Debates of 16 May 2018

MR SPEAKER

PRAYERS

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, item numbered 2. Correction of Votes and Proceedings dated 15th May, 2018. Page 1 . . . 9 --

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Minority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, on page 9, I see an item where the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice withdrew the Right to Information Bill, 2018. A Report was presented by the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communica-

Speaker
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, yesterday, the Hon Minority Leader was not with us and he is striving to take us back to the events of yesterday. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, so as I said, he wants to send us back to the commencement of Business of yesterday, but I believe he now appreciates what we did.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, we are more interested in whether it is factual, and if it is so, I am very flexible about these matters.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, yesterday, the Votes and Proceedings did not sufficiently capture what happened on the day of the recall, and I pointed that out. So, what is here today is to correct the correction that I sought to effect. If the Hon Minority Leader was here with us, he would have understood the import of this. I believe that is the essence of it.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Very well, so, you agree with what he said? I direct that the correction should be carried out accordingly. Page 10 . . . 13? Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of 15th May, 2018 as corrected is hereby admitted as the true record of proceedings. We also have the Official Report dated 26th April, 2018. Any corrections, please?

[No correction was made to the Official Report of Thursday, 26th April, 2018.]

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, there being no Statements, we would move to the Commencement of Public Business. Item numbered 4; Presentation of Papers. The following Papers are to be presented. Hon Majority Leader, any assistance?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I am sorry, I was engaged by one of the officers of the House. I really wanted to know where the Hon Ministers are. So I sent messages to them and apparently the messages got somewhere and he was just relaying the messages to me. Mr Speaker, may I lay the Papers on behalf of the Hon Ministers listed?

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Very well, you may.

PAPERS

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, I would want to plead with the Hon Majority Leader. Yesterday, he assured us but none of the Hon Ministers is here. If the businesses of the Government are not ready to be taken, we plead that they do not force us to come here when those who are to pilot these businesses are not here. Laying of Papers may not be too difficult; that could be accepted. Mr Speaker, but when we come to the substantive Motions, it is better we serve a notice that if they are not here themselves, it may be very difficult for us to allow other Ministers to do that on their behalf. This is because, they need to be here themselves to carry out the businesses. None of the about four Hon Ministers is here. We may not have so much to object to laying of the Papers, but we still want to plead with the Hon Majority Leader to do well to get the Hon Ministers to take the Business of the House very seriously. We had promised to Sit at 10.00 a.m. It was because of these same delays that we came in around 10.30 a.m. and they are still not here. Mr Speaker, we hope that the Hon Majority Leader would extend our worries

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, ordinarily, Hon Ministers should be here to take charge of their responsibilities I accept that. Mr Speaker, except that the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry is outside the jurisdiction. The Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs is also not in the country at the moment. It is not for nothing that the Hon Majority Leader, who is the Leader of Government Business is an Hon Minister. He is required, in the absence of the substantive Hon Ministers, to stand in the stead of these Hon Ministers to do same. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague would recall that in times past, when the Hon Majority Leader was not an Hon Minister, I fervently prayed and pleaded that the Hon Majority Leader should be made an Hon Minister, so that when the Hon Ministers are not here, he would be able to lay the Papers on their behalf. In their era, they refused to accept this. The Hon Majority Leaders that we had were not Hon Ministers, so the House suffered the consequences. This is just the laying of the Paper. Mr Speaker, the waving of the hand of Hon Dr Clement Apaak would not prevent me from doing what I am supposed to do. [Hear! Hear!].

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, I thought the Hon Majority Leader would have stopped at his first statement that, it is right and he would make efforts, which was consoling. Mr Speaker, but he veered completely. Mr Speaker would remember that when the list came and we were all worried about the numbers, we were told that it was to help the Government carry out its functions. The Hon Minister for Finance has three Hon Deputies, and two of them are Hon Members of Parliament. If the two Hon Members of Parliament cannot find time to even be in the Chamber of Parliament and the Hon Majority Leader defends that, what signal does he send to the rest of the Hon Members? He is simply telling the rest not to take the Business of this House seriously. I thought that his initial statement was consoling. If he had stuck to that, the rest of us who have travelled early through the traffic for Business to start would have been consoled that he would make efforts to get them here. Mr Speaker, but his concluding statement points to the fact that it would happen. Mr Speaker, I would want to remind the Hon Majority Leader that the list that was sent to us here did not include him as a Cabinet Minister. So he is not a Cabinet Minister. Most of these businesses are from the Cabinet Ministers, but he now tells us that he is part of the initial crafting of the policy and everything. The Hon Majority Leader knows the rules and practices of this House. If he had stayed at his consoling statement and made efforts to get them -- [Interruption] -- This is because I know that before the beginning of the Meeting, he would have called the Hon Ministers to forward their businesses to them. I know that he did that and indicated to them why they must be here to carry out their businesses. They gave him all the assurance. Mr Speaker, so I think the Hon Majority Leader should stick to his first statement, where he said he would make efforts to get the Hon Ministers to be here. When there are compelling reasons why one or two of them could not be around, obviously, there would be no way we would say that the Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs cannot lay a Paper on behalf of an Hon Minister.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, you would have a say after the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee.

