Debates of 20 May 2015

MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
PRAYERS 10:45 a.m.

ANNOUNCEMENTS 10:45 a.m.

Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon Members, I have received a communication from the Office of the President.
“19th May, 2015
THE RT. HON. SPEAKER
OFFICE OF PARLIAMENT 10:45 a.m.

PARLIAMENT HOUSE ACCRA 10:45 a.m.

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC 10:45 a.m.

OF GHANA 10:45 a.m.

Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon Members, we have some august visitors in this House. It is a delegation of Hon Members from the Committee of Defence and Internal Affairs of the Parliament of Uganda. They are visiting Ghana from the 16th to the 24th of May, 2015.
They are here, among others, to benchmark the anti-terrorism law(s) and other relevant legislation that have been enacted by Parliament to deal with terrorism. The visit is also intended to create the platform to deepen the already cordial relat ions between the two Legislatures.
The delegation comprises:
Hon Benny Namugwanya -- Chairperson
Hon Simon Mulongo -- Vice Chairpson
Hon Peter Okeyoh -- Member
Hon Frederick Mbagadhi -- Member
Hon Roselilly Akello -- Member
Hon Peter Eriaku -- Member
Hon Ibrahim Semujju -- Member
Mr Victor Manzi -- Clerk
Mr James Anguda -- Legal Adviser
Hon Members, on your behalf, I wish them a pleasant stay in the country and fruitful deliberations.
Mr First Deputy Speaker
Hon Members, we have some august visitors in this House. It is a delegation of Hon Members from the Committee of Defence and Internal Affairs of the Parliament of Uganda. They are visiting Ghana from the 16th to the 24th of May, 2015.
They are here, among others, to benchmark the anti-terrorism law(s) and other relevant legislation that have been enacted by Parliament to deal with terrorism. The visit is also intended to create the platform to deepen the already cordial relat ions between the two Legislatures.
The delegation comprises:
Hon Benny Namugwanya -- Chairperson
Hon Simon Mulongo -- Vice Chairpson
Hon Peter Okeyoh -- Member
Hon Frederick Mbagadhi -- Member
Hon Roselilly Akello -- Member
Hon Peter Eriaku -- Member
Hon Ibrahim Semujju -- Member
Mr Victor Manzi -- Clerk
Mr James Anguda -- Legal Adviser
Hon Members, on your behalf, I wish them a pleasant stay in the country and fruitful deliberations.
10.55. a.m.
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT 10:55 a.m.

Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report.
  • [No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 19th May, 2015.]
  • [No correction was made to the Official Report of Wednesday, 13th May, 2015.]
  • Mr Justice Joe Appiah 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we just took this document from our pigeon-holes. It is a list of presidential staffers as of 31st December, 2014. The reason is that we need an update; Mr Prosper D. K. Bani is no more the Chief of Staff. Mr Speaker, we need an update. I just took it from the mails.
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think the list of the presidential staffers was laid in the House, and referred to a Committee for consideration and report. A report has not come. So, the Hon Member should hold his gun. When the report comes, then we can commence from there.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Member for Ablekuma North, in any case, I do not think your point was raised at the right time. We were moving to Question time. So, you are completely out of order.
    Hon Members, there is one Question which stands in the name of Mr Mustapha Ussif, Hon Member for Yabaga/Kubori Constituency.
    Hon Member, you have the floor.
    ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS 10:55 a.m.

    MINISTRY OF PETROLEUM 10:55 a.m.

    Minister for Petroleum (Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah) 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Ghana National Gas Company Limited (Ghana Gas) was formed in 2011. The contract for the construction of the Gas Infrastructure Project (EPCC) was signed in July, 2012. Mechanical completion of the project was achieved in August, 2014 and inauguration started in November, 2014 and ended in April.
    The total budget for the project was one billion United States dollars, made up of US$850 million China Development Bank (CDB) facility and Goverment of Ghana counterpart funding of US$150m.
    The Gas Infrastructure Project in the Western Region consists of the following components:
    1. Offshore Pipeline
    2. Gas Processing Plant at Atuabo
    3. Onshore Pipeline to gas off- centres (Aboadze and Prestea)
    4. Operations Office Complex at Essiama.

    Cost of facility

    Contractual costs

    Mr Speaker, total paid and committed costs to date amount to US$886,345,

    042.13.

