Debates of 24 Jul 2015

MR SPEAKER
PRAYERS 10:50 a.m.

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

Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Members, correc- tion of the Votes and Proceedings and the Official Reports.
  • [No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 23rd July, 2015.]
  • Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Hon Members, I have discussed with the Hon Chairman of the Business Committee to defer item 3, so that we would take item number 4.
    Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, before item number 4, the Hon Attor- ney-General and Minister for Justice had to leave a meeting to come and attend to the Third Reading of the Millennium De- velopment Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and so, if that could be taken before we go to item number 3, so that she could go back to chair the meeting.
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Very well, So, is that item number 8 on the Order Paper?
    Mr Bagbin 10:50 a.m.
    Item number 8 -- Millen- nium Development Authority (Amend- ment) Bill.
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Is that the only matter that the Hon Attorney-General and Min- ister for Justice is supposed to take this morning?
    Very well.

    Hon Members, item number 8 on the Order Paper -- Motion.
    BILLS -- THIRD READING 10:50 a.m.

    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, any item to be taken before we move to -
    Mr Bagbin 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we can now take item number 4.
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    All right.
    Hon Members, Question time. We have one Urgent Question standing in the name of the Hon Member for Nsawam-Ado- agyiri.
    Hon Member, you have the floor.
    URGENT QUESTION 11 a.m.

    MINISTRY OF ROADS AND 11 a.m.

    HIGHWAYS 11 a.m.

    Minister for Roads and Highways (Alhaji Inusah A. B. Fuseini) 11 a.m.
    Mr Speak- er, I would like to give a background to the road.
    Nsawam by-pass is a 9.3kilometre dual carriageway road with an asphaltic surfac- ing. It is in a good condition and situated
    in the Nsawam-Adoagyiri District in the Eastern Region. The objective of the road section was to provide a by-pass to the Nsawam town which experiences massive congestion for through and local traffic.
    Teshie town junction (New Effutu) and Lantei junction are some of the communi- ties situated along the road corridor. The Teshie town and Lantei town junctions are located about 2.0 kilometres and 2.4 kilo- metres respectively, from the beginning of the by-pass, that is, Police Barrier post.
    Future programme
    The Ghana Highway Authority has vis- ited the site and taken the necessary field details to design the overhead foot bridge -- erecting overhead foot bridge between Teshie town junction and Lantei junction, will facilitate the safe movement of school pupils and the rest of the communities.
    This will be included in the Ghana Highway Authority budget for 2016.
    Mr Annoh-Dompreh 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to know from the Hon Minister, whether the construction of a foot bridge was part of the original plan at that section of the road.
    Alhaji Fuseini 11 a.m.
    No! Mr Speaker, the construction of a foot bridge was not part of the original plan.
    Mr Annoh-Dompreh 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, with your kind indulgence, I have in my hand data from the Ghana Police Service, which show the level and the rampant ac- cidents occurring on that part of the road.
    Can the Hon Minister assure this
    House, and the people of Ghana, whether there are any stop-gap measures -- he said he is planning to do it -- What stop- gap measure is he putting in place to, in the interim, stop the killing of innocent school pupils?
    Alhaji Fuseini 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, because the by-pass was created to allow for through traffic, and it is a highway, it will be inappropriate to put street lighting in the traffic systems on that road.
    So, Mr Speaker, what we are doing in the interim is to put speed reducing mechanisms-- rumble stripes, so that when people get to those two towns, they will reduce the speed and be able to stop if a person or animal crosses them in the course of their movement.
    But what we should do is to try to sep- arate the conflict between the pedestrian users and vehicular users of the road. When we separate the conflict, I am sure that the rate of accidents on that road will drastically reduce.
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Yes, your last supple- men-tary question.
    Mr Annoh-Dompreh 11 a.m.
    Respectfully, so.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to know whether in the face of how great the problem is, whether the Hon Minister has visited the place himself to acquaint himself with the extent of the problem.
    Alhaji Fuseini 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I have not gone there personally. I have directed officers of the Ghana Highway Authority who sent their officers in the Eastern Re- gion to visit the site and take the details down.
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Minister, we thank you very much for attending upon the House to respond to the Question from the Hon Member.
    Hon Members, this is a constituency- specific Question. By the practice of the House, we will end it as such.
    Hon Members, that brings us to the end of Question time.
    Mr Bagbin 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, could we handle item number 6 -- Presentation of Papers.
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Members, item numbered 6 on the Order Paper - Presentation of Papers - Item number 6 (a)
    PAPERS 11 a.m.

    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Item number 6 (b), by the Hon Chairman of the joint Committee?
    By the Chairman of the Joint Committee --
    Report of the Joint Committee on Roads and Transport and Consti- tu-tional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Ghana Civil Aviation (Amendment) Bill, 2015.
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, is the item numbered 12 -- it is just Second Reading, is it possible for us to take it? [Pause.]
    Are the Committee Chairman and the Hon Minister here?
    Mr Bagbin 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, item number 12 deals with the Ghana Civil Aviation (Amendment) Bill, 2015.
    That will be the Second Reading.
    Mr Speaker, I would want us to take item numbered 18, which deals with the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). This matter should have been dealt with long ago, because of the role Ghana plays in the
    global effort to eliminate small arms and light weapons.
    If we could take that, I would see the Report, then we can go to --
    Hon Members, item number 18 on the
    Order Paper -- Motion.
    MOTIONS 11:10 a.m.

    Chairman of the Committee (Mr Frederic Fritz Baffour) 11:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the joint Committee on Defence and Interior and Constitution- al, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
    Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would like to present the Committee's Report.
    Introduction
    The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was pre- sented to Parliament by the Hon Deputy Minister for the Interior, Mr James Agalga on Wednesday, 13th May, 2015, seeking approval for ratification.
    In accordance with article 75 (2) of the 1992 Constitution and Orders 158 and 179 of the Standing Orders of the House, Mr Speaker referred the Treaty to the joint Committee on Defence and Interior and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report.
    The Committee expresses gratitude to the Hon Deputy Minister for the Interior, Mr James Agalga and officials from the National Commission on Small Arms, the Attorney-General's Department and West Africa Action Network on Small Arms, who were in attendance to assist the Committee in its deliberations.
    Reference
    The Committee referred to the follow- ing documents during its deliberations:
    i. The 1992 Constitution
    ii.The Standing Orders of Parlia- ment
    iii.The Arms Trade Treaty
    iv. The ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and other Relat- ed Materials.
    Background
    The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is a multilateral legally binding treaty that is expected to create common standards for exports, imports, transit, trans-shipment and brokering referred to as ‘transfer' and to regulate the international trade in conventional arms from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships.
    The United Nations General Assembly adopted the text of the treaty on 2nd April, 2013. The Republic of Ghana became the 91st signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty on September 24, 2013.
    Absence of a common international standard on the import, export and trans- fer of conventional arms, creates a ‘free market' system without any checks. Inade- quate controls on arms trade and transfers have led to widespread availability and misuse of weapons. It also remains a ma- jor cause of devastating armed conflict, violence, terrorism, crime and its resultant displacement of persons.
    As of May 2014, 118 States have signed the Treaty and 41 have ratified it. Three African States namely, Mali, Nige- ria and Burkina Faso are among the 41 that have ratified the Treaty. It is necessary for the Government of Ghana to ensure that the Arms Trade Treaty is ratified to
    provide for a concrete, common, binding minimum requirement for global arms trade as well as minimum criteria for the national control system.
    Objective of the Treaty
    The main objective of the Treaty is to ensure some standardisation in the arms trade and transfer, to foster peace and security by thwarting uncontrolled arms flows to conflict regions and potential conflict zones. This will prevent human rights abusers and violators of the law of war, from being supplied with arms. It will also prevent warlords, pirates, and gangs from acquiring conventional arms to destabilise regions.
    Accordingly, the Treaty is to reduce hu- man suffering by establishing the highest possible common international standards for regulating or improving the regulation of the international trade in conventional arms.
    Observations
    The Joint Committee observed that the ATT, in clamping down on the illicit sale of weapons, will play a vital role in curbing the proliferation of arms that give rise to criminality, conflict and terrorism. High incidence of crime and insecurity undermines development, fuel conflict, and exacerbate poverty, sexual and other forms of gender-based violence, as well as violence against children.
    The joint Committee observed the need to designate a competent national authority/focal agency responsible for the implementation of the Treaty and for ex- changing information related to it. Further- more, that the provisions of the Treaty are expected to be adopted into our municipal laws and smoothly implemented locally.
    The joint Committee recommends the following:
    Chairman of the Committee (Mr Frederic Fritz Baffour) 11:10 a.m.


    a. That the Small Arms Commis- sion should be made the focal agency for the implementation of the ATT. Creating another institution to facilitate the imple- mentation of the ATT will create a financial burden for the State.

    b. That the mandate of the Com- mission should be expanded to include items covered in article 2 of the ATT.

    c. The name of the Commission should therefore be changed from the Ghana National Com- mission on Small Arms and Light Weapons to the ‘Ghana Arms Commission' to reflect the expansion of its mandate.

    The Commission already has the structures in place for performing similar functions on behalf of Ghana, such as reporting on Ghana's obligations on:

    a) ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms

    b). United Nations Pro- gramme of Action on Arms

    c). International Tracing Instrument

    d) The Mines Ban Treaty

    e) Cluster Munitions Convention

    f) Convention on Certain Conven- tional Weapons.

    The Committee noted that, the ATT will foster peace and security, since it will limit uncontrolled arms flow to conflict (and potential) zones in Ghana. This will enable individuals to carry out their eco- nomic activities without lets and hindrance and thus lead to creation of more internal wealth for the State.

    Conclusion

    Hundreds of people around the globe suffer from direct and indirect conse- quences of irresponsible arms trade. Several are killed, others injured, many are raped, and/or forced to flee from their homes, while others live under the con- stant threat of weapons.

    The poorly regulated global trade in conventional arms and ammunition, fuels conflict, poverty and human rights abuses. The situation is compounded by the increasing globalisation of the arms trade, with components being sourced from across the world, and production and assembly in different countries, and with little or no control. While existing na- tional and regional controls are important, these are not enough to stop irresponsible transfers of arms and ammunition between countries.

    In relation to the above, it has become necessary for the Government of Ghana to ensure that, the Arms Trade Treaty is ratified to provide for a concrete, common, binding minimum requirement for global arms trade, as well as minimum criteria for the national control system.

