Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
I would like to speak to some of the issues that were raised in the Report, especially with regard to the enhance- ment of the powers of the ECOWAS Parliament.
Mr Speaker, when we say that the ECOWAS Parliament would now be involved in co-decision-making with the ECOWAS Council, in a way, it gives greater legitimacy to the decisions that would be taken by the heads of Government. But it is important that when our representatives are speaking to those issues on which matters of co-decisions are taking place, there must be a way.
That goes back to the issue of consultation, of understanding the sense of Ghana as a country, before we go ahead to make those specific interventions. And if I may elaborate a bit.
Where you have a situation where you are now going to take decisions on matters affecting the budget of ECOWAS, and ultimately, are going to take decisions that are going to affect the expenditure within your national member States, it is important that we are very clear that these are things that we can go along with before we have additional financial burdens imposed upon us.
This is because, you see Mr Speaker, the ECOWAS Parliament and the organs of ECOWAS are funded by the contributions of the member States.
When you look at the example of the European Parliament, it is not necessarily the case that all member States have the same level of contribution.
It is also not necessarily the case that all member States, necessarily, are in a position to be able to contribute in the same way. And therefore, when we are talking about the financial obligations of the Republic of Ghana vis-à-vis decisions made by this co-decision body, it is important that safeguard measures are put in place to ensure that our national interest is adequately addressed.
Therefore, the consultation mechanism must be established, so that we are sure that whatever it is that is decided on, indeed, is reflective of the opinion of the country as a whole.
Mr Speaker, I would also like to go on to the issue of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme. This is because it is referred to -- free movement, the right of residence and the r ight of establishment. This, indeed, has been a thorny issue over the last couple of years and I am quite confident that as we discuss our new GIPC Bill, it is an issue that would be raised.
Mr Speaker, when we go through the process of reviewing the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Bill, I think it is important for us to make the distinction between ECOWAS citizens and non- ECOWAS citizens. This is because if we have agreed and signed onto particular protocols as ECOWAS, then necessarily, that must be reflected in our municipal law once those legislations are passed.
But having said that, it is also important for our Colleagues within the ECOWAS community to recognise that the fact that the ECOWAS protocols that we have
acceded to confer the Right of Establishment -- the Right of Establishment in itself, also comes with certain responsibilities.
Specifically, Mr Speaker, the Protocol says that if you want to establish as an ECOWAS citizen within an ECOWAS member State, you should be treated as a citizen. But being treated as a citizen means, you must comply with the requirements a citizen is expected to comply with. That is, if a citizen is expected to formally register a business, you are expected to formally register a business.
If a citizen is expected to register with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and make your contribution by way of the payment of income tax, corporate tax and also charge Value Added Tax (VAT) on whatever services or goods you are providing, you must do same.
But it does not take away the responsibility of an ECOWAS citizen who wants to establish in a member State, to go ahead and also get a resident permit to legally reside in a member State. And it is not automatically as of right, because you must demonstrate that all of these other conditions have been fulfilled before you are able to benefit from that right.
I think that if this position was adequately clarified by our Hon Members representing us in the ECOWAS Parliament, we would have less stress with foreigners who have come to establish from ECOWAS countries, in our country.
I would like to suggest that the next time when they have the opportunity to engage on this matter, they do continue to emphasise the point, that it is not an automatic right that goes without its responsibilities, and we need to ensure that our Hon Members would do so.