Debates of 13 Nov 2014

MR SPEAKER
PRAYERS 11:20 a.m.

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT 11:20 a.m.

Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Correction of Votes and Proceedings.
  • [No correction was made to the Official Report of Tuesday, 11th November, 2014.]
  • Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Hon Members, Question time.
    We have the Hon Minister for Health in the House to respond to Questions from Hon Members.
    We shall start with the Urgent Question standing in the name of the Hon Member for Offinso North.
    URGENT QUESTIONS 11:20 a.m.

    MINISTRY OF HEALTH 11:20 a.m.

    Minister for Health (Dr Kweku Agyeman Mensah) 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has, on a cash basis, received an amount of GH¢ 82 million, including claims arrears for 2013. Out of this amount, a total of GH¢746 million, representing 84.55 per cent of the total receipts was assigned exclusively to claim payments.
    With reference to Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), the NHIA treats payments to all facilities in the country the same way and therefore, does not differentiate between CHAG facilities and other facilities.
    Payments of CHAG facilities are therefore, in line with other providers in the public and private facilities and they have all been paid up to April 2014.
    There are, however isolated cases of claims arrears for some facilities in respect of January or February 2014. These are due to reasons of delay in submission, vetting of clinical audit, sometimes related to compliance queries.
    Thank you.
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Hon Member, any supplementary question?
    Mr Ntim 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, from the figures churned out, it seems in my view, that as of May, prior to the CHAG going on a strike, about 30 to 40 per cent of the NHIA levy had been paid.
    Can the Hon Minister explain why there was a delay in claims payments for about 6 to 8 months, even though as of May, when CHAG went on a demonstration, about 30 to 45 per cent of NHIA levy has been paid to the Ministry?
    Thank you.
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Hon Member, can you ask the question again?
    I will want you to make it as brief as possible, so that I can get the import of the question.
    Mr Ntim 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, as of May this year, about 40 per cent, representing more than a quarter of the amount due NHIA has been paid to them, but CHAG went on strike claiming that they were in arrears of within 6 to 8 months. How does he reconcile that?
    Thank you.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:20 a.m.
    As I said, once the NHIA receives the money, they pay and they do not discriminate whether it is CHAG or the other facilities. If they have not paid the dues, there is no money.
    Mr Ntim 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am not clear on the first --
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Your second supplemen- tary question? [Interruptions]
    Hon Minister, please, please.
    Hon Members, you know, not all of us are familiar with this Chamber, so --
    Hon Minister, have you finished responding to the questions asked by the Hon Member. This is because I want to call him to ask a follow-up question?
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the budget approved for the NHIA in the allocation formula was inadequate to meet obligations. There was a funding gap, which has not been financed. In fact, the funding gap is about GH¢299 million,
    which has not been financed. So, that is the explanation for the delay.
    Some Hon Members — rose—
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Please, take your seats.
    Yes?
    Mr Ntim 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, as per Act 852, section 52 (1) and I beg to quote:
    “The Minister responsible for Finance shall within thirty days after the collection of the levy, cause the levy to be paid directly into the National Health Insurance Fund and furnish the Minister responsible for Health and the National Health Insurance Authority with evidence of payment”.
    Mr Speaker, may I find out from the Hon Minister, how many pieces of evidence of payments have been received for fiscal year 2014?
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Member, it is not strictly speaking, supplementary, because — Look at your Question.
    Hon Minister, may you respond to the question — it is supplementary.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Minister responsible for Finance, according to section 52 (1) of the Act —
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    The question is; how much has been released this fiscal year, 2014 and evidence of payments.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker,
    “after the collection of the levy, cause the levy to be paid directly into the National Health Insurance Fund and furnish the Minister responsible for Health and the
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:30 a.m.


    Authority with evidence of the payment. The Minister responsible for Finance shall present to Parliament every six months, a report of payment of levies into the Fund”.

