Debates of 26 April 2018

MR SPEAKER

PRAYERS

ANNOUNCEMENTS

WELCOME ADDRESS

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, I have a few remarks to make, pursuant to the recall of Parliament. Hon Members, I welcome you back to the House after adjourning sine die on Friday, 23rd March, 2018. Today's Sitting of Parliament has been convened pursuant to the exercise of power conferred on me as Speaker of Parliament by our Standing Order 42 (3). The Order states and I quote: “Mr Speaker may, if he thinks fit, call a Sitting of the House before the date or time to which it has been adjourned or at any time after the House has been adjourned sine die”. Essentially, Parliament has been convened to it for two days to enable the House transact some important business, which includes the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. Hon Members, the essence of this is that, we are seeking to have the headquarters of the AfCFTA in our country. I am mindful, a number of Committees of the House had commenced official programmes which had sent most of you away to various locations within and outside Ghana but had to call off these activities and come to the House due to the summons for re-call of which I am very happy with your compliance considering the shortness of the notice. Hon Members, Ghana has made a formal offer to the African Union (AU) to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement of which the ratification of the said Agreement is a pre-condition. In sequel, the consideration and immediate ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement will greatly enhance Ghana's chances of being selected as the host country, and reap the benefits of hosting the Secretariat in the country and also the socio- economic impact of being a signatory of the Agreement itself. Indeed, the reputation and goodwill of Ghana as a trailblazer of African Unity and economic integration of the Continent will undoubtedly be enhanced the more, if the House ratifies the Agreement. I appeal to you to work expeditiously towards the consideration of the Agreement as well as other referrals that may be scheduled by the Business Committee during this Sitting. I will appreciate if we desist from other considerations that may portend to detract us from the national interest. I pray that our awesome creator and provider, the Almighty God do guide us in our deliberations, give us the required peaceful atmosphere to work and grant us abundance of good health and strength to complete the work ahead to His glory. Thank you. Hon Members, Business Statement for the Emergency Meeting.

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

Speaker
Majority Leader (Mr Kyei-Mensah- Bonsu)Chairman of the Business Committee

Mr Speaker, the House, having been recalled pursuant to Order 42 (3) of the Standing Orders of Parliament, the Business Committee met today, Thursday, 26th April, 2018 and arranged Business of the House for the Emergency Meeting ending latest Friday, 27th April, 2018. Mr Speaker, in accordance with Order 56 (1), the Committee accordingly submits its Report as follows: Arrangement of Business Formal Communications by the Speaker Mr Speaker, you may read communications to the House if any is or are available today. Statements Mr Speaker, pursuant to Order 70 (2), Ministers of State may be permitted to make Statements of Government policy. Statements, especially Commemorative ones, 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 that are ready shall be presented to the House. Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions would be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the Emergency Meeting. The Business Committee takes this opportunity to highly commend all Hon Members for their positive response to the recall of the House to attend to urgent matters requiring action by Parliament. The Committee proposes that Hon Members give their all in order for the House to complete all scheduled Business today, Thursday, 26th April, 2018, so that Hon Members can return to continue with their constituency obligations. However, if the scheduled Business is not exhausted by close of today, Parliament may have to continue Sitting on Friday, 27th April, 2018. Conclusion Mr Speaker, in accordance with Order 160 (2) and subject to Order 53, the Committee submits to this Honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the period under consideration. Statements Presentation of Papers — (a) Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). (b) Report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal & Parliamentary Affairs and Communications on the Right to Information Bill, 2018. (c) Report of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Witness Protection Bill, 2017. (d) Report of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017. (e) Report of the Joint Committee on Trade, Industry & Tourism and Foreign Affairs Leadership on the Committee on Constitu- tional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs when the referral comes to be laid so they could submit their report to us on the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Presentation and First Reading of Bills - Industrial Designs (Amendment) Bill, 2018. Motion -- Adoption of the Report of the Joint Committee on Trade, Industry & Tourism and Foreign Affairs on the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Consequential Resolution Committee Sittings — Statements Motion -- Adoption of the Report of the Joint Committee on Trade, Industry & Tourism and Foreign Affairs on the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). (Conclusion of Debate).

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THE HOUSE IS EXPECTED TO ADJOURN

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, let me thank you for the opportunity. I know that the Hon Majority Leader insists that once I am an Hon Member of the Business Committee, he would wish that I make no comments when he presents his Report. Rightly and justifiably so, we have responded to your urgent national call of the recall of Parliament to perform a national duty relative to what you have announced to this House of an Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Mr Speaker, it appears to me that it is a major singular item agenda and therefore, we have obliged you with our presence and we will do that which is right. Except that, in looking at the Business Statement, I see the Hon Majority Leader report about the “Report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communications on the Right to Information Bill, 2018”. This is for him to note that, subsequent to its laying, Hon Members did not have sufficient copies and that does not help our work. Again, it is for him to note that, we will take him through the rudiments of article 106 of the Constitution at all times, that any Bill which is introduced to this House, must satisfy the basic minimum constitutional requirement. Mr Speaker, he knows that at the time he was laying the Right to Information Bill, there was enormous public interest in the legislation, and that it could not have been considered as an urgent Bill; given the public interest on it and the fact that they needed to consult further with Ghanaians and the stakeholders as one Bill which Legislation would improve transparency and accountability — But I would not anticipate what is in the Committee's

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Leader of the House, is there any other comment?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, there is no other matter. I believe the Hon Minority Leader concurs with what I said, except to say that, when a Bill is presented to a Committee to be considered under a certificate of urgency, it does not necessarily mean that the Business on the referral should be completed in that day. It does not. Mr Speaker, with respect, let me read the relevant Standing Order, Standing Order 119: “Where it is determined and certified by the appropriate Committee of the House appointed in that behalf that a particular Bill is of an urgent nature, that Bill may be introduced without publication...” This is what happened the other time. “… Copies of the Bill shall be distributed to Members and may be taken through all the stages in one day.” Mr Speaker, it may be taken. It does not necessary mean that it shall be taken in one day. I do now know where it is coming from. It may be taken in one day. It could extend into two days or three days. So, Mr Speaker, it does not mean that because it should be taken under a certificate of urgency, it must be concluded in one day. That certainly is not the import of that provision. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

The Business Statement as presented is hereby admitted. Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business -- Item listed (5). Hon Minister for Trade and Industry - item numbered 5 (a)?

