Debates of 19 Jun 2013

MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
PRAYERS 11:15 a.m.

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT 11:15 a.m.

Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings for Tuesday, 18th June, 2013.
Page 1 … 6 --
Mr Foster J. Andoh 11:15 a.m.
Mr Speaker, page 6, number 16. I was present yesterday but I have been marked absent.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Table Office, please, take note.

Hon Members, the Votes and Proceed- ings for Tuesday, 18 th June 2013, as corrected, are adopted as the true reflection of the proceedings for that day.

Hon Members, Official Report for Thursday, 13th June, 2013.

Any corrections?
PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES 1:35 p.m.

OFFICIAL REPORT 1:35 p.m.

CONTENTS 1:35 p.m.

STATEMENTS -- 1:35 p.m.

PAPERS -- 1:35 p.m.

THE 1:35 p.m.

PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC 1:35 p.m.

OF GHANA 1:35 p.m.

MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
PRAYERS 11:15 a.m.

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT 11:15 a.m.

Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings for Tuesday, 18th June, 2013.
Page 1 … 6 --
Mr Foster J. Andoh 11:15 a.m.
Mr Speaker, page 6, number 16. I was present yesterday but I have been marked absent.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Table Office, please, take note.

Hon Members, the Votes and Proceed- ings for Tuesday, 18 th June 2013, as corrected, are adopted as the true reflection of the proceedings for that day.

Hon Members, Official Report for Thursday, 13th June, 2013.

Any corrections?
Ms Rosemund C. Abrah 11:15 a.m.
I think most of us do not have the Official Report you are talking of.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
All right. If that is the sense of the House, then we will defer it.
Hon Members, three Statements have been admitted and we will take the first one by Hon Peter Nortsu-Kotoe, Member of Parliament for Akatsi North.
Is he available in the Chamber?
STATEMENTS 11:15 a.m.

Mr Peter Nortsu-Kotoe (NDC -- Akatsi North) 11:15 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to make this Statement on the floor of the House. It is aimed at bringing to the fore, the denial of female students who become pregnant in colleges of education the right to complete their training as teachers, so that they can contribute to the eradication of illiteracy in the country.
Mr Speaker, it is on record that the code of conduct for teacher trainees stipulates that a female student who becomes pregnant shall be withdrawn from the institution. This provision in the code of conduct was aimed, I am told, at instilling moral discipline in female students. The proponents of the code of conduct believed that as future teachers, they needed to be seen as role models in the society.
Mr Speaker, this provision in the code of conduct, to a large extent, has not achieved the intended purpose. Well- meaning educators have come to realise that the retention of this provision has led to some negative results and there is therefore, the need to take a critical look at it.
Mr Speaker, every year, one college of education or another is reported to have prevented a female student from writing an end of semester examination because she was pregnant. The prevention of these female students has a lot of ramifications for the students, and society as a whole.
Mr Speaker, we are aware that these colleges of education have graduated from pre-tertiary institutions to full tertiary institutions.
Mr Speaker, female students in tertiary institutions are allowed or permitted to procreate while they pursue their academic work. Once they are able to cope up with the demands of academic work, authorities of the various institutions allow them to exercise that right.
Mr Speaker, the prevention of pregnant students from continuing their education has a lot of challenges. A female student desirous of continuing her education can resort to unsafe abortion. This can create a problem for this lady in several ways. As a result of unsafe abortions, the woman could have a health problem in the future and might not have a child in her life.
This childlessness, as a result of unsafe abortion, can create a psychological and social problems for the affected woman for the rest of her life and she will never be a happy person. This would affect her profession and she would never have any love for it as well as those she would mentor.
Mr Speaker, the colleges of education have graduated to a tertiary level and the heads of these institutions should as a matter of urgency, review the code of conduct for their students. If pupils of junior high school (JHS) who are pregnant
are allowed to write the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and later encouraged to go back to school, why should adults who are being trained to teach cannot be allowed to continue with their education?
Mr Speaker, now that the colleges of education are no longer under the Teacher Education Division of the Ghana Education Service, but under the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), immediate steps should be taken to review the entire code of conduct for teacher trainees to reflect present day events and situations.
Mr Speaker, I wish to make a special appeal to heads of these institutions to look at the social, psychological and moral effects of the prevention of these female students from writing their end-of-year or semester examinations on their individual lives and the society and allow them to write their examinations, as the necessary review of the code of conduct is done.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for allowing me to make this statement and I wish to use this opportunity to wish all final year students of the thirty-eight colleges of education in the country a resounding success in their final examinations.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Second Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Hon Members, contributions are now invited.
Mrs Gifty E. Kusi (NPP -- Tarkwa- Nsuaem) 11:25 p.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Akatsi North.
Mr Speaker, I understand that with the policy, the female students are asked to go home to give birth and come back to write their examinations. Mr Speaker, be that as it may, I do not think it is a very
Mr David Oppon-Kusi 11:25 p.m.
On a point of order.
Mrs Kusi 11:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am surprised at the Hon Member. What does he mean by classroom filled with pregnant women?
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 p.m.
Hon Member, proceed.
Mrs Kusi 11:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, and so what? If the classroom is filled with pregnant women, we are also human beings. We are Ghanaians and we should be given
Mr Isaac K. Asiamah 11:25 p.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague did mention sex and I am quite curious; students are here.
I think the point is that sex can also be controlled; that should also be made clear to all of us. It should be planned and controlled. That is the correction I would want to make.
Mrs Kusi 11:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, any female tertiary student is matured enough to get pregnant. Mr Speaker, it is something that we should look at. We should not always try to talk about issues that we cannot defend. Mr Speaker, can the Hon Member defend what he is saying? I think that that code of conduct should be revised and tertiary institutions, as it pertains in the universities -- The reproductive rights of female students should not be trampled upon.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Emmanuel K. Bedzrah (NDC -- Ho West) 11:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I associate myself with the Statement ably made by my Friend the Hon Member for Akatsi North.
Mr Speaker, the history behind the code of conduct for tertiary or colleges of education was that, the ladies in these institutions become role models for our young ladies. I believe that this was a laudable idea that our female young ladies would become role models for our younger brothers and sisters who they would be teaching in the future.
Mr Speaker, we have moved on as a nation and as a society. At that time, these institutions were under the Ghana Education Service. But Mr Speaker, this House has come out with Act 847, which says that the colleges of education or the
teacher training colleges will no longer be under the Ghana Education Service but under the National Council for Tertiary Education. That means that they have moved on from being within the basic education and senior high school level to tertiary institution and every tertiary institution has its own statutes.
I believe when we were passing this Act 847, we made it clear that colleges of education should come out with their own Act or their own statutes that would guide them how they run and I do not think that that statute has been promulgated yet at the various colleges of education. Otherwise, they would not be going by their code of conduct that was passed some years back.
I would want to add my voice to my Hon Colleagues, that they should look into it and allow female students who unfortunately get pregnant on the way to be allowed to -- [Interruption.] I used the word “unfortunate” because -- Mr Speaker, I would want to urge the authorities of the various colleges of education to allow even mature students to also be enrolled as teacher trainees.
It should not be limited to only young brothers and sisters from the senior high schools; people who are matured. Mr Speaker, just as we have at the university level, where matured students are enrolled to become students of the tertiary institutions, they should also be allowed and with that, women who are married can get pregnant and continue with their education just as it is done in any of the tertiary institutions.
With these few words, Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Kofi Osei-Ameyaw (NPP -- Asuogyaman) 11:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I thank the Hon Member for Akatsi North -- [Interruption.]
Mr Alfred K. Agbesi 11:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I have The Ghanaian Times of today. In the newspaper, there is a directive to the teacher training institutions from the Ministry of Education on this issue we are discussing. The directive is that the authorities should allow pregnant teacher trainees to continue with their education.
I think the Statement that we are discussing is on the issue that the education authorities prevent students from completing their training education. But with the directive that we had yesterday and reported in today's Ghanaian Times, it looks like they have given a directive on the matter.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 p.m.
Hon Member, I believe that if you are given the opportunity, you can also make your contribution and make reference to this publication. I do not think it would cause any harm.
MrAgbesi 11:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I was not going to make a contribution. This is just to bring this to the floor because the Statement is calling upon the authorities to allow-- That is what I am bringing to the notice of the House.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 p.m.
Very well.
Dr Anthony A. Osei 11:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am very surprised at the Hon Deputy Majority Leader. This House does not receive communication through The Ghanaian Times. It is not known to the Speaker. So, how can we accept a publication in The Ghanaian Times as official communica- tion to the House? Assuming it is false? I
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 p.m.
Hon Member, please, proceed.
Mr Osei-Ameyaw 11:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I thought my Hon Colleague was on a point of order but it was rather a point of information. I thank him very much.
Mr Speaker, I would want Parliament to advert its mind to the provisions of article 17(2). That article clearly states that we cannot discriminate on a person's gender.
Now, it is quite interesting to see or to understand why we would have a code of conduct which contravenes or conflicts with the provisions of article 17(2). So, it should not be an issue at all that this Parliament should even be debating upon. I believe that the provisions of article 17(2) of the Constitution make it clear that we cannot discriminate on gender.
Now if a woman is pregnant and the man who impregnated the woman sits in the classroom and the woman is allowed to leave the classroom, that clearly shows it is discrimination. [Laughter]. Listen - - [Interruptions].
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon Member, why do you not concentrate on addressing the Chair and leave these asides -- the heckling.
Mr Osei-Ameyaw 11:35 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker -- some of these interruptions do not help-- [Interruption.]
rose
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon Asiamah, are you on a point of order?
Mr I. K. Asiamah 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, indeed, the Hon Member is saying that if the man happens to be in the classroom with the woman-- What is the guarantee that the man who impregnated her would be in the same classroom with the lady? That is the question I am asking. He made an emphatic statement and I am saying that it is not possible, maybe, the man worked somewhere else. That is what I would want him to clarify.
Thank you
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon Member, please, proceed.
Mr Osei-Ameyaw 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I just wanted to tell my Hon Friend that in certain cases, the man would be sitting in the same classroom with the lady and it is unfair, inequitable and that, we should not tolerate this kind of discrimination and that this House should -- I do not know who actually brought in that code of conduct. But I think it is inappropriate and we should condemn that code of conduct and make sure that any lady who is pregnant and can continue to sit in the classroom, should be afforded the opportunity to do so.
With these few words, I support the Hon Member who made the Statement.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Thank you very much.
Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka (NDC -- Asewase) 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement and to thank the Hon Member who made it even though yesterday, this issue came up when a Statement was read on the floor of the House.
But Mr Speaker, more importantly, I would want to refer us to the Constitution, article 14 (1)(e) and with your permission, I beg to quote:
“Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of his personal liberty except in the following cases and in accordance with the procedure permitted by law--
(e) for the purpose of the education or welfare of a person who has not attained the age of 18 years;”
Mr Speaker, the emphasis is on 18 years.We live in a country where averagely, people go to primary one at age 6. So, they complete primary school, go to junior high school (JSS) at age 12 and then JSS is 3 years. So, the average age of someone who has completed JSS is about 15 years. Until this year, for the past two or three years, everyone who had completed senior high school in our country (SSS) had gone through 4 years of education, with the exception of this year where we have 3 and 4 years respectively.
Even if the person had done 3 years, it would mean that by the time you complete SSS, the average age would be about 18 years. So, to go into either nursing training, teacher training or university, means that the person has attained the age of l8. It means that the code of conduct that was even in existence even before the change of the Act to make it a tertiary institution meant that, that code of conduct itself was hurting this Constitution.
This is because once they attain the age of 18, it means that they are at liberty to decide when to give birth; it is no longer with the educational institutions. It is with the person as an individual. Mr Speaker, let me say that for some of us -- I was in the second year at university when I got married. [Interruption.] Yes, I was in the second year at the university when I got married and Mr Speaker, I have no regret marrying as a student -- [Interruptions.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Can we have some order.
An Hon Member 11:35 a.m.
What was your age?
Alhaji Muntaka 11:35 a.m.
I have no regret marrying as a second year student of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi. [Interruption.]
Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah is asking me how old I was. Mr Speaker, if he cares to know, when I was in the second year -
- 11:35 a.m.

Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon Member, please, address the Chair, leave the asides.
Alhaji Muntaka 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I was 30, heading 31 years when I got married. But I was in the second year at the university -- [Interruptions.]
Dr A. A. Osei 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am keenly aware -- He said when he got married, he was 31 but last year, he got married. So, at which age? Which age is he talking about? [Laughter].
Alhaji Muntaka 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, my Colleague knows that I got married to my second wife last year -- [Uproar] -- Yes, he knows how proud I am to talk about it. This is because I am African and I believe in what I am doing and I am happy to be married to a second wife -- [Laughter]. Mr Speaker, I still have two more vacancies. [Interruptions.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Order! Order!
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Leader.
Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker he says he is an African and he assumes all Africans will marry a second wife. In any case, what is the age of his second wife -- [Laughter.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Order! Order!
rose
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Is it on a point of order?
Mr J. J. Appiah 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague is introducing polygamy into this House. Mr Speaker, we have the young ones here listening to us. So, it is not good for him to be telling us about his second marriage and possible third marriage. I think he is bringing polygamy into this House.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon Member, you are out of order.
Please, proceed.
Alhaji Muntaka 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I believe it is good you have ruled him out but I will urge him to continue looking into his own image and not the image of others.
Mr Speaker, more seriously, it is not that everybody gets the opportunity to go to the tertiary institution immediately after SSS or after leaving secondary school. What it means is that, someone could be at the teacher training, nursing training or the tertiary institution when the person is really matured.
The person could be married; the person could have family before coming in. So, to make getting pregnant at this level a crime, Mr Speaker, I think that we need to look at it. For example, I agree with some of our Colleagues who say it is discrimination. Like I have said with myself, when I was in the second year
and I had a wife -- By the time I completed, I had a child -- [Uproar]. What it means is that, the male students who are in the nursing and teacher training institutions could be having wives who are pregnant at home but the females who are in the school are being discriminated against because they are trying to give birth.
Mr Speaker, it should be left to the individual, if the person thinks that he or she is 18 years and above and he or she has the capacity to carry this additional burden and still go on with his or her educational training, so be it. But in a situation where we try to restrict the female students, believe me, it discourages some from even furthering their education --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Hon Member, start winding up.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the Children's Act imposes an additional responsibility on parents whose children are in school, regardless of the age, to be responsible for the upkeep of their children. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague is indicating to us that even at age 30, 32, as he said, he was in school, the parents were supposed to be responsible for him. Does he think it is worthy to saddle the parents with additional responsibility by marrying at that level and selling this idea to the rest of us in this House? Mr Speaker, does he think it is a worthy cause.
Alhaji Muntaka 11:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the Minority Leader knows we have many students today in our tertiary institutions who are equally working and also in school. It may interest you to know that we have families who are proud to help both their children and spouses. So, I am saying that once the Constitution talks about age, we should not try to use other means to frustrate people who would want to genuinely have themselves trained and be able to add value to themselves.

So, I think this Statement is laudable and we need to congratulate the Hon Member who made it and to urge our educational institutions to do well to be abreast with what is in our Constitution, so that when they are bringing codes of conduct, they do not conflict with the Constitution of the country.

I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
Thank you very much.
Ms Rosemund Comfort Abrah (NPP -- Weija/Gbawe) 11:45 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the -- If I can put it this way, that such an outmoded law or if I can coin it, octogenarian law is scraped from the rules of the training colleges.

Now, we are confusing two things or the training colleges are confusing two things. They are equating teenage pregnancy with students getting pregnant at our colleges of education. Like others have already identified and stipulated, these female students are above age 18, so their pregnancy cannot be termed as teenage pregnancy.

Somebody mentioned it and we all just laughed -- the law is discriminatory. What about if those who impregnated the girls were in the same school? You remember Mr Speaker, Nkrumah introduced some law in those days that those who impregnated school girls were imprisoned?

Those were outmoded but then if we cannot have a similarity of that law that could as well punish those who impreg- nate the female students, then I find the law to be so discriminatory.

Then to talk about the abortion which the Hon Member who made the Statement said, yes, this will just make some of the pregnant students have an abortion and you and I know the effect of these abortions on the female reproduction system.

Notwithstanding articles 17(2) and 13 (c), I find the law to be very discriminatory and infringing upon the human rights of those students.

With these, I say thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Thank you very much.
We will take the last contribution from Hon Joe Gidisu.
Mr Joe K. Gidisu (NDC -- Central Tongu) 11:45 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I appreciate the concerns that have been expressed by Colleagues on the floor of the House. The reference is to teacher training colleges which are now colleges of education. I would want to remind Colleagues that these issues are coming out of the evolution of teacher education and for that matter, teacher training in this country.
If you look back years ago, we had teachers or students from our middle schools who were entering the training colleges for the four-year training college. Then also, we had the two-year culminating into the three-year post-secondary training, which is now being upgraded
rose
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:45 a.m.
Hon Member, is it on a point of order?
Mr Osei-Ameyaw 11:45 a.m.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
What my Colleague is saying about morality and what have you, is completely out of order. The provisions of article 17 of the Constitution makes it a duty for us and with your permission, let me read the provisions of article 17, so that he can --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:45 a.m.
It has already been read out.
Mr Osei-Ameyaw 11:45 a.m.
Then also, when you go to article 17 (3) and even (4), it tells Parliament that we should also be implementing some of these things where there is clear discrimination. Morality is not an issue here; he is suggesting to this House that because of evolution of teacher training trend, whatever infringes upon the law should be allowed to carry on. We must condemn what he is saying; it is not appropriate.
Mr J. K. Gidisu 11:45 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I think my Colleague got me wrong. I said we should look at the evolution of teacher training in this country and that, the situation that led to those regulations were part of the evolution of teacher training in the country. But of now, the colleges being upgraded up to the status of tertiary education, we should look at how to review this. But we cannot be debating this on the floor of the House
when the appropriate policy-making institution is not directed to reflect the changes in the current status of those institutions. And the morality I am talking about, Mr Speaker, it is the situation whereby we are arguing that, yes, our kids in pre-tertiary institutions, like the basic schools, should be allowed to have education when even they are pregnant.
I am saying that, yes, there is the need to do that but as parents and as a country, we should look at the moral aspect as well, that will go to affect the fabric of our society. I am not against that situation but there is the need for us not to eliminate the moral aspect of our national life, our culture, which is very paramount in building a society as we have in the country called Ghana
With these comments, Mr Speaker, I am very grateful.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Thank you very much.
This brings to a close, the contributions on that particular statement.
The second statement is from Hon John Gyetuah, if he is available.