    Mr Speaker, it is therefore the responsibility of the Minister for Finance to report to Parliament on the National Health Insurance Fund in accordance with Act 852.
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Member for Offinso North, address the Chair—
    Hon Member, your last supplementary question?
    Mr Ntim 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the question seeks to find out as the Hon Minister quoted evidence of payment for the fiscal year 2014. I did not ask him to read the Act to me.
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Minister, the question the Hon Member wants to ask you is, according to the law, when the money is released, there should be evidence of payment to you and he is asking whether there is evidence of payment. That is my understanding of the question. Do you have any evidence of the payment? — That is what the Hon Member wants to find out. If you have, tell the House; if you do not, inform the House.
    Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
    Mr Alfred Kwame Agbesi 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, it appears the Hon Member is not speaking loud enough for the Hon Minister to take it. So, if he could raise his voice, so that we hear him well.
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Members, the Hon Member was very much involved in
    working on the Act 852. All that they want to know is whether there is compliance with the law and also whether when that is done, you have the evidence. If you have or not, you know what to tell the House.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, total release against 2014 is about GH¢550 million with an arrears of over GH¢300 million.
    Mr Ntim 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, my question is simple; just like you rightly said, I wanted to find out whether there has been compliance and per the Act, the Minister for Finance is supposed to furnish evidence of payment to the Minister responsible for Health on monthly basis as and when it receives the money. I would want to find out whether that provision has been complied with.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, no! I do not have the --
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
    Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker—
    Mr Ntim — rose —
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Member, I thought you had exhausted your supplementary? Hon Member for Offinso North, you have exhausted your supplementary questions.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
    Mr Nitiwul 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, if the Hon Member has not exhausted — Mr Speaker, you said he had not exhausted his supplementary questions and so, let him exhaust them —
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    I thought he had, but if—
    Hon Member, your last supplementary question.
    Mr Ntim 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Minister how the Ministry is putting itself to ensure that the dictates of Act 852, with respect to the payment of the releases of claims are being adhered to.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, normally, we write to the Ministry of Finance to find out whether the claims have been paid -- We have evidence up to August — [Interruption.]
    Mr Speaker, I do not have all the information and I would simply say I would consult and get back since it is not a substantive question.
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    The Hon Minister is saying that we should allow him to get back to the House.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, ask your question.
    Mr Nitiwul 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member asked, how much? The Minister has come to answer Questions — the first time, he asked him a supplementary question and the Hon Minister said it was the duty of the Finance Ministry to give those figures.
    The Hon Member certainly asked another question, the Hon Minister comes back to give a figure of GH¢514 million and then the last time, he says that he does not have enough information, so, he would want to come back.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister should reconcile his answers and tell us —
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, what is your question?
    You know that at Question time, we do not argue and so, ask your question.
    Mr Nitiwul 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am saying that the Hon Minister should reconcile his answers and tell us how much of the National Health Insurance Levy has been
    released to the National Health Insurance Authority for the 2014 fiscal year. He mentioned two figures; first, he said it was the Ministry of Finance and then mentioned another figure.
    He should tell us how much has been released to his Ministry. He said up to April. How much was released to his Ministry?
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Minister, what is the figure so far released for the fiscal year 2014? [Pause]
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, that is my baptism.
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Members, let us have order! there is a --
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:40 a.m.
    The GH¢882 million was in respect of receipts in 2014.
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Minister, GH¢882 million?
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:40 a.m.
    Yes. GH¢882 million was in respect of receipts in 2014, out of which only GH¢550 million relates to the 2014 fiscal year.
    Thank you.
    Mr Nitiwul 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, if I understand the Hon Minister right, he is saying that the receipts for 2014 were GH¢882 million, out of which GH¢550 million relate to this year. So, how much was released to him?
    The Hon Minister is saying that GH¢882 million were the receipts here for the year 2014, and he said out of this,
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Member, I thought the Hon Minister had answered the question. So, let me hear your question, please.
    Mr Nitiwul 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, let me put the question right. He says that GH¢882 million were the receipts for the year 2014, out of which GH¢540 million relates to this year.
    Mr Speaker, receipts for 2014, of which GH¢540 million relates to this year. So, I am asking how much was released to him. Is he saying GH¢540 million was released to him? Is that what he is saying?
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Yes, that is the --
    Mr Nitiwul 11:40 a.m.
    Allow him. I would want to hear from him. [Interruption].
    Mr Nitiwul 11:40 a.m.
    Listen; receipts; listen to me, receipts — I have asked a question.
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, you have the floor.
    Hon Members, please, we have rules in this House.
    Hon Minister, they want to know how much was released to you for this year.
    But Hon Deputy Minority Leader, let us get these things clear.
    Hon Minister, give us a minute. It is important to understand the question. My understanding is that, from what the Minister is telling the House, that part of the money could be in arrears, but what he actually received for this year was the
    GH¢500 and something million. That is my understanding.
    He said that that particular amount relates to this year but the total is about GH¢882 million. But part relates to this year, which might mean that the other one might be related to a previous year.
    So, you should have asked which year the difference relates to. That is what we need to clarify, so that we are clear in our minds. But that might be my understanding.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
    Mr Nitiwul 11:40 a.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker, if that is the understanding, it would have been very clear. But you see, the Hon Member asked a simple question that the Hon Minister for Finance would normally notify the NHIA every time that they have a receipt, so that they track the amount of money that comes.
    All that I would want to find out from the Hon Minister is how much they have received for 2014.
    Is the GH¢882 million fiscal cash that they received, that some were in arrears of GH¢540 million, was for this year? Is that what the Hon Minister is saying or that the receipts with the notifications? That is all that we are asking.
    I do know that whenever the levy is being collected, they are notified that the levy is being collected and that, this quarter we have collected this levy. So, is it the total quantum that gave them the GH¢882 million or actually the GH¢882 million was released to them, of which GH¢540 million is for 2014? That is what I would want to know.
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Minister, it is clearer now what the Hon Deputy Minority Leader wants.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, in my Answer, the first - I said on the cash basis, the NHIA received an amount of GH¢882.65 million including claims arrears for 2013.
    Out of this amount, a total of GH¢746.33 million representing GH¢84.55 of the total receipts was assigned exclusively to claims payments. So, you can deduce that GH¢550 million relates to the 2014 fiscal year. The remaining amount relates to 2013. That is the arrears.
    Thank you.
    Mr Nitiwul 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, so, we can conclusively say that this year, the Ministry of Finance has released GH¢540 million to the NHIA?
    We are in November, how much arrears do they owe them? Remember that by law, once they collect the money they are supposed to release it to them. So, from January till October, money has been collected. How much arrears do they owe them that has been collected? -- I am talking of this year.
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Minister?
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
    I would reconcile and get back to the House on the details. I do not have this data now.
    Thank you.
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Member, your last supplementary question.
    Mr Nitiwul 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader is not there.
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, I have recognised that and that is why I have been giving you the chance.
    Mr Nitiwul 11:40 a.m.
    Thank you, very much.
    Mr Speaker, the Minister and this House -- particularly the Minister knows that when you promise the House, that you would come back, you definitely have to come back.[Interruption.] And this is very important to the people of Ghana.
    May, June, July, August, September, October, six months that were supposed to have been given, the NHIA has not. He says he would come back, do we believe he would be back?
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, when I am scheduled to come, I would come.
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Yes, at any time he is scheduled to come, he would come.
    Last supplementary question on this matter?
    Yes, Hon Minority Chief Whip?
    Mr Daniel Botwe 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, a question has been asked, the Minister promises to come back; it is for the Hon Minister to tell the House when he would get his facts and come and give them to the House. It is not an issue of when the House schedules him to --
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    No, Hon Member. You know that you have a Business Committee that schedules programmes and so, once he has made an undertaken, what you need to do is to meet the Business Committee and quickly schedule him to come under our rules.
    So, he says that yes, he has made a statement that any time. So, it is for the Business Committee to programme him any time for him to come. He never asked for time. He did not say give me one week or two weeks; he says any time.
    Mr Botwe 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker-- [Laughter.]
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Members, let us make progress on this matter.
    Let us move to substantive Questions.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Members, let us make progress on this matter. Let us ask the substantive Questions.
    We move to Question 152 standing in the name of the Hon Member for Tolon.
    Hon Member, you have the floor.
    Mr Boniface G. Adagbila 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am standing in for the Hon Member of Parliament for Tolon who has gone to the hospital, to ask his Question for him. The Question --
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Member, has he authorised you to ask the Question?
    Mr Adagbila 11:50 a.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    From the hospital?
    Very well. Proceed. But the proper procedure is to say that the Member has authorised you to ask the Question on his behalf.
    Mr Adagbila 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, very well. You know at level 100, I am still practising certain things.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Very well. Go ahead.
    ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS 11:50 a.m.

    MINISTRY OF HEALTH 11:50 a.m.

    Minister for Health (Dr Kweku A. Mensah) 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is Government's
    policy to provide every district with a district hospital as a first referral point at the district level. In line with this policy, the Ministry of Health is currently negotiating for concessionary funding to upgrade the Tolon Health Centre to a district hospital as part of the four-year capital investment plan (2015-2018).
    Thank you.
    Mr Adagbila 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, in the interim, before 2015 comes, what provision would be put in place to support the health centre since it is now, in a serious crisis?
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Minister, what support can you give to the health centre?
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:50 a.m.
    Before the upgrade, what we will do is that, we will assess the situation at the health centre to see what they will need to perform efficiently and effectively at that level and we will continue to monitor the performance.
    As I said, we will make sure that because it serves the district -- Even though they do not have a distr ict hospital, we will make sure that they have all the equipment and the personnel who will help them to perform before we get the district hospital.
    Mr Adagbila 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, finally, I would want to say, immediately, if the Hon Minister could get the two ambulances and a visiting medical doctor until 2015 comes for them to source funds for the construction.
    Thank you.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, whatever assurance that I give this Honourable House, I will make sure that it is fulfilled. So I will do that.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Members, we move to the next Question.
    Question 180 standing in the name of the Hon Member for Tano North.
    Upgrading of Yamfo Health Centre to a Polyclinic
    Q 180. Mrs. Freda Akosua Prempeh asked the Minister for Health when Yamfo Health Centre would be upgraded to a polyclinic status.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Question 180, is that your proper name?
    Ms Prempeh 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am surprised that the Table Office keeps on publishing my name as such. The other time we corrected it. I have said time and again that Prempeh is my maiden name. My name is Miss; Ms Freda Akosua Oheneafrewo Prempeh and that has to be changed.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Very well. Clerks-at-the- Table should take note of the proper rendition of her name. I just want to be sure for the records, that is why I raised the issue. I thought when you got up, you were going to correct it but you did not.
    Hon Minister?
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Health is aware that the population of Yamfo is growing and as part of our policy, it will require a much wider service package than it has currently. This means that the health centre will need to be upgraded to a polyclinic to attract the required facilities and staff. This has already been considered in the four-year Capital Investment and the Ministry has started negotiations for concessionary funding towards its implementation.
    Ms Prempeh 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister, in his Answer, alluded to the fact that there is the need to upgrade the Yamfo Health Centre to a polyclinic status and that it has already been considered in the four-year Capital Investment pro-
    programme. I would want to find out from him if he is reassuring this House that indeed, the Yamfo Health Centre has been catered for within the four-year Capital Investment Programme and what time frame are we looking at. I would want an assurance from him.
    Thank you.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Minister, are you assuring the House? [Laughter.] You did not get the question? Do you want the question to be repeated?
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:50 a.m.
    Please, can she repeat it?
    Ms Prempeh 11:50 a.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.