PAPERS

--

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Majority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I believe what the Hon Minister really wanted to do is because of the emergency situation that we find ourselves in. After the presentation of the Paper, the Hon Minister wanted to make a short statement like a remark on the matter, and the rules really allows that in Standing Order 75 (2) for the person making the presentation. Mr Speaker, Standing Order 75 (2) says, and I beg to quote: “If so desired by the person presenting a Paper, a short explanatory statement may be made by him upon its presentation.”

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Minority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, there should be no fundamental disagreement on the issue, but it is the timing and the appropriateness of when the Hon Minister makes that short explanatory statement. Mr Speaker, you have just invited him to bow, which is our practice. And after bowing, the Clerks-at-the-Table would read as they did. Now, we can hear him, but certainly not when it has not been presented to the Table. It is upon its presentation. Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much. It is important for us to get this matter clear. Until the Paper is duly laid and the Clerk reads as should be done, there is actually nothing before the House. Now that this process has gone through, Hon Minister, you may. Be mindful of the brevity attached to that permission granted.

Speaker
Mr Kyerematen

Mr Speaker, the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area is arguably the most significant decision ever to have been made by the African Union and its predecessor institutions. Accordingly, it has been designated as the flagship project of Agenda 2063 of the African Union. The Free Trade Area would constitute the single largest trading block in the whole world, measuring it by the number of countries that are participating in the trading block. Ghana has played and would continue to play a leading role in the negotiations of the Agreement of the Continental Free Trade Area. By doing so , Ghana is retouting its commitment to the integration agenda of our continent. Mr Speaker, as the Hon Minority Leader has appropriately indicated, the first President of the Republic would be smiling in his grave upon the coming into force of this Agreement. Mr Speaker, secondly, the implementation of this Agreement would significantly expand opportunities for value-added export by Ghanaian manufacturers and business executives. Indeed, it would also enhance our export revenue earnings. Mr Speaker, thirdly, it is worth noting that Ghana has made a formal offer to host the secretariat of the Continental African Free Trade Area. In this regard, it is our wish that before the process for screening and selecting the host country is completed, Ghana would have had the opportunity of ratifying the Agreement. Mr Speaker, I do hope that these issues put before you would play a key role in your consideration of the Agreement before this House.

Speaker
Mr Kyerematen

Speaker
Mr Kyerematen

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much, Hon Minister. Item listed 5 (b) -- Chairman of the Committee. By the Chairman of the Committee - (b) Report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal & Parlia- mentary Affairs and Commu- nications on the Right to Information Bill, 2018. By the Chairman of the Chairman - (c)(i) Report of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parlia- mentary Affairs on the Witness Protection Bill, 2017. (ii) Report of the Committee Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Legal Aid Commission Bill, 2017.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, item numbered 6.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Item numbered 6 -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I believe that at this stage, we could take a suspension of the House to enable the Joint Committee to consider the referral and report back to us. Mr Speaker, in that case, I would want to move, that the House be suspended and to resume Sitting at 3.30 p.m. to consider these outstanding issues. Mr Speaker, there is also an outstanding matter that would be taken during resumption. Just taking the Report from the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communication on the Right to Information Bill (RTI), we needed to have a motion to adopt the Report. Unfortunately, it appears missing. It would be part of the addendum that would be submitted to us. So, Mr Speaker, I beg to move, once again, that we take a suspension of the House and resume at 3.30 p.m.

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion for you to suspend the House, trusting that the Committee would by 3.30 p.m., exhaustively dealt with the matter and report back to plenary. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, Sitting is suspended to the hour of 3.30 p.m. 12.43 p.m. -- Sitting suspended. 6.09 p.m. -- Sitting resumed.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, any indication, please?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, the Joint Committee that we referred the main business to is ready with the Report. So, we could lay the Report as captured on page 2 item numbered 5 (d) on the original Order Paper.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much. Hon Members, item numbered 5 (d), Hon Chairman of the Committee? By the Chairman of the Committee - Report of the Joint Committee on Trade, Industry & Tourism and Foreign Affairs on the Agreement Establishing the African Conti- nental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, on page 3 of the original Order Paper, I called attention to item numbered 6 in the morning. It looks like it was not even captured. So, if we could have the presentation of the Industrial Designs (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

So, we move on to item numbered 6, as Hon Members get acclimatised to their Reports. The Hon learned Attorney-General and Minister for Justice?

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

rose

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, the Attorney General and Minister for Justice is in a very critical meeting, and the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice who is one of our own, is here. So, he could present the Bill to us, if the House may so indulge, for item numbered 6 on page 3 of the original Order Paper.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Minority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, I rose to catch your eye, justifiably for the Hon Majority Leader to do what he has done as appropriate, that he needs to seek your leave and to explain to this House why the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice who is the sponsor of the Industrial Designs (Amendment) Bill, 2018 - there is always a sponsor of it. There is no difficulty with the Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice standing in, but he owes this House information, and he owes you respect to seek your leave that a Deputy Attorney- General and Minister for Justice would do so on behalf of the Minister. We can proceed.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, this is really a superfluous exercise -- [Laughter] -- When I mentioned the item, I knew the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice was not here. She has told me the reason she is not here. I wanted to make sure that the Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is with us. That is why I swung my chair to see whether indeed he was here, before I moved the application. Before I could assure myself of the presence of the Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, the Hon Minority Leader, who is always in a hurry rose -- [Laughter] -- only to engage in a very superfluous exercise, but I agree with what he has said. What he canvassed for I had already said it, and indeed, he had no business repeating what exercise I had already engaged in. Mr Speaker, on that note, I believe it would be important, because he is yearning to get up, to stop his diarrhoea. This verbal diarrhoea is not helping this House.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, I would take it that you would withdraw “verbal diarrhoea”, and then we would make progress -- [Interruption.] Hon Minority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, I could see the Hon Majority Leader wanting to infect me with, “I am in a hurry”. I am not in a hurry. I am very relaxed here. He has no business, you granted him leave. He should allow the Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. So, who is engaged in superfluous activity? What does what he did add to the business of this House? He is the Majority Leader. He wants Government Business to move, and indeed to move in a hurry. He is in a hurry, and should be in a hurry. Mr Speaker, thank you.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

I see you are not insisting on anything, therefore the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice would proceed?

