VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper; Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. Hon Members, correction of Votes and Proceedings dated 5th June, 2018.
Hon Members, we would move to item numbered 3 on the Order Paper --- Questions. We have Question numbered 367 which stands in the name of the Hon Member for Keta for the Hon Minister for the Interior to answer. Hon Minister, kindly take the appropriate seat. Yes, Hon Richard M. K. Quashigah? Kindly hold on.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, thank you. I was on my feet before you
Hon Member, you are out of order. Hon Quashigah, please ask your Question. If he is not available then we would move on to Question numbered 368 which stands in the name of Hon Emmanuel K. Bedzrah and it is for the Hon Minister for the Interior.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR
Hon Minister? Hon Minister for the Interior (Mr Ambrose Dery): Mr Speaker, Mr George Kormla Ackorley who went missing during the annual SASADU celebration in 2017 has still not been found. A search party that comprised the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Armed Forces was commissioned to lead the search for Mr Ackorley. The search party, with assistance from the people of Alavanyo, searched the surrounding farmlands in the community but to no avail. The team extended the search to his hometown, Soviepe Deme in the Ho West District where evidence was established that a person who identified himself as Lucifer used Mr Ackorley's mobile phone to contact one Abena Ackorley who is the daughter of Mr Ackorley. Mr Speaker, efforts by the security agencies to trace the said Lucifer have not yielded results. Mr Speaker, I must state that investigations are ongoing and the Ghana Police Service will do its best to unravel the mystery surrounding the dis- appearance of Mr George Kormla Ackorley. This august House would be informed of any new development on Mr Ackorley's case.
Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Minister whether he is aware that the Saviefe Traditonal Area has petitioned His Excellency the President about this case?
Hon Minister, did you get him?
Mr Speaker, all I know is that, the Ministry is working hard to find Mr Ackorley and we would invite anybody who has any information. Mr Speaker, I would not be competent to deal with letters to the presidency.
Hon Member, any more follow-ups?
Mr Speaker, on the 25th of November, 2017, the people of Saviefe petitioned His Excellency the President concerning the abduction of Mr George Ackorley. Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Minister whether he has personally visited the Saviefe community to assure the people that the case is under investigation?
Mr Speaker, this is a Police investigation, and in the regions, the Regional Security Councils and the District and Municipal Councils are those dealing with it for now. Mr Speaker, what I can assure him of is our commitment. He has contacted me personally on this matter, and I would want to assure him and his constituents that we would do our best. I would want his constituents to know that he is actually working hard to help us get it done. However, for now, this is what we have to report, and I hope he would cooperate with us.
Mr Speaker, this happened in another constituency, not exactly in my constituency. What we know is a fight between two towns. Infact, the fight is between the people of Alavanyo and Nkonya. Therefore my Hon Colleague also has interest in this case, and she would also want to have a follow-up because I know it is a constituency specific Question. However, Mr Speaker, finally, I would want to ask the Hon Minister whether or not the people of Saviefe should assume that Mr George Ackorley is dead.
Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, no, we cannot assume the death of Mr Ackorley. I would want to assure him that the government finds each person's life invaluable, and
Thank you very much. Hon Minister, thank you very much for coming to the House to answer our Questions. You are discharged. Question numbered 376? Hon Minister for Health, if you may take the appropriate seat. It is in the name of the Hon Member for Kumawu.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Mr Speaker, the construction of a district hospital in the Kumawu District is part of the seven District Hospitals programme being undertaken by Messrs NMSI of the United Kingdom, under a turnkey arrangement. The project has stalled due to the expiration of the letters of credit backing the loan facility. The Ministry of Finance is currently in discussions with the UKEF and the contractors on strategies to extend the credit facility. The Ministry of Finance has also sanctioned an audit on the project being conducted by Crown Agents Gh. Ltd. Mr Speaker, in view of the above, the Ministry of Health is currently awaiting an approval for the extension of the loan from the Ministry of Finance based on which the commercial contract will be reactivated. Works would resume as soon as approval is received from the Ministry of Finance.
Mr Speaker, furtherance to that, I would humbly wish to ask the Hon Minister about the situation of the Shama Polyclinic.
Mr Speaker, I did not actually prepare to answer any question on Shama. I would plead with the Hon Member to file a Question on Shama, and I would come forward to answer that Question.
Hon Member, you may have to give notice, and the Question would be answered. Next question, if any. Question number 378 -- Hon Member for Adaklu? Operationalisation of the new Legon Hospital 378. Mr Kwame Governs Agbodza asked the Minister for Health when the completed phase of the new Legon Hospital will be fully operationalised.
Mr Speaker, as you are aware, the University of Ghana Medical Centre has been virtually completed. The presidency under the leadership of the Chief of Staff has constituted a technical team to see to the operationalisation of the hospital. The team has recently presented their Report and some proposals have been made. Plans are underway to appoint the required immediate staff for the facility as well as the management structure to run the hospital. The hospital will start as soon as practicable.
Thank you very much. Any more questions?
Yes, Mr Speaker. On July 10, 2017, the interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Legon Hospital, Professor Lawson, suggested that they be given clearance from the Ministry of Finance to recruit staff. This was reported by Citi FM. We also had information that the Ministry of Information issued a statement recently that by the close of July this year, the hospital would be operationalised. Mr Speaker, the Minister however says, “The Hospital would start as soon as practicable”. We have been given July as the date. I hoped the Hon Minister would give us a confirmation of that, but he has rather mentioned the possible opening date. Could the Hon Minister confirm to us whether the information given by the Minister for Information about the possible start date of operationalisation and whether what the former CEO said still stands? Would the hospital be opened by the end of July, 2018?
Mr Speaker, from the preparations we have done so far, I would want to confirm that the information that the Hon Minister for Information put in the public domain is correct and the hospital would start operationalisation in the course of July.
Mr Speaker, I would want to ask the Hon Minister whether the delay in the operationalisation of the hospital has anything to do with the projected phase two of the same project?
Mr Speaker, yes. The scope of works as has been packaged into phases one and two -- there are one or two items in phase two without which we cannot operationalise phase one. Mr Speaker, I have the scope of works for phase two, and in there, we have consumables, drugs and non-drug consumables. That is packaged under phase two. Mr Speaker, that is what I have. Without money to do these procurements, how do we commence operationalising phase one? Mr Speaker, again, there is another critical thing. With the phase one project, we still owe the contractor close to GH¢10 million. The payment of that money before he hands over the facility to us is incorporated in phase two. Mr Speaker, there should be provision of permanent power supply, that is also packaged in phase two. Without these, it would not be very easy or feasible to begin operationalising phase one.
Hon Member, your last question.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister just told us that some of the items in phase two include consumables. I am surprised that would stop operationa- lising the hospital, but he talked about something critical; power supply. Mr Speaker, he is talking about July. The US$50 million loan he talked about is not even in this House, yet he gave confirmation that, by the close of July the hospital would be operationalised. My question is this; would the loan for phase two come here, be approved and contract awarded for the power supply, and everything be done before end of July? It is a very critical question.
Hon Member, you are trying to cross the river before you get to it. End of July is on the record. We would wait, and we would see. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, should I ask a different question?
I am saying that, in this connection, your question enters the speculative realm. There is the assurance, end of next month. So, Hon Member, you would wait, and you would know how to tackle the matter, and cross the river when end of July comes. Thank you. Question 410?
Is this to challenge my ruling?
Mr Speaker, I am asking for an opportunity to follow-up on the Legon Hospital, if you so decide.
Hon Minority Leader, this is a constituency specific question, is it not?
If not so, then you may go on.
Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Minister for Health, that the US$217 million phase one project for the University of Ghana was intended to support medical training as a teaching hospital for the University. Is it the case that the Ministry of Health through the Ghana Health Service, wants to impose management on the Legon hospital against the university's position that they the University would oversee the management of the hospital?
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the question standing in the name of Hon Kwame Governs Agbodza simply reads; “To ask the Minister for Health when the completed phase of the new Legon Hospital will be fully operationalised”. Mr Speaker, questions must conform to the substance, the main issue that has been raised. It is about the completion at the time, and indeed, Standing Order 69 (1) provides and I quote with your permission; “ 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”.
Seeking of management
Can I finish? Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader is always in too much of a hurry. He would not even listen to me. He is very combative in these matters, unnecessarily so. Mr Speaker, I am saying to him that the question that he is introducing bears no semblance to the original Question that had been asked. That is my issue.
Mr Speaker, I note that you have given me the opportunity. This is not constituency specific. It is a matter over --
And that is the reason I have allowed you to have a say, so it does not arise anymore.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's answer, to establish relevance — and he quoted the Standing Order -- I am relevant and I am within relevance. Follow-up questions elucidate further clarification to the Answer given by the Minister, and I quote the Hon Minister. He states in a paragraph; “The team has recently presented their report and some proposals have been made. Plans are underway to appoint the required immediate staff for the facility as well as the management structure to run the hospital”. My question is on management for the Legon hospital phase one as completed, and I would like to find out from the Hon Minister, whether the problem is management? Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service versus the University of Ghana providing for its management. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
We are all definitely aware that a supplementary question cannot be used to introduce a matter not included in the original Question. Nevertheless, looking closely at the Question, it uses the rather ubiquitous word “operationalised”.
Mr Speaker, if I heard the Hon Minority Leader right, he asked whether it is the case that the
The Hon Minister would be pleased to come to the House to give a full briefing on operationalisation which includes personnel. Interested Hon Members may direct questions accordingly at the appropriate time. Thank you very much. Very well. Question 410. Volta Regional Hospital (Assumption of a Teaching Hospital Status) 410. Mr Alexander Roosevelt Hottordze asked the Minister for Health when the Volta Regional Hospital would assume the full status of a teaching hospital.
Mr Speaker, a consultant was commissioned to do an assessment of the conversion of the Volta Regional Hospital into a teaching hospital. Following the consultant's Report, a memorandum was submitted to Cabinet for approval. As soon as Cabinet approves, the conversion process shall commence.
Mr Speaker, as a former staff of the Ministry of Health, I am perfectly aware that some organisational audit and management audit had been done. The shortfalls were identified and training was provided. A human resource audit was also done and appropriate steps were taken to address the medical equipment audit. All those not available were to be procured. A physical development audit was also carried out and it was detected that there was the need for additional accommodation and office space.
Hon Majority Leader, do you rise on a point of order on the Question? Hon Member, please wait a minute. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we know how Questions are asked in this Chamber. People get up and start arguing their case before the Question is asked. A Question is supposed to conform to an order and Standing Order 67 (1) (b) should guide how Questions are asked in this House. One does not stand up and start arguing one's case before asking the Question. Mr Speaker, may I invite you to direct that Questions conform to Standing Order 67 (1) (b)? One should not argue one's case before asking a Question.
A Question cannot be phrased in the form of a statement. Hon Member, ask a Question.
Mr Speaker, some assessment was done in the past. So I would want to find out from the Hon Minister if it is the same assessment he is talking about?
Assessment was done in the past?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Specifically, what date or year?
That was what I read out, that those were done. Some audits were done.
And you want reference to that?
Mr Speaker, as to whether that is what he sent to Cabinet?
Hon Minister, are you clear? You may please answer the Question.
Mr Speaker, I did not inherit any assessment on the Volta Regional Hospital when I joined the Ministry. The government's vision was to ensure that there is a proper teaching hospital for the University of Health and Allied Sciences. Therefore we sent a consultant to do an assessment and through his methodology, he did not even tell us whether he had information on earlier assessments and whether that was what he used. So I cannot say whether that was part of the input of the Consultant's Report that I have. All I have is that, we would do some new things in there. The economic impact of this particular activity, that is the conversion, is a bit massive. Some accommodation, equipment and several other things. Mr Speaker, that is exactly what we would do when I said that we would soon commence the process for the conversion. We may have to find the budget to do some investments to upgrade the hospital to a Teaching Hospital. That is what we are doing.
Hon Member, any other supplementary question?
No, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much. Question numbered 412 in the name of the Hon Member for Bole/Bamboi? Construction of Bamboi Polyclinic 412. Mr Yusif Sulemana asked the Minister for Health when the construction of the Bamboi Polyclinic would be completed.
Mr Speaker, the construction of the Bamboi Polyclinic is part of the five district hospitals and one Polyclinic Clinic Turnkey Contract awarded by the Ministry of Health. The site has been handed over to the contractor; preliminary activities are underway towards the commencement of works. The total project is scheduled to be completed in 36 months from May, 2018. So the project is just about starting. We are on course.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister, how much is the total cost of the project? How much would it cost for the construction of the project?
Mr Speaker, I am afraid I cannot give the cost of the project offhand at the moment. I would contact my Colleague and pass on the cost to him
Mr Speaker, I would be interested, but the challenge had been that, when Hon Ministers tell us that they would feed us with information, subsequently --
Hon Member, in order to come and give full details of the cost, definitely, every person would need notice. Next question?
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister whether there is provision for other facilities and staffing, upon completion of the project?
Mr Speaker, the answer is yes. We cannot build a hospital and leave it. We would have to staff it, put in equipment and give them consumables. So, all these would be planned for. The actual cost of construction which is a turnkey project -- the equipment that would be in there is what we would do in the phase at which we would complete the facility. After that, we would put in staff to start operationalising that facility.
Hon Member, you may ask your last question.
Mr Speaker, I am done.
Are you satisfied? Thank you.
Mr Speaker, the Question the Hon Member for Bole/ Bamboi asked reads: “To ask the Minister for Health when the construction of the Bamboi Polyclinic would be completed.”
Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, my Hon Colleagues, the Hon Member for Lambussie-Karni and the Hon Member for Bia East, want to answer the question for me. So with your indulgence, could I ask them to answer that question? [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, just like I said, work is yet to commence and we shall soon commence the project. I specifically said that it would be completed in 36 months from May, 2018. We started doing clearance and there are some activities on site now. So in 36 months from now, we would see the Bamboi Hospital fully fledged and I would invite the Hon Member for the inauguration of that facility.
Hon Majority Leader, any indication regarding Question numbered 413?
Mr Speaker, Question listed as 413 stands in the name of Hon John Kwabena Bless Oti. Indeed, it relates to Nkwanta North District; the Answer given appears to be for Ketu North District. It looks like there is a mix-up. So I would plead that we stand the Question down and ask the Hon Minister to come and respond to it maybe, tomorrow or a day that would be convenient to the Hon Minister. I guess tomorrow would be all right for him. If the Hon Minister would agree that it should be answered tomorrow — otherwise, the alternative would be for the Hon Minister to have given the answer to the Hon Member ahead of time. But Hon Members would also have to ask follow up Questions. This is because once you admit a Question, it becomes a property of the House and all of us should follow the Question and Answer provided. So I would plead that the Hon Minister be given time, probably tomorrow, to come and respond to the appropriate Question listed as 413.
Hon Minister, you may well assist us by coming to the House tomorrow to deal with this matter.
Mr Speaker, I would make myself available to the call of the House.
The Table Office must take note and list this accordingly. Hon Minister, thank you very much for attending to the House and answering our Questions today. Hon Majority Leader, what about the business with the Hon Minister for Agriculture as per yesterday?
Mr Speaker, the agreement was that, we deal with the matter today. The matter was raised during Question and Answer period. So we could take it today. Mr Speaker, except I do not recollect whether indeed we asked the Hon Colleague to table the material that he submitted that day, when he made a strong assertion of the duplication by fraudulent means of a product that had been certified by Crop Research Institute. If he was not made to do that, then he should submit it to the Table Office ahead of the response by the relevant Minister.