Road accidents and their attendant ramifications
Mr John Gyetuah (NDC -- Amenfi West) 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, road traffic crashes are one of the world's largest public health hazards, most of which are preventive. According to the World Health Organisation's (WHO's), 2013 Global Status Report on Road Safety, 1.3 million persons are killed annually and an additional 30-50 million are injured in road traffic crashes worldwide. The problem is very disturbing because the victims are overwhelmingly healthy prior to their crashes. This situation does not preclude Ghana.

Mr Speaker, road, traffic accident is one of the major causes of death in our dear country. What makes it more serious is that, about 60 per cent of these people who die through road accidents are within the ages of 16 and 45 years, representing the active labour force of the country.

Road is the only environment that has the conglomeration of all types of users in different mood and behaviours and this situation, if not well - managed, leads to various types of road accidents. Road- traffic accidents are on the ascendancy and Ghana spends about 1.6 per cent if its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on accidents annually. These accidents generally occur in towns and other human settlements.

According to the National Road Safety Commission, speeding is a major cause of accidents accounting for over 50 per cent of all reported cases.

Causes of road, traffic accidents in Ghana include blatant disregard for traffic regulations and road signs, drink-driving, indisciplined road users, distraction by passengers, bad roads, speeding, wrongful overtaking, fatigue, poorly maintained vehicles, disabled vehicles on road, mobile phone usage while driving, overloading, poor vision of some drivers, poor driving skills and others. These causes of road-traffic accidents have led to frightening statistics.

Mr Speaker, according to the Global Status Report on Road safety of the WHO, the African Region possesses only 2 per cent of the world's vehicles, yet it contributes 16 per cent to the global deaths. In this Report, Nigeria and South Africa have the highest fatality rates (33.7 and 31.9 deaths per 100,000 population per year respectively).
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Thank you very much.
Now, contributions are invited.
Yes, Hon Member --
Mr David Oppon-Kusi (NPP -- Ofoase/ Ayirebi) 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would like to contribute to the Statement made by the Hon Member on the other side on road accidents. In my contribution, I would just like to limit myself to one element, that is, the human element when it comes to road accidents, the kind of recklessness we see on our roads, dangerous overtaking, speeding, disregard for traffic safety and traffic signals and measures, and then, the general lack of capacity in terms of experience and training of those who go behind the steering wheels.
I think the time has come for us to properly address the issue of the training of our drivers. The kind of training we have here is very rudimentary. The kind of driving schools we have, train only saloon car drivers. You would see a few saloon cars parked in front of a shop calling itself “a driver training academy”. And when it comes to actual testing, one wonders what happens when one goes to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to get a driving licence.
Where are they tested? Are they allowed to be tested on actual driving conditions -- how you behave when you get to the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, how you behave when you get into the Kumasi road?
The other aspect is that beyond the saloon drivers, beyond the schools, those who go ahead to drive tipper trucks, articulated trucks, special vehicles, high occupancy vehicles like buses, who trains them and how are they trained?
We had an interaction with the Metro- politan Mass Transit (MMT) some time back as a committee, when I was on the Road and Transport Committee and it
came out that they had to send their drivers to la Cote d'Ivoire to get them trained and this is at a cost to the economy. It means that over here, we do not have elaborate training systems for drivers who take on our roads. These are critical issues that we should be addressing.
I believe the time has come for us to have a law that will ensure that before you get a licence to drive a particular vehicle, you are taken through all the training courses that would ensure that when somebody gets behind the wheels, that person can drive at night. For example, when you are being tested, you are not tested at night; you are not tested under the conditions of rain and fog and all those things.
So, one wonders the basis upon which somebody is issued a licence to drive, for example, an articulated truck.
We need to address this human factor, and if we do that, about 60 per cent of the problems would be solved. There are people behind the steering wheels who are not qualified to be there. There are people who drive at night whose vision is impaired.
So, we really need to be sure that we have a regime that trains drivers properly before they are issued -- And again, re- training -- Even though the person has been trained for the last five years, there ought to be a law, and I am sure there are regulations; the last regulations we passed -- We passed a Legislative Instrument (L.I.), which makes it mandatory for every driver to be trained every year.
How are we going to implement these things? Unless we do these things, we would continue to see this carnage on our roads.
With these few words, I support the Statement on the floor.
Alhaji Seidu Amadu (NDC -- Yapei/ Kusawgu) 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, there was a time many people attributed the level of accidents in the country to the bad nature of roads that we have. Others used to attribute accidents to defective vehicles that were common on our roads and yet others blamed it on lack of road furniture to give adequate warning to road users and drivers.
Mr Speaker, looking at the modern design of roads we have in the country now, one can say that some of these arguments do no longer hold. We have a lot of beautiful roads; we have furniture and road markings although not all of them, we have very good vehicles on our roads now, yet we have not been able to bring down the spate of accidents in this country. This is why I rightly agree with my Hon Colleague who just made his contribution to the issue of the human factor.
I think that in this country, the level of recklessness is just so much. If you see some of our drivers on our roads, they think that they are taxing on a runway to take off as an aeroplane. There are others who want to use the roads as a kind of laboratory for testing their driving skills, testing how fast their vehicles are and so on and so forth, and this has been leading to this level of accidents in the country.
Mr Speaker, I think that the Hon Member who made the Statement also mentioned some of the measures that he thinks should be employed to stem the tide of road accidents in this country, and I would want to add the health status of our drivers. Some of them have conditions like diabetes, others have high blood pressure, and these are conditions that normally affect the driver, particularly those who drive long distances.
I think that we can only succeed in minimising or eliminating road accidents if, indeed, we invite the Ministry of Health as a partner to the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) and the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) of the Ghana Police Service to make sure that commercial drivers in particular, go through constant and regular routine medical check-up, to see that these two conditions do not affect them.
This is because if you look at most of the accidents that have been recorded so far, particularly on good roads, you would realise that accidents still happen on roads that have recently been built. In fact, when the Hon Member who made the Statement mentioned Buipe-Tamale, it is one of the best roads that we can get in this country. In fact, if you should drive on the road now, you would think that you are on some kind of a tarmac, ready to fly an aeroplane. Yet, we keep recording high level of accidents and one attribute to some of them of these things.
Mr Speaker, I also want to make a suggestion. I think that the Ministry of Roads and Highways, through the Road Safety Commission, need to re-examine the type of licence that we have. In some jurisdictions, when you are given a licence as a driver, you are given maximum points; maybe, 20. Each time you are involved in an accident, some amount of points are deducted from your licence. So, when you get to zero, that is your end because you can no longer drive and you will not be given a licence.
If we do not start doing some of these things, Mr Speaker, we shall continue to experience these high accidents in this country. So, let us explore that possibility. Whoever goes for a licence, can be given a maximum of 100 points or 20 points. Depending upon the type of accident, it would attract some kind of penalty. They
would keep deducting your points until you get to zero; that is your end. This way, people would be more careful, more conscious when they are sitting behind their driving wheels and driving on the roads.
The other suggestion I would want to make, Mr Speaker, which must be worth examining, is the possibility of instituting heavy penalties and heavy sanctions on our drivers. Can you imagine; if you club somebody to death, we know the penalty that it attracts in our law courts; if you take a dagger to stab somebody to death, we know the penalty that it attracts; if you take a gun to shoot somebody, we know the penalty that it attracts, but that might involve only one individual, when you kill one individual.
Here is a driver, through his care- lessness and recklessness, 50 people die, 20 people die, 30 people die, five people die, three people die, some are maimed for life and therefore, maybe, incapacitated -- to be useful to themselves, to the society and to their families -- and yet we have said that we blame it on accidents, and because it is an accident, the driver should go scot free.
Please, I think it is high time we started really punishing the drivers through whose negligence and recklessness -- As my Hon Colleagues have said, if you are doing wrong overtaking, if you are overtaking on the bow of a hill, this is recklessness. If the speed limit on the road is 50 kilometres per hour or 80 and you do 100 and you get involved in an accident, you should be severely punished.
But in this country, if you are involved in an accident, that is no crime. But go and steal toffee, just one piece of toffee, it
would attract some severe punishment. You just give somebody a small knock, it would attract some punishment, and yet drivers kill and go scot free.
Mr Speaker, I think that we need to do something about the spate of accidents in this country, because we are losing too many lives and causing a lot of destruction to the economy. When the vehicle is damaged, although you would have bought it with your money, it is a cost to the economy because the parts that we import have been paid for with foreign exchange.
So, if you run into an obstruction and cause an accident, it is a cost to the economy. Look at the people, they give a lot of trouble to our doctors and our nurses in the hospitals. The drugs that are imported are imported with foreign exchange. So, please, we really need to do something.
I think that the Hon Member has made a very important Statement. This is not the first time. I have been in this House for many years and Hon Members have continued to make Statements on road accidents and yet we seem not to be getting to an end in stopping road accidents. Well, I think it is high time that we did something and that something can be done by this very House.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make this contribution.
Mr Justice J. Appiah (NPP -- Ablekuma North) 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, road accidents are becoming a curse in this country. We need to have some education in our various lorry stations, road safety education, that would allow drivers to be very careful -- If you drink, do not drive; if you drive, do not drink.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
Hon Member, please, address the Chair.
Mr J. J. Appiah 11:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you very much.
Minister for Roads and Highways (Alhaji Amin A. Sulemani) (MP) 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I rise to add my voice to the Statement.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Members who spoke before me hit the nail on the head. At the heart of the problem of road accidents, is the human factor, and that is, in my opinion, I refer to it as indiscipline.
Our problem in Ghana is attitudinal and as long as we are unable to address the issue of indiscipline on our roads, we would continue to record the accidents that we see day-in and day-out.
We are talking about enforcement of road regulations. At the heart of it also, some of us, like my Hon Colleague over there said, we must set the example. Those of us in some form of authority or who hold some authority, should as much as possible, desist from interfering with the work of the police.
Somebody is accosted for breaking a traffic regulation, a telephone call goes, and a supposed big man calls back to say, “Please, this is this and that.” That is also contributing to the indiscipline. Anybody who is caught, the law should take its course. If one or two people are punished, we will begin to realise that people would like to behave -- you know that no big man will interfere to protect you.
At the heart of it also, when you talk about good roads - it is not absolutely true that it is when the roads are bad that we record accidents. Presently in Ghana, most of our accidents are recorded on our good roads and that is a fact -- the N1, the asphalt roads of Cape Coast -- Wherever we have good roads in Ghana, that is where most accidents are recorded now.
Of course, we need to construct good roads, but at the same time, discipline is a core of our problem and until we address these issues, we will continue to have accidents in this country.
The road infrastructure and the safety regulations, particularly - People get to a traffic light -- You would see very decent ladies and gentlemen driving, the traffic light is red and they are crossing, and in the course of it, they are crashing into other vehicles.
So, we need to sit up and ensure that the laws we pass in this House are implemented, that some of us do not also be the problem in the implementation of the laws by asking the law enforcement agencies to allow the person to go --
“That is my niece”, “that is my cousin”. It will not help. I think that attitude is the cause of the problems we are having in this country as far as the enforcement of road traffic regulations are concerned, and the lack of the enforcement.
The police are sometimes forced to behave unethically because “Ah let him go, even if I” -- Somebody will call and say, “Let the person go”. So, that is what sometimes forces the police to do the things that they do, so that they compromise themselves and it benefits them, not the State.
So, Mr Speaker, I would want to call on Hon Colleagues -- particularly, the educational aspect -- And we should also let our people know that if they get themselves messed up, we would not be in a position to come to their aid.
I think if we all adopt that attitude, we will help to bring about some level of discipline in the country and that will help us avert the road accidents. Of course, we would also have to work to ensure that our roads are safe for driving.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu (NPP -- Dormaa Central) 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I would want to contribute to the Statement.
I am just wondering why the challenge of road safety, accidents, whatever reasons we have for them, keep on coming and coming? Over the last four years that I have been a Member of Parliament (MP), maybe, four and a half years now, there has not been a single year that at least, one MP does not make a Statement on road safety and almost every day, every week, we hear about accidents, accidents, accidents.
Mr Speaker, there is a Road Traffic Act; has its Regulations. The question I would want to ask, and all of us should ask ourselves, is, who is responsible for implementing the Act? The police are responsible for enforcement. But definitely, the police are not responsible to train or retrain or do refresher courses for drivers. Which of the State agencies is responsible for that?
Mr Speaker, I think the major challenge is the human factor, as my Hon Colleagues have been talking about. When we were young, there was a State Transport Company (STC). It had its own training school for drivers. If they recruit you as a ten-year old driver with Licence A or A plus, you will still be subjected to their training for some period of time.
State Transport Company does not seem to be there any longer. There are new companies in the private sector and with your permission, I would like to mention one or two -- M Plaza, OA, Adehye, Executive, quite a number. Let me ask myself, who is training the drivers these private companies are recruiting?
Do not let me talk about the several taxi drivers who own their own taxis or at times, some of us, Directors in State agencies or private sector people, buy one single taxi and give to them to drive; who trains such a driver? Who takes him even for a test? Who even inspects his licence to ensure that this person is a good driver?
So far as accidents continue to occur, road safety issues should be taken very serious in our country. We come and talk about it as Members of Parliament, we finish and that is about the end of it.
Just last week, young children who were going to write examinations on a Monday, started from their village somewhere in the Central Region, they did not get to their destination and there was an accident.Then on radio, they were
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Hon Member, avoid their aside, just address the Chair.
Mr Agyeman-Manu 12:15 p.m.
I am sorry, Mr Speaker - [Interruption.]
rose
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Hon Iddrisu, are you on a point of order?
Mr Iddrisu 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, rightly so.
Under our Rules, even though it is permissible to use any Ghanaian Language, but since my Twi may not be as rich as his, I would want a translation of what he just said for the appreciation of those of us who are not Twi - speaking -- [Interruption.] Including Dr Yakubu of Mion.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Hon Member, please, give just a short translation of what you said in Akan.
Mr Agyeman-Manu 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker can do that on my behalf.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Oh! Me?
Mr Agyeman-Manu 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am not very surprised this point of order. This is because my Colleague, Hon Haruna, never attended any school in Cape Coast and I do not very much get amazed.
The only translation is the fact that a vehicle that should ordinarily transport thirty-three people, puts in close to fifty

