Debates of 5 Mar 2014

MR SPEAKER
PRAYERS 10:50 a.m.

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT 10:50 a.m.

Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Members, Correction of the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 4th March, 2014.
Mr Kwabena O. Darko-Mensah 10:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, page 6, number 32 I was present but I have been marked absent.
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Very well.

Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 4th March, 2014 as corrected be adopted as the true record of proceedings.

Hon Members, I have admitted one Statement. The Statement stands in the name of the Hon Member for Offinso North.
STATEMENTS 10:50 a.m.

Mr Augustine C. Ntim (NPP -- Offinso North) 10:50 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on the menace of glaucoma.
PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES 1:35 p.m.

OFFICIAL REPORT 1:35 p.m.

CONTENTS 1:35 p.m.

STATEMENTS -- 1:35 p.m.

MOTIONS -- 1:35 p.m.

THE 1:35 p.m.

PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC 1:35 p.m.

OF GHANA 1:35 p.m.

MR SPEAKER
PRAYERS 10:50 a.m.

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT 10:50 a.m.

Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Members, Correction of the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 4th March, 2014.
Mr Kwabena O. Darko-Mensah 10:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, page 6, number 32 I was present but I have been marked absent.
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Very well.

Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 4th March, 2014 as corrected be adopted as the true record of proceedings.

Hon Members, I have admitted one Statement. The Statement stands in the name of the Hon Member for Offinso North.
STATEMENTS 10:50 a.m.

Mr Augustine C. Ntim (NPP -- Offinso North) 10:50 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on the menace of glaucoma.
Mr Speaker, the most important risk factors include 10:50 a.m.
age, elevated eye pressure, African ancestry, thin cornea, family history of glaucoma and steroid use.
According to a recent study by researchers at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Centre, individuals with diabetes and hypertension may also have an increased risk of developing open- angle glaucoma. Worldwide statistics reveal a horrendous trend of the disease. Experts say 6.5 million are currently suffering from glaucoma; of this number; 2.5 million are women.
WHO estimates that 4.5 million people were blind as a result of glaucoma and that, that figure would rise to 11.2 million by the year 2020. Mr Speaker, Ghana is highly infected with the disease. From a literature attributed to Dr Oscar Debrah of the Eye Care Unit of the Ghana Health Service, about 600,000 Ghanaians have glaucoma. Out of this, 30,000 have gone blind.
In Ghana, the prevalence rate of the disease among people above 40 years was 8.5 per cent and those above 30 years, 7.7 per cent.
Mr Speaker, I would like to use this opportunity to thank the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP), Obis International and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints specifically, solace city in Utah for putting up a state-of-the-art eye centre at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, at the cost of four million Ghana cedis.
The barrier to receiving proper eye care is enormous, therefore, there is the need for continuous collaborative effort on the part of all stakeholders to help curtail the spread of glaucoma.
Mr Speaker, problems like access route to healthcare, shortage of ophthalmologists
Mr Ben A. Banda (NPP -- Offinso South) 11 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to associate myself with the Statement ably made by my neighbour, the Hon Member of Parliament (MP) for Offinso North (Mr Augustine C Ntim).
Mr Speaker, glaucoma has been called the “silent thief of sight”. That is the other name for glaucoma. That is because the
loss of vision often occurs gradually over a long period of time and symptoms only occur when the disease is quite advanced.
Mr Speaker, it is also true that once the vision is lost, it cannot be recovered. Early treatment is therefore important.
Mr Speaker, it is estimated that glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans. It affects one in every 200 people aged 50 and younger and one in 10 over the age of 80. Mr Speaker, because most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms, it is important to see an eye doctor regularly so that it can be diagnosed and treated.
Mr Speaker, it is recommended that, if one is 40 years old and one has a family history of glaucoma, it is advisable to see an eye doctor, so that the eye doctor can have a complete examination of one's eye. It is recommended that, one in every two years, one should see an eye doctor.
Mr Speaker, it is also proven that, if one has health problems such as diabetes, as my Friend rightly pointed out, or a family history of glaucoma as I have already stated, or one is at risk in the other eye, then it is recommended that one seeks medical examination through an eye doctor.
Mr Speaker, in Australia, for instance, it is estimated that one in every 10 Australians aged 80 would develop glaucoma. Mr Speaker, I would entreat the Government of Ghana, because as it is estimated, Ghana is the second leading country in glaucoma. I would entreat the Government of Ghana to take bold steps to deal with this health issue so that many of us are not infected with the menace.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to also make this contribution.
Nii Amasah Namoale (NDC -- Dade Kotopon): Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Statement on the floor and to say that,
the statistics given to us by the Hon Member who made the Statement is very frightening, that 600,000 Ghanaians suffer from glaucoma and then 30,000 of them had gone blind already.
Mr Speaker, we know that from medical sources, there are no known ways of preventing glaucoma. But we have been told that before age 40, one has to check, one should have medical examination to see whether one is developing glaucoma. That before age 40, every two to four years, one has to see the doctor to check. From age 40 to 54, every one to three years, one has to check. From age 55 to 64, every one to two years, one has to see one's doctor.
Mr Speaker, last but not the least, after age 65, every six to twelve months, one has to see the doctor. It would be very painful that, even though one cannot prevent it, once one checks with the doctor, one would know whether one is developing the sickness and then the doctor can do something about it. It is very painful to be blind when one knows that when one sees a doctor, it can be prevented.
Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
Last comment.
Dr Matthew O. Prempeh (NPP -- Manhyia South) 11 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to associate myself with the Statement and comments made by Hon Members of this House.
Mr Speaker, the issue of glaucoma, as my Hon Colleagues have just said, and its etiology with factors like diabetes and hypertension, is a more serious problem than even what is being said here now.
Mr Speaker, the number one killer in Ghana now are the non-communicable diseases 11 a.m.
stroke, diabetes, hypertension and lifestyle diseases. So, the tip of the iceberg is what they are talking about as 600,000, based upon estimates. Every Hon Member should make it a point that in their community, they can organise basic eye screening tests for people.
I personally have a family history of glaucoma, and since I turned 40 years a few years back, Mr Speaker, I have been having regular check ups. When I cannot even watch my television or I watch my TV and finds fuzziness there, I would want to call an eye specialist.
Mr Speaker, you can lose a limb and live happily, but you cannot lose your sight and enjoy the world again.
So, Hon Members should make it a point to organise glaucoma screening and eye screening tests in the neighbourhood so that more Ghanaians can know about the disease and get early treatment for a better lifestyle.
Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon Members, that brings us to the end of Statements.
At the commencement of Public Business.
Hon Majority Leader?
Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor 11:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, if we could take item number 4.
Mr Speaker 11:10 p.m.
Do you intend taking item number 5, the Anti-Money Laun- dering (Amendment) Bill, 2013?
The Chairman of the Committee is in the House. Are you taking part of the Bill today, so that we know how to schedule the time? Hon Majority Leader, are we going to share the time between the Motion and the Bill? This Bill has been on the Order Paper for a long time at the Consideration Stage.
Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin 11:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I recall that, the last time we discussed the Bill at the Consideration Stage, it was decided that we should take it next week but because of the absence of the sponsors, that is, the Attorney-General's Department-- I am ready, but we do not have the full compliment of the team so we could take it next week.
MOTIONS 11:10 p.m.

Dr Ahmed Y. Alhassan (NDC -- Mion) 11:10 p.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion in this Honourable House thanking His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana for the Message on the State of the Nation which was delivered to Parliament on Tuesday 25th February, 2014. The Motion was ably moved by the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry and Member of Parliament for Tamale South, Hon Haruna Iddrisu.
Mr Speaker, I would like to start by remarking that I have witnessed many messages on the State of the Nation and I think this particular one by His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama was a master piece. It was very eloquently presented by a very humble President and a very good message that was sent, that constituted the content was that, it was not too political.
It was very analytical and at the end of it all, he called on Ghanaians to unite behind his programmes. This is because he was ready to take the tough decisions so that this country can move forward.
Mr Speaker, I do hear many complaints that the President said a lot of things delivered in two hours, 11 minutes by my watch, but many still complain that the
State of the Nation Address did not contain certain subjects that, they wished were present. Let me say that governance is continuous with a lot of nuts and the State of the Nation Address should not be seen in isolation. Sometimes, towards the tail end of the year, the Hon Minister for Finance presented the Budget Statement and I do know that cocoa alone took 12 paragraphs within the Budget statement. I believe whole Ministries did not even enjoy that honour and that budget statement was caused to be presented to Parliament by His Excellency the President of the Republic.
Dr Owusu A. Akoto 11:10 p.m.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, we are discussing the State of the Nation not the budget of this country. So, if my Hon Colleague is referring to something outside the State of the Nation, then I think he is backing the wrong horse.
Thank you.
Dr Alhassan 11:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I think I have the right to draw inspiration from any document, and the budget statement is a key document in governance in this country, constitutionally supported. I think my Hon Friend will save himself. Yesterday, when he was delivering his, I kept quiet and listened to him. So, he should please listen to me. Let me say that --
Mr Speaker 11:10 p.m.
Hon Member, that is my responsibility.
Dr Alhassan 11:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, that is my responsibility. Let me say that, there has been a lot of complaints since 2011 when we hit the one million-tonne mark in production of cocoa, and the complaint is that there has been a drop, therefore, the sector is suffering. I would like to say that, it is good to compare averages over
long periods of time, and if your average figures are rising then you are making progress in the sector. But year to year variation is normal in every biological system . This is because, each year has its own elements that guide output at the end of the year.
So, Mr Speaker, even the complaint of the over 800,000 tonnes for 2012, that it constitutes a drop, is still the highest production next to the one million tonnes. In order words, since records began in this country, the crop for 2012 is the highest, except in 2011.
I think the people who are governing our cocoa sector should be commended for bringing us to that level. There is still a lot of work to be done. Mr Speaker, let me say that, the agricultural sector is growing and it is making a lot of progress contrary to the skeptics who think otherwise. The food balance sheet for this country for crops is positive. This is because of the six food security crops that we have in this country.
Dr Akoto 11:10 p.m.
On a point of order.
Dr Alhassan 11:20 a.m.
I know that my very good friend has a lot of affinity for figures. Let me tell him that, this country needs to feed its citizens with 662,000 metric tonnes of r ice annually and this country produced 407,000 metric tonnes of rice last year, in 2013. He could work out the percentage and tell me.
Mr Speaker, as I said early, agriculture is making a lot of progress. This country is relatively food-secured and a logical target by His Excellency the President of the Republic is for us to become self - sufficient.
The second point is for us to be able to convert our surpluses into industrial goods, so that employment could be created. So we can export such conversions and earn foreign currency for this country. What the President is saying is that, as President; he is doing all his best; he is mobilising all the resources and the citizens must support that bit so that we can all move forward as a nation.
Mr Speaker, the only way to do so is to have the necessary infrastructure put in place to sustain current production levels and even multiply the production levels.
I would like to use one region as an example, Mr Speaker.
In the last three years, rice production in the Volta Region had doubled from around 79,000 metric tonnes to around 160,000 metric tonnes. The secret is irrigation.
Mr Speaker therefore, I would like to state critically, that, citizens of this country
Dr Alhassan 11:20 a.m.


