Honourable Members, Business for the Second Meeting of the Second Session of the Seventh Parliament commences in earnest. I take the opportunity to welcome you to the House from recess with the expectation that you are much refreshed and energised to work at full steam throughout the Meeting. Above all, my continued prayer is for God Almighty to grant us peace and the required capacity to complete the businesses that have been arranged by the Business Committee of the House as well as those that may subsequently be arranged. As usual, many of you continued to exhibit great devotion to work in your constituencies as well as in the House even during the recess. I am reliably informed that the Committee on Lands and Forestry organised Stakeholders' meetings in Accra and Cape Coast on the Land Bill, 2018 with great success, while the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs also held a Stakeholders' meeting in Accra on the Right to Information Bill, 2018 and thereafter, held meetings at Koforidua to consider the Bill in question. Indeed, there were other equally important official engagements by Hon Members of the House and also my good self which raised the bar a notch further at boosting our international relationship and image as a country. It may please you to note, that I represented His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Ghana at the inaugural ceremony of the President-elect of the Republic of Sierra-Leone, His Excellency, Brigadier Julius Maada Bio (Rtd) in Freetown on 12th May, 2018. Indeed, my representation of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana was occasioned by his inability
Mr Speaker, we are grateful for your comments. I would want to say that we welcome Hon Members back, and we promise that we would do the best that we can to get Hon Members to attend to the House on time and in their numbers. We would also cooperate with you, so far as our rules are concerned and the consensus that we are able to build to solidify the effort by this House to get,
Thank you very much. Yes, Hon Majority Leader and Leader of the House?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to say a few words, as we begin another Meeting in this Session. Mr Speaker, just to remind Hon Members that in this Meeting, we would have a very tall order. There are about forty-nine (49) Bills in incubation. Certainly, we may not be able to deal with all 49 Bills. We may have to prioritise. As Mr Speaker has alluded to, the Right to Information Bill, 298 is before us. We also have the Ghana Integrated Bauxite and Aluminium Authority Bill to deal with. We also have the Land Bill, which is intended to concentrate on the development of rail infrastructure. We need the Railway Infrastructure Bill; we need the Railway Development Authority Bill and we would be dealing with these matters. Mr Speaker, the Companies Bill is quite a voluminous one, we may have to contend with it. These are among the many bills. As I have said, a few have come to us but the rest of them -- over forty-five (45) of them -- are still in incubation. As and when they come out, we may have to deal with them. Mr Speaker, we have called for an improved conviviality in the House and I believe that is a very timely reminder to all of us. The House, as we sat in the immediately foregone Meeting, experienced some turbulence. This was because a few matters that ought to have been transacted in the House were taken outside. Some of them were predicated on some informed issues that had come before certain Hon Members. Some of them were predicated on no information at all and yet, even though this is the forum for debate, we took them outside. That really developed some turbulence. Mr Speaker, if we have to walk together as a collective, we must be very consultative and share information and not take anything from this House outside to the media. It does not help to develop Parliament itself. Mr Speaker, I would ask of us that the House should learn from what happened during the last Meeting, certainly not the best, and resolve to improve on working together as a team in this House to further develop and deepen parliamentary practice. Mr Speaker, I also heard you talk about the fact that we have to recline and deal decisively with the issue of galamsey. I have nothing useful to add to that, except to say that in this House, we often do not have full attendance because some Hon Members also engage in, properly
Mr Speaker, I am not talking about the ‘‘galamsey'' that you talked about -- [Laughter.] -- I am talking about Hon Members not coming to attend to the Business of this House and pursuing some personal interests outside. That is what I am describing in this context as galamsey. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, Hon Joseph Yieleh Chireh is pointing to me. I do not engage in galamsey. I know what he engages in, which would not be disclosed at this material moment. Mr Speaker, I believe that as I have already alluded to, we would have to deal with very many important matters, especially the Bills that I have spoken about. I would need the full engagement of the various committees, which would have the appropriate referrals made to them. Mr Speaker, I would therefore implore Hon Members to be very diligent and to attend to the Business of the House in order to allow us to do as much as we can. At least, that is the purpose for which we have been elected to this Parliament and also for the nation.
