VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report.
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 10th March, 2017.]
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Tuesday, 28th February, 2017.]
Hon Members, no Statements have been admitted. So, we would move on to the Commencement of Public Business -- Presentation of Papers. Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, item numbered 4 (i).
Hon Members, item numbered 5 on the Order Paper -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills. Hon Minister for Finance, item numbered 5 (a), please?
Mr Speaker, not knowing that we would travel with such alacrity up to 10. 20 a.m. to have dealt with all the items preceding the Presentation and First Reading of Bills, in my communication with the Hon Minister for Finance, I had indicated to him that he should be here at 10.30 a.m. So, certainly, he is going to be in the Chamber at 10.30 a.m. I do not know whether we have to stand it down to await him. Otherwise, the documents could be presented on behalf of the Hon Minister.
So, Hon Majority Leader, should we stand this down?
Mr Speaker, it relates to the Presentation and First Reading of Bills. I said that in my communication with the Hon Minister, I indicated to him that he should be here at 10.30 a.m. to undertake this enterprise and also to have time to sit in. He himself has an appointment with a group at 11.00 a.m. So, I indicated to him that when he comes, after doing this, he would be required to stay in and listen to the debate for a while before exiting. Mr Speaker, it is based upon my communication that he has delayed a bit in coming to the House. Subject to the indulgence of my Hon Colleagues, the Bills could be presented on behalf of the Hon Minister if we have to go to Motion numbered 6.
Mr Speaker, I would take the Hon Majority Leader for his word, that we should expect the Hon Minister for Finance at 10.30 a.m. Mr Speaker, noting that we ought to have acted even with more urgency to bring the sunset to these Bills, it should have accompanied the presentation of the Budget Statement. This is because many businesses and individuals are affected and anxiously waiting for the amendment and repeal where necessary, of these Bills. I see at the back of the Hon Majority Leader, a very capable hand who understands finance and other related issues. So, Mr Speaker, he may indulge you for the Hon Minister for Planning to to present the First Reading of the Bills on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance. We would still hold the Hon Majority Leader to his word; 10.30 a.m. is 10.30 a.m. He should say that he wants to indulge the Speaker, so that we do not doubt the competence and capability of the Hon Minister for Planning to do this. We know that we must bring a necessary end to this Bill. So, there should be no hesitation
Item numbered 5 is accordingly stood down. Item numbered 6.
Mr Speaker, I think the application at the end of my intervention was to have the item listed as 5. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I do not know what my Hon Colleagues are doing. This is not a ruling. If they are saying that the Speaker has ruled, this is not a ruling. So, if the Hon Member for Wa West would resume his seat. Mr Speaker, I said that the application to you is to have those Bills presented for the first time in the House on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance. I was with him as late as 11.30 p.m. yesterday and the agreement was that he should be here at 10.30 a.m. That is why I said if the House would indulge us, we could have the Bills presented since it requires some alacrity
Hon Majority Leader, we would stand it down to 10.30 a.m. or 11.00 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I have no problem if that is your wish.
It has been stood down until you signal that it is appropriate for us to proceed and that is easy to do. In the meantime, we could continue with the next item. After all, in the middle of the debate, you could still come back, draw my attention and then we would proceed to item numbered 5. Item numbered 6 -- We shall continue with the debate to approve the Financial Policy of the Government for the year ending 31ST December, 2017, which was moved on the 2nd March, 2017, by the Hon Minister for Finance -- Mr Ken Ofori Atta.
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the debate on the Order Paper, item numbered 6 on page 2. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleagues on the Finance Committee have already done a very good job of describing the kind of Budget that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's Government is giving us. So, I would not go through the main fiscal issues but I would want to go back to two or three issues that have been raised by my Hon Colleagues on the other side of the House, which have been widely reported but are totally untrue. Mr Speaker, this is a House of records and we need to set the facts straight. The first one relates to the alleged unconstitutionality of the District Assemblies Common Fund Formula, and I am sorry my good Friend, the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs is not here. Mr Speaker, we would want to set the facts straight. Mr Speaker, since 1992, from former President Jerry John Rawlings to date, every government has operationalised what is in the Constitution, that is, the requirement to give at least five per cent of tax revenue to the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF). The word in the Constitution says “taxation”. Mr Speaker, any good accountant or government understands that, if its gross revenue is GH¢100.00, but GH¢80.00 is spent to collect it, the profit cannot be GH¢100.00, it can be GH¢20.00 only. That is the formula that has been used commonsensically by every government, annalytically, it is sound. So, how do we compute that formula? Mr Speaker, in the past, since 1992, the cost of collection was what goes to the then Internal Revenue Service (IRS), now, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). When the issue of Value Added Tax (VAT) came, the refunds became a statutory payment. So, at the minimum, when the gross tax revenues are taken, they must net out the cost of collection as well as tax refund. This is because they are both expenditures. Mr Speaker, you cannot give something you do not have. The tax refund and the cost of collection are therefore netted out to get the net taxes, and then you will find five per cent and that is the formula. It has happened from 1992 until 2011. Mr Speaker, what happened in 2011, whether it was right or wrong, I will not debate that. But the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government decided that because oil revenues are transitory; we could not depend on them. They decided to net out royalties as well as corporate tax on oil. Mr Speaker, those of us who have studied economics, there is something called permanent income hypothesis. Consumption is planned on permanent income, but not on transitory income. If you are somebody who plays lottery and you win lotto one day, you do not consider it as part of your permanent income because then, your consumption pattern will be skewed. So, even though we can debate that logic of the NDC, for the purposes of argument, let us accept it. So, from 2011 when we discovered oil, they included that part. If you look in the Budget Statement and you apply the formula, you will get the formula that was used last year and in subsequent years, up to 1992. If you do that correctly, you will get 5.09 per cent of net tax revenue. So, when my good Friends say the Constitution does not say net or gross, it is illogical. The Constitution expects any Minister for Finance to operationalise it logically; and commonsensically, and that is what has been used. So, for my good Friends to say that “we are engaging in unconstitutionality”, I am surprised. So, the fact should be set straight. Nothing has changed. What was applied was what was used since 1992, except, and the exception is very important, the NDC Governement in 2011 amended the formula. They amended it, nobody else did. That is how we will get the amount in the Budget. So, I think that correction should be made. Mr Speaker, the second thing goes to the widely reported allegation by the Hon Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the former Deputy Minister for Education, that the Office of the President is spending gargantuan, elephantic, I mean -- [Interruption] -- Yes, that is grossly misleading. In fact, I would want to be very charitable, that he did not mean mischief.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Order! -- Point of clarification. Hon Dr A. A. Osei, please, clarify and proceed.
Mr Speaker, he just came in. I think everybody here knows what I am talking about except him.
We do not know.
Take your pens and write. We are talking about the allocation to the DACF Administrator. [Interruption.] -- Yes, so what are you talking about? Your shadow Minister for Finance said that our Government was engaged in unconstitutionality, and I am reminding him, that is grossly false and misleading. We are using the same formula. Mr Speaker, we are using the same formula. The reference to 2011 is when oil revenue came in and they amended the formula -- [Interruption.] -- for calculating. Mr Speaker, let me give it to him. [Interruption.] -- write it! Take the gross tax revenues -- it says tax r evenue and I am saying commonsensically, anybody -- What does it say? [Interruption] -- Sit down! Mr Speaker, if they would listen --
Mr Speaker, I started by saying that, since 1992, that is the Formula that former President Jerry John Rawlings' Government, from Dr Kwesi Botchwey to Mr Kwame Peprah up unto Mr Seth Terkper, that is the Formula they used. [Interruption.]
Order! Hon Members, let us have the debate.
Mr Speaker, it looks like my Hon Colleagues do not want to be educated. That is what I see. If they want to be educated, they should listen carefully to what has been done. They can go and check. Mr Speaker, the total tax revenues are taken, the cost of collection are netted out -- that is the amount that goes to the GRA. The law says we can give them up to three per cent, so depending on the year, the Hon Minister for Finance negotiates with them. This year, the amount is 2.8 per cent. The VAT refunds are netted out because it is a statutory expenditure. The reference to 2011, Mr Speaker, is because the NDC Government decided -- For the purposes of argument, I will grant them that logic, that they will net out royalties and corporate tax on oil. If that is done, we will end up getting five.09 per cent. If the law says at least five per cent, is 5.09 per cent not bigger than five per cent? So, for anybody to say it is unconstitutional, it is either they have forgotten what they are doing. I am reminding them. I do not want to say that they are up to mischief. I could be saying that, but for the purposes of the argument following, I will not say that. Mr Speaker, I would go to the issue of Hon Ablakwa. First of all, I would want to advise him that when newspaper reporters report a person, it can cut both ways. They are setting that person up for failure because they may say that he does not -- Why do I say this? Mr Speaker, anybody who wants to do trend analysis must compare apples to apples. He does not compare apples to oranges. But that is what the Hon Member did. Why do I say this? He should go and check historical records and look at funding for Office of Government Machinery. He would notice that, for the year 2017, there is a new policy initiative, which is different from the rest. I am sure he read up to one of the appendixes. I think he read the number on page 170. I wish he had read further. He would have found the logical explanation of why there is a big difference. Mr Speaker, let us go to page 178. We would find that for the first time, there is something called Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme, which has never existed before. That budget alone is GH¢1.045 billion. That instrument has never existed, so, one cannot compare that with the previous years. This is analytical, commonsensical; then, we could compare apples and apples.
Is commonsensical insulting?
Hon Member, we have a long list of contributors. Hon Akoto Osei, sit down for the time being. Hon Members, some of the comments I am hearing would not help the work of this Honourable House. If you have a contribution, wait for your turn. If you have a point of order to be properly placed, you rise, and if you are recognised, you do so. I might have to start mentioning names in this House, if necessary. It is one of our last resorts. Do not let us reach that point. Hon (Dr) Akoto Osei, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, the point is that, when it has been quoted as Government engaging in profligate expenditure, he was completely way off. He was comparing apples to oranges. He did not even realise that GH¢1 billion of that GH¢1.55 billion is a new instrument. So, if one would want to do a trend analysis and he sees an outlier, the logical thing is to ask what caused this. If he has asked that simple question, he would have realised that they are not the same. Please, we are being analytical. Mr Speaker, Hon Avedzi should wait for his turn. He would have his turn. Mr Speaker, when the newspapers are reporting that a person says it is gargantuan, they are setting him up. All Hon Colleagues should pay attention. It is not every time that when the newspapers praise one, he should be happy. It might be telling that the person is telling lies. In this case, I wish that he was not being mischievous. I am only hoping that he did just not read further. So, this is the second correction.
Hon Members, wait for your turns.
Now, from 1993 to 1999 --
Mr Speaker, they should go and read Dr Bawumia's book. Mr Speaker, listen to this; from 1993 to 1999, NDC divested a hundred and thirty- three companies.
Again, they should consult Dr Bawumia's book. Mr Speaker, these young new Members of Parliament should learn to listen to the older ones. The Hon Samuel George might learn something if he sits
I have a long list of contributors, and I trust all would have their turn.
Mr Speaker, I would want to remind them that divestiture included AngloGold Ashanti Limited. We all know what happened to AngloGold Ashanti Limited or do they want me to remind them? Up to now, there are still questions about that money. So, when they say NPP likes divestiture, who likes divestiture more than the NDC? Mr Speaker, do they want me to name more companies? The Nsawam Cannery, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Ghana Telecommunication Limited. When shares were sold of the Ghana Telecommunication Limited, we got only US$38 million. When the NPP divested it, we got US$900 million. They had the audacity to want to probe that. So they should be careful when they make statements and this is their performance. . Mr Speaker, let me wind up by stating that, part of the reason we are where we are is that, when we advised NDC not to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), they refused to listen to our advice. The first thing you would want to note is that, as of today, this facility is a loan, but the NDC Government chose to violate article 181 of the Constitution. They never brought it to Parliament. The beauty in bringing things to Parliament is that, some of us might catch some things that one might not see. If one goes and hide with the IMF somewhere, he would make mistakes. Why am I saying that? Mr Speaker, thus far, all the targets were missed. The deficit was supposed to be 5.5 per cent; it is 8.7 per cent. The primary surplus was supposed to be a surplus of 1.2 per cent. It is now a deficit of 1.4 per cent. Mr Speaker, ask Hon Avedzi if I am telling lies. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate is supposed to be 4.1 per cent; it is 3.6 per cent.
Hon Member, you would be concluding.
Mr Speaker, I would conclude. Mr Speaker, but the most important thing I would want to say is that they chose two new policy objectives. They chose net financing from the Bank of Ghana (BoG), which this House rejected, and I give credit to this House. They also chose to engage in something called auctioning of foreign exchange. Mr Speaker, do you know what it has done to us? Mr Speaker, I have in my hand here a graph of all the auctions that the NDC Government [Interruption.] -- Bank of Ghana (BoG). I would table it. [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, people have been wondering why the cedi was depreciating. The answer is here.
Order! Hon Members, do we have to start mentioning Hon Members' names?
Yes. Mr Speaker, maybe, if you do -- Mr Speaker, I shall not be dissuaded from educating some people. The story here is that, since November, 2016, up to date, every time they have conducted the auction, the rate goes up the day before, during and the day after. Mr Speaker, do you know what they were doing? They were auctioning foreign exchange as if they were auctioning an oil field. The highest bidder would obviously come. [Interruption.] That is why we have asked them to stop is because this is the history. Why did they choose to auction? If they do not know it, they should come to seek advice. This is the performance of the BoG. Mr Speaker, so, the counsel here is that they should learn to listen to proper advice otherwise, the whole country suffers. That is why the Hon Minister for Finance has brought a Budget which is going to take us from the path of growing our way out of troubles and not taxing our way. Mr Speaker, finally, the NDC Government chose between the years 2013 and 2015 not to pursue concessional loans. That is why we are stuck with very expensive loans. As I speak, on the books of Ghana, there is a portfolio of almost US$3 billion undisbursed, and we are paying commitment fees, and they say --
Hence, in conclusion?
Mr Speaker, they called it smart borrowing. How smart could a person be when he goes to borrow at 9.5 per cent when he has concessional loans up to US$3 billion on his books? Mr Speaker, with those few words, I hope my Hon Colleagues have learnt something today. I thank you.
Hon Members, we have visitors. It is a visit to Parliament by a ten member delegation of the Committee on Estimates from the Parliament of Zambia from 12th to 18th March, 2017.
Mr Speaker, you may recall that when the time arrived for the Presentation and First Reading of Bills, I pleaded for the Bills to be presented on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance, who was not with us in the Chamber at the time. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is now in the Chamber, and so, with your indulgence, we may go back and allow the Hon Minister to do the Presentation and First Reading of those Bills, as advertised on page 2 of today's Order Paper.
Hon Members, item numbered 5 on the Order Paper -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills. Hon Finance Minister?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, you may call the item numbered 5 (a), and then the Hon Minister would rise and bow accordingly.
Hon Members, item numbered 5 (a)
BILLS -- FIRST READING
Hon Members, item numbered 5 (b) Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 An Act to amend the Special Petroleum Tax Act 2014, Act 879, to reduce the rate of the Special Petroleum Tax on the exempt depo price of petroleum products listed in the schedule to the Act. Presented by the Minister for Finance. Read the First time; referred to the Finance Committee.
Hon Members, item numbered 5 (c) Special Import Levy (Amendment), 2017 An Act to amend the Special Import Levy Act 2013, Act 861, to remove the levy payable on specific imported goods. Presented by the Minister for Finance. Read the First time; referred to the Finance Committee.
Hon Members, item numbered 5 (d) Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Repeal) Bill, 2017 An Act to repeal the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) Act 2005, Act 685. Presented by the Minister for Finance. Read the First time; referred to the Finance Committee.
Thank you, Hon Finance Minister, you may take leave of the House. The Hon Minister has finished that Business, and so, he may or may not sit in the Budget. But the fact is that, the mandatory Business for the day in that regard is finished, by way of coming to present his Papers. Hon Agbodza?
[Continuation of debate from column 2682]
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion numbered 6 on today's Order Paper. Mr Speaker, before I go on, I would want to personally commend you for keeping to your word --
Hon Agboza, you may contribute.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would rely on the Budget Statement of 2017, 2016, the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) Manifesto and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Manifesto to make my contributions. Mr Speaker, we were told by the Hon Finance Minister that this Budget is supposed to sow the seed of growth in this country. I would limit my presentation to the issues that touch on our infrastructure, but before then, when my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation spoke, he did attempt to explain the reasons my Hon Colleague, Hon Ablakwa gave about the quantum of money allocated to the infrastructure related Ministries, but the moneys put together by the Office of the President were incorrect. Mr Speaker, let us set the record straight. This is not the first time that we have had Hon Ministers of State at the Presidency. We have always had them. We must also be aware that, it was the President of the Republic who told us that, just by increasing the numbers of his Ministers does not necessarily mean that, it would incur further cost to Government. So, if we wake up and realise that six solid Ministries have a quantum of GH¢2.6 billion allocated to them and the Office of the President alone has GH¢1.5 billion, Mr Speaker, it is a cause for concern. Who says other Ministers were not under the Office of the President in the past? Mr Speaker, the President tells the public that they should tighten their belts, while they see Government officials loosen their belts to absorb more money. That is the first thing we should understand, so Hon Akoto cannot say that it is justified. Indeed, in the name of the Office of the President, it is GH¢1.5 billion but then, six solid Ministries, including all those related to infrastructure are getting only GH¢2.6 billion.
Hon Member, do you stand on a point of order?
Mr Speaker, first of all, I am not Hon Akoto. Get that right. You have been here long enough. You know my name.
Hon Akoto Osei.
Thank you very much.
So, what again?
Mr Speaker, I never made reference to the Ministries. If he would listen again, I made reference to a programme called Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP). I did not make reference to the Ministries. Mr Speaker, it is a programme which by itself costs GH¢1 billion and it is not related to the Ministers. It is a programme which is unique and different from the regular Office of the President machinery budget -- [Interruption] They are not in charge. The three development agencies would supervise this programme whose total expenditure is at least, GH¢1 billion out of the GH¢1.55 billion. That is the point I made -- not reference to the Ministers.
Mr Speaker, I seek your protection. I got up when the Hon Minister was speaking. I stood up for a period of time but I was never recognised.
Hon Member, he has made a point of correction. You may say it is not right and give a reason for it and go on or you may concede and yet go on.
Mr Speaker, when he spoke, I stood here for a period of time. I was never recognised.
Hon Member, I would not go into that historicity. The point is simple: an intervention has been made by way of a point of correction. Show the Hon Member that his purported correction is misplaced or concede and proceed.
Mr Speaker, I am not about to concede. Just to explain to him, Goods and Services under the Office of the President alone is over GH¢380 million. That is more than all the 20 Ministries put together. Is he aware of that? So when he talks about the fact that, that money was meant for some agencies, he should know that the GH¢388 million is only for the Office of the President. That is more than moneys meant for some Ministries in totality. Mr Speaker, let me go straight to the point. We were in this country when Adam Smith said that, infrastructure can spur growth in every economy. When you build infrastructure, you create sustainable jobs for everybody, that is why it is important. This Government has decided not to invest in infrastructure. In fact, if you read the Budget Statement, it said very little about sectors that concerned infrastructure.
We have Tamale Airport refurbished under only one Minister. Is the President saying that he cannot find anybody in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) who would be competent enough to be the Hon Minister for Transport to do all these things? Mr Speaker, on the issue of railways, when we read through the Budget Statement, the President told us that they would build the railway from Takoradi to Paga. In the Budget Statement, they said that a feasibility study was carried out in 2016, so, they should build it. However, they now say that they are going to look for somebody to come and do it. They did not even talk much about the fact that we are building a railway from Tema all the way to Akosombo and we have the template. In the railway industry, they are doing nothing new. So, where are the jobs supposed to be created in this Budget Statement? There is no new job; there is no hope for the rail industry according to this Budget Statement.
The result is that, almost all sicknesses can now be treated in this country. If we go to the Ridge Hospital -- if we go to the University of Ghana, they would have their own teaching hospital -- Every region is seeing an investment in healthcare. Mr Speaker, take this Budget Statement and tell me where the seeds of good health are being sown in this country. This Budget Statement does not talk about what Government would do to improve the healthcare of this country. Even to make it worse, Mr Speaker, they have reduced the amount of money that goes to the NHIS. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister talked about how they would save some GH¢1 billion and give to other people. Indeed, we expected new moneys to be put into this Budget Statement. They did not do that. They just cut off the DACF and all the Statutory Funds put the money together and redistribute it. Mr Speaker, anybody can do that. You do not have to be competent to do that. Any individual can do that. That is not the way to grow this country. Mr Speaker, let me give you some few statistics. If we go to the real GDP growth, under health -- If we read page 157, appendix 1A, in 2016, they said that health grew by 10.8 per cent. Upon all that they are doing, they project health to grow by 5.3 per cent. Mr Speaker, what it means is that, they are not going to do anything about healthcare in this country. How can they tell us that this is the seed for growth? This is not seed for growth; this is a dead seed and would not germinate. It will not take us anywhere in this country. When we come to construction, in 2016, it grew by 3.5 per cent. They would only grow by 3.7 per cent. That is a paltry growth that would not take us anywhere. How can they create jobs with this? How can they give hope to the graduate from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), who had studied quantity surveying and other things? Nothing in this Budget Statement is going to address that. Mr Speaker, under water, last year, we grew by 7.7 per cent. Mr Speaker, do you know how much they are going to grow this year? Only by 6.2 per cent. It means we are going to get less water in this country. Is this the seed of growth we are sowing in this country? No! Mr Speaker, the NPP is not being realistic to the people of Ghana. For instance, if we take road infrastructure, the total road network of this country is about 72,000 kilometres. Mr Speaker, we have seen some consistent investment in our road infrastructure. Our Hon Colleagues on the other Side of the House said that, after all, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) did all the infrastructure, but they lost. We are proud to be the ones to build the infrastructure in this country. [Hear! Hear!] Even if that sends us into Opposition, we are happy to do that because, posterity would judge us. If they like, they should not invest in infrastructure. If they fail to invest in infrastructure, what it would mean is that, all the investments they talk about -- One District, One Factory -- The last time they said they would build a palmnut factory in Adaklu. I told them there was no palm plantation. [Laughter] Then they changed it to clay factory and I told them we do not have water. Now they said they would establish alcohol factory. For God's sake, based on what? Indeed, for them to establish a factory, Mr Speaker, they must be aware that they need roads, water and electricity. We do not have those in Adaklu. So, their factory is not going to work, so, they should build the infrastructure before they go there. Mr Speaker, let me go on -- [Interruptions] -- on Housing, this Budget Statement is not intended to build a hencoop. There is nothing in this Budget Statement that the architect, the quantity surveyor or civil engineer is going to get a job. Indeed, we are told that GETFund money has been reduced so, those of them who work are not going to be paid. Mr Speaker, where are the seeds for growth in this Budget Statement? There are no seeds. In fact, if they were good farmers, they would have realised that the seeds that have been planted have germinated and all they needed to do, is to take out the weed and let the seeds grow, but because they are probably not good farmers, they cannot tell the difference between the seed that is germinated -- 11. 05 a. m.