should back His Excellency the President's programme on irrigation by investing their money in irrigation facilities so that we can produce more to feed the citizens of this country.
Mr Kwabena Darko-Mensah 11:20 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I would like to know the source of the Hon Minister's quotation about the Volta Region.
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Member, what is your source?
Dr Alhassan 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I have the facts and figures of Agriculture in Ghana here. I am also privy to the provisional figures of the 2013 crop which they do not have and I can produce it for them later.
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Deputy Minister, what is the title of your source?
Dr Alhassan 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, “Agriculture in Ghana, Facts and Figures”.
.
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
From where? Produced
by --
Dr Alhassan 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, it is produced by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ghana Statistical Service.
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Member for Takoradi, you have asked for the source, he has given you the source. Fortunately for you, you have not yet contributed. So you go and cross check. The debate is still going on.
Hon Members, let us make progress, please.
Hon Member, you have one minute more.
Dr Alhassan 11:20 a.m.
Oh! Mr Speaker, in spite of the heckling?
Mr Speaker, to run through, fish production in this country has gone up 16 times from 1,607 metric tonnes in 2005 to 27,451 in 2012.
Mr Speaker, domestic meat production has gone up one and half -times since 2003, from 76,918 to 127,038. Mr Speaker, all these things are happening because there is a good government mobilising the citizens of this country behind its programmes to deliver the goals.
Mr Speaker, let me just say that --
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Wind up.
Dr Ahmed Alhassan 11:20 a.m.
Yes, I am winding up, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Conclude.
Dr Ahmed Alhassan 11:20 a.m.
My conclusion is that, Mr Speaker, the only occasion that Agriculture grew by 1.7 per cent in this country in the last ten years was in 2007.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah (NPP -- New Juaben South) 11:20 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor of the House.
Mr Speaker, when the President was here to deliver his State of the Nation Address, at a certain point in time, I guess he was frustrated because he yelled at us to keep quiet and listen. This was because he was offering a lesson in Economics.
Mr Mahama Ayariga 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I think that the Hon member should be made to withdraw the statement that “the President was frustrated”.
Mr Speaker, there is no indication that the President was frustrated. [Interruption.] The President was not frustrated. So, he cannot say that the President was frustrated.
Mr Speaker, I think the Hon Member should withdraw the Statement that “the President was frustrated”. The President was not frustrated. [Interruption.] The President was an Hon Member of this House for 12 years, so he understands the culture of this House. Ordinary heckling is not a matter that is difficult for His Excellency the President. So, Mr Speaker, he should humbly withdraw and make progress with what might seem a very useful contribution to the debate.
Mr Dan Botwe 11:20 a.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, I think it is very important that we allow the debate to continue smoothly, so that we can really make very good use of the time and Ghanaians would get the import of the debate.
Mr Speaker, to say that the President got frustrated is to say that the President is a human being, he gets hungry, angry, thirsty. Even the Almighty God gets frustrated with the behaviour of his disciples. So, why can a President not be frustrated if, in his opinion, he thinks that the hecklings and the murmurings in the House got the President frustrated, what is offensive about this? The President is
-- 11:20 a.m.

Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Members, the point of order is to the effect whether the use of expression, that somebody is frustrated, is parliamentary or unparliamentary. That is the point of order the Hon Minister has raised. In order for me to make a determination; that was why I called you.
Dr Kunbuor 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, actually, to assist you decide on this matter, one way or the other-- it can be parliamentary or un-parliamentary. This is because you must be frustrated by someone or something.
In his statement, he said the President is frustrated by who or what? So that if we know what frustrated the President, then it becomes factual now for the Hon Minister to indicate that now, regardless of what was said, the President was not frustrated.
That would assist Mr Speaker in this matter.
Mr Bagbin 11:20 a.m.
Well, Mr Speaker, I agree with what the Hon Majority Leader has stated, but I would also add that it is just a matter of opinion. He was just observing His Excellency the President and he saw that oh, there was some frustration in him. What led to that frustration, we have not been told. But that is his opinion.
The Hon Leader says he should have laid a foundation. He did not lay the foundation and just made a blanket statement which he should have done. That is his observation and opinion but we should ask for that foundation.
Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Members, I think that is entirely the opinion of the Hon Member and he is entitled to his opinion. Then; we should allow him to tell us what frustrated him.
Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the better and further particulars of the President's frustration could be found in column 889 and with your permission, I beg to quote:
“Order, Order! Tweea, mo nnyē din! Keep quiet and listen, it is a lesson in economics.”
Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:20 a.m.


Mr Speaker, in his Address, the President stated that, the economic fundamentals are sound and mid-term prospects are bright. The economic fundamentals in the country are not sound, neither are mid-term prospects bright.

The Government itself in its 2013 Budget Statement projected a GDP of 8 per cent. When the 2014 Budget was presented, the Minister estimated that they would achieve 7.4 per cent. As we speak —
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Member, are you upon a point of order?
Mr Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, that is so. My very good Friend in trying to justify his opinion of the President's frustration, cited a few words which came from the President. Those are not words that indicate frustration. [Interruption.] No, those are not. [Interruption.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Can we have some order? Can we please have some order?
Hon Member, are you through with your point of order?
Mr Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, that is so. I was expecting him to have referred to areas that show some indication of the President's uneasiness about some things that were happening. But just to state that — [Interruption.](Quiet, quiet!) [Interruption.] Listen! Tweeeeaaa! do not show frustration.
He is simply observing what is happening in the House and he is telling Hon Members to keep the peace so that they could hear what he was saying. If that is his point of referral to say that, the President was frustrated, I think that he is out of order.
Mr Botwe 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, just before Mr Speaker left the Chair, he gave a ruling and the ruling was that, it was a matter of opinion. So, I think we should allow our Colleague to follow up.
Mr Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, he stated that, he should provide better and further particulars of the frustration and that is why he cited that; but in citing that, I am saying, that is not further and better particulars of frustration; that is all the issue.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Very well. Hon Members, we could go on and on and it would be unending. Let us make some progress.
Hon Dr Assibey-Yeboah, can you proceed with your presentation?
Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I was on the point that, the President alluded to the fact that, the economic fundamentals are sound and mid-term prospects are bright. GDP growth is declining, inflation is inching up, 91-Day Treasury Bills hovers around 21/22 per cent. Are these sound economic fundamentals?
Some Hon Members 11:30 a.m.
No! No! It can't be.
Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, his second lesson was to tell the Ghanaian people that, the turbulence in the economy is temporary. The turbulence in the economy that we experience now is persistent, this is not temporary. We had a budget deficit of 11.8 per cent in 2012. In 2013, it was 10.9 per cent.
From all indications, the fiscal gap for 2014 would still be in double digits and you tell the Ghanaian people this turbulence is temporary? The IMF projects that our economy will grow at 4.8 per cent in 2014. “Se woantōnwo yare a --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Member, you have one more minute to go.
Some Hon Members 11:30 a.m.
No! No! No way, no way. [Interruption.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Order! Order! Hon Members, order! Hon Members, can we have some order! [Interruptions.] Hon Members, you are all well advised to as much as possible, stay away from raising points of order so that, we can make a lot of progress.
Hon Members, I have drawn his attention to the fact that he has one more minute to go, but in the light of the various interventions, I am prepared to give him two more minutes. That is about the best I can do.
Hon Member, please, proceed.
Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Member, you have the floor, please proceed, you have the floor. You have the floor, please, proceed unless you want to end it there.
Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would want to yield to my — [Interruption.]
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Members, please, let us have some order. It is significant to note that, it is the Hon Speaker who keeps the time, that is the first point. The second point -- [Interruption.] Will you listen to me? The second point is that, as much as possible, let us avoid the numerous points of order. Number three, on both sides, I am talking to both sides.
Number three, as much as possible, when we are contributing, let us avoid areas that would generate controversy. So, Hon Members, I see the two Leaderships up, can we hear them?
Mr Botwe 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I believe it is clear that Leadership would do everything to support the Chair in running the affairs of the House. We do also acknowledge the fact that, it is the Chair who keeps the time. But Mr Speaker, if we are to take the recordings of proceedings of this House, as soon as Mr Speaker called the Hon Colleague on the floor, the issue of his statement was about the fact that he observed that the President was frustrated.
As soon as he made this statement, it generated some points of order and interventions from the other side. We were on that matter when Mr Speaker vacated the Chair and you resumed the seat. In actual fact, it can never be said that the Hon Member on his feet has spoken for even two minutes, so it is very difficult for us to understand that he has been given a warning that he has one minute left.
We are not going to do anything to undermine the authority of the Chair, but with the greatest of respect, Mr First Deputy Speaker, our Hon Colleague has not spoken for three minutes. We can check the records, the recordings, the video recording; he has not spoken for even three minutes. We do not want to have any impression that we are being frustrated in contributing to the debate.
We do not want to have that impression. So, Mr Speaker, we are prepared to support you in running the affairs of the House, but with the greatest of respect, our Hon Colleague has not spoken for more than three minutes.
Mr Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, it is the practice of Parliament to allot time for Hon Members to speak, and usually, depending on one's position, one gets more or less. Leadership takes more time because Leadership usually gets up to sum up and add their own views.
Mr Bagbin 11:30 a.m.


