VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. Hon Members, Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 12th June, 2018. Page 1 … 9 --
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, on page 9, paragraph 7, line 4, “…Mr Anthony Opoku Acheampong after been turned away by seven health facilities …” Mr Speaker, is the word supposed to be “several”? I see “seven health facilities …”.
I did not hear seven. I believe I also heard five.
Maybe the Table Office would go back to the Statement. Mr Speaker, also, in your directive --
The Table Office should recheck with both the Hon Member who made the Statement and Leadership to ensure consistency. Hon Minority Leader, my order is; they should verify upon your drawn attention. Hon Minority Leader, is there anything else on that page?
Mr Speaker, it is all right. I was just looking at the words they used for your directive on the matter and to go back to your exact words because I remember you even emphasised that they visit facilities; if I heard you right.
Thank you very much. Page 10 … 15
Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 12th June, 2018 as corrected is hereby admitted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, Correction of Official Report of Thursday, 31st May, 2018. Any correction?
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Thursday, 31st May, 2018.]
Hon Members, item listed 3 -- Questions. Question numbered *347 in the name of the Hon Member for Bole/ Bamboi. Hon Minister for Finance, if you may, please take the appropriate seat? Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu -- rose
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Minister for Finance is in a very critical meeting now, and he has sent his Deputy, the Hon Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng to come and take charge of the Questions that would be asked of the Ministry.
So you are asking that --?
So I am asking permission for the Hon Deputy Minister to stand in the stead of the substantive Minister to respond to the Questions filed.
Very well. Hon Member, you may ask your Question.
Mr Speaker, with your kind permission, I have been asked by the Hon Member for Bole/ Bamboi, Hon Yusif Sulemana to ask the Question on his behalf.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF FINANCE
Mr Speaker, within the period January to November 2017, the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) received three hundred and seventy-two (372) applications for restricted tendering and approved one hundred and seventy- four (174) of them, representing 46.77 per cent of applications received. Mr Speaker, this compares with the five hundred and ninety-two (592) applications received in 2016 of which five hundred and eighty-seven (587) representing 99.15 per cent were approved. In respect of sole sourcing, a total of four hundred and twenty (420) applications were received in 2017, of which two hundred and thirty-six (236) were approved, representing 56.19 per cent. This again is a significant improvement on 2016 sole sourced applications of six hundred and twenty-two (622) of which five hundred and ninety-seven (597), representing 95.80 per cent were approved. Mr Speaker, given that the desired default procurement method is competitive tendering, the improvement in the choice of procurement method away from sole sourcing under this NPP government is good for the public purse. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, inasmuch as the Hon Deputy Minister has sought to downplay the import of the Question, I feel I am obligated --
Hon Member, please, withdraw that because you are expressing an opinion. Ask your Question and do not make a speech.
Mr Speaker, I would like to find out under what circumstances, with emphasis on circumstances, the number of sole-sourced contracts were awarded?
Mr Speaker, the circumstances and conditions under which the sole-sourced and restricted tendering applications were made and approved are all stated in the Public Procurement Act of 2003 as amended. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Deputy Minister, the law, we all know but specific cases related to which part of the law or what? Please, if you do not have that here, you would need to go and come back but you would need to come and tell the House that this application related to that and that, and for that matter, under what section of this or that it was approved. This is because, there is individual reason for each and every approval. It is not an omnibus thing. Hon Deputy Minister, if you do not have this, you have every right to ask for time and bring it.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue from the advice you have given. Broadly, they were asked as stated in the law, but relating to specific applications, we can provide if given the opportunity to do that another time.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for your fair intervention. On a similar basis, I would like to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister --
Just leave the comments and ask the question.
Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister, under what circumstances restricted tendering was granted for contracts under the period captured in the Question? Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, you would see that the Minister has already said that he would need time to provide those details. So let us give him that opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I yield to your guidance, but I just wanted to emphasise and to clarify the fact that the Question is a two component Question: restricted tendering and sole sourcing. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, the Question at the tail end talks about “under what circumstances”, which is part of the Question. The Answer provided by the Hon Minister ignored completely that portion of the Question. Now, on the supplementary question, he is asking that we give time to provide that information. Is it the case that he had seen that portion of the Question and refused to answer or he does not have the information?
Mr Speaker, this House is guided by rules. We operate within the remit of our rules of procedure.
“(1) Questions must comply with the following conditions -- (h) a Question shall not be asked the answer to which is readily available in official publica- tions;” Mr Speaker, the conditions or the circumstances under which sole sourcing is granted is prescribed by law and the law is an official publication. Mr Speaker, further to that, they submit annual reports to Parliament and indeed dictate the special circumstances relating to special events. Those are official publications. So for anybody to be belabouring this point, I believe it is neither here nor there.
Mr Speaker, I am surprised at the intervention of the Hon Majority Leader. We all know the circumstances under which sole-sourcing is conducted in the law. But these are specific issues that the Hon Member is asking the Hon Deputy Minister to provide. For this one, where sole sourcing was allowed in 2017, under what circumstance was it done? This has been the path of the questions. The Hon Deputy Minister did not answer that section of the question. Mr Speaker, my question is, was it because he had no information on that or he intentionally decided not to respond to that portion of the question? Where is the report for 2017, which the Hon Majority Leader referred to? There was no report like that. Mr Speaker, we would want to know under what circumstances in 2017 that sole-sourcing was granted? The Hon Deputy Minister must provide that information.
Hon Deputy Minister, you would bring the details you said you would in due course, and that would take care of all the apparent difficulties we have now, which should be no difficulty at all. Specifically, it must be admitted that the question, not even any supplementary question, states within the four lines and under what circumstances? Since the circumstances are not all loaded and global, but are specific and qualify under different headings as per the law itself, kindly advice this Honourable House on the details in due course. Now, with regard to that which are already published and are in the public domain, I would want to make it clear that assuming there is a contract awarded, and assuming reports are filed by the end of the year, if a person wants to know the details, should that person wait until then? Should he wait from January to December? We are all building our nation or that means that still be asked. Hon Deputy Minister, that which is available in the public realm, you can give an answer and then refer to it, that if a person wants the details, he should go to a source to get it. That would be a good answer under our rules. This is because you need not make a tall list of everything and bring it here to read. You can give a generalisation of the circumstances in which that particular transaction qualified and then say, for details, they are available in this public document et cetera, so that we understand ourselves and not have unnecessary difficulties over such matters. I am very clear in my mind in that direction. So Hon Deputy Minister, we would give you time to provide it the way you want to. That which is already available, refer to it. That which is not available, tell us what you have by way of a general category. Hon Members, Question numbered 383 -- Hon Member for Ho Central?
Thank you Mr Speaker for the opportunity. Before I ask my Question, I would want to plead with you to make a small comment. This Question was filed --
Hon Member, you should ask your Question. If you do not want to stand by it, then you would proceed. No speeches. Special Import Levy (Revenue collected from 2013 to 2017) 383. Mr Benjamin Komla Kpodo asked the Minister for Finance how much revenue has been collected by the Government from the imposition of the Special Import Levy for the years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Mr Speaker, below is a table provided to indicate revenue collected in the aforementioned years res- pectively.
Thank you very much Hon Deputy Minister. Yes, Hon Kpodo.
Thank you Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Special Import Levy as a tax had a sunset clause for it to end in 2017, but by Act 953, it has been resurrected as a new tax. When compared to the so-called “nuisance taxes” listed on page 136, paragraph 767 of the 2018 Budget Statement, is it not evident that the total of all “nuisance taxes” removed is far less than the amount collected from the Special Import Levy?
Mr Speaker, may he repeat --
I did not get you myself so, please go on.
Mr Speaker, I noted that the Special Import Levy had a sunset clause which would have ended by December 2017. But by Act 953, it has been reintroduced as a new tax for two years — 2018 and 2019. So when we compare the total sums to be collected from this Special Import Levy to those removed as “nuisance taxes”, is it not evident that this new re-imposition is going to be more than the total of the “nuisance taxes” which were abolished?
Order! Let the Hon Deputy Minister answer the question.
Mr Speaker, the total of the tax reliefs in the 2017 Budget Statement in accordance with our Manifesto commitment was GH¢1 billion. That was the value of the reliefs that were granted in the 2017 Budget Statement. SPACE FOR DATA - PAGE 4 - So for the Hon Member to compare the figures we are mentioning here to GH¢1 billion is very hard for me to appreciate. Mr Speaker, in any event, the Hon Member seems to refer to 2018 figures. The Question did not make reference to 2018. I do not have those answers, but we may want to take a cue from the fact that the interventions that the Hon Minister for Finance announced in this House in 2017 was GH¢1 billion.
Mr Speaker, I would like to ask the Hon Deputy Minister whether he reckons that the re-introduction of the Special Import Levy imposes much harder burdens on the general population than the benefit to be derived from the “nuisance taxes” like the 17.5 per cent on domestic airline tickets which affects only a small section of the population?
Hon Member, you are making a broad analysis. I do not see the basis because it is not everybody who would agree with your analysis. So, you may want to ask a substantive question on this if you really want it.
He wants a confirmation.
Confirmation of what? You may reframe your question or I will overrule it. I do not see how he can answer a question like that.
Mr Speaker, the Special Import Levy covers all imports into this country, but a tax like the 17.5 per cent on domestic airline tickets covers only a small section of the population. So, if the policy is to reduce the burden of taxes on the general population, is it
That burden needs to be scientifically analysed. [Laughter.] You are moving into a very interesting area. In tax terms, we all know that Governments would tax petrol, alcohol, even including that which goes deep down to the most ordinary drinker and so on and so forth and end up with a mix. So, how do you just stand here -- ? Maybe, you may make a Statement on this and then it would be debated, but it is not a question. You may ask another question.
Mr Speaker, I would like to ask the Hon Deputy Minister whether he would consider removing the Special Import Levy during the presentation of the mid-year review in response to the cries of the numerous children and population of Ghana, that the Special Important Levy is promoting price hikes on goods and services and goods imported?
Hon Deputy Minister, we are listening.
Mr Speaker, in answering the question, whether or not the Special Import Levy would be removed going forward, we would need to take into account the taxes that were removed in total in the 2017 and 2018 Budget Statements. Mr Speaker, if you would permit me, I would like to refresh the memory of this House on the taxes that were removed so that as a House, we can appreciate the impact in total, not just of the Special Import Levy, but the broad tax posture of this Administration. Mr Speaker, in 2017, the taxes abolished included, the one per cent Special Import Levy the 17.5 per cent VAT/NHIL on financial services, the 17.5 per cent VAT/ NHIL on selected imported medicines that are not produced locally --
Hon Deputy Minister, Hon Members do not want to know the answer or they want a preferred answer? Those who ask questions and who would stand by their preferred answer should not ask. Please, let us have order and listen to the answer. Hon Minister?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. In addition to those I have mentioned, the 17.5 per cent VAT and NHIS and domestic airline tickets were abolished. Five per cent VAT and NHIS on real estate was abolished; the excise duty on petroleum was abolished, the special petroleum tax rate was reduced from 17.5 per cent to 15 per cent. -- [Hear! Hear!] In 2018, this was further reduced to 13 per cent and made to reduce the impact on the consumers that you referred to. A duty on importation of spare parts was abolished; the levies imposed on Kayaye by local authorities were abolished. Taxes on capital gains were abolished, National Electrification Scheme Levy was reduced from five per cent to three per cent; the public lighting levy was reduced from five per cent to two per cent; the 17.5 per cent VAT/NHIS rate was reduced to a flat rate of three per cent. And Mr Speaker, in 2018, we have started in accordance with Government commitment to reduce corporate income
Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you Mr Speaker for the opportunity. I am happy that the Hon Deputy Minister gave us some indication on what they have done so far. On just one issue; he said they have removed VAT on domestic airline tickets. Could the Hon Minister confirm to this country that since the removal of the 17.5 per cent VAT on domestic airline ticket, the price differential from 2016 to 2017 has rather increased, so today, a return ticket to Kumasi is almost GH¢800 when it used to be just about GH¢600 before the removal? So, what is the impact of that? Could the Hon Deputy Minister explain to us what the reason is for the upward adjustment of the price when the tax was removed?