    Total amount yet to be committed is

    US$113,654,957.87.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, any follow up question?
    Mr Ussif 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister for Petroleum whether he is aware that Ghana Gas submitted a total cost to the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) in order to obtain tariff for the sale of the gas from the Atuabo Gas Project and if so, how much did Ghana Gas submit to PURC in order to obtain the tariff?
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, I am not too clear about your question but if the Hon Minister understands it, I will allow him to answer it. It is not clear.
    Mr Ussif 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to repeat the question. My question is, whether the Hon Minister is aware that Ghana Gas submitted a cost component to PURC in order to obtain tariff for the sale of the gas from the Atuabo Gas Project.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Hon Minister?
    Mr Buah 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think the Hon Member is veering to ask me a question on the tariff, and that is a comprehensive Question. If that is the question he wants to ask, I would be prepared to come and answer it.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, that was why I was telling you that I was not too clear in my mind. You asked for the cost element of this project; he has provided an answer, and now, you are asking whether he is aware of - So, Hon Minister, he wants you to tell us whether you are aware that any such proposal was submitted to PURC.
    Mr Buah 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I know in determining tariff for the lean gas, the Ghana Gas Company engaged the PURC. I know that certain discussions were included in determining the tariff, the capital cost, the estimated operating cost, the estimated rate of return, actual investment and other plans for the future, were the determinants in coming up with the tariff.
    I would be happy to come with specifics, if the Hon Member can ask the specific question. But I know that the engagement took place; I know that the tariff certainly involves these elements. I do not have the specifics.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, your second follow-up question.
    Mr Ussif 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I have in my hands a document from PURC, which they used in computing to get the tariff for the sale of the gas from the Atuabo Gas Project and the figure for the total cost of the Atuabo Gas Project is US$1.578 billion, which is different from what the Hon Minister is giving to this House.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Can you please, lay the document?
    Mr Ussif 10:55 a.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker.
    [Document laid on the Table].
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, if you have a third follow-up question, deal with that and we would come back later after inspecting the document.
    Mr Ussif 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am aware that the Atuabo Gas Project initiated by Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) with the World Bank support, the Hon Minister abrogated that particular process, which would have cost this country less than the US$1.578 billion that the Hon Minister is going to invest in this project. Can the Hon Minister tell this House why he abandoned the original GNPC-World Bank Project for China Development Bank (CDB's) Sinopec Project?
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Hon Ahmed?
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 10:55 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Order! Allow him to land.
    Mr Ibrahim 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, by Standing Order 69 (1) -- This question should be overruled because it is not a supplementary question but rather it is a substantive Question -- [Interruption.]
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    Hon Awuah?
    Mr Awuah 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think, to observe decorum in this House, we should respect the Chair. I thought you had admitted the question and had even asked the Hon Minister to answer. So, any intervention from any Hon Member should not supersede your ruling.
    Mr Speaker, I think that, as you rightly invited the Hon Minister to answer it, you should do so without listening to any other intervention from any Hon Member.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    All right. Hon Members, at the time, I was having a discussion with the Clerks-at-the-Table. Can the Hon Member go over his question, so that I am clear in my mind what I am doing?
    Mr Ussif 10:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, my question is simple. I said, I am aware that this Atuabo Gas Project was originally initiated by GNPC-World Bank. The Hon Minister abandoned the original, which would have cost this country less than the USD 1.578 billion we are spending today.
    So, would the Hon Minister tell this House why he abandoned the original GNPC-World Bank Project for the CDD Sinopec loan to put more burden on this country?
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:55 a.m.
    No! I believe that we should go step by step. Is it the case that there was something that was abandoned? We would get that from the Hon Minister first and then there can be a follow-up.
    Hon Minister?
    Mr Buah 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am not sure the Hon Minister has a contract in his hand that says that the World Bank had executed an agreement for a project, which is less in the contract amount and if he does, he can provide it to this House. I am aware that GNPC began feasibility studies of this project and they even constructed a 14 kilometre pipeline and that pipeline was continued by Ghana Gas. There was no agreement or loan from the World Bank. So, the statement that has been made is not factually correct.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:05 a.m.
    Let us come back to your earlier question in respect of which you laid your document. I have had a look at the document and while I do not want to be disputing, I do not see it as
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:05 a.m.
    Very well. If there are no questions --
    Yes, Hon Member for Old Tafo?
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, in the first paragraph of the Minister's Answer and with your permission, I beg to quote:
    “The contract for the construction of the Gas Infrastructure Project (EPCC) was signed in July, 2012.”
    Can the Minister tell this House if that contract has ever been brought to the House for approval under article 18 (1) of our dear Constitution which we swore to defend?
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:05 a.m.
    Hon Member, are we not veering off? [Interruptions.]
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, that is why I sought your guidance to quote:
    “The contract for the construction of the Gas Infrastructure Project (EPCC) was signed in July, 2012.”
    That is his Answer. So, I am asking him if he can confirm if Parliament has approved it.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:05 a.m.