something young people and when you overload a vehicle to that level, definitely, you would expect an accident to occur on the road.

But Mr Speaker, what I am saying is that, we keep on talking; we do not know who is implementing certain things. There are several reasons for this. I have had the opportunity to get closer to the Road Safety Agency sometime in my life as a Deputy Minister for Transport and I know what is in there. We are talking about roads. Even when you fix the road asphaltic, that is where we even see more accidents. - Drivers not getting trained, rickety vehicles on the roads, and several things --
Mr J. J. Appiah 12:15 p.m.
On a point of order.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
Hon Member, you are out of order.
Hon Member, proceed.
Mr Agyeman-Manu 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I will meet Hon Joe Appiah outside at the Coffee Bar and I would tell him what he wants to hear.
Mr Speaker, like I was saying, probably, let us charge the committee responsible for Road Transport, let them pick the Road Safety Act or the Road Traffic Act; let them look at things that the Act mandates certain agencies to do -- [Interruption.] This is not the Act -- And let us track whether four, five years down the lane, these things have been done.
The re-training of drivers -- they still go and renew their licences and you do not see any conscious effort of anybody getting trained. We buy our cars. We give them to people to do taxi service. We do not know whether they have been trained in the last ten years or so.
I believe it is time for us to begin to do some auditing to ensure that certain things that we should do by the Act have actually been done or are being done. Other than that, we would come here talking about road safety all the time and the moral situation would not change the attitudes that we have on our roads.
Mr Speaker, I do not know how the Police are enforcing regulations or the rules that they have. At times, when you are driving yourself on any of the roads in our country, it is sad, so easily, to see how carelessly some of us, even as Ghanaians are driving.
I am pretty sure that not very many of us in the House here, know that with the exception of the Motorway, no road in this country has been designed to take speeds up to 120 kilometres per hour. Yet, when we get on the Akosombo lane, between Michel Camp and Akosombo, you would see people driving at 140, 160 kilometres per hour. You would be driving at 100, 120 kilometres per hour and they will be overtaking you. Clearly, we are breaching our regulations.
When you get to the Kintampo - Tamale road, the road is not designed to take speed more than 120 kilometres per hour. But ask our Hon Colleagues -- Hon Haruna Iddrisu himself, ask him whether he has not seen people driving more than that on that road before. So, why should this happen?
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:15 p.m.
But why Hon Haruna Iddrisu? [Laughter.]
Mr Agyeman-Manu 12:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am testifying that when I get on to the Sunyani road, I see people doing more than that [Laughter] -- or, on the Nsawam by-pass. But we are not supposed to do so. So, where are the agencies that should do enforcement? Are they very effective in what they do or they need more resources to be able to monitor or to do some of these things?
Mr Speaker, I believe we should continue to talk but we should also begin to act the law, implement it to the last letter and let us make sure that certain things that we should do to stop or minimise road accidents would be done such that we would see a reduction in fatalities and the number of vehicles we destroy, that cause us foreign exchange in terms of spares and repairing these vehicles -- Do not let me even talk about the human loss that we get and killing people who can use their labour to contribute for the growth of our economy.
With these few words, Mr Speaker, I thank you so much.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
Thank you very much. I would take the last contribution.
Mr George K. Arthur (NDC -- Amenfi Central) 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I think I can mention about six main factors that contribute to these road accidents. These stem from the vehicle, the driver, the road, the load it carries, other road users, and maybe, the last one, the weather.
Mr Speaker, when you take the vehicles alone, the manufacturers made the vehicle such that they have included some icons and some indicators that help the driver to drive the vehicle safely. But most of our drivers do not even under-
Mr Joseph B. A. Danquah 12:25 p.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, I would want our Hon Colleague to explain the words “sit on the steer” because I could not understand that. It is “sit behind the steer” please.
Mr Speaker 12:25 p.m.
All right; proceed.
Mr G. K. Arthur 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, that is one issue.
The second issue is about conversion of vehicles. Some vehicles are made purposely for carrying loads, that is the cargo vehicles. But what we see is that most of our buses are these cargo vehicles that have been converted into passenger vehicles. Some of them even go to the extent of extending the axle, so that they can add extra seats to carry more passengers.
But what I know is that, as you continue, weld these vehicles, those joints become very weak and in case of any emergency, they can easily break or fail and that can lead to a fatal accident.
Mr Speaker, we can also talk of over- aged vehicles. In Ghana, when we talk of over-aged vehicles, we refer to vehicles that have spent more than 10 years overseas -- because we do not manufacture vehicles here. I think it is time we did the house cleaning first before we talked of these over-aged vehicles.
What I know is that when you are talking about an over-aged vehicle, it has to do more with the kilometres it has covered, more than the age of the vehicle.
It may be that you have bought the vehicle and kept it at the garage without moving it out and when it is 10 years old, whether the speedometer has gone 10 kilometres or 100 kilometres, we see it as an over-aged vehicle. And when we go to the port to clear it, they have to impose some penalties on it, so that you pay hugely, you pay so much to clear that vehicle.
But if you go to Chorkor, Laterbiokorshie and the other suburbs, for some of the vehicles, they have to join two or three wires before they can even spark them. The air condition is not working, the lights are very weak, suspension is very weak and yet we allow those vehicles to move about while a vehicle that has its air condition, suspension and everything excellent, we say it is 10 years old, so it is over-aged. I think we need to revisit this issue.
Thirdly, we can talk of the drivers. Mr Speaker, as my Hon Colleague said, the nation has no institute established to train drivers, so, if anybody says he is a driver, either he went into it through the practical way, apprenticeship, and then became a driver or he joined these small car training institutes. So, we have people who have no formal education in driving, driving our Hon Ministers, driving our Hon Members of Parliament, driving in a presidential convoy, moving about without even having any knowledge or skill in driving or defensive driving.
I sat in a vehicle one time, and I saw an indicator in front of the vehicle and I asked the driver, why is this indicator on? What the driver told me was that, “Oh, as for this indicator, sometimes it comes on and sometimes it goes off.” I looked at my side and I saw that the emergency brake lever was lifted a bit. I asked him, “Is it not lifted”? He put it down and the light went off. He does not even know that it was the
emergency brake that was engaged. These are some of the drivers that we have on our roads.
Mr Speaker, when you go to the Driver, Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA), continuously, there are announcements that never pass your document through any goro boy, go straight and do it yourself. But Mr Speaker, try and do it yourself one day and see the number of hours you would spend there, if it is not days. But if you give it to these goro boys, who, they are telling you that you should not pass your document through, within some few hours, they would bring you your document and you would go.
Now, if you want a driver's licence and you pay GH¢450.00, they would give you one week and you would get it.
But if you want to go through the formal process, it can take you about three months and you would not get the licence. That is another problem -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, it has been like that for some time now. [Interruption.]
Mr Patrick Y. Boamah 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, on a point of order please.
I would want to know who the “goro boys” are.
Secondly, all the driving schools are licensed. They pay fees to DVLA before they are allowed to operate. So, that statement from the Hon Member is not entirely true. He should withdraw it.
Also, the fact that the Hon Member is alleging some act of impropriety on some persons at DVLA, needs to be backed by clear facts, otherwise, some people would take him on. This is because he does not have any evidence to prove that people have been taking GH¢450.00 to fast-track their registration. Nobody knows that. He is an
Hon Member of Parliament and he needs to make statements backed by clear facts.
Mr G. K. Arthur 12:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, if the Hon Member wants me to explain, “goro boys” are people who claim to be middlemen when you go to DVLA to process your documents; they are unauthorised middlemen.
If you want us to put it to a test, I have mentioned the amount for you. Just get the GH¢450.00 and then let us set them up and see whether we shall not get them. That, we would pay the money and --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