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader. In fact, it is very important that you should take a cue from this, particularly with regard to how we interact with the media. There is definitely no one in this Honourable House who fears the media. This is because, without that you would not be here. We need to communicate with people before we even get elected. But at the same time, we must be very careful about matters pending before the House, which become sudden matters of comment, particularly before the matter comes before us. The media can never be a pre-trial chamber for Hon Members of Parliament, nor a substitute for this Honourable House in terms of deliberation on affairs of State. If we do that we lower our own dignity and we do our people disservice. Therefore, let us know how to maintain the thin line of discretion in this regard. Thank you very much.
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 26th April, 2018.]
Mr Speaker, even though we have gone past the consideration of the Votes and Proceedings, I am just looking at items listed as 14 and 15 in the Votes and Proceedings.
Item listed 14 on page 12?
On page 12.
Please go on.
Mr Speaker, you would recall that the Right to Information Bill, 2018 was presented to the House and the relevant referral was made. Now, on account of the Report from the Committee, that which was laid initially came to be withdrawn for a new one to be laid, as properly captured in item 15 (ii). It looks like that one has not been properly captured, so, it is made to appear as if we have two Bills before the House. So, I am just calling the attention of the Clerks-at-the-Table to look at how they captured it, in order that we sanitise the place. Otherwise, it may appear as if two Bills have been laid. The import of that Motion captured in item 15, is to withdraw the old one. That is what attention I wanted to draw to how items 14 and 15 had been formulated and captured in the Votes and Proceedings.
Thank you very much. The Clerks-at-the-Table should take note accordingly.
Mr Speaker, I tried to catch your attention during the correction of the Votes and Proceedings. I noticed that throughout the Votes and Proceedings, from page 10 all the way to page 21, any time the name of the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry appeared, we got it wrong. His name is without an ‘n' and ‘g'. It is “Kyerematen”. There is no “n” after “a” and there is no “g” after “n”. So, if we could correct it on pages 10, 11, 13 and 21 -- the attendance to the Joint Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism and Foreign Affairs.
Thank you very much. It is duly admitted.
Mr Speaker, since the Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa has undertaken to correct names, I am surprised he did not see the incorrect capturing of my own name. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, that is on page 10. So, I would be grateful if it could be properly corrected for the proper rendition of the name to be done.
Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa, “Charity begins at home.” So, next time, notice your Hon Leader's name having been misspelt before you proceed to non- Hon Members. [Laughter.] Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 26th April, 2018 as corrected is hereby admitted as true record of proceedings. We would continue with the Official Report of Friday, 16th March, 2018. Any corrections?
Mr Speaker, permission to point to page 20, though belated.
Hon Member, page 20 of the Official Report?
Mr Speaker, the Votes and Proceedings. -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, I will go to the Table Office. I am grateful.
It is duly noted. Official Report of Friday, 16th March, 2018. Any correction?
It is well noted. The Table Office should bring that up so that we take it. Incidentally, that is not before me now. The Official Report of Friday, 16th March, 2018?
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Friday, 16th March, 2018.]
Mr Speaker, it is a small correction on column 2624. It should be “Mr Speaker, I intend to ask questions and not to make comments”. Mr Speaker, “make” is omitted.
Hon Members, any further corrections? In the absence of any further corrections, the Official Report of Tuesday, 20th March, 2018 as corrected, stands admitted as true record of proceedings. The Official Report of 21st March, 2018. Hon Members, any corrections? [No correction was made to the Official Report of 21st March, 2018].
The Official Report of 22nd March, 2018. Hon Members, any corrections? [No correction was made to the Official Report of 22nd March, 2018].
Official Report of 23rd March, 2018. Hon Members, any corrections? [No correction was made to the Official Report of 23rd March, 2018].
Hon Members, corres- pondence from the President. While we were on recess, we had communication from the President of his absence from the country from 9th May to 16th May, 2018 in the United Kingdom (UK).