    Hon Minister, could you please, answer the question?
    Mr Buah 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am aware that a legally binding contract between a limited liability company, Ghana Gas Company and Sinopec was signed and I believe that by the laws of Ghana, that was very legal.
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, my question was, can he confirm if it has come to Parliament? Either he can confirm or he cannot. The statement he is giving is not answering my question. He was the Deputy Minister in charge of Petroleum and he is now the substantive Minister. So, all I am asking is, can he in his capacity confirm if this contract has been approved by Parliament? This is a simple question.
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is why I was on my feet the first time. The problem is that there are so many contracts that have gone through the Ministry. If it is not a substantive Question, the Minister offhand, may not be able to give out which contract is which. That is why I wanted it to be a substantive Question where the Minister would be asked about this contract.
    As of now, we are answering a Question on the actual total cost of Atuabo Gas Project. Members should not digress from the actual Question and introduce new questions that the Minister may get confused and may not be able to answer.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and I entreat you to overrule this question.
    Mr Alexander K. Afenyo-Markin 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect, I believe we work with our own rules. With your leave, I beg to quote Order 69 (1).
    “As soon as a Question is answered in the House any Member beginning with the Member who asked the Question may, without notice, ask a supplementary Question for the further elucidation of any matter of fact regarding which the answer has been given, but a supplementary Question must not be used to introduce matter not included in the Original Question.”
    Mr Speaker, here we are where in an Answer to the Question, the Minister himself introduces a matter which is relevant to the very Question which has been asked. If further clarification is being sought on the very matter which he has raised, which is part of the official records, I beg to differ with the position of Hon Ahmed Ibrahim that this is a new matter being introduced; it is not. It is integral, it is an ex post facto matter and the Minister should be in a position to answer because he submitted these answers.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:05 a.m.
    If you read the Order that you read out, the latter part of it talks about relevance to the Question. [Interruptions.]
    Hon Member, please, let me land. It talks about relevance to the Question and not the Answer. So, if it does not relate to the Question which is asking for total cost and which Answer has been given, I do not think -- If you want to ask a specific Question concerning that particular issue, you are free to do so and nothing debars you. But for now, the Question asked for total cost, the cost and details have been given and I think that ends the matter.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we always learn at your feet. If the Question has to do with the cost of the project, by a constitutional provision, that project with its contracts, which in itself is an International Commercial Agreement, must come to the House. If we are asking about the cost of the project, so relevant is the project itself and the Agreement because if I want to know about the cost of a particular project, it becomes very relevant and supplementary if I want to ask whether the very project has been laid in the House. All that one wants to know -- [Interruption.]
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:05 a.m.
    Hon Member, that can be the substance of another Question and you are free to do so.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I will not challenge your ruling. I am grateful.
    Mr J. J. Appiah 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, may I crave your indulgence to read from the Minister's Answer?
    “Mr Speaker, total paid and committed costs to date amount to
    US$886,345,042.13.”
    When you add this and the amount left, it would hit exactly one billion dollars. May I ask the Minister if Government would not seek any more costs apart from the one billion dollars? Why is the gas not flowing and could he give us a progress report on that project?
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:05 a.m.
    Hon Member, your question is not allowed because it is not relevant.
    Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to ask the Hon Minster for Petroleum, that the Answer he has given and I beg to quote:
    “The contract for the construction of the Gas Infrastructure Project (EPCC) was signed in July, 2012.”
    Could he kindly make a copy of this contract available to this House?
    Mr Buah 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I will work with Ghana Gas to provide the information.
    Mr Awuah 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Minister says that he will bring the document. Within what time frame is he bringing it to the House, so that we could be sure that he is bringing it?
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:05 a.m.
    Hon Minister, how soon can you make it available?
    Mr Buah 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I will make the document available as quickly as possible, but latest by the 13th of June.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:05 a.m.
    Hon Minister, I did not hear you clearly.
    Mr Buah 11:05 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, as I said, I would work as quickly as possible with Ghana Gas but I hope to get the document here by the 13th of June. [Interruption.]
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:05 a.m.
    Could we have some order?
    Mr Awuah 11:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to implore the Hon Minister to be very serious with this House. I am saying this because he knows very well that 13th of June is a Saturday and we do not Sit on Saturdays. And so, how is he bringing the documents on a Saturday?
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
    Hon Member, I think saying that the Hon Minister should be serious with us is rather too harsh. He cannot know offhand whether it is a Sitting day or dies non; he cannot say offhand but he is saying that give him up to about 13th of June. If it is a dies non, all that we do is to have the next Sitting day as the date line and so, I do not think it is fair to him for you to say that he should be serious with us.
    Mr Awuah 11:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister knows very well that we do not sit on Saturdays and so, if he is ready to amend his answer, I can easily withdraw the usage of the word “serious”. Mr Speaker, if in your view, it is unparliamen- tary, I humbly withdraw using that word on him.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
    Hon Member, if the 13th of June is not a Sitting day, he said by the 13th of June. It could be before but it cannot be after. If it is not a Sitting day, we would take the next nearest Sitting date as the date line and I think we should not have any problem. But it is not definite that it would be provided on the 13th of June; he said “by the 13th of June.”
