VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, the item numbered 2 -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. The Votes and Proceedings dated Thursday, 23rd February, 2017.
Hon Members, we have the Official Report of Thursday, 16th February, 2017 for correction. Any corrections?
Hon Majority Leader, do you rise on the correction of the Official Report?
Mr Speaker, there is an Hon Colleague who is hiding somewhere and I am not too sure that you are able to recognise him. He has been standing for a while and I should think it relates to the correction of the Official Report. So, you may recognise and hear him.
Hon Member, I am waiting on you.
Hon Member, it is noted.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Thursday, 16th February, 2017.]
Hon Members, the item numbered 3 -- Business Statement for the Seventh Week. Hon Majority Leader?
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr Speaker, the Committee met yesterday, Thursday, 23rd February, 2017 and arranged Business of the House for the Seventh Week ending Friday, 3rd March, 2017.
Arrangement of Business Formal Communications by the Speaker. Mr Speaker, you may read communi- cations to the House whenever they are available. Question(s) Mr Speaker, you may admit Questions and those of urgent nature may be programmed to be responded to during the week. Mr Speaker, it was brought to the attention of the Business Committee that thus far, you have admitted one Question which has been transmitted to the specified Ministry. We are still working within three weeks and we will follow up. If the Answer is ready, we will touch base with the Business Committee to programme the Question for hearing in the course of the week. Statements Mr Speaker, pursuant to Order 70 (2), Ministers of State may be permitted to make Statements of Government policy. Statements duly admitted by Mr Speaker may be made in the House by Hon Members in accordance with Order 72. Bills, Papers and Reports Mr Speaker, Bills may be presented to the House for First Reading and those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day in accordance with Order 119. Papers and committee reports may also be presented to the House. Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the week. Debate on the Message on the State of the Nation Mr Speaker, the Motion to thank H.E. the President for the Message on the State of the Nation is expected to continue and conclude on Wednesday, 1st March, 2017. Presentation of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance is expected to present to the House the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government for the year ending 31st December, 2017, on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017. The Business Committee, therefore, urges Hon Members to avail themselves on the said date. Mr Speaker, may I add that our Standing Orders provide that the House of Assembly, the Chamber of debate may not be inundated. Indeed, the Standing Orders provide that placards shall not be entertained in the Chamber of the House. Mr Speaker, that is the truth. I have been a firm believer in this and have always insisted, and those of us in Leadership including the Second Deputy Speaker would attest to that. I have always insisted that we do not have to have the House degenerate into any other chamber other than the House of Parliament — [Interruption] — Indeed, change has come, and we are to be baptised into that. Post-Budget Workshop Mr Speaker, the Business Committee wishes to inform Hon Members that a post-budget workshop has been scheduled for Leadership, Chairpersons, Vice Chairpersons, Ranking Members and Deputy Ranking Members of Committees with oversight over the Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the respective Committee Clerks. The workshop is expected to be held from Saturday, 4th through Monday, 6th March, 2017, at either the Aqua Safari Resort, Ada or Capital View Hotel, Koforidua.
We are not too sure. We are still in the process of negotiations. The Business Committee once again informs the House that Leadership of Committees responsible for the consideration of annual estimates of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as provided for in Standing Order 140 (4), are to attend the post-budget workshop, that is, all the Select Committees and the following Standing Committees: (i) Judiciary, (ii) Special Budget, (iii) Gender and Children, and (iv) Finance. Mr Speaker, Hon Members are entreated to avail themselves and fully participate in the deliberations. Essential information would be provided at the workshop to equip Hon Members in the consideration of the Budget. To this end, Hon Members are kindly urged to be in attendance during every session of the workshop. Conclusion Mr Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160 (2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this Honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week. Questions Statements Presentation of Papers Motion -- That this Honourable House thanks H.E. the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to Parliament on Tuesday, 21st February 2017. (Continuation of debate) Committee sittings. Questions Statements Presentation of Papers Motion -- That this Honourable House thanks H.E. the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to Parliament on Tuesday, 21st February, 2017. (Conclusion of debate) Committee sittings. Statements Presentation of Papers Motion -- That this Honourable House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December 2017. (Minister for Finance). Committee sittings. Questions Statements Presentation of Papers Motions -- Committee sittings. Mr Speaker, the day after the presentation of the Budget, the debate on the principles of the Budget would not commence. It may commence after the Post-Budget Workshop. So, it would commence on the following Tuesday after the weekend that we would have interrogated the Budget. Mr Speaker, what is intended to be done, is for the budget document to be availed to Hon Members on the very day of presentation, so that the consultants and experts would have access to the documents the very day of its presentation, to enable them adequately prepare and meet the various oversight committees the weekend following. Mr Speaker, often times, when budgets have been presented on Fridays or Thursdays, it has not been possible to have that engagement with the consultants and experts just the weekend following. The ensuing weekend has often been wasted because we are not able to start the debate on the principles of the Budget. Which is why this time around, it is intended to provide the document concurrent to the presentation to the experts, so that they could have immediate engagement with the document and adequately prepare in order to meet Hon Members of Parliament the weekend immediately following. Mr Speaker, that is the Business as programmed by the Business Committee.
Mr Speaker, I have noticed that the post- budget workshop will end on the 6th of March, 2017. Mr Speaker, 6th of March is a holiday and we are supposed to be at our various constituencies to mark same. But we are supposed to be at the workshop and close on that 6th of March; I do not know how we can get to our consti- tuencies to be able to participate in the 6th March activities. So, if the Hon Majority Leader and Minister in charge of Parliamentary Affairs would look at that. Mr Speaker, in addition to that, I have also noticed that the Government Assurance Committee (GAC) is one of the -- I will not say powerful committee -- but a committee that one cannot run away from. It is an emerging special Committee that my Hon Leader is aware of that we
cut across all the Ministries. If the Finance Committee would be there and the Committee on Defence and Interior is also making an application to be there, the Government Assurance Committee must be there too. Mr Speaker, so, I urge the Hon Majority Leader to add the Government Assurance Committee to the Standing Committees that would be at Koforidua as well. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, my respected Leader would recall that somewhere last two weeks, my good self as a result of a Statement you admitted, delivered a Statement on sand winning. Many other Hon Members of this House delivered similar Statements. Mr Speaker, the respected Hon Second Deputy Speaker was in the Chair then and we came to some consensus in conjunction with Leadership that an Ad Hoc Committee should be put in place because of some Constitutional Instruments and other laws that exist, which put some responsibility on this august House. I wish to remind my respected Leader, in case something would be put in place in the direction of this directive that came from the Hon Second Deputy Speaker. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I am the Chairman of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Committee. We the members of this Committee would not want to blow our horns, but no Committee in this House can assert to be more important than the Poverty Reduction Strategy Committee. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, in any case, the overarching role of any Government is to reduce poverty and we ensure that, that goal is achieved. So, we would entreat the Leader not to forget the Poverty Reduction Strategy Committee. I would say that at all costs, this Committee should be included in any deliberation at the post- budget workshop in Koforidua. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I beg to seek clarification on the post-budget workshop, which the Hon Majority Leader indicates will begin from Friday, 3rd through to Monday, 6th March, 2017. Mr Speaker, we do know that this year's 6th March celebration is a special one -- the 60th Anniversary of our independence. We know that His Excellency the President, has even appealed to us during the State of the Nation Address to avail ourselves for the celebration. Looking at the number and calibre of people who are supposed to report for this workshop; you have Leadership, Chairpersons, Vice Chairpersons, Ranking Members and Deputy Ranking Members of committees with oversight over the Ministries, Departments and Agencies. That presupposes that the various Ministers are expected to be at this workshop. I think that we would not be looking too good if the country realises that Ministers of State, Chairpersons, Ranking Members and their deputies are all held up at the post-budget workshop when we are supposed to be commemorating our 60th Anniversary as an independent nation. Mr Speaker, so, I am wondering if the Hon Majority Leader cannot make an amendment, so that we should be done by the 5th of March and then we can all report to either our various constituencies or at the main Black Star Square to be part of the celebration. I think that it would appear as though Parliament is removing itself from the national celebration which is a very landmarked one -- 60 th Anniversary celebration. So, Mr Speaker, I would need your direction on this. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I wish to add my voice to what the previous speaker just said. First of all, I do not think Ministers would be in either Capital View Hotel or Aqua Safari Resort. But I support his argument that for such an important celebration, it may be prudent for Leaders of this House to allow themselves to be part of the celebration. In that regard, I would want to suggest to the Business Committee to consider arriving on Friday and finishing on Sunday in the evening so that Hon Members may be available to participate in the celebration. I think the 60 th Anniversary celebration is very important and it would help all of us if the Leadership of this House avail themselves on that occasion. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, when it comes to the per- performance of Parliament's role as oversight over the Executive, I think the leading Committee in this House is the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). I find it difficult to understand why the PAC has been excluded when we are going to have a workshop to discuss the Budget which is the beginning of the public financial management system. So, I would urge Leadership to consider and add leadership of the PAC to the workshop that is being proposed for next weekend. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, kindly let me attach myself to the request to review the date for the workshop. It is extremely important that we participate in this celebration. We have quite a number of challenges in our country but this is a major landmark for which we cannot miss. As representatives of the people, it is important for us to go back to our communities and we are talking about several hours of travelling from the capital to wherever we are in the country. So, I would want to add my voice that, if at all it is possible, we should consider rescheduling the time, so that we can celebrate the 60th Anniversary as we visit our communities at that time. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity. I believe that the Hon Majority Leader is capable of responding to the issue of making sure that notwithstanding that we would have a post-budget workshop to review the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government for a better understanding of the issues raised, we would be able to navigate, bearing in mind a national role and patriotic duty of 6th March. But be it as it may, Mr Speaker, I have seen Hon Chairmen of various Committees compete to demonstrate to you and this House which Committee is more important than the other. I am not aware of any hierarchy of Committees in this House. What I do know is that Committees of this august House are constituted by Members and not by non-Members. Therefore, every Committee is important
relative to the role and functions assigned to the Committee by the Standing Orders of this House. Even though one would acknowledge and appreciate that it is important that these discussions are broad-based and opened to all the Committees and their leaders because the budget will affect every segment of our society and every aspect of public expenditure. What I would urge the Hon Majority Leader to do is to make sure that we get copies early. The expenditure framework of the Ministries is submitted on time and made available to the Committees for work. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader also raised what he is noted for, that there will be no more placards; change has come and change is good. No more placards but there were placards yesterday. If it was wrong, it was wrong. There were placards a day before we had the maiden State of the Nation Address of H.E. President Nana Akufo-Addo. Mr Speaker, my first observation is that even that day, we were not obliged and we did not support you at the pre-Sitting meeting, so that we could have defined some -- We know the rules but we could have strengthened the relationship better. I know that you have taken some objection, and rightly so, to some of the conduct which occurred that particular day. But it was the Majority Caucus which began a song and we responded to it. But Mr Speaker, I do agree with the Hon Majority Leader and your goodself that we should begin to review some of the practices and accord Mr Speaker, as the head of this organ and the head of this House, appropriate and dignified respect as he deserves. Same courtesies but not equal would be extended to our guest, the President of the Republic. But even that, we must be unanimous that this is the way it should go. As for being on the opposite side of the aisle, they say, ‘birth is only a messenger of death'. Once in opposition, one will be in government; and once in government, one will be in opposition. Therefore, I do agree with him. I do not want this equalisation thing. They did it to us; therefore, let us do it to them. It is not a good practice. But, at least, Mr Speaker, what is heart- warming is that, noting what has taken place in other jurisdictions, Ghana is still better in terms of our democratic practice. If we witness what happens in South Africa, we are still far better. But we can improve it. So, I do agree with him that we must discuss this matter and take positions, maybe, at the Committee of the Whole. Some years back, he was at where I sit today with red cards though there was no football match in this Chamber. [Laughter.] I do know that some few days ago, some red clothes and red bands fell off people's chairs in this House, all to manifest protests and disagreements. But Mr Speaker, like you have always guided, it must be done in a manner which does not compromise the honour and dignity of the House and the Chair, in particular, Mr Speaker. So, we would be guided by his new wave of change which must let us all accord every person appearing before this House, including It may not be a placard but it would depend upon what message we are conveying. But Mr Speaker, I know you have taken a personal objection and we do support you, that we should define the rules of the game in the manner that we do not appear to be abusive and insulting of our Leadership. It is not known to any Ghanaian culture where the President, his Vice President and Mr Speaker are not respected. In every culture, we are trained to respect authority, our elders and leaders. Mr Speaker, so, Hon Chairmen of Committees should stop this joking for who is more influential and powerful. The Hon Majority Leader would be guided and supported by us, that every Committee of Parliament is an important one. We are coming to discuss the Budget Statement. Those who would want more representation, say so. But they should not use the justification as if there is a hierarchy in this House that a Committee is of more weight and importance than the other Committees. Then also, we look forward to the tabling of questions. I know that many of our Hon Colleagues have envisaged an intention to ask Hon Ministers specific questions. With these few comments, Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Majority Leader would respond to some of the other concerns that have been raised, in particular, what will happen on 6th of March, 2017, where we are expected to support the national celebration of the 60th Anniversary. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, let me express profound gratitude to my Hon Colleagues who have made some remarks and suggestions about the Business presented to the House. I believe the pivotal issue is liberating Monday, 6th March, 2017, in order for us to attend to the business of the day. We would do our best. I think in the event, because the day after the presentation of the Budget Statement was intended purposely for outstanding Statements to be carried and because of the feeling of Hon Members, perhaps, we may have to abridge the transaction of Business in the House on the day following the presentation of the Budget Statement to free us to be there early and then attend to the plenary issues on Friday evening. Then on Saturday morning, we begin with serious business in the interrogation of the estimates for the various sectors and also the principles underpinning the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government. So, Mr Speaker, we would respond appropriately to Hon Members. Mr Speaker, we admittedly ought to have a meeting to approve of this new scheme. I believe I have the support of my Hon Colleagues; in particular, the Hon Minority Leader who is the Hon Ranking Member on the Committee, for us to have this new arrangement to abridge proceedings on Friday in order for us to be able to travel to the destination early enough to engage in the plenary activities in the evening of
Friday, and then on Saturday morning, we plunge into serious activities. That would then allow us to leave the designated place on Sunday evening. The difficulty, however, is that those from the contiguous regions may be able to travel to those places. I imagine those who would have to travel up country. It would still be difficult. Mr Speaker, but we would do our best under a very trying circumstance. The Hon Member for Ellembelle, the Hon Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, is indicating that if we go on Friday, we could perhaps, finish on Saturday evening and leave on Sunday. That is certainly not possible. This is because if we want to do good business, we cannot interrogate the principles and delve into the various sectors, and be able to complete just within one day. It is not possible. Mr Speaker, but I would refer Hon Members to Standing Order 43, which provides that the House may Sit even on public holidays. Even though that is not the intendment this time around, that was why I said that we would do our best. Mr Speaker, the various appeals, beginning with the Committee on Defence and Interior and the chorus joined by the Committee on Government Assurance, I would want to suggest to the latter that they are in the same category as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). They deal with assurances made by Hon Ministers, just like the Public Accounts Committee responds to posthumous activities; after allocations have been made and spent, they then go to visit and interrogate the expenditures whether, as a country, we have had value for money, et cetera. Mr Speaker, I would want to insist that the oversight of the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) is the charge of the various oversight Committees. When the Budget Statement is rolled out, they are required to do just that. They do not wait after the end of the year to say that it is the Public Accounts Committee that should do the oversight for us. All Committees are charged with oversight functions, and they are to discharge that responsibility. It is for that reason that allocations have been made to the various Committees. All Committees now have their own allocations to spend in the discharge of this onerous responsibility. Mr Speaker, we have even set aside some money. Where it becomes necessary for the various Committees to engage experts and consultants, they may tap into that money or resource set aside for that. We want to strengthen Parliament, and that is the way to go. Mr Speaker, there was oversight. Indeed, at all times, when we had restricted attendance to oversight Committees, we have always included the Poverty Reduction Strategy Committee. The Hon Member is right in that. This is because the formulation of the Budget Statement itself is structured on the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) document. It is for that reason that we have always included the Poverty Reduction Strategy Committee.
Hon Members, order!
Mr Speaker, I just got through telling my dear Hon Colleague that the formulation of the Budget is predicated on the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy document. For that reason, the Committee ought to have been included. This was an oversight. I was responding to him, and he was seriously engaged in an aside. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I am not questioning his conduct. Mr Speaker, some of the Hon Ministers, especially the Hon Minister responsible for Finance is required to be there with us because it is his document. It may become necessary that other Hon Ministers in charge of the various sectors, for some of them or, at least, the key persons in their Ministries such as the Chief Directors, to be with us in prying into the underpins of the estimates. Mr Speaker, one Hon Member raised an issue about a Committee that we intended to form in response to a Statement that he made here on sand- winning activities. Really, it is not part of the Business Committee's Report. We are not interrogating that now. We would, maybe, deal with that subsequently. Mr Speaker, but it is a concern that he raised with me yesterday. I guess we cannot forget. We need to put together that Committee to delve into the matter. Mr Speaker, I appreciate the acknowledgement given by the Hon Minority Leader about the necessity in maintaining the sanctity and integrity of this House, by not festooning our House with placards. It is for that reason that we disallow strangers who populate the Public Gallery not to even bring cameras to this House. Mr Speaker, I guess that very soon, we shall even have to take some decisions about the cell phones that are brought into this Chamber, especially by strangers that you admit into the House. The discordant interjections that they sometimes do while the Business of the House is being transacted is unacceptable. We may need to attend to that. Mr Speaker, heckling is allowed in any Parliament; but we are talking about the degree of heckling. Sometimes, if we have His Excellency the President, the first Gentleman of the State here with us, we may disagree with him on a particular statement he may have uttered. We can disagree with him. In some jurisdictions, we hear, “No!”; others may say, “Why?” or “Hear! Hear!” Mr Speaker, but for an Hon Member to say that “wabre, ko tenase”, I think it is most uncultured. [Interruption] -- We must know the levels at which we are taking these matters. As a House, we must come to some determination on this as we go forward. Otherwise, the House may completely degenerate into something else, and I do not think that is where we want to go. That is the issue we want to bring up at this time.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader has related to some antecedents, and he has even said that hymns have been sung. I know a hymn was raised. The response was certainly a rather discordant dirge and not a hymn at all. [Laughter] - - It was rather cacophonous, and I thought that it does not qualify to be described as a hymn at all by any stretch of imagination. Mr Speaker, but these are supposed to be taken in a lighter vein. I insist that with the collaboration and cooperation of Leadership on both sides and also all of us, we must chart a new course for the Parliament of Ghana. Mr Speaker, I agree with him that, even in the midst of our travails, we do not come anywhere near the throwing of chairs and other offensive weapons as occurs in some Parliaments. Mr Speaker, but the fact that we are even alluding to those developments in those Parliaments should suggest to us that, they are not good examples and that is why we should not aspire to be anywhere near those Parliaments. Mr Speaker, I have been entreated to once again, list the Committees that would be in attendance. They are the Select Committees as provided for in our own Standing Orders. But if I have to go back, then, I would just recount. Mr Speaker, they are; the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs; Committee on Lands and Forestry; Committee on Health; Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; Committee on Works and Housing; Committee on Local Government and Rural Development; Committee on Communications; Committee on Foreign Affairs; Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises; Committee on Defence and Interior; Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism; Committee on Environment, Science and Technology; Committee on Education; Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture; Committee on Mines and Energy; Committee on Roads and Transport; Judiciary Committee; Committee on Gender and Children; Special Budget Committee; Poverty Reduction Strategy Committee and the Finance Committee. Mr Speaker, these are the Committees. [Interruption] -- Public Accounts Committee is a posthumous Committee.
Hon Members, the Business Statement as presented is hereby adopted. At the Commencement of Public Business, item numbered 5 on the Order Paper -- Motion. Hon Members, we would now continue with the debate to thank His Excellency the President for his Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to this Honourable House on Tuesday, 21 st February, 2017.
Mr Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor and also to thank His Excellency the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he ably delivered to the House on 21st of February, 2017.
Hon Members, 10 minutes each.
Mr Speaker, I would not even get there. It is a simple contribution that I would want to make. Mr Speaker, I am very confident and convinced, listening to the Address by His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that he recognises that, he is leading a very determined nation. A people determined to win the future, a nation that would not settle for less, and in appropriate response, His Excellency the President painted a very positive, promising and fruitful future for this country. The President stated that, indeed, he is a man in a great hurry, and that was very welcoming because, the conditions in the country today require a leader who is in a great hurry. Mr Speaker, as we speak, the conditions of our farmers are very deplorable. When the President said that he is a man in great hurry, I got it from his Address that he is a man with priorities, and anyone in great hurry has priorities. So, it is not surprising that he chose agriculture over all other sectors in terms of priority, and stated that it is going to form the bedrock of his transformational agenda. Mr Speaker, it is worrying to observe that after almost 60 years of self- government, we are still suffering from very dated problems in the agriculture sector. Mr Speaker, 90 per cent of our farmer holdings are still less than 2 hectares. Bullock farming is still practised in many parts of the country, especially in the northern sector. Production in the sector is still determined by the vagaries of the weather conditions -- the amount of distribution and the amount of rainfall that we have. Farmers are still the last customer choice for any bank or lending agency. Mr Speaker, for the past seven years, the contribution of agriculture to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has declined. It has dropped from 31.8 per cent in 2009 to 19 per cent in 2015. This is a very worrying state. Mr Speaker, a typical farmer does not enjoy working hard but he enjoys the fruits of working hard. He does not enjoy waking up at dawn when most of us are still cuddling in bed. They would want to see profits from their hard work. Mr Speaker, it is clear that the President understands the conditions in which we live and that is why I am so excited that the planting for food and jobs is going to be launched in March 2017. If we look at the objectives of this bold initiative, we would realise that the
President understands clearly that we would need to check food security. We need to make agriculture production predictable, we would need to target progressive farmers in all parts of the country and support them, and we would need to reverse the regular decrease in our public sector contribution to agriculture. Mr Speaker, this bold initiative when launched, I hope, would reverse our declining fortunes in the sector. I am very glad that the man in a hurry determines to invest so much in agriculture for it to serve as the bedrock in any industrial take off. Mr Speaker, all over the world, any student of development would attest to the fact that without a solid foundation in agriculture, we cannot take off in industry. This is because we need the surplus as the basis for any industrial revolution. So, the Address so delivered by His Excellency the President, has emboldened me and the country. I spoke to so many farmers in my constituency. They are so glad and hopeful, and I am convinced that His Excellency the President would reverse and improve the declining fortunes in the sector. Mr Speaker, I would not end without talking about the President's agenda to take transportation seriously. The President promised to construct a railway line from Takoradi to Paga, and my understanding is that, the investment in this sector would start this year. Mr Speaker, I look forward to the day when I would not have to drive all the way from my cherished hometown Jinijini, but park and ride on the train from Kumasi to work. I am hopeful that the agenda to expand transportation networks in the country would help improve the agriculture sector as well. Mr Speaker, it is very disheartening to note that farmers in this country are the most disregarded. They are the least respected, the least of our workers to attract any kind of recognition, apart from the routine Farmers Day celebration, and it is worrying, partly because they are not organised. That is why I am so convinced the Address stated that farmers, whether full time or part time, would have the opportunity to engage in this kind of transformational investment that would go into the sector. Mr Speaker, the President was very bold. He was unafraid to proffer solutions; he cut through the politics and was very clear with the stark realities on the ground, and I believe that it is a remarkable trait of a bold leader. I hope that we would learn from him, and I entreat all Hon Members of Parliament to join in the crusade and support the campaign to help make agriculture very attractive. I look forward to the day when Hon Members of Parliament would have farms on a part time basis, to make it attractive and to make the youth understand that farming should not be side-stepped the way it has been side-stepped over the years. If we can make farming attractive, we can solve some of our unemployment problems.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the debate. First of all, I would commend the President for having done that which is constitutionally required of him. He delivered his Address in full flight, with confidence, and a clarity of purpose. Mr Speaker, the President again demonstrated that he is indeed, a person who wants to get things done. So, it was very apt when he stated that he was a man in a hurry.
“I have heard it said that I am behaving like a man in a hurry. Mr Speaker, I am, indeed, in a hurry. I am in a great hurry. The times in which we live demand that we all be in a hurry to deal with the problems we face.” Mr Speaker, the President is very right. We are in times where there is the need for us to deal with the problems and the challenges that we face, and it was in that spirit that the President nominated his Ministers to the admiration of all, because these Ministers were appointed in record time, and we commend the President for that. Mr Speaker, also, the President is a man who is so committed to the rule of law. On page 13, paragraph 8, the first sentence, he said, and Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote: “The rule of law should remain our guiding and unbending principle.” That was very reassuring, and therefore, we expect that the President at all times, would do that which is within the confines of the Constitution without breaching it. Mr Speaker, however, it appears to me that because the President was in so much of a hurry, he breached the laws of our country in appointing Ministers of State, especially creating and realigning Ministries. Mr Speaker, the Civil Service Amendment Act (2001), clearly spells out. Section 11 talks about creation of Ministries and departments of government. It says: “There shall be in the Civil Service such Ministries consisting of such Departments as the President may determine. A Ministry shall be the highest organisation for the respective sector and shall be -- (a) Constituted of such departments and divisions; and (b) Responsible for such sector as the President shall determine or as provided for by any enactment.”
“Subject to the Constitution, the President may by Executive Instrument published in the Gazette establish a Ministry or re-designate a Ministry.” Mr Speaker, that is where the President breached the law. The President has not come up with an Executive Instrument (E.I.) which was published by the Ghana Publishing Corporation in any Gazette, making all the new Ministries that he has created a nullity, and all the Ministries that he has re-aligned a nullity. Mr Speaker, I could have chosen to go to court, but I do not want to cost this nation colossal loss of resources as was the case some time back when a farmer went to court as a result of a breach in the District Assembly elections, which cost the nation GH¢300 million.
On a point of order.
“The speech of a Member must have reference to the subject matter under discussion.” Mr Speaker, there is a Motion on the floor to discuss the Statement that the President made; which is on the state of the nation. The Hon Member talks about a breach of the President in the appointment of Ministers. I believe this has no relevance to the subject that we are discussing. [Interruption.] To that extent, the Hon Member is out of order [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, my checks at the Ghana Publishing Company Limited, clearly indicate that the President is in violation of this law. I wrote to the Ghana Publishing Company Limited and this is the reply they gave me and Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to read: “Research on Executive Instruments (E.I.s) gazetted since January 07, 2017. Your letter dated January 16, 2017 --
Hon Member, do you rise on a point of order?
Rightly so, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Keta is misleading this House. The President has not created a Ministry -- [Interruption.] He has appointed Ministers responsible for specific focused areas. Those are not Ministries. Please, let us be clear with that. I find the Hon Member's presentation very misleading. He has to be clear. [Interruption.]
Hon Member, you may continue. May I remind Hon Members that when an Hon Member stands on a point of order, it does not occasion other Hon Members to also stand as if we are going to engage in a debate. If the Hon Member objects, I may rule or ask the Hon Member on his feet to continue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the reply I got from Ghana Publishing Company Limted states, and with your permission, I beg to read:
SPACE FOR LETTER, PAGE 3, 11.15 And copies of those Executive Instruments (E.I.s) have been added. Mr Speaker, clearly, the President indeed, is in a hurry. In being in a great hurry, as he said, he has breached the laws. Irrespective of the fact that the Constitution gives him too much power for a bad President to need, and too much power for a good President to have, the President is still --
Hon Majority Leader? Order!
Mr Speaker, before 2001 when Ministries were created, the then regime used to come by a Legislative Instrument (L.I.) to create new Ministries. Mr Speaker, I am sorry people who have not done any tracing and tracking are saying that -- [Interruption] -- [Laughter]-- I would suggest to the Member who is making that statement that, it is most untrue. An Executive Instrument exists -- [Interruption.] -- Please, if they care to know -- [Interruption] -- Nobody is hiding anything. [Interruption.] Some Hon Members -- Ei!
Mr Speaker, it is an official publication -- [Interruption] -- and it is not for me to show them -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, for those of them who are shouting ‘ei' -- [Interruption] -- I know it is a weak ‘ei' for them. [Interruption!]
Mr Speaker, it is an official publication and for the avoidance of doubt, I would like to read Standing Order 7 to them.
“Official publication means any publication produced by or under the authority or with the sanction of any Ministry, department, organisation, agency, association, society or club.”
Order! Hon Quashigah, you may continue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, my check as at this morning indicated that, an Executive Instrument (E.I.) was sent to the Ghana Publishing Company Limited on Tuesday and withdrawn on the same day to be resubmitted. As we speak, the Ghana Publishing Company Limited has not received an E.I. from the Presidency, neither has it gazetted same.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, you see why I tell the Hon Member that he is treading on dangerous grounds? He has a letter which I have not seen. He said it is dated 23rd January, 2017 -- [Interruption] -- and that is the authority that he has clothed himself with.
Hon Quashigah, you may conclude.
Mr Speaker, so, the President, as much as he is in a hurry, should pay attention to details. Mr Speaker, it is good for the President to be in a hurry. But when it came to some rampaging youth seizing public and private properties some five weeks ago, the President did the right thing when he condemned that action in his Address. He did that at a snail pace. We expected him to condemn and make the statement he made when he delivered the State of the Nation Address to this House in the same manner, with the same speed that he is appointing Ministers of State.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. [Laughter.]
Hon Okudzeto, do you rise on a point of order?
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order to indicate that, the Hon Afenyo-Markin is misleading this House. Mr Speaker, free education is not new. The 2015/2016 academic year saw the previous Government commence the progressively free Senior High School Programme. [Interruption.] And pursuant to article 25(b) of the 1992 Constitution -- in addition to that, under the Secondary Education Improvement Programme, which is the US$156 million World Bank- sponsored Programme, ten thousand, four hundred (10,400) students at the Senior High School (SHS) level are attending school for free, and even receive stipends in addition. [Interruption.]
Hon Members, Order!
So, Mr Speaker, for him to suggest that this country is now moving into free education with the 2017/ 2018 academic year, is grossly misleading this House. [Hear! Hear!]
Thank you very much, Hon Member.
Hon Member, I would prefer that you continue with your own submission.
Hon Member, please, conclude.
Thank you, Hon Member, you cannot cover it all.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to make a contribution.
“For nearly two decades, our power sector companies piled on astronomical debts that have severely impeded their ability to perform to optimum level.” Mr Speaker, this quote is taken from page 23 of the State of the Nation Address, 2016. Mr Speaker, I bring this up because His Excellency the President Nana Akufo- Addo raised in his Address the issue again of the indebtedness of the power sector. This quote reinforces the fact that Governments, both past and present, have recognised that the energy sector faces challenges of historical proportions in terms of its cashflows. However, Mr Speaker, I believe speechwriters and technical people who provide information to H. E. the President, who is the very embodiment of our nationhood, particularly at the inter- national arena, owe it a duty to him, as well as to the good people of Ghana to ensure that figures quoted are factual and are defendable. Mr Speaker, if you take the energy sector debt of US$2.4 billion as contained in the Address, this is a wrong arithmetical conclusion. For example, if Ghana Gas is owed US$300 million by the Volta Revenue Authority (VRA) and VRA is also owed US$300 million by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), if we just do a simple arithmetical calculation, the debt becomes US$600 million for the sector. But if you look at intra-sectoral setups, if that US$300 million is paid by ECG and it is to the VRA and VRA also pays Ghana Gas same, that US$300 million would have solved the problem of two US$300 million debts. A real and factual calculation of the debt, especially, with intra-sectoral set- offs, comes to about US$1.4 billion. Mr Speaker, that is still huge and as a country, we must take steps to address this. The power sector is the most critical of sectors in terms of our industrial development. Therefore, anything affecting it must attract the attention of both Sides of this House. Mr Speaker, it is for this reason that, this House, in the last Session, passed a levy to enable this legacy debt to be liquidated. I am very happy, Mr Speaker, that notwithstanding, the social contract signed by the NPP and the good people of Ghana in which a pledge was made to remove the energy sector levy, the Hon Minister for Finance, having opened the books and seen the realities of the status quo, has come out to say that the energy sector levies would not be removed. I applaud him for his courage and I believe H. E. the President would do same to him for the courage to face the reality of the day. Mr Speaker, again, another factual inaccuracy that speechwriters and technical people have laid on the doorsteps of our President is the 42 cent kilowatts hour quotation contained in the State of the Nation Address as the tariff for industries in Ghana. Mr Speaker, the last gazetted tariff was that of December 2015, and in that, the SLTHV, which is the highest level of consumption for factories puts the tariff calculated, using an exchange rate of GH¢4.5 to the dollar today, at 20.116 cents per kilowatt hour and not 42 cents. Mr Speaker, I would encourage, especially the Leadership of the Majority side, to draw the attention of the speechwriters. Whatever H.E. the President states here represents the voice of our country. Mr Speaker, for lack of time, I would also want to address the issue of the proposal to put the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDco) on the stock exchange. Mr Speaker, GRIDco is the brain of the power distribution system. It sits right at the centre of the system. It is not only a commercial entity but a security entity, as well as having a very great strategic role in the power distribution system. Mr Speaker, fortunately, GRIDco is also the most profitable of all the power sector agencies and in 2015, which is the last financial year available where its accounts had been audited, GRIDco made a profit of GH¢44 million. Mr Speaker, for two years running, GRIDco has been voted as the best run utility in West Africa by their peers.
Hon Member, be concluding.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, those of us on this side of the House, particularly those of us in the energy and power sector are prepared to work with the Government. This is because there is only one country we can call ours and there is only one power system that does not discriminate between NDC and NPP. In working with the Government, however, technical people and our Hon Colleagues on the other side should engage us in some of these prior discussions for the good of this country. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Is the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs in the House? Hon Members, we would break into this interesting discussion and allow the Hon Minister to make an Urgent Statement, which is highly informational to this Honourable House on developments in South Africa which touch and concern Ghanaians. Thank you. Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs?