    I would want to find out from the Hon Minister, whether he is assuring this House that indeed, the Yamfo Health Centre has been catered for within the four-year Capital Investment Programme.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Minister? [Pause.]
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, because of the background noise, I could not figure out what she was saying.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    You made a statement and she just wants to get an assurance from you that you will do the upgrading.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 11:50 a.m.
    I know Yamfo well and I know that yes, they need a polyclinic. So, Iwould want to assure the Hon Member that we will provide that facility.
    Ms Prempeh 11:50 a.m.
    Thank you for the assurance.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister went further to say that the Ministry had started negotiations for concessionary funding towards its implementation. I would want to find out from him; in the interim, while the negotiation is ongoing, will he assure the good people of Yamfo, that he will
    Mr Speaker noon
    Did you get the question? Very well.
    Dr K. A. Mensah noon
    Mr Speaker, we know the importance and the relevance of a polyclinic at Yamfo. So, I will instruct the Regional Director to assess what will be needed at the Yamfo facility, so that they can serve the community even before they get the polyclinic.
    Ms Prempeh noon
    Thank you for the second assurance.
    Mr Speaker noon
    Hon Members, let us have order. We have Question time; let us have order in the Chamber, so that when a Member poses a Question, the Hon Minister can hear it and respond appropriately.
    Hon Member, can you repeat your question?
    Ms Prempeh noon
    Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister whether this particular project has been catered for or would be catered for in the 2015 budget.
    Mr Speaker noon
    Hon Members, what she is saying is absolutely correct.
    An Hon Member -- rose --
    Mr Speaker noon
    Why are you rising? This is a serious business on the floor. What is the disturbance for? I have called this House to order and Hon Members are still making noise in the House. If you want to make noise, go and make it outside this House. We know places where noises are made. -- [Hear!Hear!]--
    Please, can you pose your question?
    Ms Prempeh noon
    Mr Speaker, my last supplementary question.
    I would want to find out from the Hon Minister whether this particular project has been catered for or would be catered for in the 2015 budget.
    Mr Speaker noon
    She wants to know whether you would make provision for it in the 2015 budget.
    Dr K. A. Mensah noon
    Mr Speaker, I have taken note of the concerns of the Hon Member of Parliament and I would address it.
    Mr Ignatius B. Awuah noon
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister, in his Answer says that they are looking for a concessionary credit to fund a four-year Capital Investment Plan. The four-year Capital Investment Plan starts from 2015 and ends in 2018.
    May I know the level of negotiation they have reached as he sits here?
    Dr K. A. Mensah noon
    Mr Speaker, we have received proposals; we have reviewed the proposals and we have submitted the proposals to the Ministry of Finance. The Ministry of Finance would have to look at the terms and if they are agreeable, then we can proceed from there.
    Mr Speaker noon
    Hon Members, these are constituency specific Questions, let us move to the next Question.
    Question number 181?
    Hon Member for Tarkwa Nsuaem?
    Use of old hospital in Tarkwa (Reversion)
    Q.181. Mrs Gifty Eugenia Kusi asked the Minister for Health why the Ministry reverted to the use of the old hospital in Tarkwa which facility was supposed to be used for the training of midwives as directed by the same Ministry.
    Dr K.A. Mensah noon
    Mr Speaker, the Ministry decided to maintain the old hospital to complement the services of the new one due to the increased demand and to allow for future expansion of services. The Ministry has therefore, decided to provide a new midwifery training school within the four-year Capital Investment Plan (2015-2018)
    Mrs Kusi noon
    Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, he said that the old hospital would complement the new one. It is a fact that the old hospital is so dilapidated. We have no computers, no kitchen, no fridge and the theatre is not working. Would he consider doing the necessary renovations, so that the hospital could operate very well?
    Dr K. A. Mensah noon
    Mr Speaker, we know that Tarkwa is a fast growing metropolis and therefore, the facility there would have to be upgraded. So, we would ask the bio-medical engineering unit to take a close look at the facilities and the equipment in that hospital and we would address that.
    Mrs Kusi noon
    Mr Speaker, since June when the old hospital started operating, there has not been reimbursement from the National Health Insurance Scheme Fund (NHISF). They are operating without funds; even the ones that they have put in --
    What is the cause of that? Would the Hon Minister consider that they get their reimbursement, so that they can operate very well?
    Mr Speaker noon
    Hon Minister?
    Dr K. A. Mensah noon
    Mr Speaker, I would like to assure the Hon Member of Parliament that we would assess and address the situation as fast as possible.
    Mrs Kusi noon
    Mr Speaker, in his Answer, the Hon Minister said that they would provide a new midwifery training school for Tarkwa between 2015 and 2018. In the meantime, the old school that is operating, they do not have enough accommodation and that is why the former Minister said that they should give some of the buildings of the old hospital to them.
    What is the Hon Minister going to do to solve this accommodation problem of the existing midwifery training school that is operating?
    Dr K. A. Mensah noon
    Mr Speaker, as I indicated, I would send a team which would assess the situation and we would address that. This is because we know it is important that we address the situation as quickly as possible.
    Mr Speaker noon
    Hon Members, these are constituency specific Questions, so, I want to move on to Question number 216, standing in the name of Hon Member for Offinso North.
    rose
    Mr Speaker noon
    Why? Are you now experts on National Health Insurance?
    Hon Member for Offinso North, you have the floor.
    Mr Augustine Collins Ntim noon
    Mr Speaker, I am the Deputy Ranking Member for Health --
    Mr Speaker noon
    Very well, you have the floor.
    Report on the releases of the NHIL to Parliament
    Q. 216. Mr. Augustine Collins Ntim asked the Minister for Health what measures had been put in place by the Ministry to ensure that report on the releases of the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) was submitted to Parliament in accordance with Act 852.
    Mr Speaker noon
    Hon Minister?
    Dr K. A. Mensah noon
    Mr Speaker, per section 52 of the Act, Part 1, the Minister responsible for Finance shall within thirty days after the collection of the levy, cause the levy to be paid directly into the National Health Insurance Fund and furnish the Minister responsible for Health and the Authority with evidence of the payment.
    In Part 2: The Minister responsible for Finance shall present to Parliament every six months, a report on payment of levies into the Fund. It is therefore, the responsibility of the Minister for Finance to report to Parliament on the National Health Insurance Fund in accordance with Act 852.
    The NHIA, however, receives monthly reports on collections of levies into the NHIF and uses this as basis for reconciliation of the NHIF. As at November 10 this year, a total of GH¢607.2 million had been collected for the Fund in respect of 2014.
    Mr Ntim 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am comfortable with the Answer provided but the Hon Minister is churning out figures -- he is
    on record churning out figures this morning that the releases as at 2014 this year is GH¢882,000,000, including the arrears and that for 2014 is GH¢530,
    000,000.

    Now, we are being told that, as of November 10, 2014, a total of GH¢607.2 million had been collected to the Fund in respect of 2014. I would want him to reconcile his thoughts about that.