BILLS -- FIRST READING

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, we can now go to the Addendum Order Paper, and we may start with item numbered 1, except to observe that, indeed, in the morning, we had that Paper laid under item numbered 5 (b), that is, the Report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communications on the Right to Information Bill, 2018. Mr Speaker, what was observed subsequently was that the title of the document was not properly captured, and if it is not properly captured, it may lead to some other undesired consequences. So, it is important that we have it properly captured, that is why it has been brought here and we have the appropriate rendition of the title of the document that the Joint Committee is to submit to us. Mr Speaker, in that regard, because the content is the same, we may deem it that it has been laid, other than that, we can conveniently withdraw what was laid for the proper document to be re-laid, depending on the comfort of the House.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Minority Leader, are you in concurrence?

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, there should be no difficulty. He knows our position on this matter. We will continue to insist on article 106 which defines the essential ingredients of which legal and constitutional requirements need tobe met before a Bill is introduced to this House. So, we can go ahead. He came under article 106 (13), but it is always good to come under article 106 (1) and (2), not (13). So, Mr Speaker, the Committee can submit the Report, we can look at it, and maybe a new Bill as properly gazetted would be laid before this House.

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader is a senior Member of this House. If we lay the Bill, there would be two Bills in front of us. So the withdrawal should come first. He knows this. I am helping him help the House. [Interruption.]

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Majority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, because people are talking about value addition -- [Interruption] -- As said to us, if the Report as captured under item numbered 5 (b) is the one that is deemed to have been laid, there is some consequences, which would then mean that we would have to have a Second Reading of the Bill, but that is not the import. This is a Committee that was charged to now determine whether or not the Bill was urgent and that is why I am saying that, that report ought to be withdrawn. So, the Hon Minority Leader missed the import of what I said; he missed it. Mr Speaker, so I would urge that, for the appropriateness of it, we withdraw that one that was laid in the morning, because it was improperly captured under item numbered 5 (b) and then the proper thing as captured under item numbered 1 on the Addendum Order Paper would be laid for us to deal with it. Mr Speaker, subject to your indulgence, I would want the Hon Chairman of the Committee to withdraw the one that was laid for a new one to be laid.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Chairman of the Committee, if you would make a formal withdrawal and substitution, you may proceed.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much.

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Dr Akoto Osei?

Speaker
Dr A. A. Osei

Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader's request was to deal with item numbered 5 (b) as in “bay”. The Hon Chairman gets up and he wants us to deal with item numbered 5 (c). I think that his spectacles are not helping him -- [Laughter] -- Yes, item numbered 5 (b) -- [Interruption] -- No, he said item numbered 5 (c).

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, what was laid in the morning is deemed as having been withdrawn and substituted with the Report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communications on the Determination of the Urgent Nature of the Right to Information Bill, 2018.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Majority Leader, shall we then move to item listed 3?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Yes, Mr Speaker, we would go to item numbered 3 on the Addendum Order Paper.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

MOTIONS

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr Ben Abdallah Banda)

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1), which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal & Parliamentary Affairs and Communications on the Determination of the Urgent Nature of the Right to Information Bill, 2018 may be moved today.

Speaker
Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh

Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, item numbered 4, Chairman of the Committee? Determination of the Urgent Nature of the Right to Information Bill, 2018

Speaker
Mr Banda

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal & Parliamentary Affairs and Communications on the Determination of the Urgent Nature of the Right to Information Bill, 2018. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I beg to present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Right to Information Bill, 2018 was laid in Parliament by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Hon Gloria Akuffo on Friday, 23rd March, 2018 in accordance with Article 106 (13) of the Constitution. The Bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communications by the Hon. Speaker for consideration and report. The Hon Speaker also directed the Joint Committee to determine whether or not the Bill is of an urgent nature and should be passed under a certificate of urgency in accordance with article 106 (13) of the Constitution and Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House. Reference Documents The Committee referred to the following documents during its deliberations: i. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic; ii. The Standing Orders of Parliament; and iii. The Right to Information Bill, 2018. Preliminary Deliberations Purpose of the Bill During its preliminary discussions on the referral, the Committee took note of the contents of the Memorandum to the Bill. As stated in the Memorandum, the purpose of the Bill is to implement the constitutional right of the public to official information held by public institutions under article 21(l) (f) of the 1992 Constitution. The Committee also noted the number of qualifications, exemptions and conditions under which official information could be accessed by the citizenry. These observations warrant detailed scrutiny and consultation. Demands for Speedy passage of the Bill The Committee also took into consideration the mounting pressure on Government for the speedy passage of the Bill into law. However, the Committee has received a number of Memoranda from Stakeholders which have raised some germane issues. The Committee intends to engage these Stakeholders to fully discuss them and hence, would need some time for extensive consultations. Previous Work on the Bill The Committee also took account of the extensive work already done on the Bill over the past decade. Of particular mention is the work done on the Bill by the previous Parliaments. The Committee however believes that there still remains some critical issues which demand extensive consultations. Recommendation and Conclusion The Committee is mindful of the need for the speedy passage of the Bill into law and the work that has been previously done on the Bill. However, the Committee's preliminary discussions and Memoranda received from Stakeholders require that due consultations be made. Accordingly, the Committee hereby determines that even though there is high public interest in the matter, the Bill should be taken through the normal legislative process in accordance with article 106 of the 1992 Constitution. Respectfully submitted.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much, Hon Chairman of the Committee. Who seconds the Motion? Ahaji Inusah Fuseini: Thank you, Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and to say that, I agree to the conclusion of the Report as presented by the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Indeed, this Bill raises matters of public interest. The public interest in the Bill manifests itself even at the Presidency where the President had occasion to mention that he would take steps to ensure that this Bill is passed, so, we need to pass the Bill. Mr Speaker, when the Bill was laid under a certificate of urgency, Parliament itself had caused a notice to be published, inviting stakeholders to send in memoranda. Mr Speaker, the memoranda sent in by the stakeholders raise important matters and it is important that Parliament would be seen to be working towards incorporating some of the views of the stakeholders to enrich the Bill. Mr Speaker, that is why we believe that, the Bill is so important. It would help in the fight against corruption; it would empower citizens to look for information; it would make it difficult for public officials to keep information away from the public under the perceived “Secrecy Act”; and it would generally embolden citizens to demand their right from public officers. That is why we need to pass it.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu (NDC -- Tamale South)

