Debates of 12 Jun 2013

PRAYERS 11:05 a.m.


Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon Members, Correction of the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 11th June, 2013.
Pages 1… 9--
Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, page 9, it is reported that the Committee on Roads and Transport met with officials from three agencies but Mr Speaker, the Committee met with officials from only two. There was no official from Ghana Meteorological Agency at the meeting we had yesterday. That correction should be made.
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
So, (i) should be deleted?
Mr Osei-Owusu 11:05 a.m.
That is so, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Where is the Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Michael C. Boampong 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, that is the truth.
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Very well. Table Office to take note accordingly.
Mr Justice Joe Appiah 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, my Committee met yesterday but it has not been captured here.


CONTENTS 1:46 p.m.

STATEMENTS -- 1:46 p.m.

PAPERS -- 1:46 p.m.


THE 1:46 p.m.


OF GHANA 1:46 p.m.

PRAYERS 11:05 a.m.


Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon Members, Correction of the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 11th June, 2013.
Pages 1… 9--
Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, page 9, it is reported that the Committee on Roads and Transport met with officials from three agencies but Mr Speaker, the Committee met with officials from only two. There was no official from Ghana Meteorological Agency at the meeting we had yesterday. That correction should be made.
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
So, (i) should be deleted?
Mr Osei-Owusu 11:05 a.m.
That is so, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Where is the Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Michael C. Boampong 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, that is the truth.
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Very well. Table Office to take note accordingly.
Mr Justice Joe Appiah 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, my Committee met yesterday but it has not been captured here.
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
I am sure it has not been filed with the Table Office.
Page 10 --
Mr Osei-Owusu 11:05 a.m.
Sorry. Mr Speaker I regret that I have to take you back to page 9 again.
At the meeting of the Committee on Roads and Transport, in addition to the Minister, Hon Dzifa Attivor, the Deputy Minister was also present at the meeting and presided at a point but she has not been recorded as being present.
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Very well.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I recognised the presence of Hon Ahmed Arthur, Member for Okaikoi South and the Hon Irene Naa-Torshie Addo as well as Hon Yaw Afful. They were all here but they have been marked absent. So, if maybe, the Table Office could correct the records.
But having said that, Mr Speaker, I do not know whether we cannot revisit this issue relating to Members of Parliament who are made Regional Ministers. Mr Speaker, if they are not in the Chamber, ought they be marked absent without permission, when we do know that they are transacting official business? I think we should find a way to correct this position. I think it is not correct to be marking them “absent without Permission”. But as a House, maybe, we can come to some determination on that.
Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I do appreciate what the Hon Minority Leader is saying but when it comes to committee work, it is very much part of the work of Parliament. So, the Business Committee has to have an idea of which
committees are legitimately sitting. Quite often, they say people are in a committee meeting and you would have no way of vouching for it. That explains sometimes why they are marked -- Normally, in a committee meeting, they can be “absent with permission” .
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I appreciate the point made by the Hon Majority Leader. I was referring to plenary business.
Dr Matthew O. Prempeh 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I wonder what the Hon Minority Leader is trying to suggest. A Cabinet Minister who does not attend Cabinet meeting but is on an issue with his Ministry in a part of this country, would not be ever marked present as being at the Cabinet meeting.
So, insofar as that Regional Minister is a Member of this House and he is transacting business on Executive issues outside this House, yes, he is doing government business -- but certainly, not plenary business or Parliament business and cannot for that matter, be even marked “present” or “absent with permission”. So, he should probably flash these things out better for us mere mortals behind him to understand.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would not comment further on what I have said.
Mr Theophilus T. Chaie 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would want a correction to be effected on page 9, the Committee on Roads and Transport-- (x) Hon Mrs Irene Naa- Torshie Addo, she was absent; she was not at the meeting.
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Which page?
Mr Chaie 11:05 a.m.
Page 9.
Mr Boampong 11:05 a.m.
That is so, Mr Speaker. She was not there.
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Very well.
Who is the Ranking Member on Roads and Transport?
Mr Boampong 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Kwabena Owusu-Aduomi and that is the Deputy.
Mr Kwabena Okyere-Darko 11:05 a.m.
I am the Deputy Ranking--
Mr Speaker 11:05 a.m.
So, are you confirming what is being said, that she was not at the meeting?
Mr Okyere-Darko 11:05 a.m.
Mr Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 11th June, 2013 as corrected, are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
Mr Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon Members, I have received a number of Statements from Hon Members on “World Day Against Child Labour” but I have decided that the Hon Deputy Minister for Employment and Labour Relations makes the Statement and other Hon Members contribute or make their comments on it. So, all the others who have submitted their Statements, they would make their comments after the Hon Deputy Minister makes the Statement.
Hon Deputy Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, make your Statement.
STATEMENTS 11:15 a.m.

Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Thank you very much.
We have a few more Statements bearing on the same subject matter. Accordingly, we would call on the Hon Member for Atwima-Nwabiagya South, Mr Anthony Osei Boakye.
The Menace of Child Labour in Ghana
Mr Anthony Osei Boakye (NPP -- Atwima-Nwabiagya South) 11:15 a.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you for this opportunity.
Mr Speaker, today, the 12th of June, 2013 has been set aside for the world to have an overview of the issue of child labour, a problem that has become generic in the less-developed countries like Asia, Southern America and especially Africa.
Mr Speaker, the concept of child labour is based on the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) minimum age convention of 1973 (Number 138) when child labour was defined as work that deprives children of their childhood potential and dignity. This refers to work that is physically, mentally, socially and morally dangerous and harmful to children and interferes with their schooling, by:
1. depriving them of their opportunity to attend school;
2. obliging them to leave school prematurely; and
3. requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long hours of heavy work.
Mr Speaker, the ILO Convention further states that no employer is allowed to engage children in exploitative labour which deprives them of education,
healthcare and development. Again, the emphasis was shifted to the elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour as defined by Act 3 of the ILO Convention, Number 182.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon Member, since a previous Statement has been presented by the Hon Deputy Minister, the others can make reference to their written notes without necessarily reading verbatim what they have put down, so that we avoid repetition and so on.
Mr Boakye 11:15 a.m.
All right. Then it becomes a commentary or whatever; so, I would say that what is the worst form of child labour and -- [Interruption.]
Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul 11:15 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the order that you originally gave-- The order came out that because there was another Statement-- the impression and the order was actually that he could go ahead and also read that Statement. So, because he has also started, I would plead with you to just allow him to finish and maybe, any other person could make comments from there -- because that is how it came out and he is just about winding up. So, if he finishes, then the others could do that.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Very well.
Mr Boakye 11:15 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
In Ghana, under the Children's Act, 1998, the minimum age for admission to employment is 15 years. In many developing countries like Ghana, the types of child labour are many and varied.
Among others are children being engaged as:
1. hawkers, that is, street children;
2. workers in sand winning sites;
3. workers of stone quarries;
4. workers at illegal mining sites;
5. workers in rice farms and the picking of sheanuts in the North;
6. workers in cocoa farms in forest areas;
7. workers in fishing sites; and
8. workers in the case of house helps.
Mr Speaker, these children work for long hours without protective clothing. In some cases, they are involved in hazardous activities like using dangerous machinery; others work with injurious chemical agents like pesticides and fungicides, while others manually transport heavy loads on their heads.
Mr Speaker, in the same vein, the factors leading to child labour are many --
1. poverty;
2. broken homes;
3. single parenthood due to the demise of a spouse; and
4. polygamous families; especially common in the rural areas; and
5. sheer shirking of responsibility by parents, especially men.
The effects of these unfortunate situations are that the children do menial jobs for their upkeep and survival. In effect, they try to eke out a living for themselves, under very challenging circumstances.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Thank you very much.
The next Statement is by Hon Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe Ghansah, Member of Parliament and Minister of State, on World's Day Against Child Labour. It is to be treated as a comment and not a reading of the Statement verbatim.
You can summarise it and we will be all right with it.
Minister of State (Mrs Comfort D. Cudjoe Ghansah)(MP) 11:35 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, it is very disheartening to see children of school-going age selling all kinds of items, often under the scorching sun and in the rain. These children, who are sent to the streets to sell, become victims of sexual harassment, rape and drug abuse and some are even knocked down by careless drivers.
Mr Speaker, as the world marks this important day under the theme 11:35 a.m.
“No Child Labour in Domestic Work”, we must all as a country, endeavour to flush out this evil phenomenon in our beloved country by creating the enabling environment for the development of the human resource base of the country.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Now, the last one is by the Hon Mrs Benita S. Okity- Duah, Member of Parliament for Ledzokuku Constituency. Is she here?
Mr Alfred K. Agbesi 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, she is not available.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
All right. Then we will open the floor for contributions.
Mr Isaac K. Asiamah (NPP -- Atwima- Mponua) 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the Hon Member who made for this very important Statement, a very informative one, of course, a Statement that touches the hearts of many Ghanaians.
Mr Speaker, mine is just a snappy one. It is to challenge all of us and indeed, the Ministry. When the Hon Deputy Minister was reading the Statement, he did indicate that indeed, some NGOs were painting a gloomy picture of Ghana and that they were painting a picture of slavery treatment of some of our children and that there were leadings that some of them were being maltreated.
Mr Speaker, the issue is that, as a Ministry, such a lamentation to Parliament is highly unacceptable because the Ministry -- they are in charge. And
therefore, if there are certain local NGOs that are involved in this unacceptable conduct, it is up to the Ministry to engage in a positive dialogue with them, so that those reports reflect the true situation on the ground. I think it is a challenge to the Ministry to ensure just that. And there must be standards; there must be rules and regulations and that is up to the Ministry.
So, coming to this House to lament and complain to us, as Parliament, we should not accept it. And we challenge him as an Hon Deputy Minister and his Ministry to get to the nitty-gritty of the situation and let those NGOs that he is aware of -- This is because he did say it -- that he was aware of, are painting negative situations that do not reflect the actual situation on the ground to stop it.
Mr Speaker, in my view, as a young man, when I was growing up -- I grew up in a cocoa growing area. My father was a typical cocoa farmer and I used to help on his cocoa farm. Mr Speaker, I think it is also about educating the NGOs of what actually constitutes child labour and let us have a clearly defined definition of that in terms of the age and workload.