Thank you, Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. [Hear! Hear!] --
Order! Hon Minister for Local Government, Hon Alima?
Mr Speaker,. I rise to contribute to the debate on the Budget Statement and the Economic Policy of the Government and to applaud the Hon Minister for Finance and his team for giving us a Budget Statement --
Order! Hajia Mahama: Everything is there to make Ghanaians feel good. Indeed, it is a good time to be a Ghanaian. Mr Speaker, paragraph 816 of the 2017 Budget Statement talks about industria- lisation rights from the ground up. It also talks about rural industrialisation. It is at paragraph 816 and the money has been put there for it. We are going to industrialise our rural districts; One district, One factory. We should start mobilising. Mr Speaker, both sides of the House should start mobilising our communities, our parents, our uncles, our aunts, our sisters, our nephews and our cousins, to all support the programmes for rural industrialisation and for agricultural programmes that would enable them plant for jobs and for food. We should mobilise now by getting in touch with our constituents. We should mobilise the communities to support our programmes that are backed by the industry. An infrastructural Poverty Eradication Programme is going to pull resources right to the communities. US$1million every single year, and it would be used for infrastructure, water, sanitation and agricultural projects. It is indeed, good time to be a Ghanaian. Our rural people are so excited and happy with this programme. Mr Speaker, I would also like to touch on the National Identification Programme. That is from paragraph 819 of the 2017 Budget Statement. It is very important because, it would provide the institutional capacity and the infrastructure for civil registration, and also enable us capture vital statistics of the people of Ghana, vital statistics including births, deaths, marriages, divorces and everything. We now have a birth registration of about 60 per cent, which is not bad, but it needs improvement. As for deaths, it is only 25 per cent. So, in my view, this particular activity is very important for us to take a good look at our civil registration and vital statistics. When we come to property addressing system, most of our Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) are not able to get the right value --
Thank you, Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order—
Nobody has called you. Hon Minister, you may continue. Hajia Mahama: Mr Speaker, on the property addressing system, MMDAs are hard pressed with collecting property rates. This is because they do not have the right addressing system. This programme would provide a digital addressing system; mapping of the area and digital— in fact, the entire country, not only the Metropolitans. Therefore, it has huge prospects for increased revenue for our District Assemblies. They would have the opportunity to value the properties and rate them and collect revenue to enrich themselves. This may even lead our MMDAs to tell us that, their Common Fund is too small for them, they have some programmes to do. Mr Speaker, there have been discussions about the reduction in the Common Fund. But Mr Speaker, if we look at the constitutional provision that says it should be at least five per cent, I am of the view that this District Assemblies Common Fund would not be in anyway decreased. In 2016, the total amount which has not yet been fully paid; the fourth quarter has not yet been paid. But if the fourth quarter had been paid, the total amount that would have gone to the MMDAs would be only GH¢671, 442.00, coming from the District Assemblies Common Fund that was approved by this Parliament. That is because, at end of the day, only 33.3 per cent went directly to the District Assemblies. Everything was deducted -- deduction for education policy, deduction for seed capital, deduction for Local Enterprise and Skills Development Programme (LESDEP), deduction for capitation grant, deduction for school feeding programme and deduction for so many things. [Interruptions] -- Only 33.3 per cent went to the District Assemblies. Mr Speaker, if 50 per cent of the amount approved was to go to the MMDAs, it would be more than what they got when it was 7.5 per cent. And in addition to the 7.5 per cent, only GH¢641 went, they never got counterpart funding to support the district development facility. If the district development fund facility has been paid, one would say that there was something in the pipeline, but the district development fund facility was not paid in full, but only about GH¢641 had been paid. And I am saying that, if even 50 per cent of the Common Fund should go to the MMDAs, direct this year, they would be getting about GH¢790 million with the five per cent provision. Mr Speaker, so the important thing is that, resources are going down to the districts. Under the Infrastructure, Poverty Reduction Programme, resources would be going to the districts. Again, under the “One district, One factory” policy, resources would be going to the districts. Under the agricultural programme, work has already started and resources are going to the communities. These resources are in the end, going to revamp our rural communities and if I were you, like I stated earlier, we would be mobilising, working, and improving our community structures and ensuring that our unit committees, our area councils and our communities are all positioned to support to achieve the laudable aims of this Budget Statement. Thank you Mr Speaker. [Hear! Hear!] --
Hon Member, thank you particularly for keeping the time. Hon Muntaka, the Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, I also rise to contribute to the Budget Statement debate. Mr Speaker, let me start by saying that, it is a well-known fact that if a country would be making its progress towards eliminating poverty, five major things need to be done. You need to have a very good and affordable educational system, you need to have a very affordable health system and you equally need to have a very good housing policy for the poor, to be able to have a good housing.
You also need to be able to have a good transport system and you need to have a very good water distribution system. Mr Speaker, if you read this Budget Statement that is purported to be the Budget Statement which is sowing the seed for growth and jobs, it is very saddening to know that very little about housing is in there. Even the free Senior High School (SHS) that is purported -- the Budget allocation cannot pay for even the first term of the first year students who are anticipated to be in school in 2017/ 2018 academic year in September. I want to emphasise on the health sector. This Budget Statement is very silent on what the Government intends to do, particularly with the National Health Insurance. Mr Speaker, if you look at the 2017 Budget Statement, paragraph 655, all that is there about National Health Insurance is this and with your permission, I beg to read: “By the end of June 2016, there were 11,164,673 active members of the scheme representing 41 per cent coverage. Nine hundred ninety-five thousand and thirty-five (995,035) representing 36.5 per cent of annual target of 1,568,099 indigents were also covered. The NHIA process of scaling up capitation to Volta, Upper West and Upper East Regions is progressing steadily. On the average, 98 per cent Preferred Primary Providers (PPP) enrollment was achieved for the three regions. 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 sad that if you take the NPP Manifesto, page 113 to 122 -- Mr Speaker, there again, kindly permit me to read a few sections on what they said on Health Insurance and what they intend to do. Page 115 says; “To realise this vision, the NPP will expand health promotion pro- grammes, scale up disease prevention strategies and improve access to curative and emergency services, through vigorous human resource and health infrastructure development and strengthening of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).” It went further to paragraph (vi) to say; “establishment of the Ghana Postgraduate Medical College” It went further to say on page 117 that; “The NHIS has collapsed over the past 8 years under the watch of the NDC government. The next NPP government will revive the National Health Insurance Scheme to make it efficient…” Mr Speaker, this is the most interesting part, page 118; “a. reviewing and restructuring the sources of funding, as well as the institutional arrangements for the management of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) b. increasing budgetary allocations to the NHIS” Mr Speaker, this is the NPP Manifesto. When the President came to this House to deliver the State of the Nation Address, on page 11 of his Address, this is what the President said: “We shall restore the National Health Insurance Scheme to good health.” Yet, if you look at all these and you take the NHIS, the Budget Statement, the first Budget of the NPP is very silent on one, how they intend to restructure the NHIS and two, how they intend to close the funding gap. They are silent on this. Mr Speaker, they are even preparing to cut 25 per cent of all the allocations to the Health Insurance Scheme. If we call this Budget Statement matricki wo Budget Statement, to wit, I have tricked you Budget, they ask why we say it is matricki wo Budget Statement? All the things they claim they would do are different from what they have promised the ordinary Ghanaian. Mr Speaker, we need to ask them when they would restructure the funding of the NHIS. When are they going to fix the major challenges that it has? The funding gap that we all knew, right from 2005, that by 2010 it would run short of funding -- Now that they are in power, they are thinking of cutting the few finances that go to the Fund. They are virtually silent on how they intend to do that. In the same Manifesto, they talk about policy on cancer. When you take this Budget Statement, it does not find expression anywhere on how they intend to do that. Mr Speaker, however, the most shocking of all is this, when we read the Budget Statement, we do not know whether their intention was to just copy without really looking at the implications of the figures or not. If you take the Budget Statement of 2016, paragraph 722 and with your permission, I beg to read: “Mr Speaker, family planning coverage as at June 2015 was 29.7 per cent, an increase of 14.9 per cent over the same period in 2014. Antenatal visits and skilled delivery rates fell from 77.6 to 76.1 per cent and 30.5 to 28.5 per cent, res- pectively. Efforts are being made to achieve the annual target of 78 per cent for Antenatal Care (ANC) and 60 per cent for skilled delivery by the end of the year.”
“Family planning coverage as at June 2016, when they said it here in 2016, “was 29.7 per cent”, the same percentage, “an increase of 14.9 per cent”, the same percentage, “over the same period in 2015. Although some fluctuation in antenatal visits and skilled delivery were observed, dropping slightly from”, the same figure of, “77.6 to 76.1 per cent and then 30.5 to 28.5 respectively . . . ” Mr Speaker, just look at the figures. It is exactly the same figures that are being quoted. Who do they intend to deceive? This is because, they are just cutting from 2016 figures and repeating the same in 2017 as the achievement for 2016 when it has been stated in the 2016 Budget Statement as the achievement for 2015. Who were they trying to deceive? I believe the competent President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his competent Dr Bawumia should do better than copy. They should know that, for health indicator figures, you cannot have the same figures for 2015 and 2016. That is not possible and this clearly shows that they were in too much of a hurry.
Mr Speaker, the question I want to ask about health is that, with regard to the NHIS, there was this challenge of the funding gap. In 2016, a task team was composed to see how we would address the inefficiency and the funding gap. Mr Speaker, we would want to find out what truly happened to this team so that we would have continuity. The President has promised us that, all the efforts that have been made would be continued. We would want to see this continuity. Mr Speaker, we would also want to understand why the Internally Generated Fund (IGF) of the Ministry of Health -- Even in 2016, it was about GH¢1.2 billion. If we look at page 173 of the 2016 Budget Statement -- it was projected to be about GH¢1.4 billion this year. Yet in this Budget Statement, it was scaled down to GH¢977,254,679. Can someone explain to us why? Even in 2016, after the National Health Insurance tarrifs have been revised, now they expect the IGF of the Ministry of Health to go down. This requires some explanation. Mr Speaker, I would want to draw the attention of my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development -- I thought that one of her biggest worries should have been why the Common Fund was being cut, and I believe that should have been her major concentration. This is because the intention of this Government was not to cut and paste. It was not to rob Peter and pay Paul. The intention of this Government was to send more resources to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development referred to the Constitution and I would want to help her with the constitutional wording. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote article 252(1)(2) of the Constitution: 252 (1) “There shall be a fund to be known as the District Assemblies Common Fund. (2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament shall annually make provision for the allocation of not less than five per cent of the total revenues of Ghana to the District Assemblies for development; and the amount shall be paid into the District Assemblies Common Fund in quarterly installments”. Mr Speaker, the word here is “shall” and the other very instructive word is “total revenues of Ghana” not “tax revenue”. Mr Speaker, in the current Budget Statement, it would interest us to know that, the total revenue and grant is about GH¢44.9 billion. If we less the grant, we would have a total revenue of GH¢43.4 billion - five per cent of this total revenue is supposed to give us GH¢2.1 billion. Meanwhile, the amount allocated is GH¢1.5 billion. Hon Colleagues, we are talking about just five per cent, but we should remember that in 2008, the allocation to Common Fund was moved from five per cent to 7.5 per cent. [Interruption] -- I have heard one of our Hon Colleagues say that they were not paying. This is also allocation. Mr Speaker, we would not support this Budget Statement if this is not revised. This is because to reduce the Common Fund, by five per cent, which is more than GH¢595 million is not a joke. What it means is that, we should all expect a quarter of what we need to go to our districts to be removed. This is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. This should not be countenanced and I believe the attention of the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development should be drawn to this and we should be active to ensure that this is restored. Mr Speaker, suddenly, the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) also has a deep cut.
Hon Minority Chief Whip, you have done 15 minutes so, please, conclude.
Hon Emmanuel Gyamfi?
Mr Speaker, this Budget Statement which is sowing the seeds for growth and jobs has been extensively debated in this august House. Mr Speaker, our Hon Colleagues on the other side of the aisle have described the Budget Statement as “419 Budget”. That is their view. But the people of Ghana, and majority of them who voted for change, see this Budget Statement as “Budget of hope”. Mr Speaker, the major policy initiatives including free Senior High School, the 100 per cent increment in capitation grant,
the Zongo Development Fund, “One District, One Factory”, “One million dollar for each constituency and abolition of some taxes and reduction of some is seen as the best way to go as a nation. Mr Speaker, I would narrow my contribution to two particular important areas. The first, would be on how we deal with corruption, and the second, would be on how, as a nation, we can reduce and eradicate poverty. Mr Speaker, we should all see corruption as the biggest enemy of every country. Corruption creates poverty, therefore, poverty is a product of corruption. Poverty is a product of mismanagement and incompetence and we would need to deal with it. Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I beg to quote paragraph 17 on page 3 of the Budget Statement: “Mr Speaker, we will adhere to and maintain good economic go- vernance principles of fiscal discipline, accountability and transparency. To reiterate what the President said, we will protect the public purse by guaranteeing value for money in all public transactions, and exercising prudence and discipline in our fiscal management to deliver on the aspirations of the Ghanaian people. Inefficiencies and waste in government spending will not be tolerated and there will be strict enforcement of all relevant laws and regulations, especially the new Public Financial Management Act, 2016, (Act 921)”. Mr Speaker, this is amply justified by the decision of the Government to set up Office of the Special Prosecutor to deal
Hon Member you have two minutes left.
Mr Speaker, the NPP campaigned on agenda for jobs, and we have seriously taken this into consideration in this Budget. If we look at the major policy initiatives in the Budget Statement as I have already said; the “One District, One Factory”, the US$1 million for each constituency, the Zongo Development Fund, planting for food and jobs — If we bring all these interventions together, it is estimated that, not less than 350,000 jobs would be created under some of these initiatives. In my view, it is the best that we have to do for our nation. Mr Speaker, I just want to touch on the cocoa industry. On page 71, paragraph 364, the budget intends to redesign the National Cocoa Diseases and Pest Control (CODAPEC), which is an intervention in improving the cocoa industry. Mr Speaker, the bad news is that, for the past eight years, this important intervention, which was very positive in supporting the cocoa industry is collapsing. When we go to most of the cocoa growing areas, even common machines to support the spraying gangs to undertake this all-important assignment are not there. This could also account for the reason we do not get much in terms of production of cocoa. We are aware that, as a nation, we are supposed to reach about one million tonnes of cocoa production. But how much do we get now? This Budget is going to take care of this. I believe the Government of the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, would seriously take this into consideration. Mr Speaker, I would want to conclude by quoting from the Budget —
Hon Member, your time is up.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for this opportunity. I rise to contribute to the Motion on the floor, and I do so by reference to two documents; the first primary document is the Budget Statement and Economic Policy which was delivered to this august House. The second is this colourful 16 page booklet, titled, “Message on the State of the Nation” that was delivered to this House by H.E the President of the Republic of Ghana, which document, in my opinion, only sought to tell the challenges of this nation without a single mention of the resilient economy that has been bequeathed to the NPP Government by the John Mahama led administration. Mr Speaker, I note that in both documents, there is the desire, willingness and hurry of the Government of the NPP to fight corruption, and I will make specific references to the two documents. Mr Speaker, first of all, I refer to page 152, paragraph 885 — Fighting Corruption. I specifically refer to paragraph 885, and with your permission, I beg to read: “In this regard, Government will continue the implementation of National Anti-Corruption Action Plan. Additionally, Government will pursue a combination of institu- tional and legislative reform as part of our anticorruption policy, including establishing the Office of the Special Prosecutor, strictly applying the provisions in the PFM and PPA Acts as well as amend, in particular, sections 3, 151 and 239- 257 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), which will make corruption a felony instead of a misdemeanour.” Mr Speaker, on the State of the Nation Address, on page 14, specifically, paragraph 2, the President said, and with your permission, I beg to quote:
“Mr Speaker, the office of the Special Prosecutor has been shown to work in other places, and I shall be bringing legislation before the House for its rapid establishment.” Mr Speaker, corruption, we all know, has a very serious national effect on the economy. Therefore, any plan to fight corruption is welcomed by our side of the House. I would like to start by making reference to the fact that, corruption has a devastating effect on the economy, so, the contemplated effect that the President is trying to put across is welcomed by this House. Mr Speaker, but the key thing is the independence of the Special Prosecutor. Indeed, everybody in this country would want to have a criminal justice administration that is devoid of bias and influence, especially, from the Executive. But our current legislative and constitutional arrangements do not allow for the independence of a Special Prosecutor. I will make specific references to the Constitution of this Republic. Mr Speaker, with your leave, I beg to refer to article 88(3) and (4), and I beg to quote: “(3) The Attorney-General shall be responsible for the initiation and conduct of all prosecutions of criminal offences.” (4)All offences prosecuted in the name of the Republic of Ghana shall be at the suit of the Attorney-General or any other person authorised by him in accordance with any law.” Mr Speaker, article 88(3) is very categorical. It says, “…all prosecutions of criminal offences” shall be by the Attorney-General. The President states that he would bring a legislation to this House for us to see how the creation of the office of the Special Prosecutor would be. Mr Speaker, any enactment that contradicts this Constitution would be a nullity and to borrow the words of my learned friend and respected Hon Minority Leader; we on this side of the House, would not be part of that illegality — Mr Speaker, secondly, if the President chooses to seek refuge under article 88(4), in which case, the action of the Special Prosecutor would be at the behest of the Attorney-General. The independence of the Special Prosecutor is much more compromised because the Attorney-General, has enormous power under section 54 of Act 30, that is the Criminal Procedure Act, to enter a nolle prosequi. By that, I mean the Attorney-General at any point in time during the trial, but before verdict, can enter a nolle prosequi to say that the State is no longer interested in the case. So you would have a Special Prosecutor who would start a criminal prosecution, which could be a political prosecution, then along the line, an Attorney-General would throw in the towel and say that the State is no longer interested in the case. Indeed, we would be enacting a law that has no teeth to bite. Mr Speaker, I applaud the President for contemplating this initiative Indeed, no less a person than the former President of this Republic, former President John Dramani Mahama, some three weeks ago in faraway Kenya, applauded the current Government for taking such an initiative. But like many Ghanaians and many legislators who are seated here,they cautioned about the independence of the prosecutor. [Hear! Hear!] That independence is so dear to this side of the House. Mr Speaker, the substantial evidential matter is to say that, it is common knowledge that a nolle prosequi is almost invariably politically motivated. So, a Special Prosecutor comes in, seeks to prosecute a political case and then a nolle prosequi is entered. Mr Speaker, so we would want the Special Prosecutor's Office to be created but the President must come properly to amend article 88 to make room for the independence of the Special Prosecutor. It is only then that we can guarantee the independence of the Special Prosecutor.
Thank you, Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute -- [Interruption.]
Bonsu — rose
Hon Member, just a moment; the Hon Majority Leader is on his feet.
Mr Speaker, it was between the Hon Quaittoo and the Hon Agyenim-Boateng --
Hon Member, if you can be a bit more audible.
Mr Speaker, I said that, that slot for the continuation on the agricultural sector was between the Hon Agyenim-Boateng and the Hon Quaittoo. It does seem that Hon Agyenim- Boateng is not in the Chamber, so, in that regard, if the Hon Quaittoo could step in for him. He is the Chairman of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs.
Hon Majority Leader, is Hon Agyenim-Boateng here?
No; he is not in the Chamber.
So the next person on the list is Hon Banda Abdallah.
Mr Speaker, the issue I am raising is that, we have pencilled a correction down for a contribution on agriculture. It was supposed to be either Hon Agyenim- Boateng or Hon Quaittoo --
Hon Majority Leader, if you would want to make a substitution, just say so.
That is what I am saying, Mr Speaker.
What is your substitution?
Mr Speaker, that the Hon Quaittoo would substitute Hon Agyenim-Boateng.
Hon Quaittoo, please, proceed.
Mr Speaker, I am glad to be given the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the floor of the House.
