VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 24th May, 2012. Page 1...1O-
Madam Speaker, with respect, page 5 of the Votes and Proceedings- The Hon Addai-Nimoh, that is, number 4 under item (4) was present in the Chamber. I know the Hon Shirley A. Botchway was on an official assignment outside the country. She put in an application for leave of absence which was duly forwarded. I should think that it got to the Speaker's office. In the same vein, the Hon Akua Sena Dansua, I do know, was also on official business outside the jurisdiction. The Hon Kari-Dapaah as well- I duly transmitted his leave of absence. The Hon Kwaku Balado Manu was in the Chamber. So if the Table Office could take cognizance of this.
All right. These are to be corrected then- In which case, the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, the 24th of May, 2012 as corrected are adopted as the true record of proceedings. 2012 430
Leader, we move to item number (3) - Questions.
Madam Speaker, we have two Ministers of State in the Chamber now to answer Questions. That is, the Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture and the Hon Minister for Tourism. With your kind permission, we would take the Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture first This is because the Hon Minister for Tourism is a Member of Parliament who is supposed to be here the whole day. [Laughter]
All right Then let us take the Minister for Food andAgriculture.
Madam Speaker, with respect to my Hon Colleague, there are three Ministers listed r to answer Questions; two of them are here. The one who is slated as the first to answer Questions is not in the Chamber. He should explain to us why the person is not here; he should not pretend as if there are only two Ministers who have been listed to answer Questions. Mr Avoka Madam Speaker, the Hon Attomey-General and Minister for Justice would be coming very soon. We have the benefit of two Ministers who are in the Chamber to start the business of the House. So that is why. So we will start with Question number 1204 on the Order Paper, that is addressed to the Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture- A
I think the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice - is he going to take it? [Pause.]All right. Then the Question stands in the name of Hon Iddrisu Zakari Alidu.
ORAL ANSVVERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF FOOD AND
Madam Speaker, the Nasia Irrigation Project was developed as part of the Integrated White Volta Basin Development Project by Nippon Koei Company Limited of Japan and presented to the Government of Ghana in 1967. Initially, 100 acres of land were developed and operated by the Japanese as a pilot scheme of the proposed 2,000 acres Nasia Irrigation Project, which was itself a pilot project of the larger Pwalugu Multi-purpose Dam Project estimated to cover 283,000 acres. As far back as 1967, the Nasia pilot scheme was handed over to the Irrigation Department of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to manage. Madam Speaker, in the early 1980s, the Irrigation Development Authority improved facilities on the Nasia Scheme and transferred management of the facility to the Nasia Rice Company which utilized the scheme until 1990 when it handed over the management of the project to the Nasia community for rice and vegetable cultivation. Under the Village Infrastructural Project, which lasted from 1999 to 2004, the Ministry assisted the community scheme with a new pump and reservoir and some weir and canal structures were improved. Unfortunately, since then the project has fallen into a state of disrepair. Consequently, Madam Speaker, the Nasia Irrigation Scheme was included in the schemes billed for rehabilitation and expansion under the Millennium Development Challenge Account in 2007. A feasibility report was prepared but construction was abandoned by the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) due to non-availability of funds. Currently, the Ministry has incorporated the MiDA Report into the Ghana Commercial Agricultural Programme and has commissioned the mapping of Nasia and its surrounding valleys aimed at designing a 25,000 acre irrigation scheme for commercial agriculture. . Meanwhile, the Nasia Rice Mill component, belonging to a consortium of banks, has been rehabilitated by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and that facility is in operation.
Madam Speaker, I would want my good Friend, the Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture, who made a very passionate promise - it was a very big promise to the people of Nasia and its surrounding villages about two years ago - that he would personally come and make sure that they revamp the irrigation project. In fact, I am surprised that the MiDA activities in the area could not be - [Interruptions] I said two years. I did not say four years. Madam Speaker, I would want to call on my good Friend to revisit the area once more and try to fulfill the promise he made to the people. Once more, we are welcoming the Hon Minister to the area very soon, since he said he would reactivate the place. Thank you very much.
You have no more questions? Hon Minister, he is just urging you to come and see. What do you say to him?
Madam Speaker, I wanted to find out whether the Hon Minister would consider visiting us very soon as I have requested.
That is why I am putting it to him. Hon Minister, his question though, is in the form of - Yes, are you coming there? Mr Ahwoi Madam Speaker, I would very gladly visit the place and I would want to assure my Hon Colleague, the Member of Parliament here and a member of my party that I am already there; I am heading to Nasia in the next two weeks. This is because I have arranged for a private investor to put some rice mill in that locality, which is going to boost rice activity in the area We would definitely need the irrigation scheme to support the new rice mill and the Nasia Rice Mill.
Hon Member, the answer is, yes. Any other question?
Madam Speaker, I think in two weeks time, I would be ready, waiting for my good Friend, the Hon Minister to arrive. I thank the Hon Minister, Madam Speaker. I am all right.
Madam Speaker, it is very revelatory for the Questioner to ask the Hon Minister the last question and the Hon Minister did not attempt to answer. But is the Hon Minister telling this House that he would send tractors before identifying farmers to places?
He will answer you. Hon Minister?
Madam Speaker, I do not remember saying that I have not said that.
Madam Speaker, at the time the Nasia Irrigation Project was conceptualized, that area was greener and wetter than it is today - at the time it was proposed to irrigate 283,000 acres of land. Today, when the area has become dryer, the Hon Minister is indicating to us that the ultimate purpose of rehabilitating the scheme is to irrigate 25,000 acres. May I know from the Hon Minister if ultimately, they have any plans to expand to cover the entire area in the design proposal, which was crafted at the very outset of the scheme?
Madam Speaker, my answer would be, yes. As of now, we are constrained by funds availability and that is why we scaled down from the 283,000 to 25 ,000 as the first phase or the first slot. As and when we are able to mobilize more resources, we shall roll down the totality of the 283 ,000 that was initially conceptualized as the irrigable area in the Nasia community. Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu Madam Speaker, could he give us any time frame when it is intended for this to be achieved? Mr Ahwoi Madam Speaker, we are Working on a master irrigation development plan that would take about 10 to 15 years perspective. In that plan, all the irrigable areas in this country would be brought into the scheme. We are looking at about 500,000 hectares of land to be brought under irrigation in this country, inclusive of the the Accra Plains, the Nasia area, Fumbisi, Katanga and all. That is the master plan that we have and that plan would be coming very soon to this august House for its endorsement. We would definitely finish before September of this year.
Madam Speaker, I rise to ask the Hon Minister two pertinent questions. But before I proceed, may I have your kind permission to read the last but one paragraph of his Answer? "Currently, the Ministry has incorporated the MiDA Report into the Ghana Commercial Agricultural Programme and has commissioned the mapping of Nasia and surrounding valleys aimed at designing a 25,000 acre irrigation scheme for commercial agriculture." May I ask the Hon Minister, what are the sources of these funds under this scheme, and two, what are the time lines that are assigned to the realization of this project?
I am not sure; why are you putting two questions? Ask one question.
Madam Speaker, yes, the funding for the Commercial Agricultural Project is from the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ghana Government. Indeed, the World Bank has committed a US$100 million, USAID has committed US$45 million and the time span coincides with the medium-term Agriculture Investment Programme, that is from 2011 to 2015. It is under that Programme that we hope to cover the Nasia Irrigation Project.
Is somebody asking a question of the Hon Minister; if not we have finished with him? Hon P. C. Appiah-Ofori, are you on your feet to ask a question?
l am, Madam Speaker.
Very well. Mr Appiah-Ofori There are two Questions; Questions 1223 and 1226 go to the Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture. My Hon Colleague, Mr John Agyabeng, called me when I was coming, that if the Question time starts before he comes, I should ask the Question on his behalf. Sol would want your permission to do so.
All right; then go on with Question 1223. Poor Performance of the Fishing Industry Q. 1223. Mr Paul C. Appiah-Ofori (on behalf of Mr John Agyabeng) asked the Minister for Food and Agriculture what accounted for the poor performance of the fishing industry in the 2011 fiscal year.