Mr Speaker, my mother -- a cocoa farmer, would give me a load to carry based on my age and my strength and our locals are all aware of this. So, I think the situation analysis should be clearly done; let us all know what indeed, constitutes child labour, so that we would not paint that negative picture of us. This is because Mr Speaker, indeed, most of us here were brought up in some areas where there were some indigenous activities and we needed to support our parents.
From the age of 13 to 15 years, you need to be supporting them. But our parents, most of them, were aware of our ages and what we could do. Therefore, we have had very responsible parents over the years -- some, obviously, are irresponsible -- those ones we need to tackle. That is what is most important.
Dr Kwabena Donkor (NDC -- Pru East) 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would want to associate myself with the concerns raised, especially about the definition of child labour and related issues. People in my constituency, the genuine law-abiding fishermen in my constituency, have been mislabelled as “child abusers” in terms of Child Labour Regulations because of a fundamental misunderstanding.
A fisherman's son is automatically apprenticed to the fisherman. Therefore, if you go to my constituency today, a number of these children now go to school but after school and on Saturdays, a number of these children assist their parents in fishing. As the Hon Colleague who spoke said, “this has been part of our culture, our historical culture: training our children to come after us.”
Of course, there have been abuses and it is the abuses we have to curb. But when we label all such practitioners, in fact, sometimes they go to the extent of calling it “child slavery” -- and thus, doing serious reputational damage, especially to the people of my constituency.
Mr Speaker, I would want to urge the Ministry to take these issues up because the issue of reputational damage is one that we cannot cost.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr Joseph B. A. Danquah (NPP -- Abuakwa North) 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I wish to add my voice to the celebration of this important day.
Mr Speaker, one of the most important things about celebrating this day is the definition as my Hon Colleague said but it is also about children engaged in hazardous jobs -- whether it is mining, fishing or even prostitution. Today, Mr Speaker, you have children bearing children. So, our family profile today is, the child is 16 years, the baby is 6 months and maybe, the grandmother might be 36 years. Therefore, that is the problem we are faced as a country and that is what we must address.
Also, I would implore the Ministry to look at what is the root cause that is creating this family profile that we have in the country today. You go to the Central Region, coming down to Accra, the prostitution shops that you have are all filled with children. So, it is very easy to talk about cocoa farms but then, where the real child labour is, is in the fishing industry, the mining and quarry industry and the prostitution areas.
Mr Speaker, I would urge the Government and everyone here, while we celebrate today, to think about children in prostitution. This is because we cannot have a family profile in a country where children at the age of 16 years are bearing children and with their grandparents at the age of 30.
On this note, Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Mr Francis K. Arthur (NDC -- Gomoa West) 11:45 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would want to associate myself with the Statement and I would want to talk mostly about the issues of those from the rural areas, that is, the small-scale mining.
I know every constituency has its problems of child labour. In the cities, it is this “kayayei” issue. But when you go to the rural areas, it used to be your parents taking you to farm. Other than that, it was during the harvest of snail and mushroom that took the children into labour. But these days, the whole thing has turned.
Even schools have to change their time- table because if you want the children to report at school at 8.00 a.m. you would not get them; they may be in the bush hunting for snails and mushroom; today, it is about small-scale mining.
Mr Speaker, this small-scale mining is very lucrative to the youth because they are paid in advance, ranging from GH¢10 to GH¢30. And the youth who have engaged themselves in it -- in fact, comparatively, when they compare themselves to their colleagues, they are able to buy their mobile phones, ghetto blasters, their dresses, et cetera. So, when the other youth who are not in the same trade see it, it attracts them to go into it.
If it were to be the issue of galamsey alone or the labour alone, that would not be a problem, but there are other attending effects. One of them is absenteeism from school, where early in the morning, the child respects the money more than even going to school. So, he or she would want to take his money, go to the pit before he or she comes to school.
Secondly, there is this saying in this trade, the galamsey, in Twi, they say Wo te ene, no wa te ekyire, which literally means, you have to pay for front and you have to pay for back. So, whenever you go into it as a lady, whether you are 14, 15, 16 or 17 years, after the labour, you have to go and serve the one who employed you by going to sleep with the person or
Mr I. K. Asiamah 11:45 a.m.
Mr Speaker, on a point of order.
Mr Speaker, I think he should come clearer, so that the House would understand the point he is making. He must be bold enough to tell us what he means by a “pit”. What pit is he referring to? I do not get him; or has he ever observed it? Has he had a personal experience of that? He should be bold and come clearer, so that people would understand what he means by those things. Or has he been a practitioner before? I would want to know.
Mr F. K. Arthur 11:45 a.m.
Mr Speaker, you know Akans, we like to speak in adage and idioms and those things. So, do not let me go into the extremities. So, Mr Speaker, this provokes the men to say something to the young ladies, and it leads to so many social vices.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah (NPP -- Sekondi) 11:45 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I rise to make a few comments in respect of the Statement made by the Hon Deputy Minister.
Mr Speaker, when talking about rights of the child -- child labour -- while I concede that our culture and social interactions should serve as a guide in determining whether a child is involved in labour or not, we must also recognise that we are members of the world and of course, we are signatories to certain international conventions.
Coming home, we have a Children's Act which was enacted by the Second Parliament and accented to by the President in December, 1998. In that Act, which is the Children's Act of 1998, a “child” is defined as “a person below the age of 18 years.” And in there, Part (5), it deals with the employment of children. And what the law says is that a person shall not engage a child in an exploitative labour, which is considered to be labour, which deprives the child of its health, education or development. There are extensive provisions.