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr Speaker, the Committee met today, Tuesday, 15th May 2018 and arranged Business of the House for the First Week ending Friday, 18th May 2018.
Arrangement of Business Formal Communications by the Speaker Mr Speaker, you may read any available communication to the House. Question(s) Mr Speaker, the Business Committee has programmed the following Ministers to respond to Questions asked of them during the week: No. of Question(s) i. Minister for Agriculture -- 1 ii. Minister for Railways Development -- 1 iii. Minister for Special Development Initiatives -- 1 iv. Minister for Business Development -- 1 v. Minister responsible for Public Procurement -- 1 Total Number of Questions -- 5 Mr Speaker, five (5) Ministers are expected to attend upon the House to respond to five (5) Questions during the week. The Questions are of the following types: i. Urgent -- 1; ii. Oral -- 4. Statements Mr Speaker, pursuant to Order 70 (2), Ministers of State may be permitted to make Statements of Government policy. Statements duly admitted by Mr Speaker may be made in the House by Hon Members, in accordance with Order 72. Bills, Papers and Reports Mr Speaker, Bills may be presented to the House for First Reading and those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day in accordance with Order 119. Papers and committee reports may also be presented to the House. Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the week. Briefing by Commission of Inquiry Mr Speaker, the Business Committee takes this opportunity to inform all Hon Members that the Commission of Inquiry on the creation of new regions in Ghana has proposed to brief all Hon Members from regions that may be affected on pertinent issues relating to the possibility of the creation of regions. Hon Members from the following regions are expected to meet members of the Commission: (i) Brong Ahafo Region (ii) Northern Region (iii) Volta Region (iv) Western Region. The briefing is scheduled to be held on Friday, 18th May 2018 at the D. F. Annan Conference Room of Job 600 at 12:00 noon. In view of the foregoing, Parliament is expected to commence its Sitting on Friday, 18th May, 2018, at 9:00 a.m. Hon Members are accordingly entreated to be punctual on the said Friday. Conclusion Mr Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160 (2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this Honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week under consideration. Statements Presentation of Papers -- (a) The 1899 and the 1907 Conventions for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. (b) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Czech Republic for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains. (c) Convention between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains. (d) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the Republic of Mauritius for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains. (e) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Republic of Singapore for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains. (f) Request for waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT, Import NHIL, ECOWAS Levy, EXIM Levy, Special Import Levy and other approved imposts amounting to the Ghana Cedi equivalent of two million, three hundred and two thousand, Four hundred and sixty-nine euros and fifty-eight cents (€2,302,469.58) on project equipment and materials in respect of the Establishment of an Environmental Monitoring Laboratory at the University of
Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa. Committee sittings. Questions Statements Presentation of Papers -- (a) Budget Performance Report in Respect of the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the Period January to December, 2017. (b) Budget Performance Report in Respect of the Public Services Commission for the Period January to December, 2017. (c) Budget Performance Report in Respect of the National Media Commission for the Period January to December, 2017. (d) Budget Performance Report in Respect of Government Machinery for the Period January to December, 2017. (e) Budget Performance Report in Respect of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service for the Period January to December, 2017. (f) Budget Performance Report in Respect of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration for the Period January to December, 2017. Motions -- (a) That this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Performance Audit Report of the Auditor-General on the Disposal of Government Vehicles by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ghana Health Service. (Moved on Thursday, 25th January, 2018 by the Hon. Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Mr. James Klutse Avedzi and seconded by the Hon Member for Fanteakwa South, Mr. Kofi Okyere Agyekum). Debate to continue (b) That this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Report of the Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana (Public Boards, Corporations and Other Statutory Institu- tions) for the year ended 31st December 2015. Committee sittings. Urgent Question --
To ask the Minister for Food and Agriculture whether the Minister is aware that one liter (1lt) Rockstar, which is supposed to be cocoa insecticide, but not yet approved for sale by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, is already being sold on the market, and if so, what appropriate steps the Ministry is taking in this regard. Statements Presentation of Papers -- (a) Annual Report of the Audit Committee of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources for the year 2017. (b) Annual Report of the Forestry Commission for the year 2015. Motions -- Second Reading of Bills -- Witness Protection Bill, 2017. Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017. Committee sittings. Questions -- *304. Mr Mohammed Abdul-Aziz (Mion): To ask the Minister for Special Development Initiatives when Government will release the cedi equivalent of one million United States dollars (US$1,000,000.00) to the 275 Constituencies as captured in the 2017 Budget Statement. *306. Mr Edward Abambire Bawa (Bongo): To ask the Minister for Business Development how the private sector partner for the National Entrepreneurial and Innovation Plan (NEIP) was procured and how much was involved. *347. Mr Yusif Sulemana (Bole/ Bamboi): To ask the Minister responsible for Public Procurement how many restricted and sole sourcing Government contracts have been awarded from between January 2017 and November 2017, and under what circumstances. Statements Consideration Stage of Bills -- Witness Protection Bill, 2017. Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017. Committee sittings.