    In line with Ghana's foreign policy of promoting regional and global peace and security, the Joint Committee on Defence and Interior and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, recommend to this august House, the adoption of its Report and the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

    Respectfully submitted. Maj. Derek Oduro (retd)(NPP --

    Nkoranza North): Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion moved by the Chair- man of the Committee --
    Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Hon Member, are you supporting or seconding the Motion?
    Maj. Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, I
    Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Hon Member for Nko- ranza -- [Interruption.]
    Hon Members, order!
    Hon Member for Nkoranza North, are you supporting the Motion or you are seconding it?
    Maj. Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, I am seconding it.
    Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Very well. Go ahead.
    Maj. Oduro: Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would want to add some few words.
    Mr Speaker, the Arms Trade Treaty is an international Agreement which Ghana signed onto as the 91st signatory.
    Mr Speaker, so far, our Report indi- cates that 41 countries have ratified the Agreement. But my information as of this morning from the International Forum for Small Arms and Light Weapons is that, about 50 countries have ratified it.
    Mr Speaker, it is far too long. It is not a matter of signing to this Agreement alone, but Ghana has to ratify it. Since May, 2013 that Ghana signed it, it has been far too long -- Ghana did not --
    Mr Speaker, the idea or the main rea- son there is the need for us to ratify it is that, if the Agreement is to ensure that the free movement of arms and ammuni- tion, running from small arms and light weapons through aircraft, warship and others are supposed not to move freely across the countries, and there is the need for our country to also ratify it, then the need or the idea that if we ratify it, other countries would put us under their control, is not true.
    Mr Speaker, we know the harm that arms cause to humanity. If one goes to other countries where we have conflicts, some of these arms were not properly imported into the country. The non-State actors have the chance to import or transfer arms and ammunition from one country to the other to cause havoc.
    When we ratify this Agreement, it is binding on Ghana not to transfer or to import illegally. Mr Speaker, we do not deal with the heavy weapons like combat ship, tanks and others. We do not do these things across the border. All that we are engaged in is the small arms and light weapons that we have in our country, and we all know what small arms have also done to this country.
    Mr Speaker, our borders are porous and ammunition of small arms and light weapons have been moving to and from this country. Therefore, there is the need for us to ratify this Agreement, so that we can control them and it would be against any institution or any individual, who may attempt to deal in these small arms that we have in our country.
    Ratifying this Agreement is a step ahead of progress, and it conforms to in- ternational best practices. Once we are part of the United Nations, there is an urgent need for us to ratify this Agreement.
    Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you very much.
    Question proposed.
    Mr Speaker 11:20 p.m.
    Hon Members, this is a very straightforward matter. I intend to put the Question.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Mr Bagbin 11:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for the Interior is not present in the House. My information is that he is

    on another official assignment but he has delegated his Hon Deputy Minister, in the person of our own Colleague, Hon James Agalga, to come and present and move the Resolution for and on his behalf on the floor of the House. So, if we may permit the Hon Deputy Minister to do so for and on behalf of the Hon Minister for the Interior.
    Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul 11:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think the Hon Deputy Minis- ter has been acting for some time in this House.
    Mr Speaker 11:20 p.m.
    Hon Members, as I in- dicated in the House yesterday, the Hon Minister for the Interior has written to Parliament for leave of absence, which I have approved. So, he is outside the jurisdiction.
    Hon Deputy Minister for Interior?
    RESOLUTIONS 11:20 p.m.

    Chairman of the Committee (Mr Fritz F. Baffour) 11:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr Alban Bagbin 11:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I pro- pose we now take item number 11.
    Mr Speaker 11:20 p.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Majority Leader, when are we tak- ing the Income Tax Bill, 2015, which is at the Consideration Stage? We need to pass that Bill today. So, do we take the Second Reading, then we move from there?
    Mr Bagbin 11:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Members of the Finance Committee intimated to me that they would have to withdraw from the House to consider some referrals. So, we would be doing that later in the day.
    Mr Speaker 11:20 p.m.
    Very well.
    Mr Members, item numbered 11 on the Order Paper -- Motion -- by the Hon Deputy Minister for the Interior.
    First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
    MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
    BILLS -- SECOND READING 11:30 a.m.

    EARTHQUAKE POTENTIAL IN 11:30 a.m.

    GHANA - HISTORICAL PERSPEC- 11:30 a.m.

    TIVE 11:30 a.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Members, the Motion has been moved and seconded. I do not think that we need to go through a debate. I will put the Question.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    The National Disaster Management Organisation Bill, 2015 was accordingly read a Second time.
    Mr Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I propose we now handle item numbered 13.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Very well. Item numbered 13 on the Order Paper.
    Hon Minister for Tranport?
    Mrs Dzifa Aku Attivor 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to move, item numbered 12 on page 3 of the Order Paper --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Ma- jority Leader, where are we? Is it item numbered 12 or 13? You mentioned item 13 and she talked about item number 12. The procedural one would have to be taken first.
    Mr Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
    That is so, Mr Speaker. The procedural Motion is item 12.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Very well. Item numbered 12.
    MOTIONS 11:30 a.m.

    Minister for Transport (Mrs Dzifa Aku Attivor) 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1), which require that
    no Motion shall be debated until at least, forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given, and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the Second Read- ing of the Ghana Civil Aviation (Amend- ment) Bill, 2015 may be moved today.
    Mr Theophilus T. Chaie 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Members, this is procedural. I will put the Question.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Item num- bered 13 -- Hon Minister for Transport.
    BILLS -- SECOND READING 11:30 a.m.

    Minister for Transport (Mrs Dzifa Aku Attivor) 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Ghana Civil Aviation (Amend- ment) Bill, 2015 be now read a Second time.
    Mr Speaker, the Ghana Civil Aviation Act was passed by Parliament and assent- ed to by the President on 11th November, 2004. Over the years, it has become nec- essary to amend the Act, to make the Civil Aviation Authority comply with necessary rules and guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), as well as incorporate relevant Conventions ratified by the Republic into the Act.
    Mr Speaker, the purpose for the amend- ment of the Civil Aviation Act, 2004, Act 678, is to provide modifications that are necessary, following the introduction of a mandatory universal safety oversight audit programme by the ICAO, which encompasses all the 18 annexes with the Chicago Convention.

    The proposed amendments are there- fore, designed to provide for a primary aviation legislation that is in harmony with the form ICAO has recommended to member States, consistent with the envi- ronment and responsive to the complexity of the aviation industry.

    Mr Speaker, I hereby move for the Hon- ourable House to consider the amendment of the Ghana Civil Aviation Act 2004, Act 678.

    11. 40 a.m.
    Chairman of the Committee (Mr Theophilus T. Chaie) 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Do you have a Report to present?
    Mr Chaie 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, our Commit- tee's Report is not yet ready.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Members, in that case, I will defer this particular item. If the Report is not yet ready, we cannot --
    Mr Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we would move on to item number 14, where we would conclude the debate on the Second Reading of the Right to Information Bill, 2013. It was started and we are just left with the conclusion of the debate.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Ma- jority Leader, I believe it is for further debate.
    Hon Members, item number 14 on the Order Paper.It is a Motion -- the Right to Information Bill, 2013.
    The Motion has been moved and seconded and the House has already
    started considering it. We need to take a few more contributions before we put the Question. So, Hon Member, the floor is opened.
    Yes, Hon Member for Subin?
    The Right to Information Bill, 2013
    Mr Isaac Osei (NPP-- Subin) 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is a very important Bill and it has been in this House for quite a long time. I believe that this is the time for us to pass it.
    It is important, first, because it is the constitutional right of a citizen to know and secondly, I think for the purposes of transparency and openness in govern- ment, it is important that subject to national security concerns, the people get to know what their officials are doing.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Members, let us have some order in the House.
    Yes, Hon Member?
    Mr Isaac Osei 11:30 a.m.
    I think we should probably look at all those areas where there are restrictions which make it impossible for people to access the information that they want. And I think this is the area that we need to look at carefully, so that we do not block the opportunities for people to get to know and to have access to official documents for whatever purposes that they may want to use these documents.
    So, I would urge the House to support

    this Bill. First, because it is our right; second, because it would promote transparency in our governance systems.

    I thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr Alfred K. Agbesi (NDC-- Ashaiman) 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, by the Constitution, access to information should be free. But Mr Speaker, I look at the Report of the Committee and one issue that has come out is the issue of a situation where the applicant is refused access and he has to appeal to the Supreme Court for redress.
    Mr Speaker, my concern here is that, an appeal to the Supreme Court even though it is a right to any individual to so access, the issue of the Supreme Court, in my view, is so high to the extent that those of us from the villages who may not be able to go to the Supreme Court would be denied that access to information.
    Mr Speaker, I cannot imagine anybody from my village who applies for a report or information and he is refused access, would see his way going as far as to the Supreme Court. Mr Speaker, I would suggest that, in a situation like this we have the courts in our various districts which can also give us access. In this wise, I would think that instead of the Supreme Court, the law should be such that one can apply to a District Court or High Court at the regional level for his right to be addressed.
    Mr Speaker, the Supreme Court is the highest court of the land and not many people, in my view, would be ready, willing or free to apply to such body. For people who are not akin to cities, they would not feel fine and free to go to the Supreme Court. A lower court, for that matter, in my view, would be appropriate.
    Mr Speaker, even if the issue is that one could have access to the court which could grant one access to information, the first instance, in my view, is to go to the lower courts which are available to us in our districts to assist.
    Mr Speaker, one issue is the payment of fees. So far, as access to information would be free -- as far as possible, access should be free. The issue of payment of fees would drive away most of us. Most people might not be in the position to pay fees. That is one issue I would want to bring to the fore. When the issue comes to be considered, the issue of payment of fees should be looked at seriously.
    Mr Speaker, this law is good. It is good for us to have a system where when one seeks information, there should not be any hindrance towards accessing that information. But when there are impediments like going to the Supreme Court or payment of fees which might not be within one's pocket are introduced, we might be denying access.
    Mr Speaker, I think that we should pass this law for us all to access information.
    Mr Speaker, with this, I thank you for the opportunity.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Hon Members, any more contributions before I come to the Leadership?
    Yes, Hon Member?
    Mr Richard M. Quashigah (NDC - Keta) 11:30 a.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
    Mr Speaker, it is obvious that the Right to Information Bill, 2013 is a very important one, and it is one that has been with us for a long time, and the Ghanaian has been yearning that this law would
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Very well.
    Thank you very much.
    Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
    Majority Leader (Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin) 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, just a few words to thank the Committee and particularly, civil society organisations for the interest in this Bill and also for the support the coalition on the Right to Information Bill gave to the Committee.
    The coalition did a very good research work and together with the Committee, a

    lot of time was taken to deal with all the knotty issues, many of which have been raised by Hon Members on the floor of the House.