Mr Speaker, the question my Hon Colleague sought to ask -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, the difference between what the price would have been without that tax measure and what the price is with this tax measure is not anything I could tell you here. This is because we need to analyse what would have happened. There are other things contributing to price, and to assume that merely because you affect one factor, that you must necessarily get a certain outcome is problematic. Mr Speaker, what I could say is that, in view of the intervention as was clearly stated here by the Hon Minister for Aviation, patronage of domestic airlines has increased. And with that expanded economic activity, I should rightly conclude that it would come with additional incomes to all those in the value chain.
I have already indicated to Mr Speaker that but for the intervention the price definitely would have been higher than you have now. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, we all know that the ultimate price is arrived at from a multiplicity of factors. If you want to make a vis-à-vis comparison, ask it specifically so that all the indicators would be taken into account and we would see the impact of one particular item. This is why some of these questions are not acceptable. Yes, Hon Member, the last intervention?
Mr Speaker, the question is, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) promised the good people of this country that when voted for, they were going to make sure life becomes easy for all of us.
Mr Speaker, life is really difficult for the ordinary Ghanaian. So, my question is, is the Hon Deputy Minister taking steps to abolish this very tax so that life would be very easy for all of us?
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague, who asked the question is a middle aged Member of this House. He is not entirely a senior Member, and he is not entirely a junior Member of the House. Mr Speaker, again, he knows the rules; Standing Order 69 stipulates and I beg to quote: “As soon as a Question is answered in the House, any Member beginning with the Member who asked the Question may, without notice ask a supplementary Question for the further elucidation of any matter of fact regarding which the answer has been given, but a supplementary Question must not be used to introduce matter not included in the Original Question.” Mr Speaker, he wants to pull a blanket on himself and apply a blanket, the size of which cannot be determined by this House. Mr Speaker, this question is too blanket- like, it seeks to introduce matters that are not contained in the original Question for which reason, Mr Speaker, I would appeal to you not to allow this question.
I am appealing to Mr Speaker for his directive, I am not appealing to you my Hon Colleague. So you cannot rise on this. It is for Mr Speaker to make a ruling on that.
I called the Hon Majority Leader for the sake of making a comment, but I had already made up my mind. There is no nexus between the answer provided, the question on hand and the areas that the questioner purports to take the Hon Deputy Minister at this stage. Any question from the Minority Leadership?
Mr Speaker, I just would want to find out from the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, with the tax measures that have brought about the abolishing of the one per cent Import Levy, which according to him in a supplementary answer, have brought some reliefs to Ghanaians, I would want to find out from him if that relief has contributed to the general better condition of the people of this country? What I mean by that is, has that reduced the suffering of Ghanaians? Whether these tax measures have resulted in the reduction of the suffering of the Ghanaians?
Yes, Hon Deputy Minister?
Mr Speaker, as I indicated to the House, in 2017, this Government just collected a little over GH¢17 milion as against GH¢56 millon collected on this tax in 2016. The difference has gone to those in the industry; the consumers and the traders in that industry. He asked what the impact was? It was our objective for introducing those tax measures, to expand economic activity to remove the emphasis on economic management strategy from taxation to production. Mr Speaker, I am happy to indicate that in 2017, the rate of growth of the economy in real terms was much higher than recorded in 2016. I have no doubt that this measure was part of the contributory factor.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, your last question.
Has that contributed to the reduction of the suffering of ordinary Ghanaians? That is the question.
Mr Speaker, expansion in economic activity ultimately leads to a reduction in the suffering of the people in that country.
Hon Majority Leader, any question?
Mr Speaker, no question. [Interruption.]
Hon Deputy Minister, thank you very much for attending to the House and answering our Questions. Hon Member for Ashaiman, Question number 384, for the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations. Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, it should be recalled that, on 8th December, 2017, I appeared before this august House to respond to a Question on steps being taken by my Ministry to create jobs for Ghanaians. In my response, I put forward before this House figures on jobs being created as a result of the many interventions being introduced by Government. In view of this, I quoted statistics from the “Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ) Programme being implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture as part of the jobs created by the government. The “Planting for Food and Jobs” Programme, as at the time of my address had created an estimated 744,601 jobs. This figure has since been updated to 750,027 by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. These jobs ranged from fertilizer distribution, seed distribution, inputs distribution, to extension services and data processing among others. The preceding table highlights the records;
Mr Speaker, from the Table we have for Fertilizer Distribution, 9,853 and for seed distribution outlet, 2,160. I would want to ask the Hon Minister if the people who distribute the fertilizer are different from those who distribute the seeds? How many of them are physically at post at this particular time? Are these jobs permanent or temporary?
Mr Speaker, yes, the distributors of fertilizers are not the same as those who distributed seeds. The fertilizers were mostly carted from the port in Tema and distributed to the various Districts. Most of the seeds were also distributed from the production point to the end user. They were not from the same source, and it was not possible to use the same persons in the same business. As to whether the people who were engaged are still at post or not, I would not be in a position to tell for now. This is because they were engaged at the peak season. I cannot tell whether in the off season, they would still be at post. Mr Speaker, the International Labour Organisatioin (ILO) defines a job as an activity which gives an income to a person if the person was engaged for one hour within a week. That is the international definition of a job.
Mr Speaker, from what the Hon Minister has told us, invariably, these are not permanent jobs but temporary ones?
Mr Speaker, I thought that I gave the international definition of a job. That is exactly what I did.
Mr Speaker, in paragraph 4, point 4 on the Table, “Area expansion due to PFJ (2 Persons/HA)”, is the Hon Member telling us that there would be two persons per hectare for all the jobs allocated there? I would like to know if two persons are allocated to two hectares?
Mr Speaker, in all, 360,000 hectares were cultivated under the “Planting for Food and Jobs” Programme. Experts have indicated that it takes two persons to cultivate an area of one hectare, so by that, the 360,000 hectares resulted in creating jobs for 720,000 persons.
Mr Speaker, I would want to ask the Hon Minister whether those involved in the milling service for rice are private people who have been employed by the Ministry or not.
Mr Speaker, all these players in the jobs that were created as a result of the “Planting for Food and Jobs” Programme were engaged within the private sector and not the public sector.
Mr Speaker, in asking my question, I would want to refer to Appendix 7 of the Budget Statement where the total ceiling for the whole of the Ministry of Agriculture was GH¢ 2,243,000 but the Hon Minister said in his Answer that extension agents employed within that budget cycle were 2,270 which is way above the entire ceiling for the whole of the Ministry. Mr Speaker, given the fact that Parliament gave an approval that the entire staff should even be less than this, how were they employed and where did they get clearance?
Mr Speaker, I am happy that the Hon Member referred to a portion of the Budget Statement. I thought he would refer to the entire Budget Statement. In the same Budget Statement, it was indicated that the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) engaged extension services for the Ministry of Agriculture for the “Planting for Food and Jobs” Programme.
Mr Speaker, I would yield the slot for Leadership to the Hon Ranking Member for the Committee on Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs.
Mr Speaker, while asking in my capacity as the available Leader in the Minority Caucus, my first question would be on ‘'Post-Harvesting Processing''. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister indicated that under Post Harvest Processing, 2,160 people were recruited, under “Warehouse and Storage,” it was 2,160; and under “Milling Service for Rice,” it was 4,320. Mr Speaker, I would want to know the difference between “Post-Harvest Processing'', “Warehouse and Storage'' and “Milling Service for Rice''.
Mr Speaker, I do not know whether the Hon Member knows the processes of farming. After harvesting, it is not all the produce that are processed.
immediately, some of them are kept in the warehouse for further processing after a period of time. Mr Speaker, every district had a warehouse where -- [Interruption.] -- I am a farmer myself and so when I said every district had a warehouse, what I meant was that -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, there are warehouses that are spotted all over the country, which are quite many and people are engaged to take care of them, and also help in making sure that the products which are kept in them are well maintained and fumigated. Mr Speaker, I still insist that there are warehouses spotted all over the country.
Hon Members, Order! Hon Members, this brings us to the end of Question time, except that if the Hon Majority Leader would want to ask a question he may do so.
Mr Speaker, first of all, the Hon Minister talked about creation of jobs and not recruitment. Mr Speaker, I see some Hon Colleagues rise to deny that there are warehouses in their districts. I saw my own Hon Colleague, Mr Governs Agbodza, who is sitting directly opposite, say to us that
Mr Speaker, there is a warehouse in the Hon Member's constituency. [Laughter.]
Hon Member, they say there is a warehouse in your district. [Laughter.] Hon Members, on the note that there is a warehouse in the district of the Hon Member who asked the Question, that brings us to the end of Question Time. Statements -- item listed number 4 on the Order Paper. Statement by Hon Michael Yaw Gyato -- Goodwill Message to Muslims and the Nation.
Bonsu — rose
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member has had to go to his constituency. He asked the Hon Member for Offinso South to read this Statement in his stead.
Hon Member, you may so read the Statement on behalf of your Colleague Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, I beg to read a Statement authored by Hon Michael Yaw Gyato, the Hon Member for Krachi East which is titled Wishing Muslims in Ghana a Happy Eid Ul-Fitr. Mr Speaker, for almost one month now, our brothers and sisters in the Islamic Religion are going through the period of fasting and prayers. Ramadan is one of the most important periods in a Muslim's annual calendar. The revelation of the Quran to the Holy Prophet Mohammed (SA) was in this month where every Muslim apart from fasting, is expected to also read his Holy Quran. Mr Speaker, it is at this period that the five (5) pillars of Islam which are; Zakat:- charity; Salah:- prayer; and Shahada:- faith are practiced fervently. While I wish to congratulate my brothers and sisters for this period of personal upliftment, I equally want to thank them for their prayers for the nation, the President and theVice President of the Republic and all who matter in governance. In this period of self-denial, I recall the Sahur or meal I have enjoyed with Muslim friends. Most Christians though they are not fasting, acknowledged the need for Fidyah (which is giving a day's meal for each fast missed to a needy person). This is in the form of milk and sugar. Mr Speaker, the Holy Quran in chapter Two verse 183 says “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those who were before you, in order that you may learn piety (Taqwa)”. Fasting teaches patience and without tolerance, you cannot attain peace. In the Bible, we were told our Lord Jesus also fasted for forty (40) days and forty (40) nights. As I speak, our traditional rulers in the Ga Traditional Area have put a ban on noise making. It is a period of quiet time to prepare for homowo. Mr Speaker, the significance of fasting and self-denial in the Muslim, Christian and traditional religions is about the same spiritual growth. Muslims are fasting as a means of releasing the human spirit from the clutches of earthly desires and allowing moderation in lifestyle in one self. This will be climaxed with Eid ul-Fitr as an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. We salute our Muslim brothers and sisters worldwide, in particular Ghanaian Muslims. Mr Speaker, in saluting Ghanaian Muslims, permit me to use this occasion to pride myself for living in a country with all shades of religions but we co-exist and tolerate each other in our diversity. This did not come on a silver platter. We have collectively worked at it. I recall the under listed issues we debated and came to some amicable understanding as a people. 1. The debate on the use of hijab by pupils and students in schools. 2. Tolerating other religions in our mission schools. 3. The suggestion by Professor Frimpong Boateng on the
Hon Member, I thank you for this Statement ably read by you. We would take two contributions from each side.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Krachi East and read by Mr Banda. Mr Speaker, we acknowledge that the Islamic religion is equally important as we also recognise the holy month of Ramadan as very important in our everyday life. Mr Speaker, even as lawyers, we were taught the principles and laws of Mohammedanism just so that we would understand and appreciate the fundamentals of the Islamic religion and its practices though we are in a common law jurisdiction. These are gendered to ensure cohesion in the society. It is also to engender brotherliness among the people. It is therefore worrying that in the Statement, which was ably read, we were told that civil insurrection along religious lines within the West African sub region was on the ascendency. I would therefore urge all of us to ensure that we live in peace and harmony irrespective of our religious differences so that at the end of the day, we can do the work of God and the country in peace. I thank you for the opportunity, and wish them Holy Ramadan, Barika da Sallah and the best on tomorrow and Friday.