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader. Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa?
I am most grateful Mr Speaker. I wish to thank the Hon Majority Leader for the presentation of the Business Statement. Mr Speaker, on page 2, under Presentation of Papers -- just for clarification -- item numbered 3 (iii) (d), it states: “Budget Performance Report in Respect of Government Machinery for the Period January to December, 2017.” I would want to find out if it is the Office of Government Machinery or another entity called Government Machinery. I just want clarification.
Mr Speaker, I thank the Hon Majority Leader for the Business Statement. I want to use this opportunity to seek clarification. During the last Meeting, I filed a number of Questions; one in particular, is related to the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry. On two occasions, it was not taken because the Hon Minister was unable to avail himself.
Mr Speaker, I just want to take advantage of this part of our proceedings to draw the attention of the Leaders of the House to an issue that I witnessed this morning. I went to the Marshal's office to see him. He is a key member of this House and he is responsible for our security. Unfortunately, I met him outside the building because his office is without a functioning air-condition and the heat in the room was unbearable.
Mr Speaker, if you look at the last paragraph, there is a proposal to meet Hon Members of Parliament from the regions that are being considered for the creation of the new regions. The proposal is to meet them and brief them on issues. However, if you look at the time, 12 o'clock on Friday, most of the Hon Members who represent constituencies in those catchment areas would go for Friday prayers. So could the time be extended, especially for those from the Northern Region? If the time could be extended after Friday prayers, it would be very helpful to us. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, concerning the issue raised by Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa, whether or not we are dealing with the same office, that is the Office of Government Machinery or it is a new creation - it is the one that he knows. Mr Speaker, seriously speaking, the Business Committee may have to find a way to co-opt Hon Ablakwa to our meeting since he has eagle eyes which he applies to scrutinise all draft Reports that come before this House. We would co- opt him from now onwards. If he defies corruption, perhaps, we might have to conscript him. Mr Speaker, concerning the question asked by Hon Richard Quashigah, the convention in the House is that, Questions that are asked lapse at the end of the Meeting. We have noticed that some Questions were asked. In his case, they were programmed to be answered. They could not be answered because the Hon Minister had travelled or had to be re-programmed. I think that the second time it was re-programmed it could not be taken. In that case, we would have tipped it into this Meeting. For that Question and others of similar import that suffered the same fate, they certainly would be offloaded to this Meeting's programme and be answered. I know for a fact that the draft agenda that is before me -- we have not finalised it and that is why it has not been distributed. I can assure him that the Question that he talked about is the first that has been listed. He was to ask the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry whether there is an implementation plan for the One District, One Factory policy initiative and if so, whether the Ministry would furnish this august House with a copy. That is his Question and it is the first on the agenda. So he should be rest assured. Mr Speaker, Hon Sam George is a freedom fighter and speaks for the rights of others. He said to us that the Marshal is a key Member of this House. The Marshal is certainly not a key Member of this House. He is not a Member of this House and therefore cannot be a key Member. Mr Speaker, if he formulated the question properly, I would answer it. I would want to tell him that the Marshal is not a Member of this House, much less, a key Member. The issue that he raised is administrative, and I would draw the attention of the Clerk to Parliament who is the Head of Administration to that fact for him to rectify the situation for the Marshal, a key officer of this House, but not a Member of this House. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader. The Business Statement is admitted accordingly. At the Commencement of Public Business, Presentation of Papers -- item numbered 5 (a). The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice?