    Thank you.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, this represents collection report in respect of 2014, not releases.
    Thank you.
    Mr Ntim 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Question seeks to find out how much has been released -- the status of the releases such that providers including CHAG may not have to wait for six to eight months before they get their claims. I wanted this House to be abreast of information about the exact releases, so that at least, we would reconcile our thoughts and then also convince ourselves whether there is any justification for any health provider to complain.
    Thank you.
    Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Minister, the point being made is that, he wants actual releases, not the report on what has accrued into the Fund. What are the actual releases for 2014? He is trying to draw a distinction between a report and a release. He says his focus is on the release.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, as I indicated, I would reconcile and get back to this House.
    Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Members, let us move to --
    Mr Nitiwul 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to draw your attention to something. The Hon Minister promised us that he would get back to us concerning the last Question and give us an answer. The answer is in this very Answer. It says that:
    “The NHIA, however, receives monthly reports on collections of levies into the NHIF and uses this as basis for reconciliation of the NHIF. As of November 10 this year, a total of GH¢ 607.2 million had been collected for the Fund in respect of
    2014”
    Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, there is a distinction between what they collect and what they actually release. What they collect and what they release are two separate things. In fact, the Hon Member for Offinso North made that point clear but he said he was interested in the releases.
    Mr Nitiwul 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister told us that the release for this year was up to April and that it was GH¢540 million. He told us here. So, the releases have been given by him. He says that, up to November 10, 2014, it is up to GH¢607 million. I challenge the Hon Minister to correct that.
    Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    The figure for November is not release.
    Mr Nitiwul 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, he says that the collection up to November 10, 2014 is GH¢607.2 million. I challenge the Hon Minister that this figure cannot be correct.
    Mr Speaker, they cannot release money up to April and is GH¢540 million, including the arrears which is GH¢880 million. And he says that up to April, is GH¢540 million and up to November 10, the collection is GH¢ 700 million. The
    difference is GH¢ 67 million. Mr Speaker, it cannot be correct. So, he should come and tell us properly what the actual release is.
    Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Yes. Since the Hon Minister said that any time he is scheduled, he will come -- all these issues would --
    Mr Nitiwul 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is an Answer to Parliament. This is his Answer, that the collection is GH¢ 607.2 million and he says that the release up to April is GH¢ 540 million. The difference is GH¢ 67 million and I am saying that, that cannot be correct. This is not a correct Answer. I would want the Hon Minister to confirm that.
    Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, if the Hon Minister were not going to come back, I would have pushed for that Answer. But he says that any time he is programmed, he would come back and reconcile all these figures, including this one. So, hold your fire. I know where you are coming from. If you do the trend analysis of what they collect every month, this figure does not look very good. That is the point you are making.
    The Hon Minister has made an undertaking that any time this House schedules him, he would come and reconcile the figures and give out the information and the House has agreed. Once we have agreed, let us offer that opportunity to the Hon Minister to come back.
    Now, it is for those of you on the Business Committee to schedule the Hon Minister to come and do that. It is a very simple matter. When he gets there, then you can do all the things you are doing but not now.
    Last question, Hon Member for Old Tafo?
    Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    You are completely out of order.
    Mr Nitiwul 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, can I make a request to you? This is very serious because if the Hon Minister has provided an Answer to this House, I think that you should set a date for him to come back and not just the Business Committee.
    I would want to make the request to you, that you should set a date for him to come back. It has never happened that somebody is able to get up on the floor and tell the Hon Minister that this is wrong. The Hon Minister had all the time to look at the figures. So, I would want you to set the date for him.
    Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    In fact, you should have made this application earlier when the issue cropped up with regard to rescheduling the Hon Minister to come back to harmonise the figures -- but we have done that. We have past that point. So, I will not do it now.
    I will ask the Business Committee to programme the Hon Minister to come to the House and give us the details. Where there is need for any further follow-ups, we can do that. The good news is that, the Hon Minister said that any time that he is programmed, he would come. I so direct the Business Committee.
    Hon Members, last Question -- Question 217.
    Hon Member for Offinso North.
    Claims to health providers (Payment)
    Q. 217. Mr Augustine Collins Ntim asked the Minister for Health what measures had been put in place by the Ministry to ensure a timely payment of claims to health providers under the National Health Insurance Scheme.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the NHIA is employing four strategies to reduce delays in the payment of claims. These are the setting up of claims processing centres, the introduction of e- Claims, electronic transfer of claims and the capitation system.
    Currently, the claims processing centres have been set up in four regions, namely, Greater Accra, Central, Ashanti and the three northern regions. These centres will handle claims within demarcated zones and reduce the challenge of a centralised system for claims processing.
    The introduction of the e-Claims system is an electronic payment system under which claims management is largely automated while the electronic transfer of claims ensures that providers are paid promptly through the electronic banking system.
    The capitation system ensures that per capita payment is made within the first week of the month. It allows for payment to providers to be made before services are delivered. It therefore, remains the best mechanism for avoiding delays in payment of claims for services rendered.
    Mr Ntim 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, from the first paragraph of the Hon Minister's Answer, if I may quote, with your permission;
    “The NHIS is employing four strategies to reduce delays in the payment of claims. These are the setting up of claims processing centers, the introduction of e- Claims, electronic transfer of claims and the capitation systems.”

    Mr Speaker, I am not comfortable with the capitation system as a strategy to address. As a payment policy, capitation requires a pre-payment system and we have a classical example in the Ashanti Region, whereby capitated facilities have delays in the payment between six to eight months. I would want to find out from the Hon Minister, what new strategy he is going to adopt to ensure that his capitation strategy is not going to bring about unnecessary delays as is being practised in the Ashanti Region.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, implementing a NHIS has never been easy in any country, whether the United States of America, Britain, Germany, or anywhere. We are not saying that the system is perfect. But we are trying every possible means to make sure that the system is able to operate efficiently and effectively and also it is sustainable. So, we are constantly reviewing. That is why now, in terms of the claims - capitation allowance for payment is in advance rather than in arrears - So, it ensures early payments as against the payment methods.
    Thank you.
    Mr Ntim 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is my uncle. I do not intend to bombard him but then, I seek to find out whether he is sufficiently abreast of the capitation that was practised in the Ashanti Region before recommending this as a strategy to address the payment of claims.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, as I indicated, it is not an easy system to implement any NHIS but so far, we are doing well and we welcome any suggestions, views, comments that would help fine-tune the system that we have.
    rose rose
    Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    I thought you had exhausted your supplementary. I will take the last question from the Hon Member.
    Mr Gyamfi 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister 's response to the Urgent Question, he stated that the delay in payments to service providers was as a result of late submission and audit of claims. In the Answer to Question 217, he has given about four measures to help solve the delay in payments to service providers. I would want to ask him, is the late release and irregular releases from the Ministry of Finance not part of the core problem of what the NHIS is facing.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, as I indicated, it is not an easy system to implement. I cannot stand here and say that the delay is caused by A, B, or C. There are factors. That is why --
    Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    All that Hon Members want to find out is whether that is one of the factors -- the delay in releases by the Ministry of Finance.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 12:20 p.m.
    For example, if you submit a claim and in the claim, you make mistakes, definitely, they would do an audit and it would be queried; that would also delay the process.
    Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    They are not disputing that; the simple question they posed is whether the delay in the release from Ministry of Finance is also one of the contributing factors for the delay in payment of claims. That is what they are asking; yes or no? That is what Hon Members are asking about.
    Dr K. A. Mensah 12:20 p.m.
    Yes, that is also possible.
    Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Minister, we thank you very much for attending upon the House to respond to Questions from Hon Members. We thank you very much.
    As I indicated, the Business Committee should programme the Hon Minister to come back to clarify a few issues on the floor of the House.
    Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business, item number 6, Motions, Second Reading of the Intestate Succession Bill, 2013.
    Mr Alfred K. Agbesi 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we begun this process yesterday and we are to continue today.
    Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Yes, that is so. Yesterday, the Hon Ranking Member was not here; the Hon Minority Leader said they were performing their civic duties outside the House. Where is the Hon Ranking Member on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs? I saw him some few minutes ago. We will like to hear from him.
    Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am ready.
    Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    You are ready? Very well.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
    Hon Member for Tarkwa Nsuaem.
    BILLS -- SECOND READING 12:20 p.m.