    Mr Speaker, the journey has been very long and tortuous. We started this journey in 1991; we tried to craft a Right to Information Bill which used to be called Freedom of Information Bill. I listened to many of my Hon Colleagues raise caution on some of the provisions, but I would like to allay their fears that a lot of work and discussion globally have gone into it, but more importantly by the African Union (AU) led by our President with the various technical people, came out with a model draft law, which is guiding many African countries in the process of legislating in this area of our life.

    Mr Speaker, some of us were fortunate to be part of the processes in 1999 but there are a few basic principles underpinning this Bill. One is that almost all the information generated by the public bodies and Government has already been paid for by the people. The officers themselves have paid -- the cost of information and operation are all paid for by the people through taxation.

    The other principle is that, freedom of information is a fundamental human right and is said to be the touchstone to all freedoms, which all of us led by the United Nations (UN) consecrated. So, nothing should be a fetter to the enjoyment of this fundamental human right.

    Balancing that against issues of national security, what the principle states is that, public interest should always be the guiding principle and so, we know that that has tremendous influence on democracy and development. That is why in 1993, the Commonwealth adopted the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Principles which clearly underline this

    basic principle. The AU in 2002 also adopted the

    Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa and it is that Declaration that guided the AU to come out with the draft model law for all African countries. Liberia, Nigeria and many other countries like India have passed it. Tanzania, last year, passed their Right to Information Bill but detected defects and has been called upon to review and revise it to conform to the principles stated in the AU model law. So, this year, Tanzania is amending the law it passed in 2014.

    Mr Speaker, all these were considered by the Committee and as I said, guided by the coalition of the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the right to Information. Happily, we had a lot of astute lawyers who were there to assist the Committee.

    The thorny issues are those of exemptions, timelines, appeals and reviews as the Hon Deputy Majority Leader just mentioned and then also the issue of payment. The principle of payment is limited to the cost of reproduction of the information. If you just go for information, you would be given but if you are asking for copies to be made, then you would be called upon to take up the cost.

    Mr Speaker, you would realise that we departed from the initial policy trust of the Bill of leaving it in the hands of Ministers because Ministers are part of the Government. The issue of impartiality has always been raised, therefore, the principle is for us to establish an independent organisation with cost implications. However, when we weigh the cost as against the benefits, we agree and admit that the benefits outweigh the costs.

    That is why in the Committee's Report, we have recommended the establishment of a Commission, and this has been

    affected by the AU and that is what is being done in all the other countries that are passing the new Bill on Right to Information. Therefore, we are on the correct path and I would want my Hon Colleagues to accept the proposals of the Committee.

    The Bill has been completely reviewed and that is why we have so many amendments. It is so important that we cannot handle it this Meeting, and we are proposing that next Meeting, consider-able time would be given to this Bill. For this time, at least, the third time, Parliament of Ghana should be able to pass this Bill.

    With this, Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, any contribution? No?
    Hon Members, the Motion has been moved and seconded and the House has considered it. It is time for me to put the Question.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    The Right to Information Bill, 2013 was accordingly read a Second time.
    Mr Bagbin 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we would now move to the Consideration Stage of the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and that is item number 35 on page 25 of the Order Paper.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Members, item number 35 on the Order Paper -- Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Bill, 2014 at the Consideration Stage.
    BILLS - CONSIDERATION 11:50 a.m.

    STAGE 11:50 a.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Chairman of the Committee, how far have we gone with this?
    Alhaji Amadu B. Sorogho noon
    Mr Speaker, with clause 1, some of the amendments were proposed by Hon William O. Boafo, but upon discussion, he has withdrawn them and that is why they are not here. But those amendments that we have accepted, they are not more than five clauses that we are supposed to -
    Mr First Deputy Speaker noon
    Very well.
    So, we start with clause 1.
    Clause 1 - Section 25 of Act 703 amended
    Alhaji Sorogho noon
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 1 under “Royalties”, line 4, delete “at the rate and”.
    Mr Speaker, the purpose of the proposed amendment is to give the “manner” in which - The “rate” has already been done and it is the “manner” that it should be applied. And so, we are not fixing the “rate”. It is the prescription of the “manner” and not the “rate”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Alhaji Sorogho noon
    Mr Speaker, the other amendment under clause 1 was sponsored by Hon William O. Boafo, but he has abandoned it.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker Very well.
    Clause 1 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Clause 2 - Section 99 of Act 703 amended
    Mr First Deputy Speaker Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee, I believe you moved it and it is for the debate to continue. If what is on the Order Paper is correct.
    Alhaji Sorogho noon
    Mr Speaker, yes, there was a small problem but we have been able to resolve it.
    With clause 2(b), there was a problem there but fortunately, we are withdrawing it. The clause 2(b) says;
    2(b) acts in contravention of a provision of this Act in respect of which a penalty has not been specified,”
    Mr Speaker, we think that it is too broad.We cannot just pass a law and give this kind of powers. It must be limited and that is why we want to abandon it.
    Mr Speaker, under clause 2,(1), I beg to move clause, subclause (1), delete and insert the following:
    “A person who sells or buys minerals without a licence granted under this Act or any other enactment commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than five thousand penalty units and not more than twenty thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than five years or to both.”
    Mr Speaker, this would take care of giving a blanket This one is reduced and so, one would know it is precise.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker noon
    Very well.
    Hon Members, I will put the Question,
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker noon
    Yes, Hon Member?
    Mr H. Iddrisu noon
    Mr Speaker, I recall that when this particular clause was being
    considered, we needed the policy trust, why we needed to tie the hands of the court in terms of a minimum and a maximum punishment for this.
    Mr Speaker, while I agree with the Hon Chairman, I just want to ask a question. A person who sells or buys minerals is the one they are seeking to punish. If a person goes to do illegal mining, at that material moment, he is not buying or selling and that is my difficulty. If a person - [Interruption] - No, Hon Chairman, let me finish.
    Mr Speaker, he began by saying “a person who sells or buys minerals without a license”, is entitled to be punished. So, the key operative words are “sell” and “buy”.
    Mr Speaker, let me refer you to, and I recall it was the Hon Minority Leader, who referred to paragraph 5 of the memoran- dum accompanying this Bill. And with your indulgence, I beg to read:
    “With regard to the activities of small scale illegal mining or “galamsey”, their activities have reached epic proportions in the country due to many factors, including the influx of foreigners into the sector and the impunity of persons…..”
    Mr Speaker, so, if within a mining area somebody moves in with equipment for purposes of engaging in an activity, my understanding of the law is that, at that material moment, the person is not engaged in buying and selling. So, how would they be captured within the remit of this law? This is because, we want such persons to suffer. If they go and degrade our environment and put local people away from the area and want to engage in mining So, I would plead with the Hon Chairman that he needs to take a better look at that particular provision.
    Mr Speaker, I so submit.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker noon
    Hon Chairman of the Committee, how do
    you address the issue that he has raised? The person is not buying or selling Has provision been made in the Bill? Read it, so that we get to know.
    Alhaji Sorogho noon
    Mr Speaker, we were dealing with the amendment. But if we read clause 2(2), it says that:
    “2(2)(a) A person who, without a licence granted by the Minister, undertakes a small scale mining operat ion contrary to the provisions of this Act, or
    (b) acts in contravention of a provision of this Act in respect of which a penalty has not been specified…”,
    Mr Speaker, that is what we are taking,
    “…commits an offence is liable on summary conviction”.
    So, it has already been taken care of.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Minister, if you look at clause 2 (a), I think it takes care of it --
    “(2)(a) A person who, without a licence granted by the Minister, undertakes a small scale mining operat ion contrary to the provisions of this Act”.
    Suffers this kind of punishment - [Interruption] -
    Hon Minister, are you satisfied?
    “Such a person commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not less than three thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or to both”.
    So, I think provision has been made for that kind of situation.

    Yes, Hon Majority Chief Whip?

    Alhaj i Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka: Mr Speaker, even though this has been dealt with, I would want to suggest to the Hon Chairman whether they would not consider for the elegance and clarity. Instead of saying “a person who sells or buys”, to just replace it with “a person who is involved in illegal mining activities.” So that it would be broadened. This is because, when they say “buying” and “selling”, sometimes in the Act, when you find people, they are neither buying nor selling but they are involved in criminal activities around the mining area or they are transporting it.

    Mr Speaker, we need to be very clear, so that the law is clearer for implementation purposes. This is because the way it is, I would want to believe that it could be opened to several interpretations. So, I would want to suggest that the Hon Chairman considers a further amendment to this, to read;

    “a person who is involved in illegal mining activities without licence granted under this Act or any other enactment commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction...”