I urge the Ministry, together with all actors in the governance of this country, including Hon Members of Parliament, to educate the general public as to its provisions.
Some may say that: “Well, it is part of our culture; oh yes, it is apprenticeship”. But then the law determines what sort of employment a child should be engaged in. So, if you are the child of a cocoa farmer and you are even assisting your parents in their vocation or you are being trained, it should not affect your health, your education or your development, sim- pliciter. And children must not be engaged in hazardous labour and the minimum age for hazardous labour is 18 years.
So, if an Hon Member of Parliament knows that in his constituency children under 18 years are engaged in hazardous labour, it is his duty as the leading opinion -- He is talking about opinion leaders. The Hon Member of Parliament is the
leader in his or her constituency and he or she ought to take necessary action. He is the leader so far as the constituency is concerned. This is because he or she is the representative of the constituency in Parliament. A chief, yes, may be a leading opinion leader but he has not the right to ensure that the law is enforced.
So, in celebrating this day, I urge all of us, with the Ministry taking the lead, to educate our people about the law. Children should not be engaged in selling iced water. This is because, insofar as they are running through and out of traffic, it is hazardous. Children should not be engaged in fishing, diving and removing nets. Whatever it is, even if it is to support their parents, it is hazardous labour. So, let us realise that the situation is different.
While I am urging all parents and guardians to train their children properly, to train them with their hands, they should also realise that in the context of new trends, children also have rights that ought to be protected.
I thank you very much.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Hon Member, you are the Deputy Minister. In that capacity, you can go ahead and talk about these issues. [Hear! Hear!]
Ms Appoh 11:55 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
The Ministry had been represented on the National Steering Committee, on the National Plan of Action on Elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labour.
Dr A. A. Osei 11:55 a.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, I just need your guidance. You asked that Hon Members who are here comment on the Statement by the Hon Deputy Minister. The Hon Minister is not here. She has not heard what the Hon Minister spoke about. So, I am wondering why she wants to make a Statement on her behalf. She should make --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
That is why I directed that, being the Hon Deputy Minister, she has the capacity to make the Statement.
Dr A. A. Osei 11:55 a.m.
Or being an Hon Member of Parliament who is present, she has the capacity.
Ms Appoh 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, this is coming from the Ministry; that is why. I am not stating it in my capacity.
Mr Speaker, the Ministry is trying to ensure that the worst forms of child labour are reduced to the barest minimum by 2015, if not totally eliminated. This is why the Government realigned the Ministry from the then Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWAC) to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to encompass social welfare and social protection in order to tackle the situation holistically.
Prof. George Y. Gyan-Baffour 11:55 a.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, I think we are all confused. The first Hon Minister came here, claiming to be the one in charge of that. Another Hon Minister is also claiming that. Can he clarify who is actually responsible for child labour? This is because, we are confused here.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
I believe that the thing is interwoven; it overlaps. So, let us proceed.
Ms Appoh 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, let me clarify this. [Interruption.]
Mr Nitiwul 11:55 a.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, it is very important for clarity; if two Minister are in contention as to who is responsible for child labour, then it is a serious problem. It is very difficult for one leg to be seen tackling issues of child labour and the other leg doing the same thing. If somebody has issues with child labour, does he go to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection or the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations? That is the problem. So, that clarity is very important in this particular thing.
The Hon Deputy Minister for Employment and Labour Relations has read a Statement on child labour and the Hon Deputy Minister for Gender, Children
and Social Protection says: “My Ministry is in charge”. It is a very big problem. I do not even know whether she has a Ministry anyway.
Mr Agbesi 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I think we can bring this matter to a close. So far as the Statement today is concerned, the two Ministries wanted to champion the making of the Statement on the floor. We discussed it this morning and decided that the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations should read its Statement and the other one would contribute.
So far, as we are concerned, it is a contribution from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. So, let us take it that it is a contribution from that end. It is not that both of them are fighting over who should protect the interest of the child; that is not the issue. They are all making contributions towards child- abuse, and that is all that we are doing, Mr Speaker.
So, they are making a contribution on the Statement that has been made.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Thank you very much.
Hon Member, please, proceed.
Ms Appoh 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, we are also looking forward to expanding the scope and coverage of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme for the poorest and vulnerable in society, while also strengthening the Capitation Grant and the School Feeding Programme for this country.
Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Govern- ment, let me express our appreciation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Labour Organisation/International Pro- gramme on the Elimination of Child Labour (ILO/IPEC) for supporting the efforts of
member States through the implemen- tation of the Regional Action Plan.
Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection will build on ongoing initiatives, draw lessons on child labour from past experiences and best practices in the sub-region, so as to be able to effectively and efficiently eliminate the worst form of child labour or reduce it to its barest minimum.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, first of all, the frolic of the Hon Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection is worth exploring. This is because she ended up saying that “her Ministry” and I wonder whether she has any Ministry at all-- that her Ministry is working to expand the School Feeding Programme, Capitation Grant and LEAP.