Mr Speaker, let me thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion. Mr Speaker, I would want to refer you to some words in the Committee's Report. I particularly quote the last paragraph: which with your permission states: “Accordingly, the Committee hereby determines that even though there is high public interest in the matter, the Bill should be taken through the normal legislative process in accordance with article 106 of the Constitution.” So when we take it through article 106 (13), is it not still part of the article 106 legislative process? We should be mindful of the words that we use. Article 106 is such an important provision. When we say “normal legislative process” -- [Interruption] Mr Speaker, I say this so that the House would be better guided. Article 106 (13) only provides exemptions when we want to do away with the requirements in article 106 (1) and (2) and, in particular, article 106 (2) (a) and (b). When we introduce a Bill before this august House, first, we must satisfy the requirement that, it is accompanied by an explanatory memorandum, the policy principles, the defects in the law and more importantly, article 106 (2) (b), published in the Gazette. The particular Bill which was laid, as the Hon Chairman has carefully referred to on 29th March, 2018, was not gazetted. Therefore, it did not meet the requirement in article 106 (1) and (2). Mr Speaker, we all know that, this Bill is of enormous public interest and it is not a Bill for which we should apply the rules of urgency. It needs thorough scrutiny and consultation with stakeholders, because it remains one of the strongest weapons to combat corruption. It is said by governance experts that what corruption needs is darkness. So, this is part of what is called “sunshine legislation” in order to throw light so that we deepen openness and accountability. Mr Speaker, I am sure that the Hon Majority Leader can be a Messi in this matter. He was just responding to media effect. The President at the Independence Day had announced how this Bill would be introduced and passed by Parliament. So, to meet that requirement, he was in a hurry to come and lay the Bill and announce to the public that the Bill had so been laid. Mr Speaker, when he comes in a hurry, he should know that the import of article 106 (13) is to provide for exemptions and that should not even be the path that this House should walk. So Hon Chairman, I agree with you on “normal legislative process” so that, we are not seen as abating the processes. I share the view of the Hon Chairman of the Committee. Mr Speaker, what it means is that, he has come back to what we advised him on 23rd March, 2018, that he should lay the Bill on the Right to Information, a Bill so gazetted that we can count back the number of days that the Constitution requires as minimum for us to be able to proceed. One could not have imagined that with an important Bill such as this, we would even contemplate that the Committee should make a determination of its urgency, but understandably, to be able to meet that requirement -- Mr Speaker, I trust that the leadership of this Committee would do a good job and it should be the legacy of the Seventh Parliament that you head that finally, Ghana has a dedicated Right to Information Bill, one that reflects the aspirations of the Ghanaian people. Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader should come again. He was in a hurry with the Right to Information Bill, 2018 -- Mr Speaker, once we adopt this, it would mean that he would then lay a Bill so gazetted. It means that we are excusing those exemptions in article 106 (13). Thank you.

Speaker
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (NPP -- Suame)

Mr Speaker, let me also thank the Committee for this preliminary work that they have done and the referral to them. Mr Speaker, it is important to state for the avoidance of doubt, lest the Hon Minority Leader be given the opportunity to misinform the public that, a Bill that is not gazetted, but came to the House, does not oust the provisions of article 106 (1) and (2) (a). It does not. The Hon Minority Leader has lumped them together and I told him he was in a hurry, but he said he was not. He is in a hurry to lump all these things together. A Bill that is not gazetted does not oust article 106 (1) and (2) (a). What came before us had an accompanying memorandum. So, article 106 (2) (a) was not ousted. Mr Speaker, what was ousted indeed is article 106 (2) (b) -- [Interruption.] Yes! It was article 106 (2) (b) that was exempted. Article 106 (2) (a) was not. That is what the Hon Minority Leader should get right. Mr Speaker, now the emphasis is on 14 days. Earlier, when the Hon Minority Leader got up, he made it appear a Bill that is to be considered under a certificate of urgency which need to be considered in one day. That is not the import. Mr Speaker, a Bill is gazetted for 14 days. If it is submitted to this House under a certificate of urgency, what it means is that, we are required to deal with it for a maximum of 13 days, not exceeding the 14-day rule where maybe, the Bill would have come to maturity. That is the import of it. When the Bill was submitted, it was left to the Committee to determine whether or not they would be able to deal with it within the first 13 days. That indeed is the importance of article 106 (13). The Hon Minority Leader should get it right. Mr Speaker, that is where we are, but I believe that, the Committee has made a determination that, it cannot be determined under a certificate of urgency even though they recognised the need for the speedy passage of the Bill into law and they also recognised that enormous work has previously been done on the Bill. Notwithstanding, they said that we should hasten slowly and I agree with them. Notwithstanding, they are saying that we should hasten slowly and I agree with them. In any event, even technically when it has been referred to them, Parliament was not going to stay for an additional 13 days. We were only looking at, maybe, a midpoint.

Speaker
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (NPP -- Suame)

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much Hon Majority Leader. Question put and Motion agreed to.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

The Right to Information Bill laid before this House on 23rd March, 2018, has been determined as not of an urgent nature and that therefore lapses. There is the need to introduce a new Bill in accordance with Standing Order 120 and article 106 (2) of the Constitution. That takes us to item numbered 2 but which is actually the fourth by Order of the Business before us today; Presentation and First Reading of Bills. Hon learned Attorney-General and Minister for Justice?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, once again, the Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice, would hold the fort for the substantive Minister.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, once more, the Hon Deputy Minister “may” but not “will”. If you say he “will”, it means that he automatically does without anybody's permission.