    Mr Awuah 11:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, if you so rule, I agree.
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, with respect to the Hon Minister, he is an Hon Member of this House. If he has had custody of this document since July 2012, and it is going to take him that long -- he is a Member of this House and he should do it as a favour and -- [Interruption.]
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
    Hon Member, you heard the preamble to that statement that he is going to liaise with the Ghana Gas Company and so, let us not overstretch this particular point. He has given us a time frame and so, let us give him the opportunity to work within that time frame and then by the time the time is up, if we do not hear from him, we know what to do.
    Prof. Gearge Yaw Gyan-Baffour 11:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to know from the Hon Minister if the first paragraph of his Answer is correct? If it is, did he sign the Agreement before or after parliamentary approval?
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
    Hon Member, can you please, go over your question?
    Prof. Gyan-Baffour 11:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, usually, Agreements that come before this House, one initials, comes for the approvals and then signs. But he said he signed it, and so, my question is, did he sign it before the approval of this House or after that approval?
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
    Hon Member, I think I have given a ruling with regard to coming to Parliament and all that and so, I still stand by that ruling.
    But then, let us not forget that Ghana Gas Company is a limited liability company. It is an entity of its own. I am talking about the time frame we are giving to him to produce it. And so, it is not as simple as dealing with any Government agency.
    Hon Members, this brings us to the end of Question time.
    Thank you very much Hon Minister, for attending upon this House. You are discharged.
    Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business.
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 11:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we can take item numbered 5 on the Order Paper.
    Some Hon Member -- rose --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
    Do you have matters to be dealt with before the Commencement of Business? -- [Inter- ruption.]
    Very well. One at a time.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 11:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to seek your guidance on a matter of public interest.
    Mr Speaker, the Daily Graphic reported in its Monday, the 18th of May, 2015 edition, of an increase in fuel price.
    We know that this House legislated on the processes and modalities to be applied by National Petroleum Authority (NPA) in coming up with fuel price adjustments.
    Mr Speaker, it was announced that the adjustment was nine per cent upward but we are at a loss as to whether it was strictly done based on the formula in the said enactment.
    We all know that as a result of the energy crises we have, there is a problem with the cost of doing business and as we speak today, Ghanaians are paying more whereas they endure the dumsor dumsor. I think in my humble view, and I beg to seek your guidance, of whether the Hon Minister responsible for Petroleum could come to this House on your direction to give further explanation how the formula was applied and why we have the nine per cent upward adjustment.
    This is because, sometime back, there was a windfall and when that happened Ghanaians did not benefit from a reduction which was to correspond with the reduction in the world price of crude.
    Mr Speaker, this is a matter that we as Hon Members of Parliament (MPs), the 275 of us, when we go to our various constituencies, our constituents would ask us how come the nine per cent.
    We should be able to explain why there is a nine per cent in addition to the burden on businesses in purchasing diesel, petrol to power their machines to do their businesses. We are at a loss and we do not know how they arrived at this.
    Mr Speaker, I believe that this is a matter within your domain to direct on.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:15 a.m.
    Very well, Hon Member.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 11:25 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am grateful exceedingly to you for your position.
    However, on this specific one, I was coming under Order 72. I was routing my statement on Order 72, which is also allowed by our rules and I fully comply with the provisions of Order 72, other provisions notwithstanding.
    I am not taking the Chair by surprise and neither am I ambushing anybody. I came strictly under Order 72 and I am grateful. That not withstanding, I take a cue from your ruling.
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
    Are you on a point of order when we have exhausted this issue?
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 11:25 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I was on my feet on a very serious issue concerning what the Hon Member has done twice.
    Mr Speaker, we must take our Standing Orders serious just as you rightly ruled. The Hon Member concerned, because he did it once today and he was not called to Order, he has repeated it. He was on his feet again after your ruling. Meanwhile, Standing Order 98 is clear:
    “Mr Speaker shall be responsible for the observance of order in the House and of the rules of debate, and his decision upon any point of order shall not be open to appeal and shall not be reviewed by the House, except upon a substantive motion made after notice”.
    Mr Speaker, after you had ruled that he could make use of the Standing Orders, he came back again. I think if we treat our Standing Orders this way, there will be no Standing Order to follow very soon. We must respect our own Standing Orders. That is why I was on my feet.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Members, I bring this chapter to a close. Once I have directed on that, there are avenues opened. So, the Hon Member can address the issue.
    Mr Awuah 11:25 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise on a different issue.
    Mr Speaker, the Electoral Commission of Ghana started a continuous registration exercise on Monday, 17th May, 2015. It was intended to be completed on 2nd June, 2015. We were told yesterday that the Electoral Commission had suspended the registration exercise.
    Mr Speaker, some people were registered between Monday 17th May, 2015 and yesterday. The people of Ghana will want to know how many people were registered within the period that the registration started.
    Mr Speaker, the exercise has been suspended. We would also want to know what is going to be done next after the suspension, and what actually led to the suspension. I just want to plead with you to invite the Chairman of the Electoral Commission to come and brief the House on the issues that I have just raised.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
    Very well.

    Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business —

    Hon Second Deputy Majority Whip?
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 11:25 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we can take item number 5 on the Order Paper -- Conduct of Public Officers Bill, 2013.
    BILL— CONSIDERATION STAGE
    Conduct of Public Officers Bill, 2013
  • [Resumption of debate from 14/05/ 2015]
  • Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
    Hon Member, are you already up? Very well.
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:25 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I raised this issue the last time and I am compelled to raise it again. This is a very important Bill that concerns all public officers, including Members of Parliament (MPs). Some people think that the Bill is meant for Members of Parliament. It is important for more Hon Members of the House to be available for us to do this thing properly. Trying to rush this thing through, is not the best. That is why the Rt Hon Speaker stood down clause 1 to 13 -- very important clauses. I do not believe the Committee can convince us that they have solved all those problems.
    Mr Speaker, if you look at clause 6, it is lifted from the Constitution, but not in toto. So, there is a problem. I beg the Committee; I think more work or participation needs to be done — I do not want to invoke Standing Order 48 but I might have to do it if I am compelled to. I think there is no rush — I do not see the
    urgency when there are serious flaws with the Committee's work. I believe that the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee ought to take its time and do the proper thing for the sake of all public officers, not just the Members of Parliament.
    Mr Speaker, I plead with you, can you direct the Committee that they should step this down?
    The Hon Majority Leader who was trying to lead it is not here; Mr Speaker is not here — He stood down clause 1 to 13. I do not know if he discussed his reasons. The Hon Minority Leader is not here; the Hon Deputy Majority Leader and Hon Deputy Minority Leader are not here — the serious leadership of the House are not even available for such an important Bill. The Hon Ranking and the Hon Chairman of the Committee are not here. This is not the best way for us to conduct our Business. I beg you.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
    Hon Members, you remember that at yesterday's Sitting, there was an indication that some winnowing should take place? I have been informed by the Committee that there has been some winnowing and a lot of the issues have been addressed. I would have thought that we could move on, deal with them, and if we have any bottlenecks, then we can think of standing down certain aspects of the Bill for further consideration at the winnowing.
    Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh 11:25 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I can never question the work of a Committee of the House, but I am questioning this upon the basis of a question that was asked by the Rt Hon Speaker. The Rt. Hon Speaker sitting in the Chair asked the First Vice Chairman of the Committee this specific question; “Did you take into consideration the Public Holders' Declaration Assets Act?” The Frist Vice Chairman said, yes.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:25 a.m.
    Very well.
    Let me get the response from the Vice Chairman of the Committee — How do you
    respond to the submissions made by the Hon Member?
    Mr Magnus Kofi Amoatey 11:25 a.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to respond to the comments of my Hon Colleagues.
    Mr Speaker, in the first place, if our argument is that some key Hon Members of this Honourable House are absent and therefore, we may not be in a position to handle matters properly before the House, I think it is a slur on other Hon Members of the House. I believe that every Hon Member of this Honourable House is competent enough to handle matters that are brought before the House, and therefore, I think it is an unfair statement on other Hon Members of the House —
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:25 a.m.
    On a Point of Order.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is implying that our statement imputed something about their character. That is not what I meant.
    Mr Speaker, the reason I said that was, when Hon Alban S.K Bagbin was contributing to the Bill, he told us that this Bill had nothing to do with the asset declaration —That was what he said, and then subsequently, the Rt Hon Speaker found out that we were going to repeal part, through clause 58. I am saying that, if the person who is pushing the Bill does not even know that they have a relationship, it is problematic. That is the reason it is important to bring his attention to the fact that there are some contradic- tions.
    Mr Speaker, I do not want us to go through this, so that we are always pushing them back. There was a reason when the Rt Hon Speaker said that he was standing down clause 1 to 16. That is what the Rt Hon Speaker said -- stand down
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Vice Chairman, can you proceed with your submission?
    Mr Amoatey 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the other leg of the comment is that, the issue of repeal of the Assets Declaration was not in the Memorandum. With the greatest respect, if you look at the Bill, the last section of the Memorandum, at page 12 of the Bill, it clearly states that The Public Officers Act--
    Clauses 56 and 57 deal with regulations and interpretations; Mr Speaker, with your permission, if I may read.
    “Clause 58 repeals the Public Officers Act, 1962 (Act 114) and the Public Office Holder's (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act, 1998 (Act 550) but saves any Regulations and other matters made or done under the repealed enact- ments.”
    So, Mr Speaker, it is misleading to the House that this part of the Bill was not mentioned in the Memorandum. With the greatest respect, Mr Speaker, I think it was mentioned, properly discussed. If any Member says that it was not discussed at the meeting of the Committee of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, I challenge that Hon Member to come out and say so. This Bill was properly and exhaustively discussed by the Committee and the Report is what we are debating.
    Alhaji Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I do appreciate the Chairman's position on this issue of the Bill to be considered before this House. I believe very strongly that when a Bill is before the House, it becomes the property
    of the House. The Bill can be debated, it can come out as it was brought or as a different thing altogether because it no longer belongs to the person who is even sponsoring it. It becomes the property of the House. So, whether somebody is here, does not matter at all. So, I would appreciate that we go ahead and debate the Bill. There are enough clauses and provisions in our Standing Orders for anybody to come back to suggest a change either to add or subtract from a Bill that is being considered by the House.
    So, I think it should not be a problem at all and we can go ahead and debate the Bill. Anybody who thinks that there is the need for any change to be made in the Bill later on, can come out using the appropriate clauses in our Standing Orders.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Members, I have been assured that the Committee has gone through a winnowing process; that is where the problem lies. For how long shall we keep deferring the consideration of this Bill or the further consideration of this Bill? There are some winnowing; let us give them the chance. As we go along, if we meet any bottlenecks, we would feel free to defer further consideration.
    Yes, Hon Member for Manhyia?
    Dr Prempeh 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Vice Chair of the Committee, in seeking to answer my question, has misled the House. You have a copy of the Memorandum, Mr Speaker, and with your kind permission, I read the paragraph:
    “The purpose of the Bill is to give effect to Chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution, domesticate the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and to provide for other purposes”.
    Dr Prempeh 11:35 a.m.