    Mr Speaker, maybe, the Hon Chairman should consider that, so that we broaden -
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    I wonder if the Chairman was paying attention to your submission.
    Hon Majority Chief Whip, can you go over the submission you made because the Chairman was not paying attention at the time -- for his benefit, and I will then come to Hon K. T. Hammond.
    Alhaji Muntaka 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am proposing further amendment to this to say:
    “Any person who is involved in any illegal mining activities. . .”
    To take care of the buying and selling.
    Our worry is that, if one goes to the field and people are transporting it, it is neither buying nor selling. If one finds them on the field, it is equally neither buying nor selling. But what we want to do is to punish and so, we need to get the whole chain of activities, instead of restricting it to buying and selling. So, the Chairman should look at it, so that we just change the first few words into
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Before you address it, can we hear Hon K. T. Hammond? He appears to be saying that his contribution is also related to the point the Hon Member has raised.
    Mr K. T. Hammond 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I was just trying to help my Chairman because he has already explained it. The amendments could not be read in isolation the way my Hon Colleague is doing. We looked at the entire gamut of it and took the view that this particular provision could be distilled, isolated and dealt with separately.
    Mr Speaker, if you would remember the clause 2 (b) that was just read out to you, we dealt separately with people illegally doing all that operation in all its manifestations and then we decided that we would also want to deal with those who sell or buy. Of course, if one meets somebody in a car and there is gold on the person this is not a communist country.
    One is not going to ask the person, where he or she got the gold from or whatever. That is not the kind of thing we are looking at. We are looking at the people who are caught buying or selling, and indeed, in all of these, we are looking at galamsey.
    Mr Speaker, we cannot isolate if the Hon Member said that, to talk about the people dealing in illegality, that is the bit that has already been read. We should take the little Bill, read it in consequence and we would get a perfect
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, can we have some order in this House? Order! Oder!
    Mr Hammond 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the point I was making is that, it is perfect. We talked about it at length; I think he was around. We dealt with it and it was agreed that, in the context, because we dealt with the generality of people who deal illegally -- companies, foreigners. Indeed, there were four segments we were looking at -- foreigners participating in this thing illegally, individuals involved in the galamsey, people using the equipment in the context that is not allowed. We dealt with that and of course, we dealt with the issue of royalties. These were the four segments which we took out of the whole Bill.
    Mr Speaker, I propose that we leave it as it is. If my Hon Colleague spends some time and reads the relevant paragraphs and posits this within the
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, I might be compelled to name. Let us have some Order in this House. Can we have some Order in this House?
    Mr Hammond 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I have said quite enough. I knew you were listening.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Very well.
    Hon Majority Chief Whip, how do you respond to what the Hon Member has said?
    Alhaji Muntaka 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if we look at the second component where it is talking about when one contravenes provisions of this Act I am saying that, if we look at it, then that alone takes care of the buying and selling, but because we
    want to prescribe punishment, we do not just restrict it to the buying and selling.
    In my humble opinion, we should broaden it and then go and define illegal mining activities, so that we can include in the interpretation, the buying, the selling, the movement and all the others, so that it becomes comprehensive. But if we leave it this way, what is going to happen is that, when one finds someone even transporting it, it would be difficult for one to prosecute that person under this.
    He would say, I am not selling or buying it, and how is one going to deal with it? But the person is involved in an illegal activity. It becomes difficult, but if we use the “illegal activities”, then we go and define it in the interpretation to include, buying and selling, then it broadens the horizon and makes it easier for the implementation.
    Mr Speaker, if they want, maybe, we can get the parent Act to look at the definition of illegal mining activity. If it includes buying and selling, then we are covered, but if not, I would think that this would be very narrow and too difficult to implement because so many other activities would go unpunished.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Yes, Chairman of the Committee, how do you respond to that?
    Alhaji Sorogho 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I do not know whether my Hon Colleague has taken his time to really go into the offences and penalties section of the Bill. We are deleting 2 (b) but it says that, and I beg to quote:
    “2 A person who,
    (a) without a licence granted by the Minister, undertakes small scale mining operation contrary to provisions of this Act, or….”

    [NII OSAH MILLS]We are bringing it as an emphasis. So, I do not see the problem at all. We are emphasising that and saying that, instead of just saying that, “is in contravention of a provision of this Act”, which is so big. It can affect anybody and so, we limit it and that is why we are doing that. But if we are saying that we should have the parent Act to see the definition of illegal mining, we can step it down, move ahead and we can come back to that.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    I think I would prefer going that way. Let us stand it down. Some crosschecking must take place. If the parent Act has a definition for what we describe as illegal mining, then we would see how it has been couched and see if it would capture this.
    Nii Osah Mills: Mr Speaker, thank you for allowing me to put a word in.
    First of all, we have to go back and realise that, at first, we did not have what was called, small scale mining. We had artisanal mining, then Law 703 allowed for the first time that, mining be divided into two categories -- large- scale and small-scale, so that whoever mines must either have a large- scale mining licence or a small -scale mining permit.
    Mr Speaker, anybody else we see mining, we go to him and ask of his mining permit and if he or she does not produce it, we then describe whatever we see him doing as an illegal activity. In other words, if the person does not have a large-scale lease or a small-scale mining permit, then he is mining illegally and if he produces a permit, then we describe what he is doing as legal.
    Therefore, when we are being told now that we need to have a definition for illegal mining, it does not arise.
    Mr Speaker, if one goes to a person and he shows his lease, then we say it is alright. If we go to him and he shows his permit,
    then we say it is alright. If he does not produce it, then we say what he is doing is illegal and he must be arrested.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    What about a situation where as you are saying, the person is not physically carrying it, neither is the person buying or selling it, but he is engaged in an activity that
    Nii Osah Mills: Mr Speaker, this is a strict liability law and what it means is that, if one is unable to produce the mining small-scale permit, then the activity is deemed as legal, but if the person does not produce it, then the activity is deemed illegal. It is simple. There is no need to define illegal mining. There is no such thing.
    Mr Agbesi 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, there is a lot
    of noise in the House. Some people at the back cannot hear anything.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    I cannot hear you.
    Mr Agbesi 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, Hon Members at the back cannot hear anything because there is so much noise in the Chamber; that is what I am saying.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Is the Hon Member complaining? Your voice is down.
    Alhaji Muntaka 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, there is a lot of background noise in the Chamber and most Hon Members are complaining that they cannot hear the discussion; so, he was drawing your attention to ensure order in the Chamber.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Hon Members, it looks like there is too much noise in the Chamber. Other Hon Members cannot hear the submissions being made
    by their own Hon Colleagues. If we can have some order in this House as the debate is becoming so interesting and we need to hear everybody who has contribution to make. If the noise is too much, we cannot make any progress.
    Nii Osah Mills: Mr Speaker, there is a chain of activities and I hear someone ask, what if a chief allows his land to be used? [Interruption] I can hear across the Chamber, by the way. I learnt it in court, as I do my work, I listen to everything going on.
    So, if a chief gives his land out to be used in illegal mining and it is proved that he is part of that chain, then of course, it could be deemed to be abetment or something of that sort. So, the law would then cover it. And after the mining activity goes on, where the person who is still doing it cannot produce a permit, we deem it as illegal, then the produce or product which is the mineral that is mined - if you see anybody buying or selling gold in Ghana without producing a permit or licence, then we call it an illegal activity.
    So, that is what we are saying -- those who dig the ground and bring out the mineral, those who help those who dig the ground to bring out the mineral and those who sell or buy the mineral without a permit or licence, we have identified them one after the other and all of them are doing specifically illegal activities and that is what this seeks to point out.
    So, there is no need to say there is something called illegal mining; it does not exist and does not arise. There are specifics, which when you break, we punish you. And you are bound to produce your permit or lease or you are punished accordingly. It is strict liability. If you are buying or selling gold and you do not produce your permit, you are guilty of an illegal activity - As simple as that, Mr Speaker.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Majority Chief Whip, how do you respond to that?
    Alhaji Muntaka 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, let me refer the Hon Minister to the business of timber in this country.
    When you find people transporting logs of timber, by virtue of them transporting them, the law allows you to stop them and demand to know the source of them. By so doing, you term it an illegal activity and you sometimes confiscate them together with even the truck. What we are saying is that, if you keep it to only buying and selling as you are proposing, what would happen is that, if you find me transporting lots of gold and I say that I am not selling and I am not buying, it restricts you and makes it very difficult for you to be able to deal with it.
    But when we broaden and define it as illegal activity and then you go to the interpretation to include buying and selling and other activities, when you find me transporting large quantities of gold, I would have to prove where I got it other than that, I got it through an illegal activity.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Hon Member, I think the point the Minister is making is this; if you are found transporting it, for example, you need to produce your licence. If you do not have it, it is illegal and you face the punishment.
    Alhaji Muntaka 12:20 p.m.
    Exactly so, Mr Speaker. But by the way, we are doing it, talking about buying and selling, you cannot claim that by just holding it and I cannot prove where my documentation is, I am either buying or selling. That is to buttress what you are saying, Mr Speaker. That is, if you cannot prove where you got it, then you are involved in an illegal activity. But it would not fall under just buying and selling. Buying and selling is when there is some transaction going on and you come to get us or to catch the

    [NII OSAH MILLS] [MR H. IDDRISU]

    individuals involved in transacting the business.