Speaker
Mr Chireh

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Yieleh Chireh, if that is your problem, I think it has been anticipatorily resolved.

Speaker
Mr Chireh

Mr Speaker, thank you very much.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

You are very right in that connection. It has been anticipatorily dealt with. Hon Majority Leader, I am sure that you would take a cue and we shall make progress.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, when the application was initially made, ordinarily, it should follow through. However, because of the unpredictability of some people I know, I resubmitted the application. [Laughter.]

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Deputy learned Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, you may.

BILLS -- FIRST READING

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I thought that as was done, this would also be referred to the joint committee to consider the Right to Information Bill (RTI). I heard “Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee”. This time around, the Committee on Communications should also join.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

The Committee on Communication should be added. Hon Majority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, we could go back to the original Order Paper and take item numbered 7.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Item numbered 7, Motion. It is a procedural Motion. Hon Chairman of the Committee?

MOTIONS

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr Ato Panford)

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1), which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Joint Committee on Trade, Industry & Tourism and Foreign Affairs on the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) may be moved today.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much. Any Seconder?

Speaker
Mr Joseph Y. Chireh

Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Item numbered 8. Hon Chairman of the Committee, please move the substantive Motion. Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr Ato Panford)

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Joint Committee on Trade, Industry & Tourism and Foreign Affairs on the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). In doing so, I would like to present your Committee's Report. Introduction The Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTCA) was laid in the House on Thursday, 26th April 2018, pursuant to articles 7(2) (b) of the 1992 Constitution. The Agreement was subsequently referred to the Joint Committee of Trade, Industry and Tourism, and Foreign Affairs for consideration and report in accordance with article 103 of the Constitution and

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr Ato Panford)

Orders 159 and 183 of the Standing Orders of the House. The Leadership of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs were present to support the Committee in its deliberations. The Joint Committee met and considered the Agreement with the Minister for Trade and Industry, Hon. Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen, his deputy Hon Carlos Ahenkorah and officials of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Acknowledgement The Joint Committee is grateful to the Hon. Minister of Trade and Industry and his officials' for their invaluable assistance. Reference Documents The Committee made reference to the following documents: i. The 1992 Constitution; ii. The Standing Orders of the House; iii. The Cabinet Memorandum on the Agreement; and iv. The Treaty on the Establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Background It will be recalled that the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union (AU), which was held in January 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the theme “Boosting Intra-African trade” took two vital decisions aimed at enhancing trade integration in Africa. The Assembly, through a Decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.394 (XVIII)) and a Declaration (Assembly/AU/DecI.l (XVIII)) endorsed an Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade and further agreed on a roadmap for the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to be operationalised by an indicative date of 2017. In furtherance of the Decision and Declaration in July 2012, the African leaders unanimously endorsed the establishment of the AfCFTA Architecture that includes the High-Level African Trade Committee (HATC), the AfCFTA Negotiating Forum, Trade Observatory, among others, to complement their earlier Decisions. The AfCFTA is “the flagship project of African Union's Agenda 2063". The AfCFTA aims to create a comprehensive and mutually-beneficial single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of businesses, persons and investments and expedite the regional and continental integration processes to function better, thereby promoting competition. The scope of the AfCFTA negotiations covers Trade in Goods, Trade in Services, Investment, Intellectual Property Rights and Competition Policy; and is expected to be conducted in two phases. Phase One covers negotiations on Trade in Goods and Trade in Services with two separate legal instruments for Trade in Goods and Trade in Services to be negotiated on the following areas: Intellectual Property Rights, Investments and Competition Policy. Negotiations in these areas shall be undertaken by dedicated structures. Member States are expected to enter into phase two negotiations. The adoption of the Agreement by the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments shall be undertaken on successive rounds. The AU Heads of States and Governments directed that the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) including COMESA, EAC, SADC and ECOWAS should provide the building blocks for the establishment of the AfCFTA. This declaration was made on 15th June, 2015 after the leaders of COMESA, EAC and SADC had the Tripartite Free Trade Area on 10th June, 2015. Objectives of the Agreement The general objectives of the AfCFTA are as follows: a. Create a single market for goods and services, facilitated by the free movement of persons in order to deepen the economic integration of the African continent and in accordance with the Pan African Vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa” enshrined in Agenda 2063; b.Create a liberalised market for goods and services through successive rounds of negotiations; c. Contribute to the movement of capital and natural persons and facilitate investment, building on the initiatives and developments in the State Parties and RECs; d. Lay the foundation for the establishment of a Continental Customs Union at a later stage; e. Promote and attain sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, gender equality and structural transformation of the State Parties; f. Enhance the competitiveness of the economies of State Parties within the Continent and the global market; g. Promote industrial development through diversification and Regional value chain development, agricultural development and food security; and h. Resolve the challenges of multiple overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental processes. The objectives of the AfCFTA are in consonance with Government's desire to implement an aggressive industrial transformation agenda which is encapsulated in the Co-ordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies (2017-2024) aimed at creating prosperity and equal opportunity for all. Observations Justification for Parliamentary Ratification The Committee observed that Africa is the world's poorest and most undeveloped continent with a continental GDP that accounts for only 2.4 per cent of global GDP, although the continent has approximately 30 per cent of the earth's mineral resources, including over 40 per cent of the proven gold reserves, over 60 per cent of cobalt, and 90 per cent of platinum reserves. The Committee further observed that Africa's underdevelopment is partly

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr Ato Panford)

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Mr Ato Panford)

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Deputy Chairman, I thank you.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Speaker
Mr Fifi Fiavi Franklin Kwetey (NDC -- Ketu South)

Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. In so doing, to add my voice to what the Hon Vice Chairman of the Committee, who is standing in for the Chairman, said that the Joint Committee took a good look at this Agreement.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, order!