Mr Speaker, the matter before us, in respect of your ruling was two folds and that was after Hon Kwabena Mintah Akandoh asked on the status of some chemical that was in the market which was not working to the benefit of cocoa farmers. Mr Speaker, your first directive was to the effect that, the Ministry of Agriculture should issue a public disclaimer on the matter. The Hon Minister in his Answer further assured us that there was an investigation into the matter and the Report would have been ready that night, going by his words. Mr Speaker, you further directed that the Report be made ready on 5th June. Today is 6th June; the Hon Minister for Agriculture must respond to the directive by the Rt Hon Speaker, on first of all, giving us the Report and what recommendations thereon. Then, the steps the Ministry or the Minister took, respecting the directive of Mr Speaker, in respect of the disclaimer. These are the matters we would want the Hon Minister for Agriculture to respond to.
Mr Speaker, first to the dates; the Ministry was ready and they acted timeously. Indeed, they came yesterday, but giving the cir- cumstances of yesterday, we said we should hold on until today. So they acted within the time that the Rt Hon Speaker directed that they should act within. Mr Speaker, secondly, the issue that I raised was that, I thought we should have taken possession of the product or the
I will invite the Hon Member to table the product so that we would know we are talking about the same thing.
The Hon Minister who has the compliance here may now respond.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague showed to this House what he considered as the original product, and the one that he thought was not — he had two products here — or he spoke about them without showing? I do not really recollect, but I thought that there were two products that he talked about. So, is this the counterfeit product that he has shown?
Mr Speaker, on the said day, I spoke about the two chemicals but I only showed one on the Floor of the House. This is the one I showed on the Floor of the House, which is the fake one — [Pause.]
Please bring this up for my formal inspection. Very well. We have seen the Doctor - Rockstar product.
Mr Speaker, you directed that the Hon Minister should be here. Unfortunately, before coming for the pre-Sitting meeting, I had a call from the Hon Minister that he had been summoned by the President, and I insisted to know or not whether he would have time to come and that the House should wait for him. He said if we would have to wait, he was not too sure when he would be able to come from the Presidency today. Then I said, because the Hon Deputy Minister was the one who responded, maybe the House, subject to the indulgence of my Hon Colleagues would listen to him.
We have been dealing with the Hon Deputy Minister on this matter. It is all right if we conclude with him, especially, now that he has the response. We would respectfully ask the Hon Deputy Minister to give us his response. Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we have no difficulty since the Hon Deputy Minister is one of our own. But the Hon Majority Leader says the President summoned the Hon Minister for Agriculture. The Rt Hon Speaker summoned the Hon Minister earlier, therefore we would want the Hon Ministers to demonstrate their utmost respect to your person, authority and this House. Mr Speaker, your directive was instructive. Indeed, I wish I could go into the records -- The Hon Minister must endeavour to appear personally, but we would accommodate the Hon Deputy Minister. The Hon Majority Leader should assure us that he has control and he is the liaison between Parliament and the Executive, led by the President. The Hon Majority Leader should be a good liaison and assure you that he would facilitate the appearance of Ministers upon the House and not Deputy Ministers. I thank you.
Mr Speaker, the operative words from the Hon Minority Leader, and rightly so, is that, the Ministers “must endeavour”. I spoke to that, that the Hon Minister endeavoured -- [Laughter] -- to come to this House until he was summoned by the President and he relayed same to me. Mr Speaker, the President appoints the Minister. So without doubt, the first responsibility of the Minister is to the President. That does not, in any way take anything away from his responsibility to this House. We all agree. But caught in this crosscurrent, it becomes difficult for the Hon Minister who quickly calls to inform me about his own predicament, whereupon the Hon Deputy Minister was then called upon to come and continue from where he left off. That in my view is being fair to this House. Mr Speaker, I agree with the Hon Minority Leader. The Hon Minister indeed, must always endeavour, which he is doing. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
Mr Speaker, I can understand a good endeavour of the Hon Minister for Agriculture.
Mr Speaker, this is Parliament and it is the House of records; it is not the House of spins. Let the Hon Minority Leader not put any spin on what I have said.
I thank you very much on that beautiful debate on “endeavours”. [Laughter.] Hon Members, on that note, we shall proceed. Hon Deputy Minister for Agriculture, you would go ahead and endeavour -- [Laughter] -- to present us what you have. Report on the Hon Speaker's Directive on Rockstar Pesticide Deputy Minister for Agriculture (Mr Kennedy Nyarko Osei) (on behalf of the
Mr Speaker, at the Ministry's earlier appearance in the House to respond to an Urgent Question in relation to the sale of unregistered Rockstar insecticide on the Ghanaian Market, you directed the Ministry to issue a disclaimer on the certification of the product in accordance with the response provided.
Hon Deputy Minister, you may formally lay what you have just read.
Mr Speaker, I have already tendered --
I know that you have sent copy of the correspondence to Parliament, but I would want you to formerly lay it as you have come to speak to it.
Alright, Mr Speaker, I take a cue -- [Laughter.]
Hon Members, we have to thank the Hon Minister for complying with our directive. We, as the watchdogs of the people really had to ask questions about this matter of great concern to which cocoa -- and we are glad to hear the assurance that the Ministry of Agriculture would continue to intensify monitoring of the market and that they would also alert farmers about the dangers of using unapproved products. They would encourage them to report any case to the appropriate authorities. This is an appropriate moment for the Media, as part of the fourth estate of the realm, to assist us all so that, what Parliament has done would be made very clear to our people, and strange chemicals would not find their way into the cocoa industry. Hon Members, item listed 5 -- Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Annual Report on the Management of the Energy Sector Levies and Accounts for the Year 2017. Mr Speaker, in doing so I would present the Committee's Report. Introduction The Annual Report on the Management of the Energy Sector Levies and Accounts for the year 2017 was laid in the House on 23rd March, 2011, by the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng, on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance. The Report was subsequently referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with article 103 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the House. The Committee met and considered the Report with the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon Charles Adu-Boahene, the Chief Director and other officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). Also present were officials from the Ministry of Energy, Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), ESLA Plc, Road Fund, Energy Commission, National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company (BOST), Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) and the Controller and Accountant General's Department. The Committee is grateful to the Hon Deputy Minister, the Chief Director and the other officials from the Ministry of Finance and GRA, officials from the Ministry of Energy and the other allied Institutions for attending upon the Committee.
Thank you very much, Hon Chairman. Ranking Member of the Committee (Mr Cassiel Ato B. Forson): Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. In doing so, my source document would be the Annual Report of the Management of the Energy Sector Levies and Accounts for the year 2017, which was submitted to Parliament by the Hon Minister for Finance. I would refer to page 23 of the Report that was laid before Parliament, where we would notice that in the year 2017, the programme was GH¢ 3.5 billion. The actual collections for the year under reference is GH¢ 3.1 billion. Mr Speaker, you would agree with me that, this amount is far in excess of the entire oil revenue that accrued to the State for the year 2017. Mr Speaker, indeed, it is twice the oil revenue and for that reason, I would plead with you to indulge us some time for us to scrutinise this document pretty well, because it is something of an urgent nature and we would have to look at it. Again, the actual collection is GH¢3.1billion. Out of the actual collection, the lodgment to the account amounts to GH¢2.6 billion. The source document is the Controller and Accountant-General's Department (CAGD) and the Ministry of Finance. Mr Speaker, you would notice that, on page 24, paragraph 41 of the Report that was laid before Parliament, the Hon Minister for Finance tried to explain the amount of GH¢306.44 million out of the total of GH¢533.34 million. We still do not have any explanations for the remainder of the GH¢233million in the Report. I have read the Report about five to six times and there is no explanation. At the Committee level, we asked that question. Till date, we do not have any reasonable answer to the collection of the money and its non-lodgment. Mr Speaker, let me take you to paragraph 41, it says that, an amount of GH¢157.23million of Road Fund money was actually capped. In the year 2017 also, the Budget Statement that was presented to this Honourable House capped the Road Fund budget by another GH¢526million. No wonder that our road contractors are complaining of non- payment and our road situation is in a bad state. Mr Speaker, again, you would notice that it is said here that, failure of the EDCs to lodge to PLL collections in line with the law -- It went on to say that the amount retained is higher than what was agreed with the Ministry of Energy. Mr Speaker, I do not know whether the Ministry of Energy has the power to collect money and retain in excess of what Parliament has approved. They are acting with impunity, and this should not be allowed. That the Ministry of Energy would collect levies that are Government's revenue and they are supposed to go to certain areas of the economy but they decided to keep it for their operations. This cannot be allowed to stay.
-- rose --
As for the Hansard, it will capture it then it will also capture - - [Pause] Hon Afenyo-Markin, I do not think you are interested in the sequel to your point of correction. Let both be captured, posterity will tell --
Mr Speaker, the unpaid amount that they left is GH¢1.2 billion and I beg to read: “The Committee observed --
Hon Afenyo-Markin, you are done. Next time, make your consultations with others before you speak.
Mr Speaker, for emphasis, an amount of GH¢157 million was capped for the year 2017. I also made a reference that for the year 2017, the Budget Statement that we approved for the year 2018 capped the Road Fund by GH¢526 million. My point is that, for these two years, the Road Fund alone has suffered capping of GH¢683 million. This means that we are transferring capital expenditure to consumption and that is what happened. For that reason, the Road Fund is suffering, contractors are suffering from non-payment, our roads are in a bad state. That was what I tried to say -- [Interruption.] I would continue making my point. Mr Speaker, let me now take you to page 28 of the Report -- Price Stabilisation and Recovery Account. You would notice from paragraph 56 which says that: “Additionally, an amount of 121.89 million was drawn from the stabilisation and Recovery into the Power Generation Infrastructure support sub-account (PGISsA) to meet payment to VRAs trade creditors. The amount is to be refunded when proceeds accrue into the PGISsA.” This is a complete breach of Act 899. This should not be allowed. This amounts to misapplication of funds. Let me take you to the Energy Levies Act, 2015, Act 899 section 5 says and I beg to quote: 1)”The Minister shall cause to be opened and maintained an account to be known as the Price Stabilisation and Recovery Account for the purpose of receiving moneys realised from the Price Stabilisation and Recovery Levy. 2) Moneys in the Price Stabilisation and Recovery Account shall be used; a) as a buffer for under recoveries in the petroleum sector; b)to stabilise petroleum prices for consumers; and c) to subsidise premix and residual fuel oil.” Mr Speaker, the sub-section (a) is more or less not active because of the price liberalisation regime. The import here is that we will use the Price Stabilisation and Recovery Account and the money that accrues to it for the purposes of stabilising petroleum prices. The Ministry of Finance, instead of using the money to stabilise petroleum prices, they are using the money to pay for trade creditors for VRA. This should not be allowed -- it is in the Report. I said this clearly because, a litre of petrol today, is more than US$1 dollar, and a litre of diesel is about US$1.10. This is too much. We are supposed to use the receivables that accrue to the Price Stabilisation and Recovery Account for the purposes of stabilising petroleum prices for consumers and not to pay VRA or trade creditors. Mr Speaker, someone is misapplying State revenue and he or she should be called to order. I ask that the Hon Minister for Finance gives us answers today as to why they decided to misapply moneys that are supposed to stabilise petroleum prices. Lorry fares are going up -- they have gone up by 10 per cent. Mr Speaker, it may affect inflation and prices of goods and services and that is why we are raising these questions. Mr Speaker, let me now take you to page 25 --
Hon Member, when you speak about misapplication of public funds, then you are entering a rather difficult waters. So, if you intend to really walk that path, then you have to support it. You are talking about misapplication of our moneys.
Mr Speaker, yes.
Could you support that? If you could, then please do.
Mr Speaker, I made reference to two documents --
Hon Member, you know our rules about ill-motive and so on. Therefore, if you want to talk about misapplication of public funds, moneys that belong to all of us, then please establish it properly otherwise, move away from that path.
Mr Speaker, let me make reference to page 28 of the document that was submitted by the Hon Minister for Finance, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta, to Parliament. Mr Speaker, I beg to read paragraph 56 of page 28 of the document titled “The Annual Report on the Management of the Energy Sector Levies and Accounts for the Year 2017.”
“As at the end of December 2017, an amount of GH¢21.73 million had been utilised. The amount was used for the payment of outstanding premix and residual fuel oil
Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, the foundation he laid clearly stated that those Funds were to be used to stabilise petroleum prices. Mr Speaker, the deregulated regime that we operate now does not make provision for same. Mr Speaker, the same report said that, those Funds are to be refunded and he knows that, money is fungible so if the Report is admitting that those Funds would be refunded, then how could he term this as misapplication of funds? Mr Speaker, to the extent that there was no need for stabilisation of petroleum prices, would he then want the moneys to be sitting down? Mr Speaker, respectfully, this is not misapplication of funds.
Hon Deputy Minister, in applying funds, is it a practice that moneys could be moved from one item to another in case of need and worked on accordingly? Would that be any offensive act? Hon Deputy Minister, we want to understand because some of these things are very important for posterity.
Mr Speaker, indeed, this is not just normal, but in many cases, it is very necessary. It is the concept behind the Single Treasury Account -- that there is no point that government would be sitting in one place and it would go and borrow as was done when government borrowed Eurobond and put it in a private bank and borrowed from those banks -- [Interruption.] Yes, the law says that it must be used for the purposes indicated in the law. Mr Speaker, what the law says must be worked together with government's policy on the Single Treasury Account, and I am saying that, it is in the public's interest that government's moneys, which are sitting at one place, ought to be used, instead of borrowing and then pay interest when the government's own money sits somewhere. Mr Speaker, so when the Report said that it would be refunded to the account, what it means is that, for the purposes of using the funds as stated in the law, the money must come back when necessary to do that. Mr Speaker, this is a normal practice and I believe that we should commend the Government for this.
Hon Members, to the best of our knowledge in public affairs, moneys may be redirected to one source or the other without the implication of misapplication. Hon Member, you may go on, but I am telling you that that is the truth of the matter. When an account is moved either by a school's bursar or the Hon Minister for Finance from one category to the other, in order to maximise its use in the interest of the institution or the nation, you cannot describe that as misapplication in law. This is a serious statement. Hon Member, you may go on, but withdraw that and proceed.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for your guidance. Mr Speaker, in accounting and finance, the failure to apply moneys that are supposed to go from one particular sector to another sector is misapplication, and that was why I made that reference. Mr Speaker, again, the Hon Deputy Minister made the point that to some extent, it is necessary and it is in line with the Treasury Single Account, but I beg to completely differ. Mr Speaker, this has nothing to do with the Treasury Single Account because this does not mean that they should take somebody's money and give it to another sector. Mr Speaker, again, I beg to refer you to page 25 paragraph 45 of the Committee's Report: “An amount of GH¢189.39 million was transferred to BOST from the Price Stabilisation and Recovery Account for the procurement of strategic oil stocks in 2016.” Mr Speaker, it goes on to say that “As at the end of December 2017, BOST had refunded GH¢120 million of the said amount, leaving an outstanding balance of GH¢69.39 million.” Mr Speaker, in 2016, the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) Administration established the Price Stabilisation and Recovery Account and the same Administration decided to introduce the strategic stocks. Mr Speaker, the rationale was for us to buy petroleum products when the prices fall, keep them and eventually sell them when the prices go up.
In the year 2016, petroleum products were bought and kept for future sale. These products were sold in 2017, and they were supposed to revolve it and buy additional strategic stock but they have refunded GH¢120 million in 2017. Mr Speaker, after sale, there is an outstanding of GH¢69.39 million. My question is, where is that money? Mr Speaker, they are supposed to account for that. The Bulk Oil Strategic Company (BOST) of the country has a responsibility to make sure that, this money is refunded to the Government of Ghana (GoG) because it is not their money. It is for the Treasury and the Treasury would have to use it for the purposes of stabilising petroleum prices. That is what is supposed to be. Mr Speaker, the government has a responsibility to stabilise petroleum prices to ensure that, prices of goods and services become stable, and again to reduce the prices of petroleum products. Question proposed.
Mr Speaker, I was on my feet --
There are times when you would just have to let a person land so that we get the sequence clear. Please, go on.
Mr Speaker, a while ago, the Hon Ranking Member educated us on accounting and finance and he suggested that, these Funds cannot be moved. I quote paragraph 45 here. It says: “An amount of GH¢189 million was transferred to BOST from the PSRA for the procurement of strategic oil stocks in 2016.”