Thank you very much, Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs. Hon Members, this matter is rather delicate, it has extensive diplomatic and security implications. I would, therefore, at this stage, call for carefully constructed comments from the Leadership. One from each side as we all await other developments. Minority Leadership, be brief.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. It is with deep heart that we take the news from South Africa on what is happening. Mr Speaker, my worry again is, as your opening statement indicated, there should be “carefully worded comments”. So long as we continue to make “carefully worded comments” in Africa on what is happening in South Africa, sadly, this would continue to happen. Mr Speaker, I have been a member of the Pan-African Parliament since 2012 and had witnessed a number of such incidents even while we were in South Africa. I have made a Statement on these xenophobic attacks in the Pan-African Parliament in South Africa, as a member from Ghana. It is very sad that our brothers and sisters from South Africa are losing focus of what we are as a people. This is because when you enter the Pan-African Parliament, it is boldly written there: “One people, one voice, one nation. I am because you are and you are because I am”. That is what is written there, it means that we are one people; and it acknowledges that we depend on one another. The last one that happened was in April 2015, and Members of Parliament from the various African countries, who normally converge about four times in a year in Midrand to deliberate on issues that affect Africa, were very firm to the extent that some Hon Members suggested that if these xenophobic attacks would continue -- the 2015 one was about the eighth -- we should relocate the Pan- African Parliament out of South Africa because they do not deserve to have the Pan-African Parliament where the whole of Africa and their representatives meet to deliberate on African issues. There were several assurances from their Ministers and even a message from the President assuring Africans that this was an unfortunate incident and they were taking every step to make sure that the perpetrators were brought to book. As we speak today, nothing has been done to any of the attackers even though some of them were caught on camera. Some were purported to be family members of some of the high ranking officials in South Africa. Their comments were videoed yet nothing has happened. Mr Speaker, you said our comments should be well guarded because of diplomacy. My worry is, for how long can we continue to do this kind of “diplomacy” while our people continue to suffer? For how long can we continue to do this kind of nice talking while our people continue to suffer in others' hands? There are so many South African businesses across Africa. In fact, our last check in 2015, in the Pan-African Parliament, indicated that South Africa was rather doing more businesses across Africa than any other African country. This means their interest in our countries put together, their businesses were so huge that, in actual sense, they were riding on the back of Africans and benefiting than the parochial thinking back home that others have come into their countries to make them jobless. With your permission, let me quote President Mugabe. He said: “How can a doctor take the job of somebody who is just a loading boy?” Mr Speaker, I am guided by your wise counsel and direction that we need to be guided. However, I would beg you to suggest this: could all Africans avoid any product from South Africa as a way of showing them that we depend on one another? My Hon Colleagues who are on the Pan-African Parliament would observe that since the xenophobic attacks in 2015, I have never bought anything in South Africa apart from the food and water that I drink. I have said it in the Pan-African Parliament because that was my protest as an individual to show that I would never go to their market to buy anything. I would never spend on anything apart from what would keep me alive and, that is, food and water. I have stuck to that up to date. Mr Speaker, yes, we need to be diplomatic but the only way that a blind man can see that the eye of the sighted is really red is for him or her to give the blind man a knock. This is because until you give him or her a knock, because the person has challenges with sight, he or she would never see how serious your face looks. The time has come for Africans to unite around this, not to violently attack their properties and other citizens in their countries but to boycott their products. If we begin to boycott South African products, they would begin to feel
the heat home and that would let them know that we would not countenance it. In South Africa, in 2015, I remember when we were debating this, we were reminded of how Nigerian students had to forego their lunch and supper and contribute that money to fight apartheid in South Africa. How many Africans put their laws aside and gave their freedom fighters passports, shelter, food, et cetera for them to get out of their difficulty? Today, in less than 25 years, they have so soon forgotten that we were the people standing together with them and pushing to get them liberated. Now they are venting their anger on innocent Africans who are there and struggling daily. Sometimes, when you visit where Ghanaians and Nigerians live and see the way they work so hard in South Africa just to make ends meet and be able to build those businesses, you would wonder whether anybody would envy them. This is because they really work hard. Sometimes, they live in very deplorable conditions just to be able to put up those small businesses. Then just before they can say jack, some group of people would come and burn everything and send them back 10 years where they started. This is very unfortunate. Mr Speaker, guided by your caution, I would urge that our Minister for Foreign Affairs, who has ably made this Statement, summons the South African Ambassador to her office and find out why he keeps assuring us yet he does nothing. If they were to punish the perpetrators like any other offenders in South Africa, I am sure this would come to an end. However, if they continue dressing the issue and pretending to be doing something when in actual sense they are doing nothing, I am sorry we would continue to have these sad situations. Let me commend the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs for the swiftness with which she has brought this Statement to the House. We hope that she would equally be swift in trying to get the authorities in South Africa, especially the Ambassador to come and answer to her what is happening to our dear citizens and other citizens of Africa in South Africa. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Minority Chief Whip. Hon Majority Leader, it is your turn to make a comment.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity and let me also commend the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs for the promptness of coming to this House with this Statement. Today is 24th February, and as the Hon Minister informed us, the march against foreigners is slated for today. South Africa is two hours ahead of Ghana's time. This means that as we speak, it is about 2.00 p.m. there. Demonstrations of such kind usually start in the morning. So, I would have thought that the Hon Minister would have been in the position to indicate to us what is happening now, so, we are better assured of the protection of the lives of Ghanaians. I am told that so far, nothing negative has happened to Ghanaians. That is heartwarming to some extent even though it does not completely wipe out our anxieties. Mr Speaker, I agree with the sentiments expressed by the Hon Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka. He alluded to what Nigeria did in facilitating the liberation of South Africa. Mr Speaker, Ghana has done much better than Nigeria as far as these matters are concerned -- contributing to liberating the States in Southern Africa. But how do we witness these matters? I believe the answer is simple. It is primarily attributed to mis-governance. South Africa at independence, was the largest economy in Africa. Over just two years, they have lost place. Nigeria has overtaken them and their economy keeps shrinking -- dumsor dumsor has afflicted South Africa and there is a massive and colossal corruption taking place there; and the ordinary people are left to their fate. Mr Speaker, these things that happened are not at the instance of the Government. It is against government and they vent their spleen on other African nationals who, in their view, have come to take their places, even though ordinarily, many of the jobs that these nationals from other African countries apply themselves to would not be taken up by the South Africans themselves. Given the situation they find themselves in now, they think that the other nationals have taken over their positions and that is what has aggravated the situation. For now, the focus is on Nigerians and it is so because every now and then, when one hears of drug business, accusing fingers are pointed at the Nigerians, in spite of the fact that many of the Nigerian nationals who are there are into good jobs and helping to grow the economy of South Africa. However, because a few Nigerian miscreants are involved in drug business, they vent their spleen on the entirety of the citizens from Nigeria; whether one is an Ibo, Yuroba or Hausa, they do not care. That is the danger. By association, Nigeria is in West Africa and Ghana is also in West Africa. Ghana is English-speaking just as Nigeria is. So, Ghanaians become the next target group. Mr Speaker, these are triggers that should worry all of us. That is not in any way to justify what has happened. It is good that the Hon Minister has told us of the steps that they have taken. She said that the Mission has visited many shops owned by Ghanaians. She did not tell us exactly where, but she told us only of Sunnyside, which is a suburb of Pretoria. Sunnyside has many Ghanaian citizens who are engaged in honest and decent labour. Close to Sutton City in Johannesburg, there are many Ghanaians who are really into honest labour. There are some seen on the streets polishing shoes; shoeshine boys. In South Africa, I saw Ghanaian shoe shine ladies. They do not exist in Ghana but they are on many streets in South Africa. Mr Speaker, we should be concerned. The Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs told us that the Ghanaian community in Mamelodi where the march is scheduled to take place has also been advised not to open their businesses today. Maybe, they may do well not to even continue for the whole of the ensuing weekend. This is because these guys who engage in these acts are so unpredictable. The
Hon Members, we appreciate the timeous Statement made by the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs on the floor of this House. This indeed, underscores a new cooperation between our Ministries and Parliament. The matter is further referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs for swift, careful consideration in close co-operation with the Ministry to make, among others, appropriate recommendations on Ghana's way forward which may include working together with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in such areas that may encompass sanctions, boycotts or messes as may be necessary as gathered from the contributions made by the Hon Leaders. Thank you very much. Hon Members, we would continue from where we left off. Yes, Hon William Agyapong Quaittoo, Hon Member of Parliament for Akim Oda? In the process, the Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair.
[Continuation of debate from column 1768]
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful to be called upon to make some comments on the State of the Nation Address delivered by the very confident, optimistic and able President. Mr Speaker, the President said so many things but I would like to concentrate mainly on agriculture. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would like to quote the third and fourth paragraphs of page 6 which contained the comments that the President made on agriculture. “We must boost the confidence of the private sector to invest in the economy. Mr Speaker, I believe the starting point in turning round our fortunes must be with agriculture. Unfortunately, the state of agriculture in our country right now is not good.” Mr Speaker, I would want to explain why the President says that the state of agriculture is not good. This is because, in the Address, he could not go ahead to explain everything to us. 12.15 p.m. —
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Member, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you. So, the average growth in agriculture from 2009 to 2016 is only 3.9 per cent, that is why we would continue to import food from foreign countries. Mr Speaker, the more serious issue on agriculture is the fact that we have had very low investment in this sector. In 2013 and 2014, when I first came into this House, the investment in agriculture was about only 2.2 per cent of the total annual budget. We had the occasion to more or less advise the then President that, if we are to reduce hunger, then of course, we must, in accordance with the Maputo Declaration, invest at least 6 per cent of our annual budget in agriculture. This never happened, despite all the caution that we gave. It was even worse in 2015 and 2016. We had only 1.1 per cent of annual budget allocated to agriculture. Mr Speaker, if we access the actual moneys released to the Ministry of Agriculture, that is the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development together, the total budget in 2015 and 2016 was only about 1.1 per cent. What is more serious is that, when we calculate the moneys that are actually released, we will never get about 65 per cent of this low investment. So, it is even serious that, of course, for the whole of last year, we spoke to Regional Directors of Agriculture and they received only GH¢5,500 as their regional allocations for the whole year. That is the amount that each Regional Director got for the whole of 2016. So, how can we reduce hunger with this? Mr Speaker, the President promised that this trend would be reversed. It would be reversed in the sense that, in the “Planting for Food and Jobs Programme” alone, we are to invest about GH¢ 560 million and from this, we expect to reap returns of about GH¢1.3 billion and generate income of about 750,000 jobs. Mr Speaker, food import in Ghana now stands at about GH¢1.5 billion and this was attested to by the former President on 25th February, 2014 when he delivered his State of the Nation Address. This compares with GH¢600 million in 2008 when former President John Agyekum Kufuor was then in the chair. This is
serious. The Planting for Food and Jobs Programme intends to reduce this to about 50 per cent. Mr Speaker, irrigation in Ghana is not anything to write home about —
Hon Member, you have two minutes more.
Mr Speaker, irrigation is nothing to write home about. Why? It is because, in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Budget Statements, the flagship Accra Plains Irrigation Project was mentioned throughout — 5,000 hectares, another 5,000 hectares, 10,000 hectares and 11,000 hectares were all promised in these budgets. But they were all dropped from 2014. We never saw a single hectare added to the Accra Plains Irrigation Project. So, where we have no water, of course, we cannot have food production going on. It is a sad situation. So, when the current President promised that we would have one dam per village, people may think that we would dig dams in each village. If we dig only a dam in a village, we are not going to be able to irrigate the lands that are needed for production. Mr Speaker, what we mean is that, we would be expanding the existing schemes and making sure that we have optimal utilisation of these schemes. This also means that we would directly pump water from existing rivers by using solar pumps. Again, surface water harvesting would be managed very well and ground water projects would, of course, also be undertaken, particularly in the Upper East and Upper West Regions. Mr Speaker, when we have only about 221,000 hectares of lands irrigated in Ghana, and we import all these amount of food, of course, there is no way we would to be able to change the trend. We have almost about 13.3 million hectares of agricultural lands in Ghana and only 221,000 of them are irrigable. So, we are in a serious situation. This would have to be changed, and the President promises just that through the One-village, One- dam Project. Mr Speaker, another serious issue is on agricultural mechanisation. Currently, there are only 89 Agricultural Mecha- nisation Service Enterprise Centres (AMSEC), up from 86 in 2009. This means that from 2006 up to 2009, only three AMSECs were added to what we left off in 2009 —
Hon Member, please, wind up.