Mr Speaker, before I go to my substantive issue, I would want to correct an anomalous impression that was made in this House when this debate began. We heard the Hon Ato Forson, when he made his contribution and he said that we have increased the budget allocated to the agricultural sector, yet we are looking at a reduced growth for agriculture. He quoted 3.6 per cent as the growth for 2016. I would want all of us to know that the 3.6 per cent growth for the year 2016 was the projected growth and not the achieved growth for the year 2016. Mr Speaker, as of the third quarter of 2016, if you check the average of the three quarters from the Ghana Statistical Survey Department, the agricultural growth recorded at that time was 3.006 per cent. I do not think that the last quarter would help us achieve 3.6 per cent growth in agriculture. So, if we are projecting the growth of about 3.5 per cent, I would want this House to know that we are truthful to ourselves and would never deceive the nation. That is why we believe that, from the budgeted amount for this year, Ghana can record 3.5 per cent growth in agriculture. Mr Speaker, Hon Eric Opoku made his contribution and said that we “cut and pasted” the 2016 Budget Statement on coffee and therefore, certain paragraphs were the same. Of course, he was corrected by our able Leader who also mentioned that the allocation for coffee for the year 2016 was about GH¢2.0 million and this sought to produce about only two million coffee seedlings. Mr Speaker, in our case here, we have done a prudent calculation and we are saying that we will allocate GH¢2.04 million. This amount would produce five million coffee seedlings and not two million coffee seedlings as it was said in the 2016 Budget. Mr Speaker, besides that, why did he say that we repeated the same thing? In the year 2016, I stand here to say that not a single penny was released to the coffee sector and not a single activity was done in the coffee sector. That is why we seek to repeat the same things that were budgeted or projected for coffee in the 2016 and 2017 Budget Statement. In 2016, I have to say that all the coffee contract workers at the Ghana COCOBOD were made to go home because no money was allocated to them and they were never called back. So, each of these workers here, on the coffee front, were all made to go home and were never called back to do their work. That is the reason he seemed to have said that we repeated exactly what was written in 2016. It was repeated because nothing was done on coffee in 2016 and there was much prudence in our 2017 Budget Statement. We have GH¢2.04 million to produce five million coffee seedlings as compared to GH¢2.0 million to produce two million coffee seedlings - - We can judge for ourselves. Mr Speaker, coming back to the produce price of cocoa, for the past three to four years, it is always mentioned that the bonus is put into the prices. This is the only time I find a bonus being calculated or preempted before the business itself is done. I do not understand it. My understanding of the definition of “bonus” is that, it is an extra income that accrues to somebody for something done by way of extra effort. The COCOBOD Survey has been that, if there is a windfall, that is when they bring in this bonus. For the past four years, bonus has been calculated and added to the price. This is very erroneous and deceitful -- They go about deceiving the cocoa farmers. This is because when we do the calculation to arrive at the producer price, when we put them in percentages, all the parameters that we allot certain figures to, when we add up everything, we should get 100 per cent. But when we take the bonus figure that has been touted around all the time, we would arrive at 99.95 per cent. This means that if the bonus figure is not added, we do not actually come to the conclusion or the actual calculation for the price determination. It is only when they add that bonus amount of GH¢5 that the whole thing will add up to 100 per cent. So, it simply tells us that, if the price is GH¢300 and we just reduce the price by about GH¢5 and call that amount the bonus, when it is added, we would arrive at the actual amount. The NPP Government is not going to continue to deceive farmers. We are not going to give prices and then add bonuses thereof. For instance, as we speak now, we all know the dollar is rocketing, so, if we sell our cocoa produce at the same dollar rate on the international market and it is converted into cedis, there is a huge windfall that we would make in terms of Ghana cedis. In that case, we could go back to the farmers and give them part of that amount. That is what we can call the bonus. We cannot predetermine bonus and add it to the price and say we are paying it. No, we would not do that. It is very deceitful. We have been deceiving the farmers until now. We will correct that. Mr Speaker, we had one million tonnes in the 2011-2012 cocoa season. Since that time, we have not been able to get this size of production again. We have put down strategies which are all listed in the Budget Statement on how we will hit the one million target. First, let us look at rehabilitation. It has been captured in the Budget Statement. What do we see about rehabilitation? What we know is that the cocoa farmers would, of course, go and cut down their diseased trees and be compensated and seedlings will be produced by Cocoa Marketing Board (COCOBOD) and transported to them for replanting. What do we see now? The compensation package has been stopped and we expect the farmers to go and cut the cocoa trees themselves, so, they feel reluctant to go and cut them. This is because for three years, they live without any income from their cocoa farms and that is very disingenuous. That is why the farmers are not doing these rehabilitation activities. This Budget Statement says that, rehabilitation will be redone and it is going to be done in this same stead. We are going to cut the cocoa trees for them and COCOBOD will pay for it and compensate them for the two or three years that they would not be making any earnings from the cocoa. If we do so, of course, it would encourage them to actually cut the cocoa trees and do the replanting; other than that we would work in vain. Mr Speaker, the second method by which we are going to increase cocoa production is by fertilizer distribution. We say it is for free, meanwhile, the total quantity of fertilizer that we are able to buy cannot meet the supply needs of every cocoa farmer. If we have 10 bags of cocoa to distribute to 10 farmers, and one
has his family members in there, would he give to the fertilizer everybody? Naturally, as a human being, one would automatically give it to his family members. That is what has been happening. Cocoa fertilizer being distributed for free goes to family members and friends. There is no equity in the distribution. We are going to stop that. We would stop that and make sure that a subsidy is given to all farmers. There should be equity. If a bag of cocoa fertilizer is sold for GH¢200 and the subsidy on it is GH¢50, we are saying that the GH¢50 is for each cocoa farmer. If a farmer has his GH¢150, he should go to the accredited source, pay the money and pick the bag of cocoa fertilizer and go and apply it on the farm. That is equity. There will be no cronyism or giving of cocoa fertilizers to party and family members. Mr Speaker, the same applies to seedling production. We have seen several times in annual budgets -- we are going to produce 60 million seedlings; we are going to produce 50 million seedlings.
You may conclude, Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, it is said that these seedlings are produced, but whether they really get to the farms, we do not know. At least, we can discern from our production levels that, these seedlings might not really be getting to the farms or planted. Otherwise, we should have had an increase in production by now. This is because within three years, cocoa should be yielding. We have done this seedling production for the past four to five years, yet production level is still dipping. So, if production is still coming down, it presupposes that the seedlings in which we have invested for the past four or so years are not really being planted. The moneys are going down the drain. Mr Speaker, we would do what we call artificial pollination. Artificial pollination is where pollination is really made by man. It has been budgeted for and people are to be trained so that the thousands of flowers that come up every year, which are not pollinated, will be pollinated so that production can go up. Mr Speaker, to conclude, I would want to touch on cocoa roads and cocoa sales. For the past three years, cocoa roads were budgeted for at GH¢ 450 million. In effect, GH¢450 million benefit --
Hon Member, your time is up. Hon Samuel Atta Mills?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for allowing me to contribute to this debate. I would have loved to speak about the politics of this Budget Statement but I hear enough of it on Asempa Radio. So, I will leave it alone. After all, the cup is either half full or half empty, depending on what side of the aisle that one is sitting. To start off, this whole Budget Statement misses out on the Ministry of Science, Environment, Technology and Innovation. There is no policy statement from that Ministry. I would have loved to talk about marginal cost and marginal revenue as it relates to profit. But since this is a public sector Budget Statement, I would leave those thesis for another time. I will stick to the social issues because I am a social democrat. Mr Speaker, if I could go to the paragraph 311 of our Budget Statement, it talks about our birth and death registration. If we look at paragraph 268, I believe this is an area we need to do a good job when it comes to identification. When one looks at the official records, it has a part that says, “hometown”. I believe having a “hometown” on official records is tribal and we need to remove it from all our official records. This was something that was put there long time ago, to find out which tribes people were coming from. But these days, there have been so many intermarriages that this is not useful. If we have someone from the Volta Region, who is of a patrilineal tradition and married to an Akan who is matrilineal, which side will the children choose? They can choose either side. When it comes to national records, it should be definite. We cannot have an option on our date of birth but we can have an option on our place of birth. If we reverse it; if we have an Akan man married to a woman from the the Volta Region, where would the children choose as their hometown? So, I believe official records need to remove that from it. Mr Speaker, if I could go to paragraph 365, my Hon good Friend talked about fertilizers. I believe this is another area that we all need to pay attention to. We need to burn chemical fertilizers; we need to go to organic fertilizers. If we look at it, we are talking about a thousand cocoa plants that are not -- Mr Speaker, it says of it here. If I could read paragraph 366 and with your permission, I beg to read: “Information from cocoa scientists who have studied natural pollina- tion for cocoa farmers in Ghana indicates that more than 1000 flowers produced per cocoa tree each year, only about five per cent of them get pollinated.” Mr Speaker, this is as a result of weedicides in this country. It is also as a result of chemical fertilizers. When was the last time that we saw butterflies? Butterflies and bees are the ones that help these plants to pollinate. If we are not careful about these, there would come a time that we would have to pollinate every plant ourselves. It also refers to corn and so many other produce. When we look at paragraph 379, it talks about fish processing. I would just want to remind us that as part of the work that was done by the previous Government, we have a fish processing plant in Elmina which is not functioning at the moment. This fish processing plant would also help produce fish food and provide jobs. I hope this new Government would work on that, and maybe, claim that as one of their One District, One Factory project. But then, please, let this fish processing plant start working. Mr Speaker, when we move to paragraph 381, it also talks about our fish processing and fisheries. Mr Speaker, I believe it is about time Ghana diversified a bit from tilapia. We are given an influx of tilapia from the Chinese Government, but I believe we could also go into some tropical fish like Coho salmon and Rainbow trout, which are equally very good, and that would help this economy because it is not everybody who eats tilapia. We could go into something else over there.
When we go to paragraph 410, it also talks about “One District, One Factory”. I just want to remind them that there is a Komenda Sugar Factory, which is out there and not working very well at the moment. They could probably -- [Uproar] -- no problem. They could make it work and probably claim it as part of the “One District, One Factory” policy. In that case, that would give me two factories in my constituency. When we go to paragraph 405, we are talking about illegal farms and galamsey. This is an area that affects everybody in this country; it does not matter whether you are for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) or National Democratic Congress (NDC). This galamsey is poisoning us. According to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) report that just came out, we all know that about 40 per cent of the oranges produced around Obuasi are contaminated with mercury and lead. These two chemicals reduce the cognitive development of children. So, we are producing children who are eating fruits, and may become mentally retarded just because of the results of galamsey. So, this is another area that we could all look at. Mr Speaker, when we look at paragraph 563, it talks about management and administration programme for basic education. It is very interesting that all of us are concerned about the Senior High School (SHS). But one does not go from birth straight to the SHS, one goes through kindergarten and Junior High School (JHS). It looks like it is an area that we are all forgetting. From the Ministry of Education, they would tell us that only about 60 per cent of those who sit for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) go to the SHS. So, what do we do with the other 40 per cent? What are we training these children for? That is another area that we all need to pay attention to. This is neither NDC nor NPP; those are Ghanaians. This is where the drop-outs happen; most of the people standing by the side of the streets just have a JHS certificate at most. Mr Speaker, when we come to paragraph 574 -- and this is another area that I would like to make an appeal. The Government is going to distribute 250,000 pieces of school uniforms. Please, could we all make sure that these uniforms are sewn in the districts instead of being sewn somewhere, put in plastic bag and distributed out there? We have tailors and seamstresses in all these districts, let us make sure that these ones sew these things for the school children. Mr Speaker, if we look at paragraph 603, it talks about non-formal education --
Hon Member, be concluding.
Mr Speaker, all right. Non-Formal Education is one that has been left out there. The teachers are complaining that they do not have a Department, or it needs to be changed into an Agency, so that they could have autonomy to be able to help. These teachers help us quite a lot; they are doing very well and I think if we turn it into an Agency, it would help the Ministry. Thank you very much for allowing me to contribute.
Hon Member, thank you very much particularly, for keeping the time.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion. Mr Speaker, I would like to premise my contribution on three or four areas. First of all, I would like to talk about the establishment of the Integrated Aluminium Industry (IAI), the re-introduction of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, and the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor. If time should permit me, I would talk about other matters. Mr Speaker, the establishment and the operation of the aluminium industry, as has been spoken about in the Budget Statement, is a very significant step in the economic transformation of this country that we are all looking for. Mr Speaker, IAI would involve four steps; the first step is the procurement of the raw material, which is the bauxite. We all know that we have large quantities of bauxite which we have not even exploited. It is estimated that, Ghana uses between 10 and 20 per cent of her bauxite deposits. It is believed that at Nyinahin in the Ashanti Region, there is a bauxite deposit totalling 200 million metric tonnes, which is yet to be exploited. It is also proven that there are large quantities of other bauxite deposits in certain parts of the country.
Hon Members, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker to take the Chair. Hon Member, please continue.
Mr Speaker, the second stage of the IAI would involve the refining of the bauxite into alumina. The third stage involves smelting the alumina into raw aluminium ingots, which is currently done by the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO). Currently, the installed capacity of VALCO is 200,000 per metric tonnes per year, but it is estimated that VALCO operates less than 30 per cent of its installed capacity. This goes to buttress the point that, if the industry is established, Ghana would have no problem in the operation of same. Mr Speaker, the final stage is the casting of aluminium ingots into steel products. It is worthy of note that each of these four steps would create businesses and massive employment, increase foreign exchange earnings, and ultimately, soar our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
Auditor-General's Report, go and check. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, we know that per the prosecution powers of the Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice, she can, at any time, enter a nolle prosequi by bringing criminal proceedings to an end. But the decision of the Attorney- General --
Just a minute. Hon Member, I can see your Hon Colleague on the other side on his feet. I thought you were just concluding because it is left with just one minute. I do not know why he is on his feet. Hon Member, would you tell the House why you are on your feet?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague on the other side gave the source of his references to this issue as the Auditor-General's Report.
Hon Member, you have not told the House why you are on your feet.
Mr Speaker, I am coming on a point of order; Order 91(a) and Order 30(f). He is misleading the House completely. [Laughter.] He should tell us which of the Auditor-General's Report has reported this, and he should give us the date. We are interested in that. Mr Speaker, this is a House of records. He cannot just mention Auditor-General's Report and walk away.
Hon Member, read Order 30 (f). [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, with your permission, I read: “(f) deliberate misleading of Parliament or any of its Committees;…”
Hon Member, that was not what you said initially. You did not even say he is “deliberately misleading” the House. [Laughter.] Now, when the words “deliberately misleading” are used -- intention. That is why it is penal sanction that is meted out. That is why that provision is put under breach of privilege or contempt. This is because deliberately misleading Parliament affects the image of Parliament. That is why they are put under that provision. That is why we have Order 31. So, when you raise that point of order, the Rt Hon Speaker will then ask you whether you would want him to go by the procedure stated in Order 31. I do not think it is right for Hon Members to try to hide under that provision to raise a point of order. You are at liberty to read Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure. Hon Member, please, may you conclude?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, when we talk about the Special Prosecutor being independent, we are not referring to formal independence. What we are talking about is independence in respect of the political commitment and the will of the Government to ensure that corrupt practices are dealt with. Mr Speaker, it is independence in the sense that there shall be little interference in the work of the Office of the Special Prosecutor. Be as it may, Mr Speaker, the Bill has not yet been brought before Parliament. So, we should wait and let the Bill come. When it comes, we shall speak to the nitty-gritty of same.
“Where is this Constitution or in any other law discretionary power is vested in any person or authority -- (a) that discretionary power shall be deemed to imply a duty to be fair and candid; (b) the exercise of the discretionary power shall not be arbitrary, capricious or biased either by resentment, prejudice or personal dislike and shall be in accordance with due process of law; and…” Mr Speaker, therefore, my humble submission is that, any time the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice intends to enter a nolle prosequi, the decision, to the best of my knowledge, ought to be subjected to article 296 of the Constitution. So, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice cannot at any time, because a case has a political colourisation, and the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice intends to protect a political person, gets up, goes to court and enters a nolle prosequi. That should not be the case.
Your last sentence?
Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you very much for giving me the opportunity. [Hear! Hear!]
May we now listen to Hon Thomas Ampem Nyarko.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion for the approval of the Government's Financial Policy for the year ending 31st December, 2017. Mr Speaker, let me admit that the Budget Statement is not entirely hopeless because I think that somewhere, provision has been made for a stimulus package, and there is this particular company in Asuogyaman, the Akosombo Textiles Limited, which is struggling. So, if such a company could benefit from some injection from the stimulus package, I believe it would help a lot. It would help the hundreds of people who are provided jobs by the company. Mr Speaker, the previous Government, under the leadership of former President Mahama, was very committed to railway development in the country. We would recall that the Sixth Parliament gave approval for a loan for the construction of the railway line from the Tema Harbour through to the Akosombo Port. We have seen little traces of that in this current Budget Statement, and we pray and hope that the Government would see the need to continue on schedule as envisioned by the previous Admini- stration, so that physical construction would start immediately for the people to reap the benefits thereof.
So, this is what we call weak decentralisation. Mr Speaker, on my way to Parliament today, I heard in the news that some people are struggling to be Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, and there was even a gunshot at Ledzokuku or so. I asked myself, to what end would someone be struggling to be a Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executive under a Government that has continually showed that they do not believe in this decentralisation?
Thank you, Hon Member. You have been very timeous. May we now listen to Hon Mavis Nkansah-Boadu?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. First and foremost, I would like to commend H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on his laudable ideas and insightful selection of Hon Ministers. I would also like to commend him for fulfilling the most important campaign message, which told Ghanaians that hope was coming. In my short life, I have never seen Ghanaians in jubilation at just a Budget Statement reading. With that said, I would like to say a big thank you to him. Secondly, Mr Speaker, I would like to commend the Hon Minister for Finance for displaying such impeccable delivery, knowledge and composure, despite the heckling and some of the pessimistic stance my Hon Colleagues on the other side took. Mr Speaker, with that said, if you would permit me, I would want to read from paragraph 268 of the Budget Statement: “Passport Administration Pro- gramme To improve the processes for passport application and acquisi- tion, and eliminate the role of middlemen, the Ministry launched an on-line passport application service. It is currently available only at the Accra Passport Application Centre, but plans are advanced for a roll-out to cover other Regional Application Centres. In line with Government policy, the Ministry will open four new Passport Application Centres (PACs) in the Upper East, Upper West, Eastern and Central Regions, and a second PAC in Tema to serve Greater Accra Region and enhance service delivery.” Mr Speaker, I believe this idea is praiseworthy. We have had so many situations in Ghana where people have had to travel from different parts of the country to Accra to secure a passport. I believe this initiative would eradicate such practices. Also, the role of middlemen who are popularly known as goro boys, would be eradicated. With the fraudulent activities that are involved with our passport acquisition processes -- We all know that some foreigners have been apprehended for possessing Ghanaian passports. I believe such an initiative would go a long way to eradicate such activities. Mr Speaker, if you would permit me, I would also like to read from paragraph 269 of the Budget Statement: “Biometric passport equipment was purchased and installed in some select Ghana Missions abroad, including New York, London, Washington, Pretoria and Berlin. Some Missions have started issuing biometric passports to Ghanaians abroad. The Ministry will upgrade the biometric passport to chip embedded biometric passports.” Mr Speaker, I have a personal experience. When I finished my Masters programme, I had wanted to come back to Ghana; but unluckily for me, my passport had expired. Between the processes, I had to travel from New York to Washington for a period of two months, but I could not acquire a passport. I believe if such an initiative was available last year, I would not have gone through all that hustle and bustle. So, I believe this is an initiative that we should all praise and commend. Also, as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I am privy to some of the ideas that the Passport Director has on board. He has promised me that passport acquisition would no longer be seen as a privilege in Ghana, but a right of every Ghanaian citizen. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would bring my debate to an end, and thank you again for the opportunity.
Hon Member, you have been very brief and direct to the point. That is how easy and advisable it is to make an entry into the debate. Hon Members, we would now give the opportunity to Hon Mark Kurt Nawaane. [Pause] -- Hon Members, in the absence of Hon Mark Nawaane, we would give the opportunity to Hon Inusah Fuseini.
Thank you Mr Speaker for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year 2017, which was presented to this House, on behalf of the President, by the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta. Mr Speaker, we have heard it being said that this 2017 Budget Statement resonated with people in Abossey Okai, Suame, Tamale, and even with people across the boundaries of this country. Mr Speaker, let me sound a note of caution, indeed a warning, that the potential optimism that has greeted this Budget Statement by the people should be met with prosperity. It should lead to the satisfaction of the legitimate aspirations of the people; otherwise, it could lead to a catastrophic and dangerous disappoint-ment. I have already heard leading members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) say that they must be successful with this Budget Statement.
Mr Speaker, does this Budget Statement give the assurance that it would lead to growth and create jobs for this country? I fail to say so. What I see is desperation for resources, which has led to the cut of the statutory funds at 25 per cent. What I see is partisanship; but as we speak today, what this country needs is leadership and not partisanship. Mr Speaker, back to the sector for which I intend to contribute to, which is in the Budget Statement -- the road sector. The NPP, then in opposition made us understand that this country, Ghana, has a lot of resources that they could mobilise to pursue infrastructural development. I believe the assurance that this country has resources was what moved, motivated and encouraged the people to give the power of the State to them. Mr Speaker, however, what do we see? On page 93 of the Budget Statement the Hon Minister has given an indication of the number of roads that they intend to do this year. Mr Speaker, I would give you the possible sources of funding. Never mind that these sources were found during the time of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). It goes to show that, the fact that the funds were made available from sources which were criticised, it does not mean they were not good sources, and I believe this is why the NPP continues with those sources of funding. Mr Speaker, I would start from the bottom. We have been told that the Kumasi roads and drainage extension works would be done this year. It would be funded by a loan facility from the European Union (EU). Mr Speaker, we have been told that the construction of the Pokuase Interchange would begin this year, and that construction would be funded by a facility from the African Development Bank. Mr Speaker, we are told that the construction of the Obetsebi Lamptey Interchange would start this year. That facility would be funded through a combination of resources led by the lead arranger, the Societe Generale-Social Security Bank (SG- SSB). Mr Speaker, indeed, we have been told that the construction of the bridge over the Volta River at Volivo, would start this year. Funding for the construction over that river would be sourced from the Japanese. Mr Speaker, indeed, other projects would be funded through the Road Fund, and that brings me back to the main point of my debate, which is to say that, when we look at page 173, it says that the Road Fund that has been allocated for this year, is GH¢ 873,746,017. Mr Speaker, the choice of words, “allocate,” means that the NPP Government would possibly bring an Act to this House for the amendment of the Road Fund Act, to allow funds that go into the Road Fund account to go through the Consolidated Fund, and to have the Hon Minister for Finance allocate the resources to the Road Fund. That is what it means. Mr Speaker, it also means that the outsource on statutory funds would affect the Road Fund. The collection of levies from the sales of petrol every year, after the amendment of the Road Fund Act, gave an average of GH¢1.2 billion to the Road Fund. What is being stated here means that, resources -- those funds would no longer be available to the Road Fund. Mr Speaker, what does it tell us? It tells us that the performance in 2017, or the anticipated performance in 2017, captured on page 92, which says that: “In 2017, the Ministry would undertake 11,900km, 22,950km and 10,200km of routine maintenance activities on trunk, feeder and urban road networks…” With the greatest respect, that would be challenged. This is because that is a heightened performance. Even with the GH¢1.2 billion that came to the Road Fund, the Road Fund never achieved these numbers. Mr Speaker, we are also told in the Budget Statement that, the asphalt overlays which have taken place in the regional capitals, district capitals and selected municipalities, would continue. All those activities are funded by the Road Fund, and we have a situation where the resources to the Road Fund have been cut at GH¢873million. Mr Speaker, on page 93, we are also told that the Bolgatanga-Bawku- Polmakom road would be done this year. Mr Speaker, the Bolgatanga-Bawku- Polmakom road is funded by the Road Fund. That clearly shows that there would be paucity of funds and this Budget will struggle to meet the ideas and promises and also targets set in this Budget. That is why I believe seriously that in the desperation of Government to look for funds to fund some of these projects, some other facilities which were already in existence ought not be attacked and one such facility is the Road Fund. Indeed, a lot of work went into the amendment of the Road Fund Act to be able to garner resources to undertake routine maintenance activities on our roads. It is trite knowledge that we invest in our infrastructure to maintain same, than to let same go waste so that we reconstruct same again. Mr Speaker, in looking at the budget, again, I believe it is an oversight, but I would call on you to direct attention of the Committee of Roads and Highways to a particular entry of the Ministry of Roads and Highways. Mr Speaker, it is at page 170, entry number 28. Mr Speaker, we are told that the Government of Ghana funding for the Ministry of Roads and Highways would be GH¢230 million and Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) would be GH¢187,255,173. Mr Speaker, the total of that is GH¢417,255,173. There will be no funding from other Government expenditure (OGE.) But curiously, Mr Speaker, on the MDA total and OGE, an entry of GH¢458,540,168 has been made -- an addition of more than GH¢41 million. Mr Speaker, I believe this is an inadvertent entry; it cannot be deliberate. The Committee on Roads and Transport should take critical note and correct any inappropriate entry if they so see same. Mr Speaker, this Budget, at best, can be described as a desperate one -- a desperate one to look for resources. At worst, it is a “deceptive budget”; a budget that sets high standards to cajole the Ghanaian people into thinking that there is something good for them. This Budget portends no good. Indeed, the theme is “Sowing the Seeds for Growth and Jobs”. Today, as we speak, the Ghana cedi is the worst performing currency, not only in Africa, but the whole world.
