in 2008, this amendment was put on the shelve because of political expedience, and I believe that in the wisdom of the President, this law, once reactivated, would see to the attraction of the capital that we would need from the private sector to develop this country. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Motion on the floor based on the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 financial year and with the theme “Sowing the Seeds for Growth and Jobs.” Mr Speaker, it is also well noted on page 7 of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) that the President said that, if everybody was asked what they needed, they would have responded “jobs”. Mr Speaker, it is true and we cannot run away from that fact. But then, seeds that are to be sown must be sown at the right place and time and with the best seeds. Mr Speaker, my emphasis is on gender. If we look at the Budget Statement -- I am not saying it -- it is clearly stated that basically, all that is said under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection is what has previously been done and would be continued or would be implemented. Mr Speaker, let me first of all, congratulate the Hon Minister and for that matter, the President for making it clear that gender studies would be introduced in our schools. That would help us a lot and I am happy about that. I would not run away from that. Mr Speaker, let us go on to page 119, paragraph 689. It is interesting to note that instead of us looking at the way forward, it is clearly stated that the 2017 National Calendar Day event would be celebrated. Mr Speaker, if there was a celebration of over 1,000 children under the theme, “Protecting the Rights of all Children”, should we continue the celebration and rather not think of what to do to those children or how to support them? How many children are we going to celebrate in 2017 because we had celebrated 1,000 children? Mr Speaker, if we continue on the same page 119, paragraph 691, it is clearly stated that 358 children from five orphanages were provided with care, counselling and education. Mr Speaker, if you get back to the Budget, it is not stated what would be done to continue the programme, which is very important. This is because at least, the orphanages are still there, we have the children and their needs need to be catered for. So, what are we going to do? Mr Speaker, we go on to the same paragraph and it is stated that the Ministry will rehabilitate correctional centres. At least, we are dealing with a budget; moneys would be spent. We need to know how many correctional centres we would rehabilitate at a projected amount. It would help us to take a decision but if we just state that we will rehabilitate correctional centres, it would not give us a good outlook on whatever-- Even if the amount is not stated, at least, the number of correctional centres that would be rehabilitated should be given. Mr Speaker, in paragraph 692, 93 new cases of abuse, traffic and missing children were catered for and 84 were dealt with. Mr Speaker, nine of these children are left uncatered for. There is nothing that is said about the nine children in the Budget Statement. At least, it should be stated that they would be catered for, or the nine would be added to whatever number that has come up to because we cannot say that, that number is stagnant and that they would be catered for. But there is nothing to show or tell that they are being catered for. Mr Speaker, let us move straight to paragraph 693 where the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme talks about support to households. Mr Speaker, you would find a number of households that have been presented and were supported by the LEAP. Mr Speaker, we have only seen that there would be a household registration exercise and we are not told how many households would be added, and when we continue, we would read under the same paragraph, that the Upper East and the northern regions -- We all know that when we refer to the northern regions, we are referring to the Upper East Region, Upper West Region -- and the Northern Region itself. But if we say Upper East Region and the Northern region, then it means that the
Hon Member, you have two minutes more.
Mr Speaker, let me get to the almighty kayayei issue. Thank you very much, for at least talking about the issue of the market tolls that were taken from the kayayei. Mr Speaker, I can assure you it is one of the issues that were presented in our Report. But I also state here on record that it was not the biggest problem of the kayayei. Mr Speaker, the kayayei have got a bigger problem than the issue of the market tolls. We talk about jobs, and among the kayayes, we have children as young as 6 years -- Mr Speaker, I refer to our Report that was presented to this House. Mr Speaker, what are we going to do to these children? Are we encouraging them? I watched, listened and visited some of them. The question is, those back at home, for whom we say and are well pleased to hear about “One-Village-One-Dam” “One- Constituency, US$1 million” -- We are happy to have that because it is for us as Ghanaians. Who are those going to remain in the targeted three northern regions and would not carry less than 80 per cent of the kayayei to do the work? At least, we should look at this issue carefully and make sure that we support them, so that those who are back home do not come back, and those who are here should be supported to make sure that the education that they said they had left because they did not have the resources, they would be given that opportunity, instead of sleeping by the waysides and the streets --