Hon Chairmen and Hon Ranking Members also get more time, but back- benchers get the lowest time. That usually is the practice. But Mr Speaker has the discretion, depending on the area of specialisation of the backbencher, to give more time, because the person may be making some contributions which would enrich debate. So, Mr Speaker has the discretion to give that time to the Hon Member.

Mr Speaker, I saw my Hon Colleague turn round in his seat when you said he was left with one minute. Now the Hon Chief Whip of the Minority said he had not even spoken for more than two minutes. Later, he amended it to say three minutes; I am sure given another opportunity he would go to five minutes.

It means that, he is not keeping the time. But I realise my Hon Colleague is frustrated; he is really frustrated, it can be seen in him and I think that he should be given more time to conclude.
Mr Joe Ghartey 11:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker, you made a very important point, that as Speaker, you decide the time based on agreement by Leadership, what time should be spent by each Hon Member. I thought the Hon Member for Nadowli/ Kaleo, Mr Bagbin, was right, more time is given to those in front.
But Mr Speaker, that is not a point in this issue and I believe that basically, it was because my Hon Colleague here was contributing when you were transitioned. So, it is our responsibility, all of us as Hon Members of the House to inform you as to what happened when you were in transition.
Mr Speaker, you also made the point that, we should try and avoid points of order. But Mr Speaker, the person who is speaking is not the person who raised the point of order. The point of order is raised by another Hon Member of Parliament. Indeed, it is the Speaker who recognises the person who raises the point of order and it is parliamentary practice for the Speaker to call the person, to find out whether the person indeed, has a point of order or not.
Mr Speaker, I would have thought -- and I am sure you would agree with me -- that if the various interruptions and interjections are not the fault of the person who is speaking when time is being counted, like it is done in football matches, extra time should be given to the person to take that time into account.
This is because, if that is the case and if we are not careful, nobody would be able to contribute in this House. If it is str ictly five minutes, the minute, somebody gets up, a person would raise a point of order; a point of order after a point of order and time would be going and the person would have nothing to say.
So, I am saying, Mr Speaker, what I observed in this House was that, immediately the Hon Member got up to speak, he made a point on frustration, and my good Friend, Hon Ayariga challenged it. That challenge was going on during the transition. So, indeed, he had not even finished his first sentence.
So, Mr Speaker, respectfully, I am of the view that, if Leadership agree and we restrict our points of order, then a person would do his five minutes and bring it to an end. If the person has ten minutes or whatever time; but if a person has a strong feeling that perhaps somebody is misleading the House and he gets up and
makes his point, then the other party should be given extra time.
rose
Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka 11:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker -- [Interruption.] -- it is important to set the records straight. The reason I am saying it is important to set the records straight is that, it was agreed at the Leadership and at the Business Committee that, nobody was going to speak, with the exception of those who were going to move and second, for more than ten minutes. Ten minutes was allocated to every Hon Member; that was what was agreed.

Mr Speaker, all of us here have attended many international sessions. Even the time is kept by those handling the microphone; it is not even by the Chair.

So, when it is ten minutes, the microphone could go off. That is why sometimes the Chair uses his discretion to say that, because of maybe the intervention he is giving additional -- And exactly that is what I heard Mr Speaker say, that, the Hon Member is left with one minute, but because of the interventions you are going to have two more minutes.

But we cannot say that because we are raising controversial issues and people are holding the person on points of order, he should be allowed to stand in the House for one hour. That cannot be done, because we need to manage the time of the whole House; we cannot sit beyond two o'clock and we have all agreed that, not less than eight persons should speak from each side.

So, Mr Speaker, I believe you have to be firm, other than that, it would be difficult for us to get as many Hon Members as possible to contribute.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon Members, I would not allow this debate to continue on this particular issue. As he rightly pointed out, I told the Hon Member that he had one more minute to go. But because of the various interventions, I was giving him two extra minutes. [Interruption.] I did make that concession. So, Hon Members, as much as possible, we should try to manage our time such that as many Hon Members as possible can have the opportunity to contribute.
Now, I would like the Hon Member to complete his submission. I would make a compromise of four more minutes for him so that he can conclude his submission.
Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful.
Mr Speaker, in his Address to Parliament, the President also stated that, the debt to GDP ratio, which is 52 per cent right now, is not abnormally high. Mr Speaker, the debt to GDP ratio is abnormally high. That is why Fiche has downgraded our credit rating to “B” with a negative outlook. As a matter of fact, that credit rating is five levels down investment grade.
It is for the abnormally high debt to GDP ratio, that the depreciation of the currency is worsening. It is for that reason that the Government is going to spend
Dr Assibey-Yeboah 11:40 a.m.


over GH¢6 billion on interest payments in 2014 alone. It is for that reason that payments to the GETFund, the District Assemblies Common Fund, Road Fund and the National Health Insurance Fund are in arrears.

Mr Speaker, I go to open a bank account and put my dollars in the bank account, the bank issues a cheque and says that I can withdraw money in same currency. One day, the regulator comes up and says that, I cannot withdraw dollars from my account. If this is not illegal I do not know what it is.

Mr Speaker, as we speak the cedi exchanges to the dollar at GH¢2.52; the pound is at GH¢4.21. Mr Speaker, we are going back to use 1980 means to fight 21st Century problems. Mr Speaker, a litre of petrol now sells for GH¢2.55. So in President Mahama's government, one litre of petrol is equivalent to US$1 and equivalent to GH¢2.55.

In conclusion, Mr Speaker, the policies that we are seeing right now are not working for you, neither are they working for me; and they are not working for all of us. The Ghanaian people believe in their hearts that something is wrong with this economy of ours. Mr Speaker, if we are able to get one-tenth of the President's promises come to fruition in this 2014, then Ghana would be a better place.
Minister of State for Private Sector Development (Alhaji Abdul-Rashid H. Pelpuo) (MP) 11:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Motion on the floor on the State of the Nation Address adequately, ably and efficiently presented by His Excellency, the President of Ghana in reflecting on the state of the nation of our economy and everything else.
Mr Speaker, in doing so, let me first recognise that, the presentation was adequate and it reflected wholly on our expectations and we were very satisfied in the way it was done.
Mr Speaker, I would want to observe that, the mention by the President that we have a resilient economy is true. He indeed reflected that at the moment, the economy is growing at the rate of 7.4 per cent which was recorded last year. This is indeed above the average in the sub-region, and the African continent and it is indeed one of the fastest growing in the world. This is an economy -- [Hear! Hear!] -- Yes it is one of the ten fastest growing economies in the world.
Mr Speaker, the good news is that, the non-oil sector of our economy is also growing at 5.8 per cent, which also tells us that, we are in an economy that we can rely on. We are not suffering from the Dutch disease. This is because we have the non-oil sector which is even growing faster than the oil sector.
Mr Speaker, I would want to say that, the President indeed acknowledged some challenges. He did acknowledge the fact that, debt to GDP is 52 per cent, which is something that we are working on. But this indeed is not too much as the last Hon Member who spoke sought to portray.
Mr Speaker, this situation is not too much in our economy. We know of advanced economies where the debt to GDP is above 90 per cent and yet they are striving and they are doing well and their economies are doing very well.
Mr Speaker, the key issue that the President mentioned, that we all have to put our eyes and hands on and work towards resolving, is the fact that, we are in an economy where we consume foreign products more than what we produce in this country. This is something that we need to take care of.
I think that the President's commitment to change the structure of this economy is an initiative that we all have to support, this is because, we cannot run an economy where the consumption pattern is more on foreign products than on local domestic products.
Mr Speaker, in doing so, the President has said that we have to ensure that we balance off the export-import relations. One sad thing that he acknowledged is also that, last year, we spent $1.5 billion importing food products and other items that we can produce in this country. So, in order to change the structure of the economy, the proposal is that, we need to look at it, we need to strengthen the private sector. And in doing so, we need to ensure that we have a strong domestic private sector in this economy.
Mr Speaker, the items we import into this country which we can produce by ourselves are things we need to look at. The President has mentioned, in particular, sugar, rice, meat and those items which are the gang of seven alone cost US$1.7 billion to the economy. If anybody thinks that we can run an economy like this and not run into trouble, Mr Speaker, we may be chasing a mirage. So, I believe that this
is an opportunity for the private sector to cash into the economy and produce what we consume, so that we do not continue importing and creating challenges to the economy.
Mr Speaker, the structure of this economy has to be changed, and that has to be done through private sector participation in the production of items and the goods and services that we have in this country.
Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives are key and we have lots of them happening in this country which are going to create jobs for our people. We have PPPs on roads. We have PPPs on the rail industry. We have PPPs on the construction of our ports. We have PPPs on the production of goods and services. Mr Speaker, what the President is doing is simply to make reference to change our understanding of how the economy is running.
Everybody thinks that the economy, has to be changed only by the Government, but it also lies in the hands of all of us. It lies in the hands of the Opposition as much as it lies in the hands of the Majority Side of our Parliament.
Mr Speaker, I believe that what the President has done is the right thing.In reflecting on the state of the economy, we need to question ourselves on the direction we are going, whether that direction is where we want to go. But I believe that, it is bad economics. I believe that it is bad economics for us not to recognise that there is dynamism in this economy.
For anybody to just say that, last year the price of fuel and other items were these and this year they are that, Mr Speaker, without recognising that this economy has changed and it is different from the
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Hon Member, conclude.
Alhaji Pelpuo 11:50 a.m.
There is so much in it and we thank the President for such a wonderful State of the Nation Address.
Mr Emmanuel K. Agyarko (NPP -- Ayawaso West Wuogon) noon
Mr Speaker, thank you for granting me this opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Motion on the floor.