Hon Members, order! The Hon Ranking Member would, of course, be given an opportunity to respond. I am very particular about this when it comes to facts and data. So let him give us what he has, and the Hon Ranking Member would give his.
Mr Speaker, the interesting bit here is that, these funds were also to be refunded, and his complaint is how come the funds have not been refunded. That is all right, but what needs to be established here is that the funds are fungible and could be moved from one account to another, to the extent that they be refunded to the -- [Interruption.] This is not misapplication.
Hon Members, let us not reduce a good discourse to an undesirable level. In fact, I have already indicated in advance that the Hon Ranking Member would respond to his Hon Chairman, but as for data, statistics and such matters, I would continue to allow those who are supposed to be in full knowledge of these matters to go on and speak. Please, let us listen. Hon Chairman, conclude and let your Hon Ranking Member also speak.
Mr Speaker, I have concluded. [Laughter.]
Hon Members, please, let us take these matters seriously. Hon Ranking Member, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to clarify this concern. I will make reference to two points.
Please, save us the commentaries.
Mr Speaker, he was admitting to what I am explaining that, in the amount concern, there is an irregular payment from the PSRA. The Committee Report quoted section 5 (2). This is exactly what I am trying to read and explain. These are not my documents. These are the Committee's documents and that of the Ministry of Finance. Mr Speaker, on the other matter relating to BOST, the purpose of the Strategic Stocks is to maintain and bring prices
Order! The Hon Ranking Member would land.
Mr Speaker, this was a policy introduced by the then National Democratic Congress (NDC) Adminis- tration in the year 2016. The policy was introduced during the 2016 Budget. It was debated at length and approved by this Honourable House. Mr Speaker, the intention was for us to make sure that when prices of petroleum products falls at that time, we should have Strategic Stocks. That is why we used the expression “strategic stocks”. Then they were to be sold to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) for the purposes of bringing the petroleum prices down to benefit consumers. Mr Speaker, this is in line with section 5 --
Excuse me. The next Member to contribute from my right is Hon Oppong-Nkrumah. If you have any points to share, give it to him so that we shall have order. Hon Ranking Member, please, continue.
Mr Speaker, so Strategic Stock Initiative is in line with section 5 of Act 899, and nobody can convince me today that indeed, the transfer for the purposes of operating a Strategic Stock regime amounts to misapplication. That is not misapplication; it is in line with the law and we should be able to benefit from that.
All right. You have exhausted that point. Hon Oppong-Nkrumah?
Mr Speaker, Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this Report.
While he is on his feet, the Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair. Please go on.
[MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR.]
Mr Speaker, in contributing, I would like to focus my attention on the subject of legacy debt in the Energy Sector and how ESLA proceeds have been used to deal with this. Mr Speaker, one of the big questions we should ask ourselves this afternoon in our conversation is how we got here, in the first place. I see the enthusiasm and the excitement with which the former Deputy Minister for Finance and now the Hon Ranking Member on the Finance Committee nitpicking about under collections and underpayments here and there. However, Mr Speaker, in reality, when it comes to the subject of legacy and how, particularly, the ESLA Bond proceeds have been used to deal with them, it is because we run a system where we agreed on high power purchase agreements. Low tariffs ending is leaving us with a legacy debt that is encumbering the banks and the energy companies simpliciter. That is why among other things we had to introduce the ESLA plc and the ESLA bond to begin to clean up that legacy debt. Mr Speaker, what has actually happened is that, my Friends on the other Side of the House have contributed to the creation of a problem. They prophesied that the solution would not work, and now that the actual results are here showing that we are beginning to clean up the legacy debt, they are nit- picking on some numbers that there have been undercollections and under- payments. Mr Speaker, I would like to specifically deal with some untruths that have been peddled ever since the ESLA plc Bond was issued. The first Press conference was addressed by my Hon Friend who spoke with a lot of enthusiasm this afternoon. They created the impression that, the issuance had been a failure. I would have expected that, today, they would continue with that argument that it had been a failure therefore, there is not much to discuss here, but they have admitted from that. Now, they have made that it was, indeed, a success and they are proceeding to nit-pick that, the Funds have been misapplied, to quote him. Mr Speaker, they argued at that time that the issuance had failed to yield the amount of money that we had gone to the market for, and with your permission, if I may read a bit of their Press statement as issued at the time. They say in that statement that the issuance by government after an extensive road show had led to a failure, what they called a bomb. Quoting specifically, they said; “the Government of Ghana announce the issuance of an Energy Sector Bond with the hope of raising GH¢ 6 billion and a possibility of an additional GH¢ 4 billion making a total of GH¢ 10 billion. To start with, the Government was expecting to raise about GH¢ 2.4 billion from the issuance of a seven year bond, and about GH¢3.6 billion from the issuance of a 10 year bond for a total of GH¢ 6 billion. Ladies and gentlemen of the media, let us be very clear what has happened. The failure of this bond (bomb) is attributable to the clear lack of confidence of investors in the economy and its managers”. I would have expected that today, they would have proceeded with the same argument, that indeed, this has not been successful, therefore there is nothing to go into, but as I mentioned, they have moved from it, and they are now beginning to nit-pick on some numbers that there have been under collections and underpayments. Mr Speaker, the fact remains that this --
On a Point of Order. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague is referring to a Press conference held by -- he did not tell us the reference document. The document that he is reading from is not before this House. He has not mentioned where the Press conference was held. He did not even tell who organised that conference. Can he make a copy of that document that he is referring to available to us, so that we can follow him? He is just reading from a document which is not known by this House.
Hon Member, you obviously were not paying attention. He said the Minority Press conference read by the immediate past Speaker of Parliament. Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful. I would not be distracted by any interference by my good Friends on the other Side of the House. Mr Speaker, it is important therefore to state as we discuss this Report, that, the ESLA PLC Bond issuance and its efforts at reducing the legacy debts has been a success. That is number one. Mr Speaker, number two, there is a question about what Funds have been utilised, and I noticed my good Friend Hon Ato Forson again nit-picked that, some underlodgments here, some lack of collections here, with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. Mr Speaker, paragraph 4.8 of your Committee's Report, which I beg to quote. That is the big picture we must focus on. What were we seeking to do and what have we done? The Report says; “The Committee was informed that the utilisation of ESLA proceeds together with the issuance of the
Hon Isaac Adongo?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in contributing to this debate, I am very excited that today we are not debating whether ESLA is a nuisance tax that must be scrapped, but we are extolling the values, virtues and efficacy of ESLA. That is a testament to the vision and ability of the NDC Government to find solutions in the most critical situations of our time. Mr Speaker --
Hon Member, hold your fire. Hon Deputy Minister?
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, ESLA is not a tax, to say that today we say ESLA is not a nuisance tax represents a misunderstanding of what ESLA is. ESLA is Energy Sector Levies Act. It is a law -- [Interruption.] It is a law in which you would find many tax lines, therefore, let my Hon Colleague correct himself, and he should never say that ESLA is a tax, an error they have committed for some time now. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, we are in very interesting times. The people out there are listening to our Hon Deputy Minister for Finance say that a levy is not a tax -- [Laughter.] They would judge for themselves. A whole Finance Minister says that a levy is not a tax? That is alright, they would find out for themselves. Mr Speaker, the one who brought the solution is not being praised. The one who inherited the solution says that we should praise him. I make reference to point 3.0 of your Committee's Report, and it says with your kind permission; “To address these challenges, Government passed the Energy Sector Levies Act (ESLA) in December 2015…” That Act which has given birth to the Bond was passed in 2015. At that time, it was a nuisance, and again, its full implementation began in 2016. I do not know whether in 2016 the NPP was in Government, but that was when the thinking, the hard work and convincing Ghanaians to pay a little to solve the problems in the energy sector began. Today, we are being told that those who have now inherited it are the smart users of ESLA. We would give it to them. Next time they can mess up the sector, we would come, we would take the difficult decisions and they would inherit it and they would get praised. We would be happy with that. Mr Speaker, I have listened to my Hon Colleague make very important allusions to the Energy Sector Bond. Mr Speaker, before the Energy Sector Bond, the NDC Government had engaged in restructuring of the legacy debts. That restructuring led to fundamental savings for our country. The first achievement we made under that negotiation was that, we were able to reduce the dollar denominated transactions which were in the books of
Hon Member, are we discussing ESLA or this Report?
How ESLA started, how we want to --
Let us return to the Report please.
He mentioned 40 per cent and I wanted to show him where it came from. At the end of the day, ESLA loans became operational and had been restructured and moved away from becoming non-performing loans. Yet we were told that this ESLA Bond was to solve the non-performing loans in our banking sector. Mr Speaker, we were told by BoG that as a result of the introduction of ESLA, the non-performing loans of our banking sector all the way back in October 2016 stood at about 19 per cent. By November, it came down to 18 per cent and by December, it came down to 17 per cent. This was on account of the onslaught of the implementation of ESLA. So the reduction started from us. Now, where is the nonperforming loan situation? It is now 23 per cent. So, we should ask questions on what is happening to new accumulation of public debt in the area of the energy sector. Mr Speaker, when we say that the Energy Sector Bond was a bomb, we knew why we said so. You would go to a market to raise GH¢4.7 billion, decide to give guarantees of GH¢1.5 billion, when GH¢600 million of that money was a cash cap commitment. Which meant that if the bond failed to deliver, the people of Ghana would pay GH¢600 million.
Yes, Hon Member for Effutu?
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague on his feet argues that when ESLA was introduced they were able to negotiate better rates among others. I do not think that my Hon Colleague disagrees with paragraph 4.19 on page 14 of the Committee's Report which, with your leave reads: “The Committee observed that in the year 2016, the Road Fund contracted a loan of GH¢1.2 billion from UBA Bank at an interest rate of 31.9 per cent.” Mr Speaker, this has been renegotiated at a reduced rate of 22 per cent.
Hon Member, how does that relate to the ESLA you started with?
Mr Speaker, it is part of the ESLA. [Interruption.] I agree that my Hon Brother should do a critique. However, when he mischievously ignores the Report, as he was part of --
Hon Member, withdraw the word “mischief”.
Mr Speaker, I withdraw and replace it with; where my Hon Colleague deliberately decided to mislead this House and Ghanaians, to the extent that Ghanaians would believe that they did something better. Today, this Government has been able to reduce that rate to 22 per cent. He should stop misleading Ghanaians.
Your point is well made. Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, I think that this is an unnecessary distraction. We were talking about the Legacy Debt, yet he spoke about the Road Fund. The Road Fund became a beneficiary of the solution to the Legacy Debt. So at the time we were restructuring the debt, there was no Road Fund as part of the debt. We are dealing with the Legacy Debt and this is not something I should worry about. Mr Speaker, concerning the failure of the Bond, when you have a Bond where you give a guarantee of GH¢600 million from the sponsor of the Bond in your prospectus indicating that in case we fail to raise the money, Fidelity Bank should pay up to GH¢600 million and within 90 days we must find that money by hook or by crook to pay it off. You would then agree and take another standby letter of credit from a development financial institution which would say that when that GH¢600 million is not enough you would still go and borrow another GH¢900 million and find the money by hook or by crook to pay. You have already provided the security for GH¢1.5 billion and would go on the market and raise GH¢1.2 billion in cash. After you have secured this loan by almost GH¢1.5 billion in cash, you would go and get GH¢1.2 billion. If this is not a failure, they should tell me what that is. Yet, they were looking for GH¢4.7 billion. For the other GH¢3.5 billion, all that was simply done was that, the restructured loans that we had -- If we were interested in this bond, we would just change the name of the loan from whatever loan with ECG and call it a seven-year or ten-year Bond. Should we pay money for that? Yet, we still paid money just to exchange papers of loans. At the end of the day, we raised only GH¢1.2 billion. That was a bomb and when we say that it was a bomb, it is the reason we indicated that the bond was a failure. Mr Speaker, the most important thing that we need to understand is that, even the energy sector bonds that we issued, we only spent GH¢410 million out of the moneys raised. Out of the GH¢1.2 billion, we only spent GH¢410 million to pay creditors. We should ask them where the remaining GH¢800 million cash is. GH¢800 million of the Energy Sector Bond proceeds did not get to the creditors but were kept by ESLA plc. Meanwhile in our prospectus, we agreed that only a maximum of GH¢350 million of the proceeds could be used to build a debt service recovery account. Yet we put GH¢800 million there.
Hon Deputy Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, I do observe that there are students in the Gallery, therefore for the records it is important to state again that the Energy Sector Levies Act of 2015 (Act 899) is neither a tax nor a levy. It is important that this goes down in the records. Mr Speaker, it is also important to state, especially, for the benefit of my Hon Colleagues, including Hon Isaac Adongo, that the Energy Sector Levies Act brought together consolidated taxes that existed before. Some of the taxes were — Mr Kpodo — rose --
Yes, Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, I perfectly agree with my Hon Colleagues that, there are students around and they are listening to us. The word “levy” — [Interruptions] — The word “levy” used as a verb means, “impose a tax, fee or fine” —
Hon Member, what is your objection?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister is emphasising the point that a levy is not a tax — [Laughter.]
Hon Member, the point is, ESLA refers to Energy Sector Levies Act. The point he is making is that, when we say ESLA, we are not referring to any tax but to the law. So let there be no argument —
Mr Speaker, you have put it right. I urge my Hon Colleagues to just learn from this and not to commit this mistake again. To even buttress a related point. I go back to the Act itself, the Energy Sector Levies Act of 2015 (ACT 899), with your kind permission, I read the Long Title: “An Act to consolidate existing Energy Sector Levies to promote prudent and efficient utilisation of the proceeds generated from the levies, impose a price stabilisation and recoveries levy, facilitate sustainable long term investments in the Energy Sector and to provide for related matters”. Mr Speaker, do we have to read this law and at the same time, argue that the Energy Sector Levies were the creation of the former President, John Mahama? Is this an argument we want to make in this House? I believe the Energy Sector Levies Act is an Act for this country. It consolidated taxes, some of which had been imposed as far as 2003, therefore let nobody —
Mr Speaker, for the records, the Hon Colleague is trying to create the impression that the Energy Sector Levies only consolidated existing levies.
Hon Member, we have gone past that. He only read the Long Title — You have two more contributions and you can respond. Hon Deputy Minister please proceed.
Mr Speaker, we move on from that point which I believe has been clearly made and to touch on a point that has been articulated; and it is about what the ESLA PLC was set up to do, and to see whether we are on course. That for me, is the central point of the discussion today. We face Energy Sector indebtedness that resulted in prolonged periods of power outages called, dumsor until this Administration took steps to ensure that
Hon Member, are you saying that the fact he made is not reflected in the Report?
Mr Speaker, I said that, the point he made was a misleading point because —
Yes, so show me how misleading it is.
Mr Speaker, this is because, the only thing that the Energy Sector Levy brought in was GH¢1.2 billion and out of that, only GH¢400 million was used to settle creditors. The rest were just changing the names of who we owe, and that cannot be a payment of the debt other than what was already existing with interest. So what have they paid extra that was not being paid already?
Hon Member please continue.