All right. Hon Member, proceed with your presentation.
Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the point the Hon Member is making is a serious one. If you allege criminality in a certain organisation, there are two things. Either you report to the Police or you become an accomplice. That is what he is trying to say, that if the Hon Member has proof that people are taking GH¢450.00, then he must bring that proof. Otherwise, if this House accepts this as the truth, then the Hon Member who has the evidence and has not reported it to the Police, needs to answer it for himself. That is what he is trying to say.
I believe that he should withdraw it and find an appropriate way of bringing out that point without necessarily bringing this House into disrepute. Mr Speaker, that is what he is saying.
Mr Alexander K. Afenyo- Markin 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, with respect, I believe that the distinction ought to be made here. There is a difference between making a specific allegation and making a statement of fact on a general practice. His Excellency the President of the Republic, on two
Mr Alfred K. Agbesi 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, this is a House of records, and when statements are made, we should be able to substantiate them. The DVLA is not in this House. Allegations being made, though they may be general, but they may impute something to an organisation. This House should not be seen to be making general allegations against people. So far as the House is concerned, we must be a House of facts and a House of records.
I would plead with Hon Members, that let us be factual, so that institutions may not take us to task. I would also plead with Hon Members, that do not let us label people for reasons we cannot prove. I would plead with the Hon Member to withdraw the statement, so that the House can proceed.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr G. K. Arthur 12:35 p.m.
Thank you Mr Speaker. I take the advice of my Leadership and other Hon Members and, I do withdraw the statement. But that is a rumour that is being peddled; it is a piece of information -- [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, ask any Ghanaian who is a good driver and he will tell you that a good driver is the one who has gone and returned safely.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
Hon Member, I hope you are beginning to wind up?
Mr G. K. Arthur 12:35 p.m.
All right. Mr Speaker, I will do my best.
Whether that driver broke a bridge on the way, splashed water on somebody on the way, he overloaded the vehicle and weakened the strength of the road, we say that once he has gone and come back safely, he is a good driver.
Mr Speaker, it is not so. We need to define, very well, who a good driver is.
Mr Speaker, other things that lead to road accidents are defective indicators on our roads. Sometimes, a driver would indicate that he is going to the right and then it would be going to the left. So, if you are not careful and you follow suit, you see a crash. Some of them, during rainfall, because they do not have their air conditions working properly, dew is developed in the vehicle and visibility becomes very low and either they fall into a ditch or elsewhere.
To wind up, let me go to our Road Traffic Act, which is Act 663. I think the punishment or the punishable offences - - the punitive measures are very weak. This is because if you say that when a driver has an accident leading to the death of a person, he is to be imprisoned for less than three years, the drivers do not
see this as very serious. Or if you say when it involves an injury, he is only to go and pay 100 penalty units, he thinks that the 100 penalty units is just some token, so, it does not deter them to be extra careful. So, I think we need to re- visit our Act.
Finally, Mr Speaker, as an Hon Colleague said, after legislators have done their work, the road agencies, DVLA and the rest have also done their work properly, it is left with the Police to ensure that the right drivers are allowed to drive on our roads. But Mr Speaker, you will see a rickety vehicle that will cross about three or four borders in and out every day without being arrested.
In the same vein, you go to Kaneshie and see their buses. It is so visible that these buses are out of road and yet they always pass their tests at the testing stations and they get their document renewed.
Mr Speaker, it is serious. If we do not re-visit these issues, accidents on our roads would never be minimised.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:35 p.m.
Thank you very much. This brings us to the end of contributions to the Second Statements -- [Interruption]
But I wish, in the light of some of the comments that Hon Members have made, giving the impression that it has repeatedly come up from Parliament to Parliament, I would want to direct that the Statement, together with the contributions, be made available to the relevant institutions, like the Ministry of Transport, DVLA, the Police MTTU, so that they see the way that this Parliament feels about these rampant accidents.
Shall we move on to the third Statement? The third Statement is by Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh, Member of Parliament Nsawam-Adoagyiri Constituency. I understand he is not available and that an Hon Member is going to read it on his behalf.
Mr K. T. Hammond 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I just wanted to have caught your attention just before you concluded.
Mr Speaker, there is a point that has to go on record. There is this argument that the President is supposed to have made the point that some people illegally connect electricity to their homes and factories and some people are making comments that it may be true or it is contentious or whatever.
Mr Speaker, I would want to state on the floor of the House today that the President is entirely right. This is because it is true and the Electricity Company is struggling so much to get a handle of this. At a point in time, as much as about, in the old currency, four hundred and so billion was the amount of electricity that people were illegally connecting to their homes and factories, some of whom were arrested, on some occasions, led by myself and they were not prosecuted .
So, if the President said that, he was in his right; it is a fact and it is disturbing the system and ruining the Electricity Company of Ghana.
Mr Agbesi 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, it is unfor- tunate that Hon K.T. Hammond is making this submission. Mr Speaker, there is time for Statements. If he wants to make a Statement on electricity, he is free to come, but when Mr Speaker has given a ruling that that is the last time that we are making comments on the said Statement -- It is unfortunate -- so that we can appropriately reply -- that is the problem.
Mr Agbesi 12:35 p.m.
Making the Scholarship Secretariat more effective
Mr William Agyepong Quaittoo (on behalf of) Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, (NPP -- Nsawam - Adoagyiri ): Mr Speaker, preliminary checks and investigations conducted into the operations of the Scholarships Secretariat revealed that apart from bursaries that are given to senior high schools, all other applications and operations are centralised at the national capital. Besides, there does not appear to be any clearly laid - down laws governing the operation of such an important agency of the State. This does not engender transparency and accountability and as such, the situation must be reviewed.
Mr Speaker, the Scholarships Secre- tariat was established in January, I960 as an extra ministerial body under the Office of the President. Its main object was to administer and exercise central control over scholarship awards, for manpower development, to ensure effective manpower support for the various national development programmes.
The Secretariat now has a mission to utilise Government funds, GETFund, and donor support for the provision of scholarship to brilliant but needy students and qualified workers for human resource development for the purpose of national growth and development.
The Secretariat issues five types of awards:
Thesis grant for postgraduate students.
Bursary grant for postgraduate students.
Long course allowance for medical students.
Disability allowance for the physi- cally challenged.
Hardship allowance for needy students.
Need for decentralisation
In all the cases of awarding the scholarship, centralisation seems to be restricting access to the facility. For instance, the scholarship award is intended to provide financial support to brilliant but needy students whose parent/guardians are financially handi- capped. Manifestly, many financially handicapped parents reside in remote areas of our country with their brilliant but needy kids.
Many of such people have never been to the nation's capital, do not know of the existence of the scholarship facility or if they do, are unfamiliar with the process of procuring the application forms. Some simply do not have the money to travel to Accra for the forms. That means that by its location alone, we have failed to make the agency accessible to the very people who are supposed to benefit from it.
Additionally, they are put at a disadvantage of competing with other needy students who are closer to Accra or know some influential people who can follow up on the application forms for them.
To buttress my point, according to the official website of the agency, in accessing the scholarship award, parents/ guardians collect forms from the Scholar-

ships Secretariat for completion, and the forms should be endorsed by school heads and District Chief Executives (DCEs). Many of our village folks have no relations resident in Accra who can readily accommodate them when they come to pick up the scholarship forms. And how many can afford to stay in a hotel? In the event, a huge proportion of those who qualify and require the assistance are cut off.