    But when they are transporting and you ask where is your licence? I say, I do not have and then you say that I am involved in an illegal activity? Then I would say, no; I am not buying and I am not selling. So, that is why we are saying that broaden it to enable you demand those certificates and if the person cannot produce them, then you define it that they are involved in an illegal activity. Other than that, it would restrict it to only when transactions are happening.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations and after that Hon K. T. Hammond.
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we will better understand this particular provision and our opposition to what the Chairman supported but the Minister is arguing. For purposes of reference, without a licence, is that synonymous to an illegal activity? That would be the first question.
    Mr Speaker, last week, your goodself guided me, that I should refer to clause 2(a). Mr Speaker, clause 2(a) begins with the following words:
    “A person who without a licence …”
    So, it means that category of persons - any person without a licence is caught under your rope of sanctions with this provision. Mr Speaker, if you listened to the Chairman, he says:
    “A person who sells or buys minerals without a licence granted under this Act …”
    Is that not to say that it is superfluous because your first clause 2(a) says that
    “A person who did it without a
    licence”.
    The Chairman is repeating the same without a licence. So, we are saying that go beyond “buy” and “sell”. I have with me Act 703 of the Minerals and Mining Act of 2006. Under the interpretation, section 111, we did not define “illegal activities”. We did not define “small- scale illegal mining” as captured in the Minister's memorandum under paragraph (5), which says:
    “With regard to the activities of small scale illegal mining...”
    So, we would go with the Minister if he assures us that small-scale illegal mining would be defined for this purpose, which would include buy, sell, transport, give your land out -- you are punished for the purpose of associating with the commitment of small-scale mining. We are not objecting to it but do not limit them only to “without a licence to buy and sell”.
    We would want the remit to be broader because this country has suffered enormously from the operations and activities of galamsey operators, which is captured in the Minister's policy accompanying the memorandum. So, we are not disagreeing but if you use “a person who sells or buys without a licence”; clause 2(a) was without a licence and it is superfluous. So, we need to do some re-engineering of the wording there for more elegance.
    I so submit.
    Mr K. T. Hammond 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, maybe, there is some sort of conflation here. There is also, I think, the Precious Minerals Act or something which specifically requires operators to have licences to be able to buy, transport and do all sorts of things and activities in relation to this one. The argument they are raising, I suspect, falls under the purview of that one.
    A person has so much gold on him and then somebody accosts him from transportation or whatever and asks, where did you get it from? Of course, you should have bought it from somewhere under the Precious Minerals Act or whatever, you have permit. Because clearly, if you do not have that the security forces would have interest in you. Why are you carrying so much gold like this without permit, without licence or anything? That is not the mischief that this clause is seeking to cure. So, this is a specific area of the galamseyers.
    When we get them out of the field and we are suggesting that quite apart from the generality of the section 2 (b) that has been read out, all those engaged in the illegal activities, we are saying specifically that if you are caught buying or selling within that ambience, you commit an offence. It has nothing to do with the transportation. It has nothing to do with meeting me with a little gold on me. If you find that and I am not able to produce the papers covering that, I have contravened a separate law.
    Mr Speaker, I believe that this is appropriate. The Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources is trying to add some flesh to it. The Hon Chairman has clearly explained what it is. We debated at length on this matter at that level and that we should not mix the precious mineral thing and the licence about people travelling with gold, diamonds or for that matter, whichever mineral on them.
    It is not applicable in this context. Selling, buying and doing all that illegally is what is encapsulated in what we have done. Mr Speaker, I ask that we allow this one to pass through because it is appropriate and it seeks to cure what the Ministry actually proposed and the Committee discussed at the Committee level.
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Terlabi, I saw you up? Do you have some question to -
    Mr Terlabi 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is not always that people who transport gold or other minerals buy or sell them. I believe that if you find any mineral on me, I could tell you, it is an inheritance. It does not mean that I bought it. If I am transporting it -
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    Very well.
    Mr Terlabi 12:30 p.m.
    No! It is not documented.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    No! Your point is well made.
    Mr Mutawakilu Adam 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, let us look at the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, section 97 (2). It would respond to it.
    It says that and I beg to quote: “A person is presumed to be lawfully in possession of minerals until the contrary is proved.”
    So, if he is in possession of gold, the onus lies on him to prove. [Interruption] Yes.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    Do not shirk the burden yet. I think it is a good point. That is covered here; until the contrary is proved, you are in illegal possession of the item.
    Dr Mathew O. Prempeh 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, just for emphasis sake, I would want it to be stated, so that the Hansard records it.
    Those of us whose parents are chiefs and carry gold ornaments left and right, are we sure, we have excluded those people? If yes, you just say it for Hansard purposes.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    I think the provision referred to here and I quote;
    “…until the contrary is proved”
    This takes care of it.
    Dr Prempeh 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, does that mean that when I am caught with gold or when a policeman stops me now and I have a century old gold bar, I have to prove that I did not do illegal mining?
    Mr Speaker, if that is so, then we would vote against this amendment. So, you say it.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources?
    Nii Osah Mills: [Laughter] - Hon Prempeh, are you alright?
    Mr Speaker, the section that was just read and which is now the subject of debate or interpretation, what that section actually says is that, if you have gold, maybe, from your daddy or grandfather, then you may hold that gold and whoever says - [Interruption] - This is the parent act; section 97 (2) of the parent Act 2006, Act 703. It says and I beg to quote:
    “A person is presumed to be lawfully in possession of minerals until the contrary is proved.”
    Which means that if you have your grandfather's gold with you, it is fine. Whoever says you got it out of illegal mining activity, must prove it. [Interruption] - Yes, the person who accuses you, must prove. So, you are alright. - [Interruption] - Then, let me have some - [Laughter].
    Alhaji Sorogho 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I believe after this long debate, we have now settled that the amendment that I am moving is in the right direction. So, if we could accept it and go ahead.
    Dr Prempeh 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, how can the debate be long? - [Interruption]
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    It is subjective anyway.
    Hon Members, I will put the Question.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Alhaji Sorogho 12:30 p.m.
    Hon Speaker, I beg to move,clause 2, subclause (2), closing phrase after paragraph (b), delete and insert the following:
    “commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than five thousand penalty units and not more than twenty thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than five years or to both.”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Alhaji Sorogho 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 2, subclause (3), lines 1 and 2, delete
    “A foreigner who undertakes small scale mining operations contrary to the provisions of this Act” and insert
    the following:
    “A foreigner who contrary to the provisions of this Act undertakes small-scale mining operations” and in line 5, after “not” insert “less than ten years and not”
    Mr Speaker, it brings out the clear meaning of the amendment it is intended to portray.
    Dr Prempeh 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the amend-ment does not sit right. Is it two amendments? The second part of the amendment - [Interruption] - I beg to quote:
    “‘A foreigner who contrary to the provisions of this Act undertakes small scale mining operations” and in the line 5 . . .
    They are two different things. Why are they captured in one amendment? Mr Speaker, they are two different amendments. [Interruption.] - Yes, you have to.
    If I read what you are amending
    now, there are two amendments you are effecting to do in one paragraph. That is not correct - [Interruption] - He said we should delete, and I beg to quote:
    “A foreigner who undertakes small scale mining operations contrary to the provisions of this Act”
    And insert,
    “A foreigner who contrary to the provisions of this Act undertakes small scale mining operations.”
    That is one. The second one,
    “and in line 5, after…”
    No! It should come as a separate amendment on its own. [Interruption.] - So, separate the two. [Interruption.] - What are you agreeing to? [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, he does not know what he is agreeing to.
    Mr H. Iddrisu 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee has yielded because he ought to have come with each amendment standing alone and on its own in accordance with our rules. But while I agree with the Hon Chairman of the Committee, supported by the Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, I do not know if they have an objection, if we wanted to improve it to read as follows and Mr Speaker, I beg to move:
    “A foreigner who contrary to the provisions of this Act”
    Then I would want to add with your leave “or any other enactment…”
    Then the rest of the words would flow. But before Dr Prempeh made his suggestion. So, we would add “any other enactment” because I listened to the Hon K. T. Hammond and he was making reference to a different piece of legislation other than the Minerals and Mining Act.
    So, if a foreigner engages in any
    activity per any other enactment including that, which he talked of, we should accept it, subject to the further amendment proposed by the Hon Matthew Opoku.
    Alhaji Sorogho 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I do not have any objection. It goes to further enrich the amendment.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Very well.
    I will put the Question.
    Dr Prempeh 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, before
    Dr Anthony A. Osei 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, my understanding was that the Hon Chairman had agreed to Hon Dr Prempeh's proposal. So, his first amendment is what he has allowed the Hon Minister to move. Then, he would get up to move the second amendment.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Alhaji Sorogho 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 2, subclause (4), lines 3 to 5, after “not” insert “less than ten years and not”
    Mr Speaker, we put “not more than” instead of not less than. So, there was just an interchange. It was a typographical error.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Alhaji Sorogho 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 2, subclause (4), line 3 to 5, delete “more than seventeen thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than ten” and insert the following:
    “not less than five thousand penalty units and not more than twenty thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than five.”
    Mr Speaker, this is just to go the same way as we did with the previous amendment. It is a straightforward amendment.
    Dr Prempeh 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, is he saying in clause 2 (4) that a foreigner who does this would have “not less than five thousand …and not more than twenty
    thousand…”? Mr Speaker, but the prison term associated with that is three and five years. In the previous clause, he has talked about “not less than ten years.” Does it sit right?
    Alhaji Sorogho 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, this issue came up and the explanation given by the Attorney-General's Department was that the prison term goes up to 2000 penalty units, after which it is at the discretion of the Hon Minister. So, this one is just to give more severe punishments; that is why.
    So, one cannot say that 2000 penalty units; then one would be imprisoned for 100 years. [Interruptions.] I am saying that it was an interpretation by the Attorney-General's Department. It is a convention that has been adopted by the Attorney-General's Department, which is what they are using to work. So, after 2000 penalty units, one can no longer equate the penalty units with a prison term. It would be too much.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Member, much as they agree with you, you used the term “Minister”. They disagree with you because the “Minister” does not have that mandate; it is a judge or the court, if you should put it that way.
    Alhaji Sorogho 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, immedia-tely I saw Hon Dr Akoto Osei up, I corrected myself, and that is why he sat down.
    Dr Prempeh 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, maybe, the Hon Chairman did not understand me.
    Previously, he said that a foreigner who engages contrary to this provision in this Act should not have less than ten years imprisonment, which I agree with. I was even going to go up.
    Mr Speaker, when it comes to this clause that we are amending, he said, “not less than three years and not more than five”. But I said that the two do not sit well. In one clause, he said, “not more than ten years”, but in the second clause, he is
    saying, “not less than three years and not more than five”. So, the “ten years” does not even come in.
    Mr Speaker, that is what I wanted the Hon Chairman to clarify.
    Alhaji Sorogho 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if you watch very well, we are making a distinction between a foreigner and a Ghanaian. The second amendment is in respect of a Ghanaian doing that. Then the first amendment is in respect of those who are out of the country, who want to come and destroy us. So, that is it.
    Mr Speaker, again, the issue is to punish them in such a way that they would not dare to come here to cause those havocs. It is to serve as a serious deterrent.
    Dr Prempeh 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is the problem I am having with him. Why is a Ghanaian doing illegal mining just given three years? That is my problem. When one knows the extent of the damage he is doing to our water bodies, our trees and countryside, he is supposed to know better that mining here should not be more than five years -
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Chairman, do you follow his argument?
    Why should there be a difference between the punishment meted out to the Ghanaian and that of the foreigner? He thinks that it should be across board. Whether you are a foreigner or a Ghanaian, the punishment should be the same.
    Dr Prempeh 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, before the Hon Chairman comments, he would have to understand that we are not punishing a non-citizen and a citizen. That is not the purpose of the punishment. The punishment is for illegal mining -- whether you are a Ghanaian and you are engaged in illegal mining, the punishment
    should be the same.
    Actually, even for the Ghanaians, it should have been more. We should know better.
    Alhaji Sorogho 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, there is a problem that I think we need to understand. There are two crimes involved when it comes to a foreigner. By law, a foreigner is not supposed to engage in small-scale mining. The foreigner breaches that law and then goes in again to cause havoc. A Ghanaian is entitled to go into small- scale mining. So, it is not a crime when a Ghanaian goes there. It becomes a crime when he does that without a licence. Mr Speaker, this is the distinction.
    Mr Speaker, but if he wants to further propose an amendment that we should all have -
    Dr Prempeh 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, my point is simple; whether a foreigner or a Ghanaian engages in illegal mining, the act that has been committed, which is against the law, is illegal mining.
    Actually, it would be discriminatory for two people to commit the same offence, and then it is said that because one is a Nigerian, he is imprisoned for 100 years and because the other is a Ghanaian, he is imprisoned for 50 years. It is discriminatory.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    So, what about the explanation he gave you?
    Dr Prempeh 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the explana- tion does not even hold; he could not tell us the two elements.
    Once one does illegal mining - [Interruptions] -You are a senior lawyer, I am not. Once one does illegal mining, that is the offence. If we are punishing for illegal mining, we cannot then say because one is a foreigner and has done illegal

    mining, he should be imprisoned for 100 years. He might be a foreigner with legal status or residence in this country, and he has to be treated the same according to our laws.