Mr Speaker, what my Hon Colleague misses is that, whatever we call paper arrangements, even though I disagree with him — What it has done is to create space within the Energy Sector, and to make it possible to address dumsor head-on. If it was just paper work and the previous Administration could not do, then it tells us the kind of administration we had. Mr Speaker, it is encouraging that for now there is consensus that ESLA PLC has been helpful. I am happy that today, the debate has shifted to issues such as Road Fund Capping, and we say Road Fund Capping as though the Road Fund was capped and the money was used to do something untoward. So we have heard expressions such as “a misapplication of the fund”. Mr Speaker, the Road Fund Capping was done in accordance with law. It was put into the main Consolidated Fund. It was used to finance expenditures including road expenditures. So it is even difficult to understand what our Hon Colleagues mean when they say -- by capping it in accordance with law, and it was not just the Road Fund, but several other Funds were capped, putting it in the Consolidated Fund and being able to use it to deal with critical expenditures, including road expen- ditures, we could call this a misapplication of the Fund. Mr Speaker, again, with your permission, I would like to put on records that BOST has a responsibility to manage strategic stocks. But there is a line in the petroleum price build up called BOST margin for the purpose. The GH¢189 million that my good friend, Hon Ato Forson admits it was paid to BOST was not like what we are having now, where the amount is never refunded. Only a portion was refunded under the 2016 Budget Statement; this is what we were told when they approved that policy that, there was no refund. As we speak, GH¢60 million of that transfer is yet to be refunded into the ESLA Account. Therefore Mr Speaker, the suggestion that what is in accordance with the law and proper, and what is improper is the transient use of that money for other purposes in accordance with the spirit of the Single Treasury Account, that is what is a misapplication of the law. Again it is plainly misleading and unfortunate. Mr Speaker, I would like to conclude on all the comments we have made. The summary of it is what, in spite of the Escrow account that had been referred to for the purposes of dealing with the indebtedness of the energy sector, our energy sector indebtedness rose to GH¢ 9.39 billion, the highest level of indebtedness in the history of this country on the energy sector. As a result of the interventions that we are able to discuss today, that level of indebtedness has reduced to under GH¢ 5 billion. [Hear! Hear!] -- We are grateful for this and we should continue with this intervention. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
I thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
we have described ourselves as an oil producing country and for two years the Energy Sector levies is double of all the receipts from our Petroleum and all the other resources. It tells us that the President and his Hon Ministers who pioneered this Energy Sector Levy had a vision and courage and did what was proper. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, we would make this point clear because they kicked against it and the record is there. They cannot make a U-turn today and pretend they did not kick against it. The people of Ghana are watching. If it is not a new levy, how come it increased prices; how come you indicated that these very taxes increased electricity tariffs and that when you came you would scrap them?
It is important that we remain consistent and as politicians, people must have faith and trust in us. When we say it is “A”, it should be “A” both in opposition and in government. We do not say “A” and when we come to government we turn around and say “A” has suddenly turned into “Z”. That cannot be the kind of politics we would want to encourage in this country. Mr Speaker, I have read the Report. I have the parent documents because, we met ECG, GRIDCo, VRA and BOG and all the other institutions. So this Report is a subset of all the documents they submitted before your very good Hon self. Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Energy early on indicated that they expected GH¢ 3.7 billion and it was revised to GH¢ 3.4 billion. Eventually they got an amount of GH¢ 3.1 billion. But missing in the Report itself and the parent document are the volumes -- It is important that next time they come to us, they should tell us the volumes because we have GH¢ 4.4 million metric tonnes but they did not give us volumes. If they give us volumes, we could do the analysis. Based on the conservative numbers, we estimated that an amount of GH¢333 million has not been accounted for as part of this levy. It is important that we settle this matter. Mr Speaker, it is also important to take into account the disbursements. The Ministry created the Energy Debt Recovery Levy Account under Act 899 just like we have the Holding Account under Act 815. When the moneys come in, they are distributed to the various accounts. As we indicated, if we take the parent document itself and look at page 18 as well as page 23, it tells us the total amount that were collected from January to December. An amount collected was GH¢ 3.151 billion and GH¢ 2.618 billion was paid into the various accounts. It means that the Ministry of Finance collected these moneys and paid and left an amount of GH¢ 533 million with them. That is where we talk about the misapplication of funds. If one collects GH¢ 3 billion and does not transfer those moneys into the various accounts, in my opinion, it creates a major problem for us. Mr Speaker, worst of them has to do with the law itself. I refer to article 174 of the 1992 Constitution which explicitly states that is only Parliament under your authority that, one, we could impose levies; two, we could vary those levies; and, three, we could even waive those levies. In the Report signed by the Hon Chairman of the Committee himself, he acknowledges that the Hon Minister for Energy instructed the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to vary the Price Stabilisation Levy. I would want to serve a notice to the Hon Minister that, he has no authority whatsoever to vary and impose levies or to do anything about levies unless he comes under the authority of Parliament for same. So if he would want to reduce levies, they should come to Parliament and do so, failure for which we shall summon him and let him realise that what he is doing is illegal. Mr Speaker, I believe that, our Hon Ministers must take this seriously because we cannot just do things with impunity when Parliament exists. This House is an august one and we cannot do things without making references. Mr Speaker, we have said that the amount has reduced. As of 2016, we had GH¢ 9.3 billion. If I owe you GH¢ 9.3 billion and I go to the Minority Leader to borrow GH¢ 2 billion to pay you, that does not amount to a reduction of the debt. So, the fact that they have gone to borrow GH¢ 4.7 billion to do a swap, they cannot come and sit here and tell us that they have reduced the debt to GH¢ 5 billion.
Hon Member, does the debt include the interest you pay on it?
Mr Speaker, certainly!
If it does, and I borrow at a lower interest, does it not reduce the debt?
No Mr Speaker, it does not and I would quickly deal with that. The debt as consolidated is GH¢ 9.3 billion. Every year we pay interest on the GH¢ 9.3 billion. So, if I borrow GH¢ 4 billion and on the GH¢ 9.3 billion, I was paying 20 per cent but with the new GH¢ 4 billion, I am paying 10 per cent, it means that on a year to year, the coupon rate or interest is lower. But the principal remains the same amount. It has not changed.
But when you count your debts, do you not add your interests?
No, Mr Speaker. [Uproar.]
Very well, that is your view; continue.
Mr Speaker, when I profile my debt, I add accumulated interests which then determines the debt as of the date. So, if I were to do a balance sheet, I would say that; as of this date, this was the debt. Going forward, figures changed. So if we owe GH¢ 9.3 billion and we would want to borrow somewhere to pay we would pay the amount we borrowed. Of course, interest might reduce going forward but for the principal amount, the Hon Chairman of the Committee would agree with me that it does not reduce just because we have re-profiled. So, I thought that we should establish that. Mr Speaker, the other issue I would want to deal with has to do with what the Levy has done so far. The essence of establishing the Energy Sector Levy was to ensure that we have stable power and fuel supply. The Price Stabilisation and Recovery Levy was not put there out of the blue. We knew that there would be price fluctuations. So during our time, in the year 2016, we worked with BOST; when the prices were low, the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Co. Ltd. BOST procured huge quantities and stored them. It served two purposes; it served as strategic stock. When prices rose, BOST reduced and injected some of its products into the system to stabilise it. That was why in the year 2016, we did not see the level of increments we see today. Today, I can say on authority that BOST has no strategic reserves in their tanks.
Hon Member for Adansi Asokwa? [Interruption.] Hon Armah-Kofi Buah, you accuse me needlessly. You were on your feet with Hon Ato Forson, the Hon Ranking Member. I recognised the Hon Ranking Member. When the debate started you were not even in the Chamber, but you wanted to intervene. When the Hon Ranking Member was recognised, you accused me of not recognising you. That is not fair to me.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Yapei Kusawgu accuses this Government of ensuring that BOST has no strategic reserve. In the years 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, when on numerous and countless occasions I mounted the national platform and told the people of Ghana that under the NDC Government there was not a tablespoon full of strategic reserve in this country, they denied it.
Hon Member, did he say something that was not true? He said that there is no strategic reserve; is that true or not?
Mr Speaker, it is not the case that it is true or not. I have given the years under that government from 2014, 2015 and 2016; there was not a drop of strategic reserve in the country. I do not understand why they now accuse this government of having strategic reserves. They said that, there was a national policy that, there were no longer national reserves. They implemented that policy.
Hon Hammond, if I understood you, it is true; but it is a fact predating the year 2017/ 2018. Your point is well made. Hon Member, please continue.
Mr Speaker, facts are facts. If we did not have strategic reserves in the year 2016, how come they sold contaminated fuel in the year 2017? [Laughter.] They contaminated the fuel and sold it to an unregistered company at knocked-down prices. If we did not have strategic stock, how come the two million barrels from the Tweneboa Enyenra Ntomme (TEN) Fields, which we brought in the year 2016 --
Hon Member, can you proceed with the Report?
Mr Speaker, I would proceed. If we did not have strategic stock --
Hon Member, does the Report talk about strategic stock? [Laughter.] You introduced it and he challenged it. I have corrected the facts. Please, return to the Report.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue from you, and I would follow exactly the path you have charted for me. Mr Speaker, this is a serious indictment on all of us. I put it on record that this Report does not tell us that the legacy debt -- please, they should not confuse the legacy debt with ESLA Plc. The legacy debt has to do with the debt that we, as a country, have accumulated over the years, which ought to be dealt with. It is important that, on this Floor, before your very eyes, we say the truth. The legacy debt has not reduced to GH¢ 5 billion; that is not true, it cannot be true and cannot stand the test of time. Mr Speaker, on the contrary, the debt compounds and increases under their watch. Mr Speaker, in the year 2017, the Electricity Company of Ghana -- it is part of the Report -- procured power. By the time they finished, they made a loss of GH¢ 837,576,543.57; that was for only the year 2017. It was despite the Energy Sector Levy. They brought in a fresh debt of GH¢ 800 million, which is almost GH¢ 1 billion. There is a popular saying that if one cannot get anything for his or her in-law, one should not turn around to finish off the small the in-law has. That is what they are doing. It is important that we advise our Hon Colleagues that when they collect the levies they should use them for the intended purpose. When they take the moneys out of the Price Stabilisation Levy and apply it for something different, they turn around to tell Parliament that money is fungible, so they do not use the money to cushion consumers.
Hon Member, wind-up. You are way out of the Report.
Mr Speaker, I am right on the Report in terms of the Price Stabilisation and Recovery Levy. I refer to the portion that the Hon Chairman of the Committee himself admits that the levies were misapplied, which is what I am winding-up on. We were at the meeting, where we told the Ministry that, they had no business taking moneys --
Hon K. T. Hammond?
Mr Speaker, kindly allow us to explain what the strategic reserve is. It seems the Hon Member is unconsciously deceiving this House and the country without realising the difference between -- [Interruption.]
Under our rules, when someone misleads the House, we ought to point it out.
You would have the opportunity to respond with the remaining two contributors. Hon K. T. Hammond, there is no opportunity to explain. Please, resume your seat.
Mr Speaker, I refer to paragraph 4.15 on page 12 of the Report, which has to do with irregular payments from the Price Stabilisation and Recovery Account (PSRA), where an amount of GH¢121.89 million was withdrawn from that account for purposes not specified under Act 899. Section 8 of the Act tells the Hon Minister specifically what to do with this account so instead of subsidising petroleum prices and ensuring that there is stability, they are rather using the money for other things. That is why the people of Ghana are suffering, because when we do that it means that we cannot stabilise and subsidise prices and that is why today, people have to pay 10 per cent extra in terms of their transportation cost. They promised to come and reduce the burden on the people of Ghana but they are not just idereasing the burden but putting them under excruciating poverty. Mr Speaker, thank you.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who just sat down is telling the world that in the next Session which begins in the year 2019, [Laughter] -- he is going to exchange seats. Those who are afflicted with coup mentality should not infect this House with that mentality.
Hon Amin Adam, Hon Deputy Minister for Energy, you may take the Floor. Deputy Minister for Energy (Dr Mohammed Amin Anta) : Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Deputy Minister, hold on. Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I ordinarily would not rise on a point of order when the Leader of the House is on his feet but just to remind that, a noted historical fact that the Hon Abu Jinapor is a consummate democrat and to remind the Hon Majority Leader that, when there is a coup, there is no Parliament -- [Laughter] -- he anticipated that there will be a Parliament.
Mr Speaker, first of all, the Hon Member for Yapei/Kusawgu stated that we do not have stocks therefore if there is any problem today, we will have problems with supplying the market with petroleum products. Mr Speaker, this cannot be a fact because as we speak, we have for diesel, a stock of 215.2 million litres. [Hear! Hear!] Given that weekly consumption is 40 million, this will last us for five weeks. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, on the issue of misapplication of the Price Stabilisation Fund --
Hon Deputy Minister, hold on. Yes Hon Member for --?
Mr Speaker, I think the Hon Minister just gave us some figures and statistics but my independent information, -- [Uproar] -- I have a lot of respect for the Hon Deputy Minister --[Uproar]
Order! Order! Let me listen. Hon Members, Order! [Interruption.] --
Mr Speaker, I think it is very important that when we throw numbers in this Honourable House, those numbers must be right and verifiable. My plea is to allow the Committees on Mines and Energy and Finance to undertake a verification job because I do not believe those things.
Hon Member, you are out of order. Hon Member, continue.
Mr Speaker, I am ready to submit the data I am giving which is provided by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) -- [Interruption.]
Hon Member, I have ruled him out. Just continue.
Mr Speaker, I can go on and on. We have an LPG stock that would last us for one and a half weeks and for aviation fuel, we have stock that would last us for six and half weeks. So, it cannot be true that if there is any problem today, we will not be able to supply the market. Mr Speaker, on the misapplication of the Price Stabilsation Levy (PSL), the 189 million which was given to BOST in the year 2016 and as I heard our Hon Colleagues on the other Side of the House say, it was for the purposes of building strategic reserves and this was to be used to stabilise prices. Strategic reserves are primarily to ensure security of supply, it is not for price stabilisation. If strategic reserves were required in the year 2016 to stabilise price, then that was bad economics. This is because at that time, we were in a low price era, average price for crude oil in the year 2016 was US$43 per barrel. So, if we need strategic stocks to stabilise prices, this is the time. In the year 2017, average price was US$54 per barrel, today it is US$76 per barrel therefore BOST could not have been given that money to stabilise prices through strategic stock and that is why we must understand that strategic stock is not for price stabilisation. Hear! Hear! Mr Speaker, what they did was to give BOST capital to trade and not to build strategic House reserves to stabilise prices. Our Hon Colleagues on the other
Side of the Isle say that, we are not using the PSL to stabilise prices but in reading section 5 (2) of Act 899, they left out other uses of the Fund. According to section 5 (2) of Act 899, the Stabilistaion Fund is also to be used to pay for underrecoveries and also for subsidies for premix and fuel oil. As we speak today, the Committee's Report alluded to the fact that GH¢21million was spent on subsidies for premix in the year 2017 and this year, we have so far disbursed up to GH¢70million for the same premix and fuel oil subsidy. Therefore the money is not there only for price stabilisation, it is also to provide subsidies for premix and fuel oil and we have to comply with the provisions of the law. Mr Speaker, we have done a lot as a government to ensure that the impact of prices on consumers is minimised. To this effect, we reduced the Special Petroleum Tax from 17.5 per cent last year to about 12 per cent. Secondly, we have changed the tax regime from ad valorem tax to specific tax so that we could be able to smoothen the impact of increase in the volume of tax as well as increase in prices. Mr Speaker, as we speak today, we are applying the levy to minimise the impact of petroleum products prices on the market. Mr Speaker, people are quoting GHC4.6 per litre today, if we were not applying the levy, then Ghanaians would have been paying up to GHC5 or more per litre. Mr Speaker, so this is a pragmatic measure that this government has taken. Mr Speaker, on page 7 of the Committee's Report, they alluded to the fact that there has been shortfalls in the collections of the Energy Sector Levies and one of the major reasons which was given was the weak demand for petroleum products. Mr Speaker, because of the stable power supply in the country, industries and residential consumers who were using self-generation equipment are no longer using them. Therefore the demand for petroleum products reduced substantially and this is one of the major reasons the total demand for last year was 3.46 million metric tonnes. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Edward Bawa?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion that this House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Annual Report on the Management of the Energy Sector Levies and Accounts for the year 2017. Mr Speaker, before I go into the substantive issues that I would want to talk about, I would want to first of all, who just spoke opined that the Hon Member indicated that we have some petroleum products that would last us for about six weeks, others would last for about eight weeks and some others would last for about three weeks. Mr Speaker, I would want to indicate clearly, and I know that the Hon Members on the Majority side of the House who are members of the Committee on Mines and Energy, would attest that just about two or three weeks ago in Koforidua, BOST indicated that they did not have strategic stocks. Mr Speaker, so we are not too sure where the Hon Deputy Minister for Energy is getting his information from. Mr Speaker, the second point that he indicated --
Hon Member for Suhum?