Better services could be rendered to our people by making the Secretariat available in all regions and possibly, districts, first, to increase accessibility, and second, to broaden the scope of the award to the doorsteps of the very people the award was instituted for.

Government should take steps to open regional Secretariats in all the ten regions of the country, in a bid to bring the Scholarships Secretariat to the doorsteps of the ordinary Ghanaian. Subsequently, we can extend the service to the districts. A decentralised system will also allow for speedy processing of the forms, not forgetting that closeness to real needy students will establish more fairness in the awards. This is because there will be people on the ground to verify those who really qualify for the award.

A governing law

Mr Speaker, the operations of the Secretariat do not appear to be regulated by any statute. Everything appears to be at the discretion of the National Co- ordinator. It is imperative that the presidency weans itself off the Secretariat and allows an independently constituted body to run the agency. This will ensure that expected political influences are reduced to the barest minimum. This point is critical as we seek to consolidate our

democratic credentials as a country, by ensuring the neutrality of such an important agency. Secondly, it will enable professionals with expert knowledge in scholarship administration to be brought to bear on the Secretariat to strengthen the institution to deliver on its mission.

I also wish to submit that one of the surest ways of making our institutions stronger as a country is by making sure all manner of patronage is done away with. Decentralised scholarship secretariat and non-partisan experts running the agency is a sure way of reducing any possible cronyism and favouritism.

Mr Speaker, we should have a situation where beneficiaries of Government scholarship are published by the Secretariat in the national dailies, so that all of us may monitor the affairs of the agency. In other words, there should be a proper means and avenue through which the Secretariat gives an account of its stewardship to the people of this country by being more open and collaborative.

It should not be difficult for us to publish who received the award, where the person comes from, why he/she received the award, and the award amount the individual received.

Further, we need to know the quantum of foreign donations and scholarships that come into the country and most importantly, their place of origin and the expected qualifications. This approach, in my view, would help to ensure the independence of the agency as well as build on donor confidence in the affairs of the Secretariat.

It is my fervent hope that this matter would elicit positive contributions which would lead to the restructuring of the Scholarship Secretariat to the benefit of all deserving Ghanaians, irrespective of their ethnic or regional background or ireligious, political, creed or other beliefs.

Thank you Mr Speaker for this Statement.
Mr John Gyetuah (NDC -- Amenfi West) 12:35 p.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague, the Member of Parliament for Nsawam- Adoagyiri.
Indeed, the centralisation of the Scholarships Secretariat in the national capital is a worrying situation but the fact is that we need to know; what is the basis for the centralisation here? We need to be decentralised, so that in the rural settings, they may also enjoy. The fact is, what is the money to decentralise? From January to date, those studying abroad have not even got their living allowances according to the information that I have gathered.
So, what I am saying is that, Hon Members of Parliament, we are very generous and our characteristic generosity is bestowed on all other people as Members of Parliament. We have been contributing to the development of other people. We contribute significantly because we pay other students' school fees every now and then. I would want to make a passionate appeal to all and sundry. I am talking about Members of Parliament who are affluent in life to contribute towards the development of human resource development.
When we contribute and actually provide funding for that particular facility, those who are learning will get the required funding. Looking at the rural setting, most of them are suffering as the man has alluded to. But what I would want to emphasise is, where is the money to decentralise? Even here, those who are enjoying the facility are not getting the money. I will pray that the Government is
involved in a way -- It was established in the years and all governments have come into this particular system, have been actually using the same system. So, we need to contribute and make sure that we have adequate funding for the programme, so that it can be decentralised for the purpose of the benefit of all the rural settings.
Thank you very much for the opportunity.
Mr Henry Quartey (NPP -- Ayawaso Central) 12:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity to support the Statement made by my Hon Colleague. Indeed, Mr Speaker, quoting from the Statement, the Scholarships Secretariat was established in 1960 as an extra- ministerial body under the Office of the President.
Mr Speaker, indeed, it is about time that the Office and its functions were de- politicised, in the sense that just as my Hon Colleague put it, my grandmother, with the greatest respect, is somewhere in the hinterlands and there are brilliant but needy students. But my grandmother cannot access the facility simply because the office is located or situated in Accra. Some of them, once again, might not even have been to Accra before.
So, it is rightly in order for the offices to be decentralised, so that Hon Members of Parliament, District Assemblies, Assembly members, District Education Officers, possibly, representatives from the private institutions will come together to form a body in the various consti- tuencies or the districts, so that they would be able to access, monitor and for that matter, evaluate, to be sure that indeed, there are quite a number of brilliant students in that district.

On ways of funding, I believe that there are a number of institutions in this country -- I do not want to mention names -- what do they do with their corporate social responsibilities? Maybe, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and other relevant bodies can begin to find a way of speaking to these institutions, so that they begin to channel some of their monies into these bodies.

Once they have been established, it becomes a centre, so, some of these institutions can go there and generously donate into the Fund and I believe that with proper administration, these things would be done.

Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you very much.
Minister for Information and Media Relations (Mr Mahama Ayariga) (MP) 12:55 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to identify with some of the concerns expressed in the Statement made by the Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, it is, indeed, true that the Scholarships Secretariat was set up in the 1960s as part of the outfit of the President and it has since remained as part of the outfit of the President. Nevertheless, Mr Speaker, it is important to understand that we have different types of scholarships now. We have the scholarships that are administered by the Scholarships Secretariat and the scholarships administered by them are largely in two or three categories.
One is bilateral scholarships. Those are scholarships that countries offer to the Government of Ghana and when they offer the scholarships, they often have a criterion for the determination of who and who will qualify for the scholarship. So, if they are offering scholarship in the
sciences, they would indicate the eligibility and very often it would be on the website of the Scholarships Secretariat or the country that is offering the scholarship or even the website of the Embassy of the country that is offering the scholarship. And the Scholarships Secretariat is used simply as a tool for screening and determining those who are eligible for onward submission to the country that is actually offering the scholarship.
Sometimes, they offer partial scholarships and ask the Government of Ghana to also provide some additional support, that is, living expenses, et cetera.
rose
Mr Ayariga 12:55 p.m.
That is also decentralised in a way because it is expected that the District Assemblies would pick the forms and then individuals would pick the forms from the Assemblies, fill them and submit them. But very often, the Assemblies do not pick the forms --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:55 p.m.
Hon Agyeman-Manu, is it a point of order?
Mr Agyeman-Manu 12:55 p.m.
Yes, Mr Speaker, it is a point of order.
My Hon Colleague just said that there are Northern Scholarships and all those who are attending schools in the North are eligible. That is not correct. It is only northerners, persons of northern descent, who are eligible. Akans in the North do not access northern scholar-ships.
Mr Agyeman-Manu 12:55 p.m.
Thank you.
Mr Ayariga 12:55 p.m.
Thank you. I take that on board.
And northerners who are also in schools in the South. So, they pick the forms, fill them and submit them, so that the Scholarships Secretariat will pay their fees in the southern schools.
Mr Speaker, there are other scholarships that I would say are decentralised. For instance, now, we have situations where we have instituted the Faculty Development Facility, where the GETFund allocates moneys to the different universities, so that they can award scholarships to lecturers who would go for further studies in specialised areas and return to teach or lecture in those universities.
That I would say is decentralised, in that it is money that would go straight to the university and the university then determines who is eligible to apply and they submit the names for payment by GETFund.
The last category was what we did following the find of oil and the need to develop the human resource base in those sectors. Those were largely administered from the offices of the Administrator of the GETFund.
So, Mr Speaker, those are the different types of scholarships that exist and they are being administered by different agencies and different departments. Beyond them, we also have different Embassies working with different Ministries, departments and agencies, and awarding all sorts of scholarship programmes to people to build their capacity. Those ones are also in a sense decentralised.
So, if you appreciate the whole system of scholarship management in the country, it is partially decentralised, partially centralised and partially run from different agencies, and I think that is a system that we have to live with.
I think the issue of ensuring that there is a mechanism that enables people in rural areas to be able to access it is, indeed, germane, and I think that is something that the Scholarships Secretariat should take on board.
There should be ways of publicising existing scholarships, so that all those who are eligible, would know about their existence and would know about their eligibility criterion and then also there should be transparent ways of determining those who win the scholar- ships or those who end up earning the scholarships based on their performances. And I think if that happens, we would have a more transparent system.
Otherwise, Mr Speaker, I think that the issues, raised by the Hon Member are issues, that in my previous stay as Hon Deputy Minister for Education, we grappled with -- and mechanisms and systems are being developed to ensure that we have a transparent system and that all those who are eligible indeed, have a real opportunity to be able to access the scholarships.
On that note, Mr Speaker, I identify with the issues raised in the Statement and I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to it.
Mr Namoro Sanda Azumah (NPP -- Chereponi) 12:55 p.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to add my voice to the Hon Member who made the Statement.
Mr Speaker, as we talk about the scholarship scheme, let us also remind ourselves about the structure in which the Scholarships Secretariat finds itself today.
We are all told that it was formed in 1960. Mr Speaker, go to the Secretariat today and look at the structure in which they are -- a wooden structure that we inherited from the colonial government. You get there, there is no space, there is no place to receive visitors and that is where the Secretariat finds itself.
rose
Mr N. S. Azumah 12:55 p.m.
If you go to a community and you want to identify --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:55 p.m.
Hon Gyetuah, is it a point of order? Let us hear you --
Mr Gyetuah 12:55 p.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, maybe, I do not know the time that my Hon Colleague went there. As I speak, a contract has been awarded; they are working on it; they are building a new structure there -- [Interruption] - - They have even built up to the first floor. So, maybe, this is not the -- [Interruption] -- It has been awarded, so, he must know that the contract has already been awarded. They are working on it.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:55 p.m.
All right. The point is well taken.
Please, proceed with your contribution.
Mr N. S. Azumah 12:55 p.m.
The point is well taken.
So, what I am saying is, Mr Speaker, let us find a suitable place for the Secretariat to befit its status.
Secondly, Mr Speaker, I am very happy --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:55 p.m.
Hon Member, this is exactly why he is drawing your attention to the fact that a suitable
place has been found, construction work is in progress. So, let us not belabour that point.
Mr N. S. Azumah 1:05 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am very happy one of my Hon Colleagues mentioned the northern scheme, which is also under the same Secretariat. That scheme is for people of descent, who attend secondary education in the South; they qualify for this scholarship.
But Mr Speaker, somebody from Chereponi, Yendi, from Paga, who finds himself, maybe, somewhere in the Volta Region, somewhere in Takoradi or any other part of the southern sector attending secondary education wants scholarship and wants the form, to get the form to fill to enable him or her get the scholarship, how is he going to get the form?
Mr Joe Gidisu 1:05 p.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, as Hon Members of this House, we should be looking at issues in a very broad perspective. My Hon Colleague is putting himself in a straitjacket, that it was only when he was a DCE that he could have access to the Scholarships Secretariat. He is talking about students from his constituency -- for example, in a southern school who may find it difficult to get the forms.
The point I am making is that, now that he is even closer to the Scholarship Secretariat and in link with his constituency, he is better disposed towards assisting to get the forms than when even he was cornered in Chereponi as the DCE.
Mr N. S. Azumah 1:05 p.m.
What I am saying is that when I was the DCE, I used to pick the forms. Today, I am here, I still pick the forms. But there are others who may not know this; there are students from the North who are attending southern schools; maybe, the person is in the Brong Ahafo Region and may not know where to get the form. That is the issue I am talking about.
The other point is, we are talking about decentralisation. Yes, I think that if we are able to decentralise, these forms may be available in all the districts, even on the internet for those who qualify to get access to them to fill and submit. But the critical issue is, even after submitting these forms, how many of these students are picked in a year? Those who are even picked, they complete the first year, second year, even sometimes it is in the third year that their names appear that they have been picked.
Mr Ayariga 1:05 p.m.
On a point of order.
Once you apply and then you are processed, the Scholarships Secretariat pays directly to the school and so, for the whole duration of your stay in school, until there is an indication to them that you have left that school to a different school. So, I do not really appreciate the issue that he is raising.
There is an initial administrative problem of getting Scholarships Secretariat to write to the school that you are under the Scholarships Secretariat and that they would be paying for the fees. But often because you have one student, two students, a few from the North in a school of just say, one person, they have difficulties of administratively always checking with the Scholarships Secretariat for the payments.
So, it is up to the parents of the child to stay in touch with the administration to ensure that the administration regularly checks to ensure that their money is paid from the Scholarships Secretariat. As you all know, sometimes there are delays in paying those moneys; those are true. But the Scholarships Secretariat always pays and so I think that the Hon Member should take on board the fact.
Mr N. S. Azumah 1:05 p.m.
I appreciate what the Hon Member is saying. But the question is, how many of the students are picked in a year? Many, many people apply and they are not picked. That is the critical issue.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:05 p.m.
One more contributor from the Majority side.
Mr Mathias A. Puozaa (NDC -- Daffiama/Bussie/Issa) 1:05 p.m.
Mr Speaker, before I make my own statement, I would like to point out that parents who apply for funding, support to their children, even when they complete the school, they are re-imbursed with whatever is supposed be paid. As long as Scholarships Secretariat picks up the bill, when they agree that they are going to do it, they do it even when the children are out of school. There is enough evidence to support that.
I would also want to add, Mr Speaker, that the Scholarships Secretariat was centralised in the early 1960s, simply because the founder of this country, Dr Kwame Nkrumah had the belief in the

development of human resources and that was why he really decided to centralise it, so that the Government would know what they want at any particular time.
Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:05 p.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, respectfully, we know this country has founding fathers. But the Hon Member says the founding father; we have had fathers. People began the independence struggle way back in the 1800s and others were invited to join and become secretaries. Eventually, politics favoured them to lead to give us the final independence. But that does not suggest there are founding fathers of this country, Mr Speaker.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:05 p.m.
Yes, Hon Member, please, proceed.
Mr Puozaa 1:05 p.m.
Today, society has become so diverse and the needs of the country equally so. And as a matter of fact, there are many donors who really select certain areas in which they want to support Ghanaian students. So, for instance, the Nordic countries, we know very well that they do support students who want to do human resource development, who want to do administration, management and other courses.
We know that Australia and other countries -- and Russia choose to support science students and others. So, different countries really support areas
that they are more delighted in. I do agree with the Hon Member who made the Statement, that it is important to have more or less centralised departments, from where we know that these are the scholarships available for these countries. At the moment, it is true that if you do not come to Accra, if you are not even familiar with the Scholarships Secretariat, you would never know what is available.
So, for that purpose, I do agree with him that, at least, we need more visibility elsewhere, so that you can know that in this period, these scholarships are available for disbursement.
In fact, getting back to the northern scholarships again, it is open to all people who are of northern descent. Again, immediately you apply, any time that it is available or it matures, they definitely pay the institutions that have trained the child.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:05 p.m.
One last contributor.
Mr Alexander K. Afenyo-Markin (NPP -- Effutu) 1:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this Statement.
Mr Speaker, at the beginning of this year, we approved the budget for the financial year and that included the amount allocated for the Scholarships Secretariat Office in London. The amount was almost GH¢3 million.
Mr Speaker, I make a submission on a point of relevance, whether or not there is still the need for a Scholarships Secretariat Office in London. We know Ghanaians are all over in Europe, in the United States of America, in many African countries on scholarship and we have Ghanaian Missions there. So, why do we

still have to maintain a Scholarships Secretariat Office in London when we are complaining that we do not have much in the coffers?

So, it is a matter that I would urge the Government and for that matter, the Ministry of Education to have a second look at what the Scholarships Secretariat in London has been doing, at least, for the past five years. And if they assess and do not see any relevance, then it is important that it ought to be merged with the Ghana Mission, so that officials at the Ghana Mission would monitor the activities of these our students and report to the Secretariat in Ghana.

I think that point ought to be noted and the necessary things done.
Mr Mahama Ayariga 1:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, just to help the Hon Member, there is no Scholarships Secretariat in London. In the countries where we have huge numbers, large numbers of students on scholarship, there is one person from the Ministry of Education who is at the High Commission, who attends to the needs of the students. London, for instance, we have so many of our students going there, so we often have one person there.
Beyond London, we hardly have personnel from the Ministry of Education, who is taking care of the students' needs in terms of ensuring that their moneys are sent, their fees are paid and if they have issues, there is somebody who is able to approach the university and then handle those issues. It is not a secretariat. It is just one person who is there.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:15 p.m.
Yes, go ahead with your contribution.
Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, with respect to the contribution made by the Hon Member, I believe that we were all in this House when the budget was brought. There was a separate allocation for the Scholarships Secretariat Office in London and I raised it when I was contributing to the debate, asking, do we still need that office?
So, if that person is from the Ministry of Education, is an attaché, what we know on record is that there is an office that has almost GH¢3 million allocation for the year, paying salary, administration and other things. So, I would want him to know that and maybe, check the records.
Mr J. K. Gidisu 1:15 p.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, we should be speaking on matters of relevance in this House. The Hon Colleague is saying that he heard GETFund sponsoring programmes of that type. The GETFund is guided by the urgent requirements of manpower training for this country and if he has got the facts, he should not be alluding wrongly to a situation which is not the reality.
I would want to challenge him on the assertion that GETFund has awarded scholarships for people going to read History at the Master's level or any other programme. He should come again.
Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, my submission is that GETFund has been awarding scholarships to students on courses that can be offered in Ghana --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:15 p.m.
Hon Member, do you have your records? I know that one prerequisite is that the programme you are going to undertake outside Ghana should not be available here in Ghana.
Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful.
Dr Ahmed Y. Alhassan 1:15 p.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member should make up his mind and not confuse the rest of us. Is he talking about relevance of the courses or capacity in the country to train people in the same courses? That is very important. In any case, who says history is not important? There are medical schools in this country training doctors, yet we send people abroad to train as doctors because the manpower requirements are larger than our capacity can carry.
So, there is absolutely nothing wrong with somebody studying human rights. Maybe, a certain dimension of human rights training is not available in this country. When I was going to do my PhD, I asked for a supervisor in Holland and I was written to, that the programme I wanted to do, they could not give me a Professor to supervise me. That did not mean that the programme was not relevant. He should make up his mind and let us know and not confuse the rest of us.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:15 p.m.
Hon Members, I think we should come to the end of this debate about the relevance issue.
Can you proceed?
Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I will move on by ignoring the attempt by the Hon Member to confuse me and the rest of the Hon Members of this august House.
I am saying that GETFund, and for that matter, the Scholarships Secretariat, if they want to award scholarships, fine, they can go ahead. However, they have to make sure that such courses cannot be offered in Ghana. At least, on record, we know that some of the courses that we are spending the taxpayer's money on are courses that can be studied right here. That is my submission.
Again, it has been submitted that there are some bilateral scholarships for which
-- 1:15 p.m.

Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:15 p.m.
Hon Member, can you begin to wind-up?
Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am winding up on this.
Mr Speaker, on bilateral scholarships, where the scholarship is partial and Ghana Government cannot afford, is it not important that certain facilities are put in place for such training to be done here, so that people will not go there struggling for several months without receiving their accommodation allowances and tuition and other spending allowances?
It is important that we look at it, so that if indeed, there is the need for people to be trained abroad, they would be trained and they will come back with such training to benefit mother Ghana.
I am grateful, Mr Speaker, for that opportunity.
Mr Agbesi 1:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I would want to seek your permission and the indulgence of the House to allow the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance lay the Paper item 4 (a). The Hon Minister is currently at a crucial meeting.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I think that nobody would have anything against this proposal.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:25 p.m.
Item 4 (a) on the Order Paper?
PAPERS 1:25 p.m.

Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:25 p.m.
Hon Members, I further direct that in the course of its deliberations, the Leader- ship of the Committee on Mines and Energy as well as the leadership of the Public Accounts Committee should get on board. When I talk about leadership, I am talking about the Chairmen, Vice Chairmen, the Ranking Members and the Deputy Ranking Members.
We move on to item 4 (b)?
Mr Agbesi 1:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, here again, the Hon Minister for Government Business in Parliament --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:25 p.m.
Please, hold on.
Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu 1:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I was thinking that this Paper that was just presented would rather have been referred to the Public Accounts Committee instead of the Finance Committee and then the leadership of the Committee on Mines and Energy and Finance Committee would rather join the Public Accounts Committee for its examination.
Mr Speaker, the reason for suggesting this is the fact that, this Report is an accountability Report and I believe that the Standing Orders of the House entrust all accountability issues to the Public Accounts Committee.
If you look at the functions of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee, Mr Speaker, it is more of auditing than projections and forecasting of what should be done with oil revenues. We are rather looking at a post-event activity that the Committee has actually played and I believe it should actually come into the domain of the Public Accounts Committee.
Mr Speaker, for the interest of the House, the last two Reports, the 2011 Report and the 2012 Report, were actually presented by the PAC itself to the Public Accounts Committee in breakfast meetings. Just last week, we met with the Public Interest and Accountability Committee to receive this Report.
They explained to the Public Accounts Committee everything, and they are looking forward to seeing us seek to examine the Report, so that we would invite them to join us to put this thing into the public domain.
I would plead with Mr Speaker, that you consider this request and rather make the referral to the Public Accounts Committee and the leadership of other committees would rather join with us to discuss it.
Mr Agbesi 1:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, this is mana- gement of petroleum revenue. In my view, you have made the proper referral to the Finance Committee and the leadership of the Public Accounts Committee and the Committee on Mines and Energy to partner to bring a report. I think that is proper and you should maintain that order.
Prof. George Y. Gyan-Baffour 1:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, since this is the initial stages of this process, we may have to rethink it closely. In fact, this Report should not even have come from the Hon Minister for Finance. It should have come from the Committee itself, directly, because this is about the action of the Hon Minister for Finance.
The Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) is part of this thing. All the revenues that actually came through the oil revenue is actually something that this organisation oversees and the Hon Minister for Finance is, in fact, one of the beneficiaries or the one who really allocates these resources.
So, if it is coming through him, it is just like a player who is also the same as the referee and, probably, we should look at that one carefully. In fact, even the law does not say that it should come through the Hon Minister for Finance. The law says the Board should bring this Report to Parliament. So, that is number one.
Mr Speaker, number two, when you look at the law, it says that one of the main objects of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee is to provide
space and platforms for the public to debate whether spending prospects and management and use of revenues conform to development priorities as provided under section 21 (3), and more importantly, to provide independent assessment on the management and use of the petroleum revenue to assist Parliament and the Executive in the oversight and performance of related functions.
So, it is actually more of a post-action evaluation. A post-action evaluation is, indeed, synonymous with audit. All that we did not do is that the law did not say “audit”. But if you are doing a post-action evaluation or something, by definition, it is auditing the process. So, I think we should look at it.
Maybe, if the law is ambiguous about the whole issue, we should look at the process ourselves as a Parliament, to ensure that we do the right thing. This is because we cannot bring the Hon Minister for Finance who spends the money in here to defend what he has spent, when Parliament is Sitting.
I think we should allow the Board to bring it directly to Parliament just as the Auditor-General brings to the House the moneys that the Hon Minister for Finance has spent from the Consolidated Fund and then the Public Accounts Committee looks at the Report.
Mr Agbesi 1:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, is he trying to say that the Finance Committee is synonymous with the Minister for Finance? The issue is that the Finance Committee takes care of the finance that come from that Ministry, and that is the reason Mr Speaker has directed that the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and the Chairman of the Committee on Mines and Energy should partner the Finance Committee to look at the management of that revenue and for
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I think we are just beginning on this journey, and we should fashion out a scheme for the House which would safeguard the interest of Ghanaians. So, when I listen to my Hon Colleague, the Chairman for the Public Accounts Committee, I think he was getting persuaded by his argument.
But the issue to raise at this time, is whether what we have before us is an audited statement. This is because the remit of the Public Accounts Committee, by our Standing Orders, and I beg to quote Order 165 (2). which states:
“The Public Accounts Committee shall be assigned the examination of the audited accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by Parliament to meet the public expenditure of the Government and of such other accounts laid before Parliament.”
Mr Speaker, that “such other accounts”, in my view, relates to such other audited accounts. So, that is where I am not too sure of. I think if we go on to that path, and if we are aware of the fact that the audited version of this account would still come to Parliament, if, indeed, that is true, then the referral ought not to go to the Public Accounts Committee. If the audited accounts on this would be coming subsequently, then the Public Accounts Committee would hold themselves in readiness to receive that statement.
So for now, I would want to believe that what is being done will be the right approach, subject to the fact that subsequently, the audited accounts of
what we are considering now will come to the Public Accounts Committee or will come to be laid in Parliament. If it comes to be laid, then the obvious destination will be the Public Accounts Committee.
Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
Thank you very much.
I think that settles it. So, as directed, we move in that direction.
Item 4 (b) -- the Minister for Government Business in Parliament.
Mr Agbesi 1:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Government Business in Parliament is out of the jurisdiction and now, I will seek your permission and the indulgence of the House for the Hon Minister for Information and Media Relations to lay the Paper on his behalf.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, item 4 (b), he was seeking permission and asking who to do it?
Mr Agbesi 1:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Information and Media Relations.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, there is no problem. But as we keep saying, in the “Rawlingsonian” era, we had the Majority Leader being a Minister of State. The Deputy Leader who was the former Hon Member of Parliament for Wa Central, Hon M. A. Seidu -- He was a Minister, so that in these events, if the Leader is not available, the Hon Deputy Leader does not have to look behind his shoulders; he can do so on behalf of Government.
Mr Speaker, it is very important, so that in the absence of the Hon Majority Leader, Government Business will be transacted and it will have smooth passage in the House. He does not have to look over his shoulders because assuming the Hon Minister or the Hon Deputy Minister
were not here -- And with all seriousness, a Deputy Minister is not higher than the Deputy Leader. A Deputy Minister cannot be higher than the Deputy Leader of this House. So, he should himself have that capacity to champion the Business of Government.
But in the absence of that activity, I would not have anything against the Hon Minister laying the document on behalf of the Majority Leader.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
Thank you very much.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, please, get the Minister for Information and Media Relations to act on behalf of the Majority Leader.
Mr Agbesi 1:35 p.m.
So, the permission has been granted with the indulgence of my Hon Colleague.
By the Minister for Information and Media Relations (on behalf of the Minister for Government Business in Parliament) --
Annual Report on the activities of the Ghana Audit Service for the years ended 31st December, 2010 and
2011.
Referred to the Special Budget Committee.
Mr Alfred K. Agbesi 1:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, having regard to the time and the work of the House, I beg to move, that this House do adjourn till tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
Prof. Gyan-Baffour 1:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am not so sure what this report is. Is it an audited report?
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
It is covering activities of the Ghana Audit Service.
Prof Gyan-Baffour 1:35 p.m.
And what report is that? Is it their annual report? This is the first time that I have heard that it is being referred to the Special Budget Committee. That is why I am wondering.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:35 p.m.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader, the Motion has been tabled for adjournment.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 1:35 p.m.