Hon Member, wind up. Your time is up. You have 30 seconds to wind up. Mr Speaker, the Kayayei issue, we have also watched videos where other women, “pure water” sellers and hawkers say that they should also be considered. So, I wonder what we would do to our Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) when we go in to even stop these tolls without their consent. Thank you, Mr Speaker for the opportunity.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the floor. In doing so, I would humbly ask my Hon Colleagues to turn with me to paragraph 635 of the 2017 Budget Statement, and Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I would like to read; “In 2017, the Ministry intends to set-up a Youth Development Authority to harmonize and coordinate all government sponsored Youth initiatives across the country.” Mr Speaker, we talk about youth development, and you would all agree to the fact that the progress of every country depends on the extent to which the youth are developed. Mr Speaker, in developing the youth, we talk about developing the totality of the youth; developing them in terms of their cognitive ability, that is, their intellect. We live in the 21st Century where we expect technological advancement. People intuitively think about what we can do to solve the problems and challenges in their various communities. So, if we develop them, we should develop their intellects. We also develop the youth in terms of their psychomotor domain. Here, we talk about the skills that they need to acquire in the field of sports, artisanal development, et cetera. We also talk about the development of their affective domain. Mr Speaker, if we just educate our youth without instilling in them God- fearing virtues, patriotism and the need to die for their country, we would only educate them but they would not care if they had to kill to achieve their purpose. They would not care if they had to take the bulk of government's money, use it personally and they are called before committees, they would go and cry. We need to develop them in a manner that would instill such God-fearing virtues in them. So this is what the Government has set off -- to develop the totality of the youth. Mr Speaker, in pursuant to this, the Government, in line with its Manifesto, intends to set up a Youth Development Authority that would serve as an umbrella Authority to coordinate all -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I used the word advisedly. -- [Laughter.]-- Mr Speaker, an Authority that can serve as an elephant Authority -- Laughter.]-- where all the various models that we have, for example, the Opportunity Industrialisation Centre (OIC) Ghana, National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI), and Integrated Community Centre for Employable Skills Mr Speaker, these are all models that were set up by the previous Government and which some of them became a conduit for embezzlement. As we speak, we all know what has befallen the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA). Mr Speaker, we would establish a Youth Enterprise Fund and this Fund, in a way, would ensure that, all our young entrepreneurs who want to set up their own businesses would have funds for doing that. Mr Speaker, again, we are going to have an incentive package for such young men and women. The incentive package would be in the form of tax rebate. The Hon Minister for Finance said that enterprises and companies that are likely to employ young graduates would have tax rebate. This is a Government with a clear vision, and since 1992, when we started this constitutional rule, let anybody stand up and tell us -- with all the various laws we have made, what have we done for the youth of this country? We want to give a concrete assistance to the youth of the day. Mr Speaker, that notwithstanding, we also look at the infrastructural deficit in our country as far as youth and sports are concerned. We talk of what has been stated in paragraph 643, where the Hon Minister alluded to the fact that we would have an infrastructural expansion, and specifically, we are talking about the completion of the University of Ghana Stadium that was started by His Excellency, President Kufuor, which was abandoned when the NDC Government came to power. Mr Speaker, for now, considering the project cost as at the time they took over, if they had completed that project, we would have saved this country a lot of funds. That had been some of the hallmarks of the previous Gvernment; they tried to just stop projects that needed to be continued. Mr Speaker, a special unit of the Ministry would be set up, and that would take care of sporting activities in the various schools. The vision of His Excellency the President is that, once we are able to develop the talents of the youth in our various schools, it would be possible for us to unearth their talents at an early age. The development of the National Sports College at Winneba as a centre of excellence for all sporting activities is something that is dear to the President. We want to ensure that this is done at the earliest possible time. Mr Speaker, I want to turn to the area of sports administration. Again, I would want to refer to paragraph 603. That clearly specified the mandate of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. If we look at the sports administration in the country, and the fact that there is lack of proper monitoring and coordination, this country has been subjected to international ridicule for some time now. We saw what happened during the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup Tournament, when this country had to carry physical cash in a chartered plane to Brazil. We were ridiculed. These are basic administrative procedures that are avoidable. Do we have to go into an international competition and just at the beginning of the competition, we sit down to re- negotiate what our players are going to take?
Hon Member, you have two minutes.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, we have a Government in place that would ensure that some of the 41 Federations that we have in the Ministry of Youth and Sports are partnered by the private sector. There are so many of these Federations that we can have some private companies to come in and support them. Japan Motors is ready to help us, should we approach them in terms of sports, such as karate, taekwondo et cetera. There are so many areas that we can have private partners to assist in sports development. It takes a clear vision, direction and a competent man at the helm of affairs to ensure that these things are done. Mr Speaker, let me also quickly touch on the welfare packages for our sports men and women --
Start to wind up. You have one minute more.