    Mr Speaker, that is the purpose of the Bill. What he referred to on page XII, which again you have, refers to the second part of the Memorandum that tells us what every clause seeks to do. The last clauses he quoted, clauses 56 and 57 --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Member, let me ask you one question. Assuming that all of that is not in the Memorandum, do we not have the power to look at whatever is before us even if it is not there?
    Dr Prempeh 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, this House has the power to do most of the things we are talking about, but the Hon Members of this House, our minds have not been adverted to the Acts we are repealing. If the Memorandum had said we were to repeal the Public Office Holder's Act like he said, I would have gone to look for the Public Office Holder's Act.
    This is because that is the point said where the Speaker said we are not trying to do the same thing in the Public Office Holder's Act.
    The Chairman said, no. Mr Speaker, that is the reason I say that he is not relating the purpose of this Bill which is a Conduct of Public Officers Bill to Public Holders Asset Declaration.
    Mr Speaker, we would be treading on a dangerous ground because in those two Acts that he seeks to repeal nichodemusly, there are enough clauses that we have to maintain that were not even mentioned here.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:35 a.m.
    Hon Member, in the course of deliberations, you can have access to the Acts you are talking about and then use them to debate. So, for the simple reason that there is no such indication, it means we should adjourn when we are the authors of these
    Bills - They are ours and we have access to them. In the course of consideration, we can draw attention to all of these. I believe that we can make some progress going that way, getting all of these Acts together even if it has not been done at the Committee level for us to be able to address the issues as raised.
    Yes, Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations?
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 11:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity and I do intend to set some records straight.
    Mr Speaker, it was neither the Vice Chairman nor the Chairman of the Committee when the Speaker himself directed -- It was a question he posed after a long winding debate on this particular matter that he asked what was the status of his relationship with the Assets Declaration Act of 1998 Act 550. Indeed, I stood up and offered some explanation, subsequent to which the Speaker drew our attention to clause 58 of the Public Officers Liability Bill, which sought to repeal the Assets Declaration Regime; I thought I should state that.
    But be that as it may, Mr Speaker, may I refer you to article 106 of the 1992 Constitution. Mr Speaker, in this House, our primary responsibility is to exercise the legislative power of the Republic of Ghana and in exercising it, we are enjoined by our own Standing Orders to respect the rules.
    The first part of the Standing Order was to subject this Bill to a Second Reading where the principles were diligently debated. Subsequent to it, I have heard we are not -- Even as I try to ignore it, he must be reminded that by the Standing Orders, we cannot proceed to Considera- tion Stage if you do not successfully go through the Second Reading stage of the
    Bill, with all respect to known and established rules of our Standing Orders.
    Mr Speaker, what is important is the guidance that you had given which has since been ignored. And the guidance is that if we get to clause 58, which seeks to repeal the Assets Declaration Regime and it is the wisdom and judgement of this House that, that legislation ought not be repealed, we would take a collective decision as a House.
    What is important is that I do agree with them that it is a very important piece of legislation affecting conduct of public officials. So, to the extent that we are able to build consensus on many of it, I think I am with them.
    But Mr Speaker, why I referred to article 106 was to remind my Hon Colleague, Dr Prempeh that what clause 106 (2) says and with your indulgence, Mr Speaker, I beg quote. I am particularly interested in (a).
    “No Bill, other than such a bill as is referred to in paragraph . . .”
    I said I am interested in the Bill --
    (a) “it is accompanied by an ex- planatory memorandum setting out in detail the policy and prin- ciples of the bill, the defects of the existing law, the remedies proposed to deal with those defects and the necessity for its introduction;”
    Mr Speaker, the Vice Chairman ably referred to page 12, where you have the signature of the learned Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Marieta Brew Appiah-Opong (Mrs) signing unto the accompanying Memorandum and in fact, satisfying the basic principles and tenets of the Constitution and the Standing Orders of this House.
    Mr Speaker, we can only proceed and where we are not able to build consensus, you will guide us to defer on those matters. But I think that we should not make it look as if the presumption is not rebuttable and therefore, because we have said that we are going to repeal it, we would repeal when we get there.