    Mrs Gifty E. Kusi 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, my Committee had the privilege of joining the Committee to consider the Bill as stated in the Report and therefore, we have few observations to make.
    Mr Speaker, this Bill has come at the right time because there are a lot of spouses, especially females, who get into trouble when their husbands die. Family members, even though there is this Bill, still eject them from their houses. In my constituency, I have had cause to meet a lot of women who have come to me to complain about being ejected from their homes, even though they contributed so much before the demise of their husbands.
    Mr Speaker, we should take into consideration the fact that, as the Committee observed -- sometimes the children are in school and they need to pay school fees. So, I agree with the Committee that we should take these out before we share the remaining property that the man and woman have acquired.
    Mr Speaker, I also agree to the fact that if any member of the family ejects somebody from the house, they should be punished severely. The punishment that was in the other Bill was not deterrent enough. So, I agree that it should be upgraded to one thousand penalty units instead of five hundred as was contained in the original Bill.
    Mr Speaker, sometimes, they lock up the whole building, and the wife and children would have to go and stay with their friends. At times, they do not even go back at all.
    There is a case in point about a big cocoa farm that the woman was able to cultivate with the husband. The family members took the whole farm from the woman and the children. They were then left to suffer. When I went in to help the woman to take it to court, she said she was afraid that they will kill her.
    Mr Speaker, with this new Bill, lawyers and judges will have much power to deal with such cases when they get to them.
    With these few comments, I thank you for the opportunity.
    Dr (Mrs) Bernice Adiku Heloo (NDC --Hohoe) 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would also like to contribute to the debate on the Intestate Succession Bill, 2013. In so doing, I have one important point to put before this august House.
    Mr Speaker, I support the recommenda- tion, specifically paragraph 5.1, calling for the reduction of 10 per cent to be shared by customary law to five per cent, and the other five per cent added to the share of the surviving spouse.
    Mr Speaker, I make this point because, especially regarding women, when houses are being built, you will hear comments like: “This is our house”. The men make the women feel very important. They refer to the house as belonging to the two of them. The women, in one way or the other, do all that they can to ensure that those properties are acquired by the two of them.
    However, Mr Speaker, in some cases, soon after the house is built, one starts hearing comments like “This is my house”. It is no longer a house that belongs to the couple. Family members also perceive that the house or property that has been acquired belongs to the man, which in some cases, is a wrong notion.
    I would therefore, support or urge the House to support the fact that the reduction of 10 per cent to five per cent is added to that of the surviving spouse -- Normally, the wife -- Is in the right direction.
    I would also add my voice to the point made earlier by the Hon Member for Tarkwa, that the children in school should
    be accorded special attention. They should be given money that will support their education before the entire estate is distributed. In this way, comments like “I left school because my father or my mother died” will be a thing of the past.
    I urge the Honourable House to support the new Bill.
    MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:32 p.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Hon Members, we will take two more from the other side and then we bring --
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:32 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Member, you have the floor?
    Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu (NPP -- Bekwai) 12:32 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you very much, for the opportunity.
    The Intestate Succession Act, PNDC Law 111, has been in operation since 1981. It is as a result of the shortcomings that have been observed, and failure to serve the object, that is why we are here today. Therefore, this Bill is aimed at correcting the errors or challenges that were faced with the implementation of the current Act.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:32 p.m.
    Hon Member, are you up on a point of order?
    Alhaji Amadu Bukari Sorogho 12:32 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, I know it may be a slip of tongue. He said the law came into effect in 1981. It is 1985 and not 1981. I am making the correction so that we do not capture the wrong data.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:32 p.m.
    Thank you very much for the correction. Point well made.
    Mr Osei-Owusu 12:32 p.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr Speaker, it is known to all practitioners that, when it comes to the devolution of one property between the surviving spouse and children intestate se, and it turns out that they could not agree to hold the property together, it was often the spouse who lost out. In most cases, the children were more in number and held together, their interest often tended to be bigger, and they often bought out the surviving spouse.
    That in effect defeated the purpose of that Bill, because the surviving spouse was supposed to be at least, in the position he or she held before the spouse died. Therefore, these changes proposed in the new Bill are likely to give more comfort to spouses.
    Mr Speaker, there are a few issues though, the issues as to the definition of spouse as contained in the Bill, we did not agree on that. As we discuss, we should pay more attention whether the definition as contained in the Bill, which included cohabitees should be maintained. Should a cohabitee be considered a spouse? It is still an issue, which ought to be looked at, and firmly decided upon in this House.
    I am also encouraging Ghanaians to continue to bring us their views. They should not wait for us to finish as they do to all Bills, as if Members of Parliament are insensitive to what is happening around us.
    As you can see, Mr Speaker, for the three days that we stayed to work, we had groups; there were about four different muslim groups which came with their own version of what the Intestate Succession should be. In the end, we managed to persuade all of them that there can be only one law for the whole country. We cannot segregate the country and make some laws apply to some portion of the country while some laws apply to others.
    But that should tell us that, indeed, the application is likely to meet challenges in some quarters. During our rounds, we heard people say: “Who is he or she to challenge what the Imam says. When the Imam says that the Q'uran should be applied rather than the Intestate Succession Act.” That is the challenge we must deal with in the public education, subsequent to the passage of the Bill.
    There is one more thing I would wish to comment on, Mr Speaker. That is on the definition that has been proposed by the Committee of what constitute self- acquired property. That has been contained in the amendment proposed in clause 29. It is quite wide and far-reaching and we should consider them.
    But that also leads us to the fact that, Intestate Succession is just for people who do not in their lifetime, distribute their self-acquired properties. So, if any person finds anything offensive in this Bill, as we told the muslim groups, that if they think that the Intestate Succession Bill is contrary to their belief, they could just do one thing, write their will and say that their self-acquired properties should be distributed in accordance with the Q'uran. That will solve the problem.
    Mr Speaker, this is a very positive step- forward and all of us should help to pass the law.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Mrs Juliana Azumah-Mensah (NDC- - Agotime-Ziope) 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I also rise to add my voice to this Bill.
    We know the purpose of this Bill; it supports persons whose spouses have died intestate. When we say spouses, in actual fact, we stress on the women and children more than the men because it is the women who are thrown out by the families. This is because it is their son's property, so they have a say.
    We, the women are very happy that this Bill will be passed into law, so that those families who are out there, who would take the law into their own hands would be duly punished.
    Like somebody also said, with most of these women, you will find that they have looked after these men in school, they have cooked for them and done all their duties as well as looked after the children. Then all of a sudden, when the man is no more there, the family appears.
    Also, some of these women do not have children but they have been living with the man all these years and have helped the man to acquire his estates. Then just because she does not have any child, the family again comes and says “you are not good, you must go out and then we will take the property”.
    So, we are very happy that this Bill will be enacted and then passed into law, so that those people out there, who can take the law into their own hands, would be seen and the law would deal with them.
    It has already been said, while we are alive, we must encourage everybody that we should make our Wills. Give the property out while we are alive. This is because when you are dead, you cannot
    do anything anymore and your children are thrown out onto the streets. They become misfits and they will eventually go against the law and end up in prison. So, we encourage every spouse, male and female to put in place their Will, so that there will not be any problem later in life.
    We also know that after the passage of the Bill into Act, the Legislative Instrument (L.I.) must promptly come, so that we can implement the law. So, we are also pushing the Attorney-General's (A- G) Department, that as soon as we pass the law, we must deal with the L.I., so that the implementation will be done swiftly.
    Upon this, I would say the other Bill is coming and that, we will also go to address more concerns for women; The Property Rights of Spouses Bill. That one is also coming, which will go a long way to addressing the issues concerning women, especially, those whose husbands are no more. So, I will take this opportunity to ask my Hon Colleagues to adopt this Report, so that this Bill will be passed and everybody, especially women will be out there rejoicing, that at least, they would be catered for when their spouses are no more.
    Thank you.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Yes?
    No more contributions from this side of the House?
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Member, you have the floor.
    Mr Nelson A. Baani (NDC-Daboya/ Mankarigu) 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I have a short contribution on this Bill. I would want Hon Members at this time to reject it because it has some offences that are not dealt with. This Bill would bring a lot of controversies in my area, especially --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Member, I cannot hear you.
    Mr Baani 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I went through page 10 and saw the definition of “parent” and it said:
    “it includes the natural father and the natural mothers”
    Mr Speaker, some of these women are “alomo gyatas” in their families. So, if a woman I am married to brings me bastards, what are the offences for those type of women and what type of punishment do you give to them?
    That is why I would like to say unless this clause is added “punishment for women who are not faithful”:, we should not adopt this Bill.
    Thank you.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Member, in any case, we have not reached that stage. At that stage, when we are considering the details, you can come up with this argument and then we would listen to you.
    Yes, can we hear from the Leadership now?
    Yes, Hon Majority Chief Whip?
    Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka (NDC-Asawase) 12:40 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to this Motion.
    Mr Speaker, this is a very important Bill and I would urge my Hon Colleagues to take our time and read this Bill very well to be very sure of every single clause that is in it.
    Mr Speaker, whereas I accept that there are a lot of clauses here that are going to bring justice to otherwise deprived persons, I am also very cautious about
    the institutions of marriage as per the African culture. We need to be very careful.
    Mr Speaker, I am saying this because if you go through this Bill, we are going to even encourage co-habitation. Mr Speaker, simply, because many people are now co-habiting, does not mean that we have to legitimise co-habitation. If you look at some of the sections, they talk about if a person has stayed with somebody but that person is not married to him or her for some period, even though the persons are not married, that person upon his or her demise, has some share of the person's property or some share of the inheritance.
    Mr Speaker, I would be very careful when we begin the Consideration Stage, because I am saying that we do not have to encourage an illegitimate relationship simply because some people choose to have it.
    Our culture, religion and the way we do things are very important in the consideration of this Bill.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader, are you up on a point of order?
    Mr A. K. Agbesi 12:40 p.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Chief Whip is referring to the Property Rights of Spouses Bill, which is different from the Intestate Succession Bill. He should make the distinction. That is why he is talking about cohabitation which is not in the Intestate Succession Bill.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Very well.
    Thank you very much.
    Dr A. A. Osei 12:50 p.m.
    I know my good Friend, the Hon Majority Chief Whip is very passionate on this matter.
    Well, in expressing himself on this, he tr ied to imply that co-habitation is illegitimate. The word he used was “illegitimate”. Please, let us be careful with the choice of words. This is Parliament. Such language, I consider as improper language. So, he should withdraw it, so that we can see our way forward.
    Alhaji Muntaka 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am surprised at my Hon Colleague from Old Tafo's comment. If he goes to look at how co-habitation has been defined, one does not need to go to church to be blessed to be a man and a wife. One does not need to go to the Mosque to be blessed; one does not need the families to recognise it. Once the two people agree to co-habit, there is the legitimacy that they both have contributed to the development of each other and I am saying that this is an illegitimate relationship so far as the African tradition and culture are concerned and we cannot use --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon Majority Chief Whip, you are rather getting emotional. The point raised by the Hon Deputy Majority Leader is in order. This is because we are looking at the Intestate Succession Bill and not the Property Rights of Spouses Bill. So, let us leave that out while we are contributing towards this debate, and then concentrate on the Intestate Succession Bill.
    Alhaji Muntaka 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the attention drawn by my Hon Colleague, the Deputy Majority Leader. I would take my time to look through both Bills and be able to differentiate where the differences are.
    But all I would want to say is that I would plead with all of us, including myself that these two Bills need to be