Mr Speaker, they belong elsewhere. If now, they have fought and captured those as captives, they should let us know because as far as we know, they do not belong to the School Feeding Programme and the Capitation Grant, which she is saying her Ministry is trying to expand. They belong elsewhere.
Can she offer further and better particulars about what her Ministry is doing?
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Hon Minority Leader, I believe that what she means is that that Ministry in collaboration with the relevant Ministries are working towards that goal; I believe so.
Mr Simon Osei-Mensah (NPP -- Bosomtwe) 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I wish to associate myself with the Statement on the floor.
While we look at child labour, we should make a clear distinction between various forms of labour.
One definition of child labour has it that it is work that does not harm or puts the child out of school. So, if a child is engaged in an activity but that particular activity is not harmful, neither does it put the child out of school, it could not be categorised under child labour, which must be eliminated.
Even with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) itself, it says that children's or adolescents' participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling in generic, are regarded as something being positive.
It goes ahead to enumerate some of these types of works it talks about. This includes activities such as helping their parents around the home; assisting in family business or earning pocket money outside school hours or during holidays.
Mr Speaker, sometimes, it is quite unfortunate when ILO itself makes a distinction among such activities, and children assisting parents on their cocoa farms are also categorised as part of child labour. We should not forget that some Ghanaian children have their parents' business as cocoa farming.
So, if ILO says that if a child assists the parent in family business outside school hours or during holidays and it is not a form of child labour, then children helping their parents on their cocoa farms
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Thank you very much.
Mr Kwabena M. Akandoh (NDC -- Juaboso) 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, if, indeed, the children are the future leaders of this country, then I think we all have to be up in arms to fight this menace.
Mr Speaker, inasmuch as I agree with some of my Hon Colleagues who are of the opinion that if children are helping their parents on the farm, it should not be described as child labour, some of the helping hands children give on the farms are too extreme. Let us look at the situation where a child gets up very early in the morning, goes to the farm, comes
back, fetches water before he gets to school. Sometimes, he gets to school while the first lesson is over. After school, he goes back to the farm, weeds and carries loads to the house. This, in my view, is clearly child labour though he is lending a hand on the farm of the parents, I do not think that we should continue this way.
So, in my view, I think that we should encourage parents to try as much as possible to educate their children to take it as an investment and not as if they are spending on them and therefore, the parents should use them to recoup whatever they are spending on them.
I think as legislators, we should all be very interested in this menace.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
We would take one more from each side.
Mrs Gifty E. Kusi (NPP -- Tarkwa- Nsuaem) 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, today is the day that we are talking about child labour. I would want to commend the ILO for advocating the establishment of this day and trying to bring programmes to curtail child labour.
I woud want to emphasise that looking at the global economy itself, there are certain factors that remain obstacles to the elimination of this worst form of child labour, especially, from the global competition, free trade rules and structural adjustment programmes and policies that countries face. For example, multilateral companies are competing for job and investment and they want cheap labour.
Therefore, they come to countries and try to make sure that they employ children, so that they get enough money- - their investment -- They will be able to employ more and they will be able to make more profit.
Secondly, child labour occurs mostly because families are poor. If you look at the way our exports are paid for -- They should pay realistic prices for our exports for countries to get enough money for investment and to be able to develop their economies such that more children will have the opportunity to go to school. This is because programmes are cutting down on educational funds that they give.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Yes, Hon Kofi Frimpong, is it a point of order?
Mr Frimpong 11:55 a.m.
Yes, Mr Speaker. The Hon Member is talking of unjust economic order being the cause of child labour in Ghana in particular and that we are not getting realistic prices for our exports. I believe there is more to it than that.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
So, what is your point of order?
Mr Frimpong 11:55 a.m.
My point of order is that, it is not the fact that we are not getting realistic prices. She is therefore misleading the House. The point I am making is that it is because our policy makers --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
I do not think so. Your opinion is that it is more than that. So, what she is saying is correct, except that you feel that there are some other factors. So, that cannot be a point of order.
Mrs Kusi 11:55 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for ruling him out of order.
Mr Speaker, if we have to rely on our exports, it means we have to produce more and therefore, we need more hands and, people are tempted to use children. I am not justifying that fact but it is a problem that we all need to look at. They should pay realistic prices for us to get more foreign exchange to be able to expand our economies and for development to take place, so that we can get enough money to develop our countries; so that children will not be on the streets.
We are saying we want to do school feeding. We do not have enough to go round all schools. We are just doing a pilot programme or we are leaving out some schools.
So, if we have enough money, we will be able to put the children in school and we will stop -- Sometimes, you cannot allow your child to go and sell but you are hungry. You need money. The families are poor. We need money and, it is not the fault of most parents, even though they can prevent it.
So, Mr Speaker, we need to look at the global economy. We should look at the competition that is everywhere and pushing us to do what we are doing.
Mr Speaker, with these few comments, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Thank you very much. I will take the last contribution.
Mr John Gyetuah (NDC --Amenfi West) 12:15 p.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement.
Mr John Gyetuah (NDC --Amenfi West) 12:15 p.m.