Mr Speaker, His Excellency was before this House and waxed lyrically very emotional, and indeed, pointing at various things.

He went on and mentioned names. Young people that he had met who were apparently doing well and whom he thought could turn the face of this economy. Mr Speaker, I would say that all of this was very fine speech. One can make a very fine speech, but it is not just the words but it is one's actions.

Mr Speaker, His Excellency the President mentioned Senyo who happens to be an old boy of my secondary school, Prempeh College, the best secondary school in this country. He mentioned Magnus Nunoo who is my brother, that Magnus Nunoo started with water and today, according to His Excellency the President, he employs over 100,000 people.

I would want to find out, in all the other disbursements that were made, if Senyo and if Magnus had been given those things, like those that went to RLG, like those that went to Zoomlion, probably Magnus would have been employing not 100,000, as the President said, but probably one million Ghanaians -- [Hear! Hear!] -- and Senyo would have done the same.

Mr Speaker, central to the presentation of His Excellency the President was a matter of a conflict policy. What I find “conflict” in the policy -- I have stated here that one could have the best intention but intention alone does not drive a nation, intention alone does not drive the economy. I would want to read with your kind permission some of the intentions-- This is the Official Report of 21st February, the State of the Nation, when His

Excellency the President spoke about manufacturing. His Excellency said:

“We shall marshal the collective efforts of all stakeholders to facilitate the emergence and growth of a strong manufacturing sector.

i) By reviewing the tax structure to reduce taxes paid by Ghanaian manufacturers to increase their competitive- ness in the national and world market.”

The second thing -- I am talking about intentions. In the Budget Statement, page 95, paragraph 473:

“The waiver of taxes on raw materials for export oriented manufacturing will be introduced as additional incentive for export production.”

The following page, paragraph 483, Support to Industry, with your kind permission, I beg to read:

“To meet one of the objectives of the Better Ghana Agenda of job creation for Ghanaians, Government will strictly monitor for compliance the application of concessionary duties for raw materials and imports for production while consideration would be given for a comprehensive review of tariff regimes with the view of reducing cost of production for industries.”

These are the intentions, but what has Government really done? [An Hon Member: Nothing.] This Government, with the process that had started several years ago -- Indeed, I would want to mention, when VAT was introduced, Government decided that they would not place VAT on the industries, I know reasonably well, the pharmaceutical industry under what we call the active
Mr Emmanuel K. Agyarko (NPP -- Ayawaso West Wuogon) noon


pharmaceutical ingredients and the packaging material since 1998. Indeed, I want to add that in 2005, when Mr Kufuor was the President, it was decided that, we would roll back, and we gave a zero-rating for every pharmaceutical active ingredient. Mr Speaker, today, the pharmaceutical industry is the only industry standing on its legs in this country. The Government industry is gone. The Food Processing industry is gone.

Mr President spoke of comparative advantage. I would want to place on record that, this country has comparative advantage when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry. There are only two countries that produce pharma- ceuticals in West Africa, Ghana and Nigeria and West Africans would naturally come to Ghana because they think that we are producers of better quality.

The pharmaceutical industry has done extremely well in the last 10 to 15 years. Then all of a sudden, in an attempt to pluck a big hole, a huge big hole in the revenue side of our Budget, this Government decides that -- something that has not happened since 1998 -- They would reintroduce and ask the pharmaceutical industry to pay VAT of 17 ½ per cent on the raw materials. By this single action, the pharmaceutical industry has become most competitive.

It is now cheaper to import pharma- ceuticals from India than to attempt to manufacture them here. His Excellency the President came here and said that, he has directed that GH¢50 million should be given to help in the production of antiretroviral. What would happen is this. GH¢50 million would only go to refurbish a factory or make it WHO compliant so

that the local factory can compete internationally. But at the same time, we are giving him GH¢50 million, then we have imposed a tax burden of 17 ½ per cent on him. What this would end up is that, that factory would become a white elephant because it would not be possible for any pharmaceutical factory in this country to compete with anybody. This is just policy conflict. It does appear that, this Government does not know the direction it is going.
Mr First Deputy Speaker noon
Hon Member, you have one more minute to go.
Mr Agyarko noon
Mr Speaker, to conclude, permit me to quote Stephen Marabole a well noted motivational speaker and I beg to quote:
“While intent is the seed of manifestation, action is the water that nourishes the seed. Your actions must reflect your goals in order to achieve success.”
Mr Speaker, all of us are Ghanaians. All of us want the best for this country. But I do hope that this Government would go ahead and do the needful so that the utopia all of us want for this country would be realized.
I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Minister for Energy and Petroleum (Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah) 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, let me congratulate His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama for giving us hope again in the State of the National Address. His Excellency the President began by basically telling us what indeed is true. But I think, as Hon Members keep restating this point, we keep missing exactly the important point that His Excellency was trying to make because, nobody here would dispute that fact.
He called for a fundamental change. A fundamental change because of what has been given to us by the British colonial masters. He says that, our economics and the way we do things must change. These are the numbers he put out there. He says between 2012 and 2013 this country lost GH¢1.3 billion in our export revenue. Why? This is because the only thing we depend on, are cocoa and gold that we export, that we did not add value to.
We had no control of it in the world market and because of that, we were at the mercy of the world market hence the downward trend of these commodities and that was the truth and nobody here can dispute that.
Mr Speaker, he said something fundamental as well. He said our import bill was GH¢17 billion last year and nobody here would dispute that. He said that the only way we can change this fundamentals, is for us to change the way we do things, to add value to the things that God has given to us, so we can create industries and empower our people and create jobs.
Nobody in this House would say anything contrary to what the President has said. Mr Speaker, this was so fundamental in all the things he said. Mr Speaker, he took this direction and took us to the Energy sector.
If we listened to the President clearly, what he said was that, energy is everything; it is the backbone to our industrial growth. If we have been so focused on increasing generation, if we have been so focused on increasing transmission, if we have been so focused over the years in all the years that all of these governments have come, as his records show, we would not be here and he has numbers to prove it.
Mr Speaker, the President was clear that the last year, he added 534 megawatts in generation capacity and nobody here can dispute that. Mr Speaker, he made a point that, this year, he is working aggressively to add 332 megawatts and he said that because he is working aggressively on this project right here in Ghana. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, he made a point that our demand for electricity is increasing so fast.
Two years ago, we said the demand was eight (8) per cent, last year, it was 10 per cent, this year, it is 12 per cent and he said these are not things we should play politics with.
He talked about the need to transform our distribution infrastructure and he specifically talked about specific projects that he is focusing on to strengthen our distribution infrastructure, a reform of Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to make sure they are responsive to the customer; the Ghanaian customer.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Hon Members, can we have some order? Can we have some order, please?
Mr Buah 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, nobody would dispute the numbers the President gave us. The President was clear that over 1,000 communities were intensified with electricity, over 771 communities had access to electricity. This year, 1,034 are going to have access to electricity. Nobody in this House would dispute that.
These are very important and he said it clearly that, we are on course to achieve universal access ahead of the world's mandate.
Mr Buah 12:10 p.m.
That is how aggressive this President and its leadership is in providing access to a critical infrastructure that is needed to transform this country.

Mr Speaker, he said in the last State of the Nation Address that, he was going to set-up an Enterprise Development Centre where Ghanaians can learn the skills and tricks in the oil and gas industry so that they can compete for jobs and contracts. What has happened? It is in place, over 200 Ghanaian companies have been trained and they are competing for jobs in this industry. Mr Speaker, this is so fundamental to empowering Ghanaians. It goes to the core of what the President said.

Mr Speaker, he said that, Cabinet has approved a concern for TOR to have a strategic partner as Petro Saudi and we are leading that effort to make sure Tema Oil Refinery is not only going to produce

Mr Speaker, the President talked about LPG. Somebody should tell me, when was the last time they talked about LPG and LPG lines, because the President is being so strategic about it. He immediately set up another continuity plant in Takoradi, but more than that, we are expanding LPG to rural communities to protect our forest.

Mr Speaker, the President then moved to talk about a lot of very important fundamentals. I hope nobody would dispute any of the numbers I have thrown out here. One of the things that touched my heart, and I think nobody has talked about it is the type of leadership we need in this country.