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Hon Members, item numbered 5 (a)?
Hon Members, item numbered 5 (b) (i), by the Hon Minister for Finance?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister and Deputy Minister for Finance are having an urgent and a very important meeting now, as I speak. Mr Speaker, I would implore the House to allow Hon Dr Anthony Akoto Osei; who is an Hon Minister of State, to hold the fort for the Ministry of Finance and present the Papers for and on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance.
Yes, Hon Minority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, I am sorry to say that it is a very sad way to start with the Ministry of Finance. During last Meeting, most of the time, the Hon Minister for Finance was not in the House to do his business. Mr Speaker, we should look at what is involved -- ‘'double taxation''. This is a very important item. The Hon Minister for Finance and none of his Hon Deputies could find it necessary to come and lay the Paper? Mr Speaker, I hope that the Hon Majority Leader would carry our sentiments to the Minister for Finance. This is because in the last Meeting, most of the time, the Hon Minister for Finance was not here to carry out his business. Mr Speaker, we hope that in this Meeting he would find it necessary to look at the activities in Parliament and prioritise some of them so that he would be here in his person. Mr Speaker, obviously, I cannot object to our Hon Colleague the Hon Minister of State for Monitoring and Evaluation laying the Papers, but he has been doing this too many times on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Chief Whip has raised a very important point, except, to remind him that, he knows the burden of Hon Ministers for Finance. The Hon Finance Ministers carry such a huge burden that many of them, many a time, are not able to be with us, which is why they send their Hon Deputies to represent them. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, as I have said, for today, they are having a very important meeting on many matters, which is why the Hon Deputies are not here with us. Mr Speaker, that notwithstanding, I understand the principle that the Hon Minority Chief Whip is espousing, but the issues contained here would be referred to the Finance Committee. I know the Hon Minority Chief Whip's own views about the “avoidance of ‘double taxation'' and so on, but it is for the Committee to have the referral laid to them and they would come to advise the House the proper way forward for all of us and for the nation.
Hon Dr Anthony Akoto Osei? By the Minister of Sate for Monitoring and Evaluation (Dr Anthony Akoto Osei) (on behalf of the Minister for Finance) -- (i) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Czech Republic for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains. (ii) Convention between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains. (iii) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the Republic of Mauritius for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains. (iv) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Republic of Singapore for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains. (v) Request for waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT, Import NHIL, ECOWAS Levy, EXIM Levy, Special Import Levy and other approved imposts amounting to the Ghana Cedi equivalent of two million, three hundred and two thousand, four hundred and sixty-nine Euros and fifty eight cents (€2,302,469.58) on project equipment and materials in respect of the Establishment of an Environmental Monitoring Laboratory at the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa. Referred to the Finance Committee.
Hon Majority Leader, any indication at this stage?
Mr Speaker, there are Committee meetings programmed for today. The Business Committee has already had its meeting, but there is a joint Committee on Finance and Mines and Energy meeting which is slated for today. Mr Speaker, there are other Committees that were also programmed to sit today, but unfortunately, they were not advertised. These include, in particular, the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee plus the Committee on Communications on the Right to Information Bill (RTI). Mr Speaker, I may want to plead with them to quicken their steps because we really need to start with the consideration of the Bill referred to them very early in the day. Mr Speaker, on that account, and having exhausted the business for the day, I move that this House adjourns till tomorrow at 10 o'clock in the forenoon.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion moved by the Hon Majority Leader. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 12.30 p.m. till Wednesday, 16th May, 2018 at 10.00 a.m.