If you want to grow the economy, the fundamentals must first be taken care of. What are the fundamentals of the economy? The fundamentals of the economy --
Hon Member, before you land, I see your Hon Colleague on his feet. That is the Hon Member of Parliament for La Dade- kotopon.
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order -- Standing Order 93 (2). Mr Speaker, my senior Hon Colleague here said that the budget was a deceptive one. That is in contravention of Standing Order 93 (2). And with your permission, may I respectfully read: “It shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words or to impute improper motives to any other Member or to make personal allusions” Mr Speaker, if I heard my Hon Colleague right, he used the word “deceptive”. In my opinion, it violates this Standing Order and I would respectfully request that you consider asking him to withdraw that statement.
May you draw my attention to the aspects of Standing Order 93 (2)? There are a number of legs there. Which of the legs do you depend on?
Mr Speaker, the last statement -- to make personal allusions.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Who is the person here now?
Mr Speaker, the word “deceptive” connotes some deliberate attempt to mislead and in my opinion, that misleads this House.
Your point of order is not founded on good grounds and so you are overruled.
I am grateful, Mr Speaker.
May you conclude.
Mr Speaker, indeed, we are potential beneficiaries of a good Budget, Government and a growing economy, so, if we find that a programme of action of Government does not assure us strategically of policies that would secure us growth, that the economic plan and the programme of Government clearly are misplaced, we have a duty to make that known. If you would want to promote growth and jobs, you would have to take care of the fundamentals and the fundamentals are to stabilise your national currency because banks and financial institutions, and indeed, the private sector, will not hold their currency in the cedi that depreciates every day. They will not do so --
Hon Member, your last sentence.
Since they would not do so, they would not send the moneys to the banks. If they would not send the moneys to the banks, it would constrict and restrict the activities of the bank to borrow, to loan out money and that would go a long way to affect the programmes of Government in ensuring that the private sector takes the commanding height of this economy. That is why I believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with the programme of action of Government. Thank you so much, Mr Speaker.
May we now listen to Hon Kwabena Owusu- Aduomi, the Hon Member for Ejisu.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, before I touch on roads, as the former Hon Minister has done, I would want to correct an impression that he has made on page 93 of this Budget, paragraph 507, that the projections that the Ministry would want to do are so high and refer him to paragraph 570 on page 109 of the 2016 Budget. The figures there are almost the same. [Interruption.] They are almost the same in his own budget. Mr Speaker, the Ministry will undertake 11,900 kilometres of trunk roads, 22,950 kilometres of feeder roads and 10,200 kilometres of urban roads for routine maintenance . Mr Speaker, page 109 of the 2016 budget --
Hon Member, I would not have allowed him but you referred to him in your submission so let us listen to his submission.
Mr Speaker, he is my very good friend and he has indeed seriously supported me at the Ministry of Roads and Highways, so I feel reluctant in getting up --
So, now, you are on your feet because he is your good Friend --
Mr Speaker, he must juxtapose my argument within the context in which I said it. I said that having reduced funds --
Hon Member, you have not told us why you are on your feet.
Mr Speaker, he is misleading this House.
He is misleading?
He is misleading this House on what I said and mentioned my name. [Laughter.] So, mentioning my name is an invitation to treat.
Well, Hon Member, that is not sufficient grounds for a point of order. Hon Member for Ejisu, may you continue?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the programmes that the Ministry normally sets are virtually the same. In the 2016 Budget, 11,199 kilometres of trunk roads, 22,500 kilometres of feeder roads and 10,200 kilometres of urban roads would have routine maintenance. So, there is no over projection, there is no ambitious programmes that have been set by the Government in the 2017 Budget.
Mr Speaker, the performance of routine and periodic maintenance on our roads have been consistently poor, and I have said it over and over again on the floor of this House, since January, 2009 because maintenance has not been adequate, and it is also done untimely. Mr Speaker, that is the reason when you move on our roads, we have pot- holes, corrugated gravel surfaces and bushy roadsides that make it even very difficult for motorists to have very good side distances. Mr Speaker, in January, 2009, when the NDC Government took over, the then Hon Minister for Roads and Highways cancelled all the routine and periodic maintenance contracts that the Ministry had prepared in the year 2008 and that marked the beginning of our woes on our roads. So, in January, 2009 to December, 2009, fresh contracts were prepared. The reason was that, those who were lucky to be awarded with those contracts were sympathisers of the then NPP Go- vernment. This year, when NPP took over, projects have also been prepared for routine and periodic maintenance but because of good governance, the Ministry, and for that matter, the NPP Government is continuing; no cancellation of any contracts. [Hear! Hear!] This is because we see those projects as very valuable and good for the nation. Mr Speaker --
Hon Member, are you on your feet?
Why are you on your feet?
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague made some assertions here that all contracts are being continued. I just want to draw his attention to the fact that
Hon Member, please, why are you on your feet?
Mr Speaker, point of order. Order 91 (a).
Order 91 (a) says: “Debates may be interrupted by a point of order being raised.”
So, I raise a point of order.
Now, tell us where there is disorder and you are raising a point of order.
Mr Speaker, the disorder is at Order 92 (c) -- [Interruption] -- The disorder in what he said is that, all road contracts are being continued and I want to draw his attention to the fact that some road contracts, even in my constituency, have been --
Actually, he did not say that all roads.
He said all roads, Mr Speaker.
No, he was speaking in context and he referred to paragraphs and specific roads; road maintenance and the rest, and he said those contracts are being continued, not all roads. [Hear! Hear!] -- Please, continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I indicated that it was on routine maintenance contracts, not all road contracts. Mr Speaker, records available at the Ministry of Roads and Highways show that only 39 per cent of our road network is in good condition, that is, 72,381 kilometres, as at May, 2016. At the end of December, 2008, a road network size of 67, 291 kilometres, about 42 per cent of our network were in good condition. So, for the eight years that the NDC was in power, they were not able even to move the percentage of our roads that were in good condition even further by one per cent. However, there is a drop of three per cent. Mr Speaker, every year, we meet the Ministries and they brief us on their disbursements. I have summed up the disbursements from 2009 to 2015. Mr Speaker, the minimum amount that has been expended on the road sector is GH¢4.717 billion. Out of all these amounts, the NDC Government was able to deteriorate our roads and there is a drop of three per cent of roads in good condition.
Hon Member, did I hear you say the NDC Government was able to deteriorate our roads?
Mr Speaker, I would rephrase it. -- [Laughter]-- so, it should be deleted. For eight years, after spending GH¢4.717 billion, the percentage of our roads that are in good condition is only 39 per cent. Mr Speaker, poor management of our resources has been one of the factors that has affected the road sector.
Hon Member, I can see Hon I. A. B. Fuseini on his feet, the former Hon Minister for Roads and Highways also stood up. Would you yield to the former Hon Minister for Roads and Highways?
Mr Speaker, he is misleading the House. He is dealing with statistics and he is factually incorrect. The 39 per cent of 73,000 against 42 per cent of 68,000 cannot be the same. It means that the quantum of good roads done during the time of --
Hon Member, you do not have my permission to do what you are doing, which is elucidating. You know the process. You are trying to explain further what he said but he has to yield to you. So, you must come properly under the Standing Order, for me to seek his permission then you can give us this. This is because he was talking about relativity.
Mr Speaker, he is my friend but on this occasion, I doubt whether he would yield to me.
Hon Member, this one is not a matter of friendship.
Thank you Mr Speaker. The poor management of resources has been a problem in the road sector. Mr Speaker, as at the end of December, 2016, 1,300 road projects were running and what it meant was that, the limited resources that we had, had to be spread thinly on the projects and those who were unlucky had to have their payments unduly delayed. My Speaker, as at the end of December 2016, I just want us to take note that arrears from the Road Fund financed projects was in the sum of GH¢506 million. Arrears from roads that are being paid from the Consolidated Fund were in the sum of GH¢387.3 million. The joy was to award contracts but when you move on the individual projects, very few have achieved success. For most of them, physical achievement is very poor. The worst of it all, from June 2016 to December 2016, the Ministry awarded projects under what they term enhanced Road Fund Projects. That was as a result of the approval of the Petroleum Levy. Since the accruals to the Road Funds were about GH¢1.2 billion, the Ministry took the opportunity to award projects. Thus, 283 road projects were awarded at a sum of GH¢9.71 billion. Annual accrual to the Road Fund is only GH¢1.2 billion. The last six months of last year, 283 projects amounting to GH¢9.771 billion were awarded. Even if we are not to do routine maintenance, how much money would be left for even payment of this? GH¢9.771 billion divided by GH¢1.2 billion, it means that it would take us about seven to eight years before we would be able to pay for all these projects. In addition, the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) gave the Ghana Highway Authority the permission to award additional 19 projects in the sum of GH¢758.6 million. The Department of Feeder Roads was given permission to award additional 44 projects in the sum of GH¢524.6 million. In all, in the last six months of 2016, 346 projects were awarded, totaling GH¢11.1 billion under the enhanced Road Fund. Mr Speaker, what kind of management is this? A Road Fund whose accrual is only GH¢1.2 billion --
Hon Member, I am following you religiously. So, could you assist me by telling the House how much toll was earned from the increment in the road tolls so that we can compare and see?
Mr Speaker, at the end of December, 2016, the accruals to the Road Fund were GH¢1.167 billion but the Ministry also took a loan of GH¢2 billion from UBA Bank. [Interruption.] Is it GH¢1.2 billion or GH¢2 billion? They took a loan. It is GH¢2 billion.
Please, address the Chair. I raised it because as we debate this, we also educate the public. That was why I raised that issue.
Mr Speaker, what you asked me was about the accruals as at the end of December 2016 from the levies, fuel, road tolls and others, amounting to GH¢1.167 billion. So, with that alone, that is the amount that would be in the Road Fund to pay for all these projects which amount I have indicated.
The Speaker is not to participate in the debate. I am very cautious. Were all these contracts to be executed within one year?
Mr Speaker, they are not to be executed within one year.
They are not to be executed within one year, but even if no other work would be done and these are the only roads that were to be considered, it means it would take many years, about seven years before the Road Fund accruals would be able to pay for this. Mr Speaker, one thing we should not forget is that, we would also make fluctuation payments on the projects. This is because as prices of commodities increase, the contracts allow for payment of fluctuation. So, although we have GH¢11.1 billion, at the end, because of fluctuating payments, if the projects delay, we would pay more than GH¢11.1 billion.
I do not want to encourage interruptions but I can see the former Minister for Roads and Highways and Member of Parliament for Tamale Central on his feet for a long time. I would not deny you your right to speak, so please, why are you on your feet?
Mr Speaker, I speak on a point of order and that is Standing Order 93 (2). He is imputing improper motives.
Please, it is a phrase. It does not just end at improper motives.
Improper motives which by inference, shows recklessness on the part of -- Unfortunately, your humble servant --
Please, it is impute improper motives to any other Member and not Government.
Mr Speaker, your humble servant is personalising the improper motives -- [Laughter] -- because your humble servant was at the helm of affairs. It says that improper motive borders on recklessness.
Was it in reference to you?
To the Ministry, but it is important that as the immediate past Minister, I rise on a point of order to set the matter straight. If you build a house with spittle, it would not be able to stand the force of dew. So, he is building his house on spittle, through style on the force of dew.
He is not building a House.
He is building.
He is just contributing to the debate.
Figuratively, so, the fact is --
Hon Member, this is actually not a point of order. This is because you had the opportunity, you had your bite and he is doing similarly so.
The fact is that the figures he is throwing --
Hon Member, are you debating the Speaker? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. The loan that was taken from UBA was GH¢1.2 billion and not GH¢2 billion.
Hon Member, because you are giving figures and the choice of words, it is a bit confusing. I am following you judiciously. Are you talking about the total number of roads or urban or feeder roads?
Mr Speaker, as an Engineer, if I want to refer to urban roads, I would say, “urban roads”. When I say “roads”, it means all roads. This is because feeder, urban and trunk roads -- but if I want to be specific that it is a feeder, urban or trunk road, I would let you know. But if I say “roads”, please, take it to be the total network that I am referring to.
Do you mean 23 per cent of the total road?
Mr Speaker, only 23 per cent of our total network of 72,381kilometres have been tarred. The remaining 77 per cent are still in gravel state. Mr Speaker, I would move on further to indicate the kilometrage of tarred roads that we had in the last seven to eight years; January 2009 to December 2015 -- and that was 2,554 km. I also made reference that when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) took over in January 2001, only 7,138 kilometres of our roads were tarred and we took it to 13,611kilometres which indicated 6,473 kilometres of roads. It is proper management that would only help us and this is what the NPP seeks to do again.
Hon Member, you have a minute more.
Mr Speaker, out of this 16,165 kilometres of roads that were tarred, only 1,928 kilometres of feeder roads were tarred and that amounted to about five per cent. Mr Speaker, the COCOBOD assisted the Government to put up roads. During the previous administration, COCOBOD extended its tentacles on all roads; trunk roads and urban roads, in addition to the feeder roads that the NPP Government started from January 2001 to January 2009. Mr Speaker, my humble suggestion is that feeder roads that lead to our agriculture rich lands, tourist sites, areas that would give us a lot of revenues, economic areas, COCOBOD restricts itself to this one, if there would be any help at all, we would improve them and not extend its tentacles to cover trunk roads and urban roads. This is because when that is done --
Hon Member, your last sentence.
Mr Speaker, with proper management of our resources which this Budget Statement seeks to do, I believe the NPP Government would increase our road networks which are in good condition considerably.
May we now listen to Hon Ebenezer Okletey Terlabi.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I have listened to the Engineers and former Hon Ministers as they talked about roads and the disputes on the extent of work. I wondered whether they have looked at the whole Budget Statement that we have because whatever activity that takes place under the sun has some environmental impact. Mr Speaker, I have my reservations on free education and its impact on basic education and quality. But today, my concern is seriously on the absence of the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation in this policy document. I have combed through this document and I am sure I do not suffer from any visual illusion. There is nothing - I was tempted this morning to call Hon Frimpong Boateng to ask him whether he has been reshuffled to another ministry or not. Mr Speaker, my concern is that, when we look at the pillars of this Budget Statement, they have talked about “One Village; One Dam”, which has some environmental impact, they talked about the use of fertilizers and agro chemicals, pollination and artificial pollination and “One District One Factory.” All of these can never succeed without science and technology. Mr Speaker, on the floor of the House early this Meeting, there was a serious Statement on science and technology and the fact that we have not given science and technology its place as far as our development is concerned. Mr Speaker, as I speak this afternoon --
Hon Member, I can see the Hon Majority Leader on his feet. He wants to draw your attention to places where that Ministry has been mentioned in the Budget Statement. Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Member may yield, it is a point of elucidation.
So, may I seek the Hon Member's permission?
Yes, Mr Speaker. This is because he said he had combed through the Budget Statement and did not see the mention of “enivronment”. That was why I asked that if he may yield, I would show him where it is in the Budget Statement.
Mr Speaker, I meant the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation. When we take agriculture for example, the only time --
Hon Member, do you mean the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation?
Mr Speaker, there is no policy --
Hon Member, you did not talk about policy. You talked about the mentioning of the Ministry.
Mr Speaker, what I meant was that, the policy document which is the Budget Statement had nothing for Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation. In the appendix, they have only been given a blanket cheque. They have been allocated money and what would they do with the money?
Hon Member, are you talking about no mention of new policies?
No, Mr Speaker.
Was that the issue you raised? This is because when you go through the Budget Statement you would come across allocation to that Ministry.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member talked about the absence of a policy. It has also been expressed. Unless -- he said to us that he does not suffer from optical illusion.
Hon Majority Leader, can you kindly draw his attention to the paragraph?
Mr Speaker, paragraph 440 talks about the policy -- [Interruption] -- And he declared at the very onset that he does not suffer from optical illusion. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I do not suffer from optical illusion.
Hon Majority Leader, we all heard that one. [Laughter.] Hon Member, your attention has been drawn to paragraph 440.
Mr Speaker, I have with me the policy document. It is on record that this Government and the President said that they are in a hurry, and indeed, they are in a hurry. As it is said, things done by halves are never done right. When one rushes, one would always make mistakes. Mr Speaker, the document that was given to me has nothing like that in it. Maybe, it was because they were in a hurry.
Hon Member, the problem is with your document and not with the Financial Policy and Budget Statement of the Government. But that you have been given a copy which has some pages missing.
Mr Speaker, it can only happen when one is in a hurry and does not take his or her time. This is because the Bible admonishes us to be patient. We need to be patient in everything that we do and that is the reason we are where we are.
Hon Member, our first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah was said to be a man who was in a hurry. Are you saying that because he was also in a hurry, he overlooked so many things? Do not forget that in this case, it is the President who said that people are saying he is in a hurry. And it is not the President who compiled the document. It is not that his government is in a hurry. It is he who is in a hurry, and he said it is for good reasons. You may continue.
Mr Speaker, the expression of the extent to which the President is in a hurry is what is found in this document, because, this document was presented on behalf of the President.
You would be making a case if it had been so for all copies before us. But I have all the pages and paragraphs of my copy. And so, on seeing that your copy did not have some pages, you should have gone for a replacement. Again, you did not draw our attention to the fact that these paragraphs were not in your document when you were making your submissions. And so, until the vigilance of the Majority Leader, we would have been made to believe that the Ministry — In fact, you even said you were trying to call the Hon Minister. You may continue but please take this on board. Get the proper document now and refer to it and recount your words.
Mr Speaker, apart from the fact that those pages are missing, the place of science and technology so far as this document is concerned, is nothing to write home about.
So, the thrust of your contribution has changed?
Mr Speaker, yes.
So, would you humbly withdraw the first part, and that you made those statements because you were —
I was misled.
You were misled by who?
By the document that was given to me. I was misled by those who compiled the document, and I do not want to say, the President.
You misled yourself.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague has gone on to say that, as far as this document is concerned — and he points to his own document — the contents on the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology is nothing to write home about. And so, there is something before him —
He conceded to that early on. That is why I said he should withdraw.
Mr Speaker, he pointed to his own document and said that the contents in this document are nothing to write home about —
Mr Speaker, if one is led to make a mistake, we do not blame the person who made the mistake. I have to blame those who gave me this document, and the fact that even the complete one has only one paragraph, so far as the application of science and technology is concerned and that can be found in paragraph 357 — Science and Technology in Food and Agricultural Development Programme. Mr Speaker, what we are told is that, 90,000 metric tonnes of subsidised fertilizer -- And this is what is supposed to be the application of science and technology. Mr Speaker, are we serious? No! That is why I am so worried this afternoon because, we have had a lot of Statements on the floor of this Parliament, reminding stakeholders; the Government and for that matter, all of us, that without science and technology, we cannot have the “One District, One Factory” and the good roads. I understand we want to revamp even the Obuasi gold mines. Mr Speaker, we need to take into consideration its impact on the environment. That is the reason I want this government and subsequent ones, hopefully after 2020, to take seriously the issue of the application of science and technology. Mr Speaker, even if we decide now that we are going to play down our local contribution so far as science and technology is concerned — whatever technology we import, we need the expertise to verify and ascertain. Mr Speaker, I was at the airport this weekend and somebody had imported some chemicals into the country. Those who were there to verify and make sure that they do not bring in dangerous chemicals into this country, are scientists. But if day in, day out, we continue to discourage people who are interested in the study of science and technology — This is because, I have sighted programmes by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation where they want to embark on some awareness campaign. They want to ginger the interest in science and technology. I want to see that because, the President on 6th March, 2017, said a lot about the environment. But it is not in this document and we know what happens in this country — once it is not in the policy, getting it done is going to be very difficult, if not impossible. And that is the reason I believe, this Budget Statement, yes, with a lot of lofty ideas, but I describe it as a limping one because it is not founded on science and technology. Thank you Mr Speaker for the opportunity.
May we now listen to Hon Collins Owusu Amankwah — Hon Members, in his absence, we would listen to Hon Dr Kojo Appiah-Kubi.
Mr Speaker, the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 Financial Year presented to Parliament on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017, by Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister for Finance, is indeed a pragmatic Budget Statement.
Hon Member, since when did you become a Member of this Parliament?
Mr Speaker, since 2009. But then I have been following —
So you are very young here.
Mr Speaker, I can convince you that I have all copies of Budget Statements and Economic Policies since 1993.
And so, you experienced the implementation of those Budget Statements before you came to the House, and you are in the position to say that this is the only —
Mr Speaker, I am not saying the “only”. I said, the most pragmatic one ever to be presented to this august House.
Well, it is your humble opinion, and so, we should accept it. Please, continue.
Mr Speaker, it is indeed a pragmatic Budget Statement because it tackles the major challenges that the country faces. Mr Speaker, it presents strategies and actions that are in line with the economic paradigm of the NPP and that is going for aggressive growth -- that is the economic paradigm of the NPP which we executed between 2001 and 2008. This involves expanding the frontiers of the economy and stimulating the private sector to generate jobs and income for poverty reduction. It indeed sows the seeds not only for growth and jobs, but also for poverty reduction. Mr Speaker, between 2001 and 2008 --
Hon Member, I thought the Budget Statement spoke about “poverty eradication” and not “poverty reduction” and I believe the better word is “eradication”. So let us focus on eradicating poverty and not reducing poverty.
Mr Speaker, I would take a cue from you --
No, you would take a cue from the Budget Statement and not from me. [Laughter.]
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, between 2001 and 2008, the NPP Government pursued growth aggressive economic policies and economic reforms that succeeded in growing the economy successively from 3.7 per cent in 2001 to about 9.1 per cent in 2009. This brought about an average growth in income from about US$4.40 in 2001 to about US$1,266 within the same period. Consequently, the private sector responded by expanding their activities and creating job opportunities and generated income. The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1 was fast achieved ahead of schedule and Ghana catapulted from a lower middle income country to a low middle income country; indeed, from a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) to a lower middle income country. Mr Speaker, contrary to this growth aggressive policy of the NPP, within the period of 2009 to 2016, under the NDC Administration, the Government adopted a fiscal management policy which dwelt on fiscal consolidation. But such an economic paradigm does not take cognisance of the needs of the real sectors of the economy and thus the real sectors of the economy could not grow.