Mr Speaker, a lot has been said about child labour and I believe much has already been taken-- especially some of the Hon Members who spoke earlier-- have taken the wind out of my sail.

Mr Speaker, with regard to farming activities, I was born and bred by a cocoa farmer. I am a cocoa farmer myself. The fact is that, the way we are painting certain pictures as is being done by other non- governmental organisations (NGOs) is very pathetic.

We are cocoa farmers and we do not expect that a child who is 10, 12, 15 years or more, and when there is a setback -- For instance, when the mother or father is indisposed and therefore, during the weekend, he or she wants to send the child to the farm to go and bring some foodstuff, is that child labour? When children are on vacation and you are going to the farm, do you allow the child to sit there? This is our culture; so people should not go round the --


Even though some people go contrary

to the tenets of the laws of this land -- That is the more reason there are laws. But at times, I cannot fathom why we make certain laws, legislations, over here and we do not ensure that those particular laws take the people to task.

When Statements are made in this particular Chamber, that ends them. What action do we take? We have several legislations, but after Statements, that ends them. We have several laws. We must ensure that the laws we enact over here work.

So, I would entreat each and everyone, those who are going contrary to, maybe, the tenets of our culture, those who go to the extremes, should refrain from those things.

But the fact is that, as farmers, we must be able to train our children through that. If a child is about 12 or 15 years, he needs to go to the farm and then assist his parents.

Mr Speaker, since I am a cocoa farmer, if my children are on vacation, do I have to allow them to sit in the house and do practically nothing?

I would urge that we all work within the confines of the law.

Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Hon Members, that brings us to the end of Statements.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, Presentation of Papers?
Mr Agbesi 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, if we can take item 4.
PAPERS 12:15 p.m.