Mr Speaker, I am winding up. I do so by referring Hon Members to the fact that the Ministry has a lot of people who have sacrificed for this country. Once they finish, they are left on their own, especially during their old age. This Government, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, will set up a special Fund that would cater for these people. In conclusion, I would like to state that, just as we have a very challenging and difficult situation at hand now, the current Minister and team of administrators at the
Thank you Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 financial year is obviously, like any other budget, intended to create decent jobs and employment for livelihood. For this reason, I find the theme of this Budget, presented on behalf of the President, “Sowing the Seed for Growth and Jobs”, very apt. I have gone through the Budget Statement with the intention of critically examining the strategies and steps intended to deal with the unemployment situation in this country. Unfortunately, I find glitches of programmes without proper outlines in addressing the unemployment challenge of this country. I would have imagined that this Budget would tell us clearly how it is going to deal with the unemployment situation facing those without education. I also expected a concrete strategic approach to deal with school dropouts because, an army of them are out there in their millions, unemployed and looking for jobs. Junior high school (JHS) leavers, senior high school (SHS) leavers and unemployed graduates -- Unfortunately, this Budget does not find space to address these issues, bearing in mind that employment generation was what the message of the New Patriotic Party Administration was anchored on, which led to its victory in December last year.
Hon Member, in December last year, which NPP Administration are you referring to?
The current NPP Administration -- [Laughter] -- which won the election last year, is what I made reference to.
Hon Member, could you translate “huhuuhu” for us so that the record can capture it?
Mr Speaker, huhuuhu means scary. This Budget is very frightening and if the ordinary Ghanaian, the unemployed young people of this country understand the nitty-gritty of this Budget, they may collapse. So far, the key employment generation policy initiatives per this Budget include entrepreneurship development, “One District, One Factory”; “One Village, One Dam”; planting for food and jobs. Mr Speaker, first of all, “One Village, One Dam” -- [Hear! Hear!] -- for the three northern regions, I hope they would be dams and not dugouts because there is a clear definition of what a dam is. We also know that, in the northern part of this country, during the dry season -- [Interruption.] -- Mr Speaker, unfortunately, I am being unnecessarily heckled by the Hon Minister for Education who is today dressed in a manner very much like a student. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I hope that the dams that would be constructed would not dry up during the dry seasons in the North. Going forward, we talked about “One District One Factory”. How many
Hon Member, yesterday, I failed to rule on that but I checked and they were not correct. So, I do not want you to return to that.
They were close relations. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, the reason a lot of Ghanaians were confused, worried and made mockery of the “One District, One Factory” was because it was not segmented properly. We have not been told the strategies et cetera. All we are being told is that one million dollars, which would be taken from the District Assemblies Common Fund, would be part of moneys that would be used for the “One District, One Factory”; “One Village, One Dam” et cetera. The idea of “One District, One Factory”, is a project of the NDC- led Administration. [Uproar!] Mr Speaker, I have a document here. This document is the Ministry of Trade and Industry, National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI), Republic of Ghana, National SSDII Strategic Corporate Plan. This was a document that was completed in the earlier life of the current Hon Minority Leader when he was the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry. Mr Speaker, the preamble said, and I beg to quote; “The Government of Ghana would establish the Small Scale District Industrialization Initiative (SSDII) between January 2014 and December 2018 in all districts of the country to help create jobs for the youth. An average of 47 MMDAs would benefit from the implementation scheme every year until all 216 MMDAs have established their flagship SSDII-PPP projects.” The Ministry of Trade and Industry and its implementing collaborators will apply the Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework and the Corporate Village Enterprise (COVE) model in establishing this commercially viable companies in all the MMDAs.” Mr Speaker, when we go through this whole document, it tells us about the structures --
Hon Member, you have a minute more.
Mr. Speaker, what is interesting is that the first phase of 47 factories and companies which were to be established in 30 Assemblies, Keta was included. It stated Keta Municipality, brown sugar -- the cost was mentioned and it was to employ 1,300 people. Mr Speaker, the “One Village, One Dam” project, which the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government has been touting, is not their original idea. In the Hon Minority Leader's, in his previous life, the policy provided clear and transparent governance for the implementation of a Government's Industrial Development Agenda. It also went on to thank ex- President John Dramani Mahama for his personal interest in the need to provide convenient policy direction for the development of the rural manufacturing industry in Ghana --
Hon Member for Keta, your time is up.