    When we get there, we would invite cogent arguments from both sides to give reason we think that we should not review that particular legislation. But I think that we should enrich it with inputs by all Hon Members because it will affect us and also affect people who will come after us who aspire to hold public office.
    I thank you for the opportunity.
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 11:45 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, yesterday, we were all in the Chamber and when we were about to adjourn, you directed that we go for winnowing on this particular Bill. Hon Members were called and I could recall that the Principal Assistant Clerk, Mr Ebenezer Djietror called Hon Napo -- [Laughter.]
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    There is nobody known as “Napo” here.
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 11:45 a.m.
    -- Hon Matthew Opoku Prempeh -- [Laughter] -- to come for us to do the winnowing. I even contacted the Clerk that he should call Hon Matthew Opoku Prempeh because he had an issue just after your direction came. Mr Speaker, I was there when he was called. I may not want to make the response public but he knows that winnowing went on yesterday.
    But on a very serious note, when we have a former Hon Majority Leader and a former Attorney-General sitting in this Chamber, then we say that most senior
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    Yes, Hon Member for Old Tafo?
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:45 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, for a leader who wants to build consensus, this is a wrong path he is charting, to give the impression that because we are raising issues, we do not want to fight corruption.
    Mr Speaker, our job is to help Leadership do the right thing. You would recall that when it came to the Electoral Commission matter, the Hon First Deputy Speaker said he would like to defer to the Hon Speaker who was sitting in the Chair.
    [Interruption] -- So, I am only reminding him that the Hon Speaker has issues with this Bill. It was just a reminder but if the Acting Leader thinks that is the path he wants to go and at the same time wants to build consensus, it is fine. We could go there. We do not have enough to do here.
    I could have invoked Standing Order 48. Mr Speaker, at the heart of this matter is that we are trying to craft a Conduct of Public Officers Bill. That is what we are trying to do. We have tried to marry that with the Assets Declaration Bill. Is the Conduct of Public Officers the same thing as Assets Declaration Bill? I referred to the Hon Majority Leader because he insisted that this Bill was different from the Assets Declaration Bill and the Hon Speaker said, no, clause 58 repealed it.
    So, we are trying to marry the two. That is why we saw that in clause 6 -- That is why I brought his attention to this, that he had quoted the Constitution wrongly.
    Mr Speaker, I do not want to sit here and try to bash the Committee's work but that is what we found, that they lifted something from the Constitution and tried to change the words. That is why I said, if they do that, they will force us to be too harsh on the Committee. That is why I thought if key Hon Members of the Committee were around, they might have helped the House do the right thing. But if they think that that is the path they would want to go, please, let us go ahead. When we shoot things down, we would not get consensus. That is what we are going to get.
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 11:45 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
    I believe that we are all interested in the work of the House like the Hon Deputy Majority Whip. Indeed, we all know that this is a Bill whose Committee was chaired by the Hon Majority Leader when he was the Chairman of the Committee on
    Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. Of course, he is not here. I know that they are out of the country together with the Hon Speaker on some important parliamentary business.
    I would have thought that it may help if it is deferred till next Tuesday when hopefully, they would be back. It does not mean that without them this House cannot work. However, it is important to recognise that this is a ground breaking Bill. In fact, assets declaration is really embodied in the Code of Conduct for Public Officers as appears in Chapter 24, so, that really, there is nothing wrong with this repealing the Assets Declaration Bill.
    However, the Bill itself fails to recognise that the presumption of wrongful acquisition of assets, which was discussed some time ago, is part of an evidentiary process which the Bill did not include. So, when some of these matters are being raised, it is not as if Hon Members would want to be stumbling blocks to the work of this House. No! We are all interested in ensuring that the proper thing is done.
    There are occasions when we have enacted laws and later realised that probably, we overlooked some important matters. There is nothing wrong with that if we all agree. I know that the Hon Second Deputy Majority Whip is a very competent legislator and can ably lead this House as tempore leader to shepherd this Bill through. But I believe that it may also help if others are present. So, Mr Speaker, I know yesterday, there was supposed to be some winnowing.
    Even though winnowing is not part of the legislative process, we have come to accept it as a way of trying to reconcile differences and ensure that Hon Members understand things.