A President that is so uniting, that when he comes to the floor of this House and he is speaking and the opposition would not listen, he meets them with grace and makes them laugh and disarm them. That was President Mahama.

Mr Speaker, it is time for us to unite behind His Excellency President Dramani Mahama because the goals he sets and the direction he is moving all of us is that, we are complete in agreement, we need to add value and create jobs and empower our youth and get out of the whole place. The President has given us hope.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Hon Members, can we have some order in the House?
Mr Solomon N. Boar (NPP -- Bunkpurugu) 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, yesterday, my good Friend and Brother, the Hon Member for Walewale spoke passionately about SADA and highlighted the fact that indeed, SADA is completely missing in this document.
Mr Speaker, for us as northerners, those of us who come from the North, SADA is a flagship project or programme for the people of the North and for the President to come here and deliver the State of the Nation Address for more than two hours without talking about SADA, indeed, it sends or it robs us down our spine and we think that there is something amiss when it comes to SADA and we would want to ask a lot of questions.
Mr Speaker, I know for a fact and indeed, most of us know for a fact that, an initial amount of GH¢200 million was given to SADA at its inception to start its programme or activities. As part of this amount, I know for a fact, too, that, GH¢168 million of this amount was supposed to go into investment. In fact, SADA was supposed to use this amount to leverage the private sector so that, at least, they would grow the Fund by 25 per cent.
Mr Speaker, as we speak today, we do not know what has happened to this GH¢168 million and we are asking so many questions. What is happening? What is happening to SADA? I also know for a fact Mr Speaker, that as part of the promise of the NDC Government; they were supposed to release one hundred million Ghana cedis every year to SADA. From 2013 -- I know for a fact that, in 2013, not even a dime went to SADA.
Mr Speaker, I also know for a fact that, we are just about ending the first quarter of 2014 and not even a dime has gone to
SADA.
Mr Speaker, it is very shocking and I believe it would run down the spines of all of us here in this Honourable House to note that, even the GH¢20 million that was allocated to SADA in 2013, not even a dime has gone to SADA. We do not know what the problem is and we think it is not good for the development of the North because, the reason why SADA was brought into being was to bridge the gap between the North and the South.
It is very important for us to ensure that SADA works because the challenges and the problems facing the people of Bunkpurugu constituency is the same as the challenges and problems facing the people of Bawku constituency, they are the same problems facing the people of Lawra, they are the same problems facing the people of Bole and Bamboi.
Mr Speaker, when we are talking about SADA, it is about the interest, the future and the economic wellbeing of the people of the North. It goes beyond NDC and NPP and that is the more reason why I think that a time has come for us to do what I would call collective introspection to ensure that we put our hands together and ensure that SADA works. This is because, if SADA goes into the gutters, I do not know of any other flagship project
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Hon Members, the next contributor is Hon Tetteh Chaie -- [Pause]. Is the Hon Tetteh Chaie in the Chamber?
Some Hon Members 12:20 p.m.
No!
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
In that case, shall we call on the Hon George Aboagye?
Mr George K. Aboagye (NDC -- Ahanta West) 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I would want to associate myself with the expression of gratitude to the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to Parliament on Tuesday, 25th February, 2014 and moved on Tuesday, 4th March, 2014 by the Hon Member of Parliament for Tamale South, Hon Haruna Iddrisu.
Mr Speaker, the President's State of the National Address, I must say, was candid and sincere. It was full of hope and it gave direction as to how to resolve some of the perennial problems that we see in the structure of the economy, as well as in the current economic conditions of this country. But while discussing this, I wish to state here again that, it is not good enough to give indications of the economy that seem to be negative without reference also to the other positive sides within the economy.
We have to look at the Service sector which is growing at 9.1 per cent and also look at the Industry sector increasing by 29.2 per cent with all those against the backdrop of the world economic conditions which clearly indicate a financial crises situation since 2007.
Mr Speaker, sometimes, I think we, Ghanaians are too hard on ourselves and that we overlook what positive gains we have within our country, our economy, and our society and then build on those positive gains. I think we have a lot going for us. I think also that the level of intolerance for short changing and for the non-ability to move better and higher and with grace is something that Ghanaians would not want to tolerate. I think there
is nothing wrong with looking for the higher excellence in every endeavour. Nevertheless, I think the President in delivering his Message, gave us clear indications of some of the positive aspects that he intends to implement.
First, on the issue of foreign exchange, the President was able to assure investors that the repatriation of dividends and profits is guaranteed, as it has always been guaranteed in the Investment Code and that there was no way that the new policy direction would affect the repatriation of profits and dividends. I think this is a move in the right direction, to give investors such an assurance is apt.
This also goes to underscore the fact that, Free Zone companies, therefore extra processing companies, and investors generally, can continue to bring in their money, work with their money to create jobs for us and also in the case of Free Zones to increase exports.
Our problem, as a country as we go on talking about the Guggisburg economy and so on and so forth, is to be able to change the structure. We have made several statements and allusions to this but it has not happened.
Now, I think India used import substitution to correct some of the imbalances in their economy and at the same time, President Nkrumah of late, was also using the same strategy to try and develop the industrial sector of the country. There is nothing wrong with that -- Following, we saw also Chairman Acheampong, using the Ghanaian local content element to develop the economy.
The Operation Feed Yourself was mentioned by the President, the Operation Feed your Industry was also mentioned by the President.
Mr George K. Aboagye (NDC -- Ahanta West) 12:20 p.m.


First, the President mentioned jute sacks; he intends to produce the jute sacks within the country for COCOBOD.That I think it is a move in the right direction and that means that --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:30 p.m.
Hon Member, you have two more minutes to go.
Mr George Aboagye 12:30 p.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. [Interruptions.] That I think is a move in the right direction and that would also continue to create jobs.
The President talked about Electricity Company of Ghana, that it should be encouraged to manufacture electrical products; cables, transformers, meters. I must say we are doing very well in the area of cables and re-wiring, et.cetera which the President mentioned. So, we must continue to also empower other Ghanaians to go into manufacture.
This means that incentives would have to be given and incentives would have to be tolerated; that our tax administration should accommodate the provision of incentives. We should not frown on incentives.
The next is that, in my own estimation, I know of sunflower seeds which are going to be planted in Afram Plains area. If we are able to achieve this, we would resolve the matter of cooking oil.
Again, sugar, the President had already said he is going to produce sugar in the Komenda area. This is something that is laudable and that is also going to create jobs.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity and let us go on to acknowledge winners. We must make
people rich. [Hear! Hear!] Thank you very much.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:30 p.m.
Thank you very much, Hon Member, your time is up.
Hon Members, we would now have Hon David Oppon-Kusi.
Mr David Oppon-Kusi (NPP -- Ofoase/ Ayirebi) 12:30 p.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor of the House.
Mr Speaker, the Statement contained in this document is what is being debated. Mr Speaker, I am impressed by this document, the layout, the binding, the pictures, the glossy nature. They are very impressive but unfortunately, there is very little in the document which impresses me.
Mr Speaker, this Address, has a long list of intentions, proposals, plans and wish lists. It is very heavy on history and the future, but the actual beef which should be the current status of this nation, is missing.
Mr Speaker, the health of each nation is also measured by the number and quality of its social intervention programmes. When I mentioned social intervention programmes, even the ordinary voter at Ofoase/Ayirebi would start reciting to you School Feeding, Cocoa Mass Spraying, high-tech, National Youth Employment, Capitation Grant, the almighty National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Metro Mass Transit, Free Maternal Healthcare, Livelihood Em- powerment Against Poverty (LEAP) [Hear! Hear!] And all those other things that contribute to the health of the nation.
Mr Speaker, these interventions were targeted at the poor and ordinary Ghanaian. These interventions were none discriminatory in nature. So, it covered everyone from every corner of the country.
Mr Speaker, when a Government was voted into power, the least that is expected of that Government is its ability to sustain what it came to inherit, to deepen and broaden it, so that it can leverage that to introduce more social interventions. But what are we seeing? The collapse and demise of these laudable social interventions which were properly implemented and sustained under former President Kuffuor's Government.
Mr Speaker, when I look at this document, I ask myself, what was the President's take on Health? Yes, it may be nice to have modern hospitals with all the facilities, but if the ordinary person in my constituency, in a poor district, cannot have money to access these, all these would be white elephant.
The only vehicle, for poor people is the NHIS which allow everybody, no matter one's status or income level, to access healthcare.
The President said nothing about the current status of the NHIS. Possibly because it is comatose and it is dying. What are we doing about NHIS? Who brought these interventions and why are we allowing these interventions to die out slowly and surely?
Mr Speaker, if we talk of access to health care without talking about how the people can access the health care, without talking about the much touted and much successful NHIS, then we do not have the state of the nation at heart at all.
Mr Speaker, the state of the nation is important, it is a very serious matter, it is not a matter we can joke with so, I am not going to joke with it. This is because, the State of the Nation is the state of the peoples' health; the State of the Nation is the state of its children and its workers. If
the state of the nation is not good enough, all of us are not good enough in whatever endeavour we undertake.
Mr Speaker, on Education, a very important aspect of education. The Capitation Grant which helped to actualise the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) was the foundation for further free education. The Capitation Grant is no more functioning. The foundation is crumbling yet, we are promising a future and distant Free Senior High School.
Mr Speaker, credibility is at the heart of this issue. If we cannot sustain free education at the basic level, how could we then promise people free education at the higher level? What is becoming evident is that, under this Government, when we are told that we are going this direction, be sure that we would be moving the opposite direction. My fear is that, the so-called free education would turn out to be the most expensive Senior High School education come 2016.
Mr Speaker, what did our youthful President say on the youth? One of the interventions that helped to bring hope to our youth was the youth employment programme, in its proper and maiden name, National Youth Employment Programme. It provided the opportunities for the teaming youth of this country. Now, under its new name, Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneur Develop- ment Agency (GYEEDA), what have we seen?
GYEEDA came with a lot of dangerous cousins; if I can refresh my memory, we had youth in almost everything. We had Youth in Driving, Youth in Hair Dressing, Youth in Road Maintenance, Youth in Agriculture, Youth in ICT, Youth in Propaganda and in everything and youth in nothing.
Mr David Oppon-Kusi (NPP -- Ofoase/ Ayirebi) 12:30 p.m.