Thank you very much, Hon Member, for particularly going straight to the point.
Mr Speaker, I thank you. I would like to contribute to the Statement and thank Hon Gyato for the Statement. Mr Speaker, the holy month of Ramadan is very unique in the sense that it was the month that the Quran was revealed to the holy prophet of Islam. This particular month is the Laylat ul-Qadr, which is the Night of Power. That was the very night that the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed (P.B.O.H.). It is believed that on this particular night, all angels descended by the permission of their Lord to be with us till daybreak. On this day, God is close to accept our prayers. It is recommended that in this particular month, we have Iftar, which is the time that we break our fast. If we offer dua, which is prayer, God is closer to us to accept it. Once, the Prophet Moses, sallah-lahu alaihi wasallam, asked Allah if there was anybody who would be closer to Allah than he? This is because Prophet Moses used to communicate directly to Allah. God told Prophet Moses that yes, indeed, there would be an Um-mah, who is Um-matu Mohammed; they would be closer to Allah than Prophet Moses because as he communicates with Moses, there are about 70,000 veils between them. During the month of Ramadan or the Iftar, there is no single veil between Allah and Prophet Mohammed's Um-mah. So whatever things that they request from Allah, he would accept their dua. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and Barika da Sallah in advance.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity to contribute to this Statement. Mr Speaker, Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan. It is the only day that Muslims are not allowed to fast. Muslims could fast any other day in the course of the year; but on the day of Eid-ul- Fitr, Muslims are not allowed to fast. Eid-ul-Fitr is a day of celebration that we must show compassion to the needy and the deprived. This is because fasting physically teaches us; we learn how the poor go through hunger at the end of day and there is no food. By fasting, we learn the experiences they go through. So, when we feast on the day of Eid- Ul-Fitr, we must bear in mind that some people have gone through hunger over the years. That is the time we show compassion and support to the underprivileged and the needy. Ramadan is a very critical period on the Muslim calendar. It shows us the spiritual, physical and moral upliftment of the individual. Mr Speaker, fasting brings a lot of discipline. That is the time that we get closer to the Almighty Allah. It is the period for Muslims to pray hard and ensure that God accepts our prayers. Hon Members of Parliament play a critical role in religious tolerance because we represent the people. How we portray ourselves at the constituency level goes a long way to bring about religious tolerance. Mr Speaker, we thank you very much for the Night of Power. You are not a
Hon Member, thank you very much. We will have the last contribution before Leadership.
Mr Speaker, I beg to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement. This month is really holy. It is a month prescribed to Muslims when Islam was fully completed. It is a month when the Holy Quran in its full completion was handed over to Prophet Mohammed, Sallalahu-Alaihi-Wa Sallem. It calls on us to accept Islam, and everybody is called upon to sacrifice and fast for 29 or 30 days. This month hypothetically sees man like a tree where it prunes down its leaves and regains life. It is a month that we believe everubody's sins would be forgiven. Just as it is prescribed in the Quran for every Muslim to fast, it is in the book of 1 Corinthians 7:5 of the Bible. We should come together and not allow Satan to come between us; it is in the Bible just as it is in the Quran. It is a month where the individual Muslim comes closer to his God and believes that whatever prayer is delivered, is like somebody who has prayed for a thousand years. It is a month that we believe we have to pray for the nation. Ghana is so unique. Anybody who observes the lives of Ghanaians -- in this month, almost everybody in Ghana fasts. When we break the fast, we are joined by Christians. It is just like when Christians celebrate Christmas. So, in Ghana, religion is so unique; hardly would one be able to differentiate between a Muslim, a Christian or even a traditional man, except where their practices come out. There is no difference even in the Bible and the Quran. Where we submit to Allah or to God, we recite by the Kalimatu Shahada; we say, Ashahadu An-laa-ilaaha illalahu wa-ashahadu anna-Muhamadu abdahu warasuuluhu. It is not different as it is in the Bible; John 1:1 which is: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God”. So we all believe in one God and it is so important that Ghana be seen as a very unique country where we understand each other very well. This is how peace is sustained in this country. Mr Speaker, we have fasted for 29 or 30 days and hopefully, by tomorrow, most people would be ending the fast and we would be praying on Friday. Let me again use this platform to call on our Muslim brothers who would be going for the Eid-ul-Fitr. After fasting for 30 days, when we go to pray, people get so excited in their celebrations; those riding horses and motorcycles, and the way they go about these acts becomes so dangerous to their lives. Every life lost in this country is a generation lost. We need everybody to contribute to the development of this country. This month, sometimes most renowned Muslims feel so sad when this month is coming to an end because it is a month that one feels closer to God. So when it is ending, one feels so sad because if time is not taken, one may go back to their old behaviour. But we pray that we reform and become better so that Ghana -- Mr Speaker, we have prayed for you, the President and everybody. We hope God gives you long life to steer the affairs of this Parliament and also His Excellency the President, Hon Ministers, Hon Members of Parliament and everybody in this country. Mr Speaker, it is so important. I commend the Hon Member who made the Statement and hope that we live up to the ethics of Islam. Mr Speaker, thank you and God bless you.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, let me thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Statement presented on Eid-ul-Fitr and related to it, Ramadan. Ramadan offers every Muslim an opportunity of a spiritual and physical renewal with God. Mr Speaker, I can understand the Hon Member who wrote the Statement which was ably read by the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs when he states in part that for almost a month, brothers and sisters in Islam are going through the period of fasting and prayers. Ramadan is one of the most important periods. I would have substituted that Ramadan is a fundamental pillar of Islam. Indeed, it is one of the five pillars. Apart from the Kalimatu Shahada that the Hon Minister for Inner City and Zongo Development referred to -- and I believe that the Hansard would capture it exactly and translate same, which is faith in God and Allah as the Omnipotent, Omnipresent Person -- Ramadan offers us an opportunity for the heart to move away from all world affairs. Indeed, the Qur'an in chapter 2 versus 183 stipulates and I quote: “O ye who believe, fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that ye may be mindful of God.” That is what the Qur'an says; and as the Hon Member who made the Statement says, Ramadan has three or five core essentials; one, as the Hon Member for Savelugu said, the Laylat-ul-qadr night, to wit, Night of Power. I am sure he fell short -- he used to be my Imam in Navrongo Secondary School Inna-Anzal-naahu-fii-Laylatul-qadri — we will translate same for the Table Office and Hansard department — that the Qur'an was revealed in this month and that in this month, is one day, one night, which is more important than a thousand months. That is the essence of that particular revelation in the Surah that I referred to. And it thus follows:
Thank you very much, Hon Minority Leader. The Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair as the Hon Leader makes his contribution.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by --
Is the Hon Member contributing courtesy the Hon Majority Leader? Hon Majority Leader, have you yielded to him? [Interruption.] I would want to be certain. Hon Majority Leader, is that the case?
Hon Member, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by Hon Yaw Gyato. I also wish to thank the Hon Majority Leader for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement made on the Floor of Parliament. I would want to say that Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world and especially in Ghana are entreated to abstain from food, sex and other social vices. During the period of fasting, Muslims are enjoined to help the poor and needy in society. Mr Speaker, the abstinence from food is to enable us know that there are people who are in that situation throughout their lives. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims, especially in Ghana, pray for the nation and for the peace we have enjoyed so far. Mr Speaker, Muslims are also expected to demonstrate love and affection towards each other. Most especially, during the night, Muslims have to stay awake to say their prayers and to pray for the peace of the nation. Mr Speaker, Friday, 15th of June, 2018 would be the Eid ul-Fitr. As Muslims, on the day prior to the festival, one is expected to make some donation of grains to the less privileged in society. So, if one has about 10 people that he feeds in his family, he is expected to give a bowl of grains, either rice, maize et cetera to the less privileged in society so that those around him would also enjoy on the day of Eid ul-Fitr.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Very well. This is the end of the discussion on the Statement on Eid ul-Fitr. The Rt Hon Speaker admitted another Statement, and it is in the name of Hon John Majisi, the Hon Member of Parliament for Krachi Nchumuru on the occasion of International Albinism Awareness Day. It has been agreed that after the Statement, one contributor each from either Side of the House would be permitted. And so, Hon Members, you may read your Statement. International Albinism Awareness Day
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity to make this Statement today June 13th, in observance of the International Albinism Awareness Day. It is a UN effort to stop the brutalities against people with albinism. It started when the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in 2013 calling for the prevention of attacks and discrimination against Persons with Albinism. This culminated on 18th December 2014, when the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 13th June as International Albinism Awareness Day. On 26th March 2015, the Council created the mandate of independent expert on the enjoyment of human rights by Persons with Albinism. This is important because people with albinism face multiple forms of discrimination worldwide. Albinism is still profoundly misunderstood, socially and medically. The physical appearance of persons with albinism is often the object of erroneous beliefs and myths influenced by superstition, which foster their marginalisation and social exclusion. This leads to various forms of stigma and discrimination. In some communities, erroneous beliefs and myths heavily influenced by superstition put the security and lives of persons with albinism at constant risk. These beliefs and myths are centuries old and are present in cultural attitudes and practices around the world. The UN Report submitted as part of the Human Rights Council resolution 23/ 13 of 13th June, 2013, states that albinos are often regarded as “ghosts and not human beings, who therefore can be wiped off the global map.” Mr Speaker, in January 2016, Ms. Ikponwosa Ero, United Nations Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights of Persons with Albinism submitted her first Report on Albinism to the UN Human Rights Council. The latest Report was presented to the Human Rights Council in 2017 and included a focus on witchcraft as a key root cause of attacks against persons with albinism. Unfortunately, many people believe that abinism is retribution or punishment from God for sins committed by parents or family members of the person with albinism. These misconceptions, coupled with the lack of education, are some of the key reasons that albinism is so heavily persecuted. This lack of knowledge about people with albinism means that folktales and superstition in the name of witchcraft take the place of medical and scientific facts in the minds of many native Africans, with and without albinism, which in turn has major effects on the social integration of people with albinism into African society. Persons with Albinism and Human Rights Mr Speaker, Persons with Albinism are discriminated against although article 17 (2) of the 1992 Constitution states that “a person shall not be discriminated against on grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or economic status”. Apart from these, there are more concerns about albinism which stem from various points. First and foremost. Persons with Albinism are human beings like any other person. They are only born with a congenital condition. They are normal people with less pigment in their skin and this is characterised by complete or partial absence of melanin, the pigment which gives colour to the skin, hair and eyes. Secondly, albinism is non-contagious and occurs in all racial and ethnic groups throughout the world. People with Albinism may also have impaired vision, be sensitive to bright light, squint, nearsighted and sometimes, involuntarily roll their eyeballs from side to side, they have pale or fair skin, pigmented freckles on the skin and soreness of skin on exposure to the sun, as well as being more susceptible to skin cancer. Mr Speaker, it is important to remember that albinism is not a disease. Albinism refers to disorders of reduction of pigmentation compared with others of the same ethnic and racial backgrounds with characteristic eye involvement. Albinism is not caused by anyone's action or inaction. It does not prevent enjoyment of life. All Persons with Albinism will live well in a welcoming environment like any other person. People with Albinism live full, active and satisfying lives, there are individuals who learn and grow; contribute successfully in a wide range of vocations. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, persons with albinism face multiple forms of discrimination worldwide. Their dis- tinctive appearance has become the source of myth and stereotypes which have a seriously negative impact on their lives. The discrimination against Persons with Albinism is often demonstrated by family members and relatives, especially at birth, and ill-treatment by the general society is widespread where there are severe issues of social exclusion and stigma. The Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General (2013) revealed that there is abundant evidence that the rights of persons with albinism are violated in many countries, particularly in Africa.
Hon Member for Keta, you have been absent for a while. You are welcome back to the House.