Mr Speaker, the growth rate for instance declined --
Hon Member for Asante Akim North, I can see your Hon Colleague from Sagnarigu on his feet.
Mr Speaker, I am from Atwima Kwanwoma and not from Asante Akim North. Thank you.
Thank you for the correction.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is not only misleading the House but is grossly distorting issues. Mr Speaker, by his own statement, he is indicating that there was no positive growth in any other important sectors of the economy. This is at variance with what is contained in the 2017 Budget Statement.
Hon Member, you are out of order. Hon Appiah-Kubi, may you continue with your contribution.
As a result of the total neglect of the real sectors of the economy, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate declined from 9.3 per cent in 2009 to just a paltry 3.6 per cent in 2012. While under the previous NPP regime, average income rose by 187.4 per cent between 2009 and 2016, under the NDC Government average income rose by a paltry 17 per cent. Mr Speaker, the situation looks much worse under President Mahama. Average income even declined by about 12 per cent under President Mahama.
Hon Member, kindly draw our attention to the document that you are referring to, so that we know whether the source is credible and Hon Members would make reference to it. If you are also speaking from your own -- please, let us know if that is your opinion.
Mr Speaker, I drew some of my sources from the State of the Ghanaian Economy Report of Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana. I also drew some of my references --
Do you actually have those reports here?
I have them in my room at home.
When you are referring to figures, particularly percentages of this nature, it is important that you tell us the source of your --
Mr Speaker, I thought you were also enjoying my submission and would allow me to flow. [Laughter.]
I am to follow your submission and to make sure that in part, the House educates the public. I would want to make sure that your submission is really elucidative and that is why I am drawing your attention to this requirement of our rules and practice.
Mr Speaker, for such a paper, you cannot depend on just one source and so I drew references from a lot of sources. One of which is the Ghanaian Economy Report and that is a publication in series.
When you just refer to it like this -- of which year? There are so many reports from
Mr Speaker, 2014.
Hon Member, 2014?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
And we are in 2017 --
Mr Speaker, hold on; I am coming. [Laughter.] I am giving you the additional references.
Hon Member, you see, I am asking you this because of your statements that real incomes declined during the period that His Excellency John Dramani Mahama was President --
Yes; by 12 per cent, in terms of dollars.
You are now referring to a document dated 2014 but his tenure ended in 2017. So, you are telling us from the beginning of his era.
Mr Speaker, as I said, at the beginning, there were lots of sources that I made reference to and one additional reference is the Annual Progress Report of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and another --
Of which year?
Mr Speaker, that is also 2015. [Interruption.] Another source is also the NPP Manifesto which is also a
Well, I can see the Hon Deputy Minority Leader on his feet, so, please, just give him the opportunity. Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Leader, are you rising on a point of order?
Mr Speaker, I would just want to say that the point that you have drawn the Hon Member's attention to, is very relevant and that the rules of the House say that if one is making references to a specific document, or makes a statement which is categorical and supports it with reference, one has to provide that reference. The Hon Member was trying to quote those references without providing them. If he has them, he should lay them for our reference purposes. But if he does not have them, then he should withdraw those statements and continue his submissions.
Hon Members, may we take it that at this stage it is just his opinion, then we can move on. He has drawn our attention to some publications. Hon Members are at liberty to go through those publications and to see whether his opinions have any basis. As of now, I do not believe it would be proper for me to say he should withdraw all that because he has referred to some publications. It is not as if he has no basis at all. So, please, Hon Member, continue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Sorry, are you now saying four per cent? [Pause.] Initially, you said 12 per cent.
Yes, 12 per cent. That is what I said.
But now, you just stated four per cent.
No, I said 12 per cent -- and I am giving you the absolute figures -- from US$1637.8 in 2013 to less than US$1300. Even the minimum wage declined by almost 24 per cent in dollar terms and that can be referenced in the NPP Manifesto. It is also a publication which I could offer as a book of reference.
I like your authority. [Laughter.] Is your authority the NPP Manifesto?
Yes, and it was written by experts.
Yes, including you.
Yes, of course. [Laughter.]
Please, kindly conclude.
Mr Speaker, consequently, the poverty picture in Ghana currently is such that, even though poverty levels seem to have declined in relative terms, it seems to be increasing in absolute terms. Quite an increasing number of Ghanaians are moving below the poverty line. Mr Speaker, it is the reversal of this situation that the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy seeks to do. It seeks to present economic policy strategies and actions to increase income, generate employment and to reduce or alleviate poverty. Mr Speaker, the Budget Statement and Economic Policy is rife with a lot of policies and measures --
Hon Member, I did draw the attention of your Hon Colleagues to the fact that you are reducing the high standard that has been set by the Budget Statement. The Budget Statement is talking about eradicating poverty and not alleviating or reducing. It talks about eradicating it totally and you are arguing on the basis of that policy. Or are you reviewing the policy for us?
No, I dare not do that, Mr Speaker.
But Mr Speaker, it is also a matter for debate whether the word, ‘alleviating', ‘reducing' or what you prefer is the best or right word to use. Thank you but I will take a cue from you. The Budget Statement is rife with a lot of policies, measures and strategies to eradicate poverty. These include creating an enabling environment to stimulate business growth, encourage job creation and eradicating poverty through a number of targeted government policy interventions. Mr Speaker, even the scrapping of the Kayayei tolls can also be seen as a poverty eradicating measure. Tax credit to firms which employ new graduates is also a poverty eradicating measure. We have the “One District, One Factory”; “One Constituency, One Million dollars” the Zongo Development Fund; Planting for Food and Jobs; “One Village, One Dam”; and a whole lot of other measures.
Hon Member, your last sentence.
Mr Speaker, I cannot finish without mentioning the stimulus package in the Budget Statement which is meant to strengthen the private sector, particularly, the manufacturing sector to generate jobs, incomes and eradicate poverty. It is exactly this that the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy seeks to do. I am of the firm belief that Nana Addo Dankwa's Budget Statement for 2017 will be able to eradicate poverty by the end of his term.
Hon Member, thank you very much but we have a President called Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. He is not Nana Addo Dankwa. They are different persons altogether.
Very well, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much. Will we now listen to Hon Isaac Adjei Mensah? [Interruption.] I am told that Hon Kwame Twumasi Ampofo is now ready to contribute.
Hon Member, please, what did you say? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I said H.E. the President, Nana Akufo-Addo Dankwa -- [Laughter.]
Hon Member, are you referring to a different person other than the President we have?
Mr Speaker, I am referring to Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I would like him to check his blind spot before moving the vehicle. When driving on a highway, if one wants to change lane, one would have to check one's rear mirrors before one changes the lane. Even after checking the rear mirror, one still has to check one's blind spots. This is because, if a car is so close to one and he or she does not check his blind spot, upon checking one's rear mirror, one would still not see the car so close to him. Therefore, there would be an accident. We would want Nana Akufo-Addo to therefore come out clearly before he puts up these factories. It is very important that the blind spots are checked before the factories are set up. Mr Speaker, we cannot build factories without roads. We cannot build factories without water. We cannot build factories without energy. If proper factories can be set up to sustain this country, all these measures must be put in place.
Mr Speaker, we cannot also put up factories without technical men. We need technical teams to handle these factories. We need skilful persons to handle these factories. Mr Speaker, if we therefore put all these things together, we could build a good factory. We do not just want to put factories out there and within some years these factories would be dumped.
President Nkrumah's time, we know that he built a lot of factories and because we could not manage them, that is why most of the factories are down. Therefore, we do not want to misuse tax payer's moneys and that is why I am saying that we welcome these factories but Mr Speaker
Hon Members, I want guidance from the Leadership. Is it the intention of the House that we extend Sitting?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Yes, it is the intention of Leadership that we extend Sitting.
Should we extend Sitting?
Mr Speaker, yes, provision has even been made for Hon Members.
Sitting is hereby extended in accordance with the rules of the House. Please, you may continue now.
Mr Speaker, I said that Dr Nkrumah built a lot of factories -- Mr Alexander K. Afenyo-Markin - - rose --
Hon Member for Sene West, I can see the Hon Member for Effutu on his feet. Yes, please, is it on a point of order?
Hon Member, I do not need your guidance. You said just for my guidance.
Definitely, you know that, that project is mentioned in the Budget Statement. You would want him to refer you to the specific paragraph.
Hon Member, please take that on board.
Mr Speaker, when we go to page 80, we would see the factory that I am talking about there. I do not know if President Nana Akufo-Addo or the New Patriotic Party (NPP) wants to tell us --
Mr Speaker, I hope the NPP does not want to just come out with campaign strategies of putting up factories, we want proper factories. Therefore, before the factories are put up, all these measures that I have talked about; skillful persons, technical team, energy, water and transport should be combined with this before we could get proper factories. If not, in the near future, all these would be damped in the various districts. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, on the free Senior High School (SHS), it is fully welcome and it is in order, but I am still emphasising that His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo should still check his blind spot. If not, all this free SHS would come to play but we are not going to get quality education. We want quality not quantity. Mr Speaker, we cannot introduce free SHS without considering a lot of factors. We need to consider the allowances of teachers, incentives, libraries, the tools -- that is technical equipment and so on and teaching and learning materials. If all these things are not there, it would be difficult for us to get quality education while it is free. It might be free but the quality might not be there. Mr Speaker, if we go to some schools as I speak, the students are so packed that the desks that they have to sit on; two students to a desk, they would be three students to a desk. That was why His Excellency ex-President Mahama said he would want to do it progressively, but not in an aggressive way. So, if President Akufo-Addo wants to do it aggressively, he should check his blind spot in order not to do it without quality. Other agencies are talking about this quality issue and so, President Akufo- Addo should step back and re-think about it, because the free would be there but the quality might not be there. Mr Speaker, if we go to some districts, some of the education directors do not even have cars to monitor the teachers, some of the circuit supervisors do not have motor bicycles to monitor the teachers to assist in quality education. Therefore, all these things need to be checked, if not the quality might not be there. Mr Speaker, we need to put tax payer's money into good use. As a country, we need to come out with the best plans and policies that would assist us in getting quality education but not just ‘free' education. It is not that we do not want the free education, we all want it and we welcome it, but the quality aspect is what we are talking about, President Akufo-Addo should therefore check his blind spot if not, the ‘free' would be there but the quality might not be there. Mr Speaker, let me just tackle some few issues on the economy. On the economy, from the economical theme of the NPP, I do not see much of a difference from that of ex-President Kufuor's era. It is only a few changes. During ex-President Kufuor's time, they shrunk the money, there was re-denomination of the cedi and at that time --
Hon Member, your Hon Colleague is once again on his feet. Yes, please?
Hon Member, he is simply drawing our attention to the maxim that, you must step on terra firma before you jump to medias res. That is why he is simply saying that you must have the necessary infrastructure in place before you start implementing the establishment of factories. So, he was referring to roads, energy, water, et cetera. That is why he is not talking about provisions in the sense of money. Hon Member, please, continue
Mr Speaker, thank you. I am still on the economy and like I said, in my view what they did was just shrinking the money and we did not see any value or any benefit.
Hon Member, what did you say? That they were shrinking the money?
Mr Speaker, re- denomination. I see redenomination as shrinking the money. Mr Speaker, at that time or initially, it was GH¢0.80 to a United States dollar, which means the Ghanaian cedi was powerful to the United States dollar. Later, it came to GH¢0.95 to the dollar --
So, the words you used were “shrinking the money”?
Mr Speaker, I was referring to “redenomination”. Mr Speaker, from GH¢0.80 to a United States dollar, it came to GH¢0.95 to a United States dollar, yet it did not end there. And the value of the cedi was still higher than the United States dollar. It did not end there. It came to a United States dollar equivalent to a Ghana cedi. That means it was one on one. It came to GH¢1.20 to a United States dollar. Mr Speaker, so, in my view, I did not see any value or anything which showed that they were able to manage the economy, and I still see almost the same team who are going to manage the economy. If we check Dr Bawumia, who is the Vice President, the Senior Minister, who is Nana Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Hon Member for Old Tafo who is the Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, it is almost the same team; there are only few changes. Therefore, Mr Speaker, I do not see any changes which they are going to bring to this economy because from GH¢0.80 to GH¢1.20 equivalent to a United States dollar, I did not see the change they brought to the economy at that time, because they themselves could not manage the economy then. What tells that this time, they would be able to manage the economy? Mr Speaker, I do not see it, but we are praying for them. If all goes well, it is better for all of us. I am praying for them, that they could manage the economy well so that all of us would be relieved from this poverty. I am saying that they should check their blind spot in order not to send us into a ditch. Mr Speaker, I am not going to say much. With these few words, I thank you very much for allowing me.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. May we now listen to the Hon (Maj.) Derek Oduro (retd.)? Maj. Derek Oduro (retd) (NPP -- Nkoranza North): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, I would want to restrict myself to the security aspect of the Financial Policy. Basically, we have three Ministries responsible for the security of this nation. They are the Ministry of National Security, Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of the Interior. Mr Speaker, if time would allow me, I would touch on all these three Ministries, but if time does not allow me -- Mr Speaker, let me straightaway go to the Ministry of Defence. As we all know, the Ministry of Defence has three arms of service; the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. The Army deals with land defence, the Navy handles sea or maritime
Hon Member, are the support services not part of the Ministry? This is because you only mentioned the Ghana Armed Forces as constituting the Ministry and I was wondering whether the support services do not form part of the Ministry. Maj. Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, you are right. You can never be wrong. The Ghana Armed Forces basically has three arms of services. The support service is a tri- service. Therefore, it also assists these three arms of service. Therefore, either from the Navy, Air Force or from the Army, one could be employed to provide the services for these three arms of service.
Hon Member, I see an Hon Friend on his feet. Do not worry, I would add the minutes. You would get sufficient time to contribute because this is a very important area.
On a point of order.
“(1) The presence of at least one- third of all the Members of Parliament besides the person presiding shall be necessary to constitute a quorum on the House.” Mr Speaker, the House is virtually empty. So, I would want to seek your leave and guidance as well as your understanding whether we should continue proceedings.
Hon Member, read Order 48 (2).
Mr Speaker, I thank you, once again. “(2) If at the time of sitting a Member takes notice or objection that there are present in the House, besides the person presiding,
less than one-third of the number of all the Members of Parliament, and after an interval of ten minutes a quorum is not present, the person presiding shall adjourn the House without Question put until the next sitting day.”
Hon Members, may we continue. Maj. Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, as I was saying, the arms of --
Hon Norgbey, I did not rule on your issue because you have not drawn my attention to the number of people present in the House who do not constitute the one- third. So, what we could do is to let the Clerks-at-the-Table count, since you have drawn my attention, then, we would also have to give ten minutes, where the bell would be rung. If at the end of that we do not get the quorum, we could sustain your point of order. Definitely, once you are on a point of order, you should have cited Order 91(c). It says: “(91) Debates may be interrupted -- (c) by attention being called to the absence of a quorum”. So, that one would be a point of order before going to Order 48. That is the procedure. So, Clerks, kindly let me know those who are present and let the bell be rung. So, Hon Member for Nkoranza North, please, continue. Maj. Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, to ensure the effective safeguard of sovereignty and territorial integrity of this nation, the Financial Policy before us seeks to make available equipment and all that it needs to prepare the services in this Ministry, to make them combat ready to defend the nation, anytime, anywhere. Mr Speaker, for this reason, I would want us to look at page 124, paragraph 721. Permit me to quote: “The Ministry would procure personnel gear/basic equipment, Ammunition, tents, and Navigational Aids and also purchase adequate Aircraft Spares as well as complete two Operations rooms to monitor and co-ordinate maritime surveillance activities.” Mr Speaker, this is to ensure that the services are made combat ready to avert any possible security breach or security attack on this nation. Mr Speaker, the Government also has a policy to increase the strength of the Armed Forces. Again, let me refer you to page 124, paragraph 725, of the Budget Statement, and with your permission, I quote: “In 2017, the Ministry will undertake recruitment and training of 1200 Young Men and Women and prepare 1000 troops for internal security operations as well as conduct field exercises for 500 personnel for Internal Security Operations.” Mr Speaker, we all know that in the country, the internal security is the responsibility of the Police. When they are overburdened, the Armed Forces is made to assist them, and that is what we call the “IS Operations”, which in other words means “Internal Security Operations”. Mr Speaker, it is not only a tactical equipment provision which makes the members of the Ghana Armed Forces, the personnel or the troops comfortable. If we want the comfortability of these troops, then we would have to ensure their welfare and wellbeing. Mr Speaker, let me again, quote from what the Financial Policy says on page 124, paragraph 722, and Mr Speaker, I read: “To mitigate the accommodation and housing deficit of all service personnel, Government will begin to refurnish and renovate all military barracks across the country under the “Barracks Renegotiation Project”. The project will considerable ease the accommoda- tion problem for staff on completion.” Mr Speaker, accommodation is a problem in the Ministry. Other security ministries also have the same problem, but now that we talk about the Ministry of Defence, it is an eyesore when one visits any of these barracks in the country, either 1Battalion of Infantry, which is in Tema, 2BN in Takoradi, 3 Battalion of Infantory; Sunyani, 4 Battalion of Infantory in Kumasi, 5 Battalion of Infantory in Accra here, and 6 battalion of Infantory in Tamale. Mr Speaker, if one goes there or visits these barracks or units, one would find out that, the barracks are very old, and it is very bad to see that human beings live in those accommodations. The policy to renovate these barracks, is a step in the right direction. Mr Speaker, another welfare package is the policy to pay the troops on peace keeping operations at the mission areas. That is what we have in the system. When troops go on peace keeping operations outside this country, the United Nations give them allowances. These allowances are supposed to be given to them at the mission areas. Of late, we see that they come back home before allowances are paid to them. This is to the dissatisfaction of the troops. Mr Speaker, this Government has made it a policy, that never again would these allowances be paid in Ghana. The allowances are meant to support the troops to acquire basic necessities - tooth brushes, toothpaste, soap and the like. But if these allowances are paid in Ghana, then it denies them of getting these basic necessities, therefore, the allowances per the Government are to be paid at the mission area.
Hon Member, please, may we listen to your Hon Colleague on the floor? Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I am surprised at what the Hon Member who just spoke said.
Please, Hon Member, you have not told us why you are on your feet, and you are expressing surprise. Hon Member, why are you on your feet?
[MAJ. ODURO (RETD)]Mr Ntow: Mr Speaker, my Hon Friend has misled and misinformed us because, toothpastes are produced and sold in this country, not outside Ghana. They should come to Ghana and buy, so that we would grow the economy. Why should they buy from outside? Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, you are completely out of order. [Laughter.] Please, Hon Member, continue. Maj. Oduro (retd): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I have been in Ghana --
Hon Member, do not respond to him because he has never been in the military. You are a retired Major so -- Maj. Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, I wanted to tell him that I had served in the Armed Forces for 27 good years before I became a Member of Parliament.
He who feels it, knows it better. So, continue. Maj. Oduro (retd): Very well, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I have had the opportunity to become the paymaster -- a finance officer that paid troops in the field, so I know what I am talking about. During my time, that was not the case, so one would be paid over there and not in Ghana. Allowances were paid to Ghana Government, direct into Ghana Government's account in the United States of America (USA). Therefore, the money is supposed to be used to pay. The Finance officer goes to assess the number of troops --
Hon Member, I ruled him out of order, so please do not use all your minutes to respond to him. Maj. Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, I would not waste my ammunition on him. Mr Speaker, the Government was able to pay GH¢ 13 million as the arrears for peacekeeping operations due the peace- keeping troops, and that is a commendable idea undertaken by the Government. Mr Speaker, with the Ghana Armed Forces, anytime they are enlisted, the first engagement or the initial engagement is for five years. Averagely, a soldier is supposed to be between 18 and maybe 25 to 26 years. So, averagely, he/she is supposed to be 20 years. The initial engagement is five years, then he would re-engage to complete ten years. After that, extra five years would lead him or her to pension --
Hon Member, issue of relevance. When we are dealing with the Budget Statement but you use your time to educate us about -- Maj. Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, because of the way everybody is listening to me attentively, I have seen that Hon Members are very interested in my delivery.
By the time you realise, you would have used all your time to educate them about recruitment -- Maj. Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, I know you are already aware, and you would grant me the priviledge, as the Chairman of the Defence and Interior Committee with three Ministries under me. I could see from your face that you would give me extra time to deliver. Mr Speaker, Government has extended the pension period of the troops from 25 years to 30 years. From five years, one would re-engage, prolong the service and end up with 25 years, but still the soldiers are young, and one could see that. Therefore, Government has increased the period from 25 years to 30 years, and it is a welcome news for the members of the military. Mr Speaker, with the way things are going, if I am not careful, you would ask me to conclude. Therefore, I would jump straight away to the Ministry of the Interior. Mr Speaker, the Ministry of the Interior comprises a lot of institutions. It involves the Police, the Prisons, Fire Service, Immigration, Narcotics Control Board, Small Arms Commission and other institutions. Mr Speaker, the problems in the Ministry of Defence, accommodation and all that you can think of, are not different from the challenges in the Ghana Police Service. Mr Speaker, permit me to quote from page 128, paragraph 753. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I quote: “In 2017, the Ghana Police Service will continue visibility and accessibility programme, minimise the incidence of violent crimes, improve road, marine safety as well as traffic enforcement and manage- ment, enhance day and night patrols on highways, commercial and residential suburbs of the major cities and contribute fully in international engagements with the United Nations (UN) and other relevant bodies in maintaining peace and security across the world.” That is the basic function of the Police as part of the Ministry of the Interior. Mr Speaker, of late, we have heard and observed that citizens are attacked by armed robbers on our highways. These days, the visibility programme that the Police have embarked on has tremendously decreased or reduced the incidence of armed robbery attack on our highways. They have now moved to the hinterlands and the attacks come from the roads that are in the villages. This is what we insist that the Ghana Police Service would also move to join the people over there and make sure that they are also flushed out at that place. This is because, of late, we heard of activities of armed robbers at Kwame Danso and the Atebubu area. We heard of other areas -- it is not on the highways but rather in the villages. If they move this visibility programme into those areas, it would go a long way to curb the activities of the armed robbers. Once the provision has been made and the policy is clearly spelt out, that policy would be encouraged or Government would make sure that the programme goes on. We would want them to be there. We would also want them to be in the areas in the cities where very important personalities (VIPs) reside, especially Members of Parliament. Always, we hear about armed robbery attacks on Members of Parliament and other Very Important Persons (VIPs) in the country. We also want the policy, as it is rolled out, to cover these areas, so that Members of Parliament and other “big men” can also benefit. Mr Speaker, the House passed an Act --
Hon Member, you have two more minutes. I added some minutes. Maj. Oduro (retd): After the --
Yes, please. I did. Maj. Oduro (retd): The Immigration Service Act, Act 908, was passed by this House in 2016 and that Act was passed to enable the Immigration Service to expand, employ more personnel and empower them to hold arms and ammunition. The Armed Forces were in charge of our borders but somewhere along the line, they were withdrawn and the Immigration Service took over. Per the law, they were not permitted to carry arms. The Act that we passed in this House empowers them to carry arms and ammunition. As of now, they do not have arms and ammunition. Therefore, the idea that the Act would be implemented to the letter is a welcome news, so that personnel of the Immigration Service would be allowed to carry arms because, they cannot chase border offenders and criminals criss-crossing the border with their bare hands. Therefore, it is very necessary for the Immigration Service personnel to carry weapons to ensure adequate security on our borders. Mr Speaker, let me, within one minute, touch on the Ministry of National Security. Matters of security nature are not supposed to go deep into the valley, but I would want to refer us finally to paragraph 771, on page 131 of the Budget Statement that we have in front of us.