Speaker
Mr Kwetey

Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Question proposed.

Speaker
Mr Ben Abdallah Banda (NPP -- Offinso South)

Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion currently before the House. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I would like to make a few observations. Inasmuch as

Speaker
Mr Ben Abdallah Banda (NPP -- Offinso South)

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, your five minutes is over; you would conclude.

Speaker
Mr Banda

Mr Speaker, in a nutshell, I entreat all and sundry seated here to adopt the Report.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Fuseini, you have five minutes to contribute.

Speaker
Alhaji Inusah A. B. Fuseini (NDC -- Tamale Central)

Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to add my voice to the ratification of this very important Agreement. Mr Speaker, the Agreement is so important that Africa is at a critical juncture. The clear relationship that this Government has with Europe, known as the Cotonou Agreement, expires in the year 2020. Mr Speaker, discussions around how Africa would mould its relationship with Europe which is largely defined by trade and centres on inter-African trade. It is one better way to send a signal to our European trading partners that as Africa, we would begin to look inwardly and trade among ourselves to get ourselves out of the quagmire of poverty. Mr Speaker, you know as well as we do that trade is a veritable tool to fight poverty, it empowers the population and it would develop our economies. That is why we must support the Government and the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry to continue to negotiate for proper market access when the Framework Agreement comes into operation. This is because there is a huge potential; but obviously, trade agreements must be negotiated on equitable grounds and principles. Mr Speaker, we all know what is happening in America; trade agreements that were negotiated long ago are being renegotiated — we must not move that way. We must make sure that the Africans that have been referred to by the Hon Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee would make it mandatory to put our national interest first in negotiating whatever international agreements that we enter into. It is actually always in view of what we so negotiate. Mr Speaker, but I say congratulations, I urge Hon Members of this House to support it. This is not an Agreement that started yesterday. It has taken long hours of serious work to arrive at the Framework Agreement and the protocols accompanying them; the protocol on trade in goods and services, and the protocol on the rules and procedures on the settlement of disputes. Clearly, these are the initial building blocks.

Speaker
Alhaji Inusah A. B. Fuseini (NDC -- Tamale Central)

Speaker
Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh (NPP- Nsawam/Adoagyiri)

Mr Speaker, thank you for your kindness and the opportunity. I beg to support the Motion and in so doing, make a few comments. It is important for us to observe that the journey to this Agreement started way back. I find it most refreshing that when the Heads of States met in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and set in motion processes and activities to annex this Agreement, our current President, under his kindness and leadership, has continued with the processes and actions that were put in motion, and today, beautiful as it is, we are witnesses of its effects. Mr Speaker, there was overarching unanimity among the members of the Committee. I would want to particularly congratulate the posture shown by the

Speaker
Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh (NPP- Nsawam/Adoagyiri)

Mr Speaker, a number of trade Agreements have been entered into and this is not the first time; but the significance of this Agreement is its comprehensive legal framework. To complement it, as Hon Inusah Fuseini mentioned, the existence of well- defined protocols — [Interruption] -- We could not have had something better than this, and we need to congratulate the African Union (AU) for its proactiveness. Let us all begin to speak positively to this Agreement. We should not ratify this Agreement, but say something else on radio. Our speeches and posture must be positive, and it will reflect the condidence and the new posture of the African continent. Mr Speaker, there is an inherent possibility of revenue loss that could be recorded in a fleeting period, but it is most refreshing that the overarching benefit of this Agreement ultimately cancels out the supposed loss in revenue. So, it is a very refreshing and historic Agreement, and I would want to urge the House to give effect to it by ratifying it; our narration and body language should reflect such.

Speaker
Mr Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa (NDC --North Tongu)

Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion and in so doing, I strongly concur with the statements that have been made by Hon Members of this House. The Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is touted as the greatest news in global trade since the World Trade Organisation was established. A few weeks ago in Kigali, Rwanda, 44 out of the 55 African countries of the AU signed to show their commitment. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa has estimated that intra-Africa trade will increase from the current abysmal 10 to 12 per cent to 52 per cent in just four years if we are able to have this Agreement come into force in the continent by the year 2022. Mr Speaker, that is great news for the ordinary folks, and the youth of our continent looking for jobs. We have the youngest continent in the world, and we must commit ourselves to Agreements like this. So, I can assure our Hon Friends on the other Side that this is an Agreement that will receive our fullest support. In our communication, posture and all the work that will have to be carried on moving from here, they can expect our full and sincere support. This is not a matter that is controversial nor undermines our national interest; it satisfies articles 75 and 40(b) of our Constitution, and there is really nothing to oppose. Mr Speaker, I have few concerns. The first one has to do with the fact that as we talk about promoting intra-Africa trade, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa indicates that only 18 per cent of our exports are manufactured goods. Value addition still remains a challenge on the continent. It is our hope that we will pay attention to adding value. We must also encourage our Finance Ministry to pay attention to the initial shocks, which are the revenue losses that the experts say will occur. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates some US$4.1 billion of initial revenue losses; but in the medium to long term, there will be overwhelming gains. Our Finance Ministry must pay attention, so that measures will be put in place to address these initial shocks in the immediate Budget Statement that will be brought to this House. Mr Speaker, we cannot also pretend to be oblivious of a major challenge to this AfCFTA, which is the fact that two of the largest economies in Africa have so far not signed up to this Agreement. They are Nigeria and South Africa. We want to use this opportunity to encourage these two economic power houses. Often, it has been “divide and rule”, and we have militated against our own progress as a continent. This is not the time for feet dragging, and inward looking at our narrow sectarian interest. We should, for once look at the African interest and put aside our limiting national roadblocks, which really undermine some of the progress that we would want to make. So, we send out an urgent appeal to South Africa and Nigeria, who say they are considering, to expedite the process because we need them. Those two countries have about 1.5 per cent of the 2.1 per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of world trade. So, we need them to really give full meaning to the ordinary folks of our country. Mr Speaker, finally, I wish to encourage the hardworking Hon Minister for Trade and Industry that he has done many things for our country, but this will be one of the special things he can deliver. We are all excited about the possibility of hosting the headquarters, and we can assure him that we on the Minority side If teams have to be set up or if we have to appoint ambassadors, he knows that within our ranks, we have the highest number of former Presidents. So, he could count on us to support him. Let us put our best foot forward and put together a strong team. Let us learn lessons from what happened to us in November last year when we failed to secure the support of the African Union when the illustrious Prof Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu was sought for the position of a Judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC). She came close; but because we could not secure the support of the African Union, the illustrious and brilliant Professor lost. So this time, we should have a bipartisan approach towards this bid, put our best foot forward and have a strong team. It should not be about partisanship or leaving half of the country out; let all of us rally behind the flag of Ghana and secure the Secretariat, so that Ghana would be better for it. Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity.