Yes, Hon Akoto Osei?
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would want to say that -- [Interruption.]
Hon Member, hold on. Your time is up but I will allow Hon Akoto Osei to intervene and I will allow you 30 seconds to conclude.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, my good Friend, the Hon Member of Parliament for Keta tried to allege that the NPP stole the idea from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and he mentioned the Hon Minority Leader who was then the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry. Maybe, he is too young to remember. I would want to remind him that the District Industrialisation Programme was conceived under the fathership of Hon Alan Kyeremanten and under ex- President Kufuor's Administration and the Hon Minority Leader inherited that programme [Interruption] -- He “plagiarised” it and in eight years, he still could not do it. [Laughter.] -- That is the fact. We should not introduce alternative facts in this House. What he talked about is an alternative fact.
Hon Member for Keta, you have 30 seconds to conclude.
Mr Speaker, this document was commissioned in June, 2014. It was financed by development partners and so, it can never be Hon Alan Kyeremanten's document. Under Hon Alan Kyeremanten, who has been repeated, what did we see under the presidential initiatives? They have all collapsed. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I would want to inform this House that in 2014, competent companies that were created included the shoe factory in Kumasi, the resuscitated Komenda Sugar Factory, the Wankog Ghana Ceramic Factory [Hear! Hear!] The Home Food Processing and Cannery Limited, the Conversera Africa Ghana Limited in Tema --[Interruption.] Mr Speaker, please allow me 30 seconds.
Hon Member, you have exceeded the 30 seconds by another 30 seconds. Kindly, resume your seat.
Mr Speaker, I have venerable information.
Hon Majority Leader, do we have time to take one contribution each from both Sides?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would want to quote paragraph 646 of the Budget Statement. It reads: “The mandate of the Ministry is to promote good health for all Ghanaians through the prevention of diseases and injuries, and restore health of the sick and the incapacitated.”
“The health sector continues to grapple with the challenge of bridging the equity gap in access to healthcare between urban and rural as well as the rich and poor, production and distribution of health personnel, high under five and maternal mortality rates and neglect of the mental health subsector resulting in huge unmet need for mental health services.” Mr Speaker, having enumerated the challenges of the health sector, the Budget Statement took steps to enumerate ways that these challenges would be solved. Mr Speaker, the first intervention is on access. Unlike the previous Government that chose to abandon most health projects, which were started by the ex- President Kufuor's Administration, this current Administration has taken steps to continue all projects which were started by the previous Administration as far as the health sector is concerned and they were listed succinctly in paragraph 650 of the Budget Statement. I would not bore the House by going through them again. Mr Speaker, when these projects are completed, they would go a long way to improve physical access to healthcare. In addition to having facilities, the Government would also take steps to improve access to healthcare as far as the human resource is concerned. For the first time in the history of the country, there is the phenomenon where medical doctors and nurses who have completed their training are in the house and cannot be employed. The Government has taken the bold initiative to ensure that all these staff are employed. This can be found in paragraph 661 on page 115 of the Budget Statement.
“…Currently, the doctor population ratio is one doctor to 8,865 people whilst the nurse population ratio is one nurse to 725 people. To improve these ratios, the recruitment budget for critical staff such as nurses and doctors has been prioritized. The process of recruitment of 8,634 health staff is almost at the completion stage. Government will also continue to invest in medical schools and training institutions to ensure a reduction in the doctor to population, midwife to population and nurse to population ratios.” Mr Speaker, this is a laudable initiative and we would need to applaud the President for taking this bold initiative to ensure that this phenomenon where we need a lot of doctors, there are doctors at home because they cannot be employed, is reversed. Mr Speaker, to further enhance the training of health personnel, the President, in his Budget Statement, has also promised that he is going to restore the nursing training allowance, starting from September. It is found in paragraph 664, and I beg to quote: “Government will also re-introduce training allowances for nurses in the next academic year. We are hopeful that this will provide some relief to students in the training institu- tions.” Mr Speaker, this was promised in our Manifesto, and it is so refreshing that the President has actually actualised this promise. Mr Speaker, one of the biggest challenges that faced the health sector in the previous years, was the limited budgetary support as far as goods and services were concerned. Most of the heath institutions that did not have any dedicated source of internally generated funds (IGFs) were not able to function because of this challenge. A lot of the Directorates could