Mr Speaker, these 89 centres are not working well because most of the tractors and equipment are not good, and we intend to, of course, revive all these centres and add on to them. No wonder, we have had a lot of assurances from our international partners, particularly the Canadian Government who has promised —
Hon Member, your time is up.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Motion on the State of the Nation as delivered by H.E the President. Mr Speaker, the first State of the Nation Address of any President after winning elections can be used to achieve two, sometimes, opposing ends; firstly, to downgrade, denigrate and misrepresent one's political opponents and what they have done to provide the justification in future for not delivering on their own promises. Mr Speaker, but when one does that, one achieves another completely unfavourable end, which is that, the person misrepresents the true state of the nation, its economy, institutions and thereby scares away investors and people who want to invest in the country to help solve the problems of the country. That is why, looking at this State of the Nation Address, I see a missed opportunity by a President who is beginning his tenure of office to mobilise both local and international support and galvanise resources in order to implement his social —
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I want some clarification. I just cannot understand how a person who seeks to give a true state of affairs and illustrate the true state of the economy could misrepresent the economy. How can facts be misrepresentation of what — Indeed, it appears that our Hon Colleagues on the other side of the House have problems with facts.
Hon Member, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, the level of indebtedness of a country is a fact and we cannot run away from it. In the same way, the asset base of a country is also a fact. So, if you state the debt and you omit the asset base, you have misrepresented the situation of the country. Mr Speaker, nevertheless, I would want to commend His Excellency the President on a number of things that he has said in the State of the Nation Address. One, I commend his condemnation of partisan violence because in the last couple of days, this House has had the opportunity to debate the issue of post-handing over violence and we missed the opportunity to look at it in-depth in order to make far- reaching recommendations for it to stop. Mr Speaker, this condemnation by His Excellency the President is a matter that I commend highly. Secondly, I appreciate the sense of urgency by which His Excellency the President has given indications that he would want to pursue the resolution of the many problems of our country. Nevertheless, I would want to draw attention to some very critical matters that I think His Excellency the President has omitted to address. I am not saying the State of the Nation Address would address every issue; but this matter for me is very critical and so important and I think that I need to use this opportunity to debate this matter to draw attention to it and that is education. Mr Speaker, His Excellency the President in his Address indicated that he would implement the free senior high school programme. That is a very commendable matter and we would welcome the implementation of a total free senior high school programme. When I say “total”, it is total in the sense that we would be looking out there to ensure that no child attending senior high school would pay fees of any kind. This is because the promise that we have made to the children is that senior high school will be free. So, anything that goes into it that is a cost element, we would make sure that as part of the promise that had been made to them, it is implemented and that it would be at no cost to the child who is in senior high school.
Hon Member, you have two minutes left.
Mr Speaker, lastly, the issue of free education is a constitutional imperative in article 25 of the 1992 Constitution. It is not limited to only senior high schools; it extends to tertiary or higher education. The Constitution is clear in article 25 that higher education shall also be progressively free. If you look at the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) legislation which imposes a VAT for financing education, you would see a clear commitment to make financial provision for tertiary education to be made progressively free. Mr Speaker, I think that it would be unfair to insist on senior high school and exclude the right of students in tertiary education to be provided with facilities that would make tertiary education progressively free. Mr Speaker, I therefore, look forward to a budget being submitted to this House which should not only address the issue of senior high school but must constitutionally also address the plight of students in tertiary education because it is a constitutional imperative and financial provision has been made for it in the GETFund legislation.
Bonsu — rose
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I am impressed by the articulation of the former Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is quoting for us the imperatives of article 25 of the 1992 Constitution. That is good. But I am looking at the gestures that he is making. May I also inform him that it is not only in article 25 but article 38 of the Constitution also has further provisions which talk about a free adult literacy programme, that is also a constitutional provision and lifelong education, that is also a constitutional imperative and it is an addition to the provisions of article 25. Mr Speaker, given what muscle he is displaying here, I just would want to know when, like Saul, he had his “road to Damascus conversion”? Can we hear from him?
Hon Member, hold on. Was the Hon Majority Leader raising an objection for me to rule or he was asking a question of the Hon Member? That cannot be a practice to be encouraged in the House. If the Hon Majority Leader has an objection, I would rule on it. Otherwise, the Hon Member may continue.
Mr Speaker, it was a subtle application to you to guide -- [Laughter] -- to let the Hon Member make full disclosures about when he got to know of the constitutional imperative of article 25 -- I am just suggesting to him that it is not only article 25 but also article 38 of the Constitution. I must ask of him as to when he had this revelation. He has been long in this House and his Government just exited. So, I just would want to know when he had this conversion.
Hon Member, I am allowing you one minute more to conclude.
Mr Speaker, just a little lecture in Constitutional Law. [Interruption.] Yes, in one minute, I can give that lecture. Article 25 is an educational objective, educational rights provision; article 38 is a directive principle of state policy. [Hear! Hear!] The enforcement of those two provisions are treated differently by both our High Court and our Supreme Court. So, that is why I based my argument on article 25 because that article is clearly enforceable in the law court. Indeed, I take a position that the students in tertiary institutions can go to our law courts and demand that governments, whether in the past or present, should show what steps they are taking to ensure that progressively, tertiary education is free in our country.
Hon Member, your time is up. I will call the next person -- Hon --
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member has been saved by the bell. [Laughter.]
Hon Boakye Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko -- Ayawaso West Wuogon?
Mr Speaker, I need to make this correction. My name is not Boakye; I do not have Boakye in my name. Respectfully, my name is Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko. I have a brother who happens to be called Boakye Agyarko and we are two different people.
Thank you for the correction.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, since my Hon Colleague is in the business of effecting corrections and addressing it to the Chair, he may also be told that his brother does not ‘happen to be called' Boakye Agyarko; he is called Boakye Agyarko. He does not come by that name by happenstance -- he is called Boakye Agyarko. [Hear! Hear!]
Hon Majority Leader, thank you very much for your guidance. [Interruption.] Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the State of the Nation Address most ably delivered by H.E. the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Mr Speaker, permit me to make a little comment on something that is going on here. It is necessary to place on record that free Senior High School (SHS) is not
Hon Member, hold on. There is an objection here. I would want to hear it.
On a point of order. I am most grateful, Mr Speaker.
“secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education;” So, article 25 (b) has been in force. We have been pursuing the progressively free education since the 2015/2016 academic year. May I draw the attention of Hon Agyarko before he has an anti-climax by telling Hon Members that we would not pay school fees and all of that. In the President's State of the Nation Address, he says that he hopes to begin with the 2017/2018 entrants, meaning, continuing students will still be paying fees. That is not full free education. So, in other words, it is still the progressively free that we started that President Akufo- Addo is hoping to implement. So, for the records, he would need to be guided.
Hon Member, you have no objection. You are just making your case. Please, resume your seat, and Hon Agyarko, continue.
Mr Speaker, H.E. the President, when he was speaking on the issues of environment and sanitation, was akin to link it to the change that has happened in this country. With your permission, Mr Speaker, let me read parts of what H.E. the President said: “Mr Speaker, there are some areas of our lives in which we can all demonstrate the change for which the people of Ghana have voted: punctuality, sanitation and the care of the environment.”
“The other area of our lives in which we can and should start making a change is the care of the environment. We are in danger of destroying our blessed country. Ours is a beautiful country. If we claim to love our country, we must take care of the lands, the trees, the water bodies and the animals. They are part of what makes Ghana. The change we have voted for demands that we adopt better and sustainable sanitation habits, and learn to protect and preserve our environment.”
“High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change” produced in 2004, environmental degradation placed third out of ten challenges that faced the world after poverty and infectious diseases. Indeed, Mr Speaker, if we go back to all of them, we would realise that poverty or infectious diseases are linked one way or the other to environmental degradation. Our country abounds with how we are treating or degrading our environment. One that I would just draw our attention to is the issue of galamsey. The real worrying thing is the impunity with which some of the things that degrade our environment go on. Like I said, galamsey and also the inertia that all of us seems to have come into in confronting this matter. As far as I remember, maybe 30 years ago, issues of galamsey had been a front burner and nobody seemed to be able to do anything about it. At any point in time, we all come back to say that all the high- level people are involved in it. They cut the trees, divert water bodies and pollute them with very dangerous chemicals. Indeed, after they have mined, they leave the degraded land without an attempt to do anything about it. In the process, we must remember that if it is the air, soil, water or our ecosystem, it is a limited resource. To use Ghanaian pastance, if we spoil our air, none will come from anywhere; if we spoil our water, there is no replacement; it is a limited resource and we must ensure that this does not happen. There are other things that all of us know; issues such as the use of chemicals. Up till now, we continue to complain about the use of chemicals by fishermen and sometimes, I wonder. Can we only complain? Is that all we can do? Mr Speaker, we talk about unregulated forestry activities; activities of chainsaw operators. It is said that our forest cover has reduced to about 30 per cent of what it was at the turn of the century. One would ask; why this impunity and inertia? Environmental degradation has consequences. The one that comes up is what all of us term climate change. Maybe, we can all not talk about the size of it but all of us feel the consequences. It rains when it must not and when we are all expecting it so that the farmers can plant, it does not come. When this happens, agriculture fails. When agriculture fails, what it, means is that about 50 per cent of the population is in danger of not being able to achieve any livelihood at all. Mr Speaker, we hear of floods at the least rain. Sometimes, when the rain is heavy and prolonged and it floods, one can understand. But these days, here in Accra, when there are showers, we hear of receding beach lines. All of these are consequences of climate change that has come out of environmental degradation. Mr Speaker, like His Excellency the President said, change has come, and all of us must rise up to contribute to this change.
Hon Member, you have two minutes more.
Mr Speaker, all right. Mr Speaker, under the leadership of His Excellency the President, we would find the wherewithal to ensure that my cousins who live in Tibourso and in Sisiamang in the Upper Manya Krobo District would clearly understand that their activities -- the fertiliser that they are not supposed to use, the chemicals they are not supposed to use in fishing -- have consequences, and that all of us would rise up and embrace the change. His Excellency the President has painted a very bright future for this country. One hindrance to this bright future, which all of us are looking forward to, would be the issues of environmental degradation. His Excellency the President was explicit; he believes that the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature must all come together to ensure that this country moves forward. I believe that we would support the President in ensuring that our environment sustains all of us. It is said that when the last tree dies, the last man dies . We do not want to die. Ghana has a bright future and we must all help to build a Ghana that we can leave as a legacy for our posterity.
Hon Benjamin Kpodo.
Mr Speaker, I would want to congratulate His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for performing his constitutional duty by delivering the first State of the Nation Address, which was presented to this House and to the nation from 10.24 a.m. to 11.29 a.m. on 21st February, 2017. Mr Speaker, while congratulating him, I would want to note that there were so many omissions from such an important document or statement he made. It was rather very long on lamentations and short on hope for the people of Ghana. Even though he said he would fix the problems, we are still left with despondency. Indeed, the kind of information contained in the statement made by him would even encourage International Organisations like Fitch, and Standard and Poor to move towards downgrading us.
When we look at pages 13 and 14 of the State of the Nation Address, he talked briefly about corruption; but he never gave any concrete information to the nation regarding why he labelled the previous Administration as corrupt. There is nothing in there, except to talk of finding someone as a Special Prosecutor. Mr Speaker, but he should have told the nation --
Hon Member for Okaikoi Central?
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order, referring to Standing Order 93 (4), which requires an Hon Member to make reference to the issue on the floor. Mr Speaker, His Excellency the President, in his statement rightly said that he was not here to present the Budget Statement. Secondly, His Excellency the President could not have elaborated all the corrupt practices that engulfed the previous Administration which led them to lose the last general elections. So, if the Hon Member could dwell on the Statement read by His Excellency the President, it would be to his own good. Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, it is regrettable that my Hon Friend disrupted my very nice flow of -- [laughter.] He has wasted my time. Mr Speaker, I hope that you would take note and give me some two minutes extra. Mr Speaker, the point is that His Excellency the President mentioned specific figures, that we have a debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio of 74 per cent. So, which one comes in the Budget Statement, and which one comes in the State of the Nation Address? If he is going to eat the meat, he should eat it big; he should not eat a very tall one. So, I consider those things as omissions.