Speaker
Mr Yaw B. Asamoa (NPP -- Adentan)

Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute in support of the Motion before us. I would use the opportunity to urge the House to unanimously vote for the Motion to be carried. Mr Speaker, it is a wonderful and new opportunity for Africa to take its future into its own hands. Mr Speaker, US$35 billion worth of potential

Speaker
Mr Yaw B. Asamoa (NPP -- Adentan)

Speaker
Mr Yaw B. Asamoa (NPP -- Adentan)

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu (NDC - Tamale South)

Mr Speaker, l thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the joint Committee of Trade, Industry and Tourism and Foreign Affairs on the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area. Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would state that it remains a historic fact that 40 years in the search by African leaders from the late Presidents Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Nnamdi Azikiwe and company -- [Interruption] -- This was their dream and we are almost there finally or we are even there if this comes to fruition. I have always maintained that the European Union made up of 28 countries must wake Africa up to the importance and realisation of continental unification and a better integration of the continent. It is said that Africa's greatest opportunity lies in trading amongst itself. Mr Speaker, former President John Dramani Mahama in June 2015 was the Chairman of the High Level Africa Trade Committee when this particular initiative was launched. Thankfully, in Rwanda, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo joined many other African Heads of State to give full meaning by signing on to this document. Mr Speaker, it is a commendable national effort to continue. Let me use this opportunity to assure the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry that he would have a united Ghana behind him in his pursuit of not only the noble objectives in this Agreement, but in his determination to secure the headquarters for Ghana. Mr Speaker, he could count on our support and hold our flag high because it would only be a reward for Ghana's struggle to get Pan-Africanism spearheaded as was done in those days. Mr Speaker, if we look at the statistics, we are told that trade among African countries has been estimated by the World Bank as just 11 per cent of the continent's total trade between 2007 and 2011. In 2015, intra-African trade was worth just US$170 million. Mr Speaker, that cannot be even compared to our trade relations with China that is far away, even the United Kingdom alone or the European Union as a group. Mr Speaker, but I have a lot of confidence in the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry and I recall his days in Ethiopia when we had to work to get five African Ministers to get the US Congress on the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the strategies, technical advice and the expertise that he provided. We would need same here. As Hon Ablakwa stated, the two giants, South Africa and Nigeria, have failed to sign unto this pact. It has implications - the excuse for South Africa may be that they would want Parliament to ratify before they sign because their Constitution and its architecture is not the same as ours. Mr Speaker, but I would use just one example so that the Hon Minister would be better guided. Mr Speaker, Nigeria has not signed; today they have an Import Prohibition List of 91 items. Let it be said that Dangote Cement is flourishing and doing well in Accra and every part of Ghana. Could we say the same for the Ghacem Cement that enters Nigeria? Mr Speaker, no. It means that there is a fundamental structural problem in the trade relations between Ghana and Nigeria. Mr Speaker, so, the Hon Minister must seek answers to this as well as oil and many other products that we manufacture here. Mr Speaker, so, I dare suggest to the Hon Minister that we cannot open our doors to those who close their windows to us when it comes to this Agreement. So we should be mindful and deal with it. Mr Speaker, along the line, I am compelled to comment on this - there is a letter signed on this matter by the Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante. Mr Speaker, I beg to quote the letter dated 12th April, 2018: “The President of the Republic has granted executive approval for the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.”

Speaker
Mr Speaker, these are the words that I am worried about and I would like to raise

“The President has also granted executive approval for Parliament to be recalled to consider and ratify the said Agreement.” Mr Speaker, this is constitutionally unacceptable and untenable, and the Secretary to the President must be advised accordingly. Mr Speaker, it only amounts to the usurpation of the powers conferred on you as the head of the Legislative Arm of Government. Mr Speaker, you exercise the power under Standing Order 42 (2) and (3); therefore, the Secretary to the President, by this correspondence, cannot seek to usurp the powers of the Rt Hon Speaker. We are two distinct and separate arms of Government. Therefore, the President's Secretary cannot seek by this correspondence, to usurp the powers of the Rt Hon Speaker. We are two distinct and separate arms of Government.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Order!

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Speaker
Mr Speaker, in page 83, article 31 of the Agreement, it is stated

“The Protocol shall be amended in accordance with article 29 of the Agreement. In WITNESS WHEREOF, WE the Heads of State and Government or duly authorised representatives of the Member States of the African Union have signed and sealed this Agreement …” Therefore, this Agreement is competently before this august House because it is signed and sealed, but not the other Agreement in which we were told that the Cabinet had approved and referred. Mr Speaker, by virtue of articles 78 and 79 of the 1992 Constitution, Cabinet is a mere football club of 21 members chaired by the President as the head. International treaties and agreements have two parties. [Interruption.] -- They are 19 plus the President and the Vice- President, who make it 21. Mr Speaker, therefore, this Agreement is competent. If we go through the preamble, we would understand. Mr Speaker, this reminds me of the spelling of “ratification”. If we go to page five (5) of the Report, we would see “Justification for Parliamentary Ractification”. The letter “c” before “t” must be expunged accordingly in every part of this Report. I am sure the letter “c” there is a devil's thing and should not be part. Mr Speaker, if we go through this, like previous speakers have said, about 6.1 per cent of loss of revenue might arise out of it. As a country, we need to adjust to it. However, in a liberalised economy, the cost of doing business remains a matter we must address as a country. That remains the economic headwind of the private sector of Ghana and its competitiveness. How come Dangote could do it in Nigeria, but no Ghanaian could be boasted of? Do we have a Dangote in Ghana? The Hon Minister should create successful entrepreneurs for this country. That is how we can address unemployment within the context of this particular Agreement. Mr Speaker, like I said, on matters of Custom unity, part of the provision here is on custom, and I am happy that the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation is sitting beside the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry. In his days here in opposition, he and I sponsored an amendment to allow for Customs --

Speaker
Mr Speaker

And in conclusion?