not even run their institutions. They did not have fuel, and could not pay visits for proper supervision. This was because there was a huge cut on goods and services in the Budget that was given to the health sector. I will give some information. Mr Speaker, in the year 2014, the Budget Statement devoted GH¢70 million to the health sector as far as goods and services were concerned. This figure reduced in 2015 to GH¢35 million, and to a paltry GH¢3.6 million in the current Budget Statement. There was a serious challenge in the health sector because of this. Most of the departments that needed resources to purchase very essential consumables could not do so. Ghana could not meet her budgetary demands to purchase vaccines. We could not get all the medicines that we needed in the treatment of tuberculosis and HIV. Mr Speaker, this Government has taken the bold initiative to stop this challenge. In this Budget Statement, a whooping GH¢356 million has been devoted towards goods and services for the Ministry of Health. This is refreshing, and we believe that the health sector would be very happy. The challenges that we face would now be a thing of the past. This Government is putting its money where its mouth is and we have to be very happy about this. Mr Speaker, one of the challenges faced by the health sector is also the financial gap that the National Health Insurance Authority has been grappling with over the years. This Budget Statement has also taken steps to correct the challenges facing the Authority. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would want to quote paragraph 655 of the Budget Statement, on page 114. I will just quote the last sentence: “However, the Scheme is under severe stress and “cash and carry” has practically returned. Govern- ment will review and strengthen the NHIS to ensure it is fit for purpose.”
Mr Speaker, it is refreshing that the President is taking this bold step to actualise the promise he made in the Manifesto, that when he is given the nod, he would resuscitate the National Health Insurance Authority. Mr Speaker, I know that when we go into the Estimates, we would say more about the amount of money that is pumped into the National Health Insurance Authority to ensure that they can pay all their arrears, so that they would be able to pay the claims of the institutions that are seriously suffering. Mr Speaker, I will conclude by saying that one of the cost drivers in health has always been medicine. We had the situation where taxes were imposed on importation of pharmaceuticals into the country. This contributed to increasing the price of medicine. This Government has taken the bold step to abolish the Value Added Tax (VAT) on imported pharmaceuticals.
Hon Members, the last for today is Hon Emmanuel K. Bedzrah.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion, that this House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, because of time, I will limit myself to infrastructure. Mr Speaker, the theme for this Budget Statement is, “Sowing the seeds for Growth and Jobs.” Mr Speaker, everybody knows in this country and beyond that when one sows a seed today, it does not germinate and grow in a day. It takes days, months and years to be able to enjoy the fruits of the seed. Therefore, the theme, which is supposed to be “sowing the seed for growth and jobs” — the teeming youths who have been promised jobs, would not get them this year. This is because the seed would not germinate for it to grow and bear fruits this year. Mr Speaker, I have combed through the entire Budget Statement, and one of the things that elates my heart is that, when the President came to this House to present the State of the Nation Address, he stated that this Government would build a multi-industry in all the 10 regions. That is, infrastructure, and I expected to see it reflected in this Budget Statement. Nothing of the sort; an industrial factory has been captured in this Budget Statement. That is why I am saying that the fruit of jobs and growth would not be realised in this year, especially when the cost of investing in infrastructure has been reduced. Mr Speaker, I have taken pains to look at just two sectors -- the roads and the water sectors. The evidence is clear for everybody to see in this country, that a lot of money has been pumped into the road sector in this country. We can talk of all the roads that have been constructed recently — the Kasoa Interchange and the Madina Water Project are there for everybody to see. Mr Speaker, investing in infrastructure would have a multiplying effect in jobs creation. No wonder when we aggregate all the growth, we have noticed that the growth for this year would be lesser than that of last year. This is because we are not investing in infrastructure. Mr Speaker, let me please, take you through a few analyses that I have done. In 2016, the Ministry of Finance budgeted GH¢374 million for the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, which now, includes Sanitation; but the budgetary allocation for the two Ministries now is, GH¢364,418,000 — a clear reduction in the budgetary allocation. Mr Speaker, if we take the Ministry of Roads and Highways, last year, an amount of GH¢902,114,000 was allocated to this Ministry. But in the Budget Statement for this year, an amount of GH¢871 million has been allocated to this Ministry. A clear reduction in infrastructure, which is supposed to create jobs, which is expected to have a multiplying effect on the economy and result in growth. No wonder our growth has been reduced from 3.6 per cent to 3.5 per cent.
“As far as practicable, a govern- ment shall continue and execute projects and programmes com- menced by the previous Go- vernments.” I hope this would be fulfilled because in the education sector, when it comes to educational infrastructure, we have commenced projects such as the community day senior high schools, which have not been completed. I hope that this Government would complete all the community day senior high schools in accordance with the Constitution. I also hope that reducing the GETFund from GH¢1.4 billion to GH¢790 million, would be able to also complete all the “schools under trees” that we started in this country. Mr Speaker, we have passed the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Act. In this Act, an amount of GH¢1 billion was deposited last year, or proposed to go into that account. This year, there is nothing given to the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund. This clearly shows --
Hon Member, hold on. Hon Deputy Majority Whip - on which point of order?
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. The Hon Member said he did not see anything about the community day senior high school and he hopes that Government should continue. It means that he did not see anything in the Budget Statement like that.
Very well. Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, it is rather unfortunate; I did not say that no allocation has been made. Mr Speaker, I said that an amount of GH¢1.4 billion was allocated and referred to the Constitution that we would fulfil the constitutional mandate by completing those projects. We had allocated GH¢1.4 billion and they have allocated GH¢790 million -- it clearly shows that they would not be able to complete all the projects that have been started. But let me continue -- Mr Speaker, I have taken time to go through the Manifesto of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and because of my profession as a development prac- titioner --
Hon Member, you have two minutes.
Mr Speaker, because of my profession as a development practitioner, I have decided to go through the Budget Statement to find out whether the current Government has the desire to do infrastructure projects. I was happy to see that the whole of chapter 6 of the NPP Manifesto is devoted --
Hon Member for Manhyia South?
Mr Speaker, an impression has been created as if the NPP is not committed to developing our physical infrastructure. That is not the case -- though if you go through the Budget Statement -- [Interruptions] -- Order 30 (f). Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is misleading this august House in his submission, in that if we go through the Budget Statement, clearly, we could see that the Government is so devoted and committed to developing the infras- tructure of this country in order to facilitate economic development. Mr Speaker, with your kind permission, I would want to refer to page 99 of the Budget Statement. Clearly, as it has been captured under the Ministry of Railway Development, we could see that the Government is committed to developing central spine stretches from Kumasi to --
Hon Member, your point is well made. I believe that what interpretation people make of it should be left to them. We should not be using points of order --
Mr Speaker, respectfully, the point is that --
Hon Member, can you resume your seat, please? [Interruption.] We should not be using points of order to argue alternative points; I made this point. That is why I refuse to recognise Hon Members when they rise. This is because they do not point to a breach of any of the rules. You used the opportunity to argue your own point. I believe we should learn to use the points of order appropriately. Hon Member, I will allow you one more minute to conclude.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Finally, we have had the Hon Minister for Finance come before us and inform us about the National Identification System. This is also in line with what the President came to inform us. Going through their NPP Manifesto as well as the State of the Nation Address of H.E. the President, it has been made clear that by the end of this year our National Identification System would be completed, including registering of lettable houses, our homes and the human resources as well. That is a laudable idea; every developing country needs an identifi- cation. This is so that we know about the people and their economic status in the country. That would also help our economic team to decide -- Mr Speaker, one thing I have noticed is that --
Hon Member, your time is up; wind up.
Mr Speaker, under the allocation of the Ministry of Communications, if we look at the capital expenditure and the service expenditure, it is just GH¢109 million. If one does the calculation, with at least, 25 million Ghanaians, one would notice that we would not be able to register and capture all Ghanaians in this country. Mr Speaker, I believe that this Budget Statement will not be just a campaign mantra, but it will come to fruition.
Hon Members, we have exceeded the agreed time with the Leadership by almost another 30 minutes. So, at this point in time, I will take some indication from the Leadership.
Mr Speaker, as you said, we agreed to work up to 1:30 p.m. today, but we have barely five minutes to the hour of two in the afternoon. In the event, I may want to move, and indeed, I do move, that this House do adjourn until Tuesday, next week at 10 o'clock in the forenoon. Mr Speaker, before I resume my seat, I believe in response to what the Hon Member just said -- He predicated his debate on the assumed population of 25 million. The population of Ghana now, by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), is projected to be 27.5 million. So, I believe that is what we would have to deal with. This is because if we do not know the population, we would not be able to plan effectively. Deputy Minority Leader (Mr James K. Avedzi): Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion, that the House adjourns till Tuesday, 10 o'clock in the forenoon. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 2.00 p.m. till Tuesday, 14th March, 2017 at 10.00 a.m.