Madam Speaker, the performance of the fisheries sector in 2011 compared to 2010 is as follows: That we registered:
(TABLE) Table l: Fish Production (Metric Tonnes) i 2011 2010 % Increase 19,331 2.3 Inland Fisheries 95,353.3 83 126 14.7 Aquaculture i 19,092 00 87.2 Total l 440,990.3 412,657 6.9 Overall, the fisheries sector, by volume, increased by 6.9 percent as I have already said. (TABLE) Table 2: Foreign Exchange Earnings from fish and fish products 2011 (U SS) -- Million 2010 (U SS) - Million % Increase US$254.-4 i US$165 .7 i 535 percent Foreign exchange earnings from the fisheries sector grew from US$165 .7 million in 2010 to US$254.4 million in 2011 (53.5 percent). Madam Speaker, the Ghana Statistical Service (GS S) uses a different valuation in assessing this particular sector. Assessment by Ghana Statistical Service Madam Speaker, the fisheries sector recorded a growth rate of minus 8.7 percent (-8.7%) according to the Ghana Statistical Service GSS. The GSS calculates the subsector growth based on the value (production X price) and not by volume. (Table I). Consequently, by the GSS assessment, the negative growth in fisheries, implies that the value of fish produced in 2011 declined by 8.7 percent compared to the value of fish produced in 2010. This will mean that the fish quantities increased in 2011, even though the value was lower because more of less valued species were caught. That is to say there were more catches of pelagic fish, such as sardinella and anchovies and less of valuable fish, such as red fish, groupers and tuna.. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.
Yes, Hon P.C. Appiah-Ofori, three questions, please.
Madam Speaker, some time, about two or three years ago, fisher-folks from the Keta area met with the Committee on Food and Agriculture with the complaint - [Interruption] Is the Hon Minister listening to me? I said, about a few years back, during his
The second question, please, if you have any.
Madam Speaker, the owner of the Question himself has come, so let him continue from here.
You have three more questions.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister is talking about the increase in the volume of quantities that were produced in 2011. But in the 2012 Budget Statement, the target set was 7 percent and unfortunately, they were able to get 1 percent; that was the intent of the Question That, why was the Hon Minister setting a target of 7 percent and then the industry was able to get 1 percent? That was the intent of the Question. As for the volume, I do not have any problem but the target set in the Budget, they got only 1 percent. So, that is why I am asking. This is because there were so many problems with the pair trawling and other problems that the fishermen were complaining about So, I am not asking him about the volume but I am interested in the target that he himself set for the Budget and he was not able to do that.
Madam Speaker, I believe in my Answer - Unfortunately, the Hon Member was not here when I gave my Answer to this particular - I believe my Answer takes care of this particular question. The target set was in anticipation that we will catch the high value, low volume species. At the end of the day, high volume and low value species are what had been registered as caught and that is what accounts for the low performance in the sector. I do hope that next time, we will encourage more of the high value, low volume species and if we are able to provide resources to the fishermen, in terms of echo sounders, et cetera, for them to know where the species of fisheries are, we may be able to direct them to where the high value fish is in the waters of this country.
Hon Member, have you finished with your third question? No more question? All right Any other question?
Madam Speaker, my next question was, what the Hon Minister is doing at the moment with the problem of pair trawling. If the Hon Minister can provide us with answers because this is the most important problem facing the coastal areas, if he has answers to pair trawling, what is he doing at the moment to solve that issue?
Madam Speaker, to the best of our knowledge, there is no pair trawling officially recorded in our waters these days. The enforcement that we have put in place has made sure that this practice is abated, if not eliminated completely.
Madam Speaker, my good Friend and Brother, in his Answer, has revealed some information, which if we accept, will cast very serious doubts on the information coming from GSS. When the Hon Minister comes to report growth rates in real terms, it is growth rate in real terms. Fisheries sector is part of the agricultural subsector. You cannot on one hand use the value formula for fisheries and use some other formula for the other sectors. Madam Speaker, the statement that the value of fish fell by 8.7 percent, if we are to accept it from the GSS, that should be a real number, not a value decrease, but the Hon Minister said this is what they are doing. Madam Speaker, if it is true - and I would want the Hon Minister to confirm that the GSS is using a different formula to give us this information, then it calls for serious question on the data from the GSS. Can he confirm that this is a statement of fact from the GSS? Can he confirm that this is true? This is because if it is true, then the entire data from GSS is completely out of Whack. We should not accept it and we should call the people here and ask them why they have been telling us lies. Can he confirm that this is true?
Madam Speaker, I think in my Answer, I did respond to the Hon Member's question. I do not think I will come and stand here and provide information that is not substantiated. This matter is coming from the Ghana Statistical Service.
Is it two questions for you?
Madam Speaker, I Wanted him to confirm and the reason is that it is an indictment on GSS and that is why I Wanted him to confirm. If that is what they have given to him, then I do not blame him. But we need to investigate this matter further; it has wide implications for the information that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has given us, et cetera and that is why I wanted him to confirm. At the appropriate time, we will take up the matter and make sure that GSS has not been lying to Ghanaians.
Madam Speaker, from the Hon Minister's Answer, specifically, table 1, it can be seen that the performance of aquaculture was comparatively impressive, recording 87.2 percent. Can the Hon Minister inform this House what was actually done in that area, to give this impressive performance and why similar efforts were not put in the other two areas - marine and inland fisheries.
Madam Speaker, the marine industry, I will want to describe it as a fleeting industry; that is why we call it "wild capture industry". But the aquaculture is a controlled industry, where, if you supply all the needs, all the farmers in that sector, in terms of fingerlings, in terms of feed, in terms of health requirements, you will be able to arrive at these figures that have been posted. Indeed, the strategy is to complement the marine capture, which we all admit that it is on the decline with aquaculture, which will enable us to scientifically grow the fish in terms of our national requirement. So the answer to the Hon Member's question is that, yes, this is deliberately grown; we agave out many more fingerlings in 2011 that had given birth to
We do not have other questions. So I think the Hon Minister has finished with his two Questions. Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture, thank you very much for coming to enlighten us on these matters. Shall we then move to the next Question? Is the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice here to answer Question numbered 1153, if not, shall we go to Question numbered 1226 because the Hon Minister for Tourism is here. Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice?
Madam Speaker, have you discharged the Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture?
I have already thanked him.
All right. The Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is here to answer the Question numbered 1153.
Yes. That Question stands in the name of Hon Ben Abdallah Banda, Member for Offinso South. Hon Member, if you are here, put your Question now, if not, shall we move on to the next Question. Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, the Hon Member who asked the Question is not here; let us stand it down and finish with the Hon Akua Sena Dansua and see if we can get him here. The Question for the Hon Minister stands in the name of Hon John Agyabeng, Member for Agona East.
MINISTRY OF TOURISM
Madam Speaker, the poor performance of the hotels and restaurants service sector for the 2011 fiscal year (11%) as reported in paragraph 61, page 19 of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2012 financial year document, could to some extent, be attributed to the repeal of the L.I. 1817. Prior to the repeal of L.I. 1817, the said L.l empowered the Ghana Investment Promotion Center to grant incentives in the form of tax exemptions to operators in the hotel and hospitality industry. Such operators enjoyed tax exemptions on imported materials, such as refrigerators, air-conditioners, carpets, kitchen equipment, one vehicle (pick-up and delivery van), linen (bedroom and restaurant) among others required for their establishment and smooth operations. This facility was expected to boost investment in the sector through construction, upgrading and refurbishment among others. Unfortunately, some beneficiaries abused the facility and used it to import luxury cars, furniture and other goods which they sold on the open market and avoided tax payment on them.
Madam Speaker, this abuse led to the repeal of L.I. 1817 in the 2011 fiscal year. Regrettably, this slowed the pace of investment and affected the performance of the hotel and restaurant service sector. Though newly-registered hotels and restaurant projects recorded by Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) increased marginally from 24 in 2010 to 25 in 2011, the estimated value declined from USS6 million to US$5 million respectively. Other reasons that could be attributed to the poor performance of the hotel and restaurant service sector in the 2011 fiscal year compared with 2010, was the keen competition and new business interest generated in other sectors of the economy, particularly in the oil, gas and real estate sectors. Madam Speaker, the good news, however, is that the summary of revenue collected from the hotel and restaurant sector by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for the 2011 fiscal year, rose to GH¢18,599,133 compared to the 2010 figure of GH¢14,051,092.18, representing more than 32 per cent increase. Madam Speaker, the Ministry's expectation this year (2012), is that the situation. will change for the better in the hotel and restaurant service sector. This is in view of the following: i. Review of incentives granted the hospitality industry under the repealed L.I. 1817 has been completed and incorporated into the Internal Revenue Act 2000, Act 592. The GIPC is to coordinate the implementation process with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). To this end, an Implementation and Evaluation Committee is being constituted by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) with representation from the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the Ghana Revenue Authority, GIPC and the Customs, Exercise and Preventive Service (CEPS). ii. Governments commitment to reducing the sector's corporate tax rate from 22 percent to 20 percent.
Madam Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, she is convinced that the repeal of L.I. 1817 brought about the exemption of taxes to the sector. For example, the case of importation of materials that they use in the industry brought about that poor performance. Madam Speaker, the Minister set a target of 13 per cent and got negative 11 per cent and just one year repeal of that L.I. 1817, how can that one year bring ab out that poor performance, target of 13 per cent increment and then we would be getting negative 11 percent? I would want the Hon Minister to convince the House Whether the repeal of that L.I. in that one year actually brought about the poor performance.
Madam Speaker, I do not quite get his question. But I think we have adduced why there was a -11 percent reduction in the hotel and restaurant subsector of the main tourism sector. I think we had adduced reasons.
Madam Speaker, the Minister also gave another reason, that there is competition, and the major competitor in the restaurant and hotel sector is the investment in oil and gas. If the Minister can convince the House, how much went into investment in the oil and gas sector that brought about the reduction of investment in the hotel and restaurant sector. I do not think with the investment in oil and gas, the competition could within one year have brought about the negative growth of the sector.
Madam Speaker, the information my Hon Colleague is asking me to produce can best be produced by the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.That is not the question he asked me; he asked me a specific Question and this is the Answer I have brought for that Question. So if he needs an additional information on the growth of the oil and gas subsector, I think he must refer that Question to the Hon Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister provided the Answer, that the reason the hotel and restaurant service sector experienced negative growth was that, there is a competition and the major competitor is the oil and gas. The Hon Minister has provided the Answer and that is why I am asking her to convince me what actually -
How does she convince you rather than telling you when you have not asked for figures? If you do not agree, yes, you may not agree but yes, that is her Answer.
So if she has not brought the figures, she should not have provided the Answer, that it was due to the competition with oil and gas.
Did you ask for figures?
She provided the Answer. I did not. Madam Speaker, she is also saying that the commitment of Government to reduce the corporate tax from 22 percent to 20 percent can also bring about a boost in the sector, come 2012. But she did not provide further explanation. So I would want her to provide further explanation for that
What is the question?
I am saying that in her Answer, she said that Government was committed to reducing the corporate tax from 22 percent to 20 percent and that would boost investment in the sector. And I am saying that she did not provide further explanation for that. So if she can help the House, whether the reduction of that tax can increase investment in the programme.
Hon Minister, what do you say to that?
Madam Speaker, I am really surprised at the question from the Hon Colleague. He and I know that from the layperson's point of view, investors are attracted by little incentives to invest in a particular sector. So if Government is reducing corporate tax from 22 percent to 20 percent, it could be enough attraction for people to go into the subsector. [Interruptions] Unless you want me to provide and that will be at the end of the year, then I will be in a better position to tell him.
Madam Speaker, I sympathies with my Friend and Hon Colleague about the performance of the sector that she heads. Madam Speaker, in her Answer, she is trying to give some optimism on the bases of these two facts. Madam Speaker, first of all, the repeal was undertaken by this august House. As far as I know, we have not reversed ourselves. Having incorporated in the Internal Revenue Service Act, it must come here. This is May ending, it has not come - reducing corporate tax, we can reduce it, and it has not come here. Yet on the basis of that, for 2012, she has this optimism. Madam Speaker, let us make sure that it first comes here. So these are not a basis for her to have that optimism. I hope that the Hon Minister can provide us better bases for us to have this optimism about better performance. This is because these two - Madam Speaker, this Minister just walks in, does not respect the House and starts talking. Madam Speaker, I will forgive him. Madam Speaker, if her optimism is on the basis of these two events, I do not believe that we can all share in the optimism. Can she provide us a better basis for us to have this optimism that they ask because these are not the proper bases?
Hon Member, you know that you asked the Hon Minister a question, she gives you an answer. Are you arguing with the answer?
Madam Speaker, no. She has not given an answer yet.
No. Not this one. You said before, she said something which you did not agree with. Her optimism is based on two things, of which you are not-
I was rephrasing a statement; my question was at the end. I just asked the question -
That she should give you another -
No. She should give me a basis for believing in these events.
Will it be an opinion?
Parliament has not repealed the Act.
Well, I agree with you. The Act has not been repealed; she is hoping that they are going to add it to the Income Tax Act and she is giving an opinion that she thinks that when it is passed, the hotel business will go on.
Madam Speaker, the problem is that you give it on this assumption; it is false because these faces will not materialize, so we will be following her baseless -
All right. Put your question; put another question. Put a question again.
Madam Speaker, given the fact that Parliament has not as of today, May 29, 2012, repealed the L.I. and given the fact that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has not brought the policy of reducing the tax from 22 percent to 20 per cent, what is the basis for saying that she has optimism for better performance on this assumption?
Madam Speaker, I know the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning is taking steps to come to the
Well, you see, that is why I prevent people from asking questions, which will require an opinion answer. You are asking her for her opinion.
Madam Speaker, it is not an opinion. She is asking this august House to believe in something that has not yet happened- That would be misleading us and the entire world; So I am saying that since she does not know that this has happened, she should give us a different reason. This is because if we take decisions -
But that is her reason.
Madam Speaker, I was hoping that she can ask the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning when these Acts are coming, so that We Will have a basis. Madam Speaker, she talks about implementation; that is the problem. She talks about implementation and the Committee. The policy has not been repealed and then she is talking about implementation.
Yes, in which case she is living on hopes. Is she not?
We do not run a nation on chacha.
Well, if you ask an opinion question, she will give you her opinion, not based on facts - yes.
Hon DrPrempeh, any question from you?
Madam Speaker, I will yield to the Ranking Member.
Madam Speaker, it is obvious from the Answer of the Hon Minister that the repeal of the Legislative Instrument (L.I.) was wrong in policy. Secondly, on the two areas which the Hon Minister talked about, I would like to know what she has done to ensure that these two premises on which she bases her hopes would be fulfilled. What has she done? Can she tell us?
Done or doing? What are you doing so that -
Madam Speaker, first of all, I would like to tell my Hon Colleague that the repeal of L.I. 1817 was not wrong in policy - was not a wrong policy. This is because people were abusing it or they were misapplying it. So it was in the good interest of the State that this policy was reviewed, and in the current situation, each case would be reviewed on merit, it would not be granted omnibus to everybody. It is as and when the committee feels like they should grant it, that it would be granted. Number two, the other question was, What l am doing? Yes, I am in touch with the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC), the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and also the Ghana Revenue Authority, to ensure that the committee is established as soon as possible and to have it going, so that they can start with the consideration of the Cases.
Hon Minister, so it is not the case that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning is coming up with something, but that there is a committee which has been established to look at it. This is what you are saying. Is that what you are saying?
Madam Speaker, that is not my responsibility; it is the responsibility of the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning. So that question, I think should go to the Minister.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister emphatically informed this House that the authority given to GIPC under the then L. I. 1817 to grant tax exemption to certain operators was abused by the operators. It means that it is in the Minister's knowledge of those operators who abused that facility and the effect was that the State was denied revenue out of the expected tax. I would want to know from the Hon Minister what her Ministry did in reprimanding those who abused such a facility.
Madam Speaker, I will need notice because I was not in office then. I was not in the Ministry then. So I would not know What happened.
Yes, if you need it, she says she can get it for you -- what has been done- Last question.
Madam Speaker, in the Answer of the Hon Minister, she has alleged that though she has not proved that - the beneficiaries -some beneficiaries abused the incentive package. They imported luxury cars and other things and sold in the open market. The question is, who was reprimanded for this particular act? But the serious issue is that, Madam Speaker, the Minister said, regrettably, this slowed down the pace of investment and affected the performance of hotel and the restaurant services. So if by repeal of the L.I. 1817 to boost the industry, it has now reduced the pace of investment and has affected the performance, was that policy good enough for the hotel industry?
I am not sure whether that is not her opinion you are asking. You are asking for her opinion. You are not supposed to get opinion and answers to questions. I think it is an opinion question and I will not allow it. I have disqualified the question.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister said, this policy of incentives to hotels was abused. Currently, hotels, especially the 5-Star and the 4-Star hotels enjoy this facility but the small budget hotels and up to the 3-Star hotels do not enjoy this facility. Will the Hon Minister explain why the small, budget and medium hotels, which form over 80 percent of this sector, are not benefiting?
Madam Speaker, I would want to know from my Colleague whether his hotel, Georgia Hotel, is also benefiting or not.
How can the Minister start asking questions?
I know that he owns a hotel and that is why I am asking.
You are supposed to answer questions, not to ask questions.
Madam Speaker, to answer the question - [Interruptions] Madam Speaker, to be honest with you, it was the medium and small hotels that abused the facility most and that was why it was repealed.
Hon Members, let us move on. We have one more Question and We have a time flame. So, let us move on.
Madam Speaker, a follow up to my question, please.
Georgia Hotel is a big hotel. Is that not it? [Laughter]
Madam Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister whether the repeal of this L.I. was of general application.
Madam Speaker, it was general.
It was a general repeal of an L.I. So it is of general application. Is that not it?
Madam Speaker, the Hon Member who asked the Question said that the 3-Star budget hotels are not enjoying the facility while the 4 and 5- Star hotels are enjoying it. But the Hon Minister is also telling us that the repeal of the L.I. was of general application. Madam Speaker, how do we bring these two together? If it is of general application, then it must apply to all hotels. But if she is saying the 4 and 5-Stars are enjoying, while the lower ones are not, then it is not of general application but selective application. It is discriminatory. So, Madam Minister, she should tell us why.
Hon Minister, did you say that? Explain yourself then. You have said it is of general application?
Yes, Madam Speaker.
But the question is that you had said before that it affected only the small hotels, and they want explanation to that if you said that.
Madam Speaker, the repeal is general. It is supposed to affect all hotels. But as I indicated, a committee is in place to review each case on merit. So whether it is a 5-Star, 4-Star, budget or small hotel, if one brings his request and it is reviewed and he thinks that one is entitled to it, they will grant it.
I think you have had enough bite at the apple.
Madam Speaker, I am too clear; if she says it is of general application, then it must apply to all hotels. She tells us in one vein that the 4 and 5- Star are -
Hon Member, you are arguing with the Hon Minister and the rules do not permit that. She has given her reasons and she says it is of general application. What sh.e is talking about is that in future, it would be based on particular cases and you are still arguing. This is an argument. Mr Ofosu I am sorry. Madam Speaker, except that I thought she was aprobating and reprobating.
You wanted that to happen? I do not agree. Let us move on.
On a lighter note. The Hon Minister did make mention of Georgia Hotel. It seems she is so much familiar with Georgia Hotel. Just on a lighter note, how many times has she been there and was she there with the legitimate family or not?
Hon Member, the question is disallowed. [Laughter] Hon Minister, I think we thank you very much for coming to enlighten us on these matters. Then, we have the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, we have a Question for you. The Question for the Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice is in the name of Hon Ben Abdallah Banda. Is he here now?
Madam Speaker, the Hon Member is not around and I have his permission to ask the Question.
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
Hon Member, your three supplementary questions?
Madam Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Minister what the finding sources are for the e-Justice Project.
Madam Speaker, as I indicated, it is basically from budgetary support and donor support. You would know that the Judiciary is a separate arm of Government and have their own internal mechanisms in engaging donors. I have been informed by Her Ladyship, the Chief
Madam Speaker, may I find out from the Hon Minister why the absence connectivity to the national electricity grid seems to be an impediment to his efforts at computerizing the courts because that is not the only source of electricity.
Madam Speaker, the ideal situation in terms of cost per unit per output would be that they are actually connected to the national grid. The alternatives in relation to providing thermal and other generation services show clearly that that is not a very viable option immediately. The option, actually, is to speed up with the rural electrification project to ensure that within the shortest possible time, particularly the cut-off period of this project cycle of 2016, all areas in which courts are located would have been connected to the national grid.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister tells us that other forms of electricity supply, at this time, are not viable. May I find out from the Hon Minister what studies his outfit has conducted and what the results were, to determine the comparative cost implications of the various electrical energy sources?
Madam Speaker, I certainly cannot profess to be an electrical engineer in these matters. I have only indicated the policy considerations as we have been advised. What I can do in this matter is that, if notice of this question is served, we would get the appropriate compilation done. But as a matter of policy, we believe that the first option is to get all the communities connected to the national grid in the shortest possible time.
Madam Speaker, I see that the Question was addressed to the Hon Minister but the work is really the work of the Judiciary. So I can only assume that the information he is giving us is what was given to him by the Judiciary, so that the Executive would not be seen as making policy for the Judiciary. This is a very laudable task and we are in late May. In his Answer, he said beginning from this year, 2012. Can he be more specific because we are five months into the year, and has it started or it has not started? And if it has not started, what is stopping it from starting?
Madam Speaker, I can indicate for sure that two Weeks ago, I did receive a correspondence from Her Ladyship, the Chief Justice, indicating that the pilot that had been attempted in computerization at the level of the High Court had been completed and she gave information that they would be proceeding to start with the District Courts. This is the official information I have.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Minister said in his Answer, that out of the 141 districts, 19 have been automated. If he does have the districts names, it would be good for the House to know which of these 19 districts have been automated, so that those in this House can liaise with their District Assemblies to actually perform their oversight responsibilities. If he has it here, it would be good to also know.
Do you have the 19 districts here?
No Madam Speaker, but I think it is a very important question, for which I can finish this House if notice is appropriately served.
It seems she wants to know.
Madam Speaker, there is no doubt that the project to automate all courts in Ghana is a very laudable idea for the speedy adjudication of cases. But Madam Speaker, all practitioners know, even in Accra, the difficulties that they go through in the area of proficiency of those who man this equipment, and it is likely to be worse even in the district areas. I would want to know from the Hon Minister whether this project is in tandem with training the operators, so that they achieve the overall efficiency in this laudable idea and possibly back-up.
Madam Speaker, computerization or digitalizing the court system, certainly involves three components, basically, the hardware, the software and the capacity. So I guess that when we use the general term that the courts would be automated and they would be computerized, all these three components will actually come into play. I am unable to give a direct answer in relation to the attribution whether people who are outside the national and regional capitals are sufficiently capacitated to handle this level of technology. I was particularly very shocked that when I could not download a matter from my lap top, I was assisted in a very rural community by somebody who sobers me not be able to make that categorization.
Hon Members, let us move on. We thank the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice for coming to answer our Questions. Hon Gbediame, do we move on to item numbered 5 then? I have not admitted any Statements. So let us move on to item 5.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning is here to represent the Hon Minister, who is unavoidably absent, to lay the Paper - item 5 (b). We are still expecting the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry. So we can step that one down for the meantime. So may I take your kind permission and that of the House to indulge the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning to lay the Paper, item 5 (b).
Yes, is it all right?
Yes, Madam Speaker.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minister, can you lay the Paper?
So item 5 (a) is still stood down. Is it? It is stood down. Let us move to item 6 then, Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice -
Madam Speaker, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is in the House to move that Motion.
Hon Minister, you may move Motion 6. Suspension of Standing Order 128 (1) Attorney-General and Minister for Justice (Dr Benjamin Kunbuor): Madam Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 128 (I), which require that when a Bill has been read a Second time, it shall pass through a Consideration Stage, which shall not be taken until at least, forty-eight hours have elapsed, the Consideration Stage of the Criminal Offenses (Amendment) Bill, 201 1 may be taken today.
Madam Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to. Resolved accordingly.
Motion numbered 7 would be taken by the Hon First Deputy Speaker.
Madam Speaker, I recollect that the Second Reading of this Bill was done on Wednesday, 23rd of May, 2012 and I thought that 48 hours have elapsed after the Second Reading of the Bill; that is, since last Wednesday, for which reason, I thought the procedural Motion was not even necessary. But the vote has already been taken, so we can go on.
Hon Gbediame, in that case, let us move on to the next item - 7, which would be taken by the Hon First Deputy Speaker.
The Hon Minister is here, and Hon Agbesi who is also a member of the Committee would be piloting the amendments.
All right. 11.3()a.m.--
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Majority Chief Whip?
Mr Speaker, Hon Agbesi, who is a member of the Committee, will be moving the amendments and we have the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice also with us.
BILLS --- CONSIDERATION STAGE
Hon Members, Criminal Offenses Amendment Bill, 2011 at the Consideration Stage. Clause 1 - Unlawful use of human parts.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 1, paragraph (a), delete "organs" and substitute "parts". Mr Speaker, it is the view of the Committee that "organs" gives a restricted meaning and we want to exp and the meaning of the sentence. So, we are proposing that we delete "organs" and substitute it with "parts".
What is the difference between "human parts" and "human organs" for purposes of this law?
Mr Speaker, the word "organs" refers to specific parts of the body, but "parts", does not give restricted meanings. For instance, if you refer to blood, it is not an organ but it forms part of the body. So we want to give it a wider meaning. That is why we are moving "organs" and replacing it with "parts".
Hon Members, I am asking the question, so that we make sure that we are doing the right thing. That is why I asked the Hon Member who moved the amendment to tell the House the difference between "human organs" and "human parts". Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu Mr Speaker, l thought the question ought to have been directed to the biologists and medical officers. However, I agree with Hon Agbesi. "Parts" in this instance, is more generic than "organs". For instance, the finger will be apart of the human body but will not be an organ. Blood will be part of the human body but it is not an organ. So I agree that "parts" is more generic. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 1, paragraph (b), delete "organs" and substitute "parts".
Hon Members, this is consequential. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 1, subclause (2), line 1, delete "means" and substitute "includes", and in line 2, at end, add "or human blood". Mr Speaker, we are trying to extend the definition rather than restrict its meaning.
Ordinarily, I would have thought that we would take the questions one by one but - Yes, any comments?
Mr Speaker, sorry. It is the definition here that l am worried about. When you say, "for the purposes of subsection 1, human parts means or includes a distinct internal or external organ of the human body", in anatomical terms, when you talk of an organ, it is not necessarily a part So, we have to look at the definition very well; we have to do some engineering.
Hon Member for Manhyia, what is your contribution?
Mr Speaker, I would like to contribute if you ask.
Are you in favor of the amendment or you are against it?
Mr Speaker, if you would hasten slowly. These are technical things we have to interlocute with them, else we would pass a Bill that the President might sign, that might mean very, very little in technical terms outside. When you say "external organ", the skin is an external organ. [Interruption] The skin is an organ. I am a doctor and it is the largest organ in the human body - You do not know anything about medicine, Akua. [Laughter]
Hon Member, you are out of order.
Mr Speaker, thank you. [Interruption] Akua, stay with tourism. [Laughter] My worry is, that phrase, "distinct internal or external organ" - So, we would have to think about it very carefully if we have - I do not know. Let me think.
Hon Member, I called you because I know you are a technical person in this field. You are questioning the amendment but you are not proposing a solution. Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed (retd): Mr Speaker, this portion of the Bill is talking about organs. Organs that can be transferred from one human being into another person and usually, we talk about the lungs, kidneys, heart and the eyes. So these are organs that are transplantable and therefore, such organs will be the ones. Organs like the skin - [Interruption] There are several other organs but this particular clause is referring to these organs that I have mentioned or parts thereof - 11.4O am
Mr Speaker, after conferring and knowing where you were, the definition is correct. If we change "means" and insert "includes" it is correct.
So we are expanding the definition? Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, we are done with 69B, that is (1), but l would want us to see whether we have captured that construction appropriately, when we open by saying that: "The person who without lawful authority, the proof of which lies on that person." "The proof of the unlawful authority". It would mean, lies with that person. But it should be the proof of lawful authority that should lie with that person, not unlawful authority. But this construction means otherwise.
But in law, the rendition is right. In law, the rendition is right. So if you have a lawful authority, you, as the person, who claims to have it, it is for you to prove.
Mr Speaker, that is exactly what I mean. The construction here says: "A person who without lawful authority, the proof of which lies on that person." It means that you are required to prove the unlawful authority -
No. You are supposed to prove lawful authority. So you have to prove that you have lawful authority.
Mr Speaker, go through it and I am not too sure that we have the correct rendition of this. The Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, maybe, may help us. The opening of 69B says: "A person who without lawful authority, the proof of which lies on that person." . I thought if we had positivised it, then we would capture the sense better. But we are saying that you are required to prove your unlawful authority.
If you have a lawful authority, then there is no question at all. Then it is not a criminal offense. So the emphasis here is "without lawful authority".
Mr Speaker, I do not see the point he is raising. The sentence reads as follows: "A person who without lawful authority ..." So if you are in possession, a person who without lawful authority, the proof of which lies on that person. So it is for you to prove that you have such lawful authority.
Hon Members, this is legal drafting. The lawful authority; if you want to show that you have lawful authority, that proof is on that person.
Mr Speaker, I think it is all right. If you understand that "which" which is used in the second part of the statement, refers to lawful authority, then that makes sense and that is what it is supposed to be.
The emphasis there is the "lawful authority" which you have to prove.
But if we are thinking that the "which" is referring to "without lawful authority" then you will be confused like the Hon Minority Leader is.
Mr Speaker, I guess there seems to be consensus on this matter, but the manner of drafting is the way it is done. For instance, there are circumstances in other parts of this Bill, in which somebody can have lawful authority to possess the subject matter. So, in any other area, where there is a difficulty, it is the situation in which the person has unlawful authority. So if there is any burden that he has to prove, the proof would then be the lawfulness and that is the form of drafting this particular -
Mr Speaker, I agree with the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice; it is a drafting style. In case of drafting, you do not have to be repetitive. So if we really Want to make it clear but it may be repetitive and not proper drafting style, it will read as follows: "A person who without lawful authority, the proof of which lawful authority lies on that person". That is how you would want to express it without doubt. But "that will not be in conformity with drafting style. That is it.
But the way it is now, it would not lead to any absurdity in any court of law.
Bonsu Mr Speaker, my Colleague
Which of them? Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Suhum (MI Opare- Ansah) is an Engineer and these days, with dread Engineers, those of them who do engineering, whatever form it is - [Laughter] Mr Speaker, but if the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice insists that there cannot be any ambiguity, well, I will defer to him. But l have serious doubts about the syntax of this construction. [Laughter]
Hon Minority Leader, I do not see any problem with this drafting. But we all learn and that is the reason. I also called on the former Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, the Hon Member for Sekondi (Papa Owusu-Ankomah) to make his input into the discussion.
Mr Speaker, I think the issue is settled. I was Wondering why he thought it was for the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to -- [Interruption] -- but it is for him to say one Way or the other whether there is doubt or there is no doubt; he can only proffer his view. But I think the point is what you clearly made. I support the interpretation as espoused by you. I think it is right. Well,
Hon Member, withdraw the "cantankerous".
Mr Speaker, I replace it with "capricious". [Laughter]
I like "capricious". [Laughter] Question put and amendment negatived.
The Hon Member was taking us back, so it will stay as it is. Clause 1 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill Clause 3 - Definition of sexual exploitation.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, delete and substitute the following -
Hon Member for Ashaiman, what amendment are you moving? We are on clause 3 and you are talking about clause 2.
Mr Speaker, we are proposing an amendment to subclause (2); we are deleting and substituting the following:
What are you doing about subclause 1?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 3 subclause (1), lines 1 and 2, delete "especially a child". Question. put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 3, subclause (2), delete and substitute the following: "A person who sexually exploits (a) another person other than a child commits an offense and is liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than twenty-five years; or (b) another person who is a child commits an offense and is liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than seven years and not more than twenty-five years." Mr Speaker, this is in line because we want to separate the offense that has been created for a child in place of an adult. We want to separate a child from an adult. It is not only an offense for a child but also -
Separating it in which way? For purposes of punishment? Separate the child from the adult in which way?
Mr Speaker, the sentence as it proposes, it is as if we are talking only of the "child" but the "offense" can be committed not only on a "child" but any other person or adult. That is why we are deleting what is there and substituting for the amendment proposed.
Hon Members, during the Second Reading - if you look at the first amendment that was moved, they tried to - especially a "child". When you look at subclause (1), a child is also a person. So it came up that if it is punishment, a higher form of punishment they want to give to a child, then the punishment should be disaggregated from that of a child from those of the adult. And I think that is What the amendment is seeking to do.
Mr Speaker, I was wondering why you were doing the work of the Chairman of the Committee.
Hon Member for Sekondi, I was not doing - you know, during the Second Reading, the Hon Member was not here. He was with the Hon Minority Chief Whip in the ECOWAS Parliament.
He is moving the amendment. He must understand it. I thought it was self-explanatory. But you were helping him. So I was wondering why you were seeking to help my Hon Colleague and mate who really understands why -
Mr Speaker, you are not helping me but you are giving us direction.
Is it true that the Hon Member for Sekondi --- is it true that the Hon Member for Ashaiman is your classmate? Papa Owusu-Ankomah Oh! He was my classmate for five years. From 1976 to 1981 - November.
Very well. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 3 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu Mr Speaker, not really connected with clause 4.
But I have a few issues with clause 2, if the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice perhaps, may take them on board when we have dealt with 4.
Very well. What I will do is that I will suggest that, let us proceed, then we come and take a closer look at it at Second Consideration Stage. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill Clause 5 -- Definition of organized criminal group
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 5, delete and substitute the following: ' "(5) The principal enactment is amended by the insertion after section 200 of sections 200A and 200B Organized criminal group 200A (l)A person who participates in an organized criminal group commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years. (2) An organized criminal group is a structured group acting in conceit with the aim of committing a serious offense.
Hon Agbesi, What is the difference between what is in the Bill and what you are seeking to amend?
Mr Speaker, as the Bill states, "organized crime", a person who participates in an organized crime, it does not define the crime before prescribing the punishment and we want to define the crime.
Hon Member for Ashaiman, what we have in the Bill and what you are seeking to amend, what is the difference?
Mr Speaker, What I am saying is that, in the Bill, definition of "organized crime" and in (1), "an organized crime group" is structured group and continues. In the amendment, We are trying to say that a person -
Hon Member for Ashaiman, look at your first amendment.
Mr Speaker, the principal enactment is amended by the insertion after section 200 of sections (a) and (b).
What is the difference between that amendment and what is in the Bill?
Mr Speaker, amendment proposed; there is no difference as it is but the difference comes in respect of l (a).
Hon Member, you have an amendment, if there is no difference, then what is the essence of the amendment? We have "delete and substitute" and what you are deleting and substituting, what is the difference between that and What is in the Bill? [Pause] Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice.
Mr Speaker, I would ask that this matter be stood down because we do not have the Chairman himself on the proposed amendment, which looks very difficult to ascertain but it looks like it is a re-arrangement of the sections and the Motion should have been put -
Hon Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, before we come to "organized criminal groups", even before We come there, the clause 5, the opening clause, what is the difference between what is there and what is in the Bill that we are amending? The amendment should come after that. That is the point I am making.
I cannot see the difference between that opening clause and the opening clause in the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I am actually not the sponsor of the amendment. That is why I am being cautious to speak on it. We did not come out with the proposed Bill and the amendment was actually done in this House. So it becomes difficult without the actual author of the amendment to be seen kicking against it.
Hon Agbesi, my point is that even before you are deleting something from a Bill and bringing another one, there should be a reason behind it. And the point I am making is that the opening clause 5, there is no difference between what is there and what is in the Bill. If it is 200 (a) that you want to amend under the head note of "organized criminal group", then you go and tamper with that particular one. But I want to find out why you are tampering with that one, which at the end of the day, it is the same as what is in the Bill
Mr Speaker, that would be for the proposer of the amendment as far as the Attorney-General's Department and Ministry of Justice are concerned. We have not asked for that amendment to be done.
Mr Speaker, we want to stand it down.
What are you standing down?
The proposed amendments to clause 5.
The whole of clause 5?
Mr Speaker, the whole of clause 5.
Mr Speaker, I guess the issue is that he is really shepherding this matter and if he has enough authority to withdraw the said amendment, I think that would be the proper way to go. But because he is not the original sponsor - it is the Hon Chairman of the Committee, that is why he is advising that it be stood down.
Hon Members, I would stand down the entire clause 5, so that you can go and look at it together with the clause 2, that the Hon Minority Leader raised earlier, so that tomorrow We can take it. Because we have the "organized criminal group" and we have the "racketeering" too there. So, if it is the entire clause 5 that you want to stay, then I would do so. - I would move on to the Long Title - Hon Members, I would stay the rest of the other parts of the Bill, so that
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister is here and the Hon Vice Chairman is here.
I am listening to you. You have the floor. What is your problem?
Well, he has signaled that we can go ahead and do the Public Heath Bill, now that the Hon Deputy Minister and Hon Vice Chairman are here.
The Hon Deputy Minister too is here.
I am telling you that the Hon Minister is here.
Mr Speaker, the former Hon Majority Leader and Hon Minister for Health has been absent from this House for a while. And suddenly, he appears here clad in party colors. But I thought -
Is the party colors your problem?
Mr Speaker, I thought that in this House, there is a silent and general rule that we would not be showing party colors here. But he is wearing full regalia.
Hon Minister for Health?
Mr Speaker, I am happy my Hon Colleague just wants to hear my voice and that is why he is drawing me into this. This is just a designer shirt.A very fine designer shirt. I do not know what this talk about "party colors" is. But I am not averse to wearing party colors; I always Wear. But this is not a party regalia that l put on and this is very, very proper for the House. I am sure he is admiring it and he wished he had one. [Laughter]
Hon Members, let us do some work. Public Health Bill, 2011 at the Consideration Stage. Hon Second Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
BILLS - CONSIDERATION STAGE
Clause 17? Vice Chairman of Health Committee (Mr Wisdom Gidisu): Mr Speaker, I think last week, we finished with clauses 17 and 18. We got to clause 19 when we stopped. So I think we should begin with clause 19 instead of the clause 17.
I agree with you, but how come the Table Office has advertised clauses 17, 18 and 19 because the Votes and Proceedings speaks for itself? We have the Votes and Proceedings.
Mr Speaker, We even started with the clause 19 before we were caught up with the family of some animals; that is Why -
You are absolutely correct. Hon Members, if you looked at the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 24th May, 2012, is clear that they have put the Question on clauses 17 and 18.
Mr Speaker, that is rightly so. I think we should move to clause 19.
Table Office to be more meticulous next time. Clause 19 - Interpretation.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 19, Interpretation of "animal", line 3, delete "capture" and substitute "captured". In addition, there was a hot argument regarding family of some animals. After "capture wild mammals", we insert "reptiles, insects, birds, rodents," before "ostrich and poultry, comprising domestic fowls, turkeys, ducks, geese, pigeons, guinea fowls and eggs of poultry". So, We have included "reptiles, insects, birds, rodents" a new amendment. We have added that one to the existing one on the Order Paper.
Hon Vice Chairman of the Health Committee, can I have all the things that you have mentioned? This is because they are not captured on the Order Paper.
Yes, Mr Speaker. They are not captured on the Order Paper.
If you have a copy of all the things that you have mentioned -
That actually halted the amendment last week. I have it here with me; it is not advertised on the Order Paper.
Yes, I want to have a look at it. [Pause] So what are we adding; reptiles?
We are adding reptiles, birds, insects, rodents and fish.
Is that a compromised amendment by both sides of the House?
Mr Speaker, if we can have the full complement from him.
So the new rendition is: "In this part, unless the context otherwise requires, 'animal' includes cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits and any other ruminating domestic animals, horses, mules, asses, swine, dogs, cats, monkeys, captured wild animals, mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, fish, rodents, ostrich, and poultry comprising domestic fowls, turkeys, ducks, geese, pigeons, guinea fowls and eggs of poultry."
Hon Members, is that the compromised comprised amendment?
Mr Speaker, except the penultimate line, the word "comprising", we decided to delete it and in its place, substitute "including".
So we are deleting "comprising" -
And then we add "includes domestic fowls." .
Hon Member, all that you are doing now is to delete "comprising" and substitute it with "including".
Exactly, Mr Speaker.
Very well. Hon Members, since it is a compromised amendment - Question put and amendment agreed to.
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
Chairman of the Committee, where are you?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 19, Interpretation of "authorized health officer", line 2, delete "or District Chief Executive". Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Ahmed (retd): Mr Speaker, in line with the decentralization policy, the District Health Officers work under and report to the District Chief Executives. I believe that it would be useful to retain the original rendition in the Bill, that "a person authorized by the Minister or District Chief Executive to perform a function under this part".
Safe that if you say "the health officer or the District Chief Executive (DCE)" means, the DCE has the power by himself, what We say, suo motu to perform those functions. But the District Health Officer would nevertheless do so in the ordinary course of his or her functions and with the appropriate co-operation Where necessary of the DCE. So you do not need to make the DCE having a concurrent power to do what you intend for the authorized health officer. Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Ahmed (retd): Mr Speaker, in the performance of these duties, usually, there is the District Health Officer and there may be an assistant. In the event that the District Health Officer is not at post, the assistant should be able to perform the functions on behalf of the District Health Officer. That authorization may have to come from the District Chief Executive since it is at that local level. There may not be the need to resort to an authorization from the Ministry, which may be so remote and may delay the taking of, maybe, very key stance in the case of an emergency.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, the Hon Member for Ayawaso East is behind in the argument; we have now reached "Interpretation". But I would want to assure him that under the Bill, the Minister is going to make regulations and that regulations will prescribe officers who can be authorized to do certain things as he finds fit. Therefore, we have moved away, and in fact, rightly so, from District Chief Executive performing the functions of a Minister. So I Will suggest that he looks back to the Bill and realise that We have already taken care of that responsibility_ The Hon Minister, by regulation, would designate - [Interruption] -yes, 16. So that the Minister would have authority, by regulation, to point out which other officers are so authorized to perform certain functions within the Bill. So Dr Ahmed, Member for Ayawaso East, who is not listening, will be well - [Interruption] Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Ahmed (retd) - rose -
Mr Speaker, the Minister for Women and Children's Affairs is not allowing Hon Dr Ahmed to benefit from the deliberations of the past. But I would want to assure him that it has been taken care of The District Chief Executive is not appropriate - [Interruption] - you do not even know What I said.
MI Speaker, in addition to that, they said "authorized health officer" means a person authorized by the Minister. He says the Minister can even authorize the District Chief Executive to act accordingly in any other function.
Hon Member, I hope you are listening? The acting Chairman has drawn attention - the Hon Minister may authorize a person. That person could even be a DCE in accordance with the good judgment of the Hon Minister. Does that help you in any way? Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Ahmed (retd): Mr Speaker, I find the interaction very, very useful and I accept to be behind. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I would Want us to take "Board", so that it will fall in alphabetical order. It is before "chop bar." So "Board" on page 7, that is, item (X) on the Order Paper.
"Board" means the Compensation Board established under section (12)"place of convenience" includes "latrine" - [Interruption] - No; all right. Mr Speaker, I think the drafters can take care of the arrangement, so that we go strictly according to what is on the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 19, Interpretation of "chop bar", line 1, delete "with basic amenities" and substitute "and includes restaurants". So the new rendition is - "Chop bar is a public eating place and includes restaurants where 'local food' is served."
Why local foods? Why not "foods"?
Mr Speaker, I think the acting Chairman did not travel the entire distance. We called for the deletion of all the words after "place" and then inserting "and includes restaurants". There was a suggestion that we should add "and other eateries". But certainly, We are to delete that content of "local foods". We do not have to emphasize "local foods". So "chop bar" is a public eating place and it includes restaurants. We can just rest there.
Hon Chairman, are you all right with that?
Mr Speaker, I am all right.
"And includes restaurants". "Chop bar" is a public eating place and includes restaurants.
Mr Speaker, the new rendition now is - "Chop bar, is a public eating place and includes restaurants and other eateries."
Mr Speaker, what we are proposing now is not advertised on the Order Paper. So let us end it at "Chop bar is a public eating place and includes restaurants"
Order, Order! Hon Minister -
Mr Speaker, I think "chop bars" as we all know them, are public eateries that do not have the same classification or qualification as restaurants. Restaurants are a bit higher in terms of the standards - the space, the kind of equipment that you find in restaurants. But a chop bar could be "face the wall", it could be somebody sitting under a tree organizing and selling food. So I do not think that we can include "restaurants" in "chop bars". No! If anything, "chop bars" should refer to public eating places other than restaurants, because Movenpic Restaurant, for instance, cannot be classified as a "chop bar".
Mr Speaker, I also find the inclusion of "restaurant" in the definition of "chop bar" very erroneous. We insisted on the words "chop bar" because of its peculiar nature - that, as we all know it in Ghana, from across the country - which is other than restaurant. So if we are defining "chop bar", let us define it. "Chop bar" is a public eating place, other than restaurants; period. Of course, I do not know what we call the "check- checks" and others - but they are all "chop bars" in a way. But restaurants, definitely - and I am sure that is why the Hon Minister for Tourism was up - restaurants have a different categorization under the hospitality industry. So let us not confuse them. "Chop bar" is "chop bar" and we all know when we say "chop bar", we know where we are going. So let us leave "restaurants". "Restaurant" is a different type of place and the reason we are concerned about "chop bar" is because it has a lower infrastructure facility. It is more likely to have certain problems. This is because it does not have, maybe, a proper sink and maybe, the environment may not be as enclosed with air-condition and so on. That is why we found it necessary to make sure that this "chop bar" is properly recognized in this Public Health Bill. So Mr Speaker, no "restaurant" is attached to "chop bar".
Thank you very much, Hon Frema. Yes, Hon Balado Manu.
Mr Speaker, I tend to agree with the Hon Minister for Tourism and Hon Osei-Opare. "Chop bar" we know. When you get to a "chop bar" - "woman" -you can tell her to go down deep under the soup and bring something out there for you. You can tell her, "Look, I want this kind of meat; I want the one that has gone down; bring it up for me". But restaurant, you do not have that largesse. You go there, they prepare the plate for you, you have no choice.
Thank you very much. Yes, Hon Boafo.
Mr Speaker, I believe the exercise we are going through is not an ordinary one. We are not seeking ordinary definitions here; we are looking for legal definitions contextually. What the amendment purports to seek, is that, for purposes of public health, a "chop bar" will include a restaurant. For the purpose of hospitality and others, there will be classifications. But when it comes to the application of public health law, we cannot exclude restaurants, because this is equally a risky place and also a place which is exposed. The same thing happened when we were considering the definition of an animal. Instead of considering the legal definition of animal within the public law, we steered into zoology. We must be guided by the Long Title, the thrust and the focus of the Bill that we are considering. I think that when we are considering the effect of communicable diseases and so forth, we would not exclude restaurants. We should consider the definition of "chop bar" to include a "restaurant". That is the legal definition so far as this Bill is concerned.
The point Hon Boafo is making is, the purpose of a definition in a law is to particularize within context and that it will give meaning to the entire exercise if "chop bar" were to include "restaurant" for the purposes of this particular law.
Mr Speaker, first of all, it should be understood that we are relating to a context of usage, and so people should appreciate that if a definition is given, it relates to the context of usage of that particular word or phrase. But I even notice that what we are doing is much ado about nothing. We do not even need to define "chop bar". This is because going back to where it appears, clause 4(2), we deleted those words. Clause 4 (2), when we said, "Subsection (I) applies to a food vendor or a person who sells water or beverage". We stopped at that. .. or operates a chop bar", we deleted those words. So, we then do not even need to define "chop bar" because it does not appear anywhere again.
"Chop bar" does not appear, in fact, in the entire exercise. That being so, then we want to drop this amendment and make progress.
Mr Speaker, so the amendment to the interpretation of "chop bar" - is dropped. Further amendment.
You may proceed.
Mr Speaker, the acting Chairman has dropped it, but we will need the view of the Hon Minister. I think he is so much engrossed in his party paraphernalia that he is not even following the argument. We need his view on this matter.
The Hon Minister is following proceedings closely and at the appropriate time, he knows himself what to do if he finds it necessary. He is an expert in this House.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 19 - Interpretation of "environmental health officer", line 2 - [Interruption]
Hon Chairman, please, just a moment. Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Ahmed (retd): Mr Speaker, with all due respect, I just wanted to speak on the "chop bar" issue again. With the description given by the Hon Balado-
No! Hon Member, do we have "chop bar" still in the Bill. It do es not exist. Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Ahmed (retd): Mr Speaker, I understand that it is no longer in the Bill.
Then Hon Member, please - Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Ahmed (retd): Mr Speaker, my contention is that -
Hon Member, please, then save us the trouble. Hon Chairman, please, proceed.
Mr Speaker, I beg .to move, clause 19, Interpretation of "environmental health officer", line 2, before "controls" insert "who" - [Interruption]
Hon Chairman, please, a moment. Hon Boafo, do we have -
Mr Speaker, I am not clear about the "chop bar" issue, whether the Hon Chairman has proposed that it should be deleted.
The fact is that-
Mr Speaker, he did not propose the amendment to the effect that "chop bar" --
He is Withdrawing the amendment. He has withdrawn it.
Mr Speaker, no. The amendment is to delete an expression and substitute another. So if he is dropping the amendment, then it means, the definition of "chop bar" in the original stands. But from the debate so far -
Very well. Hon Chairman, if you will move that the definition of "chop bat" be withdrawn.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the definition of "chop bar" as stated on the Order Paper be withdrawn.
No! Hon Chairman, you are not right
Mr Speaker, the original rendition, that is item (viii) on the Order Paper, clause 19, amendment proposed, Interpretation of "chop bar" should be deleted
Hon Minority Chief Whip, I see you want to assist?
Mr Speaker, the issue is for the Hon Chairman to move for the deletion of the interpretation of "chop bar" under the Interpretations. He has already withdrawn his proposed
Mr Speaker, we delete the interpretation of "chop bar" as in the original Bill.
Very well. The acting Chairman moved for the withdrawal accordingly. . Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 19, Interpretation of "environmental health officer", line 2, before "controls" inset "who" and in line 3, delete "negative" and substitute "adverse."
"environmental health officer" means "a health professional who is involved in health promotion, education and who controls activities that have adverse consequences on the environment, public health and safety." Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 19, interpretation of "medical officer", lines 2 and 3, delete "the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act (Act ...)" and substitute "law".
"medical officer" means a dental or medical practitioner registered under law."
Mr Speaker, I would want to know which law. If we leave it and say the drafters should incorporate the relevant law, I may understand. But a medical officer registered under which law?
Mr Speaker, it can be under an appropriate law in Ghana.
No! You do not need to do that.
Mr Speaker, we know the law under which the medical practitioners are registered. Why do we not insert "Medical and Dental Practitioners Act"? Mr Speaker, they are registered under the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act; we know it. The draftsperson will know the exact rendition to put in.
Hon acting Chairman, do you agree that We leave this to the draftsperson to insert the appropriate law?
Mr Speaker, I agree. So we leave it to the draftsperson to take care of it.
Very well. So you are asking that we amend further "under law" to "appropriate law" and for the draftsperson to insert therein?
That is it, Mr Speaker.
Very well Question put and amendment agreed to.
The draftsperson to find out and insert the appropriate law accordingly.
Mr Speaker, maybe, it is a matter of semantics. But I thought we would rather prefer in place of "under" we substitute "by" - "registered by law" if we want to leave it at that. If We say "under" then it will be "under the laws of Ghana" and that would be, maybe, too expansive. So "registered bylaw" or "under law" will achieve the same purpose. [Interruptions] Well, the men of yesterday are saying that "under" is acceptable. So, maybe, we will accept that.
Hon acting Chairman, did we finish putting the Question? Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 19, add the following new provisions: "Board" means the Compensation Board established under section (12)".
Hon Members, I would want us to treat them separately. Hon acting Chairman, do you want to give us further explanation?
Mr Speaker, "Board" means a Compensation Board established under section (12). Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, "place of convenience" includes "latrine".
Mr Speaker, we have deleted "place of convenience" and we actually said that it is a colloquial word, so we used the word "toilet" in the Bill. So it does no longer apply, just like we had for "chop bar".
Mr Speaker, in this regard, the proposed amendment "place of convenience" is withdrawn accordingly.