Dr A. A. Osei 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I was trying to catch your eye before the Paper was laid. I need your guidance.
The Paper that has just been laid refers to a request for waiver of stamp duty. That Paper is not known to this House. What was laid, and for which we are expecting a report, is a request for waiver of a
specific amount of US$150 million. For a report on a Paper to be brought to this House, that Paper must be laid. So, I do not know how we can be laying a report on a Paper which is not known to this House. So, I need your guidance here. This Paper, I can assure you that it has never been brought to this House, so there cannot be a report on it.
The only Paper that was brought here, which we tried to get the House to withdraw, we did not do it. Now, somebody is trying to come through the backdoor and the person is telling us this request has come before this House. It has never been brought here, so, I need your guidance. We cannot --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, how do you respond to that?
Mr James K. Avedzi 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I think that the request that was made actually did mention the US$150 million and attempts were being made at that time to correct the figure, which I said, no, it should be left for the Committee to determine.
Subsequently, the Hon Majority Leader, in presenting the Business Statement for the Week, did make the correction that the request was for a stamp duty of one per cent and therefore, the Report of the Finance Committee, which we are laying, is also capturing a stamp duty of one per cent on the amount but not the US$150 million.
In fact, the correction of that was made in the Committee's Report. So, the issue that the Hon Ranking Member is raising is not an issue that we should be too much bothered. Even though the US$150 million was mentioned, the emphasis is actually on the one per cent stamp duty.
Dr A. A. Osei 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the point being made is that this House has its rules and procedures. A Paper is referred to a committee when it is laid. My point is that this Paper for which the Finance Committee is allegedly bringing a report on, is not known to this House. So, how can any committee of this House purport to bring a report or a Paper that is not known to the House?
Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Finance has sent a letter to the Finance Committee, that is not known to this House. There are 275 Hon Members of this House. The point about laying a Paper is to ensure that all of us would have copies, so that when the report comes, we can talk about it. But you do not bring a report on a Paper that is not known to the House. I have never seen that before. That is my point.
The issue is not trivial. We cannot help the Minister for Finance to usurp our powers by purporting to pass a letter to the Finance Committee and then we are going to read a report on it. That is absurd. We should not encourage it. No committee -- Even the Board of the Parliament Service cannot condone the usurpation of our powers.
If the Hon Minister wants to withdraw and re-lay it, which would have taken us a few seconds -- They refused to do it. Now, a committee is coming with a majority decision about a Paper that you and I do not know about. That cannot be. The House cannot allow itself to go on that road.
Dr Kunbuor 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, let us not split hairs about form and processes. This is because when I read the Committee's Report, the assumption was that it was a majority Report. But after examining it very closely, there was only one item and that one item has to do with the processes of actually laying this document before the House.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader, in his characteristic forceful, passionate and persuasive manner, is seeking to justify whatever has happened. I have had a personal discussion with him. I have stated my views on this matter, but
certainly, to say that the mentioning of the figure was a typographical mistake -- Sometimes at the committee level, I had the opportunity to state that to give that excuse is an insult to the House. You have committed an error and I believe that when the time comes for us to debate the Report, we may make certain comments. But certainly, this condonation by the House of a shuffle and slovenly approach by Government to its business is not something that ought to be encouraged.
I agree with the Hon Majority Leader that, yes, you could correct something, but where there is a deliberately shuffle and slovenly approach to Government business, we should not really encourage it. But I believe that this is rather premature. When the time comes for us to debate, we will raise the issues.
I have always said that I believe in democracy and what I will always object to, is an attempt to stifle the view of the Minority. Once there is an opportunity for the Minority to air its views, I do not have a problem. That is the business of democracy, yes, provided it is within the laws of this country.
Thank you very much.
Dr Kunbuor 12:25 p.m.
Well, I guess that the Hon former Leader of this House chose to react to only portions of my contribution that he considers to be objectionable. But I guess this will be one of the very rare occasions that a Majority Leader will acknowledge a difficulty and even render an apology on the floor of the House and I think that is significant for us to move ahead.
I will challenge the former Hon Majority Leader to give me evidence on matters that I did take on with him
personally on other matters even when he was a Minister and even where he would concede that we had a point, he did not go further to apologise.
I am apologising first as an Hon Majority Leader and somebody who is supposed to ensure that Government Business is tidy. All I am assuring the House is that it will never happen again.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I have patiently listened to the Majority Leader, and Leader of Government Business. And as alluded to by the Member for Sekondi, he was very passionate and endeavoured to be very convincing. But Mr Speaker, I am not persuaded at all by what he has said.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman to the Finance Committee alluded to an apology rendered by the Chairman of the Business Committee last Friday with respect to this issue. The Chairman to the Business Committee had no business apologising because the remit of the Business Committee does not cover this territory at all; it does not.
If there is an error, let us accept it as an error and, I indicated on the day this Paper was laid, that the proper thing to have been done, was to have withdrawn it and substituted the presentation of the Paper by another Paper and I thought we had concluded on that.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader invites this House to point out whether or not there have been some improprieties in the transaction of this business -- I will show him. Our Standing Orders-- Order 197 is clear on what the Committee itself can do. Order 197 provides:
“The deliberations of a Committee shall be confined to the matter referred to it . . .”
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:25 p.m.
Is the Hon Majority Leader on a point of order? Mr Speaker, have you granted it? You have not seen him. That is good -- [Laughter.] The Hon Majority Leader should sit down.
So, Mr Speaker-- and nothing that has been referred to your Committee can be deliberated upon by the Committee. If a Committee decides suo motu to work on something, they cannot report to this House and that is what it suggests to me that they have decided to work on this on their own. There was no referral to this Committee on the account of this and Mr Speaker, let nobody make any mistake.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:25 p.m.
Hon Majo- rity Leader, since you are not being entertained, can you resume your seat and let me finish with my business?
So, Mr Speaker, I will urge, since we have identified the problem, why can we not do the correct thing? I believe because the Committee has worked on it, they could, if the proper thing was done, in a