“In 2017, the Ministry would initiate and formulate policies to ensure the effective and efficient management of security issues; coordinate and evaluate the efficiency and the effective --
Hon Member, is it on paragraph 771? Maj. Oduro (retd): I am sorry, Mr Speaker. It is on paragraph 766 on page 130.
All right. Maj. Oduro (retd): It reads: “In 2017, the Ministry will initiate and formulate policies to ensure the effective and efficient management of security issues; coordinate and evaluate the efficiency and the effectiveness of the performance of the security and intelligence agencies; present reports on the Intelligence Agencies to Go- vernment and Parliament ...”
“… provide intelligence reports to Government and Parliament.” We have not seen the reports in Parliament. Security issues are supposed to be shared with Parliamentarians. Mr Speaker, you have your Committee, the Defence and Interior Committee is supposed to be at par with security in this country. Maybe, now that we have a separate Ministry for security, we would release that aspect of the policy for the Ministry of National Security to share intelligence with Parliament. Mr Speaker, since you are blinking your eyes and I know that sooner or later you would say that my time is up, let me end here -- [Laughter] -- and urge all Hon Colleagues --
Hon Member, you are completely out of order. Mr Speaker, let me urge all Hon Members of the House to support the financial policy of Government ending 31st December, 2017.
Thank you very much. May we now listen to Hon Isaac Adjei Mensah?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 financial year as was presented by the Hon Minister for Finance. Mr Speaker, I would focus my attention on the road sector, but before I do that, I would want to add my voice to the numerous speakers who have commended the Hon Minister for Finance for his brilliant presentation. Well done, Hon Minister. Mr Speaker, I would also want to commend the Government for the bold decision to continue with the good works by the NDC Government. That is what is required of us in our development, going forward. Mr Speaker, the contents of the Budget Statement create the impression that there are new roads to be constructed. And indeed, on page 93, we have a lot of roads mentioned there; notably, the construc- tion of bridges at Bolgatanga-Bawku- Polmakom, Nkwanta-Oti-Damonko Road; all these roads, Mr Speaker, are existing projects. They are no new projects and the Budget seems to create the impression that, these are new projects. I would have wished that the Government would give commendation and recognition to the NDC Government for carrying through and initiating all these projects, but we see that, that is not happening. The impression created here is also misleading because some of these projects are at the completion stage. Mention could be made of the Kasoa Interchange which is at an advanced stage of completion and many others. And indeed, as was reiterated by Hon Members of Parliament who spoke earlier, majority of these projects have secured funding. So, it is misleading to create the impression that these roads are going to be constructed. Mr Speaker, I would also, in going forward, want to express my worries that the impression, again, is being created by the Hon Minister that no new roads would be constructed, and that is worrying. If there are no new roads to be constructed, it is worrying because, we already have a huge road deficit, therefore, the NDC Government put in place numerous programmes to ensure that this situation is arrested.
Hon Member, kindly, draw my attention to the paragraph where the Hon Minister spoke about review of these roads.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's presentation, on page 189 he d id ind ica te tha t in 2017 , Government will not undertake a review --
Please, page 189?
Yes, of the Hon Minister's presentation here. It is not in this Budget Statement, it in his presentation. In the presentation by the Hon Minister, he indicated that -- [Interruption] -- he said that no new projects would be undertaken but Government would undertake --
So, are you referring to the Hansard?
Yes, the Hansard, Mr Speaker. So, it is clear that this Government will not start any new projects, and the caution is that because we have existing projects, some at various stages of completion, if they are going to review them, care should be taken so that they do not shatter the hopes or throw away the hopes of the people who have been informed that these roads are indeed, going to be constructed. Mr Speaker, in 2009 when the NDC took over, it took over a total road network of 42,210. That is what the NDC inherited from the NPP Government. Out of these, 40 per cent of the roads were in good condition, 21 per cent in fair condition, and 31 per cent in poor condition. That was in 2009. Mr Collins Owusu Amankwah -- rose
Hon Member, are you on your feet?
Yes, Mr Speaker. I believe my Hon Colleague is misleading the whole House in that --
Please, you have not told us why you are on your feet.
Mr Speaker, on Standing Order 92 (2).
Are you on a point of order?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Standing Order 92 what?
Standing Order 92 (2). Mr Speaker, with your kind permission, I read: “When a point of order has been stated the Member interrupting shall resume his seat and except by leave of Mr Speaker no other Member shall rise until Mr Speaker has decided the matter. When effect has been given to the decision, where necessary, the Member who was speaking shall be entitled to proceed with his speech unless the decision prevents him.”
Yes, when a point of order is raised, you have not raised a point of order yet, so, I want you to raise a point of order and see whether you are in order.
Mr Speaker, I just want to draw the attention of the House that, the Hon Member is misleading with --
So, which Standing Order gives you that authority to draw our attention to the fact that the Hon Member is misleading the House?
Mr Speaker, I want to seek your guidance on this particular issue, respectfully, Mr Speaker. [Laughter.]
Definitely, we are governed by rules and it is part of my duties to enforce the rules, so that we can maintain order. This is because, you have conflictual opinions, ideas and perspectives, and it is the Orders that allow us to have meaningful debates. So, when you stand on a point of order, you have to draw our attention to the Order. And that is all what I want.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
And when you say misleading, it does not give you that authority to raise a point of order. When the person is misleading the House, it does not give you that authority. If the person is deliberately misleading the House, because it is an issue of the state of mind, intention, it means that it will affect the imagev and the reputation of the House. And that is why it is put under contempt of Parliament.
And that is Standing Order 30 (f).
Yes, and the procedure is Standing Order 31. So, when you raise that, I would ask you whether I should refer the matter to the Committee of Privileges. This is because, that is not an issue of order that we should interrupt but I can refer you to the Committee of Privileges to inform us whether what the person did, he had deliberately misled the House. If so found, there would be penal sanction and the penal sanction can involve suspension of a Member from the House. So, they are there; there have been a lot of written authorities on these things.
Exactly so, Mr Speaker. With your kind permission, would you allow me to proceed?
If you disagree with an Hon Member, kindly note down the point, when it is your turn, then you can articulate that. I listened to Hon Dr Appiah-Kubi, he spoke a lot on this issue - no, it was Hon Adjei. He spoke a lot on these issues. He gave us different data from what the Hon Member also gave. So, I will listen to him, guide him and draw his attention to some of these things so that, the House would have some understanding on the matter. So, if he is deliberately misleading the House, I will definitely sanction him.
Yes, he is intentionally doing that. Thank you.
So, may you resume your seat?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Records at the Ministry of Roads and Highways indicate that, at the end of 2016, the total road network was 72,380.65 kilometres. Out of this figure, we have 39 per cent of the roads in good condition, 32 per cent in fair condition and 29 per cent as poor. So, if we compare the road networks that we took over from the NPP in 2009, we have added about 80 per cent; that is from 42,000 kilometres to 72,000 kilometres, which is about 30,000 kilometres.
Hon Member, you have to draw our attention to the source of your information because it differs greatly --
The Annual Report of Ministry of Roads and Highways.
Of Ministry of Roads and Highways. It even reflects --
Sorry, please --
The Annual Report?
End of year 2016. In fact, it even reflects in the Transition Report that was handed over to --
You say the Annual Report of 2016?
2016 Report on Roads Condition Mix.
Official report of the Ministry?
Which is ready, the 2016 Report is ready?
Condition of Road Mix Report with the Ministry of Roads and Highways. So, it is easily attainable, and my Hon Colleague, Hon Aduomi, even referenced it. It is an open document --
The figures he gave us are different from the figures that you quoted. The 39 per cent and the rest are correct, but the other figures, there seems to be some discrepancies.
Mr Speaker, it is the same. The 72, 380.65 kilometres is the total road network as we have now, and he made the same remark. What I said was that, at the end of 2009, the total road network was 42,210 kilometres. I just want to prove the fact that, road conditions are now better than in the past when we took over from the NDC. I say so because, if the totality of our road network was 42,210 kilometres and we had 31 per cent of this quantum described as poor -- We have 72,000 kilometres, almost a doubled of 3,080.6 kilometres, but we have 29 per cent to be poor; it is appreciable that , indeed, the road situation is better than we inherited from the NDC Government. We do not say that there are no challenges. There are deficits, and that is why it is worrying that hope is not given to people, that this year, there would be new roads to be constructed, so that we can bridge the gap. We are not saying that, all these projects that have been inherited should be done this year. Hope should be given to people, that it would be done in phases.
Yes, the available Hon Leader of the Majority is on his feet.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. When my Hon Colleague mentioned that this year there would be no roads constructed, that generated into a problem. If we read the 2017 Budget Statement, paragraph 510 lists roads that are supposed to be continued and constructed. Then paragraph 511 states: “In addition, the Ministry will construct a number of bridges on trunk, feeder and urban road networks across the country.” If we look at the roads that have been mentioned above, my constituency -- construction of Pokuase Interchange -- [Interruption] -- it is not there. Is it physically there? It is not physically there. It is going to be constructed. Kumasi road and drainage extension project -- So, it has not been done; it is going to be constructed. So, if the Hon Member says there would not be new roads constructed, that is the worry. He must come back and accept this one, then he can continue from there.
What he is simply saying is that, even though these are programmes of the former regime, there is no work on some of these roads. They have not commenced work on the roads. So, if you go to construct them now, they would be seen as new roads under construction.
Mr Speaker, I believe the understanding we have is that, of course, when the NDC took over, the gang of four was started by the NPP, but we never captured them as projects that we initiated. All that the Hon Member has said is that we cannot see anything in this Budget Statement which is a project that is already not known to this country. That is the point we are making. We said that, everything in this Budget Statement, talks about projects that have already been in gestation or almost about to go to site. Either procurement is in progress or -- but there is nothing here that tells us that the President intends to do anything new from what the previous Government --
He has quoted paragraph 511, of the Budget Statement which are additional; they are new.
Mr Speaker, if we want to talk about roads, sometimes in this House, the fashion is that, we cannot list all the roads that were constructed, but we just mention some salient ones. It is missing in this particular Budget Statement.
It is a style of presentation. So, please, let us allow him to continue with his contribution.
Thank you Mr Speaker. On page 93, paragraph 510, please permit me to read: “In 2017, 195km of trunk roads and 25km of urban roads will be constructed. Some of the key projects include: construction of Bridge on the Volta River at Volivo; Nsawam-Apedwa Road (Kwa- fokrom-Apedwa Road); Tamale-Yendi Road; Bolgatanga-Bawku-Polmakom;” All these roads are in various stages of construction and completion. So, they are not new roads. We have gone through a lot of processes, through procurement processes, so construction does not just start with machines on the field. Documentaton and procurement pro- cesses form part of construction. All I am saying is that, these are not new roads. Most of them have funding. We have secured funding for them. My worry is that, in the Hon Minister's abridged presentation, he said that, in 2017, government would review existing projects. My worry is that, would the review result in the reduction of the projects? When is it going to start, and when is it going to end? We are cautioning that, because these are good and critical roads that would end up trying to fix the road deficit, we must be careful to attend to all these. Mr Speaker, I was on the road condition mix. All I said was that, road conditions now are better than we inherited in the past. Hon Kwabena Owusu-Aduomi also confirmed that there are serious deficits in our road network. That is why we need to have reasonable programmes and plans in place to address them. Unfortunately, we did not see this. Mr Speaker, we also know that, cocoa is the backbone of the economy, therefore, roads in cocoa growing areas in the past, have been attended to. That is the reason the NDC Government put in place an organised programme, Cocoa Roads Improvement Programme. It has improved significantly, roads in cocoa growing areas. This Budget Statement does not say anything about that, and it is sending wrong signals to the people in the cocoa growing areas. We do not know whether these roads that are in the process of being finalised or being constructed would form part of the review programme. So, the Budget Statement does not give hope to our cocoa farmers in all these areas. Mr Speaker, all I am trying to put across is that, in the Budget Statement, one does not give hope to people, that their roads are going to be constructed. Two, it does not also create the impression of goodwill that, yes, they appreciate what the NDC Government did in terms of the projects that they started. It has been indicated as if they are new projects. They are not new projects, we have funding for majority of them. The processes have already started, and some of them are in various stages of completion. Maybe when they come back in the mid-year, we want attention to be given to the Cocoa Roads Improvement Programme. We need to give hope -- particularly, in the Western Region where the majority of our cocoa comes from. The roads are in a bad situation. We have, in conjunction with COCOBOD, put in place a programme and plan where some of the projects are in completion stage. We have gone through the procurement process and so on. What is the state of all these? We are giving the wrong signals to Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, thank you very much for according me the opportunity to add some few comments on roads.
May we now listen to Hon Emmanuel Kyere- manteng Agyarko.
Mr Speaker, I would want to thank you sincerely for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion. Mr Speaker, a certain pattern has been developed in the debate. The last Hon Member who spoke, the Hon Isaac Adjei Mensah, seemed worried. Indeed, the Budget Statement has not been implemented, but he is worried that we would not do this, and that this Budget Statement would not accommodate this and cater for that. Mr Speaker, I would want to believe that, it is only at the end of the fiscal year, that he can raise those concerns. A Budget Statement is an intention, and once it is not implemented, I really and truly wonder what anybody would worry about. He is not the only Hon Member. I believe it is a practice which is up with our Hon Members on the opposite side of the aisle. Hon Kwame Twumasi Ampofo, Member of Parliament for Sene West, in his contribution continuously spoke about the quality of free Senior High School (SHS). Mr Speaker, I would humbly want to submit that, it is only after an execution of a matter or a programme, that one can speak to the quality of it. Every SHS would start in September 2017. It is only when it is rolled out - when we begin to see how it would go, then one can begin to speak about better quality or poor quality. Mr Speaker, I would want to submit that this Government, the Akufo-Addo Government, would ensure that anything that is worth doing would be done very well. Mr Speaker, in the same vein, Hon Members on the opposite side of the aisle talked about the fact that, they provided better capital expenditure in their 2016 Budget Statement for capital expenditure than we have done. Mr Speaker, article 179 of the Constitution clearly delineates respon- sibilities for the various arms of Government. It is the responsibility of the Executive to bring a Budget Statement to this House, and it is the responsibility of this august House to pass a Budget Statement. Once the Budget Statement is passed, it comes as a law; the Appropriation Law. Unfortunately, the past National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government broke the law. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would refer this House to the Appro- priation Law. On page 160 of the 2016 Budget Statement, this august House approved that the Government could spend a certain amount of money. The past NDC Government went ahead and broke the law. The Appropriation is a law, and they went ahead and broke it. For virtually all the expenditure items, they broke the law. With the revised Budget Statement, total expenditure came up to GH¢43,983,835,599. The past NDC Government spent well over GH¢51 billion. Again, if we take “Compensation”, this august House approved that the Government could spend in excess of GH¢13.7billion but the past NDC Go- vernment, with impunity, broke the law and spent GH¢14.164 billion. This august House approved for the use of “Goods and Services” an amount of GH¢2,126,866,278, but the previous NDC Government went ahead and spent over GH¢3,220,757,139. Similarly, on “Capital Expenditure”, the Appropriation placed a limit of close to GH¢6.4 billion, but the previous NDC Government went ahead and spent GH¢7.6 billion. They went ahead and broke the law with impunity, then, they turn round and say that they did better than us. Mr Speaker, I submit that the Appropriation was GH¢6.3 billion. When they spent GH¢7.6 billion, they did it by breaking the law. Indeed, they must come to this House and apologise for what they have done. Mr Speaker, I believe I have made the points so, they should not go out -- Mr Kobena Mensah Woyome -- rose
Hon Member, may we listen to your Hon Colleague why he is on his feet.
Mr Speaker, I would want my Hon Colleague to advert his mind to the fact that, last year, a Supplementary Budget Statement was submitted to this House.
Hon Woyome, why are you on your feet? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I am on my feet on a point of order; Standing Order 92 (1) (a) and Standing Order is 30 (f).
Hon Member for Ayawaso West Wuogon, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, the impression the Hon Members on the other side of the aisle want to create is that, because of this, we are not capable of undertaking developments. Mr Speaker, I would want to submit to this House that, the railways would run. [Hear! Hear!] -- I would also want to submit that, the roads would be done and there would be developments in all the communities. This Budget Statement has made provision for infrastructural developments in the local areas, so that the good people in Ayawaso West Wuogon, the people who live in --
Hon Member, please, are you submitting a new Budget Statement? [Laughter.] -- I ask that because, nowhere in this Budget Statement has it been stated that all the communities would be developed. You said there would be development in all the communities.
Mr Speaker, I would take your guidance from the matter. There would be development in all the communities.
Hon Member, that is deliberate exaggeration. [Laughter]
Mr Speaker, I thank you most sincerely for your correction.
Hon Member, please, continue.
Hon Member, I thought I had drawn his attention to it. Yes, Hon Member?
You are drawing our attention to a point of order, right?
Mr Speaker, yes.
Which Standing Order has been breached?
Mr Speaker, I am referring to Standing Order 30(f). Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague made a clear statement that we were in breach of the Appropriations Act. Unfortunately, the very reference he made in the Budget Statement was with regard to commitment. We should remember that the Appro- priations Bill deals with cash, and the expenditure deals with commitment. Mr Speaker, I can say on authority that, as the then Deputy Minister for Finance, the then Administration never violated the Appropriations Act. We stayed within it and what he is talking about is not the case. Mr Speaker, the expenditure he is making reference to is on commitment basis and not cash. The Appropriation is on cash basis, so, he cannot compare the two and draw conclusions that we breached the Appropriations Act. He should come again.
Hon Member, you are disagreeing with his view. What I advise we do is to note down these disagreements, and if you have already contributed, pass it on to your Hon Colleague and he or she would make the submissions. But they do not actually constitute any point of order. I do not need to be overruling Members. This is because, the intention is to encourage Hon Members to debate. That is what the rules are for. They are to motivate you to contribute. So, do not invite the Rt Hon Speaker to overrule him.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member just landed from nowhere. He started the debate from nowhere.
Apparently, he has not taken note of the procedures these days. I believe if he had taken note of the procedures these days, he would not land like Hon K. T. Hammond, coming from somewhere and then landing into the debate.
Hon Member, I allowed you because as an Hon Leader, we take guidance from you. So, leaders may stand not on a point of order, but just to guide the Hon Speaker to be able to maintain order in the House. That is why we permit the Leaders to speak without just referring to the Standing Order. So, do not mention names in the speech because you would be inviting them to stand on a point of order, because of Standing Order 93.
Mr Speaker, whether the issues are based on commitments or cash — If we take the aggregates — I stand corrected — I am not an accountant or an economist —
Hon Member, I can see your Hon Colleague on his feet. I will give you time.
Mr Speaker, I come under Standing Order 93(2), and I beg to quote: “It shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words or to impute improper motives to any other Member or to make personal allusions.” Mr Speaker, my Hon Friend on the other side used the word “impunity”. I believe that word is unbecoming. It does not sound very well in the context in which he is presenting his case. I believe he should withdraw and continue with his presentation.
Hon Member, your Hon Colleague is objecting to the use of the word, “impunity”. The essence of his submission is that, it is a strong word that borders on a breach of Standing Order 93(2).
Mr Speaker, respectfully, I will seek your guidance on the matter. Mr Speaker, but I would want to believe that, if I am permitted within a context to do something, but I go over what I am permitted by law to do, it is impunity. If my Hon Colleague on the opposite side feels —
Hon Member, the meaning of “impunity” goes beyond that. It does not just connote a breach.
I will not debate the Hon Speaker. Since it is obvious that Mr Speaker wants me to withdraw, I withdraw the use of the word “impunity” and say that the Government breached the law. Mr Speaker, commitment or cash, the value is the same. In any case, I would want to say that the Hon Members on the opposite side have tried very hard to create — It is in the public domain, that we have cut capital expenditure budget. I forcefully submit to this House that it is not so. Indeed, we have done much better than they have. At the end of the day, the prince said that, the end would justify the means. Mr Speaker, I say that we will ensure —
Hon Member, please take your time because you are now going to do so; it is not that you have done them. If you say you have done more than they have done, it is as if you have already implemented the Budget Statement.
Mr Speaker, this is a House of records. If my Hon Colleague cares to turn to page 43 of the 2017 Budget Statement, there is a table there. He would clearly see that the outturn for capital expenditure was GH¢7.6 billion. The projection for 2017 is just GH¢7.1 billion. So, when he says that they have not reduced capital expenditure — This is their own record. They are actually reducing it by about GH¢500 million.
Mr Speaker, this is the exact point I am making here. What was contained in the Budget Satement? Their budget was GH¢6.3 billion and they went on and overrun that budget. In doing so, they breached the law but they raised their shoulders and said they had done well. Mr Speaker, I cannot, for my life, understand what is happening here.
Hon Member, you take your time. You will understand — [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague is continuously using the word, “breach”. He is making reference to the Appropriations Act. The Appropriations Act, as I earlier said, deals with cash. The very expenditure he has mentioned deals with commitment. Mr Speaker, again, it is important for us to understand that our laws allow virement. One can have a lined item and vire from one lined item to the other lined item, as long as one stays within the overall ceiling of the Appropriations Act. He can never say that we have breached the Appropriations Act. That is not the case. He should understand that.
Mr Speaker, if we are to go into this, then what created the deficit? It is over-expenditure — [Interruption.] They were given power to find ways to raise revenue. They could not even do it.
Hon Members, the issue that the Hon Member for Ayawaso West Wuogon is raising is that, over the years, we have allowed Governments to overspend beyond what we approve in the Appropriations Act. So, we need to look at it as a House because, if at any time any government needs more money to spend, it is proper for the government to come back to the House. But Hon Cassiel Ato Forson says that is not the case. He talked about virement, and we do not have time to go into these technical terms. This is because there must be a power or an authority that is given to an Hon Minister to vire, but whether what happened constituted virement is something else. So, we need to look at this as a House. If not, they would erode the authority of the House. This is not only with respect to the last Government. It has occurred in almost all the Governments since the inception of the Fourth Republic and that is why we always have deficit financing. So, we would have to look at it as a House. Hon Member, please, be guided by the concerns raised and go on with your submission.
Mr Speaker, I would go on to the issue of Environment, Science and Technology. Mr Speaker, in the submission by Hon Terlarbi -- Indeed, before him, I had heard another Hon Member speak of looking through the Budget Statement and not finding anything about policy. Mr Speaker, I am a little surprised --
Hon Member, that is too general; not finding anything about policy? Nobody stated that on the floor.
Mr Speaker, I speak with specific reference to the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.
Hon Member, the Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs raised the issue and I think we settled that matter. I called on the Hon Member to withdraw that first submission, which he did. So, that has been settled; move to other areas.
Very well. I was only going to say that, probably, what was not present in the 2017 Budget Statement were new initiatives. What has happened over the past -- the surprise was that, Hon Terlabi is aware that once in the Committee sitting when we met the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), their very concern was that there were many things that had come out of policy. In pursuing the programmes, they had not been able to do the programmes. I have in my hand a document that was given to us when we last met them. There are about 16 items, which all over the years, they have not been able to pursue. We would ask ourselves; really and truly, if there are already things on the table which we have not been able to accomplish, why must we bring up new initiatives? Mr Speaker, indeed, I would want to draw the attention of this House to the fact that, in the last eight years, the science, technology and innovation cluster has done nothing, apart from buying laptops that are not functional. At every point, Government spent huge sums of money. In 2012, which was an election year, the NDC Government committed and spent GH¢54 million to purchase 108 laptops. At the end, they did not deliver more than 22,000.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, it is not possible to buy 108 computers with GH¢54 million; it is not possible. So, the Hon Member should read exactly what he wants to say because that was exactly what he said.
In fact, I was also taken aback by the figure because you mentioned 108 computers --
Mr Speaker, I stand corrected; it is 108,000 laptops. The records are in the Ministry. Mr Speaker, it is trite knowledge that one cannot eat one's eggs and have chicken in just the same way as one cannot eat one's chicken and have eggs. The science, technology and innovation cluster has suffered huge --
So, would you not allow him to contribute, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, he is my Hon Friend, but I happened to be one of the people whose school benefited from the distribution of the laptops. I would want to know if he is against buying those laptops for the less endowed schools; is it misappropriation or a misplaced priority?
Hon Member, he has raised two issues with regard to that. One is about the cost; the second one is about the fact that they did not work -- he mentioned that they did not work.
So, that is my concern. The ones in my school are working, so, I do not know which ones did not work. If the Hon Member can provide us with details of the ones that did not work, then we can speak to that. I have something that is working and he is telling me that they are not working. What is he talking about?
Hon Member, because you are now an Hon Leader in the House, you would have the opportunity to guide the Hon Speaker. Just note your points down and let us know about your disagreement later on. This is not a point of order.
Mr Speaker, I heard my Hon Colleague, Hon Terlabi, speak to the fact that, this Government said they would implement the “One District, One Factory” policy; railways and all those good initiatives, but he cannot find the correlation for this Budget Statement and science, technology and innovation. Again I respectfully submit here that, really and truly, to embark on “One District, One Factory” is not a new science; it is an old science.
Hon Member, would you continue, please. He has been absent, if not he would have known my position.
Mr Speaker, as I said, I would want to believe that this Budget Statement would adequately serve the interest of the environment, science, technology and innovation cluster. Mr Speaker, it is worth noting that, on the occasion when His Excellency the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo came before this House to deliver the State of the Nation Address, he spoke eloquently about the need to safeguard the environment.
Indeed, when he gave his speech at the 60th Anniversary, apart from speaking to the historical facts of our dear nation, I would want to believe that the only other thing the President spoke about was the issue of the people and citizens of this country safeguarding the environment. Mr Speaker, I would want to believe that, it is a front burner item for this Government, so I would call on all of us in this House, to support His Excellency the President's programme, particularly, in the area of environment, science and technology so that next year, we would find this country much better.
Leadership; what is the position of the House? Would you want to contribute? [Pause.] It is now 3.24 p.m., how many people should we take before we close for the day?
Mr Speaker, if we can take two contributions from each side, that would be alright because we would want to wind up the debate tomorrow, and that would constitute so much from Leadership.
Is it the pleasure of the House that we take four more people? [Interruption.]
All right. [Pause.] Hon Woyome?
Hon Member, please, you are addressing the Speaker. So, when you say you would not mind the Hon Member, it means you will not mind the Speaker.
Mr Speaker, gratuity and compensation was paid to each individual player -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, I withdraw that statement.
Yes. Also take on board the issue of relevance. If you are raising those issues, you would have to relate them to the Budget Statement, and in particular, draw attention to the paragraphs.
Mr Speaker, I did so. These moneys spent in the sector, and all of these put together, were part of the debt that we are discussing and which have been touted as mismanagement. Mr Speaker, there have been lots of achievements in the sector. In fact, on human resource development, for instance, we have the qualification of various national teams to major international competitions and funding for preparation and qualification. This was a priority to the Government -- partici- ipation in major competitions such as the World Cup, AFCON, the Commonwealth Games, the Olympic Games and all African Games. The following are examples of some of the great achievements. In 2009, the Under-20 All African Youth Championships in Rwanda, for instance, lots of resources went into ensuring that we participated and made a very good mark. Mr Speaker, if we look at the other sports, much as we would agree that the NDC Government did not achieve much in other sports due to factors that had to be tackled, with regard to management, infrastructure and funding of various sporting discipline, we can be proud of the recent qualification of both male and female hockey teams, which of course, the Budget Statement has actually acknow- ledged, agreed and taken on board. Mr Speaker, permit me to refer you to paragraph 642 of the Budget Statement. Of course, I acknowledge the fact that they have actually taken on board the continuation of the work on the Winneba Sports College. Also, the paragraph 698 of the 2016 Budget Statement gave lead to that. If that had not started, we would not have continued as it were.
Hon Member, please, the Hon Member for Effutu is on his feet.
I heard paragraph 642 which is on Sports Development Programme.
I did not hear him mention paragraph 698.
Mr Speaker, I never mentioned paragraph 698.
Hon Member, what did you say?
Mr Speaker, I mentioned paragraph 642 [Uproar.]
Paragraph 642 and which other paragraph?
Mr Speaker, I quote with your indulgence, paragraph 642 under which we have Sports Development Programme --
Yes, you mentioned it in relation to the Winneba Sports College instead of saying the National Sports College.
Mr Speaker, yes. I just want to draw attention to the fact that they mentioned it in the Budget Statement without giving any credibility to the fact that it was started by the previous Government, as we could make reference to it in the 2016 Budget Statement. As Hon Members who earlier spoke have indicated, it would have been better for them to appreciate the fact that, some work had already started and they are going to continue from where it had been left off. That is all it is. Yes, the NDC must be applauded for their achievements; we should see more of that. At least, that would give us the confidence that they would want to continue with projects, programmes and activities that were initiated by the previous Government. Mr Speaker, the Budget Statement also tells us that they intend to create the Youth Development Authority (YDA). I have a little challenge in understanding what the Youth Development Authority is actually going to do, when we already have the National Youth Authority (NYA) with specific mandate, which is to ensure youth development in this country. I would have thought that, whatever it is that they would want to do with this new creation, they would have probably brought it under the NYA so that it does not become too -- We must try to actually harmonise all activities so far as youth is concerned under a particular entity.
Hon Member, what is this new creation you are referring to?
Mr Speaker, it is in the Budget Statement that --
Yes, the Budget Statement talks about the Youth Development Programme (YDP).
Mr Speaker, Youth Development Authority.
No. The NYA is referred to, but your complaint that we already have the NYA and that there is a new creation so you wanted to know what that new creation was going to do. You also talked about the YDP. That is not a new creation.
Mr Speaker, yes. The Youth Development Authority they purport to create, I do not know what it is intended to do since we already have the NYA that could do same. For instance, if it would require amending some sections of that law, I believe that could easily --
Please, draw our attention to the paragraph where they have indicated --
Mr Speaker, paragraph 635 and with your permission I quote: “…the Ministry intends to set-up a Youth Development Authority --
Paragraph 635: “…the Ministry intends to set-up a Youth Development Authority to harmonise and coordinate all government sponsored youth initiatives across the country”
Well, when you look at paragraph 639, it refers to the Youth Development Programme and under it, they talk about the NYA.
Mr Speaker, my submission here is that, the NYA exists and we have -- Yes, I agree that we have several youth programmes; the Youth Enterprise Support (YES), the Youth Employment Agency (YEA), the Local Enterprise Skills Development Programme (LESDEP) and so on. Mr Speaker, if the idea is to harmonise all these programmes and activities for the youth, I suggest that, in order not to get it too difficult in terms of implementation, they could put all these programmes under the NYA which already exists. Even if it requires amending sections of the law establishing the NYA, that is worth looking at. It is a suggestion that I am putting across so that they look at it. That would probably help us because we have attended several programmes where they have complained. Players in the field think that we have several of such interventions which are too widely scattered, and it is about time they were brought together under an entity. Mr Speaker, we currently have the NYA, so, what then prevents us from bringing all others under the NYA? That is what I think we should be looking at. Mr Speaker, on culture, again, it is good that they want to get many more of our youth employed through the deepening of our culture, festivals and ensuring that many more of our graduates who come out of school get jobs through that initiative. One of the areas which is missing here in their submission is the effort of Government to ensure that the film makers -- We just passed a law, that is the Development and Classification of Film Bill, 2016 --
Hon Member, you have two more minutes.
Mr Speaker, that is a good opportunity for them to showcase our culture and market the country. I am sure it is the same intention, which is about getting many more of our youth to be employed. What is the plan in this programme because it is supposed to establish a National Film Authority, and there is nothing in the Budget now showing that they would actually continue where the previous Government left off? Where the intention was to establish the National Film Authority, a law has been passed to that effect and it has been assented to. So, what is preventing Government from ensuring that this also comes to fruition, so that we could help our film industry and get many more of our youth to get the jobs that we want to create for them? That is missing and I am yet to see how they actually intend to do them.
Your last word.
Mr Speaker --
Hon Member, your time is up.
Mr Speaker, thank you.
May we now listen to Hon Carlos Ahenkorah?
Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the majority of Ghanaians who have hailed the asempa Budget.
Hon Member, where did you get those statistics?
Mr Speaker, I meant Ghanaians who are both inside and outside of this House. Inside of this House, we could tell --
Inside of this House, you could tell about the majority, but outside of this House, I am not too sure about the majority.
Mr Speaker, for that matter, I would restrict myself to inside this House. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, a section of Ghanaians have accepted or hailed this Budget as a budget which is people centred, which has that nut to impact positively on the lives of the people of Ghana. Mr Speaker, this Budget has been tested on all five pillars, namely; revenue, expenditure, earmarked funds, labour and debt. It has gone through all the sensitivity tests, and it produces better results in terms of budget deficit and growth per Gross Domestic Products (GDP). Mr Speaker, it is interesting to note that my Hon Colleagues on the other side of the House criticised the fact that the Budget is giving away free duties in terms of spare parts and other things, giving reasons such as it would entice people to smuggle items outside the country. I would like to refer to the year 1996 when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government gave free duties on all building materials in this country and also to 2001 or 2002, I believe, when the NPP Budget Statement reversed that trend. I did not hear this hue and cry; and I did not hear this criticism. I could tell my Hon Colleagues in the House that, the idea of giving free duties on spare parts only shows that we would want this economy to be driven on a very healthy vehicle. For that matter, their fear of smuggling outside this country and so on, is neither here nor there. Mr Speaker, this is not what I want to talk about. I would want to discuss the specific development in the transport sector, which combination is going to give the necessary synergies to, as it were, provide that logistics platform or transportation platform, which is going to propel the economy to its highest height. Mr Speaker, let us look at the rail sector. Ghana previously had a rail route of nine hundred and forty-seven kilometres and
a rail track of one thousand three hundred kilometres. Out of these lengths that I have given, most of them were not functional. It was the Accra to Tema route, and of course, the Awaso to Aboso to Takoradi Port route that were more prominent in terms of operations. Today, as I speak to you, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's Budget Statement seeks to increase our rail route to over one thousand, five hundred kilometres. [Hear! Hear!] We are looking at the western corridor --
Hon Member, could you draw my attention to the paragraph in the Budget Statement?
Mr Speaker, I would do that in a moment.
It is up to about what?
Mr Speaker, it is one thousand, five hundred and seventy kilometres. Mr Speaker, I am going to break that down for you in a bit. Mr Speaker, let us open to paragraph 554. Reading from paragraph 554 to 560, it talks about the Railway Investment Management Programme.
Hon Member, that is a programme. It is not just for the Budget Statement for the year. It is a programme which would take a number of years to be delivered.
Mr Speaker, I agree, but I thought we were speaking on the policy document and whatever programme there is in the document, is what we are discussing.
The way you presented it, it is as if this year's Budget Statement would deliver those kilometres of railway. I would want you to take on board that, it is not to be done within the year, but it is a programme that would take a number of years to be completed.
That is great, Mr Speaker. But as a fall out of this Budget Statement, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government is going to ensure that over a thousand five hundred kilometres route length is added to what we already have in Ghana. This is broken down as follows: the Western line, which is from Takoradi to Kumasi, we are also going to have a dichotomy from Dunkwa to Awaso; Kojokrom to Sekondi would be three hundred and forty kilometres. If that particular length is completed, it is going to help in mineral transport from all the mining sites to Takoradi for export. You could imagine the reduction in transportation cost. Mr Speaker, the second one is the eastern line which is from Accra to Kumasi; it is also going to have a branch from Achimota to Tema. It is also going to be three hundred and thirty kilometres. Between them, there is going to be a connection, which is called the central line, which is going to connect the central and the eastern parts, moving from Kotoku to Huni Valley. It is also going to have a branch from Achiase to Kade. That is also about two hundred kilometres. Of course, extending the central-western line from Kumasi to Paga through Buipe would also give us seven hundred kilometres. Mr Speaker, if you put all these together, you are looking at a thousand five hundred and seventy kilometres which the policy document intends to provide, as far as our Budget Statement is concerned. Mr Speaker, if we consider the fact that in today's manufacturing world, transportation cost is about 70 per cent of the total production cost, it tells you that if we are able to inject all these rail lines or rail transport into our economy, obviously, we are going to derive some immense benefit from this angle. What makes the situation clearer and more refreshing is the fact that food items from the North, which are going to come out from the “One Village, One Dam project; cassava which goes down our soil and never gets uprooted because farmers do not get any value for them -- Mr Speaker, there was research by a company in Tema some time back which came out with a conclusion that farmers only uproot what they could sell for fish or meat. I am sure they leave the rest in the soil because of the less value they get for it, and the work they have to put in. It was estimated that, a hundred thousand tonnes of cassava get rotten in the soil every year. Mr Speaker, if we should have the rail system in place, and my brothers in Paga, Gambaga and surrounding areas know that they could use rail transportation, which is cheaper, to transport their food items from the north to the south, my Hon Colleagues in the south are going to enjoy fresh food at a good price.
Hon Member, you have one minute more.
Mr Speaker, let us look at the port. It is interesting to know that, today the port is enjoying some expansion. Mr Speaker, in 1986, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GHAPOHA) contracted a loan on itself to do port
Hon Member, I do not want to interrupt you, but since you are a lawyer by profession, I do not know whether you are talking about retroactive legislation -- what this Government is going to implement.
Hon Member, if your statement is true, that a Government had entered into an agreement which is effective, and a concession has been granted to a company, and another Government later comes and implements a policy, from your submissions, would that have retrospective effect on the earlier agreement?
Mr Speaker, point of correction, I am not a lawyer. I am not a learned Friend but what I said is a bit different from what you tried to impugn here.
Hon Member, are you not the Member of Parliament for Tema West?
Yes, I am the MP for Tema West, but I am not a lawyer, I am a freight forwarder. Mr Speaker, what I said is that, in 1986, the Government then did not get involved. It was the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority itself, by virtue of the fact that it had a growing concern and a very profitable company. Today, as I speak to you, they earn a net operating profit of US$50 million every year. Mr Speaker, in 1986, the Port was nothing to write home about. The Ports Authority approached the World Bank, and they received a loan of US$100 million. This money was payable in ten years after completion of the rehabilitation. I happened to be there because I started my national service there, and I know what happened. That was when they asked the Takoradi Lighterage, the Cargo handling and the Ghana Ports Authority to come together to form GHAPOHA. Mr Speaker, I am only trying to let us understand that, the company on its own was able to contract this loan to do the rehabilitation in the Port for it to be owned by Ghanaians. Today, as I speak to you, the NDC has solely sourced a company and has given this contract to them to do an expansion --
Hon Member, as far back as 1986, the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority did not have authority to go for a credit facility on its own. A Government could take a credit facility, and on lend to that State corporation, but not on its own authority. The period 1986 to 1992 did not clothe the Ghana Ports Authority with that legal authority to stand on its own to contract a loan, particularly, as you stated, from the World Bank.
Mr Speaker, thank you for your education, but the point still stands that, as we speak today, a similar situation had arisen, but the Port Authority or the country was not given the opportunity. A company has been selected-sole sourced, to provide only GH¢1.5 billion and take the Port for 35 years. Mr Speaker, out of the 35 years, we are still giving them US$755 million free waiver - no taxes, and as if this is not enough, we do not have an equity in it.
Please, Hon Member, let us get that company because we have committees here to oversee the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, so that we could factor it properly, and let Hon Members do their work. So, which was sole sourced with that huge amount?
Mr Speaker, if I take this as an order by you for the committee to go back and have a look at this contract, then I accept it, but let me first go to the 2016 Budget, and tell you what the Hon Minister then said about this company. Mr Speaker, if I have your leave, I would quote from page 118 of the 2016 Budget, paragraph 614, I would read the second sentence only: “. . . A Memorandum of Under- standing has been signed with an investor company, (MPS) to construct 4 container terminals, an access road from the port to the motor way and expansion of the motor way from 4 lanes to 6 lanes.” Mr Speaker, that is all it says. Now, let us see what the 2017 Budget says about this.
Hon Member, you know what a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is. It is nothing but an understanding. It is not even a binding agreement.
Mr Speaker, if you would give me the permission, I would point what is here to you. Now, it is the contract --
I would give you, because you have raised a very important issue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, if we go to the Budget of 2017, the story is different. It is not an MOU anymore. If we look at paragraph 533 of page 96, it reads, and I quote: “Government also signed an agreement with Meridian Port Services (MPS) to develop a new container terminal at the Tema Port. The project when completed will create space and increase container handling capacity at the Port as well as provide additional berths to reduce waiting time at anchorage and also provide quick access out of the port.” Mr Speaker, so you see what I mean here? An MOU in 2016 has shifted to an agreement in 2017. So, while the Minister for Finance told us on this floor in 2016, that there was an MOU, in 2017, we came to meet an agreement.
So, you need to look at the process. You know - maybe in future when you become a Minister, you would understand how these are processed. One would start from an MOU, and there are legal processes they would have to go through to be able to transform this into a binding agreement. Now, the issues you have raised are raising doubts - legal validity of those processes, the amounts and the rest. That is why I want you to take your time and go through it properly. If there is an issue, we could definitely go further into it to make sure that we get value for money. We have to serve the interest of the nation.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, you see, it is very important that the signal we send from this House to the rest of this country is clear. Time and again, we give the impression that when Bills or loan agreements are referred to your committees and they do a good job, and we all debate here and pass them, then we the same people go out there and say that
these costs are more than what they should be. What then are we saying? Do we say that the committees do not do a good job? Mr Speaker, secondly, to talk about a project that was done in 1986 -- rehabilitation of an existing port. When we look at the scope of what the Members of Parliament do, it does not rehabilitate an existing port. In fact, that qualifies to be a completely new --
That is not the issue the Hon Member raised. Your first point is relevant, that if a matter came before the House and the House debated and approved it, with that, you have a case -- it is binding on us, because that is our work. It does not lie in our mouths to go out again and start criticising it. But do not forget that one is not barred or prevented from saying that on the floor. He objected to it and gave one, two or three reasons. But once the House finally decides it, that is the decision of the House and not the Majority. The “majority” in the minds of Ghanaians is always the Majority in power. But when we use the term “majority” here, we talk about the majority of the votes which would come from both sides of the House. That should be made clear, but this one that you raised is a very important issue and I am listening keenly.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is very worrying, especially if you are in my position and you have been in the port since 1979 and you know what the port was and what it is today. Mr Speaker, as I speak to you, this is a company which comes up at the end of every year, or on average, raises US$50 million operating profit. You give such a company to a concessionaire for 35 years just to raise US$1.5 billion. Do we say that we in Ghana could not have raised or given a sovereign guarantee of US$1.5 billion --
Please, GPHA is not a company; it is a creation of a statute.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. That is why they also allude to the fact that the sole sourcing was not done by GHAPOHA, but by the Government in power. I went to find out why in heaven's name anybody would want to give such a contract for 35 years for US$1.5 billion. In less than four or five years, they would raise this money. Mr Speaker, you and I do not own this port anymore, so why in heaven's name would anybody do something like that and they said they did not do it --
Just a minute. Hon Member, I believe he is about to sum up so please --
Mr Speaker, I would crave your indulgence. At one of the orientations, it would be good for somebody to give all of us lessons in procurement. This issue about sole sourcing -- this is a supplier's credit. For God's sake, you do not go and procure something on supplier's credit and come and put it on open tender. If you do not understand it, let us teach ourselves out of it. The persistent use of “sole sourcing” -- It is a supplier's credit. If somebody goes to procure financial assistance and design from somewhere, you do not come and publish it in the Daily Graphic and say that anybody who wants to construct should construct. These things should be clear. He said that he is a freight forwarder and fortunately, he is a member of your Committee that supervises the port. He should just take time and see the scope of work, and the processes that are put in place to ensure that the US$1.5 billion investment acquires the best value for money. He has the opportunity to do that so he should not impugn any wrong doing by any government on this issue because they are building. Unfortunately, he is a beneficiary. People living in Tema are already getting jobs doing that. I in Adaklu should complain. They get the benefit and then they are the same people who complain. What is this?