    studied properly, so that we do not end up -- I am saying this with the background information that many of us may not be interested in Bills that are not referred to our specific committees.

    Very few Members in this House are interested in almost every Bill that comes. Everybody seems to concentrate on only their committees. Because of the importance of these two Bills, all of us should be interested and be able to identify the challenges that may come with them, so that we do not allow them to easily pass this House and only be complaining after they have left this House.

    I would want to thank you very much for the opportunity. I am hoping that when we get to the Consideration Stage, we would all be attentive.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Deputy Minority Leader, do you have any contribution to make? Otherwise, we pass it on to the Majority [Interruption.]
    Mr Dominic Nitiwul (NPP -- Bimbilla) 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I had already told him that I am not contributing. I was just telling Hon Muntaka that the point is not a point that we should -- though I appreciate his difficulty.
    This clause that “when you co-habit with someone for a number of months…”, is a standard clause everywhere. Whether you go to the United Kingdom (UK), Uganda, Togo, it is a standard clause everywhere. It is just to protect women and nothing else or to even protect men.
    You do not expect to stay with someone for six months and for some reasons, you kick out the person at your own whims and caprices.
    If you are not prepared to treat the person like your wife, do not stay with the person.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon Member, I do not want us to wade into that area as indicated earlier.
    Mr Nitiwul 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I understand. I am just saying that the law is not made because it wants to promote somebody, but for everybody under every circumstance -- to protect everybody.
    I would not be able tell Akosua that “Do not stay with a man”. I may not even know her. But that law is made for somebody who gets into that situation; whatever the difficulty that person finds himself or herself in, whether it is Kwame or Adwoa.
    There are several men who have been perching with women and staying with them for six months and one year. It is to protect them as well. In fact, it is even becoming more serious than the way women stay with men. Many men today in Accra are cohabitating. In fact, the number of men who are doing that are even beginning to --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, we are talking about the Intestate Succession Bill.
    Mr Nitiwul 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I understand. It is that same point I was trying to make, that even if it is in that law, this is the way we should look at it. But I am not saying it is in the Intestate Succession Bill.
    I believe strongly that we should protect, especially people who get themselves caught up in a big mess when their partners are no more there.
    This is because we have a society which understands the situation where when you are no more there, that is when death separates you forever. Even by your wedding vows, we believe that when you are no more there, death separates you forever to the extent that the surviving children in particular are left in the care of women.
    So, if nothing is done to protect them, we are going to have a lot of homeless children walking on the streets though their fathers or mothers could have taken care of them if they were alive.
    We should not make the situation whereby people get unduly punished because one of the spouses is no more there. I just believe that it is important that the laws protect the people.
    You work hard for society, your children, wife or husband but if the unfortunate happens and you are no more there, they should still enjoy the benefit of your sweat.
    In any case, some women stay in the house and are not working because that is a full time job. They are the only people who work twenty-two (22) hours. They work more than 18 hours a day, particularly housewives. They are the only people who wake up at 5 o'clock when the man is still sleeping and they are the last to sleep when the man is sleeping. They do everything. They work every hour. So, why should the law not protect them?
    I am happy that there is a law that would protect them.
    Mr Speaker, this is just a sideway contribution. I did not want to contribute.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Thank you very much.
    The last contribution from the Deputy Majority Leader.
    Mr Alfred Kwame Agbesi (NDC -- Ashaiman) 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I also rise to contribute to the Bill and to urge all Members to support it.
    Mr Speaker, the existing law talks about spouse but this Bill is taking care of spouses, where the deceased may have more than one. In that sense, the
    distribution of the estate can take care of the other spouse, which the existing law does not take care of. This is because in our system, when you are properly married to two or three, and the law talks about spouse, then the other women may not have any share in the estate. So, I support this Bill because it is going to take care of everybody recognised by the deceased as a wife or spouse.
    Mr Speaker, another issue for which I am supporting this Bill is that, most times families move to eject, lock up, take possession of the deceased's property; even some time before the burial of the deceased. This Bill is against it and such a person or any person who does that is to be punished.
    Here again, I would say that the recommendation of the Committee that such a person should be fined a 500 penalty unit or imprisonment for four years, in my view is too small and lenient.
    When a person has toiled with his spouse and children and is no more, somebody from the village would just rush down and lock up the room in which the deceased was. Sometimes, they do not even allow the spouse to take her property. They just lock the property in and ask her to go.
    Such a thing should attract severe punishment and I would ask that at the appropriate time, I would call for an amendment calling for severe terms of imprisonment without the option of a fine.
    Mr Kwame Governs Agbodza 12:50 p.m.
    -- rose
    -- 12:50 p.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon Member, are you on a point of order?
    Mr Agbodza 1 p.m.
    My Leader keeps referring to somebody would come from the village and take the property. I am from the village. Even some people from Accra or Kumasi can do the same thing. So, he should refrain from using the statement, “People would come from the village to take the property”.
    Whether village or city, they can do the same thing.
    Mr Agbesi 1 p.m.
    I withdraw the word “village”.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 p.m.
    Very well. Proceed.
    Mr Agbesi 1 p.m.
    Family members may come and lock up the house or the room in which the deceased was, just because they want to take possession of the property of the deceased and that is exactly what I am against. I am saying that punishment for that must be so severe to deter people from doing that.
    Again, I am saying that the Bill has taken care of the interest of dependents and children, even before the distribution of the estate and that is a laudable idea, so that the children who are left behind by the deceased would not be roaming saying that their property had been taken away.
    Mr Speaker, another issue that attracts my interest is the issue of joint property.
    As other contributors have said, spouses may acquire property together; they may even have joint interest in some property but when the time comes for distribution, the interest of the spouse is not taken care of in respect to the joint property. And this Bill has made provision for that, such that the women who toiled, and might have done everything possible to make the man what he is, will be left with something.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, can you sum up?
    Mrs M. B. Appiah-Opong 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in summary, this Bill is meant to correct and fill, in some gaps that existed in the previous Law 111, which was passed in 1985. This Bill is a good thing; it explains some of the issues that were in the old Bill. For example, now, it is clearer what goes to several spouses who have been married under a polygamous marriage; it recognises that the nuclear family is becoming more and more important and therefore, I will humbly urge the House to consider and pass this Bill.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    The Intestate Succession Bill, 2013 was accordingly read a Second time.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Majority Chief Whip --