    So, it is wrong for that to happen, and it should be the same punishment if not more.
    Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the offence is really the same; they are both engaged in mining without a licence. The only difference is that one of them cannot obtain a licence, but the other can, but he is doing it without obtaining the licence. But both of them are committing the same crime -- mining without a licence. [Interruptions.] He said illegal mining. So, they are committing the same crime.
    Baba Jamal Mohammed Ahmed: Mr Speaker, when one looks at the law, we are dealing with two status. One is a foreigner and the other is a Ghanaian.

    Listen to it carefully, it is not - when you come to our country without a licence and you [Interruption] what we are saying is that, there are two personalities involved here; one, a foreigner who is not supposed to even go into small-scale mining in the first place, goes there and also breaks the law. But the Ghanaian has the right to go there. So, the crime may be the same but the personality involved has a different status and that is what we should look at. [Interruption.] You are wrong. What are you talking about?
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Order! Order!
    Mr K. T. Hammond 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think the explanation we were given on
    the point is that, it is a deliberate policy to discriminate and there is nothing wrong with that. The suggestion was that, it is not so much about the two counts he is talking about. If it is two counts, we would break it down and make it two counts. So, I do not think we will side with him.
    Mr Speaker, it is this; the ordinary Ghanaian goes in there with the pickaxes and so on and so forth and does the kind of things that he does. But it is the foreigner, and we have a specific country in mind. I would not say it loud here because they will report for the whole world to know. We have a specific country in mind -- the nationals from that particular country are notorious in this and they give physical, financial and all the support - my Hon Colleague is on a point of order.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon Member, does it not amount to encouraging Ghanaians to engage in criminal conduct?
    Mr K. T. Hammond 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, absolutely, it is that encouragement that we want to stop by slapping them with a bigger punishment than we slap the Ghanaian with. So that if they know that their punishment is about twice that of Ghanaians, they would not go closer to the offence, let alone committ it. So, he does not get slapped with that and the Ghanaian does not get the incentive to do it. It is a deliberate policy to discourage those foreigners from coming in to incite our people to engage in illegality.
    Dr Yakubu A. Alhassan 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think that the amendment to discriminate between a foreigner and a national in terms of punishment is wrong. If the Ghanaian knows he has already been discriminated against and being asked to do small-scale mining without foreign participation, when it comes to committing the crime, it is the same crime and the punishment is about the crime and it is not about who is doing it.
    I think we should take the personalities out and address the crime. There should be a difference between a foreigner committing a crime and given one sentence, and a national committing the same crime -
    In fact, the national should be punished more because, he knows he is entitled to it, so, why must he be doing it illegally?
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon Member for Old Tafo and then Hon O. B. Amoah.
    Dr A. A. Osei 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I was up on a point of order when my Hon Colleague was speaking. He was making some allegations but Mr Speaker gave me the opportunity, so, I am just craving his indulgence. [Interruption]-- it is not a point of order. I am explaining to Mr Speaker.
    He mentioned that nationals from a certain country -- please, it is very important unless he is willing to -- [Interruption]-- This is a House of records, so, if he has evidence - but he should not just make these wild allegations and people may perceive that we Members of Parliament here are just blaming people for no reason.
    If he knows he should table it and we would investigate it, otherwise, he should not bring such issues here. Politically, we can suffer for it. Please, let us be careful. In fact, I know we are already suffering for it. So, let us be careful when we make statements here.
    Mr K. T. Hammond 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am prepared to defend it -- this whole thing about foreigners; if we say “foreigners”, they are not Ghanaians. So, I am not sure about the point. Some countries -
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon Member, he is only drawing your attention to the fact that we do not need to go that far. The word “foreigners” is enough but
    do not say that you have a specific country in mind.
    Mr K. T. Hammond 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, but if it comes to it, it is in the public domain, it is not a diplomatic fiat or anything. Mr Speaker -[Interruption.]
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    I do not think you need to go that far, restrict yourself to the word “foreigners.”
    Mr K. T. Hammond 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I hear. But the only point I am making is that the nation is aware that there is a group of people who come in here and this is the kind of thing they engage in. It is all over the place and internationally recognised that they have done that. Ghanaians publicly - everybody knows; it is in all the national newspapers. So, I do not really see the difficulty with that.
    Mr Speaker, but again, I would not mention the name. This is a House of records.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    I think that as Members of Parliament, sometimes we must be diplomatic.
    Mr K. T. Hammond 12:50 p.m.
    I would try and be diplomatic; they are not foreign nationals; they are Ghanaians. [Laughter.]
    Mr O. B. Amoah 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think in this country, we have laws, offences and penalties. Any person who commits an offence is liable and the penalty would be imposed. If one is not even entitled to be in this country, there is a law that would cover it, and you are found to be engaging in an enterprise that you are not supposed to be engaging in, the offences are there and the penalties would take care of you.
    So, we should not try to distinguish between Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians in a particular field. The offences and penalties should cover all these areas, we should not be too concerned about -
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:50 p.m.
    Hon Members, let us bring this issue to a finality. I think that, it is not fair to discriminate. It is the crime we are looking at and not the individual. So, let us make it cut across.
    Alhaji Sorogho 12:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think the consensus is that the punishment must be uniform. So, if that is what is acceptable, [Interruption] - No! It is not a matter of giving up. This is give and take and from what is happening, people are holding the Constitution; we would not go there.
    All that I am saying is that, from the debate, it is clear that we should all - but one thing that I wanted us to know is that, small-scale mining is reserved by the Constitution for Ghanaians and that Ghanaians are entitled to go into small scale mining; it is not a crime.
    Foreigners are debarred; it is illegal for them to even think of going into small -scale mining. So, a foreigner who finds himself there, whether he has even started, he has committed a crime. But I understand what my Hon Colleague is saying that, there are other laws that would take care of that. So, let us accept that Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians, if they do that, are all equal before the law as far as that crime is concerned and so, they must suffer the same consequences.
    Mr Speaker, on that note, I will see the draftspersons, so that we could fine- tune it to give the same meaning to what we have already done.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    Very well.
    Thank you very much. This brings us to the end of that particular issue.
    Hon Members, so that particular issue is referred to the Committee on Mines and Energy and the draftspersons to fine-tune, so that we have that kind of situation where the punishment would
    be the same -- once the crime has been committed whether you are a Ghanaian or non-Ghanaian, it is the same.
    Hon Members, otherwise, we would never come to an end of this issue. But you can join the Committee while they are discussing the issue and make your contribution, otherwise, this matter would never come to an end. This is because we have very little time on our hands.
    Hon Members, I am sorry to deny Members any further discussion in this matter, I think time is not on our side.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Alhaji Sorogho 1 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 2, subclause (5), line 6, delete “police” and insert “district police commander until the court determines the case”.
    This is to place responsibility on the district commander. If we just say “the Police”, it is not strong enough because the police commander is the one in charge and if there is any problem, one goes to him until the court determines the case. So, it is a straightforward case.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    Hon Members, I think this is straightforward.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Hon Members, I cannot put the Question with regard to clause 2 as amended because we deferred this aspect of it for further consideration.
    So, Hon Chairman of the Committee, we then move on to clause 3. Is that right?
    Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Clause 4 - section 107 of Act 703 amended.
    Alhaji Sorogho 1 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, with clause 4, there is an amendment proposed by Hon W. O. Boafo after the meeting but I agreed with him that it could be deleted and clause 4 says that:
    “The principal enactment is amended in section 107 by the deletion of subsection (2)”.
    I think this is not necessary because immediately after this one comes into force, that one is taken care of and so, there is no need.
    So, we agreed that we delete the entire amendment that we are proposing -
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    So, the amendment is withdrawn? Is that right?
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    So, we can put the Question with regard to clause 4 standing part of the Bill.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.

    Pardon?

    No! The amendment seeking to delete it has been withdrawn.
    Alhaji Sorogho 1 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the amendment is seeking to delete and I share the opinion with that. It should be deleted because it is superfluous and that is why I am saying that we agree to the amendment here - [Interruption]
    We are deleting clause 4 which says that:
    “The principal enactment is amended in section 107 by the deletion of subsection (2)”
    And he thinks that there is no need to put it in here because you cannot delete it -
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    Very well. I understand you. So, it is not as if Hon W. O. Boafo is withdrawing his amendment and you agreed with him?
    Alhaji Sorogho 1 a.m.
    Yes. I have accepted it.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    Very well. So, that clause 4 is deleted?
    Alhaji Sorogho 1 a.m.
    Exactly.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    Very well.
    So, the Question would be who are in favour of clause 4 being deleted?
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Clause 4 accordingly deleted from the Bill.
    Clause 5 - Section 110 of Act 703 amended.
    Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
    Alhaji Sorogho 1 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 5, paragraph (v), line 1, delete “the rate for royalty and”
    Mr Speaker, f rom the ear l ie r amendments, this is not to set the rate. It is only to prescribe the manner. So, it follows the same thing.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    Very well.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Alhaji Sorogho 1 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 6 be deleted.
    Mr Speaker, it is also superfluous. We do not need it there. Clause 6 says that 1 a.m.
    “The Minerals and Mining (Amend- ment) Act, 2010 (Act 794) is repealed.”
    We cannot repeal it; it is still there. It is portions of it which have been amended.
    So, it is superfluous.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    Very well.
    I will put the Question with regard to the deletion of clause 6 from the Bill.
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    Yes, Hon Opare-Ansah?
    Mr Opare-Ansah 1 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Question has to be first put on the amendment as proposed. And when it is carried, its effect is the deletion which you can either order or take another vote on which would be your prerogative. In the previous amendment, you put the Question for us to delete,but the proposal was what was contained in the amendment. I do not know if Mr Speaker gets my drift.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    I thought by the amendment being proposed, he is asking that we delete it. That is the amendment he is proposing, that we delete it.
    Mr Opare-Ansah 1 a.m.
    So, Mr Speaker, the House has to agree to the proposal first and the proposal is that we delete it. So,
    the Question is that when we agree to the proposal, then it gives room for the House to go ahead to delete it.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    I am at a loss. Once the amendment has the effect of deletion, I think that if we agree with him, then when we take the vote and the majority say that they agree with him, then it is deleted.
    Mr Opare-Ansah 1 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, that is true. But you would only agree with them after you have taken the Vote, that is when you would know that the House agrees with the proposer, when you put the Question on the amendment.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    Well. Hon Members, we will go back to the earlier clause which was deleted. I think that was clause 4. I am being advised that procedurally, after putting the earlier Question with regard to the proposed amendment, when it is carried, we will then have to put the Question again as to the deletion of the clause from the Bill.
    So, we will go back and put the second Question with regard to the deletion. The earlier one had to do with accepting the proposed amendment. So, I will put the second Question.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Clause 4 accordingly deleted from the Bill.
    So, we come to clause 6 and carry out a similar exercise.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Clause 6 accordingly deleted from the Bill.
    Can we move to the Long Title, although we still have some items deferred?
    Alhaji Sorogho 1 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we can still go to the Long Title because it will not affect the object of the amendment. So, I think that we can still go to the Long Title.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    Let us defer that and deal with what we have deferred and then after that we take the Long Title. It should not take more than two minutes to deal with the Long Title.
    Hon Members, this brings us to the end of consideration -
    Do you have anything?
    Alhaji Sorogho 1 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we -
    Anyway, I am not in Leadership, so, I cannot determine -- but after that we were just coming straight to Motion number -
    I cannot determine.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 a.m.
    Proce- durally, let me call for the end of consideration before we can deal with any other matter.
    Hon Members, this brings us to the end of Consideration Stage for the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Bill, 2014 for now.
    Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
    Mr Agbesi 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if we could take item number 20.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    What page is it?
    Mr Agbesi 1:10 p.m.
    Item 20 is at page 5.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Very well.
    MOTIONS 1:10 p.m.

    Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi) 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least, forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Finance Committee on the request for ratification of Tax Exemption Provisions in the Framework Agreement and Framework Arrangement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the Republic of Korea Concerning Loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund for the years 2014 through 2016 may be moved today.
    Dr Anthony A. Osei 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, this is procedural. I will put the Question.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Request for the ratification of tax exemption provision in
    the Framework Agreement and Arrangement between Government of the Republic of Ghana (GoG) and the Government of the Republic of Korea
    Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi) 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the request for ratification of Tax Exemption Provisions in the Framework Agreement and Framework Arrangement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the Republic of Korea concerning loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund for the year 2014 through 2016.
    Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi) 1:10 p.m.
    Introduction
    The request for ratification of Tax Exemption Provisions in the Framework Arrangement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Govern- ment of the Republic of Korea concerning loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) for the years 2014 through 2016 was presented to the House by the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr. Emmanuel Seth Terkper on Tuesday, 14th July, 2015, in accordance with articles 181 and 174 of the 1992 Constitution. The Rt Hon Speaker referred the request to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana.
    Pursuant to the referral, the Committee met with the Hon Minister for Finance Mr Emmanuel Seth Terkper, Hon. Deputy Minister for Finance, Mrs Mona K. Quartey and officials from the Ministry of Finance and considered the referral.
    The Committee is grateful to the Hon Minister, the Deputy Minister and the officials for the cooperation and assistance.
    Reference
    The Committee referred to the following additional documents during its deliberations:
    The 1992 Constitution of Ghana
    The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana
    Background
    The Government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of the Republic of Ghana, in accordance with the Framework Agreement between the

    two Governments on the extension of loans from the Economic Development Corporation Fund (EDCF), propose to conclude the said Agreement premised on the ratification of the tax exemptions provisions in the Agreement.

    The Framework Agreement i s a comprehensive programme which covers a l l g ran ts and technica l assistance cooperation programmes to be implemented in Ghana. Without executing the Agreement, no grant or aid under the programme can be implemented in Ghana. Importantly, no programme can be concluded under the Fund. The framework Arrangement thus spells out annual programmes and projects for implementation.

    Proposed Grant Project

    The proposed project to be undertaken under the Agreement for the 2014/2017 fiscal year between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of Korea are as follows:

    i. Project for improving maternal, newborn and Child Health care in Keta Municipality and Ketu North and South Districts of the Volta Region of Ghana

    ii. Project for the establishment of a Master Plan for Urban Transport System Development in Accra.

    Under the project, US$6,000,000.00 is to be expended on improving maternal, newborn and child healthcare in Keta Municipality and Ketu North and South Districts of the Volta Region. Specific activities to be carried out include training for midwives, capacity building, improvement in community facilitation, et cetera.

    Observation

    Rationale for the ratification

    The Committee was informed that the Government of Ghana and the Government of Korea through the Korea Exim Bank has entered an agreement for the extension of concessionary facilities to the Government of Ghana to support critical social investments that fall under the Economic Development Cooperation Fund, (EDCF). Under the Economic Development Cooperation Fund, (EDCF), the Korean Government shall enable the Ghanaian Government to obtain concessionary facilities from the EDCF up to a maximum commitment amount in Korea not exceeding the equivalent of two hundred million United States dollars (US$200,000,000.00) up to the 2017 fiscal year to finance EDCF loan projects in the Republic of Ghana unless otherwise agreed upon by the two Governments.

    To this end, the Korean Government intends to establish a representative office in Ghana to administer and supervise the implementation of the facility.

    The Agreement requires Government to accord the representative staff as well as its office such privileges, exemptions and benefits as are no less favourable than those accorded to their represen-tative staff and families as well as office of executing agencies of any third country or of any international organisation performing a similar mission in Ghana.

    Legal basis for the ratification

    The Committee noted that Government of Ghana, upon signing the Framework Agreement and Arrangement with the Korean Government under the EDCF Protocol, is expected to abide by and satisfy all the conditions provided therein. Article 2 of the Framework Agreement

    on grant aid and article 6 of Framework Agreement with partner country deals with expected obligations of the Government of the Republic of Ghana. Per article 2 of the Grant Agreement, it is clearly stated that “in case the Korean Government carries out the programmes above, the Ghanaian Government shall take all the necessary measures:

    to exempt the equipment, machinery and materials imported for the implementation of the Programs from customs duties, internal taxes (including value added tax) and other fiscal levies;

    to exempt the equipment, machinery and mater ia ls purchased in the Republic of Ghana for the implementation of the Programs from internal taxes (including value added tax) and other fiscal levies;

    to exempt Korean nationals who take part in the implementation of the Programmes (hereinafter referred to as the” Korean nationals”) from customs duties, internal taxes and other fiscal levies which may be imposed in the Republic of Ghana with respect to their income and property.

    These provisions link with article 6 of the Framework Arrangement concerning disbursements from the EDCF.

    The Committee further noted that the Government of Korea (Korea Exim Bank) has indicated that without executing the Agreement, no grant aid programme or the EDCF which is a concessionary facility will be concluded and executed by both parties. The ratification therefore is to enable government to honour its part of the agreement in order to access the EDCF for the implementation of the programmes therein.
    Dr Anthony A. Osei 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion, and in so doing add a few words.
    This is a Motion to approve tax provisions for a Framework Agreement between Ghana and Korea, which would allow the Korean Government to give us concessionary loans for a three year period. These tax provisions are normal, and they are akin to the ones given to diplomat.
    The Koreans have an Embassy here, but the EDCF, which is the concessionary granting agency, about four or five people are given these tax provisions to allow them work here, such that they can administer the facility that is coming to Ghana. And so, I think it is very straight- forward.
    But coincidentally, the first grant they
    are giving under this Agreement is going to the constituency of our Chairman. It is a pure coincidence. The - [Interruption] - The Ministry did not say anything otherwise, and so, I am assuming it is coincidence. But my Hon Chairman's constituency is getting a grant of US$6 million under this facility to improve maternal, new-born child healthcare. I think it is good, and so, we have to commend our Hon Chairman for leading such an important instrument for helping the children of Ghana,and so, I would urge Members to support it.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Majority Leader? Otherwise, I will just put the Question.
    Mr Agbes i 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, my Colleague, Hon (Dr) Akoto Osei has made a very useful contribution, except that he should have added that from the Chairman's constituency, it should come to my constituency, Ashaiman, so that this project of improving maternal, new-born child healthcare would also be extended to important places like Ashaiman.
    And so, Mr Speaker, I would urge everybody to support it. This is because the next one would definitely come to my Constituency.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, we are talking about a particular facility, and we do not need to go beyond or outside of that facility.
    Dr A. A. Osei 1:10 p.m.
    On a point of information.
    Mr Speaker, the discussion came that the Hon Deputy Majority Leader might be considering moving from his constituency. So, we decided that after he has gone to the new constituency, which would be
    close to the Hon Chairman, we would be willing to look at it.
    Mr Benjamin K. Kpodo 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to draw your attention to an error made by the Hon Ranking Member, claiming that the facility is going to the constituency of the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee.
    The correction is that, there are three constituencies benefiting from the project, and it is not only going to the Hon Chairman's constituency. It is also going to the Keta Constituency and also the Ketu Constituency.
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    And so, does the Member for Parliament (MP) for Keta also want to talk about it? I do not think we would want to go that far.
    Hon Member for Keta.
    Mr Richard M. Quashigah 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in fact, I am really excited about this facility, and just to correct Hon Kpodo also, that it is not just going to Keta, but Keta and Anlo. This is because it is the Keta Municipality.
    But Mr Speaker, as was said, this is a facility whose procedures are normal. But the fact that its first beneficiary would be Keta and the other constituency is very refreshing and I am very sure the people of Keta would be very excited about it.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Well, Hon Members, I think we have had enough.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Mr Agbesi 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, let us take the Resolution captured as item number 22.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Item 22 is a Resolution by the Hon Minister for Finance.
    RESOLUTIONS 1:20 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Seth E. Terkper) 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move,
    WHEREAS by the provisions of article 181(5) of the Constitution the terms and conditions of any international business or economic transaction to which the Govern- ment of Ghana is a party shall not come into operation unless the said terms and conditions have been laid before Parliament and approved by Parliament by a Resolution supported by the votes of a majority of all Members of Parliament;
    PURSUANT to the provisions of the said article 181(5) of the Constitution, and at the request of the Government of Ghana acting through the Minister responsible for Finance, there has been laid before Parliament the terms and conditions of a request for ratification of Tax Exemption Provisions in the Framework Agreement and Frame- work Arrangement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Government of the Republic of Korea concerning loans
    from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund for the year 2014 through 2016.
    THIS HONOURABLE HOUSE 1:20 p.m.