day, do the business and I thought this ought to have been done last week, so as to have paved the way for us for a smoother ride, other than this bumpy ride that we are experiencing. But if the Majority Leader wants me to resume my seat for him to make his point, I will and subsequently come at the latter -- I will grant him space; I will resume my seat. He can talk and I will come back.
Dr Kunbuor 12:25 p.m.
You do not grant --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Hon Minority Leader, I hope you are not usurping my position as the Speaker?
Hon Majority Leader, let us hear you.
Dr Kunbuor 12:25 p.m.
Yes, as I have indicated, I guess that the Hon Minority Leader is rather exaggerating the nature of the submissions that I have made by actually referring to Order 197. It is not an interpretation of Order 197, because what Order 197 is saying is that the deliberations of a committee shall be confined to the matter referred to it by the House and any extensions or limitations to be made by the House.
Mr Speaker, if you go back to the Official Report, it is clear that when this matter was first raised, I said it needed further information to be sure whether it was indeed, the statutory one per cent we knew or it was a fixed figure and that should it turn out that it was the statutory one per cent, the Committee could consider that matter and since we are masters of our own rules, do all the consequential amendments. This was the nature of the matter that accompanied the referral and I am not indicating that US$150 million is the same as US$15 million.
When I even say it is an error, a typographical error, it is not to reduce the significance of that matter before this House. But we are trying to actually make sure that progress is made in relation to this matter, and that was why this issue had to be put in that particular context. I
am saying that I am not sure any particular law would have been breached, before I said Standing Order. But whether any statute would have been breached in relation to what has happened, the Committee's Report would not be sufficient evidence to kill -- This is just all that I am indicating.
I should not even be belabouring this point because one of the things I believe in, is to encourage the Minority as much as possible to say as many things they can say on a matter as possible and then at the end, we reach consensus on it. I belong to a profession of debate, so, I do not run away from debates.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I would urge that you look at the Ranking Member and grant him space.
But to end, Mr Speaker, the full complement of Order 197 does not offer any remedy at all. It does not. Mr Speaker, what it means -- And deliberately, I halted at where I halted because, as I said, it does not offer any cure at all. It reads:
“The deliberations of a Committee shall be confined to the matter referred to it by the House and any extension or limitations to it made by the House . . .”
The same House. It should be through the same medium.
So, if I get up and render an apology, I do not represent the House unless it comes from the Chair. If it does not, it is not reflective of the opinion of the House. That is why I urged that what is right ought to have been done at the very genesis of this. So, we are where we are because perhaps, we did not agree on the modus of effecting the correction.
Mr Speaker, I will propose to the Majority Leader that what he read, the full complement does not offer any cure at all.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
All right.
Thank you very much.
Hon Members, I actually allowed this debate to proceed just to give Hon Members the opportunity. But the Report has been laid, and the direction is that it should be distributed. At the appropriate time, when we take the Report, these issues can be brought up, I believe, so that we can make some progress.
So, Hon Dr Akoto Osei, you keep your comments and then when we come to deliberating on the Report itself, these issues can come to the floor. I think it is a bit premature now.
Dr A. A. Osei 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I craved your indulgence and sought a ruling.
I do not want to get into the debate. I was saying that I needed the guidance of the Speaker to tell us whether or not it was proper for any committee to report on a matter that has not been referred to it. That was how I started.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
And what I am saying is that, that issue can be dealt with when the Report itself is being presented because as I say, it has been laid. The directive is that it be distributed and after that, you raise this point. So, let us go by the rules and wait; just bid your time and at the appropriate time, you can raise the issue.
Dr A. A. Osei 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, finally, the Majority Leader referred to a mistake that was made. Mr Speaker, on the basis of the Order Paper, he and I were not at the Cabinet Meeting. We cannot read the mind of the Minister; we can only read what is on the yellow paper. This is not pink, it is a yellow sheet.
Mr Speaker, the Minister, in his Memorandum to Parliament, did not offer a cure. He stated 150 million; he and I were not there. -- [Laughter.] Now, they are saying it is US$15 million. Mr Speaker, by the way, somebody was on the air purporting that it was possible that somebody was trying to steal money; that is why I am concerned. The difference is 135 million.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
Hon Member, I think that all these points are well taken. At the appropriate time, we will get them on board.
Dr Kunbuor 12:35 p.m.
All I wanted to say is that, yes, indeed, the Hon Member would not have been there but I certainly was there.
But the more significant part was that if he listened to my analysis of the sheets that accompanied the Order Paper, the analysis does not create any difficulty at all.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
Hon Members, let us move on.
The next item, that is, item 5 -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills.
Dr Kunbuor 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice has left the jurisdiction for a very important assignment and I have her permission to lay this Paper with your indulgence and leave.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I did not hear what the Hon Majority Leader was saying because I was engaged by my Colleague on the other side.
Dr Kunbuor 12:35 p.m.
Yes, I was basically craving the indulgence of Mr Speaker to grant me leave to lay the Paper on behalf of the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice -- [Interruption] -- as Minister in charge of Government Business in Parliament.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I think we would not have anything

Mr Speaker, beyond that, when a Cabinet Minister is unavailable, other Cabinet Ministers are specifically designated to hold the fort. Would we know who holds the fort for the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice who is not here present and who, in that case, should be the person to be doing this?
Dr Kunbuor 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, let us correct the records. Our Standing Orders refer to Ministers and it does not make any distinction between Cabinet and non- Cabinet. So, it is in that capacity and in line with our Standing Orders that I am asking for Mr Speaker's leave. I know that even at the next point, even if I want to cough, there would be an objection that would be taken by the Minority Leader. [Laughter.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
All right. The leave is granted.

Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, we have been having some consultations at the Leadership level in which we anticipated that we would be able to hold a joint caucus meeting today but we have noticed that there are a number of important committees that would also be meeting.
So, I beg to move, that we adjourn the House to tomorrow, the 13th of June, 2013 in the forenoon to enable Leadership have further consultations on the joint caucus meeting.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the Majority Leader can rest assured that when he is moving a Motion for adjournment, he certainly would not be obstructed. I would join him and beg to second the Motion, so ably moved by the Majority Leader for adjournment.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 12:35 p.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.46 p.m. till Thursday, 13th June, 2013 at 10.00 a.m.