Hon Member, the fact that you are right does not mean he is wrong. It is just that you see this issue from different perspectives. That is all. It is a supplier's credit and it is sole sourcing. But as we go on, as the politicians that we are, we learn to speak from both sides of our mouths and that is what is happening. Now, they are in Government, you would see whether they would be called supplier's credit or sole sourcing. So, let the debate continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you for --
I see your Leader on his feet. Maybe, he would want to come to your aid.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. My Hon Friend almost personalised the issue, saying that the Hon Member as a person has benefitted from some -- [Interruption.] He mentioned him that he also has benefitted. He debated the issue; he did not personalise it.
Hon Member, did you say that? If you did, that is personal allusion.
No, Mr Speaker, I said his constituents benefit because he is in -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, that was what I said; “I from Adaklu should complain when they benefit”. He is the MP for the area. What is the problem? He is a parliamentarian so he does not work at the port. Everybody knows that -- [Interruption.]
I did not say that. I said he is an MP; he does not work at the port. Mr Speaker, I did not say he personally benefited. You can check the records. So, I do not know where they heard it from. Maybe, they hear things from somewhere else. I never said that.
Hon Member, please, you said both. You said he is a beneficiary. His constituents -- That is how you phrased your submission and so please just withdraw and let us --
Mr Speaker, I am happy you said in the same sentence I said that. What I meant was -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I believe one of the things they need to do is to respect the Chair as well. It does not pay, if Mr Speaker gives
a directive and then you decide to something else. Mr Speaker, I crave your indulgence to rescue me from the noise from the other side so that I can convey what I would want to say to you.
Hon Members, it is part of the duty of a Speaker to protect the Minority and also to ensure that the Majority gets its way. So, while protecting the Minority Member of Parliament, I would give you the opportunity to make your submission. So, please, let us listen to him in silence because I have directed that he withdraws that statement.
Mr Speaker, like I said, I never meant the Hon Member benefited personally. I made that reference to the fact that, the Tema constituencies already benefited because there are people from those constituencies who are engaged in the construction of that. If my statement gave him the impression that I said he personally benefits, I withdraw that portion. That is not what I meant, because I know he is MP; he does not work at the port. If that is what I said and he takes it personal, then I withdraw that portion. Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is a very good Friend so I hold nothing against him.
I see that my Hon Colleagues on the other side probably are not too comfortable with these facts that I am bringing out and I would like to rely on your order
Hon Member, how do you measure the comfort of your Hon Colleagues opposite? [Laughter.] You said they are not too comfortable.
Mr Speaker, on two legs. The first one is, they keep gesturing to me to slow down and the second one is that, whatever is happening is to throw me away from my train of thoughts but I believe I have dealt with that matter sufficiently --
Let us assume that they made those gestures. How can you read those gestures to mean they are not comfortable?
Mr Speaker, I gave two reasons.
The other reason is a professional way of heckling, and that is permitted under our rules and practice.
I am grateful, Mr Speaker. I agree.
So please, just kindly conclude.
In concluding, Mr Speaker, I would like to touch on the fact that the 2017 Budget Statement as we see it -- we are going to have a look at the landing sites on these inland waterways namely; Dambai, Agordeke and Yeji. Mr Speaker, since some time now, there has not been any refurbishment or rehabilitation of these landing sites even though we have a 50-seater ferry which has been put in line. We have had some passenger vessels which have also been put there. Mr Speaker, as far back as 2013, the Hon Deputy Regional Minister mentioned to Radio Ghana that, out of the US$3 billion Chinese loan, they were going to start to rehabilitate the Dambai Landing Site and this never happened. In this Budget Statement, and as a programme, His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has assured the people of Agordeke, Dambai and Yeji that he is going to rehabilitate the passenger landing site for us to enjoy. Mr Speaker, last but not the least would be in Aviation, aerotropolis are today coming up almost everywhere in this world. These are just economically prepared areas where international airports are sited for economic activities to move on. Mr Speaker, it has been identified that places like these have the highest per capita.
Hon Member, you have exhausted your time and your conclusion is rather reopening other issues. So, please --
Mr Speaker, I thank you and I am grateful.
It is sixteen minutes after 4.00 o'clock, it is quite long. I can only recognise a Member each. And please be direct to your point. But I have two Hon Members from the Minority side; I have Hon Dr Mark Nawaane and then Hon Rockson Dafeamekpor. So, Hon Mark Nawaane?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, this 2017 Budget Statement has not given priority to infrastructure. Indeed, it is not infrastructure friendly. I am saying this because, in trying to create the fiscal gap by the Hon Minister for Finance, three statutory payments have been reduced. And these are the GETFund, the Road Fund and the District Assemblies Common Fund. Indeed, an amount of GH¢952 million has been cut off, as compared to last year. Mr Speaker, my constituents are not happy because it means that we cannot construct more schools, we are going to construct less number of schools, we are going to construct less number of clinics, and CHPS compounds, very few of them probably, and then our ability to maintain our roads and even to construct new roads has gone down. Mr Speaker, all these mean that, as a nation, in our attempt to develop further, we would not be able to do that and this is quite unfortunate. This is because if we want to be classified as a developed country, one of the parameters is for our infrastructure to be on the high side. Now, when we come to decentralisation which I want to tackle next, the aim of decentralisation is to allow for grassroots participation. In this particular Budget Sttaementswe have the District Assemblies Common Fund being cut down. Decentralisation does not necessarily mean that we should only vote for District Chief Executives (DCEs) and Municipal Chief Executives (MCEs). No! It is a proper allocation of resources to the district assemblies for the ordinary man at that level to decide what he or she wants. And if we are cutting it down, indeed, it is a very bad omen for our
decentralisation process which we have taken so many years to establish. In fact, in the West Africa sub-region, I know a lot of countries come to Ghana to study our decentralisation system that we have been able to carry out. That is not all. If you take around 216 District Assemblies, Municipal Assem- blies and Metropolitan Assemblies, as compared to the Presidency, Mr Speaker, we have GH¢1.7 billion allocated to all district assemblies put together. And to the Presidency; also, the same amount, GH¢1.56 billion. I do not know what our direction is now, but I believe that we are going backwards because decentra- lisation and all these assemblies put together, is equal to the amount that is given to the Presidency. This is not good enough. If we go further, and we look at the amount that has been allocated to the district assemblies, it is 3.5 per cent of the total revenue --
Hon Member, your Hon Colleague is on his feet.
Mr Speaker, I think my Hon Colleague is trying to mislead the House. Hon Akoto --
Hon Member, I would not want to repeat my earlier rulings on this issue. If your issue is about misleading, please, resume your seat.
It is 3.5 per cent of the total revenue. The 1992 Constitution is written in English and we can all read it. What Hon Akoto presented is that, from the tax revenue, you deduct some amounts from it and then you get a net. And it is five per cent of that net. That is not true. Mr Speaker, I would refer to the Constitution, article 252 (2); “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament shall annually make provision for the allocation of not less than five per cent of the total revenues of Ghana to the District Assemblies for development; and the amount shall be paid into the District Assemblies Common Fund in quarterly instalments.” Mr Speaker, the total revenue as stated in the Budget Statement is GH¢44.9 billion and what has been allocated is GH¢1.57 billion. GH¢157 billion divided by GH¢44.9 times 100 is 3.4,…. which I am just saying is 3.5 per cent. So, Mr Speaker, if you know something and you can measure it and you can express it in numbers, then you know what you are talking about. But if you know something but you cannot measure it, and you cannot express it in numbers, then your knowledge about that thing is mediocre and of an unsatisfactory character. Mr Speaker, mine is very good and mine is well calculated. Mr Speaker, I now go to the Northern Development Authority. The Northern Development Authority came to replace Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) and as you know, the aim of SADA or the Northern Development Authority is -- [Interruption.] -- And as you know, the Northern Development Authority is expected to bridge the gap between the north and the south.
Hon Member, there is a proposal to establish the Northern Development Authority.
Yes, to replace SADA.
It is not yet established so I am telling you what I know. You are referring to me. You are addressing Mr Speaker and you say, “as you know”, and what I know is what I am telling you. So, continue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker for the correction. The Northern Development Authority (NDA) is to replace SADA and is expected to bridge the developmental gap between the north and the south. I have painstakingly studied the Budget Statement and have finally located where the funding is coming from. The source of funding of the NDA is coming from the magic US$1 million per constituency. By this formula of distribution, it means that the northern sector -- when I talk about the northern sector, I mean the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions -- would be getting around US$57 million. That is what that Authority would manage if we take the US$275 million we are talking about. That represents 20 per cent of the allocation. Mr Speaker, the point I am making is this; you do not allocate less to a less developed area in order to bridge a gap. In order to bridge a gap, there is the need to properly study the situation and look at the way this amount is being shared. This is because 20 per cent of the resources are being allocated to the northern sector with a land mass of about 50 per cent of Ghana. We are saying that, the north should be the bread basket of this country and we are allocating only 20 per cent of the resources to it. This is not going to help bridge the gap. Indeed, there is the need to bridge the gap because we have people migrating from the north to the south in search of non-existent jobs and this is where the kayayei phenomenon comes in. Mr Speaker, once there are no jobs there, you are allocating less resources 20 per cent of the resources to the north? You have all these people migrating down to look for jobs and when they do not get the jobs, they go into kayayei. I am not happy to see my mothers, brothers and sisters come down south in search of non- existent jobs and end up being kayayei.
Yes, Hon Leader?
Mr Speaker, he has finished but because --
Sorry. You were trying a point of order?
He made a point that was not factual, that the one million dollar equivalent in cedis for every district is going to be used to fund the NDA. [Interruption.] That is what he said. However, he has finished, so just to allow the debate to continue --
Open to page 178.
Then it means you did not say that --
Sorry. Please, let there be order. Hon Member, it is all right, he has already resumed his seat so you are not timeous in your point of order. May we now listen to Hon Collins Owusu Amankwah?
Thank you, Mr Speaker for this great opportunity to contribute to the Motion, and to urge this Honourable House to approve the proposed Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2017 Financial Year. Mr Speaker, it is a good news Budget Statement in that, it seeks to address the numerous problems confronting us as a country. Having listened to my Hon Colleague, Hon Mark Nawaane, I was surprised to have heard that this Budget Statement is not infrastructure friendly. Mr Speaker, is he talking about social infrastructure or physical infrastructure? This is because from all indications, unless he has not gone through the Budget Statement, the expenditure allocation that this Budget Statement seeks to address in all the respective ministries exceeds that of what was captured in the 2016 Budget Statement. Mr Speaker, for the purposes of detailed analysis, I would like to dwell on physical infrastructure development. We are committed as a Government to the development of infrastructure of this country to facilitate economic growth. With your kind permission, I want to refer you to page 99 of the Budget Statement. Paragraph 551 has to do with the Ministry of Railways Development, and I read; “This Ministry exists to provide railway infrastructure and services as well as the associated infrastructure as part of an integrated transport system…”
Hon Member, when you seek the permission of the Speaker to read, read what is on the document. This paragraph does not start with “This Ministry”.
“This Ministry exists…”
It does not say so.
Mr Speaker, it says so. “The Ministry exists to provide…”
Mr Speaker, it has been captured in the Budget that; “The Ministry exists to provide railway infrastructure and services as well as associated infrastructure as part of an integrated transport system in order to facilitate the establishment of Ghana as a transport hub within the West African sub-region and serve as a backbone to Ghana's economic development and growth.” Mr Speaker, I am particularly excited that the central spine stretching from Kumasi to Paga would be developed according to this proposed Budget Statement. The construction of railway lines alone can generate a lot of employment for our teeming unemployed youth. According to the Budget, Government is committed to have designated a colossal amount of GH¢412 million to the Ministry of Railway Development alone. I want to put it on record that, with the construction of railway lines, there would be quarries. You and I know that quarrying limestone is very big business in this country.
Hon Member, do you want me to be part of the debate?
No, Mr Speaker. I just want to engage you in a very interactive manner.
You want to engage me?
Unfortunately, the Speaker cannot descend into the arena of conflict, so please do not try to engage me. Engage your Colleagues but engage them through me. You are speaking to them through me, so you are addressing the Speaker.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Talking about the provision of sleepers alone, be it wood or concrete, would fetch our masons, carpenters and chainsaw operators a lot of jobs. With the issue of settlement, and per the railway development regulation, at least 5,000 settlers call for the building of stations, as commonly referred to as stops. Mr Speaker, once it is established, there would be shops, cleaners, ticket sellers, taxi drivers to connect people to cities and internet cafes. Mr Speaker, railways alone can create thousands of jobs when it is well developed. Mr Speaker, I would want to suggest that, all investors should be in partnership with the indigenous or local people in order to transfer technology with ease, and I strongly believe that this would serve this country from spending huge sums of cash to train our people to know more about railway development. Mr Speaker, I would want to put it on record that, even though railway development is capital intense, it is the cheapest mode of transport as far as transportation is concerned. Mr Speaker heavy and big cargo can ply the railway lines without passing through our roads which are already in deplorable conditions. It would save our roads and it would reduce accidents drastically. Railway transport is also the most dependable transportation system since it is the least affected by weather, be it rain or fog.
Hon Member, you have two more minutes.
Mr Speaker, Nigeria has secured funds from China Railway Construction to construct a 650km railway line along the coastal areas of the country. It is predicted that, the 650km can generate over 200,000 jobs. Mr Speaker, so per my estimation, developing our central spine stretching from Kumasi to Paga can generate more than 60,000 jobs in this country and therefore, we need to be giving special attention to this particular Ministry. I have no doubt that, once we have a very competent Hon Minister to man this Ministry, Ghana would succeed.
Mr Speaker, I would want to refer you to page 93 of the Budget Statement which deals with “Roads and Highways”.
Hon Member, your last sentence.
Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote: “In 2017, 195 km of trunk roads and 25km of urban roads will be constructed. Some of the key projects include: Construction of Bridge on the Volta River at Volivo; Nsawam -- Apedwa Road . . .”
Hon Member, this your sentence is too long [Laughter.] -- Your time is out.
Mr Speaker, I would want to conclude by saying that, I am particularly happy that Kumasi roads and drainage extension projects would be constructed because, from all indications, Kumasi roads have suffered significant neglect.
May we now listen to Hon Rockson Dafeamekpor. [Hear! Hear!] --
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity to obviously carry the day in this debate.
Hon Member, what did you say? I did not give you the opportunity to “obviously carry the day”.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the debate before the House -- on the economic policy delivered by the Hon Minister for Finance on behalf of H.E. the President for the 2017 fiscal year. The title of the Economic Policy Statement was “Sowing the seeds for growth and jobs”. The controlling phrase was “growth and jobs”. Mr Speaker, in “Appendix 1A” of the Budget Statement, it would be realised that there are a litany of subsectors where the Hon Minister projected a decrease in the growth areas. Mr Speaker, if I may refer to page 157, in 2016, the “Agriculture” subsector achieved a 3.6 per cent and the provision that is contained in the Budget Statement is 3.5 per cent so there is a decline. “Livestock” was 4.1 per cent and they have projected 3.1 per cent and that is also a decline. “Fishing” was 4.4 per cent and they have projected 1.6 per cent and that is also a decline. Under “Industry”, when we look at electricity, we achieved 8.8 per cent and they have projected 6.7 per cent and that is also a decline. If we look at “Water and Sewage”, it was 7.7 per cent and they have projected 6.7 per cent and that is also a decline. Under “Services” we achieved 5.9 per cent and they have projected 5.1 per cent and that is also a decline. We projected 7.6 per cent under “Trade” and they have projected 6.3 per cent and that is also a decline. Under “Transport”, we achieved 1.7 per cent and they have projected 1.1 per cent and that is also a decline. So, this Budget Statement cannot be one that would engender growth and jobs. Again, under “Information and Communication”, we achieved 14.4 per cent and they have projected 10.7 per cent also and that is also a decline. Mr Speaker, the Budget Statement is a provisional one subject to debate. [Interruption.] I said “we achieved”. If we go to “Business, real estate and others”, we achieved 6.9 per cent and they have projected 6.7 per cent. Under “Public Administration, Defence and Social Security” we achieved 8.1 per cent and they have projected 6.1 per cent. Mr Speaker, in all these 13 subsectors, the projections that they have given on the 2016 projected figures are all in a decline, and it is worrying. Mr Speaker, with education, there was no change.
Hon Member, I can see your Hon Colleague on his feet. Yes, Hon Member?
Are you not telling us why you are on your feet?
What is it?
Is it on a point of order? Do not forget that you do not have the privileges of Leadership.
I will protect you to have your way, but not to bully the Minority.
I did not hear Hon Naabu shout your name.
You are out of order.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is a good friend of mine. We even had a chat this afternoon; so what is he saying? I am just trying to praise him.
Hon Member, you did not even catch my eye and you just stood up? You are completely out of order. Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, the situation is similar in terms of health and social work as well as other community, personal and social services. And so on
Hon Member, please refer to “Industry”. If you look at the growth projection of industry as against the provisional, you would see why at the end of the day, the non-oil GDP would also be at 4.6 per cent like what is provisioned to be achieved in 2016 — the same 4.6 per cent. You would see that industry would be growing from 1.2 to 11.2 per cent.
Mr Speaker, but if we juxtapose that with their projections for expenditure, it is worrying. Mr Speaker, let me please refer you to Appendix 3B on page 162. If we look at the expenditure projections for 2017, they are projecting an amount of about GH¢70.55 billion —
Mr Speaker, I am sorry. If I may refer you to page 166. There is a revenue projection for GH¢54.55 billion. If we compare that with their expenditure projections, it is GH¢70.55 billion.
Hon Member, page 166 of the 2017 Budget, the second column?
Mr Speaker, yes.
So where is the figure of —
Mr Speaker, under Total Revenue and Grants —
Yes. When you look at Total Revenue and Grants, 2017 is GH¢44,961,635,655.
Mr Speaker, very well. I am guided and so I withdraw the GH¢54.55 billion. But the point I am making is that, if we look at their expenditure projection over the same period, it is in excess of GH¢70 billion. If we look at the percentage at which they have exceeded the revenue target, it is about 76.9 per cent. That is not all. Mr Speaker, may I also refer you to the budgetary allocation to some consti- tutional bodies. If we look at the allocation to National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), it is a paltry GH¢10.33 million. If we look at National Media Commission (NMC), it is GH¢5.8 million.
Hon Member, could you draw our attention to the pages and paragraphs you are referring to? Mr Anim — rose --
Available Majority Leader, are you on your feet?
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of relevance. Mr Speaker, there would be a day for debating the estimates. I believe the Hon Member should get himself ready for that time. He is even using wrong figures. He is not quoting the paragraphs. This time around, we are debating the policies and principles of the Budget and not the estimates so, on the matters of relevance, he should debate the issues on the policies and principles. So if he could address himself to the policies and principles.
Hon Member, the point he raised is that, the tenure of the Budget is to create growth and jobs. He then took on the issue of growth, and he tried to say that, from what he has seen, there is rather a lot of decline in a lot of sectors. And that is why I drew his attention to industry. He has now moved away to try and show allocations, whether they would engender growth. That is why he is referring to the estimates. So, he is not out of order. But when we get to the estimates, we would definitely debate them in detail. Hon Member, so please take that on board and do not go too much into the estimates.
Mr Speaker, if I may refer you to two interesting allocations; National Security, which is GH¢375.87 million vis-à-vis Electoral Commission for the same period, which is —
Hon Member, you would have to draw our attention to the pages so that we can follow.
Mr Speaker, may I refer you to Appendix 4A on page 170. We see that, it is projected that, next year for instance, Chief Executives of the various Assemblies and Metropolitan areas would be elected, and that is a political activity for which the Electoral Commission is expected to prepare, and yet the budgetary allocation to the Electoral Commission —
I did not see the projection of the election of District Chief Executives in the Budget.
Mr Speaker, may I refer you to paragraph 303 on page 62.
“Mr Speaker, to deepen local governance and decentralisation, the Ministry developed and facilitated the passage of the Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936). The new law harmonises conflicting laws and consolidates relevant sections of the District Assemblies Common Fund Act, 1993 (Act 455), Local Government Act, 1993 (Act 462), National Development Planning System Act, 1994 (Act 480), Local Government Service Act, 2003 (Act 656), and Internal Audit Agency Act, 2003 (Act 658) under one Act”.
“In 2017, the Ministry will review relevant sections of the Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936) to ensure the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, and decentralisation of the Lands Valuation Division of the Lands Commission”. Mr Speaker, I reserve my comments to the former part of the phrase. They told us that this year --
The activity to be undertaken is the one dealing with the review of the relevant
Mr Speaker, I recall that as part of their Manifesto promise, they made it clear that from about 2018, they will ensure that District Chief Executives would be elected. Mr Speaker, my point is that, because we anticipate that there would be a political activity, for which the Electoral Commission (EC) would be expected to superintend and operationalise, the budgetary allocation to the EC ought to have been higher. Throughout to 2019, the budgetary allocation to the EC was not increased to commensurate with the activities they would undertake. Yet allocations to National Security and to the Office of Government Machinery are almost doubling within the same period. Mr Speaker, I am saying --
The issue of election of District Chief Executives is not statutory, it is constitutional.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
So, it goes beyond that paragraph because that paragraph is dealing with revision of statute law. But before we go to the extent of electing DCEs, we have to amend the Constitution.
Yes, there ought to be a constitutional amendment.
Mr Speaker, I agree with you on that score, but I am only saying --
So, on which score do you disagree with me? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I am saying that --
Hon Member, you agree with me on some scores but on this one, you disagree with me. [Laughter.]
Very well. Mr Speaker, may I conclude?
Yes; you have a minute to conclude.
Very well. Mr Speaker, may I conclude by touching on the allocation to the National Labour Commission, another constitu- tional body, which has just about less than GH¢3 million for its work. We know that, by section 148 of the Labour Act, (Act 651), the expenditures are supposed to be catered for by the budgetary allocation that this House would approve. In my humble view, a paltry allocation of less than GH¢3 million for the Labour Commission to plan its activities for the year, is woefully inadequate. Mr Speaker, on the totality of my submission, I wish to submit that the Economic Policy for the year 2017, as presented by the Minister for Finance, be approved so that at least, they can initiate some programmes for the progress of the Republic.
I thank you very much, Hon Member. I believe it is appropriate for me to adjourn Sitting of the House till tomorrow unless there is any objection from Leadership.
Mr Speaker, we have no objection. We have done enough and so, we are in your hands.
Mr Speaker, you have appropriately activated Standing Order 43 and so, we are in your hands. Thank you.
The House was adjourned at 5.01 p.m. till Wednesday, 15th March, 2017, at 10.00 a.m.