What has happened to all these programmes? If we cannot give hope to our youth, as of today, what hope can we give them in future?

Mr Speaker, the State of the Nation is not about some future plans, it is about what is happening now. Time is not waiting for any young person. In ten or fifty years time if the opportunity passes by, it is gone.

Let me talk of the President's cocoa production. I come from a cocoa producing district. Under the mass spraying exercise, people's livelihoods changed. On the free supply of seedlings, people's livelihoods changed with high- tech and fertilizer supplies. Cocoa production shortfell about 340,000 tonnes to a historic 1,000,000,000 tonnes.

Now, mass cocoa spraying, I do not know what is happening in other districts, but in my district and the districts surrounding mine district in Eastern Region, mass cocoa spraying—
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
Hon Member, you have two more minutes to go.
Mr Oppon-Kusi 12:40 p.m.
Mr Speaker, mass cocoa spraying is completely dead. The machines are broken down, the insecticides do not come. Mass cocoa spraying, apart from helping the farmer, also provided thousands of young people in the villages with some part-time income. All these have been left to die off.
Mr Speaker, to conclude, the NDC Government is slowly presiding over the collapse of these very important social
programmes, something it should have deepened before promising us that they were going to add more. Now, the inability of this Government to sustain what it inherited from the NPP Government makes us doubt whether it can implement and introduce new ones. Let us ask ourselves, what happened to the youth in everything? We are told that there is something called YES (Youth Enterprise Support).
I would probably call it a NO-No Opportunity for the youth. The time has come for the President to tell us the true state of this nation. What has happened to these social programmes? What are they doing about the collapsing health insurance, collapsing youth employment, collapse free maternity care and everything that was good for this country? Mr Speaker, we need to be told the truth. We need to be told where we are going and not be told where we would be in future. Where are we now? Where are we going? What are the plans for pushing this country forward?
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, we now have Hon John Gyetuah.
Mr John Gyetuah (NDC -- Amenfi West) 12:40 p.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the State of the Nation Address ably delivered by His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, the President of the Republic of Ghana and Commander In-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces on Tuesday 25th February, 2014.
Mr Speaker, this is in line with the constitutional requirement as stated in article 67 of the 1992 Constitution. It is laudable that His Excellency stated among other things, the need to decongest the
ports to ensure the facilitation of trade. In this regard, I believe importers who would want to clear their goods would be fast to do it as this would generate more income to the State by way of getting income from the infrastructural development of this country.
Another initiative that is so laudable is the reduction of time in transaction of business in the ports, this is because, looking at the time element that is spent at it the ports by way of clearing the goods, is a worrying situation or phenomenon that needs to be addressed, hence, the statement by His Excellency to ensure that, those anomalies are corrected. I believe the situation whereby this phenomenon is actually corrected, it would ameliorate the situation and the economy would grow.
Another frank statement that is dear to me is with regard to the essence of teachers in the urban and peri-urban areas which His Excellency has stated among other things, that some of the teachers in such regions would be deployed to the rural settings. There is clear dichotomy between the rural schools and the urban schools with regard to human resource base, especially teachers.
Mr Speaker, with regard to the infrastructure development over there and a host of others, I believe if that is done, the clear dichotomy would be removed.
Indeed, all the students or the pupils in the basic schools, write the same examination, we do not have different examination in the urban areas and that of the rural areas. Whether you come from Atweewiate or Abensuanoy or Asankrangwa, we all write the same examination. But the fact is that, a whole school from Primary 1 up to Primary 6, you would see only one teacher or two teachers teaching and this
is a clear problem. If that one is actually corrected, it would assist us.
Another point which His Excellency has also raised is the quota system that has been removed, by students who wanted admission into the colleges of education. Previously, it was based on the quota system just because the Government, could not afford to pay the allowances to the students hence, they have transferred all of them onto the Student Loan Trust.
It is a laudable idea. It has given way for more students to get admission into the institutions who would want to become professionals of the chalk and talk profession, who would want to become professionals teachers. As it is stated in the State of the Nation Address, last two years, they were able to admit only 9,000 students, but since the quota system was removed, this year, 15,000 students were admitted into such colleges.
It is a very good thing that is going to address the shortfall in the teachers in the rural setting. I am talking about teachers in the rural settings, especially, the rural schools. Mr Speaker, because of the recent decision to transfer teachers into the teacher training schools and with regard to the loan facility that I already said, I hope it would help to correct the situation.
Another point that I want to raise is with regard to made in Ghana goods that we are supposed to patronize. We always want imported goods, to the detriment of our own local goods which would assist to boost the economy. I would be very grateful if His Excellency would direct all the Departments and other Ministries to ensure that local furniture manufacturers and other things are procured in this country so that we would save money.
Mr John Gyetuah (NDC -- Amenfi West) 12:40 p.m.


Look at the seats over here, we import everything from outside to the detriment of this economy and I hope if these directives are actually given to the Ministries and Departments, and other Agencies, they would buy the furniture from the carpenters over here which would create employment for our people.

Mr Speaker, on this short note, I thank you very much for the opportunity given me.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, we have the turn of Hon Simon Osei-Mensah.
Mr Simon Osei-Mensah (NPP -- Bosomtwe) 12:40 p.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to make this contribution. I can understand the seriousness and the passion with which my other colleagues from the other side are contributing to this State of the Nation Address. Maybe, there is the possibility of an eminent reshuffle and some of them want to take the opportunity for that. Other than that, I do not see why they should defend this State of the Nation Address.
If you do propaganda, time and periods and history would expose you. I want to refer to page 9 of the State of the Nation Address and the last paragraph on the left. Mr Speaker, I would like to read:
“Mr Speaker, since 2007 the world has been faced with a financial crisis and Ghana has not remained immune to the pressures created by this crisis.”
When we were having the 2008 electioneering campaign, NPP in its normal characteristics, told the people the truth that because of the world crisis, Ghana was also facing some difficulties or some challenges. My Hon Colleagues on the other side, from the NDC said it was not
true and it was due to mismanagement. Now the President is confessing to the whole country and the world that NPP was right. They told the people the truth and they should stop the propaganda.
Mr Speaker, we have said several things about this sound economy. Sometimes, I ask myself, does the NDC have its own definition --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Hon Member, why do you not concentrate on the State of the Nation Address? As much as possible, let us avoid --
Mr Osei-Mensah 12:50 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am concentrating on it because the sound economic situation is on the Statement, and that is what I am addressing myself to.
Mr Speaker, I am saying this because just last week, an Hon Colleague on the other side defined “youth” to be somebody aged below 60 and my Hon Colleagues, on our side were astonished . I was surprised as to why they were astonished, that is NDC's definition. I say so because, during the 2012 Elections, NDC said His Excellency, President John Dramani Mahama is a youth and he is over 50 and less than 60.
Mr Speaker, truly, as the person said, and that is their definition. So, they always have their definition for certain words. -- [Hear! Hear!] So, if this President comes to the floor of the august House and tells us that the economy is sound, that is NDC's definition. But the normal definition
-- 12:50 p.m.

Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Hon Member, do you recollect an Hon Member of the Minority describing the President
as youthful in his submission this morning? Let us avoid these turbulent areas and concentrate on the meat of the matter as much as possible.
Mr Osei-Mensah 12:50 p.m.
Mr Speaker, let us look at the true situation. Look at the fiscal indiscipline. Let us look at the fiscal economic environment. Let us look at the monetary environment. How do we say that this economy is sound? This economy is sick and we need to take it to the theatre for proper and good economists to work on it to revive the economy.
Mr Speaker, Budget deficit is over 12 per cent. Revenue generation -- The capacity for revenue generation due to the bad economic policies of this Government is shrinking. That is why they cannot ever meet their economy target, yet we say this economy is sound?
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Order!
You have the floor, go ahead.
Mr Osei-Mensah 12:50 p.m.
They spent money on planting of trees which cannot be located and they tell us that the economy is sound? Sound in what sense? In general economic sense or in NDC economic sense?
Inflation is now getting to 14 per cent. And they say it is sound? Interest rate is increasing when the 91-Treasury bill is around 23 per cent, we are saying this economy is sound? And loan interest rate is now over 30 per cent and they are telling us the economy is sound?
Please, let us look at debt sustainability. We are talking about 52 per cent and we can still accommodate more. We can accommodate more because of the rebasing. Had there not been rebasing, NDC would have taken us back to HIPC. Mr Speaker, is this economy that we say it is sound?
We have jobless growth in this country and because of the jobless growth, we are having increasing unemployment. Apart from that, because of lack of consistent direction and economic policy, NDC from 1993, has always had cyclical growth. Mr Speaker, I beg to quote some of these growths for the consideration of this House:
Mr Speaker, in 1993, NDC had growth rate of 4.6; 1994 3.6; 1995 4.3; 1996-- 4.9; 1997 4.2; 1998 4.6; 1999 4.3 and 2000--
3.7.
These cyclical growths --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Hon Member, can you quote your source?
Mr Osei-Mensah 12:50 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I quoted from various Budgets from 1993.
Mr Speaker, but if one takes the record of the NPP because we have the vision, we have the right economic direction, we have steady growth in our growth rate and Mr Speaker, I beg to quote that one.
“Mr Speaker, in 2001, we had 4.2 when NDC left it at 3.7. We moved to 4.5, 5.2, 5.7, 5.8, 6.4, 6.3, 7.3 -- [Hear! Hear!] Even after rebasing it was 8.4.”
Had it not been the oil money which gave 15 per cent, which I described in 2012, when we were discussing the Budget, I said and I want to quote that, that was “kwashiorkor growth” and the stomach was full of worms and immediately the person is given a dewormer, we shall see the true size of the stomach. Then we saw it in 2012.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Hon Member, you have two more minutes to go.
Mr Osei-Mensah 12:50 p.m.
They are telling us that this economy is sound. Are they saying this economy is sound?
Mr Speaker, now, we are talking about 200 schools. I ask myself, did a lot of planning go into this project? I doubt. I doubt in the sense that, they keep on changing the position. Mr Speaker, if for any proper project management, now, we would have even known the managers of this project. Who are the managers now?
Is it Ministry of Education? Is it Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund)? Is it the three wise men. And I doubt it is the three wise men because during the inauguration of commencement of work, I did not see any of the three wise men at the place.
Mr Speaker, I doubt even if they know the source of funding for this project. They are talking about GETFund to get money. GETFund is a dying milking cow that one can count all the ribs and the breast cannot give milk.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Hon Member, you have one more minute to go.
Mr Osei-Mensah 12:50 p.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
If one tells me, one is going to take money from GETFund which now has hundreds of cheques piled up which cannot be paid, then it is just like somebody whose daughter is pregnant and is going to deliver, and the person tells the daughter that I am going to feed your baby with the breast milk of this dying cow. The cow is dying already and he is saying he would provide milk from that cow. NDC would have to be serious.
I am telling you there is no hope in this particular State of the Nation Address. They are all empty promises and I doubt they can do any serious work. They even told us that even the procurement is ongoing. The President, after saying the procurement is ongoing, moved to the next line and said that we should join him on 3rd of March to inaugurate commence- ment of work. But he said the procurement was ongoing. A project like this, the major procurement aspect is to get contractors --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
Hon Member, your time is up.
Mr Theophilus T. Chaie (NDC -- Ablekuma Central) 1 p.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity given.
Mr Speaker, I rise to thank His Excellency the President for the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to the Parliament of Ghana on Tuesday, 25th February, 2014.
Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would like to take some of the words from His Excellency on page 25, paragraph 6, which states and with your permission I beg to quote:
“Ghana is bigger than any of us. She is bigger than any of our political parties. Ghana belongs to
its people. Ghana belongs to the members in the 74,000 households who will now be able to eat because of the cash assistance given to them by LEAP.”
Mr Speaker, we can go on and on and on. Tomorrow, is our 57th Independence Anniversary and I think the delivery of this Message to this House was very timely. Why am I saying so? Nation building is not for a single individual. Nation building belongs to you and I, to the people of this country.
Hon Members on the other side of the House, made mention of the fact that, for the past one year, nothing has happened. I believe that our Hon Colleagues on the other side actually knew that H.E. the President, within his first year in office has contributed a lot to the socioeconomic development of this country, had we not taken a position that has not helped the economic growth of this country. For eight months, we held the President to ransom.
The outside community had then no confidence in us as a people therefore, did not invest in the economy of this country. So soon, we have all forgotten and we are blaming H.E. the President for some of the shortcomings. These are the things as a nation, we need to rise up against. Nation building is not for a single individual. It belongs to all of us and we need to thank His Excellency the President for the Message that he gave to this nation of ours.
I believe the Message is loud and clear. I can see Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah nodding and that is how we should go as a nation.
Mr Speaker, when it comes to education, His Excellency the President systematically has followed what the late
President left behind. How do we enhance education in this country?
In our party's manifesto, we made mention of the fact that, there is the need for us to improve upon infrastructural development because the number in terms of population growth, is outnumbering the number of infrastructure we had as a country, and for any Government who wants to improve upon education, the first thing it needs to do is to enhance infrastructural development and that was the main reason why the late President started with the schools under trees programme which was lauded even after his death.
His Excellency, the current President took over from there, then we went into another phase where we had to improve upon infrastructure at the secondary level because the pupils to classroom ratio was becoming too high and there was the need for government to improve upon assets.
Thankfully, the President made us to know that, on the 4th of this month, there would be inauguration of commencement of work for the first 50 projects, that is the secondary schools and as I speak to you now, the inauguration of the commen- cement of work has been done for the provision of these 50 new secondary schools for us as a country.
His Excellency the President is once again looking into the future because, after the provision of these secondary schools, as a nation, we need to move further to make sure that we have students who would be occupying this new schools that would be completed. As a result, because he has that vision, he has gone a step further to say that, he would ensure that day students would be given free compulsory education at the Senior High School level and today, people are murmuring over this.
The President is not saying he is giving free education to every student in this country, that was not what the President
Mr Alexander K. Afenyo-Markin (NPP -- Effutu) 1 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor.
Mr Speaker, indeed, when it was advertised that the President was coming here to deliver the State of the Nation Address, I prepared myself with a lot of hope in anticipation that the President was coming here with a sincere mind to deliver the true State of the Nation Address.
Mr Speaker, I was disappointed. The statement in my view was uninspiring, very boring, not well organized and not straight to the point. The statement was like a palm wine full of sweetness -- lacking substance.
Mr Speaker, the presidency took time to put the Statement in this form. Mr Speaker, to confirm that the Statement was not well thought through, if you look at it, this beautiful thing, it has no table of Contents. It has no numbering. The pages have not been numbered. [Uproar.] This tells the kind of people running --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 p.m.
Hon Member, at least, the pages are numbered.
Mr Afenyo-Markin 1 p.m.
Mr Speaker, do you have yours?
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 p.m.
Yes. They are numbered.
Mr Afenyo-Markin 1 p.m.
Mr Speaker, but all the same, since that is what the Presidency can afford us, we would take it in good faith.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleagues have spoken about the so many interventions by this Government which we have not seen in substance and in reality.
Mr Speaker, let me add a few points so essential and relevant in respect of the SADA. When the Committee met the SADA officials and the Ministry of Finance, the following issues came up.
One, that under the Azontaba SADA arrangement, it was a joint venture agreement and that the Government of Ghana had 44.5 per cent and ACI had 55 per cent.
Mr Speaker, it is on record that, government invested GH¢15 million and additional GH¢3 million making it GH¢18 million. Government again entered into a joint venture arrangement and invested GH¢33 million. Mr Speaker, GH¢19 million also went into importation of tractors but it is over a year since we started asking. It has been over a year since we started demanding the documents, the contract - - the joint venture agreement. We do not have any, yet the President says he has abrogated the contract. Which contract? Can a Joint Venture Agreement be abrogated? This House ought to be taken serious.
Is this Government committed to transparency, the rule of law and good governance? What has happened to the SADA probe? This Government has the competence in giving empty promises. This Government has the competence in filling space with words.
We are tired, Mr Speaker, of words; the sweet tongue.
Mr Speaker, this Government always pretends it is ready to change, but Mr Speaker, we all know, no amount of rainfall can ever wash off the spots of a leopard. This Government would never change. The President came here to say that, we need to change and I ask, what at all has the President done in his administration? The former President has complained about leadership, about the kind of government running this country.
The President came here to talk about change, has the Government changed? Has the President been bold and decisive to even reshuffle? No. The Government has not been--
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
Hon Member, please,concentrate on the subject matter.
Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, change has not been demonstrated from within. The President talked about patriotism. Mr Speaker, at last, belly ache is getting the President to admit that, we have a serious problem in this country.
Patriotism. Can the President say same for the Government? Is the President saying that he and his Government are patriotic and the rest of us are not patr iotic? That statement was so vague,we did not understand.
The President should come again. It lacks clarity. Who is not patriotic and who is patriotic? How does one demonstrate his patriotism? Mr Speaker, it is not about the speeches, it is not about the political rhetorics, but it is about action; concrete steps.
Mr Speaker, the President entered into a landmine, he did not fear, he talked about free education, “then later qualified it, progressive” - day students are going to have it free.
Mr Speaker, it is said in Yoruba language that “before you pull out the rotten tooth, you chew your mouth with caution”. The President having condemned the free education proposal and policy by Nana Akuffo Addo, I thought Mr President would hasten in talking about it -- [Interruption.] But Mr President came here and promised Ghanaians.
Immediately he talked about free education, the next day, he was in the Central Region, the next day he was inaugurating work to commence. He has started the campaign. What is the President afraid about? Is it the time to campaign, is it the time to be running around to inaugurating work to commence.
Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue.
Mr Speaker, is it the time for the President to make promises here and when works are inaugurated for commencement, he is unable to tell Ghanaians the cost of the project? He is unable to even tell Ghanaians the cost of the so-called free SHS for day students. Why is the President panicking? Is the President suddenly --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
Hon Member, you have two more minutes to go.
Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:10 p.m.
Very well, Mr Speaker. I thank you.