Indeed, the present Hon Deputy Majority Leader, as an Hon Friend, participated in some of the discussions we had to pass the laws.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Hon Member is misleading this House. He mentioned the Public Procurement Act. Mr Speaker, the Public Procurement Act was passed in 2003. It was obviously not under the Administration of the previous Government. An amendment was introduced, but that does not mean that the law itself was passed by the previous Administration. The same applies to the Financial Administration Act. So, he should rightly say so, that the Public Procurement Act and the Financial Administration Act were passed by the Administration of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) during the era of former President John Agyekum Kufuor -- [Interruptions] -- Mr Speaker, the Government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) introduced an amendment. So, that means that the legal framework was already established. That must be said on this floor and put on record. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Point well made. Hon Kpodo, take note of the corrections and be guided. You have two minutes more.
Mr Speaker, I take very important note; but I would want to remind the House that those amendments were very significant, and they completely changed the face of the law. If we look at the Local Governance Act, it completely changed what we were operating as Local Governance Act 1993 (Act 462). So, these are bold measures which need acknowledgement and recognition by His Excellency the former President. He omitted them to the dishonour of the previous Government.
Hon Majority Leader?
On a point of Order. Mr Speaker, the attention of Hon Kpodo who I respect very well is being drawn to the fact that these two pieces of legislations were passed by the Administration before the earlier Administration which just exited. Mr Speaker, but because he was talking, I wanted to make a point that he omitted -- I do not want to say that it was deliberate. It is the art of speaking. Maybe, he either forgot or omitted to add the fact that the framework had been constructed by President Kufuor's Administration. It is the art of talking. He also falls in the same trap of what he is accusing the President of. Is that not the case? So, when we are talking and you want to flow, especially when we have a limited time, then we cannot touch base on everything. Mr Speaker, that is what he should acknowledge.
Hon Member, you have one minute more.
Mr Speaker, they have taken the time.
Hon Member, I have added the time used otherwise your time would have been up.
Mr Speaker, there is one very important thing that I would want to note. The Majority side now, when they were in the Minority, they prevented us from passing the Right to Information Bill. Mr Speaker, they prevented this House and that is another very serious defect on their part.
Mr Speaker, all that we need was their support to conclude work on the Right to Information Bill but they did not give it to us and that is why it is hanging. I would also want to touch briefly -- [Interruption.]
Hon Majority Leader?
On a point of Order. Mr Speaker, I believe this is a very serious statement from my Hon Colleague. The impression should not be created on the floor of this House that the Minority at that time, in anyway impeded the passage of that Bill. He knows that it cannot be right. Mr Speaker, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker attests to the fact that the numerous Bills that we passed in this House -- apart from the Hon Chairpersons of the Committees -- the inputs to those Bills were done most of the time by Hon Members of the Minority benches. He cannot run away from that. Mr Speaker, there were real impediments in the construct of the Bill and we all worked to remove those obstacles to further improve and sanitise the Bill. We worked together, and so, for him to say that we obstructed the passage of the Bill, is a very unfortunate statement from an Hon Member that I consider to be an Hon Member of this House. [Interruption] -- It is even a stronger word. Mr Speaker, I am being told that he even used the word “prevented”. That is the greatest untruth to have come from the lips of my Hon Colleague. Mr Speaker, I observed him laughing but it is not laughable at all. Mr Speaker, I may urge you to urge my Colleague the Hon Member to withdraw. He must withdraw and I insist that he does that because that is a palpable untruth.
Hon Majority Leader, his earlier word of “preventing” was changed to say that you did not “support us”. Hon Kpodo, your last words.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, even that is a very ungodly statement. I know that he is a Christian -- [Interruption] -- A former Christian? [Laughter.] If it is true that he is a former Christian, then I may rest my case. But I believe that he purports to be a Christian and he knows that one of the edits of the Bible is that “Thou shall not lie”. Mr Speaker, would my Hon Colleague take a cue?
Mr Speaker, it is a truism that there were obstacles on our way and we needed support to conclude work on the RTI and it did not come. I remember very cogently that the former Rt Hon Speaker was insisting that we should do it but the support did not come and --
Hon Member, you are out of order. You have lost your chance. You are just using your time to advance the course of this.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
I would call --
Mr Speaker, could you allow me to conclude. I have a very important issue. [Interruption.]
Sorry, your time is up. I gave you all the time and I allowed you space. Please, your time is up. I would call Dr Appiah-Kubi.
Mr Speaker, you allowed too many interventions.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Motion on the floor of the House. Mr Speaker, the importance of industria- lisation and for that matter, the manufacturing sector, cannot be in anyway underrated. This importance manifests itself in the fact that the manufacturing sector contributes towards job generation, it serves as the engine of growth and above all contributes towards poverty reduction. This is recognised by almost everybody. Even the 2012 Manifesto of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) recognises the importance of the industrial sector. Mr Speaker, it says and with your permission, I beg to read: “The manufacturing sector holds the key to the economic trans- formation of the country by adding value to our raw materials.” Mr Speaker, that notwithstanding, the manufacturing sector could be said to be a pale shadow of its former self under eight years of the NDC rule. Under former President Mahama, the sector has suffered under high utility tariffs, high taxes, dumsor, high cost of doing business, lip services, private sector policies, unfavourable macro-economic policies, rising inflation, deteriorating cedi, high cost of credit and steep decline in public investments. Mr Speaker, these poor economic policies under the previous Adminis- tration contributed to the de- industrialisation of the manufacturing sector. It could, therefore, be said that under the previous Administration, the manufacturing sector declined not only in size and growth rates but the result is what we are witnessing today, that many factories and manufacturing entities have all collapsed. Indeed -- [Interruption] --
Hold on, hold your fire.
Indeed, under the NDC, particularly under the Mahama regime, the manufacturing sector never experienced
Hon Member, kindly refer to the President --
Under former President Mahama's regime, the manufacturing sector never experienced a positive growth. In 2013; the manufacturing sector grew by minus 0.5 per cent; in 2014, it grew by minus 0.8 per cent; in 2015, it grew by minus 2 per cent and in 2016 it also suffered another decline by minus 1.1 per cent. Indeed, this should suggest to anybody that the manufacturing sector suffered serious setbacks under the previous Administration. As a result, the manufacturing GDP declined by more than 50 per cent; from 7 per cent in 2009 to about 4 per cent in 2016. Mr Speaker, against this background, it would not be wrong to say that the previous Administration presided over a steady death of the manufacturing sector to the extent that the manufacturing sector experienced not only negative growth but also declined in size. It is, therefore, gratifying that President Nana Akufo-Addo has heard the cry and the clarion call of the industrialists, employers and the private sector very loud and clear. The President shows his concern for the state of the manufacturing sector, and shows his commitment to the private sector and the manufacturing sector by developing a programme to resuscitate the manufacturing sector. Indeed, the President says on page 7 of his State of the Nation Address that he hopes to draw up a programme --
Hon Member, you have two minutes.
A comprehensive programme for industrial transformation ever to be introduced in this country. I would repeat, the Government shows its commitment in his Address to resuscitate the industrial sector and for that matter the manufacturing sector, with the most comprehensive programme for industrial transformation ever to be introduced in this country. This commitment manifests itself in certain key commitments that he made in his Address. This commitment can be captured under 13 key points. These key points include stabilisation of the macro- economy, provision of reliable, affordable power to enterprises, setting up of a stimulus package which has hitherto eluded all the manufacturing sectors, the establishment of, at least, one industrial enterprise in each of the 216 districts. Mr Speaker, for the President, it is instructive to note that he admonished us to recognise seriously that food production is the first step towards industrialisation in virtually every country and wants to link the manufacturing process to the agricultural sector. The President is confident. Indeed, he shows this confidence in his Address that these interventions would lead to the creation of significant opportunities across the country. With these few words, Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the debate thanking the President, His Excellency President Akufo-Addo for his maiden State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, on page 14 of his Address, I was very excited to hear the President say that he noticed a culture in this country that is not helpful to any of us, that is, our inability to adhere to doing things on time. He admonished all of us to endeavour to do our best to correct that image. He has made himself an example. He said that he would endeavour to be on time at every public function. Mr Speaker, I am very happy about that. I noticed that this week, Parliament started on time on almost all the days that we have been Sitting. I am sure that means that we have started adhering to the call of the President. Mr Speaker, I would limit myself to a few things. I noticed that the President talked about many things. However, he left out a lot more things. I was excited the
President talked about extending the railways from Takoradi to Paga, but I must say this is not the first time an NPP Administration has promised a very long railway line which they never did. We know they just shifted from the east side of the coast from Tema to Paga to Takoradi to Paga. Mr Speaker, in all, the distance would be about 850 kilometres. You are aware that in this House, not too long ago, we passed an agreement to build a railway line from Tema to Akosombo, to enhance our integrated transport system, where after Akosombo, it would be put on a barge on the Volta River. The cost of that programme is about US$ 400 million. If we compare the distance between Takoradi and Paga, which is over 850 kilometres, it means that this country would have to find over US$4.5 billion to develop that railway line. Mr Speaker, it is a very laudable idea, but I hope the President would come back to this House and tell us how we are going to fund a railway worth US$4.5 billion. I am sure my other Colleagues would simply say it would be in the Budget. So, we are waiting for it in the Budget. But significantly, you would notice that it means that the President recognises the fact that the investment put in Takoradi port, which is making it a very viable port now is beginning to bear fruits, otherwise, they would have constructed the railway to any part of the coast. The fact that he went to Takoradi vindicates the reasons given by former President, John Dramani Mahama for expanding the port at Takoradi. So we encourage the President to also add by building a railway from Takoradi to Paga. It should not be like the one they promised from Tema to Paga. Mr Speaker, secondly, we also hope that the President would ensure that the laudable project from Tema to Akosombo would be completed. We are told that next month, that project would start. We are all aware that the former Government expanded or rehabilitated the railway system from Sekondi-Takoradi through Kojokrom which has been completed and is in use. Mr Speaker, I was very happy yesterday when we were told that the people who are investing in the Tema Port, which is a US$1.5 billion component met the President and he has given his assurance to support them. Once again, it shows that the investment made at Tema Port which would make Tema Port one of the most modern in Africa, creating jobs and investment in this country, is a laudable one. I am happy that the President acknowledged this and has committed to improving it. However, I was very disappointed that the President never said anything about aviation. We all know that Ghana's road network is currently over 71,000 km, but we cannot all use the road all the time for goods, services and other things. That is why we need to have other modes of transportation, so, the previous Government made significant investments in aviation. On record, after Dr Nkrumah and a few governments that came after that, there has never been a bigger investment in our aviation sector than the one that has been put in by former President John Dramani Mahama. The result of that investment means that today, we have a fully refurbished arrival hall and other things at Kotoka, a brand new terminal is being built which is terminal 3 at Kotoka, which fortunately President Akufo-Addo may be the one to inaugurate it.
[MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR.]
Hon Member, you have one more minute.
Mr Speaker, this means that also -- Mr Speaker, on record, no other government has invested so much in our aviation than the Government of former President, John Dramani Mahama. On healthcare, I stand here to challenge my Hon Colleagues on the other side to do better than what we did in healthcare; over US$2.5 billion investment in healthcare, so that today we have health facilities in this country that are comparable to anywhere in the developed world. We want this to be expanded to other places. So, we are encouraging our Colleagues not to pay lip-service like they do when all that the President said about healthcare was about National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Hon Member, please, conclude.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, the President should be told
I cannot see anybody on his or her feet to catch my eye, but I have a list and from the list, it is the turn of Hon Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, the Hon Member of Parliament for Bosomtwe.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, Tuesday, 21st of February, 2017 would go down in the history of this nation as the day education saw its transformation. Mr Speaker, many times, we talk about the role of education in development and we also speak to the fact that, there were other nations that we achieved independence with around the same time, and those nations have transformed themselves but not us. Mr Speaker, many times, even on this floor, we hear people talk about South Korea, and the fact that they are so far ahead of us. In 1987, South Korea had a gross enrolment ratio in secondary education of 88 per cent. Today, as I speak with you, though the data is improving, in 2014/15, the gross enrolment ratio in secondary education for Ghana was 45 per cent. In lay man's terms, what we mean by gross enrolment ratio is the percentage of students, who are in secondary school at this time, who are supposed to be compared to those who are supposed to be. So, when we talk about every hundred students who are supposed to have secondary education in 2014/15, it was 45 per cent. The Eastern Region happened to have 67 per cent gross enrolment ratio, and Greater Accra Region had 30 per cent gross enrolment ratio. In my view, this is the greater challenge facing the development and transfor- mation of this great nation. If majority of a nation's people do not have access to secondary education, then how would they move forward to the tertiary education level, and how do we talk about getting the critical mass of people with which the nation could be developed? We talk about the highly cognitive abilities being low in the country, how do we get the people to transform our society? That is the greatest challenge that faces education in this country, and that is why I commend the audacious manner with which this President of ours confronted issues that faced education in this country. That is why I am so happy to see that President Nana Akufo-Addo talked about comprehensively free senior high school education. We talk about giving access to students to have Senior High School Education -- [Interruption] -- His Excellency, President Nana Akufo-Addo has confronted an issue that I believe confronts education in this country head on, by enabling students who come from communities that are struggling -- students from my constituency, of Bosomtwe, students from Bonkoko, and students whose parents do not have the opportunity for them to attend high school would now get the opportunity to attend senior high school. Mr Speaker, once upon a time, I was one of those students. Many years ago, when I had passed Common Entrance and my dad wanted me to go to secondary school, he took me from village to village --
Hon Member, just a minute.
Mr Speaker, many years ago, once upon a time, I was one of those students. My father, who had just started his cocoa farming in the Western Region, Wassa Amenfi to be specific, after I had passed my Common Entrance, had to take me from village to village to look for a benefactor to give him GH¢40.00, so that I could go to senior high school. He went from village to village and could not get GH¢40.00. It took the intervention of my younger brother, who reared pigs in my village to tell us to go and sell the pigs, so that his brother could go to senior high school.
Hon Member, please, is it on a point of order?
I am grateful, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order, Standing Order 92 say that the Hon member is misleading the House. For him to create the impression that the challenge with access to education is only about affordability -- free school fees, is grossly misleading this House. There is the issue of access --
Hon Ablakwa, hold on. You quoted Standing Order 92 (2), and I would want to ask him whether he is prepared to yield to you, because Standing Order 92 (2) says and I quote: “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.” Hon Member, what I have read is Standing Order 92 (2). Is it the point of order you are raising?
Mr Speaker, in addition to that, I wish to quote Standing Order 30 (f) -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I am grateful for your guidance. The Hon Member seeks to create the impression that the challenge with access is only a matter of school fees --
Hon Ablakwa, you have not responded to the issue I have raised. It is not a matter of creating impression, no, that is not the issue. If it is creating an impression, then you should allow him to create that.
I am sorry, Mr Speaker. Standing Order 30(f) says that deliberate misleading of Parliament or any of its Committees. So, I come under that Standing Order.
Hon Ablakwa, that is the Standing Order under contempt. [Interruption] -- It is on contempt of Parliament, and not on interruption. Hon Member, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to continue. When I hear people say that the issue of free secondary school is not about affordability, then we should say that to Mariama from Bonkoko, who cannot go to senior high school because her mother cannot afford it. We should say that to countless number of students spread across the country, who wish they could be in senior high schools but cannot buy a trunk, a chopbox and even purchase school uniforms. These are the students that His Excellency, Nana Akufo-Addo fights for, and I could not have been prouder to see him clearly articulate what he would do on the field of education. He talked about mathematics and science education. When we look all over the world, what we need is mathematics and science education, and then technical and vocational education. When we join the two together, we would be talking about comprehensively attacking the problems of under development in our country. Education is the linch pin around which any development of a country should revolve, and the President Nana Akufo- Addo is leading us to attack it head on.
Mr Speaker, I do not believe this is a partisan issue; this is an issue the country should support our President to lead and ensure that children growing up anywhere in this country, do not have to stay at home because their parents cannot afford to send them to school. We have gifted and talented children all over this country and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo cares about these children and is encouraging us and at the same time leading the effort to help build a nation that is equitable. We can together build a nation where the poor do not stay at home while the rich go to school. A number of times, when I meet my friends, I tell them I went to Jachie-Pramso Secondary School and they say they also went to Achimota School; I do tell them that going to Jachie-Pramso Secondary School was a privilege.
Hon Member, conclusion.
I would want children growing up in this country to have the opportunity to attend SHS and move on to the tertiary, so that one day, they can also be like me, the poor son of a cocoa farmer who is now serving in this august House. [Hear! Hear!.]
Hon Members, it is the turn of the Minority side. I have a list of some names here but I do not see any Hon Member on his/her feet. I am told that it is the turn of Hon Yusif Sulemana, Member of Parliament for Bole/Bamboi.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, you always have to be on your feet to be able to catch the eye of the Speaker. The fact that your name is on the list here does not mean the Speaker should assume that you would want to address the House.
Mr Speaker, I am not aware that names have been arranged in a particular sequence. So, I could not have realised that I was the one to speak.
Hon Member, the House is presided over by the Speaker and he manages and controls activities and proceedings of the House. He is not dictated to by any other person. The Speaker is guided and supported by Leadership.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, let me use this opportunity to commend H. E. the President, for calling on the three arms of Government and all and sundry to change our attitude. Here, he made reference to punctuality, sanitation and care of the environment. Mr Speaker, we would not lose any money if we were to change our attitudes. So, I believe the President's call is in the right direction. Having said this, Mr Speaker, let me take you to page 7 of the Address where the President spoke extensively on unemployment and with your kind permission, I would want to read the last paragraph: “To address this challenge, the Government is embarking on one of the most comprehensive pro- grammes for industrial trans- formation ever to be introduced in our country.” The emphasis is on “ever to be introduced in our country.” One would have thought that the President would introduce new programmes, but I went through the list and realised that some of the programmes that he talked about were initiated by the previous Administration. Mr Speaker, there is a saying that, give credit where credit is due and with your permission, I would mention just a few of those programmes that the NPP wanted to implement which I thought were implemented by the previous Admini- stration. For instance, the President talked about stimulus package. Mr Speaker, this is a House of records and if you take the last State of the Nation Address by H. E. the former President, he made mention of a stimulus package that he had put in place which many factories and industries have benefited from. Indeed, the Chief Executive Officer of Tobinco Pharma- ceuticals Limited was in this House to affirm the former President's position. Again, the former President also put in place some institutions. For instance, Youth Enterprise Support (YES) scheme. As I speak to you, this morning, I read that H. E. the President has appointed one Stephen Amoah to head this institution. Mr Speaker, this institution was set up to support the unemployment sector in terms of training our youth and giving them the financial support to be able to kick start on their own. I believe the former President had done so much in this respect and that the current President would have acknowledged these initiatives and continued with them. Mr Speaker, I would also want to draw your attention to the issue of export development where the President said that he was coming out with a comprehensive --
Hon Member, just a minute. Is there a point of order?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Hon O. B. Amoah, Standing Order number?
Mr Speaker, Standing Order 92.
Standing Order 92?
Yes, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I thought I heard the Hon Member talk about Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC).
Hon Member, if you are not sure of what you heard, then you cannot raise a point of order. Still, continue thinking. When you finish thinking and you are sure, then you can come back. So, Hon Member, continue with your contribution.
Mr Speaker, I am up on Standing Order --
You premised your statement by saying you ‘thought' and I said ‘continue thinking'. When you finish thinking, then you come back -- [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I have finished thinking. [Laughter.]
Let us hear you, Hon O. B. Amoah.
Mr Speaker, I said I was coming under Standing Order 92 (1) which says: “No Member shall interrupt any other Member except: --” Mr Speaker, I heard the --
On what grounds?
Mr Speaker, he is misleading this House by saying that MASLOC was initiating --
Standing Order 91 (b) reads: “Debates may be interrupted -- (b) by a matter of privilege suddenly arising; That is Standing Order 91 (b).
No! I said Standing Order 92 (1). I talked about Standing Order 91 (1). It talks about a point of order being raised.
That is so.
But I went to Standing Order 92 (1) which reads: “No Member shall interrupt any other Member except . . . ”
Which of the grounds?
Mr Speaker, Standing Order 92 (1) (b) which reads: “to elucidate some matter raised by the Member speaking in the course of his speech, provided that the Member speaking is willing to give way and resume his seat, and that the Member wishing to interrupt is called by Mr Speaker.” and you have called me, Mr Speaker.
So, please, I now have to ask the Hon Member whether he is willing to give way -- [Laughter.]
You have called me, Mr Speaker.
That is why you have to cite the Standing Order. Hon Member, are you willing to yield to him?
No, Mr Speaker.
He has resumed his seat already. Mr Speaker, he has already yielded.
It is because I insisted he should resume his seat, so that I could listen to you. It is not proper for the two of you to be on your feet at the same time. So, after listening to you, I have to get back to him whether he is prepared to yield to you because you would want to explain and he might not need your explanation.
Mr Speaker, is he not yielding?
Are you yielding?
No, Mr Speaker -- [Laughter.]
Please, can you continue?
Mr Speaker, I did not mention MASLOC in my submission. Mr Speaker, I said that the President said he was going to put in place a comprehen- sive export programme. And I am saying that there is already a programme that is supposed to be used to, as it were, strengthen our export activities.
Hon Member, can you refer to the portion of State of the Nation Address which stated that he was prepared to put in place a comprehensive export programme?
Mr Speaker, point ten of page 8; “Implementation of an aggressive programme for export development, targeting primarily regional and continental markets” And I am saying that --
“Implementation of an aggressive programme for export development, targeting primarily regional and continental markets” And not comprehensive. This is because you mentioned comprehensive.
Mr Speaker, I withdraw that.
The ‘comprehensive' is in respect of SME development, which is point 8; “Implementation of a comprehen- sive programme for SME development” So, which one are you contributing to?
Mr Speaker, I am contributing to point ten and I withdraw the word that I earlier used.
All right, continue.
Mr Speaker, it reads, “Implementation of an aggressive programme for export development, targeting primarily regional and continental markets” I said that in the year 2000, the NDC Government established the Export Development and Investment Fund. And this was put in place to assist in our effort to ensure that the trade balance position that we always record is reduced. Again, this House, in 2015, also passed the EXIM Bank Bill and for that matter, an Act which is also to facilitate and give capacity to our export sector of this Economy. I thought that these are very laudable --
Hon Member, I recognise the Hon Deputy Majority Leader.
Mr Speaker, I thank you. An Hon Member on the Majority side of the House had been struggling to catch your eye. Hon Freda Prempeh is struggling so much to catch your eye. So, I am drawing your attention to her. I am sure she is rising on a point of order.
Thank you, Hon Deputy Majority Leader, it is your duty to assist those who are struggling to catch my eye but sometimes, also give them the time to struggle. It is part of the game. Yes, Hon Member?
No! Hon Member, I love your outfit.
Yes, that was why I thought you would recognise me when I rose. Mr Speaker, this is a quick one. Parliament is a House of records and I heard my Hon Colleague on the other side of the House say that the President has appointed one Stephen Amoah to the Youth Enterprise Support (YES). I have not heard any appointment of that nature. So, I want to find out from him where he had that information.