Mr Speaker, I listened to my Hon Colleague on the Floor and I wonder the relevance of what he has said to the Report before the House. Mr Speaker, we are here to debate the Report by the Committee on Finance on a matter, but he is relating to a visit by the Committee on Mines and Energy somewhere in the Eastern Region. Mr Speaker, what is the relevance of what he said to the discussion at hand? Mr Speaker, I think you should rule him out of order on the basis of relevance. Thank you.
Hon Members, this strategic reserve issue was introduced by the Hon Member for Yapei. It is not part of the Report that we are discussing, so I want you to move away from that but speak to the Report. I would disallow any more comments on matters which are not contained in the Report. Hon Member, please proceed.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much because we have the Media here it was important that, we state the facts as they are. Mr Speaker, that being said, the Hon Deputy Minister also talked about the Special Petroleum Tax as having been reduced from 17.5 per cent to 12 per cent. It is important to know why the Special Petroleum Tax was introduced in the first place. Mr Speaker, it was introduced to offset the revenue shortfalls that we would get as a result of the collapse of petroleum prices in the international market. As we speak today, crude oil prices are over 70 per cent. Mr Speaker, they have no justification to still keep this tax on the petroleum price build up, so for them to indicate that; they are moving it from 17.5 per cent to 12 per cent means they have done nothing. Mr Speaker, they told Ghanaians that they would scrap it but today they are justifying why it should still be kept at the level of 12 per cent on the price build up. Mr Speaker, these do not add up and this is the point that we need to clearly establish. Mr Speaker, one of the main issues that I would want to talk about is on paragraph 4.11, page 10 -- Lower lodgements into the Infrastructure Support Sub-Account. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to read just the first paragraph:
Hon Member, hold on. Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, respectfully, my Hon Colleague could not pick and choose. Mr Speaker, he has read paragraph 4.11 and he said that that outstanding amount never got to be paid. Mr Speaker, he should read the continuing paragraphs and it would tell him. Mr Speaker, this is a Report of the Committee and it is telling us -- Mr Speaker, I beg to read if he does not want to read. Mr Speaker, with your permission, it says that: “To this, officials from the Ministry of Finance explained to the Committee that, this was partly due to the phenomenon of collection agencies not lodging the funds in time.” Mr Speaker, so it means that it would be lost in the fullness of time. It continues that: “Again, the collections were said to be made into a centralised account before lodgements are made into the various accounts hence the time-lag usually experienced between collections and lodgements.” Mr Speaker, so, if he puts a spin on it like the way he is doing then it is a disservice to the Committee's Report and it is not right.
Mr Speaker, I would want to acknowledge that inasmuch as the Committee's Report indicated the reasons we had a deficit of about GH¢252.62 million, then it is something which is not acceptable. Mr Speaker, I would state why I indicated that. If we look at paragraph 4.2 which is the utilisation on the funds -- under that, the amounts collected are supposed to be used in parts to boost power generation and investments in power infrastructure to ensure nationwide sustainable power supply. Mr Speaker, if you look at the power situation as we have today, GRIDCo had indicated to us on 15th March that based on the tariff reduction that we have today, by the close of 2018, they would have a revenue shortfall of about GH¢300 million. Mr Speaker, besides that, GRIDCO on weekly basis invoices Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to a tune of about GH¢13 million. However, ECG is only able to pay GH¢8 million, leaving GH¢5 million weekly in terms of piling debts. So, if we have a situation where they are supposed to lodge some moneys into an account to boost power generation and sustain power supply, then we have a situation where the utility companies are piling debt and a situation where revenues are not being realised because of reduction in tariffs. Mr Speaker, I am going to advise His Excellency the President and his team that we are gradually moving back into the dumsor era because, one of the reasons we went into dumsor was the fact that, we did not use moneys meant for the energy sector to do what is required; that is a caution that I believe we should be able to follow. Mr Speaker, on the second point, on the under-performance of the levies, with your permission, I would like to read paragraph 4.6 of the Report. “The Committee noted that, both actual collections and lodgements were below target by GH¢303.63 and GH¢95.81 million respectively.” However, the part I would want to talk about has to do with the reasons for the underperformance of this levy. The first reason they gave was a weaker demand for petroleum products in the domestic market, resulting from a more stable power supply in 2017 as compared to the same period in 2016. Mr Speaker, this cannot be absolutely true. I heard the Hon Deputy Minister for Energy make the same point.
Hon Member, are you challenging the Report?
Mr Speaker, I am challenging that, and I am going to explain why.
Are you a member of the Committee?
Mr Speaker, I am a member of the Committee on Mines and Energy.
This is a Report of the Finance Committee. Upon what basis are you challenging it?
Mr Speaker, I am challenging it because I also have facts within the same sector as to why the consumption of petroleum products has gone down.
Well, that is an opinion. Please, move away from challenging my Committee's Report.
Mr Speaker, it is based on the fact that you had a Deputy Minister for Energy who indicated and emphasised on this that, the reason why they underperformed in terms of the collection of the levies was because there was a reduction in the demand for petroleum products and because of the stability of power supply. Mr Speaker, you also know --
Hon Member, he was not stating his opinion; he was referring to the Report. If you have any document to the contrary, I would rather advise that you table the document to the contrary. Otherwise the Committee's Report is what --
Mr Speaker, I would do that. Mr Speaker, I intend making this point based on the Report itself. The Report has captured that, the reason why there was a low demand in petroleum products was because of the stability of power supply.
Mr Speaker, does he not know that petroleum products have increased by 20 per cent? Mr Speaker, the other point I intend indicating is that, just last week, we had ex-pump prices increased by 4.7 per cent. On the basis of this, a lot of individuals are now doing what we call “carpooling”. They simply cannot use their vehicles for seven days or maybe five days in the week. That is the reason we are having this problem. It is not because of the fact that we have power supplies. Mr Speaker, secondly, in terms of the reasons for the shortfalls, they indicated that it was lower than programmed recovery of electricity bills. Mr Speaker, let us look at the collection rate of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). As of last year, the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) has indicated very clearly that the PURC benchmark for uncollectables which they allowed 5 per cent, meant that in terms of their collection rate, it was 95 per cent. The PURC itself indicated that, based on the fact and figures they have got from their own research, in terms of their collection rate, it has increased from 95 per cent to 98 per cent. That is why this year, in terms of the tariff building, we have only two per cent as what PURC has allowed for ECG to consider as uncollectables. So, if we have an improvement in terms of our collection rates, why on earth would they use it as the reason for which we have underperformance on our levies, particularly when we have a situation when ECG's own collection rate has improved from 95 per cent to 98 per cent?
Yes, Hon Chairman?
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague is more or less bastardising the Committee's Report. The Finance Committee of Parliament meets with agencies. With your permission, I quote the Agencies. We met with the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Finance, Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Grid Company Limited, the ECG, ELSA Plc, Road Fund, Energy Commission, National Petroleum Authority, BOST, Tema Oil Refinery, Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo), Controller and Accountant-General's Department. After the deliberations, the Committee puts a Report together, outlines reasons for the shortfall in collections. Now in contributing to the Committee's Report, he is more or less bastardising the work we have done. This is most unfair to the Committee because he suggests that all that took place and the reasons assigned which the Committee agreed to are to be thrown into the dustbin. Mr Speaker, if he cares to know, all those on his Side of the House, who have contributed to the Report in seconding and contributing to same agreed with the content of the Report.
Hon Members, I have already advised that unless you have some documentary evidence to the contrary, you are bound to discuss the Report as it is. So move away from saying, “I do not believe”; “somebody told me”. Just offer an opinion and make your comment.
Mr Speaker, they have gazetted the current tariff reductions in the country. And in terms of collection losses, ECG cannot go beyond two per cent. So it is not me. It is a public document.
Hon Member, your interpretation is not correct. The interpretation is that, you should not go beyond. You should not collect anything less than 98 per cent. But in actual fact, they can collect 90 per cent. That would be the actual performance as against the law requiring them to collect 98 per cent. So do not use the expectation to criticise the Report.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Now, my next point has to do with paragraph 4.4 -- Collection and distribution for the year 2017, which is in terms of the revenues that we took. Mr Speaker, the Report indicates that we actually collected GH¢3,155,486 billion. However, there a report that was just published last week by the Chamber for Bulk Oil Distributors, and it is titled CDOD 2017 Industry Report. It has to do with how we performed in terms of our petroleum products. Mr Speaker, I assume and believe that the Committee's Report in terms of the receipts from the power sector are accurate. If that is the case it means that with all the volumes that we are getting, the quantity that we consume in a year would have been the basis for which we have the taxes we have. The Report indicates clearly that, based on those volumes that we consumed in 2017, the real amount we were supposed to have gotten was GH¢3,490.90 billion. It means that it is a deficit of about GH¢336.16 billion that they have not been able to account for. However, the Report is very clear about one thing. It says that if we look at the various issues that it had raised, one key point raised would have to do with illicit petroleum trading, and they indicated very clearly that, they were worried about three major State institutions that were involved in this unfortunate business. One had to do with the National Security; the second had to do with the Ghana Revenue Authority, which is the Customs Division; and the third had to do with operatives from the Presidency. Mr Speaker, these were the three major institutions that were named. If we have a situation where petroleum volumes cannot be accounted for because they have been moved into the black market and we have no less an institution than the seat of Government being involved in this, we are in serious trouble. And I believe that --
Hon Member, hold on. What did you say about the seat of Government? I am asking.
All right let me just read it directly so that —
Where are you reading it from? What is the source?
This is a Report that was published just last week by the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors.
Please hold on, let us get the author of the Report.
The Report is the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors.
Kindly read and then table it.
The caption is “Illicit Petroleum Trading”. “…illegal trading of products continues to be a bane of the industry and the national economy. Smuggling through the ports, premix and marine gasoil diversion and export product dumping accounts for majority of the illicit petroleum trade. Unlawful profiteering through tax evasion and subsidy abuse continues to incentivise the illicit trade in premix and other petroleum products”. Mr Speaker, I would move on to where the presidency is mentioned. “…the disappointing observation has been the absence of strong political will by Central Government to deal with this trade despite the modest arrests recorded. Reports received by the CBOD and other key stakeholders continue to suggest that, officials in the National Security and Ghana Revenue Authority (Customs Division) as well as operatives of the Presidency among others may be complicit in this”. This is the point I am talking about.
Hon Member, table the Report. Can you table that Paper please?
Mr Speaker, after my submission I would just table it.
Let the Table Office collect it and table it for the record.
Hon Member, he has made an observation, let him conclude, I would give you an opportunity to respond, please. That is why the Report is tabled. Please continue.
So Mr Speaker, if we would make an effort to ensure that we step up our game in terms of the levies that we collect for this particular account, then I believe that, His Excellency the President must lead the charge in this. He is the only one who can stop this. He can stop it in his own backyard. He can stop it with his National Security, and he can stop it --
Hon Member, the Report you stated said may. It does not give any specific evidence as to -- Somebody is suggesting that, so if you have any evidence to back that there is something happening in his backyard please provide it.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue from you and say that, because the Report says that the Presidency may be involved in this, I am also appealing to the President that, he may also in the spirit of this Report ensure that, the operatives at the Presidency, the National Security and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority must also make sure that they stop these things.
Hon Member, hold on. Yes, Hon Chairman?
On a Point of Order. Mr Speaker, the document the Hon Member is speaking to is the 2017 industry Report issued by the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors. They issued this Report. In the Report, they claim that an amount of 576 million and 339 million in 2016 and 2017 respectively were unreported. Mr Speaker, the official Report that details energy sector levies is the one we are discussing now. They took gross volumes and said because of those volumes, this is the revenue that must accrue. Mr Speaker, they refused or they did not factor in exemptions. There are a number of companies in this country that are exempt in the payment of excise duty and other levies which are not captured here, so for example, Newmont, Goldfields Ghana, Abosso Goldfields, Petro Afrique, Radiance Petroleum, Superior Oil, all of these do not pay levies on petroleum. These are exempt, so that industry Report, yes, but it did not factor in the exemptions. So it is not conclusive the way he is giving it. The official record is this Energy Sector Levies and Accounts Report which we are debating right now. Mr Speaker, that industry Report could be thrown anywhere.
Hon Member, continue. That is the Report of another group making an observation, not official. However, they are entitled to refer to it, so please continue.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I intend indicating that the same umbrella under which all these huge moneys have been collected, that is the Energy Sector Levy Act that was passed, the same umbrella under which the NDC Government was bastardised, the same umbrella under which His Excellency the former President, John Dramani Mahama -- and I know you would say no -- made sure that, we introduced, today has become the saviour of the energy sector. Today, it has become the source under which government can borrow money. We can only thank His Excellency the former President and join Ghanaians to say sorry for the unkind words we used on him when he took the bold decisions in ensuring that our energy sector is saved and saved for ever.
Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Charles Adu Boahene.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity.
Hon Deputy Minister, that is not acceptable, please withdraw.
Hon Members, I have asked him to withdraw. Can you resume your seats, please? You are making noise, so you would not even let me listen. Please resume your seats. Hon Member, that was not acceptable. Please withdraw.
Mr Speaker, I have withdrawn.
Hon Deputy Minister, please apologise to Hon Members.
Mr Speaker, I do apologise to Hon Members.
Mr Speaker, I indeed -- [Interruption.]
Hon Majority Leader, I am listening to you.
Mr Speaker, I rose to indicate to my Hon Colleague that he should be circumspect in the choice of his words, but of course, you have called him and he has retracted. That is how civil we should be to each other, and that is why people should not say that a Bond is a bomb.
Hon Deputy Minister, you may proceed, and please stay within our civil rules.
Mr Speaker, I am sure there must be a reason the ESLA bond was named the best restructuring deal in Europe, the Middle East and Africa by Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). I must say that, we should focus on the word “restructuring” in that statement. This Bond was to restructure the debts in the sector. It was not to pay off the debts. So, what we did was to refinance the debt stock. We must understand how this debt stock developed in the first place. This debt stock was as a result of supplier credit. People supplied fuel to the power sector for the generation of power and their Letters of Credit's (LC) could not be settled and crystallised because they could not pay and this converted into bad debts. So they were all being held by the banks. Mr Speaker, other suppliers like Sahara among others who supplied fuel for power generation were not getting paid. That was how come the accumulation of these debts that happened over the last six to eight years within the energy sector under the management of my fellow Hon Members across the aisle and former President John Mahama. Mr Speaker, we are in this situation today because of that mismanagement of the energy sector that led to the accumulation of these debts. All these debts were short-term in nature and because they were --
-- rose --
Hon Minister hold on. Yes, Hon Member?
I need clarification because in just the last 30 minutes, our other Deputy Minister for Finance indicated that the outstanding debt of GH¢9 billion had been reduced to GH¢5 billion. The Hon Deputy Minister who just spoke told us that no debt had been reduced but has simply been restructured for future payment. I would want to get clarification. If the debt has simply been restructured, is that the intention?
Hon Member, under what Order do you apply for confirmation? [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, I seek clarification.
Under what Order? Let us please play by the rules. We know when we can interrupt. It is under Standing Order 91. Please let us not interrupt unless there is a reason to do so. Yes, Hon Deputy Minister, please continue.
Mr Speaker, through this restructuring, we paid off some of the suppliers, refinanced the debt --
Hon Minister, please hold on. Having regard to the state of Business in the House, I direct that the House Sits outside the regular Sitting hours.