Is the President trying to respond --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
Hon Afenyo-Markin, you keep on veering off.
Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I take a cue.
Mr Speaker, on economic performance. This Government is known for its blame game attitude. When we in the Minority advised this Government that, do the right thing, this Government would tell us we are jealous. But when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) came and told this Government straight in the face, you have got it wrong, you have been overspending, you are not getting your priorities right, this Government kept quiet and said, yes Sir, we would do the right thing tomorrow.
Meanwhile, your own brother, your colleague is telling you, why do you have to subject yourself to that embarrassment?
MrAfenyo-Markin 1:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, to conclude --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
Hon Member, your time is up.
MrAfenyo-Markin 1:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Deputy Minister for Interior (Mr James Agalga): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity given me to contribute to the Motion on the floor.
Mr Speaker, His Excellency the President, without doubt, delivered himself with excellence on the various sectors of the economy, namely: road, law and order, crime prevention et cetera.
Mr Speaker, due to time constraints, I would limit myself to corruption law and order as the two crucial areas His Excellency the President touched on.
Mr Speaker, His Excellency the President, clearly, in his State of the Nation Address, was unequivocal on steps he has put in place to combat corruption in this country. Mr Speaker, the approach to fighting corruption according to the President in his State of the Nation Address, is two folds: first is the preventive, and second is fighting corruption wherever corruption is deemed to have occurred.
Mr Speaker, it is important to state that, this President has demonstrated a lot of courage in his quest to fight corruption, something which is unprecedented and the President ought to be commended.
Mr Speaker, times have passed when leaders of this country, when confronted with issues which had to do with corruption, folded their hands in despair and said that they were not in a position
to fight corruption because if they did so, their government would collapse.

Mr Speaker, numerous committees have been set up to investigate allegations of corruption in this country, and when these committees came out with reports, the President did not make a U- turn; he has taken action. The Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice has been authorised to take action and prosecutions are ongoing.

Mr Speaker, this Government has respect for the fundamental human rights of all those who have been charged and

we shall abide by the outcome of the decisions of the court.

Mr Speaker, I would want to touch on law and order in this country. The President in his State of the Nation Address stated categorically that, there was a reduction in crime in this country. Mr Speaker, major crimes such as rape, murder, armed robbery and defilement have seen a drastic reduction by about 15 per cent. This is unprecedented in our history. Mr Speaker, certain measures have been put in place, and that is the success we are witnessing today. Measures such as the introduction of the accessibility and visibility patrol that the Police have put in place.

Mr Speaker, the Government has also granted approval for the institution of the city policing system and so today, you see the Police all over the place, the corners, the streets, they are there to fight crime. That is a direct result of the reduction in crime we have seen -- in terms of major crimes that this country has recorded over the period.

Mr Speaker, mention must be made by narcotics trade in this country. Gone were the days when our intelligence agencies clearly armed with information about the M.V. Benjamin ship which was approaching our shores and had everything within their means to apprehend the ship. Mr Speaker, we are now in a country where intelligence is acted upon. Recently, a Guyanese ship was arrested with cocaine which had a street value of over GH¢100 million cedis that is unprecedented in this country.

When we compare that to what happened in the case of the MV Benjamin saga,we would know that this country is serious in ridding Ghana of that bad label of a cocaine coast which was the label we attracted.

Mr Speaker, I must also mention that, the President clearly stated how he has retooled the Ghana Armed Forces, notably the Navy with 7 vessels. Mr Speaker, the results are clear for all to see. With the retooling of the Armed Forces, notably the Navy, our Coast is free of piracy attacks. Ghana is the only country in the sub region which has not recorded piracy attacks. Our neighbours, Cote d' Ivoire, Nigeria, Benin have all recorded incidents of piracy attacks.

It is not surprising that our Navy was given the award as the best Navy in the sub region -- [Hear! Hear!]. Today, we can boast of large fleets of naval vessels.

Mr Speaker, our Airforce has not been left, it has also been retooled with transport troops carriers, the KASA transport carriers have been purchased for the Airforce. Surveillance aircraft has also been purchased.

All these things have been mentioned in the State of the Nation Address and what that means is that, Mr Speaker, we are in a better position to defend the territorial integrity of this country than before.

Mr Speaker, mention must be made of the fact that having discovered oil, we have no choice than to retool our Armed Forces, and this President has done that and has clearly stated this in the State of the Nation Address.

Mr Speaker, I would want to state that, the Police population ratio has also seen a lot of improvement over the period. Currently, the strength of our Police force has been increased to 32,000. And it is approaching the benchmark set by the United Nations (UN) which is 1 is to 500, that is the appropriate police population ratio --
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
Hon Member, you have two more minutes to go.
Mr Agalga 1:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, it is important for us to also observe that, with the increase in numbers, the Police is now in a better position to fight crime than in the past. We must also state Mr Speaker, that, the President mentioned in the State of the Nation Address that, the Police Service, has also been retooled with the purchase of 6 speed boats for the Marine Police unit which has been re-established under this Government, that is a feather in the cap of the Government and we must also mention this.
Mr Speaker, under this government, there is no doubt that security, law and order, of course, is something that this government is in a position to guarantee and so Ghana continues to be an oasis of peace in a turbulent subregion because of the prudent measures the NDC administration has put in place.
On this note Mr Speaker, I would want to commend the President for living up to expectation while delivering the State of the Nation Address.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Dr Stephen N. A. Arthur (NPP -- Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abrem 1:20 p.m.
Thank you very much Mr Speaker, for allowing me to contribute to the Motion on the floor.
In doing so, Mr Speaker, I would want to touch on the importance of statistics and data. I guess that we are all aware that statistics help us to plan. It helps us to monitor the plan, it helps us in decision making, it helps us in holding actors and institutions accountable.
Mr Speaker, that is one of the reasons why we conduct population and housing census. Mr Speaker, the population and housing census results that were released in May 2012 gave Ghana's population at 24, 658,823 with the highest region being Ashanti --
Some Hon Members 1:20 p.m.
Which page?
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
Hon Member you are addressing the Chair.
Dr (Nana) Ato Arthur 1:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, source www.sarghana.gov.gh last accessed today, this morning -- [Interruptions] -- the first page in this document, paragraph 7.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
Hon Member, is the page numbered?
Dr (Nana) Ato Arthur Arthur 1:20 p.m.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
Thank you.
Dr (Nana) Ato Arthur 1:30 p.m.
Page 1, paragraph 7 line 5 -- the President comes here to tell the whole nation that we are a nation of 24 million people in Ghana. It is sad. The President of Ghana does not even know the population of Ghana -- [Interruptions] -- as far back as 2010, Ghana population was 24.67, million, today, we are estimated to be 25 million.
The President is telling Ghanaians that we are 24 million and then his own four pillars, you go to the next page and he talks about putting people first, we are putting some people first. We are putting all Ghanaians first. In fact, Upper West Region has a population of less than one million. Today, the population of Ghana is estimated to be 25 million. If Ghana, 57 years after independence, we do not even know the population of Ghana, how can we plan for Ghana.
Population is so important that everything that we do depends on the population of Ghana. That is the more reason why His Excellency on page 1 talked about the population of Ghana. We get all these things wrong. Have we not failed Ghana? I think we have failed Ghana.
Moving on, Mr Speaker, I am not too sure whether we are debating 2014 State of the Nation Address. We need to link it with 2013 Address, this is the performance contract -- the President signed a contract with Ghana on 2013, there were thematic areas, what the President was supposed to have done in 2013. Coming to the House this year, he was to link the two together.
Mr Speaker, putting people first, last year, we had SADA and western corridor on page 7. With your indulgence, I quote “SADA through its greening the northern savanna ecological zone agenda, has partnered with the private sector group to grow and nurture five million trees in the next 12 months”.
It tells us that in 2013, we were going to grow and nurture five million trees and that this was going to provide five thousand jobs across the north.
So in 2014, how many trees did you grow? How many trees did you nurture? The 5,000 jobs that we were going to create across the north, what was our level of achievement. It is so silent.
Again, on the same page 7, Mr Speaker, based on the example of SADA and unfortunately that SADA has even failed. He has directed a team in his office and National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) to work closely with the two Northern Regional Coordinating Councils and I am so much interested in this. Western Corridor Development Authority, and Mr Speaker, it comprises our regions and Western Region. What did we do? What was the level of achievement and all these things? No wonder, it is silent in the 2014 State of the Nation Address. Mr Speaker, it is worrying.
In conclusion, Mr Speaker, I would like to say that the four pillars, putting people first, resilient economy, expansion of infrastructure and others, they crumbled
Dr (Nana) Ato Arthur 1:30 p.m.


before they got here. This is because we have had all the premises wrong.

In truism, when the premise is wrong, all the conclusions are wrong. We cannot be at 24 -- Ghana today we are at 25 million; a whole region is left out. So what is happening in the presidency? We do not have a reliable data. Are we joking as a nation? What kind of planning are we doing for Ghana?

With these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:30 p.m.
Thank you very much.
Hon Members, this brings us to the close of the debate for today. We would continue on Friday, those who did not get the opportunity to be heard would be considered first on that day, depending on what the Leadership would arrange.
Hon Majority Leader.
Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor 1:30 p.m.
Mr Speaker, we have a number of committee meetings lined up; and more significantly, the Business Committee. This is because tomorrow would be a public holiday and we have also had a good measure of the debate on the State of the Nation Address.
Mr Speaker, I would therefore, beg to move, that the House be adjourned to Friday, the 7th of March, 2014 in the forenoon.
Mr Daniel Botwe 1:30 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 1:30 p.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.35 p.m. till Friday, 7th March, 2014 at 10.00 a.m.