    I do not have any objection but I believe that at this stage, it would be very proper, knowing that he is the Acting Leader, for the Hon Second Deputy Whip of the Majority to withdraw the statement he made -- that if one is interested in fighting corruption, then one would support it -- I think that it was said out of turn.
    I know the Hon Member did not intend to impugn the integrity of any Hon Member of this House. So, I am sure that he would withdraw and if possible, apologise.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 11:45 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank my Hon senior Colleague very well. I have no difficulty withdrawing it at all. I was just saying this out of the public interest -- [Laughter] -- It is just about how some Bills have been delayed here and the backlash we have received from the public. It is just that; I did not have any improper motive in saying that.
    On that note, Mr Speaker, I withdraw it.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:45 a.m.
    Very well. Yes, Hon Second Deputy Minority Whip?
    Mr Awuah 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think my Hon Colleague has done the right thing but let me use this opportunity to advise him, especially an imputing ill-motive to the actions of Hon Members who he did not agree with.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to state clearly that on our side, we are committed to every business of this House. We are committed to fighting corruption and building a better nation, which the people of Ghana would be proud of. So, at no time should he think that we are not committed in making sure that the right thing is done in this House. We are ready to fight a very good cause.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon Members, I can get the sense of the House. But I would want to give a direction, that for the last time this week, we are deferring the consideration of this Bill. But I would want as many Hon Members as possible to join the Committee this very afternoon in the winnowing process.
    Beyond that, we would listen to no further excuses. Whatever we have, we work with. If we have any problems along the line, we defer and continue.
    We cannot have a perfect legislation. But let us make a move. As we go along, we would be able to remedy the problems or challenges that arise.
    To defer the Consideration Stage of the Bill until the Leadership of the House is available would not be completely appropriate. I believe if we have any issues to raise, let us join the Committee this afternoon during the winnowing, raise those issues there and have them addressed. When we come back, we could make some progress.
    Yes, Hon Member for Wenchi?
    Prof. George Y. Gyan-Baffour 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am worried about the application of this clause. Mr Speaker, assuming that I declare my assets today and it is assumed that it should never be opened until I am out of office, how can one tell I have acquired anything in that period, unless one is just trying to witchhunt? Mr Speaker, that is my concern and it is the constitutional issue here.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, that is why you must join them, raise the issue and get it addressed.
    Prof. Gyan-Baffour 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, my concern is that this is a constitutional issue. So, no matter how we attempt to do it, we cannot actually take that thing off it. So, we have to look at it carefully.
    Mr Speaker, I would be at the Committee meeting.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Yes, Hon Minister?
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, it would be useful if my Hon Colleague, Prof. Gyan-Baffour would be specific. He has referenced the Constitution. We are following the debate religiously because we would want a better legislation for the people of Ghana. If he says it is a constitutional matter and he is not given an opportunity to elaborate, Mr Speaker, it puts us in a difficulty. Let us know the constitutional matter --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    When he gets to the Committee sitting, he would give the details.
    Mr H. Iddrisu 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, it would be captured as part of today's records. We would want to be guided properly.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, when he gets there he would give the details.
    Hon Members, this brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage of this Bill for today.
    Hon Deputy Majority Whip?
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the House do now adjourn till 10.00 o'clock tomorrow in the forenoon.
    Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah 11:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:55 a.m.
    Hon Members, the Motion has been moved and seconded, that this House stands
    adjourned till tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
    Hon Members, in the meantime, I am reiterating my point that as many Hon Members as possible should join the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to address the issues that have been brought to the fore here in the Chamber.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 11:55 a.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 12.00 noon till Thursday, 21st May, 2015 at 10.00a.m.