Mr Speaker, we restructured the debts in the energy sector, settling some of the suppliers who had aged payables. This meant that they had supplied but had not been paid, some of them for years on end. By doing so, we managed to put together all these outstanding liabilities and refinanced this in the form of one Bond that was issued, comprising a seven-year Bond and a ten-year Bond. Mr Speaker, one Hon Member mentioned that government had put GH¢600 million into an account in part to restructure this deal. That was not true. We do not have GH¢600 million packed in any account anywhere. What we did was that, government put in place a cap commitment to provide GH¢600 million in case interest payments were due and ESLA plc. could not pay for it. The Hon Member alluded to the fact that we had gone and received a Letter of Credit from a Development Finance Institution (DFI) to the tune of GH¢900 million. That is also false. We had no Letter of Credit from a DFI to support this transaction. We only had a debt reserve account where we are obligated to put in 1.5 times cover for any interest payment that would be due. Mr Speaker, so we funded that debt reserve account with proceeds from the energy sector levies. That was how this deal was structured. These Bonds are trading very favourably, investors are very happy with the performance of the Bonds and it has allowed us to relieve enormous pressure within the energy sector. Also, the lights are still on. We also need to make it clear that this structure allowed freeing up the cash flow pressures on government and ECG to keep paying these enormous amounts on a regular basis. I would like the House to know that ECG has been saddled with over US$75 million worth of capacity charges that it has to pay every month, regardless of whether it takes up power or not. This is due to the numerous amounts of power purchase Agreements that my Hon Brothers across the aisle signed during their tenure of office.
Mr Speaker, we sit here today and pay almost GH¢330 million a month in capacity charges to power producers whether we take the power or not. As at today, we almost have 100 per cent more generation capacity than we require. This is due to all these excessive power purchase Agreements that have been put in place. Mr Speaker, if there would be problems, they would come from these --
Hon Deputy Minister, hold on. Yes, Hon Adongo. Please go strictly by Standing Order 91.
Mr Speaker, this is a House of records. I indicated that we had a cash cap commitment from the sponsor, Fidelity Bank. It is not the same as putting GH¢600 million into an account. I said that if we were not able to raise enough in the debt service recovery account, it would be drawn on that account and we would have 90 days to clean up. So please I never -- I said we took standby Letters of Credit (LoC. It is in the prospectus from a DFI. I never said we put aside GH¢900 million. That is a misquotation that must be clarified.
Point well made. Yes, Hon Deputy Minister?
Mr Speaker, it is a capped commitment and not a capped cash commitment. A capped cash commitment implies that there is cash sitting somewhere. There is no cash sitting anywhere. It is like a guarantee that is capped. So when you call upon it, when there is a default situation, then we would bring the money to the table. Mr Speaker, also, it was stated in the prospectus that we would consider the possibility of obtaining a standby Letter of Credit from a DFI if we believed that it would improve the terms of the transaction. However, we tested the market and realised that it would not give us any better terms of the transaction, even with the standby Letter of Credit. This is because, the deal was so well structured that it could stand on its own merits. So, we did not take the standby Letter of Credit. That GH¢900 million that was mentioned in addition to the GH¢600 million which sums up to GH¢1.5 billion, is actually not true. Mr Speaker, on that note, with regard to the ESLA Bond, what we are saying is that, we have through this Bond been able to now relieve the pressure within the energy sector. We still have a lot of work to do and would continue to do so. We would continue to issue these Bonds as and when the levies improve and can support additional issuances, until we have restructured all the debts and overaged payables within the energy sector. Alongside that, we are taking several other initiatives to help put the energy sector on a path of sustainability whereby we do not have these unpleasant shocks and the lights would go off again. Mr Speaker, these include the implementation of the cash waterfall mechanism which was referred to in the Report. This cash waterfall mechanism would enable ECG to pay all its suppliers in an orderly and predictable manner. The concession of ECG is also ongoing and we expect that to be completed by September. We have selected the bids which came in, have a preferred bidder and negotiations are ongoing. This would also help to improve the sector and reduce the pressures on us within the sector. Mr Speaker, however, there are some things that we cannot control and one of them is the price of crude oil --
Hon Deputy Minister, please hold on. Yes, Hon Ranking Member?
Mr Speaker, again, this is a House of records. Hon Adongo made a statement that they had a cash commitment. My good Friend, the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance said that what Hon Adongo had earlier indicated as cash commitment was not cash commitment but rather cap commitment. Mr Speaker, I have with me, the investor presentation from the Ministry of Finance, Energy Sector Levy and Accounts (ESLA) PLC to investors, and I refer to page 15 of the document that the Ministry of Finance themselves created. Under page 15, it says that, “Cash Ghana — Ministry of Finance Cash Commitment, GH¢600 million”. So, Hon Isaac Adongo never represented the facts, and for the records, we have stated that fact.
whereby we committed to providing them with gas to generate power for a period of five years after which we would own the power plant. That was the structure of the transaction. What I would like to ask myself is that, if we decided to provide them with gas for them to generate the power for us to consume, then how can we say that we owe ourselves GH¢500 million? This is because we are providing the gas for power to be generated. It is the same government. Whether it is GNGC or GNPC, it is the same gas that we are providing and that was part of the deal. So I do not see how that has now become a debt due GNGC if it was used to pay for a power plant which we would end up owning after five years. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, let me thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the Annual Report of the Management of the Energy Sector Levies and Accounts for the year 2017. Mr Speaker, in doing so, to note a very profound statement that the Rt Hon Speaker, Prof Michael Aaron Oquaye, made before he yielded the Chair to you. I may paraphrase him but I trust that the Hansard would capture the full words. When an Hon Colleague retorted, the Rt Hon Speaker said; “on matters of taxes and spending on the public, I am interested in it.” And I believe that he is inviting this august House to be particularly interested in debates, particularly on petroleum revenues, its collection and utilisation, including the Energy Sector Levy. Mr Speaker, I would want to believe that the Rt Hon Speaker better understands that sovereignty resides in the people and that Parliament and this august House exercise our authority for the good of the Ghanaian public who are the sovereign. Mr Speaker, with that respect, may I request of you that next time we debate such an important Motion, we should insist on the presence of the Sector Ministers — not to show any disrespect to the Hon Deputy Ministers, but for them to be guided by the policy inputs of Hon Members of Parliament in driving this major expenditure outlets. I have enormous respect for the Hon Deputy Ministers; I am sure my Friend, Mr Charles Adu Boahen would appreciate what I shared with him on British Airways. Today, he is in Parliament and he would probably enjoy being the nark of the debate. Mr Speaker, but to begin with him, did I hear the Hon Deputy Minister say that the Paper he presented to investors on their road show did not matter because it is not a legal document? To do so, he would not inspire investors tomorrow when he travels out and would want to engage them. Mr Speaker, but at least, he appeared candid when he said he was abandoning the document the Hon Ranking Member, Hon Ato Forson referred to. If he wants to swallow his words, he may be able to do so. But he was candid when he told this august House —
Mr Speaker, what I did was that, I pointed out that the document he held was not the prospectus but an investor presentation. When one goes on a roadshow, one uses the investor presentation to communicate to potential investors. And based on their feedback, one could go back, revise and amend what one has, which is then reflected in the prospectus and that is what is used to go out and raise the money. So one cannot take what is in the investor presentation as what would end up in the prospectus.
Point well made.
Mr Speaker, for the records, that cash commitment Hon Isaac Adongo referred to is in the prospectus and I challenge the Hon Deputy Minister to lay same. He should bring the prospectus to this august House any day so that we would hold his word against my word; and the prospectus would speak. Mr Speaker, he is a young Deputy Minister; he knows that I wish him well. He could not be part of the process to mislead investors. This document was presented to investors. Whether it is part of the prospectus or not --
Hon Minority Leader, it is alright, please resume your seat. He has explained that based on feedback of what one uses to advertise one's project, one may revise it for the prospectus. Your point is that, what was alleged is in the prospectus. If it is, and you put it here, the records would reflect that, indeed, it is in the prospectus. If you have it do so; otherwise, you would please proceed. When we have the prospectus, we would have a look at it.
Mr Speaker, I would refer you to the specific matter of the GH¢600 million from Fidelity Bank. It was in the prospectus. Mr Speaker, but I am saying that the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Adu Boahen, started by being candid in saying that we have only restructured the debt; we have not paid. What an honest statement! [Uproar] He sits behind them and the Hansard is available. But about the Committee's Report, let me refer to page 9 and confirm whether he said it.
The Hon O. B. Amoah should take it easy and read paragraph 4.8. Mr Speaker, with your permission, it reads: “The Committee observed that though the total energy sector indebtedness of the country may effectively remain the same, what the ESLA arrangement does is to give a reprieve.” He improved it to, “restructure”. Is that not it? So Mr Speaker, let me now refer to a document submitted by the Hon Minister for Finance on 22nd March, 2018: “Submission of the 2017 Annual Report on the Management of the Energy Sector Levies and Account.” It has these figures: GH¢ 9.3 billion; payment of GH¢ 3.9 billion and an outstanding of GH¢ 5,432,876, 483.7 billion. This is what remains outstanding in respect of the ESLA on State-owned Enterprises (SOE) liabilities. What the people of Ghana and the energy institutions, including the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Volta River Authority (VRA) want to know is Government's superior debt management strategy. What Instrument do they have in order to manage this and assure them that there would be moneys available for them to work? So I agree with him that we have only postponed the problem; we have not solved it. It reminds me of a popular quote: “one only eats an omelette after breaking an egg”. The omelette in this matter is ESLA. Mr Speaker, that leads me to the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Kwarteng, when he debated, after which I would walk to the Hon Kojo Oppong- Nkrumah. May the Hon Kwarteng refer to page 33 of the Hon Minister's own document, in particular, paragraph 73 and 74? With your permission, I beg to quote: “In December 2015, the ESLA was passed to address the debt situation through the imposition of consumption tax levies…” Mr Speaker, it was imposition of consumption tax levies. The Hon Deputy Minister for Finance argued that, it was neither a tax nor a levy. These are not my words but the words of the Minister for Finance. [Interruption] -- Yes, paragraph 73; it is stated here and with your permission, I quote: “…consumption tax levies mainly on petroleum products. The relevant levy under the ESLA for refinancing the Energy Sector Debt is the EDR Levy.” Mr Speaker, Hon K. T. Hammond is here, I have enormous respect for him and his knowledge in the Energy Sector. You have to help the younger ones. You know why it is called Legacy Debts. It was to be an end; to see a finality to that debt and that there should be no accumulation. That is why the word, “Legacy” was used.
The omelette in this is the fact that former President Mahama remains the one who took the major decision to do away with subsidies within the energy sector, particularly, petroleum -- [Hear! Hear!] -- That occasioned not less than GH¢ 200 million every other year unto the budget. He said there should be no subsidy and he bore the brunt for it and dealt with it.
Hon Minority Leader, you have brought in Hon K. T. Hammond. He wants to intervene. Yes, Hon K. T. Hammond?
Thank you very much.
Very well, Hon Minority Leader, he says, do not address him -- [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, it is noted. Mr Speaker, the Hon Oppong-Nkrumah said, “restoring financial viability which assures the energy institution some security”. He should thank the NDC and President Mahama for restoring that financial viability. They cannot approbate and reprobate. Again, I refer to a document signed by the Hon Ken Ofori-Atta. This one is Patrick Nomo conveying the document to us. I would want to go to the very first paragraph. With your permission, it states: “FOREWORD 1.The Energy Sector Levies Act, 2015 (Act899), was enacted to: consolidate the existing energy sector levies for their efficient utilisation; defray legacy debts…” We do not add unto a legacy debt. That is why a profound point has been made that even as a country and a House, we should interrogate further the volumes of petrol in order to understand who deserves what. I believe that this Parliament must take a stronger view of this matter backed by the position of the Hon Speaker. One cannot just say we got GH¢3.4 billion. Mr Speaker, GH¢ 3.4 billion of what? We need to know because, oil production has increased. Thanks to the investment of the NDC, TEN and Sankofa fields have come on board. Volumes have increased. So, it means that, returns would increase and that means that, consumption tax on them would also increase. It also means that the accruals to this Fund would increase. We deserve to know that, tomorrow they will come with full particulars of the volumes of all the products, not including kerosene anyway. The Hon Chairman of the Committee should take note. Mr Speaker, I would still refer to the Hon Minister for Finance. When I heard another Hon Deputy Minister for Finance in his attempt to dismiss what the Hon Ato Forson said -- the energy sector levy was not only about consolidation. There were new taxes imposed in it to our benefit and that is what they are using. If we want to appreciate the superior debt management thought of the NDC, this is the Budget Statement and Economic Policy by the Ministry of Finance, page 33, paragraph 126. With your indulgence, I quote: “Almost two years into the implementation ESLA has contri- buted significantly to paying down VRA and TOR debts due banks and trade creditors in the amount of GH¢ 1,861.17 million as at September 2017.” These are the words of the Minister for Finance and the emphasis is just for them to appreciate that, a significant contribution is acknowledged by the Minister for Finance. [Interruption.] I have the Hansard of the Second Reading of the Energy Sector Levies debate. I am perusing what the Hon Minority Leader then, now Hon Majority Leader, supported by the current Minister for Health -- Even the road sector, my good Friend and Hon Colleague at the Law School, the Hon Amoako-Atta -- We would help him come back to this august House through Cabinet. The NDC increased the Road Fund Levy from seven pesewas to 40 pesewas, the first time ever and that was to increase accruals to the Fund in order for road contractors to be paid. Yes, it is true that a loan facility was secured. Are we saying that today no loan has been restructured? I am authoritatively aware that there is a restructured loan. This is not the first time. We would recall that the then Hon Minister for Roads and Highways, Hon Richard Anane, even borrowed from the
Hon Minority Leader, on the Energy Sector Levies, the Hon Members of the Committee were not happy with the then Hon Minister. We worked with him to get the things, but he did not play his part. So the then Hon Members on the Committee on Roads and Transport are not happy with him and he knows why.
I would not recognise him to respond to anything. [Laughter.] Please, I am not referring to the current Hon Minister for Roads and Highways. I am referring to the immediate past Hon Minister for Roads and Highways -- no show. I would not recognise him.
Mr Speaker, may I now refer to the conclusion for the Hon Minister for Finance's foreword of the Energy Sector Levies for the year 2017 to Parliament? Again, Hon Oppong-Nkrumah should hear what Hon Ken Ofori-Atta said, and I beg to quote: “The Energy Sector Levies Act, 2015 (Act 899), was enacted to: consolidate existing energy sector levies for their efficient utilisation…” The proceeds generated from the levies are imposed by the Price Stabilisation and Recovery Levy. That was new, and it was introduced along the period. So when Hon Oppong-Nkrumah and Hon Kwarteng rose to argue that the Energy Sector Levy was a consolidation, there were new impositions embedded in the law. That is in the foreword. [Interruption.] I would substitute it; it was Hon Kwarteng and not Hon Oppong- Nkrumah as regards the imposition. Mr Speaker, I would now come to Hon Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah. Hon Ken Ofori Atta's response to Hon Oppong-Nkrumah is on page 7, his foreword, particularly paragraph 3. Indeed, I would start with paragraph 2, so that Hon Oppong- Nkrumah would appreciate where I am coming from. Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I quote: “Prior to the passage of this Act, State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) operating within the energy sector had serious challenges in managing their liabilities primarily due to the massive debt overhang, which impacted negatively on the management and administration of those institutions. These challenges constrained the national budget yearly, as government had to regularly step in to provide financial support to keep the SOEs running and viable.” They talked of viability. So, in the year 2015, the NDC Government thought through this and anticipated that. Today, they want us to sing hallelujah because they ended dumsor. What was it through? Was it an expansion in generation or improvement in transition? It is just because they are making prudent use of the resource left for them by the NDC Government. We should sing hallelujah. When they say better financing, where does it come from? We broke the egg; the omelette is the Energy Sector Levy, which is a consumption tax. Mr Speaker, we need to appreciate it. We are not out of the woods yet. I think that the Hon Ministers for Finance and Energy must even come back to this House. As I have indicated, we need the volumes. Mr Speaker, I welcome my Tamale mate, the Hon Deputy Minister for Energy, Dr Amin Anta, to this august House. When he said ‘reduction in consumption', he should acknowledge -- he is an expert in it. It is because gas production has taken off in earnest and in large quantities that has contributed to the reduction in the consumption of petroleum. He needs to accept that as a fact. It would not be primarily a factor because of the decline.