    Alhaji Muntaka 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to seek your permission so that we take item 7 to enable us work on item 9. So, I would be grateful if we could go on to item 7 because it may be difficult for the Hon Minister to be here tomorrow.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 p.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Members, item 7 on the Order Paper.
    Conduct of Public Officers Bill, 2013
    Attorney-General and Minister for Justice (Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah- Opong): Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Conduct of Public Officers Bill, 2013 be now read a Second time.
    Mr Speaker, the purpose of the Bill is to give effect to Chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution, domesticate the United Nations Convention against corruption and African Union Convention on Prevention and Combating Corruption and to provide for other purposes.
    The two anti-corruption Conventions were rati fied by Parl iament on 14th December, 2005. The provisions of these Conventions provide the international template for anti-corruption.
    Each public office occupies a position of trust to serve the best interest of the general public. Public office is defined in article 295 of the Constitution to include an office, the emoluments attached to which are paid directly from the Consolidated Fund or directly out of moneys provided by Parliament. It also
    includes an office in a public corporation established entirely out of public funds or moneys provided by Parliament.
    Increasingly, the populace expects and demands that public officials perform their functions with integrity and in a fair and unbiased manner. Public officers are therefore not expected to allow their private interests and affiliations to compromise official decision-making and public management. When public officials breach the duty of trust, a conflict of interest situation arises.
    Chapter 24, article 284 -288 of the 1992 Constitution provides a Code of Conduct for Public Officials. The Constitution does not however define in detail the situations that constitute conflict of interest, neither is there a legal framework which the Commission can rely on to determine complaints made against public officers. The absence of a definition of conflict of interest and a unified code of conduct for public officers makes the process of the investigation of allegations of conflict of interest difficult for the Commission and the public officer against whom the allegation has been made.
    Legislation on corruption in this country is scattered in a number of laws. The Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) contains provisions on corruption but these are inadequate to deal with public office accountability. The present state of the law does not provide the necessary deterrence to achieve zero tolerance for corruption in public office. Although there are public finance laws, like the Financial Administration Act, 2003 (Act 654), Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663), Internal Audit Agency Act, 2003 (Act 658) and the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584), all intended to regulate the financial management in the country and curb the
    leakage of resources. They do not adequately deal with the problem of corruption of a public officer.
    There is the need to upgrade our laws to meet the United Nations and African Union minimum standards as contained in the Conventions, as regards public officer accountability and corruption.
    The Bill indicates what disqualifies a person from holding public office. There are provisions on declaration of assets and liabilities.
    A public officer is required to submit to the Auditor-General a declaration of assets owned directly or indirectly by the public officer and liabilities owed directly or indirectly by the public officer.
    Assets acquired after a declaration of assets will be deemed to have been acquired unlawfully unless they can reasonably be regarded as being income, acceptable gifts, loans, inheritance or otherwise lawful. A public officer is required to submit accurate information and to provide clarification where necessary.
    A declaration made under this Bill is admissible evidence before a court of competent jurisdiction, a commission of enquiry appointed under article 278 of the Constitution or an investigator appointed by the Commissioner for Human Rights and Administrative Justice.
    Failure to submit a declaration as required under this Bill, or the submission of a declaration that contains false or misleading information in an offence leading to liability on summary conviction to a fine of not more than two hundred and fifty penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than two years or to both.
    The Auditor-General is required to keep information obtained under this Bill confidential and to retain the information for not less than five years after the public officer ceases to be a public officer.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Chairman of the Committee?
    Question proposed.
    Mr Magnus K. Amoatey (NDC -- Yilo Krobo) 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to seek your leave to support this Motion on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee. In so doing --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Indeed, you are seconding the Motion.
    Mr Amoatey 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am seconding the Motion. In so doing, I present your Committee's Report.
    Mr Speaker, the Bill was referred to the Committee on Constitutional Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration. We considered a few documents such as the 1992 Constitution, the Standing Orders of this House and other instruments of relevance, and we are grateful to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and her staff for assisting us as well as the Commissioner for Human Rights and Administrative Justice.
    Introduction
    The Conduct of Public Officers Bill, 2013 was presented to Parliament and read the first time on Monday, 16th December, 2013. In accordance with article 106(4) and (5) of the Constitution and Order 179 of the Standing Orders of the House, Mr Speaker referred the Bill to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report.
    The Committee during the conside- ration of the Bill received a Memorandum from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) expressing its view on the Bill. In attendance to assist the Committee were Officials from the Drafting Division of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney- General's Department.
    Reference
    The Committee referred to the following documents during its deliberations.
    i. The 1992 Constitution
    ii. The Standing Orders of Parliament
    iii.The Public Officers Act, 1962 (Act 114)
    iv.The Public Office Holder 's (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act, 1998 (Act
    550)
    v. The National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) (2012-
    2021)
    vi. The United Nations Convention Against Corruption, 2003
    vii. The African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, 2003
    Background
    Chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution provides for a code of conduct for public officers in respect of conflict of interest, declaration of assets and liabilities among others. Public office is defined in article 295 of the Constitution, to “include an office the emoluments attached to which are paid directly from the Consolidated Fund or directly out of moneys provided by Parliament; and an office in a public corporation established entirely out of public funds or moneys provided by Parliament”.
    Article 284 of the Constitution places a responsibility on public officers not to put themselves in a position where their personal interest conflicts or is likely to conflict with the performance of the functions of their office.
    In furtherance of the provisions of Chapter 24 of the Constitution, CHRAJ is tasked to investigate allegations of contraventions of or non-compliance with, the code of conduct for public officers, including conflict of interests. However, the Constitution does not define in detail situations that constitute conflict of interest.
    The absence of a clear definition of conflict of interest and a unified code of conduct for public officers, make the process of investigating allegations of conflict of interest difficult for both CHRAJ and the public officer against whom an allegation is made. In addition, existing legislations relating to conduct of public officers are also not adequate to deal with public office accountability. Hence the need to define, identify and manage conflict of interest to ensure that, public officers perform their functions with integrity, in a fair and unbiased manner and in accordance with the Constitution.
    JJJJSPSPACE FORSS 1:10 p.m.