Speaker
Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Chief Whip went on pontificating. Standing Order 74 provide and I beg to quote: “A Paper may be presented to the House only by Mr. Speaker, the Chairman of a Committee, a Member or a Minister.” The Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs is well within his remit to lay these Papers in the House. Also, these are budget performance reports; about seven of them have been listed here. This is a creature of the Public Financial Management Act, which was passed in 2016. Never have we had budget reports presented here. So, I think that the Table Office has not even informed the Hon Ministers because ordinarily, Hon Ministers would not come to the House to present budget performance reports. This is a new creature. So, laying blame, as he is doing, let us find out from the Table Office whether they have, indeed invited the Hon Ministers to present Papers so listed here. Mr Speaker, budget performance reports are nothing for which we are to bring whole Hon Ministers doing serious business -- [Interruption.] This is nothing. So, I do not know why he is pontificating and going over. I think it is

Speaker
Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah

well within the remit of the Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. So, as you granted him the permission, let us go, move forward and do the Business required of us. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, happily, the Hon Minority Chief Whip said that he thought that I would have stopped at a point. Certainly, his thoughts are not my thoughts, and his ways are not my ways. So, he should not just rise up to say that he thought I would stop somewhere. His thoughts are not my thoughts, and his ways, which I very much know, certainly cannot be my ways. Mr Speaker, he said that there are five Hon Ministers listed, but none is here. When I tell the Hon Majority Chief Whip that sometimes he suffers from optical illusion, he says I am insulting him. There are five Hon Ministers including myself. I am here. He said that five Hon Ministers are listed but all are not here. Mr Speaker, I know the Hon Minority Chief Whip has started his fast today. I believe that his vision is not impaired by the fast, I know that one; I can testify to it. So please, he should check the list, and check who is here and who is not here, but having said that, I never said that I am going to be here to do all the businesses of Hon Ministers every time. The simple sentences that I put together, I never, by any stretch of imagination, inferred and I never directly also stated that I am going to be doing the job of all Hon Ministers all the time. I have never said so.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Speaker
Mr Speaker

To have a Member of Parliament and the Leader of the House as a Minister can be very useful in saving a situation. In the legal provisions, we call those things saving clauses. A saving clause should therefore be applied only sparingly when there is some need and you have to work, but it cannot become the order of the day. So we must be very careful about any such usage. Parliaments everywhere, the House of Representatives everywhere is very jealous of its rights, and this House must be jealous of its position as the representative House of the people, before whom all Executive proposals et cetera should be placed, and they would insist that unless providentially hindered, the appropriate Minister or Secretary of State should appear before this Honourable House. Item numbered 4 (c), Hon Minister for Finance? Hon Majority Leader, please get permission for the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration so that she may do the necessary.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, that was why I got up.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

But she had gotten up earlier. I am drawing your attention, because the Hon Minister got up earlier, so please go on.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, she is behind me, and I would not pretend to know what is going on behind me.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

You should synchronise how you go about your business.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

I got up to seek permission for the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to lay the Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance. Mr Speaker, let me explain that, by the information that was transmitted at Cabinet level, she was required to come back to Ghana today. Apparently, she came last night, and I did not know about that, which is why I said that she is out of the jurisdiction.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, I perfectly understand you. When I was a form 1 boy in Presbyterian Secondary School (PRESEC), Hon Ako Adjei was the Minister for Foreign Affairs. His wife pronounced that he was out of the Hon Minister, you have been recognised. By the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey) (on behalf of the Minister for Finance) -- Budget Performance Report in Respect of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service for the Period January to December, 2017. Referred to the Finance Committee.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, item numbered 4 (d) (i).

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, for the avoidance of doubt, I am present in the Chamber. By the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs -- (i) Budget Performance Report in Respect of the Public Services Commission for the Period January to December, 2017. (ii) Budget Performance Report in Respect of the National Media Commission for the Period January to December, 2017. Referred to the Special Budget Committee.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Item numbered 4 (e), Minister of State, Office of the President.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Item numbered 5, Motion. This Motion was moved by the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee on the 25th January, 2018 and seconded by the Hon Member for Fanteakwa South. The debate was not concluded. Hon Majority Leader, are we in the position to continue?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, this Motion was moved on 25th January, 2018, and when the debate continued, a few matters ensued. We needed to have some consultation in order to bring the matter to a closure, and then that was to allow us to close the debate. Unfortunately, at the time, the Hon Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee had to leave and travel outside, and I think it has been on the back burner for some time. Mr Speaker, we have to wait until he arrives and then we would see how to resolve this matter. An Hon Member -- rose --

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, you may consult your Leader. Meanwhile, Hon Majority Leader, do you have something different for us? Hon Member, you may walk to your Leader and see if you can do appropriate consultation, but I will not call you when the Leader has made an explanation of a situation to the House. Hon Majority Leader, so shall we stand that down? -- All right. Hon Members, item numbered 6 -- Motion.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, the leadership of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is not here, and we do not know where they are. I am talking about the status of the Report. So, we should wait for them and when they come, we could take that Motion.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Very well. So, you are talking about item numbered 5. That concludes it. Is that not so?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, the item numbered 6 is also in the hands of the PAC.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Very well. It is the same situation. All right. In the circumstance, Hon Majority Leader any indication?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, we have two Committee meetings slated for today, and in particular, the Appointments Committee has just started its work on the screening of the President's nominee for the position of Deputy Special Prosecutor, and a couple of us in Leadership are supposed to be part of the Appointments Committee. So in the circumstance, I would want to move, that this House takes an adjournment until tomorrow 10 o'clock in the forenoon. I so move

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I beg to second the Motion, except to add that I thought the Hon Majority Leader would relate it to Chairpersons of these Committees to do well to finish the works that have been referred to them to enable us have many more work to do, so that we can manage the time of the public more efficiently. Having said that, I second the Motion for adjournment until tomorrow 10 o'clock in the forenoon.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much, Hon Minority Chief Whip. Question put and Motion agreed to.

ADJOURNMENT