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, in conclusion, to work for 24 hours -- it has still not happened; it must happen. He needs to liaise with the Ministry of Finance to make our ports competitive. It is not only the leakages that they should block, but a measure of the ease of doing business, the time and transaction cost of the clearance of goods and services. We must work to improve it. We would take advantage of it. Mr Speaker, so, let us commend the Government, particularly the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry. We can see he is in a hurry. In this hurry, the nation is strongly united behind him because we hold the flag as champions and lead the country in the promotion of Pan- Africanism and its values. Mr Speaker, my last words; at what more opportune time could we talk about trade and investment? It is only at a time when the President has declared Ghana beyond aid. It means Ghana would be driven by trade and investment, and not in grants and loans. Therefore, we need to deepen intra-African trade and make the maximum benefit out of it in terms of our expanded efforts.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Minority Leader, thank you very much for your few words. [Laughter.] Hon Minister for Trade and Industry?

Speaker
Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Alan K. Kyerematen)

Mr Speaker, I am immensely grateful to Hon Members for their bipartisan support to this Agreement. Hon Members on both sides of the aisle have eloquently articulated the merits of this Agreement not only for Ghana, but for the continent as a whole. I do not believe that there is any further need for elaboration on my part. There could be no better testimony of the commitment of this Honourable House to the integration of our continent. However, Mr Speaker, having said that, the matter before us is for this Parliament to ratify the Agreement. As Hon Members have alluded to, Ghana has made a formal offer to be considered host of the Secretariat of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). The process for screening and selecting the host country has already begun. Indeed, it is a precondition for the selection of the host country that the Member State candidate ratifies this Agreement. So, it is against this background that I respectfully urge this Honourable House to ratify this Agreement. I believe the Agreement is good for Ghana, and it is good for Africa.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much. Hon Majority Leader, any concluding remark?

Speaker
Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu)

Mr Speaker, almost everything has been said, and the Hon Minister has indeed climaxed the debate with what I consider to be the winding up statement. Mr Speaker, I just have few remarks. I have listened to Hon Colleagues from both sides and I am happy for Ghana and Africa. Mr Speaker, in times past, African countries have adopted a policy of isolation. We have all sought to protect our turfs and the little sovereignty that we have as individual countries to the extent that we have not opened up, and our citizens have been the poorer for that attitude.

Speaker
Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu)

Mr Speaker, the potential for generating enormous amounts in the region of about US$35 million certainly would improve the lot of our citizens. Mr Speaker, article 40 of the 1992 Constitution, is very elaborate in what it is that we should look for in ratifying such Agreements. The first sign post that we should look for is, as article 40(a) provides, whether or not this Agreement promotes and protects the interest of Ghana. Indeed, as we have been told and demonstrably shown by the Hon Minister and other speakers, it would improve intra-African trade, which certainly would affect the living standards of our people. It seems also to establish a just and equitable international economic and social order. Mr Speaker, these are landmarks that we should look at and indeed, within the framework of the Charter of the African Union (AU), we are also committing ourselves to the ideals of the African Union. So, I am happy for all the contributions that you heard. I believe that we are all the more enriched by the contributions from all Hon Colleagues, and that is why I believe it is important for us to seek knowledge if we do not know. Everybody who has contributed today is happy about what we are doing in this House today. Yet, only a day before yesterday, Hon Colleagues in this House were on various FM stations bastardising us that what we are coming to do is most unnecessary.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, please, do not go there.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, respectfully, it is important to establish the truth.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, please, do not go there. Let us concentrate on the Motion before this Honourable House.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, if --

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, I have ruled.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I agree.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Then proceed.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, but with all due respect --

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, there would be no “but”.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, if somebody says that what we are going to do is useless, do we not think it is important to set the records straight?

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, there would be no “buts”.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I have made a point that what we are doing is not useless. It inures to the benefit of this country and the cause of Africa.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, would you not go by my ruling?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I have taken cognisance of the issue raised by the Hon Minority Leader in respect of the communication, and I had tried to engage the Secretary to the President on that. I think it was a miscommunication, and we would deal with that subsequently. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. I thank every Hon Member for the contribution that each of us has made. Question put and Motion agreed to.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Item 9, Resolution. Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, you may move for the adoption of the Resolution.

RESOLUTION

Speaker
Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Alan K. Kyerematen)

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that WHEREAS by the provisions of Article 75 of the Constitution any treaty, agreement, or convention executed by or under the Authority of the President in the name of Ghana is made subject to ratification either by an Act of Parliament or by a resolution of Parliament supported by the votes of more than one-half of all the Members of Parliament. IN ACCORDANCE with the said article 75 of the Constitution the President has caused to be laid before Parliament through the Minister responsible for Trade and Industry the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 26th April 2018. NOW THEREFORE, this Honourable House hereby resolves to ratify the said Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Speaker
Mr Joseph Y. Chireh

Mr Speaker, I am happy to second this Motion because of the congeniality in this House. [Laughter.]

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Which conviviality and collegiality I want us to maintain and for that matter, any deviation would not be allowed by the Chair. [Laughter.] Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, any indication for us?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, we have come to the end of the Business for the day, and I believe that we can take a well-earned sine die adjournment.

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, we are done with that one important major item agenda for which you recalled the House. I, therefore, would support the Motion for the House to be adjourned sine die as you may declare.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, respectfully, I do not need any indication from the Hon Minority Leader, if he is not able to restrain his folks who would rant and rave against Parliament.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, we must set the records straight. That is what I attempted to do. He should learn to restrain his folks.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu