Debates of 31 May 2013

PRAYERS 11:35 a.m.


  • [No correction was made to the Official Report of Wednesday, 29th May, 2013]
  • Mr Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Business Statement for the Second Week -- Hon Chairman of the Business Committee.
    BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE 11:35 a.m.

    Mr Benito Owusu-Bio 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I need your guidance on this whole issue of reports that were completed by the Public Accounts Committee during the previous Parliament.
    We have so many outstanding ones that were completed and these are all pending. We do not know if, because of the transition into a new Parliament, we have to work on them again or what. We need your guidance on this.
    Mr Herod Cobbina 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to seek leave of the House and your goodself to withdraw the two Questions in my name -- one on the Ackaakrom Fiafa Bridge -- [Interruption] -- and then the one on the Akontombra town roads. This is because since the Questions were tabled -- [Interruption.]
    Mr Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader.
    Mr Nitiwul 11:35 a.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr Speaker, I am sure that the Hon Member would go through the right way to withdraw the Questions. I just thought that he would give you the opportunity to respond to the concern of the Hon Member. After that, if he wants to make any statement about withdrawing the Questions, we will find out whether that is the right way we can go --
    Mr Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Member, the issue raised by the Hon Member who spoke first -- I was briefed by the Leader of Government Business in the House that there were discussions for the re- submission of those documents to the House. That was my brief. I was surprised that if there was a certain understanding with the Hon Chairman of the Business Committee, who is also in charge of Government Business and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, that
    there should be a certain process for it to be adopted because the composition of that Committee now is not the same as it was in the previous Parliament, so that they may have to re-submit or whatever -- But I realised that this is a matter that can be discussed to find out how best we could go about it. A number of things are not in the Standing Orders and we are evolving.
    I believe that the best way to handle this matter is for the Leaders of both sides to meet me and let us see how we can pursue the matter, so that we would be seen to be performing our oversight responsibility and at the same time making sure that they do not introduce matters there which are not known to other Hon Members of the House, especially the new Hon Members on the Committee and in fact, new Hon Members of the House.
    I believe that we should start the discussion at our level first -- at the Leadership level first, and if there is no consensus, then we can take it up at another level.
    Dr Kunbuor 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is unfor- tunate that the Hon Chairman of the Committee is not here. If he had indicated that he was asking the question on behalf of the Hon Chairman of the Committee, then it would have been understood. But I have had extensive discussions with the Hon Chairman of the Committee and he guided the Business Committee in terms of what we would admit from the Public Accounts Committee and the one that requires a closer look at the Standing Orders and to see how it would be handled.
    I did give him my opinion from my understanding of a transition from one Parliament to the other and what normally happens in terms of Business that either has lapsed or would be continued; and if it is going to be continued, there are processes by which that would be done
    and he had agreed that that would be done after he had met the Committee. So, I am sure in your meeting, you would take up those issues and get back to us, Mr Speaker.
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 11:45 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I do not think there is any dispute about it; it is constitutional. So, all Business outstanding till Parliament stood dissolved are considered to have lapsed and the process will have to be re-started. That is all. So, the Auditor-General's Reports would have to be re-laid and referred to the Committee.
    However, because the Committee of the previous Parliament had worked on it, I am sure the Committee can use that as a guide to deal with the matter and deal with it expeditiously.
    Mr Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    Hon Member for Sekondi, that is precisely where the problem comes in. Whether the new Parliament is ready to adopt the work of the previous Committee or not, is for that Committee to go and decide. They might decide. As far as that is concerned, we are masters of our own procedure. They might say, all right, they have done a lot of work on it and they would adopt it. Or, no, they are not privy to the previous discussions and so, they are not going to adopt it. Let us start -- That is for the Committee. But I agree with you.
    Any other comment?
    Mr Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    You have withdrawn your Questions. You are not the first to withdraw Questions in this Parliament, so -- [Laughter.]

    Hon Members, the Business Statement for the Second Week ending Friday, 7th June, 2013, is accordingly adopted.
    Mr Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    Hon Member for Sekondi?
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 11:45 a.m.
    No, I was engaged in some hand signals and communication with the Table. I am all right, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    Hon Members, I have admitted two Statements.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
    Mr Nitiwul 11:45 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I was just giving you a signal that we should take the Statement here first. There are some issues I would want to sort out.
    Mr Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    Yes, in fact, that is what I have decided to do because the other Statement is time-bound. It is about “World No Tobacco Day” which falls today. We would take that one first and then we move on to the second one which stands in the name of the Hon Member for Tatale/Sanguli.
    Mr Speaker 11:45 a.m.

    Hon Members, the first Statement stands in the name of the Hon Member for Sekyere Afram Plains.
    Mr Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    Hon Member for Manhyia South, are you raising a point of order against the Chair?
    Dr Prempeh 11:45 a.m.
    It is never possible, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    Then, take your seat.

    The Hon First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
    STATEMENTS 11:45 a.m.

    Mr Alex Adomako-Mensah (NDC -- Sekyere Afram Plains) 11:45 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the United Nations (UN) in which Ghana is a proud member, have realised the precarious health effects of tobacco smoking and have therefore set aside 31st May each year to educate the general public about the dangers of smoking and its effects.
    Mr Speaker, looking at the health hazards posed by tobacco, highlighting the health risks associated with use and advocating effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption, is the surest way of ensuring public health in Ghana.
    Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death globally and it is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide.
    The theme for the World No Tobacco Day 2013 is “Ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.”
    Mr Speaker, the theme is a clarion call on all of us to be decisive and block every avenue for promotion, sponsorship, and advertising tobacco in Ghana. It is an undeniable fact that Ghana has done extremely well by legislating against public use of tobacco, yet enforcement is relaxed and this gives cause to worry.
    Mr Speaker, a comprehensive ban of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is required under the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework in Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO
    Evidence shows that comprehensive advertising bans lead to reduction in the number of people starting and continuing smoking. Statistics show that banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship is one of the most cost-effecticve ways to reduce demand for tobacco.
    Mr Speaker, according to a UN report on tobacco, the global tobacco epidemic kills nearly six million people each year, out of which more than 600,000 are non- smokers who die from breathing second- hand smoke.
    Unless we act quickly to halt or drastically reduce tobacco consumption, Mr Speaker, by 2030, the epidemic would kill more than eight million people every year, and more than 80 per cent of these preventable deaths would be among the people living in low and middle-income countries.
    Mr Speaker, the ultimate goal of the “World No Tobacco Day” is to contribute to protect present and future generations, not only from these devastating health consequences, but also against the social,
    environmental and economic scourges of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
    This year's “World No Tobacco Day” comes at a time when the tobacco industry is taking more aggressive steps to undermine efforts to reduce the global menace of tobacco. While governments and the international health community try to implement effective measures to contain tobacco use and protect the health of people, their effects are being aggressively opposed by an industry whose products kill people.
    Mr Speaker, the health hazards of tobacco is clear. Tobacco kills by causing cancer, heart diseases and respiratory diseases. It is one of the leading preventable r isk factors for non- communicable diseases. Every year, about five million people die because they use tobacco and about 600,000 people die from exposure to second-hand smoke.
    Mr Adomako-Mensah 11:53 a.m.
    Tobacco use, Mr Speaker, takes a pervasive, heavy toll on the developing world among which is Ghana. It hinders development and worsens poverty. Tobacco and poverty create a vicious circle since it is the poor who smoke most and bear the brunt of the economic and disease burden of tobacco use. Money spent on tobacco could have been used to pay for food, education and healthcare.
    The major threat is that tobacco use is growing fastest in low-income countries that are least equipped to deal with its consequences.
    Mr Speaker, tobacco control is essential to achieving our global development goals. If we do not step up our efforts to control it, it could kill up to one billion people in this century.
    The interest of the tobacco industry and of public health are directly opposed. Since the Framework Convention came into force, the tobacco industry has been battling against protective measures with no thought for peoples' health, but we are making progress.
    Mr Speaker, tobacco taxes are the most effective way to reduce tobacco use, especially, among young and the poor. It is estimated by the UN that a tax regime that increases tobacco prices by 10 per cent decreases tobacco consumption by about 4 per cent in high-income countries and by up to 8 per cent in low and middle- income countries.
    Again, Mr Speaker, hard-hitting anti- tobacco advertisements and graphic pack warnings, especially those that include pictures, reduce the number of children who begin smoking and increase the number of smokers who quit. Graphic warnings can persuade smokers to protect the health of non-smoking by smoking less inside the home and avoiding smoking near children.
    Mass media campaigns can also reduce tobacco consumption by influencing people to protect non-smokers and convincing the youth to stop using tobacco.
    Mr Speaker, let us work hard to help those who are addicted to nicotine which is found in tobacco to have their freedom.
    On this note, Mr Speaker, I would want to thank you once again for this wonderful opportunity.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:53 a.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Hon Members, we would call for contributions.
    Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka (NDC -- Asawase) 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement ably made by our Hon Colleague from Sekyere Afram Plains today, which marks “World No Tobacco Day.”
    Mr Speaker, I am happy to say that every year these Statements are made, the effect of tobacco is re-echoed, the media keeps doing the best that they could to put it to the public domain, civil society -- All of them try to organise one activity or the other just to show or portray the effect or side effect or the bad aspect of tobacco and its effect on public health.
    Mr Speaker, I would want, in contributing to this Statement, plead with the agencies that put a lot of pressure on this House to get the Public Health Bill passed. I can say that this House passed this Bill into an Act sometime in July and got it assented to, I think, sometime in November last year and it is almost six months.
    As you walk through our airports, our roads and our public places, you still see people smoking publicly and it is like the new law is not being implemented. I know it would take a while to get the Regulation into this House and to put the necessary structures in place. But, at least, there are some basic aspects of the Act that we need to ensure that they are implemented. Other than that, it would look as if all we try to do, is to push Parliament to pass a law and once it is passed, everybody goes to sleep.
    I would want to encourage civil society that put all the necessary pressure on Parliament-- They were following us almost every now and then -- to keep the pressure on the agencies and Ministries that are supposed to see the full implementation of this Act, so that it does not just become a law; because the effects are real, the challenges that tobacco bring to families are real, the cancers are real and the deaths are real.
    I would also want to urge this House, especially the Select Committee on Health, which I am a privileged member, that yes, we have managed to help this House to pass a Bill. As part of our oversight responsibility, we need to do more by calling on the Ministry and the agencies to, at least, find out where we are with the implementation, so that we would put more meaning to the Act rather than every year we all come, lament the challenges, and go to sleep. Another year comes and we come to make Statements.
    Mr Speaker, with these few comments, I would want to thank the Hon Member who made the Statement for reminding all of us on the need to stay away from smoking tobacco and even if individuals choose to smoke, they should do it responsibly and do not do it in a manner that would affect the general public.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement.
    Dr Matthew O. Prempeh (NPP -- Manhyia South) 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to associate myself and, thank the Hon Member for making such a laudable Statement.
    Mr Speaker, smoking has killed many; smoking continues to kill many and I think smoking will kill more, especially if we do not make a conscious effort to decrease the availability of smoking and smoke - related products for people to have access
    to. That is why the key aspect of the Public Health Bill, the section that deals with “no smoking”, has to do with advertising, sponsorship and promotion of smoking.
    As the Hon Member for Asawase said, when you go to our public places and there is no better public place than an airport, you do not even see the “No smoking” signs.
    We seem to do a lot of things in this country; I do not know for what reason. Parliament was impressed upon by the whole nation to pass the Public Health Bill. Now, the Public Health Bill has been passed, it has been assented to and the agencies responsible for implementation or realisation of the good aspects of the Public Health Act seem to be very, very silent.
    Mr Speaker, you still see advertisements around; you still see sponsorship; you still see promotion; how can we see a decrease in the availability of tobacco and tobacco related products to people who are trying to get into the habit? That is why it is very, very pertinent that we take it serious and decrease the amount of tobacco and tobacco-related products in this country.
    Mr Speaker, the other aspect that the implementers should take into cognisance is that, when somebody is addicted, it is a problem to wean that person off addiction and there should be centres and areas in this country dedicated to allowing those who would want to get themselves off such a bad habit have the access and support to be able to do those things.
    Mr Speaker, I think all in all, Parliament has done very well to make sure the Public Health Act that includes the World No
    Tobacco Smoking as part -- But we would plead with the implementing agencies that there is no reason they should not be acting, at least, six, seven months after the Bill was assented to by the President.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
    Mr Murtala M. Ibrahim (NDC -- Nanton) 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague on this very important day, and to ask how many Ghanaians are aware that such a Bill was passed by this House. And those who are aware, to what extent have they tried to implement that Bill?
    Mr Speaker, many people in this country are still not aware. I believe that even in this House, you can still find Hon Members, at least, some of us who are new Hon Members, who may not be aware that such a Bill was passed by this House. The extent to which you would find someone who operates a beer bar or someone who operates a club and thinks that those who patronise his beer bar or club, will not patronise such beer bar or club if they are prevented from smoking when they come there -- I think that is a huge challenge.
    So, I would want to suggest that if we can start doing something about -- The education is important. This is because if you have laws, the people must be aware of the existence of those laws before those who enforce them can enforce them effectively and efficiently.
    Mr Speaker, I would also want to ask a simple question, that those who engage in that -- Smoking is something that does not give you anything. Indeed, it does not prolong your life. We are told it even reduces your life. We are also told that those who smoke, even though they are affected by the smoke -- But those who inhale the smoke, that is, after those who smoke, are even more affected.
    Mr Murtala M. Ibrahim (NDC -- Nanton) 11:55 a.m.
    If you live in a community or you go to a pub and you find people engaged in smoking and you think that because you do not smoke but you inhale the smoke of people who are engaged in smoking, then you should be aware that the effect of it is enormous.
    Mr Speaker, I also think that it is important for us to begin having write-ups or inscriptions in public places. I believe that anybody who walks into any place and sees “No smoking”, if the person is smoking, at least, he would have some caution. But once we do not have that, people think that they can smoke at any place. I think that it is something that we need to encourage as a people.
    The media also has a critical role to play. This is because they reflect to the society, to a very large extent, some of these laws. But if there is a Bill or a law that is passed by this House, the media as partners have the responsibility of informing the general public about some of the laws that have been passed. I believe that once the media is effective in doing this, people would be properly informed.
    We are blessed as a nation that today you can find radio stations everywhere or at least, every district has access to an FM station even if it is not sited in that district, they have the opportunity to listen to an FM station and to that extent, the media has a critical role to play in this.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to suggest also that if the education can go beyond just you and me and even beyond the media -- We have religious groupings in the churches and in the mosques and we have other social gatherings that we can take advantage of and do so much education on the effects of smoking. I believe if we do that as a people, we would be able to reduce the challenge.

    The worrying aspect of it has to do with young people who are engaged in it. Unfortunately, some of them started it as a fun. Probably, they go to clubs and start it as a fun, then they proceed to taking others, possibly “Indian hemp”, and if they graduate from the “Indian hemp”, they may want to move to the powdered form, in this case, I am making reference to cocaine. I think it is important that this education should be of cosmic concern to all of us.

    As Hon Members of Parliament, every little opportunity we get -- I suggest that at least, when we meet our constituents, when we meet people and we attend social gatherings, we take advantage or the opportunity to let people understand that smoking does not do good to you as a person, it does not do good to you as a society and it does not do good to us as a people and as a nation. I believe that once we begin to do this, at least, we would be contributing our quota towards fighting against this dangerous and deadly disease.

    It has become deadly more so when people who are engaged in it commercially think that it is a challenge to fight it and fight it through any means. If you look at the advertisements that are made on televisions, the extent to which the advertisements encourage young people to engage in that, I think that we need to look at the law and look at it properly.

    I am not too sure whether there have been restrictions as to the advertisements that are done, but I believe that the advertising companies in some ways do it subtly. They may not say that they are advertising for people to be encouraged in smoking, but they can do it in other ways. I think that we need to take a second look at them.

    I would want to conclude, Mr Speaker, by saying that sometimes, the addictions of such are psychological. This is because the very people who engage in it would tell you that they benefit nothing out of it but they simply cannot stop. I think that we need to be looking at the psychological aspects of it too, and that if we can have counselling centres, in fact, unabated education on television and on radio, so that people can, to a very large extent, be discouraged, it would help all of us.

    With that, Mr Speaker, I associate myself with this outstanding Statement that is made by an Hon Colleague of mine.
    Dr Kojo Appiah-Kubi (NPP -- Atwima Kwanwoma) 12:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement ably made by our Hon Colleague on the other side.
    Indeed, World Tobacco Day is worth celebrating.
    It is worth celebrating to drum home the negative effect of smoking on the health of the people. It is important that Ghanaians know the negative effects of smoking tobacco.
    In terms of effort on the part of Ghana drumming home the negative effect of tobacco smoking, Parliament has passed a Bill which actually bans tobacco advertising in the country. This provision is incorporated in the Public Health Act and it is important to note that the Bill was assented to somewhere in September.
    It is true, as my other Hon Colleagues have said, that the implementation has been a bit slow. But it is important to recognise that the Committee on Health,
    on the other hand, has been doing its part to conduct education and to organise workshops with some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the Ministry of Health to make tobacco smoking one of the curricula in the school activities.
    The Committee, in passing the Bill, expeditiously ensured that Ghana becomes a no smoking” area. Indeed, the whole Act has made Ghana a “no smoking” area except in designated places. It is however, sad to note that the implementation has not been very effective.
    We hope that the Ministry of Health would do its part to ensure that the tenets of the Public Health Act which deal with tobacco -- We hope that the Ministry of Health would do its part and ensure that indeed, the negative effects of tobacco smoking and the reasons we passed the Public Heath Bill into an Act would be felt in Ghana.
    With these few words, I thank the Hon Member who made the Statement and I thank the Speaker for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this Statement.
    Mr Richard M. Quashigah (NDC -- Keta) 12:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement.
    On an occasion like this, it is obvious that the world over would be discussing “No Tobacco Day.” But the question is, must we always wait for an occasion like this before we start speaking to the very pertinent issues that confront us as a people?
    As has been mentioned by other Hon Members who spoke earlier, some efforts have been made in this country to ensure that smoking is outlawed in public places. But today the biggest question that
    confronts us is whether the bulk of our people are aware of a law like this. Today, if people are coming into our country, what is the guarantee that they are aware that smoking in public places in Ghana is outlawed? I would think that the agencies that are responsible would go a step further by ensuring that we have a giant billboard at the Kotoka International Airport such that when people arrive in this country, they would recognise and be aware of the fact that you cannot smoke anywhere in Ghana.
    Clearly, some efforts have been made by some hotel and restaurant operators who are aware of the law such that when you go to such hotels, you are informed by some communication that you cannot smoke in your room. In the same vein, when you go to a restaurant around the 37 Military Hospital, they have also designated specific places for people to smoke. What it means, therefore, is that you cannot smoke anywhere. But what is left to be done is the intensification of the awareness.
    We need to create a lot of awareness. People have talked about the media championing that. But of course, on a daily basis, the media will not, just on their own, be highlighting these issues. Sometimes, they often need to be prompted and how do we prompt them? What we can do, in my view, is that there is the need for us to support a lot of the NGOs that are into this education. For instance, I run an NGO called Frontliners Against Illicit Drugs and our effort is to get resources to carry out effective education in our secondary schools --
    First Deputy Speaker: Hon Member, could you just veer off, otherwise, it would amount to advertising your NGO on the floor of Parliament. [Laughter.] Let us go ahead.
    Mr Quashigah 12:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
    I think that, clearly, a lot of organisations which in their effort to discharge their social responsibilities, go supporting beauty pageants and all that -- Of course, that is good, but I think that there are a lot of NGOs in this country that are working towards minimising the use of, not just tobacco, but even illicit drugs. But these NGOs, in their effort to get resources to educate young people in our secondary schools, are unable to get a fraction of the moneys that are spent in promoting beauty pageants in this country.
    Mr Speaker, I think we can actually do a lot more to make the law that was passed, that is, no smoking in public places very significant. That is, by conscientising some of the organisations that support NGOs to focus on supporting NGOs that are working towards the minimisation of the use of narcotic drugs and, especially the use of cigarettes.
    I am very confident that when that effort is made, we would actually not just be passing laws, but the kind of laws that we pass, at the end of the day, would be working and we would be achieving results and we would not only wait to be making Statements and the media highlighting it on “No Tobacco Day”.
    Thank you very much, Mr speaker.
    Mr Isaac K. Asiamah (NPP -- Atwima- Mponua ) 12:15 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity. I would also like to thank the Hon Member who made the Statement. I think he has brought to light the harmful effects of cigarette smoking.
    Mr Speaker, I think when you purchase a stick of cigarette, for example, bearing in mind the effects that it has on human beings, there is an inscription or
    Mr Isaac K. Asiamah (NPP -- Atwima- Mponua ) 12:15 p.m.

    something on it that says that cigarette smoking can be harmful to your health. But in spite of this, people purchase them, look at the inscription and they still go ahead to smoke. That should tell you that there must have been a special motivation for smoking.

    So, instead of this august House just condemning this act, it should look at the causes of smoking; that is very fundamental. Why would people smoke? What is the motivation? Is it about the environment or other socioeconomic factors that they would want to derive their happiness from smoking? These are germane issues that we need to interrogate further rather than condemning this act.

    It is important because this august House should be a House of solving problems and not a House of highlighting and only espousing the challenges. That is the issue.

    Mr Speaker, I remember, in the last Parliament, I undertook a survey and I told the then Speaker and I did indicate to the House -- the survey is still in progress about the operations of night clubs in this country; I would soon conclude and come with a report to this House.

    Mr Speaker, so, some of you who have been visiting those places -- [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, the greatest danger is that these are supposed to be public places, the smoking is so unbearable and I believe that if we are talking about enforcement, these are the areas that should demand or engage the attention of law enforcement agencies, so that they will operate to make money but not at the detriment of the health and safety of our younger people. That is very serious, Mr Speaker.

    I would urge Mr Speaker to take some hours -- Fridays, Saturdays-- to visit some of these places, so that you yourself will be well informed about the dangers our children are exposed to --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Hon Member, provided I would not run the risk of the paparazzi hounding me down. [Laugther.]
    Mr I. K. Asiamah 12:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, yes, as for the paparazzi -- I think the most important point is that, people like you and me and other people who are law- makers should also learn practically some of the dangers people are exposed to, so that when we are passing laws, we can also engage the attention of these areas.
    The reason I said to Madam Speaker at the time that I was doing this study was that, in Philippines, there was a time that at a night club, there was a disaster and about 200 people lost their lives, and just because of lack of exit points, there was stampede. These are some of the issues. So, please, as I said, we need to understand some of these challenges.
    Mr Speaker, the key point is about enforcement; the law could be fine; we have passed the law and it is nice and in Ghana, we have been known all over the world that when it comes to lawmaking, we are experts. We would craft a very good law -- and our NGOs are also experts, they can craft a very nice programme and
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Hon Members, unfortunately, we would have to bring contributions as far as this Statement is concerned to an end.
    We will take the second Statement, which stands in the name of Hon James Cecil Yanwube, Member for Tatale/ Sanguli. Is he in the House?
    Mr Solomon N. Boar 12:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member has suddenly taken ill and I crave your indulgence to make the Statement on his behalf. I have his permission to do that.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    All right.
    Newly created constituencies in the Northern Region
    Mr Solomon N. Boar (on behalf of) Mr James Cecil Yanwube (NPP -- Tatale/ Sanguli) 12:15 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for
    giving me the opportunity to make a Statement about this new constituency, which is crying out loud for help. The constituents require assurances from the long period of seeming neglect that has characterised the district ever since its joint creation with Zabzugu District from
    Mr Speaker, Tatale/Sanguli District was carved out of the former Zabzugu/ Tatale District in 2011 and officially inaugurated on June 28, 2012 with Tatale as its capital town. The district is located in the eastern flank of the Northern Region and covers an area of about 1,166 sq. kilometres, shares border with the Republic of Togo to the east, Zabzugu District to the west, Nanumba North and South and Nkwanta District to the south and Saboba District to the north.
    Mr Speaker, there has been three Members of Parliaments for the joint Zabzugu/Tatale constituency since its creation to date.
    For the first 16 years, Tatale town did not see a single project or any development on its two mile stretch road through the town which has remained eroded, bumpy and untarred. The only tangible assets Tatale town can show for, is the E.P. Agricultural Senior High School started by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and a health centre.
    Mr Speaker, as for the surrounding towns and villages, nothing tangible has happened there except a couple of health centres, clinics and CHPS compounds. Sheini town, where I lived for a long time has not got a single project, even a place of convenience. This is the town which boasts of the largest iron ore deposits in this country.
    Fortunately, the new district capital Tatale's Health Centre has now been designated as a hospital, with one ambulance. Unfortunately, there is not a single doctor for the whole district as of now.
    Mr Speaker, where two towns share a district, one of them suffers in terms of developments and this is what Tatale has been experiencing for all these years in spite of its population density and commercial appeal.
    Tatale is a border town, close to Togo but all the local service posts, such as the CEPS, Ghana Immigration Service, et cetera located at the border have been neglected and are in a state of disrepair, compared with the much developed service posts in Togo. This situation of neglect faced by Tatale, replicates itself in the other small towns that fall within the Tatale/Sanguli District as a whole.
    Mr Speaker, with a total population of about 61,000, the district needs a senior high school with the relevant infrastructural services. The high school which started with only 57 students in 1998 now has a population of 977 with 602 boys and 375 girls, an environment which can be described as “not good for serious academic work”.
    At the moment, there are 24 teachers in the school, all housed within one building, engendering serious over- crowding.
    Although the school is housed under a 50- acre land, only 6 acres have been developed for school accommodation and offices, on what could be described humorously as “school under trees” with the type of building built on it. A four-unit classroom block built by the District Assembly is not wired and therefore, has no electricity, rendering the classroom unusable for studies at night.
    The school has just rented an eight- room house for use by the boys as a

    dormitory out of the total population of 602, while a GETFund project for a similar facility for the girls started by the then Zabzugu/Tatale District has remained at a standstill till date.

    Mr Speaker, the school needs, at least, four classroom blocks to serve the increasing students population; a new accommodation block for teachers; a new bungalow to house the new enterprising headteacher; a new assembly hall to house important school gatherings and put a stop to holding subsequent meetings under trees.

    The school is grateful for the bus donated under the GETFund project, although old as it is, it has become too expensive to maintain. The school could do with a new pickup to serve the head- teacher and also do minor school errands in place of the bus which has to be dragged to do such simple tasks.

    The school is scheduled to become a boarding svchool and as such, the need has arisen for a kitchen and dining hall facilities to be provided. Also to be built are separate toilet facilities for boys and girls rather than both sexes competing for the use of only one four-seater toilet as is the case now.

    Mr Speaker, while school remains grateful for the 24 computers donated by the former Member of Parliament, the current wave of ICT learning and knowledge acquisition makes it imperative to expand the facilities together with the use of internet service to increase the ICT knowledge of the students.

    Mr Speaker, my visits to the constituency in late March and late May revealed that about two thousand children in some communities are completely deprived of an opportunity of going to school due to factors such as:
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    Thank you very much. Before we open the floor for contributions, I would like to caution that we should as much as possible avoid the temptation to generalise this Statement. It is constituency-specific; so, as much as possible, let us keep to the narrow way.
    Now, contributions are open.
    Mr Alex K. Agyekum (NPP -- Mpohor) 12:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to associate myself with the Statement made by the Hon Member for Tatale/Sanguli Constituency.

    Mr Alfred K. Agbesi — rose —
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Majority Leader, is it on a point of order?
    Mr Agbesi 12:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, yes.
    Mr Speaker, you have given a direction. The Hon Speaker has given a direction,
    as far as possible, Hon Members must abide by the Speaker's direction. It appears the Hon Member wants to challenge your direction. I think that your caution is in place. Hon Members can bring Statements on their constituencies. But if there is a constituency statement, as far as possible, we should limit ourselves to that area.
    Statements can be made generally for all of us to contribute, that is accepted but when the Hon Speaker has given a direction, as far as possible, let us try and obey the Hon Speaker's instructions.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader.
    Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul 12:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
    I would want to plead with my Colleague that once the Hon Speaker has given direction, if something goes amiss, the Hon Speaker would draw the attention of the person. We all know that the Hon Speaker is not very rigid. He will give direction but he is not as rigid as you may think.
    So, Mr Speaker has some dispensation to be able to allow Hon Members to meander and find a way out and chip in some things. This is because as a Member is saying, a few constituents of his would want to hear something being said. Mr Speaker will apply the rule if he deems it fit.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    Hon Member, please, proceed but before you go ahead, let us share this very small joke.
    This student had studied and was ready to answer a question on forest. He went there and the question was: “What is a rat?” So, he started of talking about
    the rat and asking himself in the answer: “Therefore, since rats live in forests, one may ask, what is a forest” and then he continued from there. But I hope that Hon Member, you will as much as possible restrict yourself to the Statement —
    Mr Agyekum 12:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for that analogy. I will restrict myself and I will not ask myself a question. I thank the Hon Member for those challenges being faced especially in terms of infrastructure.
    I know that as a new constituency, infrastructural development will be a basic thing needed and it is not surprising that those challenges are being faced there, especially the surrounding towns.
    Of particular interest is the situation in the senior high school and if he is talking about the number of students that are crowded in a particular dormitory, as well as space available for even the teachers, then it just brings to the fore the nature of the problem that they are facing over there.
    Mr Speaker, if these are the challenges being faced in an educational institution in a newly created district, then it means that teaching and learning would have a serious setback. I think that the call by the Hon Member of Parliament for the GETFund Administrator to quickly go in and finish up with those uncompleted projects would be a call in the right direction.
    Also, Mr Speaker, I would like to just highlight on a very sensitive thing that he made mention of and that is the fact that some of the things that the District Assembly wanted to do especially with reference to the seed money and other projects that the Assembly wanted to carry out, which have all not been done because funds are not available.
    Mr Speaker, I would not be tempted to veer into an area that you have warned me, but this is an area that is of concern and I would want us to address not only
    Mr Dominic A. Azumah (NDC -- Garu) 12:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to associate myself with the Statement ably made by our Colleague from Tatale/Sanguli Constituency.
    Mr Speaker, the gloomy picture painted by the Hon Member, to a large extent, appears to be very true. I had the opportunity to spend two days in the district when it was then Zabzugu District Assembly and I had the opportunity of inspecting facilities there as a pre- inaugural visit before the Distr ict Assembly was created and inaugurated, and I can testify to the fact that what he is saying, some of those issues are very true.
    But Mr Speaker, there is hope for the district. There is hope in the sense that it was because of those challenges, that with the recommendation of the Electoral Commission, Government decided to create a separate district for them, so that resources would be made available for them for the improvement of the district. And as a package of Government to the new districts, where there is no senior high school, it is a matter of course that the Government would have to set up a new one.
    But where there is, there would be sufficient investment to be made to be able to lift to the standard of a very good senior high school and that is being properly taken care of.
    As package, Mr Speaker, they must have at least, two kilometres of tarred road at appropriate time; they must have rural electrification in that district capital and where there are a number of communities sharing it -- They must have a district hospital. But all these cannot come at a go just after the creation of a district and so, Government steadily and pro- gressively would be handling these issues as they come on board.
    I visited a number of infrastructure that were abandoned and I personally entered inside to see how they were; and at that time, I did urge the District Chief Executive (DCE) that these were properties of the district, and so at the next Assembly meeting, they should endeavour to convince the Assemblymen, so that part of the District Assemblies Common Fund to be released could be used to maintain these structures so that they can be habitable while we wait for new ones to be constructed.
    Mr Speaker, it is a very viable district -- when I saw the amount of yam coming from that area and I believe in terms of revenue mobilization to be able to improve the lives of the people in that district, the district stands capable. So, Mr Speaker, as we wait, and as he mentioned, in 2013, the balances of the seed money which could not be used in 2012, is going to go to the districts.
    There was a meeting sometime last two weeks to look at the issues of the seed money for the new districts and I can assure him that, that is on course and before the close of the year, he is going to see what is going to happen; the seed money would be transferred.
    But there was this decision that where there is no office accommodation, the seed money specifically would be directed into the construction of proper office accommodation for the new District Assemblies.
    Mr Speaker, the district is a very interesting district. They have very dynamic people, especially where we met the chiefs and people there, they were quite enthusiastic and ready to help improve the lives of their people. And with the kind of Member of Parliament they
    have there, I believe that it is a matter of time, a lot of things should flow to that district; and with the kind of resources to go there and the size of the district, I believe they are capable of improving the lives of the people there and making the district one of the best in the country.
    So, I associate myself with the Statement and hope that he would continue to do a lot of lobbying for his district, such that some of these things would flow very fast.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you so much.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Any more contributions?
    Dr Sagre Bambangi (NPP -- Walewale) 12:45 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I beg to associate myself with the Statement made by the Hon Colleague for Tatale/Sanguli.
    Mr Speaker, I wish to observe that the developmental needs of the newly created districts cannot be over-emphasized. Most of these districts face problems of acute infrastructural shortages and challenges; some of them virtually operate in makeshift structures. For instance, his district has no access to health service medical doctors.
    But the challenge we have, Mr Speaker, is that our statutory fund allocations do not seem to respond well to the challenges of these newly created districts -- In the sense that, when the 2013 District Assemblies Common Fund Formula was being computed, the indicators that were used, Mr Speaker, were mostly second best proxies, in the sense that, the statistics for these new districts were not available.
    So, if you came to statistics like population, the total population of that district was usually divided into two and
    Dr Sagre Bambangi (NPP -- Walewale) 12:45 p.m.

    then if you came to the number of doctors or the number of nurses or teachers, they were divided into two and then those statistics were used. So, I feel that one way to make sure that we respond better to developmental challenges of these districts, is to recommend to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to liaise with the Ghana Statistical Service to do some special work on these newly created districts together with the districts from which they were born, so that we can have accurate statistics for these districts. So that in subsequent allocations and for any other statutory funds, we can have better statistics to inform the Common Fund allocations, so that these districts would have better share of these Common Fund allocations.

    For instance, in the case of my district, the West Mamprusi District, Yagaba/ Kubori or Magadure was born out of my district. In the Common Fund allocation, the formula used relied on the number of doctors for the whole former district, divided by two. But the reality is that,Yagaba or Mamprugu Magadure has no single doctor but the indication is that they have the total number of doctors for this older district divided by two.

    It is the same for the number of teachers. But if you go to the ground, you have far less teachers in these districts. And I believe the people of Tatale/Sanguli would be facing a similar problem because I can see the Hon Colleague making comparison with the mother district, Zabzugu District.

    So, Mr Speaker, I would want to draw the attention of the appropriate authorities to ensure that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development

    and the Ghana Statistical Service work in tandem to ensure that the statistics are out as soon as possible, so that the next allocations are more responding.

    Thank you for the opportunity to contribute.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Any more contributions from this side?
    Mr Mutawakilu Adam (NDC -- Damongo) 12:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement made by my Hon Colleauge, Member of Parliament for Tatale/Sanguli.
    Mr Speaker, every newly created district has a lot of challenges as he has enumerated. As you are aware, Mr Speaker, those districts are where the farming population is over 95 per cent and as he indicated, most of the roads are not what we call roads.
    In that case, it implies that conveying farm produce from the farms to the commercial centres where they can be marketed at least, to improve upon the income of these farmers to be able to pay their sons' senior high school fees and school fees in general, National Health Insurance Scheme is definitely going to be a problem. And that means that the produce that would get rotten on the farms would be on the increase.
    It is my hope that the Government is looking into it and soon, most of these roads would be reshaped and reconstructed to make the movement of foods and other produce from the farms to the centres where they can easily be sold.
    Apart from that, I would want to urge that the District Chief Executive and the Assembly members and their team should come together to ensure that they take advantage of the Functional Organiza- tional Assessment Tool (FOAT) that is
    carried out every year by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Develop- ment. This is because the amount that is allocated to this is quite substantial and if they are able to pass this FOAT assessment, it would augment whatever Government would be putting in to re- structure this infrastructure.
    I know the Government last year indicated that 500 communities would be connected to the national grid and I would want to believe that Tatale/Sanguli District would be among because every district has at least, 18 communities to be connected. I urge my Hon Colleague to make follow-ups to the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum and see how he can lobby to ensure that the contractors get to work and by so doing, most of the communities would be connected.
    On this note, I would want to thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to associate myself with the Statement.
    Mr Alfred K. Agbesi (NDC -- Ashaiman) 12:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, while associating myself with the Statement, I would want to say that this week, we have had very important Statements made on the floor of this House.
    Mr Speaker, this morning, we had a Statement made on the dangers of smoking and its effects. Mr Speaker, a lot of concerns have been raised by Hon Members in contributing to these Statements. The issue is whether this House is just a House for making Statements and that is the end of the matter.
    Mr Agbesi 12:45 p.m.
    The 50 th Anniversary Celebration of the O.A.U.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Prempeh --
    Dr Prempeh 12:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if he had said “OAU”, it would have been pardonable. “A-O-U” -- [Interruption] -- What was he saying to get it wrong?
    Mr Agbesi 12:45 p.m.
    Maybe, he did not hear me well.
    Dr Prempeh 12:45 p.m.
    Mr Agbesi 12:45 p.m.
    “A-U”; “AU” -- [Laughter.]
    Mr Speaker, many Hon Members raised their concerns on the African Union (AU).
    Mr Speaker, we also heard Statements on rainstorm and the use of ICT in controlling road safety. This morning, the issue of the dangers of smoking was raised. What is going to happen to these Statements?
    Mr Speaker, by Standing Order 72, these are Statements made on urgent public matters or matters of urgent public importance and my view is that, we need to refer these Statements to the appropriate quarters and possibly give them time frame, particularly on the issue of public health that has come out of the Statement made on the dangers of smoking. So that by a certain time, the authorities must come before this House and tell us what actually they have been doing about the concerns of Hon Members who represent the whole country in this House.
    Mr Speaker, I support the concerns raised on the last Statement made on that constituency and to say that we need to
    Mr Alfred K. Agbesi 12:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to say that there are a lot of committees' meetings scheduled for this afternoon and the Business for the day has actually been exhausted. I beg to move, that this House be adjourned to Tuesday.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    Hon Frimpong, are you on a point of order?
    Mr Kofi Frimpong 12:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I was going to support what the Hon Deputy Majority Leader said. I was going to rise in support of what he said.
    Indeed, the Statements made on the floor of Parliament are supposed to be executed by certain people in authority. That is why when Statements are made, the Speaker always calls the Hon Minister in charge to make the last contribution, so that the paper is referred to him for action. These days, I do not see the Hon Ministers coming. We do not see Hon Ministers contributing to Statements that are made on the floor of Parliament and therefore, committing themselves to the implementation of the Statements that are made.
    Mr Speaker, we would want to urge the House that anytime a Statement is going to be made, the sector Ministers involved are given copies of the Statements and
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:55 p.m.
    Thank you, very much.
    I would want to indicate that if you are talking about the generality of Statements, then we would need as a House, through our Leadership and the Rt Hon Speaker, to take a certain decision in that direction.
    But if you are talking about a specific Statement being made directly available to a particular Ministry or department, fine; as we go along, we can be dealing with those ones. This is because, the practice has been that we make the Statements, the media houses capture them and it is expected that the relevant Ministries and Departments will deal with them.
    Apart from that, we have Questions that we can table for Hon Ministers to appear and answer. So, that avenue is also there. I do not think it is completely shut.
    So, what I would say is that -- For example, if you looked at the Statement made by the Hon Member for Garu (Mr Dominic A. Azumah), he made some contribution which showed a certain way. That is the very reason these new districts have been created, so that they will have direct access to resources and for them to improve upon their lot.
    So, I think that this is a way we should look at it.
    Thank you, very much.
    The Motion has been moved.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, I do not know if you would want to second it.
    Mr Agbesi 12:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, before the Hon Deputy Minority Leader seconds the Motion, the Statement made on public smoking needs some urgent attention and that is why I urged you to refer it to the authority.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:55 p.m.
    Very well. That can be done. I do not think there should be a problem with that.
    So, the Table Office will deal with it. Get the contributions as captured by the Hansard together with the Statement and forward same to the Ministry of Health for the necessary action to be taken.
    Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul 12:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to say that the point raised by the Hon Friend, Mr Kofi Frimpong, is a serious point which you have concurred. And I think that in making Statements, we should look at them very strongly from that point because we cannot just keep making Statements and that will be the end of them. At least, something should be done about them.
    With nothing to add, I beg to second the Motion for the House to adjourn till 10.00 a.m. on Tuesday, 4th June, 2013.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 12:55 p.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.00 p.m. till Tuesday, 4th June, 2013 at 10.00 a.m.