Thank you Mr Speaker and thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement in commemoration of the International Albinism Awareness Day. I thank the maker of the Statement, and the theme, which I find very appropriate, as one that requires a very good reflection: Shining Our Lights to the World. Mr Speaker, in spite of all the challenges that have been mentioned in the Statement with regard to albinism, it cannot be lost on us that people with albinism are very much like us. The difference is just sometimes in colour just as it is with black skin, white skin and yellow skin. Whatever any of us is able to do, they are also equally able to do. They exhibit same intelligence and same capabilities. Indeed, if we should take a look down memory lane, we would observe that some of the great people in this world were albinos. For instance, King Edward the
Yes, Hon Member for Abuakwa North?
Thank you Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I would like to congratulate the Hon Member who made the Statement, the Hon Member for Krachi Nchumuru. Mr Speaker, I would want to use the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement. Albinos are well-able individuals, but for that reason, they have the ability to live their lives to the fullest. Mr Speaker, the theme for this year's awareness is “They are to shine in this World”. For them to shine, they need all of us to encourage them. For we know that they have some recessive alleles that make their skin different from that of the rest of us. They need to be encouraged to use their abilities, and not to stress on their shortcomings or their weaknesses. I would want to appeal to all people with albinism to believe in themselves for they have all they have to live to their fullest. Mr Speaker, there are a number of noble individuals some in this Chamber, some in government and the world at large, who have these recessive alleles and they have lived their lives to the fullest. I would therefore appeal to people with albinism to see these individuals as their role models, and live their lives well inspite of discrimination and stigmatisation. Mr Speaker, I would also want to encourage all of us here to treat people with the various forms of disabilities as individuals since none of us could create a complete human being. On this note, I would appeal to all to treat people with the various forms of disabilities with care and love, and also motivate them to live their lives to the fullest, especially our friends with albinism. On this day, I would want to congratulate all individuals with the recessive alleles of albinism to live up to their expectation and also to congratulate them for their quota.
Very well. Unfortunately, it was agreed amongst us that there would be only one contribution from each side of the House. So that is the end of the discussion of the second Statement. Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business. Yes, Hon Majority Leader? I was asking for you to lead the Public Business. I wonder how you managed to sneak out.
Mr Speaker, I believe we can continue with the consideration of the Witness Protection Bill, 2017.
Very well, item numbered 10 -- The Witness Protection Bill, 2017 at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE
[Resumption of Debate from 30/05/ 18]
Hon Member, we would continue with the Consideration of the Witness Protection Bill, 2017. Item numbered 10 (i), clause 6, amendment proposed by Hon Haruna Iddrisu. Hon Minority Leader? Yes, Hon Member for Akatsi South? Clause 6 -- Governing body of the Agency.
Thank you, Mr Speaker for the opportunity. I have the authority to move the amendment on behalf of the Hon Minority Leader. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 6 -- subclause (1), line 1, delete “has previously held the post of” and insert “is a retired . . .”
Chairman of the Committee, do you have any objection to the proposal that instead of using: “… a chairperson who has previously held the post of a Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature…” That should be replaced with “a retired Justice of the Superior Court”.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I believe that the net effect of the proposed amendment is the same. I do not object to the proposed amendment.
What if I resigned as a member of the Superior Court of Judicature, but I did not retire? Would I be disqualified? Hon Ahiafor, I would want to hear you on that also. The proposal is that, the person has previously held that position and that encompasses somebody who retired for whatever reason or somebody who resigned. But would you restrict it to only those who retired?
Yes Mr Speaker, that makes it neater.
Mr Speaker, sometimes, circumstances lead to resignation. If the person has worked and he has attained the retiring age, and has retired, using such person from the bench would make it more effective.
Very well, the proposal is for the consideration of the House. [Pause.] Can I put the Question? -- Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I was just looking at the construction and the meaning that could ensue from it. “The governing body of the Agency is a Board consisting of (a) a chairperson who has previously held the post of a Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature …” And we are urged to delete that one and insert “a chairperson who is a retired Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature” and I am asking what happens if the person is forcibly retired; he does something wrong for which reason he is retired prematurely. This construction would not cure that mischief. So, even though I agree with it, I believe we should look for a better construction. If the person engages in any malfeasance and is forced to exit, he is still a retired Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature. So, I am saying that let us look at the construction though I appreciate the principle.
Mr Speaker, the circumstances stated by the Hon Majority Leader would mean, either the person resigned or he is dismissed and such a person is not retired. That is why we have moved that “previously held the post of” be deleted and be substituted with “a retired” Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature.
I would want us to consider other situations, because we are dealing with two analogous situations here. We say a person who had previously held the position of a Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature or analogous position. Let me refer to Justice Emile Short. He was the Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). He did not retire; he resigned. If we use “retire” for example, then we bar him from taking a position like this or any person in that category. That is what I would want us to look at. Even his successor, Mrs Bossman, also resigned. She did not retire. If we would want to use any of such persons for the chairperson of the governing body by changing the terminology to “retire”, we have forever barred them from holding those positions. That is what I would want us to consider. Hon Chairman of the Committee, what do you think? It cuts out certain people who are otherwise eligible if we change it to “retire” only.
Mr Speaker, I agree with your suggestion. We would have to look at the rendition to capture that but to let it be “previously held the post of” is so broad and in my opinion, it appears to be very nebulous. Mr Speaker, this is because if one has previously held that particular position, maybe he has been dismissed based on a stated ground, he has ever held that position before. So within the meaning, he is also qualified.
But there are always disqualification clauses -- people of proven integrity. If one has been dismissed for misbehaviour, he certainly would not be a person of proven integrity. I am worried about cutting out people who probably voluntarily retired, but who are otherwise available to be used for such purposes which we are by this amendment leaving out.
Mr Speaker, to that extent, I perfectly agree with you.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, what do you suggest? I think that we should retain the original rendition or probably, if we think that we should make it a bit more elegant, look at it again.
Mr Speaker, initially when I read it, I thought that the original rendition as it is currently constituted does not bring out the clarity well, but in view of what you have said, I am tempted to be persuaded that if we go by the rendition proffered by the Hon Minority Leader, the scenario you have just cited would not be taken care of. Mr Speaker, in view of this, I am of the humble opinion that we should maintain the current rendition.
Can we also consider for example a person who is qualified to be appointed as a member of the Superior Court of Judicature? That also gives room for example, experienced legal practitioners to also -- [Interruption] -- We have very seasoned legal practitioners who have been offered positions on the Bench but they have declined because they enjoy their private practice but who are otherwise qualified to be in that position so that we would have a wider spectrum not limiting ourselves to only former employees so to speak.
Mr Speaker, the intent of clause 6 (1) (a) is to let a person who has hands on experience. It says: “The governing body of the Agency is a Board consisting of (a) a chairperson who has previously held …” It is not about the potential of holding that position but “has previously held that post” or “has held a post analogous to that of a Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature”. Mr Speaker, I would think that we can maintain this but further qualify it by adding that, that person ought not to have been retired in circumstance unbecoming of the holder of that post -- I am just being descriptive of that Office. We can find a way to capture that but we need that experience, not that the person may have the potential of assuming that position. It is not for nothing that we want hands-on experience. We are talking about a post- experience, not a pre-experience.
When it comes to experience in law practice, all of them come through. The person at the Bench and the Bar and probably the Commissioner are all actively hands-on people playing different roles in the legal service delivery. But I do not know whether we would want to flag it and reconsider the rendition to make space for all possible persons we have in mind.
Mr Speaker, I would want to further support your argument by stating that constitutionally, we have lawyers who are qualified to be Justices of the Superior Court of Judicature. So in view of that, if constitutionally they are qualified to also hold this particular position, if we widen the scope to cover them, it would not be misplaced. However, we suggest that we defer this particular clause so that we can give it a further consideration.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, what do you think?
Hon Member for Wa West?
Mr Speaker, I believe that changing what is in the Bill or what is being recommended by the Hon Chairman of the Committee to retire, is rather limiting, it should not be. This is because the person could also still be in another public office but could chair this other office. Mr Speaker, it could also be that the person has not even retired but qualifies to do this. So, emphasis is on the retirement rather than previously holding this position. I know my Leader wanted me to move his amendment, but I told him I was going to oppose it. --[Laughter]-- so, my point is that, I still agree with the Hon Chairman of the Committee that, it should be as it is captured. Thank you very much.
Very well. So, are you withdrawing the proposed amendment or we should vote on it?
Mr Speaker, in view of the discussion, I would have to abandon it. Amendment withdrawn by leave of the House.
Clause 6, subclause 3, in the name of Hon Haruna Iddrisu?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Clause 6 -- subclause (3), delete.
Why? You have not told us why we should delete it.
Mr Speaker, the reason is that the appointment would be done subject to article 70 of the 1992 Constitution. And then article 70 spells out the circumstances based on which the appointment would be carried out. So to further be giving it a qualification, I feel that article 70 clearly states what should happen in the event that the President appoints such people.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, what do you think? He says that your subclause 3 is tautologuos because you are adding to article 70 of the 1992 Constitution, which we have already stated.
Mr Speaker, would the mover of the proposed amendment be a bit specific? If he says article 70 of the Constitution, what specifically is he referring to as to make our proposed amendment maybe redundant? Could you still convince me as to why you are moving this amendment? What does article 70 say? Mr Speaker, we would have been persuaded, if for instance, he had said that persons who are to be members of the governing body of the agency, are already coming with their respective institutional experiences. For instance, if you say that, one representative each from the Office of the Attorney-General, that person comes with experience that the person has acquired over the period already. One representative from the Police Service comes with an experience relating to the Police Service. So to say that the President shall, in appointing a member of the Board, have regard to the integrity, knowledge, expertise and experience is -- If he had argued along that line probably I would have been a bit persuaded, but to say that article 70, I do not understand why he is relying on article 70.
Yes, Hon Member for Wa West?
Mr Speaker, even though the Hon Minority Leader does not want us to repeat what is in the Constitution or what has been provided —
Hon Member, please hold on. Having regard to the state of Business, I direct that we Sit outside the prescribed Sitting hours. Hon Member, you can now continue.
Mr Speaker, if you look at the end of this subclause, it gives indications as to who should be on the board. Therefore as far as I am concerned, that alone makes it important that we should retain it. This is because in the Constitution, that is how it is passed or wherever under article 70. So the emphasis should be to have regard to integrity, knowledge, expertise and experience of the member in matters relevant to the object of this Bill. So this alone makes it depart from the provision already in the Constitution. The Constitution just lists what it is, but not stated as it is. Mr Speaker, though I was supposed to also move the next one, I would plead with the Hon Member who has moved the first one that we should leave it, it is not going to eat grass in the law. Let us leave it for the meantime.
Very well. I believe that this one is peculiar to this Bill. The expertise is to be expertise relating to the object of the Bill, not the general ones as required in the Constitution. Therefore article 70 may not be the appropriate substitution for the subclause 3. However, I leave it with you. Either we should put it into voting or if you would withdraw, then it makes it easier.
Mr Speaker, as the Hon Member for Wa West said, we just have to remind ourselves that we as a Parliament, have not been very consistent with this. There are Bills that we have left the provision to stand on, and on others, we have removed it as being suggested by the Hon Minority Leader.
Mr Speaker, in view of the discussions I would withdraw it.
Very well. Amendment withdrawn by leave of the House.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 6 -- sub-clause (1), add the following new paragraph: “(c) two other persons nominated by the President at least one of whom is a woman”. Mr Speaker, we only want to ensure gender balance, which is why we are proposing this amendment. That is the reason behind the proposed amendment. Thank you Mr Speaker. Question put and amendment —
Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, my attention has been drawn to the fact that the current rendition or the way it has been constructed does not make it elegant enough. So, instead of “is a woman”, with your permission, I would want to make a further amendment to read, “one of whom shall be a woman”.
I thought that the Attorney-General said that this is the current style of legislation. We have moved away from the old “shall be”.
Very well, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, just to go back to clause 6 (1) (b); it says: “(b) one representative each from (i) the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice”. Mr Speaker, we are talking about the Attorney-General's Department and not the Attorney-General. So it would read: “(b) one representative each from (i) the Attorney-General's Department and Ministry of Justice”.
I think that the “Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice” is the Ministry and they might not have officers ranked as it is. So, the Leader is proposing “Attorney-General's Department”.
Mr Speaker, if you read it to the end: “the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice, not below the rank of a Principal State Attorney”. Would that make the reading --?
I am saying that the construction should rather be: “the Attorney-General's Depart- ment”. The representative is not from the Attorney-General but from the Attorney- General's Department and Ministry of Justice.
Mr Speaker, I concur.
Very well. So, we would move the amendment. The amendment is that: Clause 6 (1) (b), delete “Attorney- General and Ministry of Justice” and insert “Attorney-General's Department and Ministry of Justice”. No, Attorney-General's Department would not have “Ministry of Justice”.
Mr Speaker, what he suggested was that when we say “Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice”, it does not properly capture the Attorney-General. This is because “Attorney-General” is a person, so he wants an amendment by the insertion of “Department” after “Attorney-General”. So, it would read “Attorney-General's Department and Ministry of Justice”. That is the essence of his amendment.
Mr Speaker, one of the problems I have is that the Minister responsible for this Bill is the Attorney- General, as of the Bill defined at the end. We do not even have a separation between the Attorney-General's Department and the Ministry of Justice. So, I do not see why the Hon Member wants to change it. The way it is captured here is good. If we want to do correct drafting, then we should say a representative of the Minister which is interpreted to mean the Attorney-General. That should be the right --
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister who shepherds this Bill is the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. I just wanted us to capture same appropriately. We are not talking about a representative of the person but a representative from the Department and indeed from the Ministry. It is not the representative of the Attorney-General but the Attorney- General's Department. That is the essence of the amendment I proffered.
I think that we cannot make it the “Attorney-General's Department and Ministry of Justice”. The Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice is different from the Attorney-General's Department. So we either use the “Attorney- General's Department” or “Minister and”. Let me give the opportunity to the Hon Member for Wa Central first.
Mr Speaker, what about if we said “one representative from the Ministry of Justice and Attorney- General”? So we would not have the problem of defining --
Mr Speaker, if we go through the entire list, we are not talking about personal representatives. Clause 6 (b) (ii) is on the Police Service and clause 6 (b) (iii) is on the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO). Clause 6 (b) (iv) is on the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and clause 6 (b) (v) is on the Ministry for the Interior. They are all representatives of various Offices and not of persons. That is why we cannot say the “Minister for Justice”.
Mr Speaker, this grammarian of our Leader, he is talking about grammar. What we know that Ministry to be is “Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice”. So, it is now a term. We do not say Attorney-General's Department but “Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice”. Therefore, it is understood by all of us to mean the Ministry. If we want to say “Attorney-General's Department and Ministry of Justice”, we would be separating the two; it is one. The way the name is captured here, it is one Ministry. However, if the Hon Member wants us to be grammatically correct -- If he wants, let us remove the “Ministry” and say “a representative of the Attorney-General's Department”, in which case, there would be no issue of “Ministry”. Otherwise, the name as we know it should be “Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice.”
Mr Speaker, no because the Attorney-General in his or her capacity would not be able to sponsor the Bill. It is the Executive, that is the Hon Minister who would sponsor the Bill. That is why we should conjoin the two. I disagree when the Hon Member says that because of the conjunct, it makes the two separate. Otherwise, we could say that if a matter relates to lands and the Minister for Lands and Forestry brings it, we should just emphasise “lands”. That proposition is not correct.
Mr Speaker, I tend to go with you and provide a way out. We should just say “one representative from the Ministry” and go to the definition column and define “Ministry”. That is all. The Ministry is “Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice”. Mr Speaker, that would end the confusion. This is because, in principle, when it is read “Attorney-General”, it is a person and that is why it did not say a “Minister for Justice”. This is because it is not the person that is being referred to, but the establishment -- “the Ministry of Justice”. Mr Speaker, so in principle, it looks like the Hon Majority Leader is right, but that is how we have always known the Ministry. It has always been “Attorney- General and Ministry for Justice” and the Constitution further deepens the confusion. It says and with your permission I quote: “There shall be an Attorney-General who shall be a Minister of Justice''.
Hon Member, the Constitution does not say the “Attorney-General shall be the
“There shall be an Attorney- General''.
Mr Speaker, who shall be an “Minister ''. By convention --
Hon Member, the Constitution says in article 88 (1) that: “There shall be an Attorney-General of Ghana who shall be Minister of State and the principal legal adviser to the Government''.
Mr Speaker, we have interpreted “who shall be a Minister of State'' to be the “Hon Minister for Justice''. Mr Speaker, you did not read that provision; “there shall be an Attorney- General” and that is the person.
Hon Member, I agree with you. The “Attorney- General'' refers to a person; one person who would be appointed as the Attorney- General. But in this case, if we pick all the other persons from where the nominations are made you would realise that the Police Service is under the Ministry of the Interior, but it is isolated and it is indicated that one person would be from the Service not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner. The Economic and Organised Crime (EOCO) Unit is also under the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General; there is an independent body which is the Commission on Human Rights and the Prisons Service is also under the Ministry of the Interior. In addition, there is somebody who is also from the Ministry of the Interior. Ghana Immigration Service is also from the Ministry of the Interior. So we have to be clear whether we would want the nominee to be from the Ministry or from a department under the Ministry, in which case we cannot pick somebody who is in the rank of Chief State Attorney, but who is now a Director at the Ministry. If we say from the Attorney-General's Department, then the person can only be somebody who is working in the department under the Ministry, but not a Chief State Attorney who has been made a Director of Finance under the Ministry. It is that confusion we would want to be clear about.
Mr Speaker, the confusion is getting a little more. I would prefer that we specify -- who it is that is more qualified? Is it the Attorney-General's Department in which case we should say that a representative should be from that Attorney-General's Department which would solve the problem? If it is so; the way the Ministry is being run, I do not believe that there is clear delineation between those who work with the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney- General. Mr Speaker, the Department should rather be specified so that the issue of whether or not it is the Attorney-General's Department should not arise at all. Mr Speaker, if the Hon Chairman of the Committee would agree, we would further amend, delete the rest of the clause and say, “from the Attorney-General's Department''.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, I would want to hear from you.
Mr Speaker, we would not be wrong, as the Hon Majority Leader rightly suggested, if we say, ‘'the Attorney-General's Department and Ministry of Justice''.
Mr Speaker, with your permission that construction simply reads; 6. (b) (i) the Attorney-General and the Ministry of Justice, not below the rank of a Principal State Attorney;'' Mr Speaker, within that outfit where is the Principal State Attorney situated? It is within the Attorney-General's Department and not the Ministry.
Hon Members, the confusion is when the Hon Chairman of the Committee would want us to add “and the Ministry of Justice'' to the “Attorney-General's Department''. If we use the “Attorney-General'' and we do not add “and the Ministry of Justice'', then there would be no confusion.
Mr Speaker, I tend to agree with you. We should even discard “of the Attorney-General''. This is because, when we refer to item (ii) of the Memorandum to the Bill, it says; “this Bill is in an attempt to fulfil an obligation under article 65 of UNCAC''. So, it is a policy. And a policy is headed and implemented by the Hon Minister. Therefore, it is a Government which is trying to implement an obligation under article 65 of UNCAC. Mr Speaker, we could just say, “One representative from the Ministry of Justice''. It is forward looking and addresses the situation because the Ministry is known as the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice, but as we have said, “Attorney-General'' speaks to a person and we would want to eliminate that confusion. Mr Speaker, you are right. This is because, immediately we add the word “department'', it then becomes a department under the Ministry of Justice. So, how could they act on their own? Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister who heads that Ministry is defined in clause 60 on page 26 of the Bill as the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice.
“one representative from the Ministry of Justice not below the rank of a Principal State Attorney''.
Mr Speaker, that is why originally I said that we should just say “the Ministry'' since a “Minister'' is defined. But the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee further suggested that we should define the Ministry which would still include the Attorney-General's position. So we could say; “a representative of the Ministry''. Mr Speaker, there are two reasons for including officers from these Ministries. It is either by their functions or by their expertise. Mr Speaker, on the other hand, there are administrators in the Ministry of Justice or the Attorney-General's Department who are not necessarily lawyers and may not be doing legal work but they are involved in policy development. So, they ought to be part of policy formulation. You can send any one of them; but if you are sending the person based on his knowledge in law, then of course, you would restrict it only to the Attorney- General's Department where you are likely to find qualified lawyers to do so. So let us agree with what the Hon Ranking Member originally said; that we should make it “a representative of the Ministry”.
[Pause] Yes, Hon Majority Leader, I am still waiting for your guidance.
Mr Speaker, I believe we have been going round in circles. Now that we understand -- and I believe that in any event that should occasion an interpretation, -- what we have done should really assist whoever is presiding over this matter to really know the direction of the thinking of this House. Mr Speaker, so I believe in that regard, if it would create further problems, we could leave the construction as it is now so that people will appreciate the issue that I have raised. We could leave it.
Hon Majority Leader, so is your proposed amendment abandoned?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Hon Members, we were on the verge of voting on item numbered 10 (iii) when the Hon Majority Leader intervened and took us back. So, I would return to item numbered 10, clause 6 (iii). I was going to put the Question, so unless there is any other issue?
Mr Speaker, are you putting the Question on the whole clause 10? I ask this question because there is --
No, item numbered 10, clause 6 (iii). It says we should delete subclause (1) and substitute that with “(c) two other persons nominated by the President at least one of whom is a woman”.
Mr Speaker, we are adding.
That is what we are voting on now. Question put and amendment agreed to. If the Chairman would now want to add anything more; otherwise, I would put the Question on the entire clause 6.
Mr Speaker, it appears to me that there is an oversight. Under clause 13 of the Bill, there is an “Executive Director” and then a “Deputy Executive Director” under clause 15. But it appears to me that these persons who have to see to the day-to-day administration of the Agency are not members of the Board.
Mr Speaker, I believe that this must be an omission because, invariably, this person is the one who should even keep the minutes and records and implement the decisions of the Board. So if he is not a member of the Board, he cannot even guide them in terms of what decisions they should make. So I believe that the Chairman should rather move for us to include the Executive Director. It should not necessarily be the Deputy, because by virtue of putting that person there, if he is not at post, the Deputy will normally be there. But they are the ones who should keep records of proceedings and also execute the decisions of the Board. Therefore it must be an omission. Mr Speaker, but since the draftspersons may be around, the Deputy Minister can consult, so that we do not create a problem.
Hon Members, I agree that there is a total oversight. The executive head should be a member of the Board. He is the link between the Board and the Management and he should -- What I am not sure of is his Deputy; I believe if the Executive Secretary is helpful we may even make him member and secretary. If I recall correctly, in the Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority Act, it says a member of staff may be nominated as Executive. Mr Chairman, so I would not know whether you are going to move an amendment now or you would want to consult with the -- Is the Deputy Attorney-General enabled to make policy proposal in this respect?
Mr Speaker, it is very obvious that, that was an omission. I would oppose the inclusion of that. We believe that it should be included in this particular one as you have rightly indicated.
Very well. I would now hear you; if you move an amendment, we would consider it and take a decision on it.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 6 subclause (1), add the following new paragraph after paragraph (a), the Executive Director. So that it would read: “The governing body of the Agency is the Board consisting of (a) A chairperson who has previously held the post of a Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature or has held a post analogous to that of a Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature; and (b) the Executive Director of the Agency.”
Yes, Hon Chireh?
Mr Speaker, I do not know what the figure should be because we were making some amendments earlier about the number. So to be consistent, it should be an odd number, if anything at all. It is not just the addition, but look at it, whether we have an odd number which is normally the case.
Mr Speaker, it would become an odd number if we add a representative from the Office of the Special Prosecutor. It is because that is also an amendment that was proposed by the Committee, but there seems to have been an oversight in the current rendition.
Hon Member, why do you want a representative of the Special Prosecutor on the Witness Protection Bill?
Mr Speaker, the reasoning then was that, the Office of Special Prosecutor may be the principal office which would resort to this programme most often in terms of the work it does. Therefore that office ought to have a look- see within the Witness Protection Programme at the highest level. So they could also offer input on how they conduct themselves vis-a-vis the witnesses that they may need to be protected. That was the reasoning at the time of the workshop.
Hon Members, shall I suggest that we flag this one and you go and do consultations? This is because, each clause you add, adds on to the number. The Hon Chairman has already proposed that we add two subclauses. Hon Minority Chief Whip, I am speaking to the Government Side -- I suggest that we flag this one and you reconsider how many more new clauses you would want to add; whether you would be adding more or replacing any. Either way, it would be helpful. So we do not have to add to the numbers before we discuss it with the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. So, we would flag putting the Question on the entire clause 6 and await the decision on how many to add. We would go to item numbered IV; clause 7. Clause 7 -- Functions of the Board.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 7 -- Add the following new paragraph: “(a) formulate policy for the effective implementation of the objects of the Agency;”
Mr Speaker, one of the main functions of the Board is to formulate the policies for the implementation of the objects of the Agency. But this was not incorporated in the original Bill and we felt that was an oversight because, with respect to other pieces of legislation that this august House has enacted, this policy formulation always finds expression in them. We believe that it was an oversight and same ought to be incorporated. I thank you, Mr Speaker. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 7 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 8 -- Tenure of office of members of the Board. Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, with the authority of the Hon Minority Leader, I beg to move the amendment -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I beg to move clause 8 -- subclause (1), lines 2 and 3, delete “but a member shall not be appointed for more than two terms”. Mr Speaker, with your leave, may I further beg to move, after “re- appointment” add “only”. Mr Speaker, the intention is that, since a member of the Board shall not be in office for more than eight years, because a term is made up of four years, we delete “but a member shall not be appointed for more than two terms” and after “re-appointment” add “only”. The intention would be well captured and it would be neater.
Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee, I am still trying to follow the argument. What is your response to that?
Mr Speaker, I do not quite get the reasoning behind the proposed amendment because I do not believe that the way the current rendition has been constructed admits of any ambiguity or doubt. This is because the intention is to ensure that a member can only go for two terms. So I do not really get the effect of the amendment he sought to propose. If he could clarify it better for our understanding.
Mr Speaker, by the proposed amendment and further amendments, the new rendition would read: “A member of the Board, shall hold office for a period not more than four years and is eligible for re- appointment only.” This means that if one holds the term once and is re-appointed, one is not eligible.
I do not think so. It is for re-appointment only. So, it could be re-appointment only it does not mean so. It does not cure the mischief you have. You could say one could be re- appointed for “one more term only”. But what difference does it make? Yes, the Hon Member for Wa West?
Mr Speaker, I believe that we should retain what is already in the Bill, because once we add “one more term only”, it just captures exactly what has already been indicated. We would only be changing words and I do not think that it should be so. Let the draftsperson who did it also have a flow of language. I do not believe there is any mischief that it seeks to cure or change. If we would want to be grammatical and add “one more term only”, then it means what is captured here is that one would be re-appointed but not more than two terms. That is all there is. So we should rather maintain this one.
Mr Speaker, I accordingly withdraw the amendment.
Hon Members, there is another one; item numbered (vi).
Mr Speaker, may I propose an amendment on the same clause?
Which one? Is it the subclause (1) on which the proposed amendment has been withdrawn?
Yes. I beg to move, clause (1) insert, “of” after “period”. It would read: “A member of the Board, shall hold office for a period of not more than…”.
Hon Members, the amendment is for the consideration of the House. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, the repetition of “member” makes the subclause very clumsy,” could we just delete the second one because the subject matter is the “member”. So, the repetition of “member” --
Hon Member, let us deal with his amendment first. I would put the Question on clause 8 (1) (1), insert “of” after “period”. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Now, Hon Member for Wa Central, let me hear you.
Mr Speaker, on line 2 of the same subclause, after, “but” delete “a member”.
Yes, Hon Ranking Member?
Mr Speaker, I would advise that he withdraws. I hold in my hand, Development and Classification of Films Act 2016 (Act 935). In fact, what is contained here is exactly what has been moved into the new law. That is the procedure we have adopted and so we must be consistent.
Hon Members, that looks like the new drafting style we have adopted here.
Mr Speaker, as you have just said, it is a new drafting style. It just means that no member shall be appointed for more than two terms. So it just emphasises what is expressed here. I appreciate the point made; grammatically, it would be correct, but we would want to be very sure of what we mean by this. That is why we repeat “a member”. In other words, a member who is appointed to another term cannot be appointed for a third term. It is just for emphasis.
Very well. There was another amendment that is listed as 10 (vi) on page 6 of the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, I have the authority to move this amendment, but when I look at it carefully, I would withdraw it, the reason being that the Executive Director is a member of the Board as a result of the fact that he occupies that position. Therefore the tenure of office that would be applicable to other members of the Board must not be applicable to the Executive Director because his tenure of office may go beyond eight years.
Item numbered 10 (vi); the proposed amendment is withdrawn. Amendment withdrawn by leave of the House.
I think it then follows that item numbered 10 (vii) is --
Mr Speaker, consequentially, I also withdraw that. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 8 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 9 -- Meetings of the Board.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 9 -- subclause (1), line 2, delete “the times and in the places” and insert “such times and in such places as may be”.
“The Board shall meet at least once every three months for the dispatch of business at such times and such places as may be determined by the chairperson.”
All right, so what value does that add to the Bill?
Mr Speaker, this is a distinction without difference. [Laughter.] I believe we can do without it.
Let us have some sympathy for Hon Ahiafor. He is moving the amendments on behalf of the Hon Minority Leader. Hon Ahiafor, it does not appear to me that it makes any difference at all.
Mr Speaker, I do not see the change and it does not add value. So I think we should rather keep it as it is. Hon Ahiafor's spirit was not in the amendment; he just moved it. So he should rather advise the Hon Minority Leader after he returns, that the House says there is no value addition.
Mr Speaker, I have taken a cue; the amendment is accordingly withdrawn.
Mr Speaker, I think it is good exercise though, because it tells that the Hon Minority Leader now applies himself to the making of Bills. Hitherto, he did not show much interest. It is a good exercise. [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, I have always been part of the process; he knows that.
It is not you.
The Hon Minority Leader has always been part --
Well, I have been with the Hon Minority in this House for - this is the third term. I wonder whether there is anything on record to show that he has filed an amendment before now. [Laughter.] In the past, he was too busy being an Hon Minister; he did not make time to be an Hon Member of Parliament.
Mr Speaker, what he did in the past was that as soon as he came, within a short period, he filed an amendment. If we look at the Bills we have passed, he filed so many amendments. Most of the time, they could not be defended. He was not always around to move the amendment. [Laughter.] He is very consistent in making amendments.
Well, maybe, it was before he became an Hon Minister; but from the time he became an Hon Minister, he was too busy being an Hon Minister so he did not have much time to be an Hon Member of Parliament.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader has been a very active Hon Member of this House even as an Hon Minister. It is except that, as an Hon Minister, he did not have time to file amendments to appear on the Order Paper. Even in the House, he was always very active. As Hon Chireh said, sometimes those amendments could not be defended; but he was always active. Mr Speaker, it is good that we moved this amendment because someone is holding the fort. So, if the Hon Minority Leader is minded to read the Hansard later on, he would know that his amendments were taken and then the decisions were made. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Amendment withdrawn by leave of the House.
Item numbered 10 (ix) -- Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, in view of the flagging of clause 6 of the Bill, it would automatically affect this proposed amendment. So I seek your indulgence to have this one flagged too.
Hon Members, there is one advertised amendment to clause 12 by the Hon Minority Leader. Clause 12 -- Allowances.
Mr Speaker, there is no advertised amendment for clause 11, but this just struck me that: “Establishment of committees. 11. (1) The Board may establish committees consisting of members of the Board or non- members or both to perform stated functions. (2) A committee composed entirely of non-members may only advise the Board. (4) A committee of the Board may be chaired by a member of the Board.” Mr Speaker, I am just juxtaposing subclause (4) with subclause (2). If subclause (2) provides that a committee -- “(1) The Board may establish committees consisting of members of the Board and non- members of the Board or both to perform stated functions”.
“A committee of the Board may be chaired by a member of the Board”.
Or it may be chaired by a non-member. If the Board is composed of members and non- members, it may nevertheless make a non- member a chairman and if it is a committee of only non-members, only a non-member may still form it.
Mr Speaker, that is what I am saying. So, what is the relevance of subclause (4)?
The subclause (4) gives the Board the options when they have formed a committee of members and non-members. Yes, Hon Ranking Member?
Mr Speaker, to add to what you have said, subclause (4) is important when read together with the subclause (2); ‘where a committee is composed entirely of non-members but is chaired by a Board member, it does not become an advisory committee'.
There is no flaw, Hon Majority Leader. It only shows the various categories of Boards that may be chaired by either a member or a non- member depending on which kind of Committee they constitute.
Mr Speaker, my difficulty is this: subclause (1) provides: “The Board may establish com- mittees consisting of members of the Board …”.
Even a committee of the Board consisting of both may also be chaired by a non-member.
Precisely. So that being the case, what is the relevance of subclause (4)?
Mr Speaker, when it comes to this, there is a combination of -- what I think we should do, is to propose that this last one, should be: ‘A committee of the Board consisting of members and non- members shall be chaired by a member'. Mr Speaker, I so move.
Hon Chairman, clause 11 (4), the Hon Member for Wa West is proposing that; ‘a committee consisting of members and non-members of the Board may be chaired by a member'.
Mr Speaker, yes, I think that brings out that provision clearer because if a committee is composed entirely of non- members, obviously, it is a non-member who acts as the chair. In the same way, if a committee is composed of only members, it means that it is only a member of the Board who can act as the chair. But in a situation where the committee comprises members and non-members, I think the intendment is that the chairperson of that mixture of the committee has to be a member of the Board. I think that is the intendment of --
Hon Member, ‘has to be' or ‘may be'? This is because the proposal is ‘may be' so that the Board may decide that either a member or a non-member may chair --
Mr Speaker, I think that we do not have to make it restrictive because in a situation where a member of the Board is absent and it is only non-members who are present, then the committee will be incapacitated to hold a meeting. So, much as his rendition is all right, I will propose that instead of ‘shall', we should make it ‘may'. So that there will be
No, it is ‘may' now.
Mr Speaker, he is further proposing that; ‘a committee of members and non-members'. I think that is what he is proposing. This is a new rendition; ‘a committee of members and non-members shall be chaired…”. Mr Speaker, that is his rendition.
No, he said; ‘may be chaired'. He is only adding --
Mr Speaker, what will be the relevance? The first provision says that: (1) “The Board may establish committees consisting of members of the Board or non- members or both …”. So, that is the first one. Then subclause (2) says: (2) “A committee composed entirely of non-members may only advise the Board” In that case, the chairman of that committee will be a non-member of the Board because immediately a member of the Board chairs that committee, the character of that committee will change.
There is no issue there. The issue is with subclause (4).
So, that is why when you read subclause (4) it states: “A committee of the Board may be chaired by a member of the Board” Mr Speaker, during our discussions in Koforidua, we read it together with subclause (2) because a committee composed entirely by non-members may only advise. So when you put a member as chairman of a committee of non-members, the character changes; the advisory role would also change. That is why we thought that when you read it together, it comes out clearly, that this provision relates more to subclause (2) than standing alone.
No. I think the conclusion here is that sub-clause (4) relates to a situation where we have a mixed breed of a Board committee. In that case, the chairmanship could be either way. That is the only conclusion you can come to when it is a committee of the Board which consists of members and non- members, the chairmanship can be either a member or a non-member. That is why he uses ‘may' but Hon Yieleh Chireh is proposing that to make it clearer, we add; ‘a committee of the Board consisting of members and non-members' to clarify it that we are referring to just this group which is the only possible interpretation. That was what I was putting the Question on. Yes, Hon Member for Adenta?
Mr Speaker, put that way, then we need to answer the question whether it is relevant or not. It would not be relevant because inherent in subclause (1) is the assumption that a member or a non-member could chair. So to specify it in subclause (4) would be otiose. Mr Speaker, so it would appear not to be relevant if we want --
Let me give the Floor to Hon Ahiafor first and then come to Hon --
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity. Looking at clause 11, where we have a committee made up of non-members, of course, we cannot have a member chairing. Now, when we have a committee made up of members and non-members, then the rendition is saying that it is a member who must be the chairperson of the committee. Therefore the subclause (4) is relevant to spell it out clearly that in a situation where we have non-members and members of the Board forming that particular committee, then that committee will necessarily have to be chaired by the member of the Board.
Hon Member, but that is not what the rendition says:
Mr Speaker, I moved the amendment and it is that ‘a Board consisting of members and non-members may be chaired by a member.' Mr Speaker, the reason I am saying this is that subclause (1) is just telling us the type of committee that could be composed; either members only, members and non-members, only non-members and in terms of the chairing -- Mr Speaker, that is why it is clear in subclause (2) that once a person is not a member of a committee then the person cannot chair the committee, unless it is a standing committee where that could be done. Mr Speaker, but I am saying that this one is about the chairmanship. We are leaving it open as was explained by the Hon Chairman of the Committee because it would depend on the subject matter, the expertise of the person and who could chair it or even the availability of members. All these would be considered. Mr Speaker, but in this particular form we are talking about the chairmanship and it is not clear whether subclause (1) is talking about a committee that could have members and non-members, but it does not tell us who would chair it. Mr Speaker, which is why we are introducing ‘may be chaired”, but he is also introducing an element that may not be necessary. Mr Speaker, he said “the member shall chair” and this means that it is a hierarchical thing. Mr Speaker, I believe that we should not do it like that and as we know in the courts, sometimes “may” is also interpreted as “shall” because when all the conditions are satisfied and we put “may” there then invariably it is a “shall”. So I still want “may” to be there in my amendment. I accordingly move my proposed amendment.
Hon Members, I would put the Question.
Mr Speaker, the rendition would be relevant so let us listen to him.
Mr Speaker, the rendition is: “A committee of the Board consisting of members and non-members may be chaired by a member of the Board.” Mr Speaker, this is my proposed amendment. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 11 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, if the intendment of subclause (4) is not to make such a committee to be chaired by a member of the Board -- [Interruption] -- that is where we have the mixed breed; a committee composed of members and non-members.
Mr Speaker, I believe that where we have reached, the sugar level in the Hon Majority Leader is low. [Laughter.] How many possibilities do we have from the committees?
They are not three. We have committees by members only, members and non-members and non- members only --
Which other one?
In the case of members of the Board forming a committee, naturally, the chairperson would be a member of the Board. In the case of non-members only then it could only be a non-member but when we have the two combined -- [Interruption.] No, the reason I do not want it to be “shall” is that it would make it hierarchical; once a person is a board member and is in the committee then the person must necessarily chair the committee. Mr Speaker, that is not a good way to go. The good way to go is that we should make it ‘may be chaired by the Board member' so that where expertise and other issues come up, then the relevant person would chair, but the Board member would be there to ensure that policy directions are given. Mr Speaker, but it would not be that he would be the boss. Mr Speaker, the Hon Ranking Member said that it was about the categorisation, but the issue is not the type of committee and the authority it has, whether entirely advisory or not Mr Speaker, but that in itself is a problem because we could have standing committees of a Board which takes decisions permanently on behalf of the Board. As for this one, we are only talking about the chairmanship and so we should leave it open.
In fact, it is precisely because of this danger that Hon Ahiafor and the Hon Member for Adentan said that because some people are members of the Board they must necessarily chair -- That is why we need subclause (4). Otherwise, why would they bring somebody from outside if they have all they need inside? It is because they may not have the people with the kind of expertise and clout inside that is why they would bring some people from outside. But the inside people who are not adequate would insist that because they are the inside people, they must necessarily chair. That is why we need subclause (4), so that the Board would determine by itself who should chair when they form a hybrid committee. If we put it that it must necessarily be chaired by a member, then it means that probably we do not need other people from outside. But once we have the need to bring people from outside to form a committee jointly with the members inside, then we should not restrict it in terms of the chairmanship to only the members of the committee. Also, it is because that danger is likely to happen, that there is the need for subclause (4). Otherwise the people inside would insist that it is their business and they only have to -- Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, you had already put the Question when I came back through a window to re-visit this matter. Mr Speaker, I said that there are three committees but the Hon Member for Wa West said that there are more than three committees. Mr Speaker, he ended up agreeing that there are three committees and when I was leading the way for him, he said that my sugar level was low, but he comes back to follow exactly what I said. I do not want to believe that his sugar level is low as well. Mr Speaker, but the issue is that we have a committee that is made up of Board members only, and as you have said, that committee would certainly be chaired by a Board member. Then we have a committee made up of non-members and the chair would be a non-member. We have a third one which comprises both members of the Board and non- members of the Board. Mr Speaker, he goes on to say that that committee may be chaired by a member of the Board. What it means is that it may or may not be chaired by a member of the Board. Mr Speaker, that being the case, then what is the need for that construction? Mr Speaker, I would rest my case because you have already taken the vote and I would not --
Yes, Hon Member for Wa Central?
Mr Speaker, in practical terms, it appears what the Hon Majority Leader is saying is relevant to the present situation. I have practically been on Board; the Board set up sub-committees made up of only members, and I was in the fund raising committee. The fund-raising committee set up sub- committees, and in that committee, we said each of the sub-committees we set up would be chaired by any of the members of the sub-committees of the Board. This is because we understand exactly what happens and we could come back and sit in the sub-committee of the board to report. It is not a non-member. The non- member would not be qualified to come back to sit in our sub-committee. That was the reason. Mr Speaker, and so I think that we might reconsider the “may” and change it to “shall” so that when one finishes the sub-committee's meeting and comes back to the sub-committee, one must be a member of the sub-committee in order to discuss meaningfully.
Mr Speaker, the import of subclause (4) is; we are subjecting subclause (4) to subclause (2). So, it follows like this; “Subject to subsection (2), a committee of the Board shall be chaired by a member of the Board”. If it is “shall”, we need that construction. If it is not “shall” and it is “may”, it is irrelevant; it is superfluous. Mr Speaker, however, as I said, you have already put the Question, Perhaps what we are engaging in is just an intellectual exercise. So let us move on.
At Consideration Stage, we can always consider, but I still hold firmly that Hon Yieleh Chireh's amendment made it clearer. When we are talking about a committee comprising both members and non- members, either members might chair.
Mr Speaker, once you have taken a position, apart from putting the Question, you are identifying yourself solidly with what the Hon Yieleh Chireh has said. Having said so, who are we lesser mortals to engage you? [Laughter.] So we would not further litigate.
There are no lesser mortals at the front bench of this House. Otherwise I would not have revisited the question. Hon Member for Adentan?
Mr Speaker, your latest rendition makes it relevant, that: “A committee of the Board may be chaired by a non-member.”
“A committee of the Board consisting of members and non-members may be chaired by a non-member”.
Mr Speaker, that makes subclause (4) relevant because it qualifies subsection (1) effectively. Otherwise, as it stands, even the changes we voted on still makes it otiose. It would still not be relevant. However, if we qualify it and demonstrate clearly that a non-member with that kind of expertise may chair a sub- committee, then it becomes relevant.
Mr Speaker, I can see that the Hon Members who have lost the vote would want to draw you into this debate. Nevertheless, with the explanation we are giving, even with my Hon Member's idea, it is the same thing I am saying. This is because the value is the same. If we just say a committee of the Board may be chaired by a member of the Board, which committee are we talking about? We have three types of committees, and that is why we are saying that the vote has been taken, they are out of order and they know we follow procedure in this House. The vote has already been taken and they have lost.
Yes, Hon Ahiafor, I would hear you.
Mr Speaker, if the case is that the committee made up of members and non-members, if any of them, either a member or non-member could chair, why do we have to legislate over it? This is because, we do not legislate the absolute. It is only where we have a particular section; either a member or a non-member chairing that we could legislate over it. If it is the case that any member at all could chair, then of course if we form a committee and there is supposed to be a chairman of that particular committee, any member at all would be able to assume the position of chairman. So we cannot legislate over it. The intention or the intendment is that where we have a committee made up of members of the Board and non-members of the Board, the chair should necessarily be a member of the Board. That is why we have the subsection 4.
The sponsor of the Bill says that is what they intended. Hon Chairman, is that not the case? He says that is not the intendment; otherwise, the Board would be incapacitated.
Mr Speaker, yes, it is rightly so. The intendment is to give the chairmanship either to a member or non- member. That is the intendment.
We shall proceed. We have put the Question on clause 11 already. There is clause 12, item numbered (x) on the Order Paper.
Hon Member, you just walked in. You do not know what we have discussed, and we have put the Question already. Hon Member, you are out of order. We are still at the Consideration Stage. If you would want to file any amendment, feel free to do so. But we are on item numbered (x); and an amendment proposed by Hon Haruna Iddrisu.
Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I beg to withdraw the amendment. This is because looking at the rendition, they want the allowances to be approved by the Minister in consultation with the Minister for Finance. They do not want it to be permissive. So on the use of the phrase “may be approved by the Minister”, we would suggest that there would be instances where the allowances may not be approved. But if you look at the rendition as it is, they want the allowances payable to be approved by the Minister in consultation with the Minister for Finance. In view of that, I am withdrawing the amendment.
Hon Member, do you want to contribute on clause 12? Yes?
We are still on clause 12. I would put the Question. Clause 12 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Majority Leader, it is almost half past 3.00 p.m. and I intend to bring proceedings to a close. Clause 13 to clause 16 have no advertised amendment. So we might take those clauses. Yes, Hon Member for Effutu? I would not permit you to reopen any matter.
Mr Speaker, no. It is not that at all. It is purely on relevance.
Very well. I do not know what relevance, it is. You must come under our Rules. So let me hear you.
Mr Speaker, if you come to clause 11 subclause (2), there is a phrase “… only advise the board”. If you look at the purpose of that particular clause, Establishment of committees, I believe that to avoid unnecessary debate and ambiguities at the point of implementation, we could probably, with your leave, at “may”, delete “only advise” and insert “a recommendation,” so that the rendition would read: “A committee composed entirely of non-members may make recommendations to the Board.” Mr Speaker, it is a committee established by the Board. It would not advise, it would make recommendations. That would leave the matter beyond doubt and it would not lead to unnecessary interpretation. What does advice mean? Is it of binding effect? Is it of persuasive effect? But if we say “would recommend”, it means that the Board in plenary would have a general purpose approach to it, and it could say whether they reject the recommendations or not.
Yes, Hon Member for Wa West?
Mr Speaker, it is not relevant; no value has been added. Advice and recommendations are synonymous.
Are you adding anything to your argument? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, it is so. In opposing me, the Hon Chireh has introduced a very controversial matter, which I know the Hon Majority Leader disagrees with. He cannot say recommendation and advice are the same. They can never be the same. It is not so -- [Interruption] -- but he said in the context of application in the Bill, they are synonymous. Mr Speaker, it is appropriate to go with my amendment and I can see that our good Friend is nodding. He could have got up to proffer some advice; he knows it is consistent with our own style of dealing with matters of this nature. Mr Speaker, again, I propose that we go with the new rendition to recommend. This is because it is a committee.
Hon Member, could you refer to any of our Bills where we have used “recommendation” and “advice”?
Mr Speaker, I would immediately remember the Office of the Special Prosecutor's Act, where the governing Board was to make recommendations. We never talked about advice. If you look at the EOCO Act, we used recommendation. This is a committee of the Board that takes its mandate from the Board. Advisory role has been defined and given interpretation in our court. We do not want a situation where a committee would say they have advised and it has a binding effect, so the Board may be bound. No, let us make this one “recommend”. Hon Yieleh Chireh supports it except that he finds it difficult to get on his feet to support me. The committees recommend, they do not advise.
I have given the Floor to the Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, in the circumstance of this Bill, the advice would certainly be in the form of recommendation. I hope the Hon Member is listening to me? Mr Speaker, he is not listening -- [Laughter.] Whatever is transmitted by that committee in the form of recommendation is only advisory.
Consultation or advice. And even in the area of consultation, whatever the body proffers is not even binding. Ultimately, the person clothed with the authority to take a decision is his own self.
No, I have done the correction. I just checked for the synonyms of advice here; counsel, give counsel, give guidance, recommend, make recommendation, offer suggestion, offer opinions, hints, give tips, pointers, direct, give directions; they are the same things. Hon Members, we would go to clause 13 -- I have ruled you out, so there is nothing to withdraw. Clauses 13 and 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Hon Members, clause 15? Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I believe this matter drew some controversy. We should be very clear in our minds what we are doing in clause 13.
Yes, Hon Ranking Member?
Mr Speaker, I do not know what clarity the Hon Majority Leader now wants. Article 190 (1) establishes public offices, so that is a public office. But I agree with him that the way we are going about establishing public offices, we may not even have money to run them, but that is the policy of the Government. Mr Speaker, I would agree with you because this is a Witness Protection Programme that we would want to set up and where a witness is endangered or is perceived to be endangered by reason of the evidence he might give in a criminal case, the danger or harm that the witness is exposed to is assessed and we take that witness into a programme. It is simple. We have all the institutions of State already in existence. Mr Speaker, can you imagine that after creating a public office, getting them public space, buying them all the vehicles, putting all the officers on consolidated salary, paying the Board members bulk allowances, we might go a whole year without a witness whose testimony would put him in harm's way. Mr Speaker, I agree with the Hon Member that the policy intendment of this Bill is to establish a public office. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader is the Leader of Government Business. If he is minded to say that this Programme must actually be an Agency under, and not necessarily a public office, he could well advise.
Mr Speaker, when you put the Question, I had exactly that situation in mind, except that I was not confident enough to raise it and now that the Hon Majority Leader has raised it, we must debate it. Mr Speaker, it is not every establishment that the leadership comes within the age or expertise bracket. We may establish an Agency or Office which appears to have the character of a public office, but the leadership of which may not necessarily end up within the confines of article 195 and associated articles vis-à-vis the matter we face now, reference the Office of the Special Prosecutor. Mr Speaker, I have just looked at Chapter 25, Amendment of the Constitution, and article 290 which has the entrenched provisions does not include article 195. Therefore, we are not entirely bound to insist on article 195 whenever we look at the leadership of a specialist organisation like the Witness Protection Agency. Mr Speaker, these are specialist Agencies where there is a certain kind of expertise that we look for, which may not necessarily be confined within the structure of the age, grade and even a promotional process as the public services define -- Sometimes indeed, we may look for a certain kind of quality but that quality may be disqualified by the provisions of article 195, including the approval of the Public Services Commission. Therefore Mr Speaker, I think it is important now that the matter has been raised, that as we continue to create these Agencies, many of which are very specialised, we look at whether or not automatically we need to bring the provision under article 195. This is because if it is not entrenched, the President can appoint. The President has powers of appointment and those powers are not all under article195. The President has omnibus powers of appointment and therefore, we need not specify article 195 when it comes to some of these appointments. Mr Speaker, I believe the Question has been put, but this is a very relevant debate in the light of ongoing practical experience and we may have to revisit the question of whether or not whenever the President appoints somebody to the leadership of a State institution, for want of a better word, that power must necessarily be exercised under article 195. Maybe not, maybe, we need to expand the space for the President.
Mr Speaker, I believe the debate cannot settle this issue. Indeed, we need the advice of the Attorney- General, not on this particular Bill, but to give us guidance as to what a public office should be. Indeed, to rush and always create a Board and do this -- In fact, if you look at the debate we had on the Office of the Special Prosecutor's Act, it is a similar problem but this one requires expertise because the draftspersons bring this to us and they also say the Constitution mandates that when such an office is created, we must have a Board of Directors. That is their advice. Is it in the Constitution? Mr Speaker, at this stage, we cannot debate and come to a conclusion. I would prefer that an opinion be sought properly, the Attorney-General should be charged to consult with the experts on constitutional matters and whether or not the suggestion the Hon Member made is important. Mr Speaker, in many countries, they may just appoint even a retired person like in the case of the Statutes Review Commissioner who reviewed all our Statutes. In that case, the person was well above appointing age but he was made a special purpose vehicle. He did not have a Board. These are issues that -- Mr Speaker, those who are in power today who bring the Bills must listen to the Hon Ranking Member. In fact, if they pass many Bills and create many bodies, first of all, accommodation and secondly, expertise and people to appoint should be considered. Mr Speaker, they may create jobs for people but they would have no work to do and this particular thing is because we have acceded to the protocol. We would want to domesticate the law, therefore we knew we had many cases -- Should we have Board members meeting every quarter and do nothing? Should we not look at it? What does the protocol we acceded to say we should do? Mr Speaker, I still believe that it is not by a discussion here that we would conclude this matter. The Attorney- General ought to give us proper guidance to help us decide on what we are creating.
Hon Member for Wa West, in respect of waiting for the Attorney-General, I beg to differ. The Bill is in our bosom. The Attorney- General has brought her proposal. If we think that in this House we do not need an Agency, we should do what we think the country needs. I am reading the memorandum accompanying the Bill and if you go to paragraph 7 which determines why we need this, it says and I quote with your permission: “The measures available to Member States include providing protection to witnesses, the relocation of a witness and the family of a witness, providing police escort to hearings, testifying in camera, support for the adoption of a new identity under government protection, temporary residence or anonymity of the witness. Article 65 on UNCAC requires a State Party to take measures to ensure the imple- mentation of its obligations under the Convention, such measures include the establishment of a Witness Protection Programme administered by the Attorney- General. Presently Ghana has not enacted legislation in this respect.” So Hon Member, what we call a Programme must not necessarily translate into a permanent Agency. So I believe it is appropriate that we question what kind of Programme we have put in place to achieve our obligation under the UNCAC? Hon Attorney-General, I will give you the last word but let me listen to others.
Mr Speaker, to even fortify the position you have taken and that of the Hon Majority Leader, we may have a look at article 190 (1) (d) which reads: “The Public Services of Ghana shall include -- (d) such other public services as Parliament may by law prescribe.” So, if under our power of legislation, we decide not to include a particular public office under public services, the power is given to us by the Constitution to do so. Mr Speaker, even if you come to article 94 (3) (b), you could see that certain categories of public service office holders are prohibited from partisan politics. It is not all those in the public services who are prohibited. If you read it, and with your permission, I beg to read: (b) is a member of the Police Service, the Prisons Service, the Armed Forces, the Judicial Service, the Legal Service, the Civil Service, the Audit Service, the Parliamentary Service, the Statistical Service, Fire Service, the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service, the Immigration Service or the Internal Revenue Services”. So all those within the public services outside these named offices have the right to participate. Mr Speaker, so it would not be out of order therefore to exclude under this Bill that we do not intend to make this a public service agency. It would not be out of place, and it would not be illegal. Mr Speaker, on the matter of article 94 (3) (b), even the Supreme Court decided on same in the matter of Kojogah Adrah, where it specifically said somebody working at the Ministry of Health is prohibited from doing partisan politics, but somebody working at the Ghana Health Service is not prohibited. Mr Speaker, somebody at the Ministry of Roads and Highways is prohibited, but somebody working at the Ghana Highways Authority is not prohibited. This is because the Constitution has not specifically prohibited such category of persons. Mr Speaker, so the power is in our hands; we are fortified by the law and the Court made judgement for us to proceed and exclude. Thank you. 3. 45 p. m.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, I would listen to you before the Hon Deputy Attorney- General and Deputy Minister for Justice comes in.
Mr Speaker, I believe that it is a matter of policy to decide either to bring the programme under an agency or to subsume it entirely under the Office of the Attorney-General. Mr Speaker, this is because in the case of what pertains in Kenya, it is a completely, autonomous agency that runs the day to day administration but it is supervised by the Attorney-General. Mr Speaker, in some other jurisdictions, it is just a programme which is subsumed under the Office of the Attorney-General and which, to a large extent, does not have heavy financial implications. Mr Speaker, so, if it is the policy of the Attorney-General to bring the programme under an agency, I believe that Parliament ought to be so informed. But if we are saying or the argument is that because of financial challenges, and because day in, day out we have been creating several boards without number, and we want to run it as a programme subsumed under the Office of the Attorney-General, I believe the direction has to come from the Office of the Attorney-General. This is because it is a policy direction and if Parliament decides to depart from same, I believe we need to be guided in that direction.
Hon Majority Leader, I have a different view about Parliament's position. Parliament's position could be different from the Attorney-General's.
Mr Speaker, if you look at the composition of the governing body of the agency, the President is required to do the appointment under article 70 of the Constitution. That is section 6. Mr Speaker, in that regard, we are recognising these as public offices, but not necessarily public servants. That is why the President is not required to subject himself to the counselling of the Public Services Commission. That is in respect of section 6. Mr Speaker, now for clause 13, we are subjecting it to the counselling of the Public Services Commission. That is in respect of article 195. That was why I said that we should be careful exactly what we want to do so that we do not create problems for ourselves.
Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice, I want to listen to you. The issue has been raised whether we actually need an agency or not . If you think that it is a matter that you should take back to your Hon Minister, I would grant you that. I believe that it is a major issue — one of the requirements of law-making is that, we should also advise on the cost of implications of every Bill. We have not been doing that. We should be looking at what is the cost of implication of setting up an agency for witness protection; something which is not a day-to-day occurrence.
Mr Speaker, the policy rationale as has been enumerated, had been to make it an agency. But having listened to the various submissions, I am more persuaded about the fact that there is the need for us to make it a programme subsumed under the Attorney-General's Department. Initially, the rationale was to have it as an agency standing on its own to be able to do that. Mr Speaker, I initially rose to contribute to this particular debate, and I even wanted to draw attention to the fact that as clearly stated by some of my learned seniors and other seniors on the Floor, if you look at what has actually been triggered at the Supreme Court and all that, which I do not want to discuss the merits, these are some of the germane issues that have been raised before the Court simplicita. The issue of public office and a public officer and whether special organisations that have been set up by Parliament, are in the contemplation of the strict provisions of the age limit for retirement by a public officer -- That is why I am saying I do not want to — [Interruption] -- But I am persuaded by the fact that we could have a programme in respect of this subsumed under the Office of the Attorney- General's Department.
Hon Members, I believe that is a critical issue. I would rather ask that you take it back and discuss with your Minister the concerns raised in the House and probably we could have a closed door discussion before we continue. On that note, I want to bring proceedings to a close and —
Yes, Hon Member for Okaikoi Central?
Mr Speaker, you were putting the Question to some clauses for which we have no advertised amend- ments, so I thought you were going to finish it.
But it was those clauses that have raised the issue. So we would bring the proceedings to a close here. I think we should re-think that whole area about the appointment and agency and things. This is because the requirement under the convention is a programme under the Attorney-General. It is very clear, so how the Attorney- General conceives it, I think we should have an input and discuss this together, probably agree on what constitutes a programme before we add more cost to the public purse. On that note, I would adjourn the House until tomorrow, Thursday— sorry. That brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage of the Witness Protection Bill, 2017 for today. I should listen to somebody who wants what? He came in 30 minutes ago -- [Laughter.] Your Colleagues have been sitting here for five hours, you came in 30 minutes to the close of proceedings and you say you want to work? Next time, come before -- It is all going into the record that, Hon Member for Effutu came in 30 minutes ago, and he says he wants to work.