Hon Member, this is not a point of order.
Mr Speaker, I said a point of correction. I need a clarification. This is because the President has not appointed one Stephen Amoah to YES and Parliament is a House of records --
Hon Member, this is not a point of elucidation. Please, could you continue? If you want a clarification for what you heard, when you get the opportunity, you say so.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to continue. I said that there is already an export strategy document at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Again, this House has passed an Act to establish an EXIM Bank to provide financial resources to the export sector. These are no new initiatives and I thought that the writers of the speech would have acknowledged the important role that the NDC Government played in putting these initiatives on board. Mr Speaker, having said this, I would want to thank you for the opportunity for me to contribute to this debate. Thank you.
Thank you, Hon Member. It is now the turn of Hon Ayisi Barbara Asher, Member for Cape Coast North.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing debate. Mr Speaker, the President touched on many issues on Tuesday, 21st February, 2017 and I believe the good people of Ghana were so happy. This is because, most of us heard what we wanted to hear. Mr Speaker, I wish to deliberate on the issue of education, which of course, is very dear to our hearts. Education, they say, is the key to success, and for any country to develop, we need to take education very seriously. I was so happy when His Excellency, the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo in his words, Mr Speaker, if you would allow me to borrow his words. He says, “If I am in a hurry, I am in a hurry to ensure that every child born in this country attends school from Kindergarten to Senior High School; in other words, that is the basic education that each child is required to receive. We intend to reform the basic school curricula which emphasis on literacy, numeracy and creative skills. And just in case there is any one left in this country who has not heard yet, Free Senior High School starts from 2017/2018 entrants into the public SHS.” Mr Speaker, I wish that we would all be happy as a country to receive this policy. When my Hon Colleague was speaking, he touched on a number of issues that touched my heart. I was in my office one day when a beautiful young lady walked in and said, Madam, this is my result slip; eight ones with a very high raw score, yet, she is in the house. This is a very pertinent issue I believe we have to think about as a nation.
Hon Member, eight ones in what?
In Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, a lot of people have raised quite a number of issues thinking of how feasible the ‘Free SHS' is. I would not stand here and say we are poor as a country, we are blessed with all the resources. Talking about gold, we have it, talking about cocoa, we have it, talking about space, the resources, et cetera, so, we cannot sit here and say we are poor. I believe that what we need as a nation is good leadership and His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has promised the good people of this nation that he is going to provide us with good leadership. He would ensure that we desist from corruption, we desist from things that would pull this nation back.
Hon Member, just a minute. Yes?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, something baffles my mind. [Interruption.] Our Hon Colleague is misinforming the House. She is from Cape Coast, and if you consider the Western and the Central regions, Cape Coast is the city -- Mr Second Deputy Speaker Hon Member, please, if you are standing on a point of order, I have stated here, draw our attention to the Standing Order under which you are relying on to stand on a point of order. You have not done that.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, I rose up on a point of correction and explanation.
Hon Member, there is no point of correction in our Standing Orders. [Laughter.] Please could you continue?
You cannot have a point of order on a point of order. I have overruled him and asked Hon Ayisi to continue.
Mr Speaker, respectfully --
Yes, as a Leader, I would --
Respectfully, in reference to our Hon Colleague Members on the other side of the House, when we are making reference to them, we should do so in a very polite manner. The Hon Member just said “she is from Cape Coast”. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member has a constituency and a name. Per our Standing Orders, Standing Order 86 (3) says; “Ministers shall be referred to by their Ministerial titles. The Deputy Speakers and the Deputy Ministers shall be referred to by the names of the offices held by them. All other Members shall be referred to as “Honourable” together with the name of their constituencies, that is, “the Honourable Member for…”, where an Honourable Member has already been so described in a speech he may be further referred to as “My Honourable Friend” or “The Honourable Gentleman, Lady or Member”.
So, the Hon Member -- please, I am on my feet, you have to respectfully sit down. [Interruption.]
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, you are on your feet. I do not need to be reminded that you are on your feet.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Respectfully, what I am drawing your attention to is that, we should refer to one another, especially, with regard to a female Member of Parliament. We would expect that we do not point fingers and refer to ourselves as he or she.
You have made your point. Hon Ntow, what did you say? I did not hear you. Could you repeat what you said?
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague Hon Adwoa Safo is sitting very close to me. I referred to the Hon Member as my Hon Colleague from Cape Coast.
Please, Hon Member, what did you say? Your Colleague from where?
Mr Speaker, I said my Hon Colleague from Cape Coast. That is what I said. So, I need not refer to the name again.
You said your Hon Colleague from Cape Coast?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
We have so many Hon Colleagues here from Cape Coast.
Mr Speaker, I do not believe that is her original seat. So, I cannot see the name and constituency well. That was why I referred to her --
Hon Ayisi, could you continue with your contribution?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the President also touched on expanding and re-equipping technical, vocational as well as agricultural institutions. As a country, we are saddled with a high rate of unemployment. Graduates who have completed school -- Several Hon Members -- rose --
Hon Member, just a minute. I have seen that about three Hon Members are on their feet from the other side of the House. Is it on a point of order?
Rightfully so, Mr Speaker. I rise on a point of order, standing Order 91 (a). Hon Ayisi made a Statement that, Hon Members of the Minority would even benefit from free SHS. We are not going back to SHS. To make a statement that we are going to benefit from free SHS I do not know if she is trying to cast us in bad light that we probably need education again and have to go back to SHS for free. We take strong exception to that statement that free SHS would benefit Hon Members on the Minority side of the House. This is quite contemptuous.
Hon Member, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, as a country, we are saddled with a high rate of unemployment. Graduates, people with Masters and even Doctorate degrees are still staying at home. I was happy when the President made mention of the fact that he would expand and focus on technical, vocational as well as agricultural institutions. I believe if we did that, we would be able to equip the youth with the requisite skills which would help them gain employment quickly and could also help them set up their own businesses. I believe this would also help curb the high rate of unemployment in the country. Mr Speaker, the President also indicated that his Government would place teachers at the centre of quality education. I believe that to have quality education, teachers would have to play a major role. They must be motivated and appreciated. It is motivating enough to know that the teacher trainee allowances would be restored by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his Government. This would go a long way to help our young people who are in the training colleges. It would put a smile on the faces of these young people who depend a lot on these
Hon Member, I can see the only available leader on the side of the Minority on his feet.
Thank you very much Mr Speaker. There is a mutual understanding. I tried to draw her attention to the fact that we no longer have institutions called training colleges. We now have Colleges of Education and she has taken that on board.
Mr Speaker, well noted. I believe this would put smiles on the faces of our young people who are in various colleges. Some use these allowance to support themselves, pay school fees, fend for themselves, their families and so many other things. I wish to plead that we should not politicise education in this country. When there is a policy that would benefit all of us, such as the free SHS, we should all hold and encourage it so that if it is implemented, it would help the good people of Ghana.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is exciting to see where we are today with all of us coming from different parts of the country. We have one common language and work together. Education is indeed, the key to our progress and success. On page 10 of his speech, the President was very kind in making reference to the fact that education -- and with your permission, I beg to quote: “…it holds the key to a better understanding and accommodation with our environment; it equips us with the skills required to deal with the world; education holds the key to the prosperous and happy Ghana we all want and deserve.” Mr Speaker, these are very wonderful statements which relate to education and we are certainly excited that we can have this opportunity in our country since colonial times. Mr Speaker, the President again was very emphatic when we looked at the fact that all of us are together in this -- when he said there was consensus among us and the need to provide quality education to all Ghanaian children. Mr Speaker, the President further said; and with your permission, I beg to quote; “If I am in a hurry, I am in a hurry to ensure that every child born in this country attends school from Kindergarten to Senior High School; in other words, that is the basic education that each child is required to receive. We intend to reform the basic school curricula with emphasis on literacy, numeracy and creative skills.” Mr Speaker, these are very important keys in education and so, the President is on target. Indeed, ten or fifteen years down the line, some of us would not be here but those who would take our place would have been equipped to do so as a result of education. Mr Speaker, when we refer to article 25 of the Constitution, it says, and I beg to quote with your kind permission: 25. (1) “All persons shall have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities and with a view to achieving the full realisation of that right -- (a) basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all; (b) secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational educa- tion, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education”; Mr Speaker, the framers of the Constitution said that basic education is compulsory -- that is, before a person attains the age of maturity, the person should have basic education. Mr Speaker, on the other hand, when we look at what the President said in his speech, he indicated that basic education would be from Kindergarten to Senior High School. Mr Speaker, in the President's own words, he said, and with your permision, I beg to quote; “…in other words, that is the basic education that each child is required to receive. Mr Speaker, I am a bit confused about what the President said. This is because, the mandatory education is basic education which is primary and junior high -- 11 years of early childhood primary and junior high. But the President said from Kindergarten to Senior High School. Mr Speaker, was it a new policy he applied to us or he amended the Constitution by the State of the Nation Address? When he says it this way, he opens a kind of want. This is because, we would look at transferring the responsibility of State from junior high school all the way to the senior high school with its diverse programmes in agriculture, technical, vocational and the regular grammar schools which a lot of people received. Mr Speaker, something more than this should have been said. The President and all those who advise him have a burden of responsibility to give clarity to this, because I am at a loss and I am sure that many people are also at a loss. This is because we do not know what he wants to drive at by this statement. We would like every child in this country to have second cycle education, but that must be a policy and we must amend the Constitution, so that everybody would be clear where we would go with this, and then put the responsibility on our dear country to provide that level of education. Mr Speaker, when we look broadly at where we are today, and accept without admitting that the President said that we should have compulsory education up to the second cycle level, the challenge is, we have so much that needs to be done, even at the basic level. Indeed, the State, drawing from either GETFund or Consolidated Fund -- the State has made enormous efforts to try and get every child in this country to go to school. We provide facilities, food, uniform, textbooks and sometimes shoes. All of these things are to ensure that children have the opportunity to go to school. But there are still some children who are lost in the margin. Mr Speaker, in my constituency, Bia West in the Western Region, a cocoa growing area, there are certain places that children cannot walk to school. But the number of children in those villages are too small to have a school of their own. So, it would require that some other approach may be devised in order for these children to have the basic education which is mandatory and indeed, whatever sphere of life one would want to venture into, one should have that basic education. However, while the parents of these children are in productive activities which contribute to national development, again, their children do not have the opportunity because, basic education is basically local therefore, the availability of boarding facilities, et cetera, are not available. One would believe that the State would begin to think about those children who are lost as a result of this and cannot access basic education. Mr Speaker, we are all witnesses to the recent incident in Asikuma Odoben Brakwa in which some kindergarten children lost their lives in a school.
Hon Member, please, conclude.
Mr Speaker, in essence, the point I would want to make is with basic education in its original intent by the framers of the Constitution. We have still not had the facilities and resources that are critical for the mass majority of our children to attain. As a result of that, the rush of the President, as he takes it, is too much of a rush in looking at the basic, which becomes the basis for progressing to the second cycle. So, if we still have non-universal access to that, then we cannot be in a hurry to get into second cycle. And if anything, the President should also give us clarity on what he meant by his basic education.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, from my instructions, this is the last contributor to the debate for today. So, I would want your guidance what we would do next.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Please, who seconded the Motion?
Mr Speaker, I am Kwame Govers Agbodza, Member of Parliament for Adaklu and the available Leader for this afternoon. [Laughter.]
Hon Members, it is a few minutes after 2.00 p.m. and I would accordingly, without the Motion, adjourn the House to Tuesday, 28th February, 2017. Tuesday would be the day that we would continue with the debate. I am told that Hon Members should endeavour to be prompt and that the House would start Sitting at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
The House was adjourned at 2.04 p.m. till Tuesday, 28th February, 2017, at 10.00 a.m.