Hon Deputy Minister?
Very well. Hon Minority Leader, continue.
Mr Speaker, so that is noted. Mr Speaker, may I refer you to page 19 of the Hon Minister's Report which was submitted to the House. I would read it verbatim and extract my points out of it: “At the end of the review period, an amount of GH¢1,852.10 million out of the total estimated levies for the year was programmed for the established accounts. Of this amount, actual collections in respect of the 3 accounts amounted to GH¢ 1,699.18 million while lodgements were in the amount of GH¢ 1,472.28 million…” Mr Speaker, where is the GH¢226 million? It means that what was collected was far less than what was lodged. We need to act on behalf of the people of Ghana. Where is the remaining money? Mr Speaker, I would refer to page 19, which is under the heading, “Distribution of the levies into the established accounts and related accounts in 2017”. They have GH¢ 1.6 billon for and GH¢ 1.4 billion for collection. There is a shortfall of about GH¢ 200 billion. We need to ask questions on where that money is or what that has been used for. We need to do so because this could construct some schools, hospitals and pay some Free Senior High School bills. It should not just rest. Mr Speaker, may I come to your Committee's Report. I would refer to page 12 and go to my conclusion. The heading of paragraph 4.15 is “Irregular payments from the PSRA”. Mr Speaker, I beg to quote: Section 5 (2) of Act 899 (as amended) requires that moneys in the Price Stabilisation and Recovery Account (PSRA) shall be used…” It gives us an indication of what to do. The Committee reports irregular payments. Again, in Ghana today, we are all interested in equalisations; in the past or the present, did someone take money to do something? Today, what is the position of the Parliament of Ghana? What is irregular is not acceptable and not a good practice. We have passed a law. Unless this Parliament says that, when we pass laws people would breach and justify, then we forgive them. No! These irregular things must stop. We must demand a stop to it. At best, even if they want to vary, they must come back to this august House. That is why I always argue publicly that the saying that Parliament controls the purse remains a constitutional myth in Ghana, but we can practicalise it. We should do so by demanding from the Hon Ministers for Finance and Energy -- they owe the people of Ghana and its elected representatives an explanation. Where is the shortfall of GH¢236 million? Why does he do irregular lodgements? We were told that somebody attempted to justify it with Single Treasury Accounts. That cannot be. Hon Ato Forson, a respected accountant tells me that, it is not best practice. It is not good practice. So we should not just look on and say they are irregular payments. Mr Speaker, finally, all the Hon Ministers who stood up that 40 per cent of the debt had been paid, as well as the Hon Chairman of the Committee and his members must next time give us the exact numbers. Forty per cent is not enough. We have GH¢ 9 billion. In some figures we have referred to GH¢10 billion. They keep telling us 40 per cent; should I compute 40 per cent of GH¢10 billion or 40 per cent of GH¢9.3 or GH9.9 billion? We need to know how much of it they have been able to pay because it affects the balance sheet of the banks. We know that getting Letters of Credit to be able to get crude oil and others is undermining the integrity and the standing of the financial institution. It is not for nothing that they went in to issue an energy Bond. Yes, if they have been awarded for energy Bond, let them be awarded for retiring the energy sector levy, including the legacy debt. Mr Speaker, they have not retired the legacy debt. So when they say that they took legacy Bond, how much of the Bond did they use to offset the outstanding debt? Finally, I am sure we would all be guided by the current Hon Minister for Roads and Highway's admonition to the past Hon Ministers for Roads and Highways that, they should take Mr Speaker and the Hon Members of Parliament seriously when we give them all these approvals. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways -- 7 pesewas to 40 pesewas; he is still struggling to pay contractors. I believe that he should persuade the President and Cabinet and increase it by 5 pesewas or 10 pesewas with an understanding that we can use part to construct new roads and substantial portions to retire their outstanding debts. This is because, the contractors of this country -- and I say without fear of contradiction. When I say “Government”, I am not referring to the Government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo; all governments in this country remain the problem of the Ghanaian private sector. You do not expect a contractor to go and take a loan at 23 per cent or 30 per cent, and when he completes the work in the year 2015, and up till date, you are not able to pay him. This is how we are destroying the contractors and the construction industry in this country. So Hon Minister, persuade the President and come properly; but thank the National Democratic Congress's (NDC), former President Mahama and the former Hon Minister for Roads and Highways that at least, you have received GH¢903 million for the Ministry of Roads and Highways from the records in this document. Almost GH¢1billion, how would they have gotten this? Mr Speaker, a famous American President, when he declared war, they kept questioning about the war and he made a profound statement that I would like to conclude with. He said, “You are concerned about my going to that country and its consequences; how I wished you cared what the consequences would be if I did not go.”
Hon Minority Leader, just give me -- Yes, Hon Chairman? You have been on your feet all --
Mr Speaker, in making his submission, the Hon Minority Leader said that the levy to the Road Fund which has been increased from 7 pesewas to 40 pesewas, he was recommending that it be increased to 45 pesewas. Mr Speaker, I would want to know if he is suggesting that taxes be increased. This is because he said that it should go from 40 pesewas to 45 pesewas. Is the Hon Minority Leader --?
Hon Minority Leader, please conclude.
Mr Speaker, I would want contractors to be paid, particularly road contractors and others who have worked for government. Mr Speaker, we need to further interrogate all the liabilities of ECG, GRIDCo and others. Finally, price stabilisation and allocations from the ESLA - Dr Amin Anta -- Like it or not, ultimately, we are concerned about the state of the ordinary Ghanaian and the effects of a transfer of the prices to actual prices at which they will buy petroleum products. In the year 2016, it was the intention of government that the Stabilisation Fund would do that. We would say no to this government if it would want to re- introduce subsidies into the petroleum sector. Even the foreign exchange losses recoveries, we need to take a particular position on it to deal with the existing legacy debt and ensure that the Ghanaian benefits from a price stabilisation which is given in order to cushion them. What would be the consequences of a continuous increase? We got oil at US$43 to US$48 per barrel and they have the benefit of US$52 to US$58; who knows? It may go up and what is it that we are doing to cushion the ordinary Ghanaian? Mr Speaker, on this note, I thank you and associate myself with the Motion.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to say a few words about the Motion to adopt the Report of the Finance Committee on the Annual Report on the Management of the Energy Sector Levies and Accounts for the year 2017. Mr Speaker, I believe that, it is worth noting that every one of my Hon Colleagues on the other Side of the House who has spoken has sounded that, the House should rise in unison to thank former President, John Dramani Mahama. I believe that as a House, we should be cautious of this newly emerging choristers in this House who would want to turn this House into praise singing academy for former President John D. Mahama -- [Laughter] -- We should be weary of such people, they cannot turn this House into an academy of praise singers and ‘yes men and yes women' for President Mahama. Mr Speaker, the issue before us is about the management of the Energy Sector Levies and Accounts for the year 2017 and I do not think that it will be a worthwhile exercise to now talk about who supported ESLA or not. Just as I believe it is pointless to point fingers at who supported the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) or not, at least, those of us on this Side of the House, did not walk out when we came to debate ESLA. They did so when we came debating the NHIA, yet they took the advantage of the operations of the NHIA. Mr Speaker, when the then Hon Minister for Energy, the Hon Kofi Adda, came to this House to show the discovery of oil to Ghanaians and indeed the world, we had people from the other Side of the House telling us that it could not be oil, that it was palm-kernel oil. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague is asking who said so. It was Hon Moses Asaga who said so. We have gone beyond that. Today, what is before us is the management of the levy and I heard my Hon Colleague enter into some disputation with the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Kwaku Kwarteng when he said that there is a distinction between levy and tax. Mr Speaker, even though we did not settle that discussion, the Hon Minister went on and quoted article 184 of the Constitution, that the Hon Minister must necessarily come here. Mr Speaker, I believe that the debate was whether or not a levy is a tax, but we have not settled that debate. Yet he proceeded on his own understanding and said that it is a tax so definitely the Hon Minister must come before us. Mr Speaker, there is a Constitutional provision on what to do with taxation and that is article 174 (1). With your permission, it says:
“Where an Act, enacted in accordance with clause (1) of this article, confers power on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax …” Mr Speaker, in this case, we are not talking about a tax but a levy and that is why I am saying that we need to settle the debate on whether a levy is a tax or not. If it is, then we could invoke article 174 (2) but to the extent that we have not finished with the interrogation of that matter. So he could not proceed on one leg and tell us that we must now conform to article 174 (2). Mr Speaker, what is before us is the benefits of the levies -- the Report from the Committee on Finance came to us not in bits and pieces. The Committee in their entirety agreed and submitted this Report to us. We have Hon Members of that Committee rising now to dispute the contents of the Report after they had voted at the committee level to submit this Report to plenary with no dissensions. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Chief Whip tells me that one could change one's mind even after voting at the committee level and I agree because we have a perfect example by the Hon Second Deputy Speaker who, as a Hon Chairman of a Committee, submitted a Report to this House and distanced himself from the Report that he had signed himself. Mr Speaker, so we have a perfect example and I agree because, another example could always come from the other Side of the House. Mr Speaker, they have the right for this and so I would not take anything away from him. Mr Speaker, we are told by the Committee that as of December 31, 2017 the Energy Sector Levy has helped to bring down the total legacy debt of GH¢ 9, 393,512,841 by an amount of GH¢ 3.96 billion. We have Hon Members of the Committee who agreed to this but have come back to tell us that it is only paper work. Mr Speaker, that is incredulous . We are now being told that it is paper work, and as one of the contributors from the Majority Side of the House said, if it is paper work indeed and it has now resulted in Ghanaians having constant electricity generation and supply, then that Paper work is worth alluding to and attributing to competent management of that process -- assuming it is paperwork. That tells us that they could not even do the correct paperwork -- simple paperwork as they are saying -- to get this country back into light. Mr Speaker, that would be shameful. If it is mere paperwork that they could not do to introduce light, then that is shameful and it tells about the moral Administration that they afflicted this nation with. Mr Speaker, the Report tells us that this levy regime has enabled the financial viability of the energy sector of the State Owned Enterprises (SoEs). Mr Speaker, is it the case that, people are disputing this? So far nobody has disputed this. We have been told by the Committee that, the levies are being used to support infrastructure and we have all agreed that this is being done. Perhaps we need to really look at how it is being done and how we could broaden the sphere of the infrastructural support. If that is the argument, then let us discuss that, but so far nobody has disputed the fact that it is lending credence to the development of infrastructure. Mr Speaker, the Committee's Report tells us that this regime is also helping to provide a buffer for under- recoveries in the petroleum sector. Mr Speaker, is anybody disputing that it is somehow stabilising petroleum prices for consumers? Mr Speaker, these are the matters that we should attend to; how to improve the subsidisation of premix and residual fuel. Mr Speaker, this is what the Report tells us; dividends of the levy and indeed, the support to the Road Fund. Mr Speaker, so we should commend it. Whereas I am happy to commend my Hon Colleague, the former Hon Minister for Roads and Highways for his efforts, we cannot also completely insulate his own administration from the super borrowing that happened during his tenure. Mr Speaker, I would want to say that maybe the intention behind was to accelerate road construction.
Hon Majority Leader, please hold on. Hon Member for Tamale Central is now raising objection to something else but not to mine.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order because there was no super borrowing under the NDC and during my regime as the Hon Member for Roads and Highways. Mr Speaker, I have heard many people say -- and I am happy that the Hon Leader has taken time to digest this matter. I have heard many people say - and the Report says that, the Road Fund was restructured to make room and I have heard my good Hon Friend and counsel, Hon Kojo Oppong Nkrumah -- Mr Speaker, let me add to what the Hon Majority Leader is presenting so that you would understand --
I thought that you had a point of order.
Mr Speaker, yes it is a point of order. There was no super borrowing but I would want to demonstrate why there was no super borrowing. Mr Speaker, the loan of GH¢ 1.2 billion at 31.9 per cent interest was restructured in March and by the 15th of February, GH¢ 929.6 million had been paid out of the loan with GH¢ 570 million remaining. Mr Speaker, in 2017/2018, GH¢ 678 million had been taken off the Road Fund by virtue of the capping. The restructuring that they are talking about was to take a loan in March from GCB Bank and Fidelity Bank at GH¢ 600 million to retire the GH¢ 570 million that was outstanding. Mr Speaker, so I am actually constrained. I kept quiet because I thought that people did not understand what -- In fact, the retirement of the GH¢ 570 million was at 31 per cent interest but
Hon Majority Leader, I thought he was going to explain why he got the Committee to work night and day and promised to give each Committee member five kilometres of tarred road but not even a single tarred road was given. I thought that was what he was going to respond to but he did not. Hon Majority Leader, please continue.
Mr Speaker, when I spoke for him, he sat down and was nodding profusely and laughing. When I spoke about super borrowings and had not even finished — should I say super commitment as well, that the Ministry made? Mr Speaker, the total anticipated revenue into the Road Fund was GH¢1.2 billion, yet, commitments for only 2016 were close to GH¢7 billion. I know he is now nodding. So, I am talking about super commitments as well.
-- rose --
Mr Speaker, could he sit? Mr Speaker, when one expects GH¢1.2 billion, and he makes commitments to a tune of GH¢7 billion, what does it mean? What it means is that, he is committing the expected inflow over, maybe, four years or five years, at least, to commit the GH¢7 billion. So what it meant was that, if this government had allowed the status quo to hold, it would have meant no new development or no contracts could have been awarded over the next four to five years. And if it was implemented, the man would say he was the person who awarded the contract. Mr Speaker, I know Hon Inusah Fuseini -- He says he would not mind me. He knows what I am talking about. We thank God that reality has really dawned. He cannot mind me because I am addressing the reality. Mr Speaker, then we have that portion of the levies that goes into developing renewable energy. We would not stop roof top solar programmes. We shall come back to those matters later on. Mr Speaker, but it is important when we come into dealing with virement or the redirection of allocations to some other sectors. I believe it is something that as a House, we should further interrogate; what the principle underpinning the single treasury account is. We would want to do that and migrate everything into one account, so that it becomes a holding account for one to use as and when the need arises and pay back. And if we are minded to pay back, that cannot amount to misapplication of funds. Otherwise, what is the intent behind the creation of the single treasury account? Mr Speaker, if people are against it, we should revisit that concept of the creation of the single treasury account. An Hon Colleague on the other Side of the House rose and spoke about the Ghana Gas debt which is now about GH¢700 million. How did that debt of GH¢700 million start, — and how did it start? It was not in the year 2017. I do not call upon him to answer, he does not know how it happened. I do not want to subject myself to propaganda, Hon Isaac Adongo, I would address the Speaker. He would want to invite himself into the fray. Even though he does not know, he would pretend to know and provide the spin. Mr Speaker, so we should question the origin of that debt, and if we do not attack the basis, this would live with us. I do not want us to apply knee-jerk reactions to matters as and when they pop up. How they originate should be our concern. Mr Speaker, we have also talked about whether or not there are strategic reserves in the system. Today, for the first time, we are hearing that there were strategic reserves in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Yet in this House, we interrogated it. The Hon Minister responsible then said to us that, for the time being, even though it was intended to be done, there was nothing. And they could not be faulted because of the circumstances of the times. That was the answer. Mr Speaker, where from this? Contaminated fuel is not strategic reserves. God help Ghana.