    SPACE FOR APPENDIX -- 1:10 p.m.

    SPACE FOR APPENDIX -- 1:10 p.m.

    SPACE FOR APPENDIX -- 1:10 p.m.

    SPACE FOR APPENDIX -- 1:10 p.m.

    SPACE FOR APPENDIX -- 1:10 p.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Member for Old Tafo?
    Dr A. A. Osei 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I was observing my screen, and it says Mr Buah is speaking. It is not Mr Buah. [Interruption]-- That is what is showing here. We have been asked to sit on our seats, so that we can identify who is speaking. So, I would want to bring to his attention, that he should identify himself. It is not Mr Buah who is there.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Member, if you heard him in his introductory remarks, he said he was doing it on behalf of --
    Dr A. A. Osei 1:10 p.m.
    He is being identified here as Mr Buah, officially, according to our microphone. The monitor showed him as Mr Buah because he is sitting at Mr Buah's place.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Member.
    Mr Amoatey 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to explain that the microphone is not working on my desk and that is why I came here to make use of Hon Buah's microphone. My name is Kofi Amoatey.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Yes, Hon K. T. Hammond?
    Mr Kobina Tahir Hammond 1:10 p.m.
    It is exactly the difficulty we have now. The other day --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Please, let us go ahead and address the issue.
    Mr Hammond 1:10 p.m.
    We are addressing the issue. The fact is that the Hon Member, whom I do not know -- the Second
    Deputy Speaker also indicated that individuals should sit at their respective and proper places to be recognised by this equipment. This is because it is voice sensitive. So, it could not be -- Who? Mr Buah? How can you stand in Mr Buah's place and be making the kind of argument you are making? When this machine is --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Member, your point has been made by the Hon Member for Old Tafo. He has indicated and corrected the positions. So, we do not need to stress this matter. [Interruption] You are using somebody else's microphone. How are you going to be recorded? Anyway, we have taken care of that.
    Please, proceed.
    Mr Hammond 1:10 p.m.
    This is men's kusti, so, we would sort it out. But at least, I thought --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    At the appropriate time, we will sort it out.
    Mr Hammond 1:10 p.m.
    At the next moment, if he has something to say, he should sit at the proper place.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    We will sort it out.
    Mr Hammond 1:10 p.m.
    I am going to my proper place.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Very well.
    Yes Hon Member, please, proceed.
    Hon Members, I want to propose that we defer the debates till tomorrow, and if possible for us to take a look at the Customs Bill, 2014 because of its urgency as well as its relationship with the budget. If you are in agreement, we will go about it in that way.
    So, I direct that further debate on this Motion be deferred to tomorrow.
    Hon Deputy Majority Leader, we are in your hands.
    Mr Agbesi 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we can move to item numbered nine (9), Customs Bill,
    2014.
    BILLS -- CONSIDERATION 1:20 p.m.

    STAGE 1:20 p.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Hon Members, Customs Bill at the Consideration Stage. We have done a bit of work with regard to this, so, I would like to hear from the Chairman of the Committee.
    Mr James Klutse Avedzi 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if we can start from clause 48 --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Clause 48?
    Mr Avedzi 1:20 p.m.
    Yes.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Very well.
    Clause 48 -- Time of entry
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Yes Chairman of the Committee?
    Mr Avedzi 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 48, subclause (5), delete.
    Mr Speaker, the Committee proposes the deletion of clause 48 completely because it is redundant. This is because the time of entry has nothing to do with the attachment of the prohibited goods to the Harmonized System. Anyone who wants to know the goods that are prohibited to be imported can have the Schedule --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Hon Chairman, I believe you are talking about clause 48, subclause (5), not the whole of clause 48? I think it was a slip of tongue?
    Mr Avedzi 1:20 p.m.
    Yes, clause 48, subclause (5), delete.
    I am saying that if you want to know the list of goods that are prohibited to be imported, you can have it as a Schedule to the Harmonized System. It has nothing to do with the time of entry; therefore, it is redundant at this point.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    It straightforward. I will put the Question.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Clause 48 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Clauses 49 and 50 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Clause 51 -- Missing or incomplete documents.
    Mr Avedzi 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 51, subclause (2), line 3, delete “ninety-six hours” and insert “four working days”.
    Mr Speaker, the amendment is just to make the rendition more and easily readable to all of us. “Ninety-six hours” is the same as “four working days”. So, we are just converting it from hours to days.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Very well.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Clause 51 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Clause 52 -- Uncleared goods.
    Mr Avedzi 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 52, line 1, delete “in any aircraft or ship” and insert “by a conveyance or inland water way or rail road”.
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition will read 1:20 p.m.
    “Where goods imported by a conveyance or inland water way or rail road are not entered within seven days after being unloaded or within a further period as the proper officer in special circumstances allow, the proper officer may deposit the goods in a State warehouse”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 52 , line 4, after “direct” insert “the importer or” and in lines 4 and 5, delete “of the aircraft or ship”
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition will read 1:20 p.m.
    “The proper officer may deposit the goods in a State warehouse or may direct the importer or the agent to deposit the goods immediately in a specified State warehouse”.
    rose
    Dr Prempeh 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, it looks like on our side -- [Interruption.]
    Yes, I have to bring to the Speaker any urgent matter that has happened. It is a very important Bill that we want to participate fully. There are very pressing matters. That is why when I look at my side, I do not see people participating and it is not good for the Customs Bill --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Very well.
    I direct that the bell be rung for us to continue.
    Dr Prempeh 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, based upon what? I do not want any bell ringing. [Laughter.]
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Clause 52 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Clause 53 - State warehouse.
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
    Mr Nitiwul 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, sorry to interrupt. I do not mean to.
    Seriously, the concern he raised is a real genuine one, just that we did not want to raise it. I discussed it with the Hon Deputy Majority Leader as well as the Hon Majority Chief Whip. It is a real genuine concern. So, we should try and see what we can do. This is because inasmuch as we do not have any problem and want to work -- it is a real genuine concern.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:30 p.m.
    Well. It is all because there is a genuine concern, which has been raised and I have directed that the bell be rung. It is in accordance with the rules. After that if we still do not have a quorum, we will go ahead and give directives.
    Yes, Chairman of the Committee-- Clause 53.
    Mr Avedzi 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 53, Headnote, before “State” insert “Deposit of goods in”
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition will read 1:30 p.m.
    “Deposit of goods in State warehouse”.
    The content of that clause deals with the deposit of goods and therefore, the State warehouse as captured does not actually capture the intent of that particular clause. So, we are just correcting it.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:30 p.m.
    This is a straightforward amendment. I will put the Question.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Clause 53 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Clauses 54, 55 and 56 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:30 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Member?
    Dr Prempeh 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am in favour of doing the work because the bell has been rung, but the numbers to take the decision-- So, if you could go through everything and when we get the numbers, we take one global decision. That is what I am drawing your mind to, according to our Standing Orders.
    We could go through everything instead of calling for numbers. This is because we do not have the numbers to take the decision. But we could globalise all and take --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:30 p.m.
    Hon Member, once you have drawn our attention to it, we have to comply with the rules; we cannot circumvent the rules.
    Hon Members, at this stage, we will have to bring proceedings to a close because we do not form a quorum. I will therefore, revert to the Deputy Majority Leader.
    I believe that this brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage.
    Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
    Mr Alfred K. Agbesi 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, having regard to the time and the observation of Hon Members, I beg to move, that the House do adjourn till tomorrow 10.00 o'clock before noon.
    Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul 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 1.34p.m. till Friday, 14th November, 2014 at 10.00 a.m.