Thank you. Amendment accordingly withdrawn by leave of the House.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, "property" includes "a house, structure and an animal".
Mr Speaker, I do not see how in the context of this, "property" can include an animal. If you are talking about a structure, property, a house, or something akin to that, why should it include an animal? So in this context, cockroach will be a part of it; a cat and a mouse would be property? [Interruptions] No! I do not know but-
Mr Speaker, an animal is also a property. You can have cattle. If you have a ranch of cattle, it is a property. That is why we say it includes an animal. Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Ahmed (retd): Mr Speaker, if this rendition is in reference to source of infection, then I believe the word "pet" would be far more admissible than "animal".
Mr Speaker, I must say that I totally disagree with the definition of "property" as being given by the acting Chairman. I say so because the -usage of that word is in clause 7; we are talking about disinfection and if you read it, it is as follows: "A medical or veterinary officer or an authorized health officer may order the disinfection of . . ."
Already we have captured the "house" and "structure" - ". . .(a) of a house, a structure or an area in which a case of, or a suspected case of communicable disease has occurred Whether in an infected area or not". So Mr Speaker, we are talking about- [Interruption] Of course, the chattel.s and not houses and structures of that person. Look at the context; it does not mean another house or structure.
Mr Speaker, we can over-define. I suggest that in this case, a property should include anything owned by a person, so that whether it is a house, a structure, an animal, a pet or whatever, it covers them. This is because all we are saying is that any possession of a person is property. That is my further amendment
Mr Speaker, I have read clause 7 and I think it is talking ab out paragraph (b), "property belonging to a person residing or being in that house or building". "Property" in that context, means, chattels or belongings, something like that. So if that is what the Hon Chairman seeks to define then this definition is not really appropriate. We are talking about personal possessions -clothing, books, furniture, et cetera. In that context, defining it to include, animal - I think, Mr Speaker, -- [Interruption] Yes, I think it is talking about belongings in an enclosed space. That is what I think is meant- Property in a flat or Whatever. But define it to include animals, houses and so forth, is not appropriate.Probably, We may have to stand it down while we move on to other clauses.
I think from the contributions so far, we will well be guided also, nevertheless by "belonging". and "owned", and then We can start thinking of how We can formulate. What belongs to, what is owned.
-- rose --
Hon Dr Prempeh, if you could just - Hon Member for Ayawaso first Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Ahmed (retd) : Mr Speaker, in our Ghanaian setting, in most of our traditional homes, we have For example, goats, sheep, guinea fowls, rabbits and so on. Then also we have a culture of keeping pets. Some of these pets may also include the animals that I have mentioned. So I believe that inasmuch as the Word "animal" does not sound very fashionable, maybe, if we say "pet", it will capture the concerns that we want to express. That is my submission,Mr Speaker.
HonDr Prempeh, you abandoned your line of contribution?
Mr Speaker, my thinking -Amendments have already been proffered and accepted by the House on the original clause. If the original clause stood as it were, there would be no confusion. But because of certain amendments that the House has accepted, that is why it is bringing this confusion. But I think it is right. This is because if I go and visit a place where there is a communicable disease and I go back to even where I live, I can contaminate or infest or transmit it to everything there that it is transmittable to, and it can include an animal, cooking utensils or clothing. So that is why the environmental officers do what we call "contact tracing". They trace everybody who has come into contact with that disease or entity and they prevent that disease or entity from wherever it has gone to, becoming a spreading source of infection. So I think what is there and what was originally captured, is probably right.
Mr Speaker, that will exclude "belongings, personal effects, clothing"; so I would want therefore, to make a further amendment to expand it to say that "Property" includes a house, structure, animal and personal belongings. So if I visited a place and I was wearing a sweater, it can also be a source of tracing. But the whole point is that, I am worried about this whole "Property includes a house or structure" and so on. All "property" means is that "anything belonging to a person". So it can be anything. Let us not overstretch the word and just say what a "property" is. A "property" is anything belonging to a person, and it is simple.
Hon Frema Osei-Opare, you amended the rendition and now, it looks as if you are arguing against that, which you proposed at first. Hon Frema Osei-Opare, you will choose one position, so that we know what you are helping the House with.
All right, Mr Speaker. I am taking the mood of the House into consideration by expanding the existing amendment to include "belongings".
"Property" includes "a house, structure, animal and personal belongings". That is the proposal?
Mr Speaker, when you look at clause 7, where the word "property" is used, you will notice that the Hon Minority Leader actually read, I think, an amended version of subclause (b). But if we were to leave subclause 5 as was originally proposed in the Bill -
Hon Minority Chief Whip, we have made progress beyond that.
Mr Speaker, I am addressing the Interpretations.
Please, let us go as per the progress we have made as of today. Incidentally, you were not here during those useful days. So you will address what we have now.
Precisely What I am trying to do, Mr Speaker.
So, take the premise from the amended and then proceed. But you will not go back.
So, Mr Speaker, what I was saying is that, in the Part A, "houses" has already been captured.
And you think it would further enhance by "and personal belongings"?
Mr Speaker, I am looking at Part one of the Bill and "property" appears only in clause 7 and it says, "A medical officer, et cetera, may order the disinfection of a house or building" - and (b), "of a property belonging to a person residing or being in that house or building". [An Hon Member: It has been amended.] -- So it has been amended?
Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah, you are moving in the right direction.
So, Mr Speaker, the property refers to something belonging to a person residing or being in a house. If that is the case, how can property include a house, structure, and then an animal? I would have thought that it should be personal effects, clothing, furniture, et' cetera and animals. In that context, that interpretation would be helpful, because We are talking about property belonging to a person residing in a house. So how can it refer to a house or structure and then an animal?
Hon Members, please, let us address our minds to what the Hon Members are talking about, epitomized by the Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah. If you go to the proposed clause, (a), it talks exclusively of "house", and the presumption therefore, is that "house" is understood; therefore, we do not define it. Then, we go to (b); the same reference of what the appropriate person may order a disinfection upon; that place talks of property belonging to a person who resides or has resided in that house, and for that matter, we would want to move carefully. Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Ahmed (retd): Mr Speaker, I think the proposed amendment, is in consonance with the recent housing profile that was done for Ghana, which indicates that 80 percent of Ghanaians live in compound houses. It is only 20 per cent who live in their own houses. Therefore, Mr Speaker, I believe it is appropriate to have this rendition. This is because if you come to a house, you might come across cows and other animals, and if you ask the tenants, "so who owns this cow? - Somebody, definitely, Who may be a tenant in the house will come up and say: "These are my cows", or "These are my goats". So I believe that it is appropriate to have this amendment.
Mr Speaker, the "house or building" referred to in clause 7 (a) is Where the primary occurrence has been identified. So the property can still include a house, building or structure, that belongs to someone who lives at the primary point of occurrence. If I live at Teshie-Nungua and I have another house somewhere and something occurs in my residence and I continue
Hon Members, order! At this stage, let us listen carefully. What the Hon Minority Chief Whip is saying is that the fact that "house" has been captured in subclause (a), does not necessarily mean it must be excluded in subclause (b) because something may happen in house "A" owned by the same person and his moment to his other location in house "B" which may be covered therefore, under clause 7 (b), could lead to the very thing that would demand disinfection or such action. So if we have it in subclause (b) by way of a house, we could still do so because the two are not mutually exclusive. I see that that is how the Hon Deputy Minister perceives it too. I would wait for the Hon Chairman now.
Mr Speaker, the two are mutually exclusive. When you look at subclause (a), the argument that was espoused by the Hon Minority Chief Whip, is talking about a house "A" and a house "B". Now, when one looks at clause 7 (a), it covers the house "A" and the house "B" he is worried about. It covers every house; house "A", house "B", "C", "Q" --every house; the house that the person is residing in as well as other houses elsewhere. So, his argument does not hold at all. . Subclause (b) is talking about other personal effects not necessarily a house because "house" and "structure" have already been captured in clause '7 (a) and clause 7 (b) is talking about other personal belongings - personal effects. It could be a vehicle; it could be clothings. Those are the things that subclause (b) is talking about. He should not come and confuse us.
Mr Speaker, I see our difficulty because of the separation of subclauses (a) and Therefore, Mr Speaker, I would rather want to put in another observation. That our worry is about whether "house, structure" must be included in addition to animals and other belongings. Can we offer an alternative that "any material possession not excluding animals"? I am just saying "not excluding animals" because an animal is also a material possession. So, any material possession of the person. So that we can add "including animals" just to ensure that we do not go back to the question of houses and structures.
"Property" means any material possession including animals. It could be a safe haven for us in the circumstances - "Property" means any material possession including animals. Hon Chairman, that is why I want you to speak last.
MrSpeaker, that is the sense of the House - "Property" means any material possession including animals. Question put and amendment agreed to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, "vermin means various small animals or insects such as rats or cockroaches that are destructive, annoying or injurious to health".