Debates of 12 June 2018

MR SPEAKER

PRAYERS

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, item numbered 2, Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 8th June, 2018. Page 1?

Speaker
Mr Richard Acheampong

rose

Speaker
Mr Richard Acheampong

Mr Speaker, last Friday, I was physically present in the Chamber but I have been marked absent. So I would want to crave the indulgence of the Table Office to do the necessary correction. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Today, are you both spiritually and physically here? [Laughter.]

Speaker
Mr Richard Acheampong

Mr Speaker, it was both physically and spiritually;I participated in the proceedings and I can vividly recount whatever happened here.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

The Table Office would capture that accordingly. Thank you.

Speaker
Mr Samuel N. George

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Member?

Speaker
Mr George

Mr Speaker, I have noticed that I have also been marked absent. I was physically, spiritually, morally, and financially present. So I plead with the Table Office to do the needful.

Speaker
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I do not know of “financial presence” -- [Laughter.] I do not know of that terminology. But before we go on to dissect the meaning of “financial presence”, we just begun from page 1 and people are talking about pages 6 and 7. Mr Speaker, I do not know by what mechanism they are engaging in this hop, step and jump. Mr Speaker, if people talk about spiritual presence, when they are not properly afflicted with the proper spirits, they could engage in anything that would not be understood by those of us in this world.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much. Save that we begin our proceedings with spiritual acknowledgment of God. So we all know that we invoke a spiritual presence for us to proceed. Page 2 … 18. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 8th June, 2018 as corrected is hereby admitted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, item numbered 3 — Questions. The Hon Member for Mion would ask the Hon Minister for Special Development Initiatives a Question. Hon Minister, kindly take the appropriate chair. Hon Member for Mion?

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS

MINISTRY OF SPECIAL

DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES

Speaker
Minister for Special Development Initiative (Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson)

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the allocation of the cedi equivalent of US$ 1 million (GH¢4.39 million annually to each of the 275 Constituencies to finance basic infrastructure priority projects is expressed in paragraphs 854, 855 and 856 of pages 147 and 148 of the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government. These paragraphs in the 2017 Budget Statement indicated clearly that, it is Government's intention to pursue an inclusive strategy aimed at improving basic infrastructure at the constituency level, especially in the deprived communities. The strategy as expressed in the 2017 Budget would be implemented through the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP), which is designed to direct capital expenditure towards local constituency-level specific infrastructure and economic development priorities. Mr Speaker, the 2017 Budget also stated that to ensure that IPEP is implemented in a well-coordinated manner, Government would set up Development Authorities namely the Northern Development Authority, the Middle Belt Development Authority and the Coastal Development Authority which will be the main agencies to drive the implementation of IPEP and utilise the resources allocated to the constituencies. Mr Speaker, this implies that the cedi equivalent of US$1million per constituency will be channelled through the Development Authorities to implement projects identified under IPEP at the various constituencies. The Ministry of Special Development Initiatives (MSDI) is therefore mandated to provide oversight responsibility and policy direction for the implementation of this policy initiative. A total of GH¢1.045 billion was allocated in the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy -- Please refer to page 178 of the 2017 Budget Statement--- under Capex of the Office of the Government Machinery. As the amount allocated in the 2017 Budget was not part of the Statutory funds, the allocation is technically expired with the Budget in December, 2017. In the absence of the Development Authorities in 2017, Cabinet approved Provisional Arrangements and Guidelines to enable the Ministry kick-start the implementation of IPEP. The Ministry in 2017 carried out key preparatory activities including identifying IPEP projects through the Constituency Infrastructure Needs Assessment Report. The Ministry also embarked on the necessary procurement processes to facilitate the implementation of the projects.

Speaker
Minister for Special Development Initiative (Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson)

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much, Hon Minister.

Speaker
Mr Abdul-Aziz

Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister what she meant by “… the allocation for 2017 has expired”. Under what funding are they doing all the projects that she mentioned?

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, you are not very audible. Order!

Speaker
Mr Abdul-Aziz

Mr Speaker, I can understand the excitement from my Hon Colleagues from the other Side. The Hon Minister indicated in her Answer that the budgetary allocation for 2017 has technically expired. I would like her to explain what she meant by that statement.

Speaker
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Majority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, the Hon Member asked a question which was not audible enough and he was asked to repeat it; this time, it was louder but he asked a completely different question. Where is he? Mr Speaker, which question is he asking the Hon Minister?

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, make yourself clear.

Speaker
Mr Abdul-Aziz

Mr Speaker, the question I asked is directed to the Hon Minister for Special Development Initiatives and not the Hon Majority Leader. I have not heard her say that my question was not audible. Let me repeat my question. Mr Speaker, with your kind permission, let me read paragraph 5 of the Hon

Speaker
Minister's Answer. It reads

“A total of GH¢1.045 billion was allocated in the 2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy [Please refer to page 178 of the 2017 Budget Statement] under Capex of the Office of Government Machi- nery. As the amount allocated in the 2017 Budget was not part of the Statutory funds, the allocation is technically expired with the Budget in December 2017.” Mr Speaker, I am asking her to explain what she meant by that because she enumerated some projects that they are undertaking. Is it with the 2018 or 2017 budgetary allocation?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Member has been an Hon Member of this House for some time. Now, he is asking a question -- [Interruption.]

Speaker
Some Hon Members

Let her answer.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, in the first leg of the question, he asked of the Hon Minister where she had money to implement the projects that she had listed. When you gave him the second chance, however, he asked for the meaning of a sentence that is contained in the Answer, that an amount allocated in the 2017 Budget Statement was not part of the Statutory fund so the allocation is technically expired in the budget of 2017. So he asked a question, “What is the meaning of this?” Then on the third occasion, he combined the two. That is the issue that I raised.

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, I have just heard the Hon Majority Leader state emphatically that when the Hon Member goes astray, he would bring him back. Bring who back? Is that his mandate or authority? It is for the Rt Hon Speaker. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, his is to bring it to your attention to bring the Hon Member to order. Mr Speaker, in any case, the Hon Majority Leader should read Standing Order 67 well. Follow-up questions are to elucidate further information from the Hon Minister. On the basis of her earlier submission, she provided technical answers. The Hon Member seeks further clarification from the Hon Minister for Special Initiative Development. Unless the Hon Majority Leader is deputising for her or he is holding fort for her, he should allow Mr Speaker to determine who answers this question. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader would know that he should partner me to guide Hon Members who go errant so the Rt Hon Speaker would bring them back on track. That is exactly what I am doing. It is part of his mandate and I have a greater mandate to bring Hon Members on course. I know he appreciates that.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

We all know and it is well established that the Hon Leaders are to assist in promoting smooth Business in the House. In fact, if every Hon Member were to get up upon every question asked, the whole thing would be chaotic. It is an established practice, therefore, that becomes a responsibility of Hon Leaders. So, the Hon Majority Leader cannot be said to be presuming that he is going to answer the question for any Hon Minister. That has been the practice in this House for ages and we have all been through it. But one thing is certain; guidance must be given by Leadership. Hon Member, I would give you the last opportunity to make yourself brief and clear.

Speaker
Mr Abdul-Aziz

Mr Speaker, I would want to ask the Hon Minister what she meant by “technically expired”.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Minister, please answer the question.

Speaker
Mrs Koomson

Mr Speaker, when we say “technically expired”, we know the US$1 million per constituency is not a Statutory fund. It is Statutory funds that are normally carried into the following year. When the year expires then it can -- For instance, Mr Speaker, we have the District Assemblies Common Fund and the Ghana Education Trust Fund and for last year 2017, the funds were not paid; this year I know the funds have been paid. So the US$1 million per constituency is not that type of fund that we are allocating to the constituencies. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Some Hon Members

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, I will come to you. Meanwhile, the owner of the Question is still on his feet.

Speaker
Mr Abdul-Aziz

Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister said that the equivalence of US$275 million that was allocated in 2017 had expired and so all the 275 constituencies, including the Suame Constituency, would not get that US$1 million. Today is 12th June, 2018. On 12th June, 2017, the Hon Minister indicated that the money was available for disbursement to all the constituencies. It is 12 months down the lane and the budgetary allocation -- [Interruption.] I am just referring the Hon Minister to her previous statements.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Your question is?

Speaker
Mr Abdul-Aziz

Mr Speaker, my second follow-up question is that the Hon Minister talked about assessment of all the 275 constituencies; how was the assessment done? Who did the assessment? And what was the involvement of Hon Members of Parliament (MPs) as stakeholders?

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, you merely stated “when”. Your question is essentially about when certain moneys would be released. Please, you are entitled to ask this subsequent question, but it does not automatically flow from this. If you ask, the answer would be looked for and supplied.

Speaker
Dr Kwabena Donkor

Thank you, Mr Speaker, I heard the Hon Minister state that a total of GH¢1.45billion was allocated. Mr Speaker, since this is a House of records, would the Hon Minister confirm that the allocation was GH¢1.45billion or GH¢1.045 billion? Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Minister?

Speaker
Mrs Koomson

Mr Speaker, it is GH¢1.045 billion that was allocated in 2017. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Member?

Speaker
Mr Edward Kaale-ewola Dery

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to find out from the Hon Minister; since 2017 came with an expired Budget, I would like to know if in 2018, there is any timeline that the money would be released to the Assemblies? Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Minister, you may answer.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Order!

Speaker
Mrs Koomson

Mr Speaker, in my Answer, I mentioned that the allocation for this year was made during the Budget Statement when it was presented here. And we all know that it is the Minister for Finance who releases the funds to every Ministry for it to embark on every project. Mr Speaker, I would also want my Hon Colleague to know that, it is not the District Assembly that is responsible for the implementation of the IPEP Project, it is rather the Development Authorities that are responsible for the implementation of the IPEP Project. Thank you. The timeline? That is why I said that I am not the Hon Minister for Finance.

Speaker
Mrs Koomson

Speaker
Mr Richard Acheampong

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I want to refer the Hon Minister to her own Answer on page 22, paragraph 8 (iii), and I would like to quote with your permission: “The construction of 50, 1000-metric tonnes size of Prefabricated Agricultural Waterhouses with Dryers and Solar Panels in selected districts of which 15 are in the Northern Development Zone, 20 in the Middle-Belt Development Zone and 15 in the Coastal Development Zone.” I would like to find out from the Hon Minister if she could provide the House with the full list of the communities in which those projects were undertaken. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Minister?

Speaker
Mrs Koomson

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I do not have the list here. I would provide it later. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, if you would ask a question specifically on that. The Hon Minister is saying in effect that she would provide the details accordingly. Let us look carefully at the nature of the Question. Last question, Hon Member?

Speaker
Mr John Abdualai Jinapor

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The Hon Minister succinctly put it that GH¢1.045billion was allocated for the 2017 Budget. She also went further to indicate that technically, the Budget cycle ended in December, 2017. May I know from the Hon Minister, out of the allocation of GH¢1.045billion, technically, when the Budget ended, how much was actually released to her Ministry? Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, please come again. Order! Hon Member, please come again; let us have clarity.

Speaker
Mr Jinapor

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister informed us that an amount -- [Interruption.]

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Order!

Speaker
Mr Jinapor

That an amount was allocated to her Ministry for a particular Budget cycle. As she rightly put it, the Budget cycle ended in December, 2017. All I am asking of is that, out of this amount, how much was released? That is all, Mr Speaker. Thank you.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Minister, do you know how much was released?

Speaker
Mrs Koomson

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I said that allocation was made, but I did not say the money was released to the Ministry. And we all know that allocations are made but we would realise that sometimes even at the end of the year, the money has not been released. Mr Speaker, also, as at the end of 2017, the structures were not fully in place so, we were not given the releases to do all those things. Thank you.

Speaker
Mr Jinapor

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Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, kindly resume your seat. Minority Leadership.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Order! Hon Minority Leader is referring to a page.

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, page 22 of the Order Paper, which contains the Hon Minister's Answer. Mr Speaker, but before I do so, I would want to lay a foundation referencing the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) 2016 Manifesto; “Change, an Agenda for Jobs, Creating Prosperity and Equal Opportunity for All.”

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, please ask your question first and then, connect.

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, the question has to be situated in context. The Manifesto reads and with your permission I will quote, then after it, I would ask my question.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

If without any guide at all for me, any Hon Member brings an encyclopaedia and he or she wants to read ten pages of that to me so that he or she would contextualise his or her question, Business would not be efficacious. Clearly tell me what you want to ask and then, go to the document to justify. [Pause] -- If I do not know where you are going, I cannot see the nexus between whatever is being read to me and the question. Hon Member, please tell me, what question you are asking and then put whichever document and areas you want to read to back it while you are asking this.

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, this is a House of records. I am referencing an official winning manifesto of the NPP. The manifesto that gave birth to this Government. Mr Speaker, in it there is a quotation which has — [Interruption] -- Because I have to reconcile the numbers against the manifesto promise. I would give you the page and the Hansard would capture it with your permission. It reads: “An equivalent of --

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Minority Leader, you know that when I take a position and make it clear I do not want Hon Members going round it. You have a question -- [Interruption.] Hon Minority Leader, you would listen and look in my direction. Please tell me what you want to ask and back it with whatever document you have. Then I would know which direction you are moving to.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Order! Order!

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Is that equivalent to US$1 million per constituency? Whether or not in 2017, the promise was honoured to the constituencies?

Speaker
Mrs Koomson

Mr Speaker, the rate we used for the US$1 million equivalent was GH¢4.39. [Interruption.]

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, you do not sit in your seat and ask questions. We all know this. Order! Order!

Speaker
Mrs Koomson

Mr Speaker, we all know that last year the Budget was read somewhere in February or March; we did not start from the beginning of 2017. So the money was not fully allocated for the whole of 2017.

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister in her Answer on page 22, and with your permission I quote paragraph 8 stated as follows: The following are the Infrastructure projects currently under implementation by the Ministry: i. The construction of 1,000 Limited Community Mechanised Water Systems with Solar pumps in all the 275 Constituencies. So Hon Members, you all received solar pumps? ii. The construction of 1,000 10- Seater Community/Institutional Water Closet Bio-digester toilets with Mechanised Boreholes in all the 275 Constituencies. iii. The construction of 50, 1000- metric tonnes size of Pre- fabricated Agricultural Ware- house with Dryers and Solar Panels in selected districts of which 15 are in the Northern Development Zone, 20 in the Middle-Belt Development Zone and 15 in the Coastal Development Zone. In this project, does that amount to US$1 million per constituency?

Speaker
Mrs Koomson

Mr Speaker, I mentioned that in the 2018 Budget, the Ministry is undertaking all these projects. It is not under the 2017 Budget because I earlier said that the 2017 Budget has expired. So, it is the 2018 Budget. All the 275 constituencies would have the toilet and the water project. [Interruption.]

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Order! Order! Hon Minority Leader, you may ask one last question.

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, my very last question. I would want to find out from the Hon Minister responsible for Special Development Initiatives, what her Ministry is doing for the Suhum and Dome-Kwabenya constituencies, in pursuit of the US$1 million per constituency?

Speaker
Mrs Koomson

Mr Speaker, I listed all the 275 constituencies.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Order! Order! The Hon Minister has the Hon Minority Leader as her witness.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, in bullet 8, the Hon Minister told us and with your permission I quote: The following are the Infrastructural projects currently under implementation by the Ministry: i.The construction of 1,000 Limited Community Mechanised Water Systems with Solar pumps in all the 275 Constituencies. ii. The construction of 1,000 10-Seater Community/ Institutional Water Closet Bio- digester toilets with Mechanised Boreholes in all the 275 Constituencies. iii. The construction of 50, 1000- metric tonnes size of Prefabricated Agricultural Warehouses with Dryers and Solar Panels in selected districts of which 15 are in the Northern Development Zone, 20 in the Middle-Belt Development Zone and 15 in the Coastal Develop- ment Zone. iv. The construction of 570 small dams and dugouts in the three Northern Regions under the One Village, One Dam initiative.'' Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister, is it the case that after these projects have been executed, every constituency in the country would benefit?

Speaker
Mrs Koomson

Mr Speaker, that is the case. I would also want to put on record that these projects that have been listed are not the total list for the US$1 million per constituency plan. I mentioned that we did a constituency needs assessment and those assessments would also be implemented.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, as a matter of record, could the Hon Minister assure us that, as in bullet 8 (i), the construction of 1,000 Limited Community Mechanised Water Systems, with solar pumps in all the 275 constituencies -- ? [Interruption] -- Would the Hon Minister admit that the correct description of that system is Community Limited Mechanised Water System?

Speaker
Mr Koomson

Mr Speaker, I believe it is a typographical error. It should read: ‘‘Community Limited Mechanised Water Systems with Solar pumps in all the 275 Constituencies''.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, that brings us to the end of Question Time.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

STATEMENTS

Speaker
Dr Bernard Okoe Boye (NPP -- Ledzekuku)

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to bring to the attention of this Honourable House, the issue of ‘'NO BED” that dominates the reception of most hospitals in this country especially Accra, the capital city. Mr Speaker, many Ghanaians have once upon a time been turned away from government hospitals with the excuse that there is no bed for them to be put on even if the doctor decides to admit them. Mr Speaker, it is a very frustrating, depressing and eerie feeling to find yourself at a hospital with a relative or friend who is in a critical condition and be told in the face that “there is no bed” and worst of all, to be informed that there was nothing that could be done by the health worker to salvage the situation. Mr Speaker, this Statement has become necessary following an incident that happened in the early hours of Sunday, the 3rd of June 2018, just a little over a week ago. Mr Speaker, a citizen of this country by name Prince Anthony Opoku Acheampong , aged 70 years, was rushed to the C J Medical Centre in Accra for emergency medical care after complaining of feeling unwell. The staff at the hospital sent this fellow citizen away to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) ,with the excuse that there was ‘'no bed”. On reaching the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), another ‘'no bed”, phrase was used to send this ailing man to the Korle Bu Polyclinic. Korle Bu Polyclinic also referred him to Ridge Hospital where they directed this ailing man, his wife and son to the Police Hospital. The Police Hospital emergency staff too claimed they had no vacant bed so the patient was asked to go to the Trust Hospital. Mr Prince Anthony Opoku Acheampong , now the late Prince Anthony Opoku Acheampong, finally arrived at the LEKMA Hospital by which time the vehicle carrying him had run out of fuel. At the LEKMA Hospital, there was no bed to admit this sick man. The doctor on duty who was in his car was approached by the relatives and begged to intervene. The doctor allegedly claimed nothing could be done. The patient finally died at about 3:30am, two and a half hours after roaming health facilities in Accra. Mr Speaker, many people in this country have experienced such difficult situations in Ghanaian hospitals. Many have lost their lives to such avoidable situations at our hospitals. As a practising physician, I find it very depressing and unfortunate to read and hear of such events, events that reduce the confidence of the public in health care professionals as well as the health delivery system in the country. Mr Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to seek your indulgence by requesting that you refer this matter to the Health Committee and the Committee on Defence and Interior. Mr Speaker, this “no bed” syndrome is not only a public health issue, it is a national security matter. This House is representative of the nation enough and legally empowered adequately to go into this matter and lead the way in finding a potent policy to address this ‘'No Bed” problem. May the soul of the late Prince Anthony Opoku Acheampong rest in perfect peace. Thank you.

Speaker
Dr Sebastian Ngmenenso Sandaare (NDC--Daffiama/Bussie/Issa)

Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement made by Hon Dr Okoe Boye. Mr Speaker, I would want to first share my condolences with the bereaved family of the 70 year old man who passed away through an unfortunate and sad incident. Mr Speaker, the ‘'no bed'' syndrome is a sign of a system failure. Failure in our public health system which is supposed to keep us safe and save us in times of emergencies. The sad story of this old man is something that as a House we should say is unfortunate and take steps to address, so as to prevent future occurrences. Mr Speaker, when there is a weakness in the public health system in any nation, everyone is at risk. It could have been any of us taken to any of our public health facilities and be told unknowingly that there is no bed. By the time it is realised, the person might have been dead. Mr Speaker, I would want to support my Hon Colleague to say that collectively, we should say no to this ‘'no bed'' syndrome in our hospitals. It is a sign of political failure, health system failure and all the failures in all the systems. Mr Speaker, lastly, there is a solution to this problem and it is that we should change our attitudes. We should work on the so many abandoned or suspended health facilities. Clearly, the University of Ghana Medical Centre -- a facility that would add about 900 beds -- we still are not even sure when that facility would operate, plus the five polyclinics and other health facilities that were initiated by the Former President. We should come together and say that enough is enough. We should leave partisan politics aside and address what affects all of us collectively, and ensure that no more would anybody visit any public health facility and it would be said that there is ‘'no bed''. Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity.

Speaker
Dr Kwabena Twum-Nuamah (NPP -- Berekum East)

Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would want to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement for bringing this to the attention of the House. Mr Speaker, this is a very unfortunate and sad situation and what makes me uncomfortable is the fact that if one looks at the institutions that the late compatriot visited when he was ill, it included almost

Speaker
Dr Kwabena Twum-Nuamah (NPP -- Berekum East)

Speaker
Dr Kwabena Twum-Nuamah (NPP -- Berekum East)

Speaker
Dr Mark Kurt Nawaane (NDC -- Nabdam)

Mr Speaker, I thank you very much. I would also want to thank the Hon Member who made the Statement. Mr Speaker, after 25 years of medical practice in the country, I have had the opportunity to work at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, the Cape Coast Regional Hospital, the Dunkwa District Hospital and finally ended up in private practice. With this experience, I must say that what happened is a systemic failure -- a failure of the whole system. This is because there is nothing like ‘there are no beds' in a hospital that runs an emergency. Mr Speaker, indeed, during our time at KBTH, we used to call that hospital ‘‘the last stop.'' One would not come to KBTH and we would send the person away. That is because even if there is no bed, we would put the patient on the floor. We would put a mattress on the floor, and no matter how big the doctor is, he or she is supposed to kneel and examine the patient to get all the needed findings. If the doctor can then take care of the patient, that is alright. If not, he can call the resident doctor or the specialist. So there was nothing like the hospital being full. After that, if there is the need for one to be transferred to a particular unit, department or to a consultant, we do it. Mr Speaker, so, I am surprised to hear that one person had been sent to different hospitals and I do not know the type of examination that was carried out. I do not know who wrote the referral to the next station because if one gets to one situation, the law is that you have to be examined and if there is the need for you to be referred to a higher level, it is done. So I am surprised that someone visits five or six hospitals and no doctor examines this patient until his untimely death. In fact, as a nation, we would have to apologise to the relatives of the patient. This particular case needs to be investigated; a committee needs to be set up. Indeed, not only the parliamentary committee but a committee of the Medical and Dental Council. They can also set up a committee to investigate this issue. There is the need for the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency to also come in and see to what is happening because there is nothing like ‘no bed in any hospital' when it is related to an emergency. Unless we do not diagnose the emergency; once we diagnose, it is an emergency, there is nothing like there is no bed. Mr Speaker, I would want to implore you so that this matter is taken over by the appropriate authorities. I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko (NPP -- Ayawaso West Wuogon)

Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this very important Statement made by Dr Okoe Boye. In doing so, I would want to associate myself completely with some of the points made by Dr Nawaane. Mr Speaker, I find it very difficult to understand how an individual in an emergency situation would go into a hospital and he would be told that there are no beds. Mr Speaker, my little experience working at KBTH as a pharmacist is that in KBTH, patients slept on the floor as far back as 33 years ago until today. When it is an emergency, they will by all means take you in. If the patient walks in and it is ambulatory -- he is well enough to go and come -- then one would be able to say that there is no bed. But when it is an emergency -- when a 70 year old man has come with a headache and dizziness, it is unbelievable that any trained medical professional would ask the patient to go on the pretext that there is no bed. Mr Speaker, as far as I am concerned, this is just a pointer to a huge systemic and particularly, a regulatory failure. My clear understanding is that, if anybody comes in with an emergency, at the very least, some initial things would be done: first aid. I really and truly wonder whether when this patient went to the first hospital, his vitals were taken? If they did and they thought it was beyond them, they would have written a referral letter to him and say ‘go to another hospital'. I do not see, in practice, how a patient would come with a referral from one hospital and anybody would say that there is no bed. Mr Speaker, I would want to completely agree with the Hon Member who made the Statement that it would be useful to refer this matter to your committees so that we would look into it because I believe there has been a breach of the law somewhere.

Speaker
Mr Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko (NPP -- Ayawaso West Wuogon)

Speaker
Minority Leader (Mr Haruna Iddrisu)

Mr Speaker, let me thank you for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement made by Dr Bernard Okoe Boye, Member of Parliament for Ledzokuku. Mr Speaker, in doing so, with your permission, I would quote the second but last paragraph of his Statement. “…I find it very depressing and unfortunate to read and hear of such events, events that reduce the confidence of the public in healthcare professionals as well as the health delivery system in the country.” Mr Speaker, we have been given a vivid example of the “No Bed” syndrome in the case of the late Prince Anthony Opoku Acheampong. It is a daily occurrence in all district and regional hospitals in Ghana. They are always without beds. Patients are unable to have access to beds. Mr Speaker, it is only a manifestation of Government failure. I do not refer to the Government of yesterday or today, but successive governments have not done enough to expand access to health delivery services to support quality health care to the Ghanaian. Therefore Dr Boye is right that we describe this as a public health system crisis and make appropriate recommendations to deal with it. Mr Speaker, I have had some personal experiences. The father of a friend of mine from Yendi was to be admitted at the cardiothoracic unit of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH). When he arrived, he was told there was no bed and that he should be taken back home. His name is Didi. I would get his proper name for the Hansard. Then one Nashiru, the senior brother of Hon Dr Mohammed Amin Anta, the current Deputy Minister for Energy was also brought from Tamale to KBTH and was turned away because there were no beds. These two are all late; may their souls rest in perfect peace. Mr Speaker, I supervised the Ministry of Health as acting Minister during medical emergency where doctors were on strike and each night as I visited these emergencies -- [Interruption] --If anyone visits the KBTH emergency unit, one is likely to see patients outside of the building for want or lack of bed. So we should agree that it is a national crisis and a national problem demanding of us to take urgent action in order that we assure Ghanaian citizens access to quality healthcare.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, I have had cause to say this

there was an initiative for regional hospitals in Upper East, Central and Northern Regions by the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Currently, even as we speak, the Western and Eastern Regions do not even have teaching hospitals as referral hospitals. The Hon Minister for Health was here last week disagreeing with the University of Ghana over the management of the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC). Those beds are lying idle, yet, patients need to have access to beds for proper medical care. So it is a national crisis and every hospital suffers a kind of it. Mr Speaker, we should not blame health professionals even though in many other areas and in some jurisdictions there is what we call negligent behaviour. It is even criminalised in some jurisdictions including the United States of America where medical professionals could be held responsible for being criminally negligent. A specific case is where a doctor who conducted a caesarean section left syringes in the stomach of the patient which resulted in her death. In Ghana, where would one report this? What would be reported is that the person is pronounced dead. We put our hands on our heads and wail and then ask for God's forgiveness on behalf of the person and for God to admit him into his bosom. Mr Speaker, we must, as a country monitor -- [Interruption] -- In the last two decades, public expenditure to public health delivery has been on the decline year on year. This is where Parliament comes in. Allocation we make to the Ministry of Health every other year is largely for compensation to pay doctors, nurses and paramedics in terms of what they do; but in terms of infrastructure -- Like I said, yes, we have seen some changes. I have had cause here to urge the President that the Eastern and Western Regions have no teaching hospitals. At least, in the past, I can say that the NDC had ensured that the Central, Upper East, Upper West, Northern and Brong Ahafo Regions had their shares of those hospitals but that has not provided adequacy of facilities. Mr Speaker, we need to look at ways to improve the training of medical professionals. I would use KBTH. Again, I was the supervising Minister for Health when we discussed the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Ridge, then with my colleague Minister, Hon Seth Tekper. We agreed that within the Ministries area, those days that there were congestions, if one took a patient and drove through the Professor Atta-Mills Highway to Korle Bu, one did not help that particular patient who needed critical care. That is why emphasis was placed on getting the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Ridge, enhanced so that it could serve public sector workers within this particular environment. Mr Speaker, I would want to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement for bringing this to the fore; Parliament itself must admit some weakness. We are not interested in policing the allocation of resources; all we do is to come here and in two to three minutes, a Motion is moved and seconded and the House approves it. What would we have approved? Do we follow up to find out whether the moneys we have so far approved are used for the intended purposes? Are we able to isolate expenditure that is related to compensation against that of accommodation and that of facilities?

Speaker
Mr Speaker, I have had cause to say this

Speaker
Ms Sarah A. Safo

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

I thank you very much, Hon Minority Leader. The Hon Deputy Minister for Justice and Attorney General--- Hon Deputy Minority Leader, I believe that is what I have said --

Speaker
Ms Safo

Rightly so, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Joseph Dindiok Kpemka (MP -- Tempane)

I thank you very much Mr Speaker. I would like to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement for drawing the attention of Hon Members of this august House and Ghanaians to this phenomenon. Mr Speaker, in contributing to the Statement, I would like to share a very personal experience with a very heavy heart. The issue of “No Bed” syndrome is not a secret but a daily occurrence in our country. Personally, on the 7 th of September, 2016, while preparing to make a trip out of Ghana with my wife, she suddenly had a stroke and I would like to refer to this as “the seven hours of hell on earth” here in Ghana. We rushed to a nearby clinic and after they gave us some emergency treatment, they referred us to referral hospitals. We went to KBTH in an ambulance and we were told there was no bed. The sad thing about it is that they do not even try to give first aid or see the patient; they just come and tell us that there is no bed. We then proceeded to 37 Military Hospital. We met the same treatment. It was the same at Nyaho Medical Centre and Trust Hospital. We finally went to the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Ridge after six hours had elapsed. Even there, we were told the same story; there is no bed. Certain persons who have had similar experiences told me to insist, otherwise there would not have been a single hospital that would have admitted her. I managed to get the phone number of the medical director of the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Ridge. When I called him, he made a few calls and suddenly, a bed was available. It had taken seven hours from the time the incident occurred to when we got a bed. At the time, it had reached an irreversible situation. So the following morning, I lost my wife at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Ridge. Clearly, from the interactions I had with all the medical personnel available, the situation could have been ameliorated or soothed a little if within an hour or so after we were referred, she had gotten a bed in one of the hospitals and was given intensive care. She never got it. Mr Speaker, when it happened, I went into a coma. I woke up surrounded by nurses in a luxury room where there were two beds. There was no bed, but suddenly at the moment that I woke up, I realised that there were two empty beds. I laid on one and the nurses were on me. It only tells us that in most of these cases, they would look at one's face; perhaps, one's nose; and maybe one's name and all that, and decide whether to admit the person. This is because I was very sure and beyond any shred of doubt that if the relatives of those who told me that there were no beds had come at that moment, they would have found beds for them. So this phenomenon is real. I am very happy that today, an Hon Member has raised it. This morning, Joy FM called me when they discussed this issue; I do not know who gave them my number. I told them I was preparing to put up a Statement, guided by my Hon Leaders, to be presented to the Rt Hon Speaker on this issue. I did not know that an Hon Member had already come with it. It is a real situation in our country. The earlier we, as Hon Members of this House, stood up to the challenge and made suggestions to the Rt Hon Speaker so that the appropriate directives are made, the better. Otherwise, some of the things are done with outright impunity and some of the health professionals who are supposed to ensure our safety do so with complete negligence. I would not be surprised if in the not too distant future, people begin to bring up writs against State institutions and the State for negligence and all that. That could be very bad for our nation. Mr Speaker, so while I thank the Hon Member who made the Statement and commend you for the opportunity, I would like to add my voice that we give meaning to whatever decisions we take here. As my senior Hon Colleague, the Hon Minority Leader indicated, perhaps, after the directives are given, we follow-up to ensure that there is effective implementation, so that unfortunate incidents such as what we are talking about today do not occur in our dear country. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Statement.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much, Hon Member. This matter is referred to the Joint Committee on Justice and Health. They are to take it very seriously and report to this Honourable House in two weeks, if that should reflect the concerns of Hon Members this afternoon. They are to visit appropriate quarters.

Speaker
Ms Safo

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Deputy Majority Leader, any difficulty?

Speaker
Ms Safo

Mr Speaker, respectfully, is it the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs or the Committee on Justice?

Speaker
Mr Speaker

It is the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Health.

Speaker
Ms Safo

I heard “the Committee on Justice”. Mr Speaker, I apologise.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

It is the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Health. They are to bring the Report to us in two weeks. They should visit the appropriate quarters and come out with a well-reasoned argument for further action. Hon Members, we sometimes say that we have laws. In fact, very often, we do not really have laws. There are too many gaps in our laws. In Britain today, if anyone visits a doctor with a burn, a cut or whatever looks like an abrasion or contusion, the doctor is bound by the law to report the matter to the Police. Nobody can tell the doctor it is a domestic matter. They are to explain to the Police. These laws have not been there from the beginning of time, and people take advantage of it. I would want Hon Members of Parliament to analyse these areas; what are the gaps that allow people to do these things to our people? Actually, there must be specific laws on specific mischiefs that we, as Hon Members of Parliament, consider a worry and bother to our people. These are the matters for Private Members' Bills, which would enhance the parameters of the law and protect our people even more. The medics have their ethics. We would not expect a doctor or a nurse to refuse a patient. Nevertheless, as lawyers and those from the legal angle, we would want to seriously analyse this. What specific law does that person break by telling our people that there are no beds? Can we not start to go round to find provisions to charge a person? If that is so, then the law is not as adequate as we sometimes think. In other countries, I know that they have specifically provided for such matters. We should look at our provisions as to issues like “No public hospital or no medical person employed in a public- owned facility shall refuse to attend to a person who is brought in an emergency situation to a public hospital.” That would be an offence or crime. In fact, it is very easy to associate that with manslaughter, the essence of which is negligence. So you would know that when such a person dies, the doctor or the nurse would be charged with manslaughter by the police. Are we clear on these matters? Hon Members: Yes.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members of the Joint Committee, this is a very important matter. My Committees are to direct and help the House to provide appropriate legislations where necessary. These are matters that we must stand and deliver on, so as to let our people know that we actually seek their interests. I direct so accordingly. [Hear! Hear!] We shall proceed to the Commencement of Public Business. The Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair in the process. In any case, item listed number 5 -- Presentation of Papers by the Hon Minister for Planning. Hon Majority Leader, any suggestion in this regard? This is because we know the Hon Minister for Planning is not here. What do we do?

Speaker
Some Hon Members

He is here.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Very well. Hon Minister for Planning?

PAPERS

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, any further indication?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I would crave your indulgence to vary the order of Business for the day in order for us to deal with the item listed as number 13 -- Committee Sittings; Committee of the Whole Sitting advertised on page 18 of today's Order Paper. When we finish with it, we can then recline to deal with the Consideration of the two Bills.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

That would be taken by the Hon First Deputy Speaker.

[MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR.]

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Majority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I indicated that we vary the order of Business for the day and go to page 18 of the Order Paper to deal with item listed as number 13, the Committee of the Whole Sitting, and when we have done that, we recline to deal with item listed as number 11 -- Witness Protection Bill. Mr Speaker, because the issue to be discussed is already in the public space, we would want to state that even though it is the prerogative of the Hon Chairman of the Committee to determine who is invited to a Committee meeting, we would want to propose that for this meeting, we allow the press and the persons in the public gallery to be present to listen to the proceedings.

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, I can only associate myself with the position of the Hon Majority Leader. I understand and I can see officials of the National Identification Authority (NIA) who have come to respond to your invitation. I also strongly support the view that the only way we can deepen more openness and transparency is to allow this discussion in the open and in the glare of the media so that we do what is proper in terms of scrutiny. Mr Speaker, this is a national exercise which necessarily has to succeed for the good of our country. So, I share the view that the media be allowed to stay in.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, under what Standing Order were you asking that we permit certain people to be in the Committee meeting?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I said to us that the Hon Chairman in this regard could determine whether or not to invite the public --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Are you referring to Standing Order 199?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, Standing Order 199 states and with your permission I quote: “No stranger shall be admitted to any meeting of a Committee without

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

So let us decide. Are we holding this in public or just admitting strangers to the Committee meeting? -- [Pause] I was asking whether we are holding this Committee of the Whole Meeting in public, as in being open to the public or just inviting specific strangers to be part of the meeting?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, that the public may be part of this. After all, if the media should capture it, they relay same to the public. So, if they are here, I believe they could be allowed to be part of these proceedings.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Hon Minority Leader, what do you say to this application?

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, I vividly recall that the Leader made the application to your good self in the Chair and the words of Standing Order 199 are clear; as the Chairman of the Committee may think fit. Mr Speaker, so, we leave it in your hands.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. In that case, I will suspend Sitting and invite the House to a Committee of the Whole. Members of the press are permitted to sit in the meeting. 1.35 p.m. -- Sitting Suspended. 4.32 pm -- Sitting resumed.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Deputy Majority Leader, what is your pleasure?

Speaker
Ms Sarah A. Safo

Mr Speaker, the instruction I have is that the House should adjourn till tomorrow at 10 o'clock in the forenoon. Mr Speaker, but having sat beyond the required period, we are definitely in your hands. Thank you.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Minority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, I know that it was your wish that after we met the National Identification Authority, we would at least cruise on the Bills; particularly the Witness Protection Bill, 2017, as well as other Bills before you. Mr Speaker, it does not appear that we have the strength to continue after an exhaustive day, therefore we are in your good hands for the adjournment. Mr Speaker, thank you.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Thank you. Hon Members, order!

ADJOURNMENT

The House was adjourned at 4.35 p.m. till Wednesday, 13th June, 2018, at 10.00 a.m.