Yes, Hon Armah-Kofi Buah?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The former Hon Deputy Minister is not here, but it is fair to state that he made reference to strategic stocks in 2016, and he made the point that those stocks were the ones that were there in 2017 for them to have sold. That was the point he made. However, it is important that as we discuss this issue, this point must be made. In the 2016 Budget that the Minister for Finance brought, it was very clear here, when we talked about the price stabilisation levy. We made a policy that we would use that to control prices and have a clear impact. They decided that they would not use that strategy, and that is why it is biting them; the fact that petroleum prices keep going up. He said we gave BOST GH¢189 million to import crude oils, but that was not what we did. It was a policy decision we made to make sure BOST could have products when prices were cheaper so that those products could be in the market and to have impact on prices. That is what they have not done and that is why Ghanaians are facing the brunt.
Hon Member, we have already answered those questions. Yes, Hon Majority Leader, continue.
Mr Speaker, I would expect that from the Hon Armah- Kofi Buah. I would definitely expect that from him, and I would not go on that tangent with him because he has the tenacity to divert attention from the critical issue that I raised.
Mr Speaker, on the issue relating paragraph 4.1 (i) -- Lower Lodgements into the infrastructure support sub- account, I believe that is something that should concern us. The Hon Member interrogated it, except that, he was not candid with us. He only quoted the first paragraph that suited his own argument, but the explanation has been given. As I said, the Report provides that, the Committee's scrutiny revealed that, an amount of GH¢940.09 million was actually collected in respect of the power generation and infrastructure support sub-account for the year 2017. However, only GH¢687.4 million was actually lodged in that account. Mr Speaker, the explanation has been given that officials from the Ministry of Finance explained to the Committee that, this was partly due to the phenomenon of collection agencies not lodging the funds in time. Again, collections were said to be made into a centralised account before accruals are made into the various accounts, hence the time lapse usually experienced between collections and lodgements. Mr Speaker, if that is not the tidy way of the lodgement so that we have timeous delivery as a House, let us say so. And if we have to call the Minister and amend the relevant portion of the Act, that should be it. But I believe it is worth stating that, this is not the first time this is happening. In 2016, the total collection was supposed to be GH¢3,298.94 billion. What was lodged at the end of it was GH¢2,672 billion. Instead of the GH¢3,298.94 billion. GH¢2,672 billion came to be lodged. That meant there was a short fall of GH¢626 million for 2016. So this is not the first time. How do we cure this? If we have to revisit the Act, let us do so, but you cannot stand here and make it appear as if it is the first time this is happening in this country. Mr Speaker, so we should be careful how we deal with matters. We have raised issues about capacity charges and the fact that as they are saying to us, that the stabilisation in the energy front is due to the effort of the NDC. Mr Speaker, we have interrogated this and we have debated this matter before. I have insisted that as we speak today, the power requirement of this country -- electricity is not in excess of 2.5, but what we have done, and indeed before the NDC assumed office, what effort had been made by Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor far exceeded what, as a country we needed, except that, we did not really address our standings to the regime, because we had made a manifesto promise that we wanted to increase generation capacity to 5000, megawatts, let us do that. We have excess capacity which we have to pay for. Whether we take it or we do not take it, we have to pay for it. [Interruption.] What was the sense in doing that? And because the cost of energy production in Ghana is higher than in Cote d'Ivoire, when you produce you cannot sell to Cote d'Ivoire. What is the sense in that? So government would have to pay for it. That is the reality, and that is why we said that we should be careful about the cost of the Agreement that we were contracting at the time, and some of us said, and would still say that the cost of some of them were padded unnecessarily. We need to look at that. Mr Speaker, we know the cost of --
On a Point of Order. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader knows the rules. He cannot impute wrong motives into what others have done, and it is part of the rules, so I believe it is only fair that he -- he could exchange the word for something better than ‘padded', because if he says ‘padded' he has to provide the evidence, and he knows that he is impugning wrong motive. That falls flat against our rules. I hope that as many as are learning from him, he would choose the right word.
Mr Speaker, I thank the Hon Chief Whip for the Minority. Mr Speaker, when they say about us that government contracted a Bond, and they insist that it is not a Bond, it is a bomb, to him that is acceptable in this House. When we say that the cost is padded, they say no, they cannot take that. Mr Speaker, we know everybody can go on the internet and it would show to you what cost is assigned to a 100 megawatts --
Hon Leader, are you responding, because I want to listen to you and rule?
The cost of a 100 megawatts capacity facility is around US$100 million. For 200 megawatts capacity, it is around US$200 million. Everybody knows it is the rule of the thumb in the industry. Mr Speaker, yes, it would have to be ferried from wherever it was made --
Hon Majority Leader, are you responding to the objection or you are just continuing your debate?
Mr Speaker, I do not want to engage in any tit for tat. I am reminding him of the choice of words that we have had to live with, yet they are so allergic to the use of any word that in their view offends them, but we sit down here. The Chief Whip for the Majority -- the Minority -- why do I say Majority these days? Mr Speaker, I should watch my tongue -- The Hon Minority Chief Whip was the one who at a point in time said to me that I was disingenuous. I sat down and listened to him. When I spoke about optical illusion he sprang up to oppose it, that he took offence to that. Mr Speaker, just so that we maintain the discourse, if my Hon Colleagues say that I should substitute the word ‘pad', but pad in local language, in my language, Akan, a head pad is kashire. Ye se woasoa ade bi kashire a, what is wrong with that? To wit, if you are told that you have padded something, what is wrong with it?
Hon Majority Leader, it shall be out of order.
Mr Speaker, I withdraw the word ‘pad'.
Very well, you withdraw ‘that it is padded'.
That is the same.You could say that the cost was excessive, but to say it was inflated suggests wrong motive.
Mr Speaker, the cost was excessively expensive. Mr Speaker, having said that, I believe we have really attended to many of the issues contained in the Report, and I believe we should also look at some of the areas that the Committee admitted that we should improve and work on, and we should sound the Ministry of Finance to work on these areas, so that next year, in their Report we shall see an improved management account. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Question put and Motion agreed to.
Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Thank you Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I am coming under Standing Order 91(b) to draw the attention of the House -- Mr Speaker, with your permission, it reads: “Debates may be interrupted -- (b) by a matter of privilege suddenly arising…” Mr Speaker, while we are Sitting in the Chamber, if you look at most of the news headlines, it is worrying that our own, Hon Kennedy Agyapong is really on the offensive attack on Parliament. Mr Speaker, I would just refer you to one, which is on Ghanaweb. The words are very unpalatable, just for your sake I would just refer to only one. I have the video, and I have a lot of the publication. To have referred to Parliament as cheap, useless -- Mr Speaker, I have the tape here. Our Hon Colleague is referring to this House as a cheap and useless House. And just to paraphrase, that, if this House was not useless, we would not have the likes of our Leader, Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu to be its Leader. Mr Speaker, I find this very offensive and unbecoming of a Member of Parliament. For the past week or so he had been on rampaging insults. Mr Speaker, article 115 of the Constitution gives every one of us the right to air our views about issues that are going on in our country. We can feel very strongly about them, but where we choose to attack individuals, call them names and refer to the very institution that we ourselves belong to as “if not this useless Parliament, what is GH¢11,000.00? Do we know how much he gives as chop money?” Mr Speaker, sadly, he does not feed anybody here. I think this is a matter, if you would permit me, Order 28 of our Standing Orders clearly --
“An act or omission which obstructs or impedes Parliament in the performance of its functions or which obstructs or impedes a Member or officer of Parliament in the discharge of his duties or affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends either directly or indirectly to produce such a result shall be contempt of Parliament.”
“Any act or omission which affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends either directly, or indirectly to bring the name of Parliament into disrepute.” Mr Speaker, these comments and insults are not only against the Hon Majority Leader, but many others and to Parliament, are defamatory, libellous and contemptuous. I would want to come under Standing Order 78 (a) which says: “Unless any Order otherwise provides, notice shall be given of any motion which it is proposed to make, except the following: (a) a motion relating to contempt of Parliament”. Mr Speaker, I come under this to move that our Hon Colleague, Hon Ken Agyapong, be referred to the Privileges Committee on the basis of his conduct and utterances against this House, the Majority Leader and against many well- meaning Ghanaians.
Mr Speaker, it is with deep reluctance that I rise to support this Motion. Reluctance, because the pronouncements of our Hon Colleague are very unbecoming. The Hon Majority Leader is the Leader of government Business in this House. If we were running a parliamentary democracy, he would have been the Prime Minister. It is precisely because the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana guaranteed and sanctioned by the Constitution of Ghana, which Constitution gives us the freedom of expression -- He said it is a useless Parliament and we are foolish. This includes Mr Speaker. It is precisely because we are foolish that we elected the Hon Majority Leader to preside over Government Business in this House and over the foolishness that we do in this House. Mr Speaker, I do not think that we are that foolish. The 275 Members of Parliament (MP) including him, represent constituencies. To say that, this is a foolish Parliament, including yourself, is to say that the people who elected us here are foolish people. Mr Speaker, I do not think that in Assin Central, the people who elected Hon Ken Agyapong are foolish people. Mr Speaker, I do not think that the people who elected you, first as an independent Memeber and subsequently elected you on the ticket of a party are foolish people. It is because Parliament is duly constituted. Probably we do not understand it. Parliament is duly constituted by the 275 Members, the Speaker and the Clerks-at- the-Table. So if he says that the duly constituted Parliament is foolish and has elected the Hon Majority Leader because we are foolish, it casts aspersions on our integrity and reputation. I do not think that my good Friend and brother, Hon K. T. Hammond is a foolish man. I do not think so. Mr Speaker, when I became a lawyer and was called to the Bar, the first few steps I took were guided by Hon Atta Akyea. He is not a stupid man. The sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them. If we do not stand up for the sun to
Hon Majority Chief Whip, I would want to hear you. After that, I would want to hear Hon K. T. Hammond.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Chief Whip has just drawn the attention of the House and your good Self to some news item that is circulating on social Media. According to him, it is contemptuous of this Parliament. As he read out Standing Order 28 to us, the same provision can be found in article 122 of our Constitution. In my opinion, what is contemptuous is contemptuous, irrespective of who made that contemptuous statement. For now, we can only proceed on the assumption that the Hon Member made those statements. We need to give him the opportunity to clear himself. The opportunity can only be availed to the Hon Member if he appears before a Committee, because this matter has gone viral and is all over the place. He needs to clear his name and we need to clear the dignity of Parliament. On that score, I support the call by my Hon Colleague the Hon Minority Chief Whip, that the matter be referred to the Privileges Committee, to delve into it, either to establish the truth or otherwise of the allegation. However, we are not proceeding on the assumption that he is guilty until the outcome of the investigation. I support the call. It is always important for all of us to get the opportunity to clear our names when we are cited. I am most grateful.
Hon Member for Adansi Asokwa, I want to hear from you.
Mr Speaker, if truth be told, if I had concentrated properly and I had heard from the very beginning, the point the Hon Minority Chief Whip raised, I probably would have had to recuse myself and slip out of the House. Mr Speaker, when I heard the full import of the point he made, it dawned on me whether I would want to sit in the discussion or leave. Mr Speaker, this is the season of fasting. These are very serious matters. I accept the principles that are operated in this House. I also know the values of kinship. There are those who think that Hon Ken Ohene Agyapong is my client and those who think he is my brother. I wonder if it is not quite invidious of me to get up on the occasion like this, and in all morality, be able to support a Motion that my Hon Brother should be brought to the Privileges Committee. Mr Speaker, more importantly, the legal sense in me is strongly agitating against the instinct in me, which is the fact that my Hon Colleagues have alluded to some statements purported to have been made by him. In all seriousness, I have not had the privilege of listening. You could not call yourself privileged to hear the sort of things that are supposed to have been said. Even if it is true that he indeed said those things, then it is entirely a different matter. But to really support a Motion that he should be brought to the Sanhedrin or the Privileges Committee when I do not know what it is, it may not be fair on me. That is not really to suggest that I have supported entirely everything he had said of late. Mr Speaker, we have had very hectic arguments on some of the things he had been saying of late. I support him when he is in the right and I criticise, fight et cetera when I think he is wrong. But of course, he is entitled to —
Hon Senior Member thank you. I just want to be assisted. Your position is clear. If indeed what he is alleged to have been said is correct, let the law apply, but for you, because he is your friend, you are not willing to vote on it. Hon Joseph Yieleh Chireh, you are the other senior member here. I would like to hear from you on this Motion.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I believe it is a very serious issue and if we want to be respected as a House, then we need to be seen to be calling out Hon Members to order. We are not trying the Hon Colleague in his absence. In fact, the other people that were referred to the Privileges Committee were not here in the House. But we asked that they should be invited to appear, so I fully agree.
Hon Atta Akyea, I believe after Hon K. T. Hammond, you are the most senior lawyer here. I would want to hear from you.
Mr Speaker, I believe even when we have filth on us as a setup, we should learn to wash our dirty linen in-house. I believe in that principle. Maybe somebody is misbehaving in this House; and we could call the person to order in-house. But when we decide to export our filth outside the premises of Parliament, in any kind of medium, then we have lowered the esteem of this House, and I say that without apology. Let people attack us, and it is fair. We are not enjoying immunity from criticisms. Hon Members of Parliament could be reasonably criticised for what we are doing. This is because, disagreement and dissent is at the heart of democracy. Mr Speaker, but what becomes a contumacious behaviour and the dimensions are serious is when one of us believes that, even in the heat of anger, which I am of the view should not even be associated with a man who is supposed to represent a crowd. One's capacity to control one's temper is evidence of maturity. If in the fate of anger, one wants to come and denigrate this House, the Leader and the rest of them -- Mr Speaker, without saying more, I would want to quote the 1992 Constitution which is the highest law of the land. Guess what, even the President is subject to this Constitution. Mr Speaker, with your kind permission, I beg to read article 122 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana which talks about Contempt of Parliament: “An act or omission which obstructs or impedes Parliament in the performance of its functions or which obstructs or impedes a member or officer of Parliament in the discharge of his duties, or affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends either directly or indirectly to produce that result, is contempt of Parliament.” Mr Speaker, therefore if where we make the laws of this country is an assembly of buffoons, then this should be investigated, coming from anybody. This is because we have been entrusted to enact the laws of this country so that we have the sanity. The sanity of this country is in our hands. People do not know what law making is all about. Law making is how people begin to come under law so that men would not exalt themselves above the law. And if that is the state of affairs, and anybody, for whatever reason or consideration, should ever say that the highest level of decision making and those who participate in that sacred duty are a bunch of dimwits, and they are simpletons -- Mr Speaker, we do not need any advice that the person should come clean and appear before the requisite Committee of this Parliament, the Privileges Committee and be interrogated. He even has the right to counsel. If what is being attributed to him is not the truth, he walks away free. If indeed and in fact, these were his words, the good people of that Committee would be able to come with a conclusion and even bring their Report to this House for the entire House to debate it and appropriate sanctions if any, to be meted out to him. So I do not have challenges, although I used to defend him as an Attorney but on this occasion, this House is so big and important. I take my significance from here. If anybody wants to sort of besmear this House, no matter how exalted that person is, I would not endorse it. Therefore Mr Speaker, you have a golden opportunity to hallow the name of this august House.
Very well, Hon Members, I believe I have heard enough. The Hon Member for Assin Central is alleged to have uttered words that this House is a foolish assembly of Members, otherwise we would not have elected the Majority Leader as the Leader of the House. If indeed he uttered those words, they are clearly against Standing Orders 28 and 30 (2), which such Orders are indeed a replication of the Constitutional provision, article 122. In that circumstances, I apply Order 31 of our Standing Orders which reads: “In all cases of proceedings where complaint is made of a breach of privilege or contempt of Parliament, Mr Speaker may direct that the matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges.” Hon Members, it is almost 4.00 p.m. and I would adjourn this House.
The House was adjourned at 3.40 p.m. till Thursday, 7th June, 2018 at 10.00 a.m. in the forenoon.