    H E R E B Y R E S O LV E A S 1:20 p.m.

    Mr Avedzi 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
    Mr Agbesi 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, item number 17 on page 4.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Has the Report been distributed?
    Some Hon Member 1:20 p.m.
    No!
    Mr Agbesi 1:20 p.m.
    That is the Supplementary Budget.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
    Has the Report been distributed?
    Mr Agbesi 1:20 p.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker. They are distributing the Report.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Hon Members, let us stand it down and make sure that the Report has been distributed to Hon Members.
    Mr Agbesi 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we can take item number 33on page 12.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Hon Members, item number 33 on the Order Paper -- Income Tax Bill, 2015 at the Consideration Stage.
    Hon Members, if I am right, we are dealing with the Sixth Schedule.
    Chairman of the Committee?
    BILLS - CONSIDERATION 1:30 p.m.

    STAGE 1:30 p.m.

  • [Resumption of Consideration from 23/ 7/2015]
  • Mr James K. Avedzi 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, sixth Schedule, paragraph 6, subparagraph (3), line 3, after “Schedule” delete “during the period the approved unit trust scheme or mutual fund is exempt under subparagraph (1)”
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read 1:30 p.m.
    “A contract shall not be awarded by any agency or body in which public funds are vested to a person for the provision of services including consultancy services, unless that person produces to the agency or body, a tax clearance certificate issued by the Commissioner-General -” [Pause]
    Mr Speaker, sorry.
    Mr Speaker, let us move to the next one while I reconcile the first one. So, I would move the second amendment under the Sixth Schedule.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, sixth
    Schedule, paragraph 7, subparagraph (3), line 3, delete “the exemption period” and insert “period specified in subparagraph
    (1)”
    Mr Avedzi 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, shall we move to the Seventh Schedule? I am totally not reconciling what we have in the Order Paper and the Bill. So, we could move to the Seventh Schedule.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:30 p.m.
    So, we are in the meantime standing down the proposed amendments to the Sixth Schedule. We are moving to the Seventh Schedule.
    MR SECOND DEPUTY SEPAKER
    Mr Avedzi 1:32 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 5(4), sub- paragraph (b), line 1, delete “inconsistent”
    The new rendition would read:

    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 1:32 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 3(3), subparagraph (a), line 5, delete “with” and insert “of”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 1:32 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move,

    Seventh Schedule, paragraph 8, sub- paragraph (2), line 2, delete “law”

    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 1:32 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 9, sub-paragraph (1), line 1, delete “Act” and insert “country”
    It would now read
    “The cedi is the official currency of this country.”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 1:32 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 9, sub- paragraph (3), line 2, delete”in writing, require that person” and insert “require that person, in writing.”
    Mr Speaker, this is to get a better rendition.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 1:32 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 11(1), subparagraph (b), line 2 to 4, delete”or if the name or title of the Commissioner- General or authorised officer, is signed or written on the notice or document”.
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition would be “in the case of an electronic document, embedded in the document by way of electronic signature…” The rest are redundant.
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 1:32 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to understand from the Hon Chairman why the rest of the words should be redundant, because in the event that we do not have the electronic signature, what
    alternative would we be relying on?
    Mr Speaker, it is important because we have not even developed the infrastruc- ture for the electronic signature system. I do know that there was some discussion earlier with the Egyptian Government, but as an alternative, if we do not have an electronic signature, I am sure the other provision was to be added -- in order that if we do not have the electronic signature, then we lean on to another process to rely on it. But if he could explain, we probably may understand it better.
    Mr Avedzi 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the (a) portion of 11(1) talks about the case of paper document. So, an alternative to the electronic document is the paper document. We are not amending that portion where we are saying “in the case of paper documents signed, printed, stamped or written document.”
    That is sufficient to authenticate that this is coming from the Commissioner- General. But in the case of an electronic document, it must be embedded in the document by way of electronic signature, and that is enough.
    The (a) portion is the paper document, which is giving us an alternative where there is no electronic document.
    Mr H. Iddrisu 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think the rest of the words cause no fatal injury if they are maintained, because a hard document as I have now, is a hard document. Everybody knows it is a hard document. So, we tender it in. But when we make an assumption that we would like to take the document in an electronic form, we are saying that it must be accompanied by an electronic signature.
    Where we do not have the signature is where the rest of the words are important. Then we must rely on a named title of the Commissioner-General or authorised officer signed or written on the notice of the document as an additional thing, as a substitute to the electronic signature.
    So, I would persuade the Hon Chairman, that he should move that the rendition be carried accordingly as advertised in the original Bill. He needs not delete those words.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Member for Suhum?
    Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I tend to support what the Hon Minister said.
    If you look at the provision in the Income Tax Bill, 2015, the connecting word between paragraph 11(1) (a) and (b) is “or”. So, it is talking about either a hard copy in one sense or an electronic copy.
    The electronic copy as he explained, could be such that it could have the signature of the person not in an electronic format on the document. But when you remove the portion, which he seeks to remove -- he said that the electronic copy must always necessarily be accompanied by electronic signature.
    What the Hon Minister is saying is that, we may not even have that facility available yet at the time, we pass it. Yet we could still transmit documents in electronic format. So, there is nothing wrong if that is accompanied by the normal signature instead of the electronic signature. I think it should stay as it is.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Hon
    Chairman of the Committee, the force of their arguments should persuade you and equip you -
    Mr Avedzi 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the forces are too strong, so, I will abandon the amendment and go by the rendition in the Bill.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    So, are you withdrawing it?
    Mr Avedzi 1:40 p.m.
    I am withdrawing the amendment.
    Mr Avedzi 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 11, subparagraph (2), after “under” delete “a”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Hon Chairman, the draftspersons can take care of these amendments can they not?
    Mr Avedzi 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to
    move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 12, subparagraph (1), line 2, delete “a tax law” and insert “this Act”
    A paper document.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Hon Chairman of the Committee?
    Mr Avedzi 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, can we go back to the Sixth Schedule to complete it before we come to continue with the Seventh Schedule?
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    All right.
    Mr Avedzi 1:40 p.m.
    We are now finding our levels with the Sixth Schedule.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Did you stand down (iii) or (iv)?
    Mr Avedzi 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, from roman number (i).
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    All right.
    So, Hon Chairman, back to the Sixth Schedule.
    Mr Avedzi 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Sixth Schedule, paragraph 6, sub- paragraph (3), line 3, after “Schedule” delete “during the period the approved unit trust scheme or mutual fund is exempt under subparagraph (1)”
    So, the new rendition will end at “First Schedule”--
    “The interest and dividend paid or credited to a holder or member on an investment in an approved unit trust scheme or a mutual fund is subject to tax at the rate provided for in the First Schedule.”
    Mr Speaker, should I continue and
    move all of them?
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    No! Do not move all of them.
    Yes, Hon Haruna Iddrisu?
    Mr H. Iddrisu 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman should provide better particulars. Under paragraph 6(1), he gave reason he was proceeding further to reference the subparagraph 1. He is now saying that we should leave it as it is.
    Can he give an explanation?
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Hon Chairman, do you want to give an explanation? - [Pause.]
    Mr H. Iddrisu 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I wish to explain for the Hon Chairman to appreciate why I made that request.
    Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to read paragraph 6 1:40 p.m.
    “The income of an approved unit trust scheme or mutual fund is subject to tax at the rate provided for in the First Schedule for a period of ten years of assessment.”
    That is general.
    Then when you come to subparagraph
    3, it ends with reference to subparagraph 1 of paragraph 6, which he now seeks to delete. The two means that they are conjoined, and I think that we must understand why he wants it to end at First Schedule.
    Mr Avedzi 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, making reference to the First Schedule again, it makes it superfluous. The rate of tax for the interest and dividend to these credit holders are provided for in the First Schedule. That First Schedule is covered in subparagraph 3 as well.
    Therefore, if you make reference to it, that these rates are provided for in the First Schedule, then you are also saying that during the period provided for in the approved unit trust scheme, and making reference to subparagraph 1, which is also making reference to the same First Schedule, it becomes redundant at this point.
    So, if you end it at First Schedule, when we go there, we see the rate provided there. We do not need to repeat it here again. That
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Hon Member for Suhum?
    Mr Opare-Ansah 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, you would notice that under paragraph 6 (1), it is making it for a period of ten years of assessment.
    Then under subparagraph 3, it is talking about the period the approved unit trust scheme or mutual fund is exempt under that subparagraph 1.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:50 p.m.
    Hon Chairman, do you get it?
    We are being told that under paragraph
    6 (1):
    “The income of an approved unit trust scheme or mutual fund is subject to tax at the rate provided for in the First Schedule for a period of ten years of assessment.”
    So, the First Schedule is only applicable
    for ten years. That is the meaning we get from subparagraph 1. Subparagraph 3 now says, “First Schedule” without reference to the ten years. Is that a contradiction between subparagraphs 1 and 3? I think that is what -
    Hon Member for Suhum, did I present your concerns well?
    Mr Opare-Ansah 1:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the amendment he seeks to make will eliminate the reference to that First Schedule.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:50 p.m.
    This is because when he takes away sub- paragraph (1), then there is no reference
    to the ten years anymore. That is the point. So, the purpose of what you are seeking to delete is the reference to the First Schedule; “ten years.”So, after the ten years, what happens? The normal rate of tax applies.
    Hon Chairman of the Committee?
    Mr Avedzi 1:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the entire First Schedule provides the rate and the applicable number of years of assessment that the approved unit trust scheme and mutual fund holders are to enjoy. For that matter, once you make reference to the First Schedule, you are making reference to both the rate as well as the number of years of assessment. That is the main reason we are deleting the second part of paragraph 6 (3).
    If we go to the First Schedule, we would see the rate and the number of years of assessment. So, we made reference to the First Schedule and therefore, making reference to subparagraph (1) again, means that we are double counting the reference making to the First Schedule. The First Schedule makes reference to both the rate and year of assessment.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:50 p.m.
    In the First Schedule, what is the time period for which the rate applies? You said that the First Schedule makes reference to the rate as well as the period in which the rate applies. So, I am asking the period for the First Schedule. [Pause]
    Mr H. Iddrisu 1:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I can understand the Hon Chairman but probably, in place of the First Schedule, he should just accept that we make reference to subparagraph 6 (1). In paragraph 6 (1), reference is already made to the First Schedule. If we come to (3), the Hon Chairman does not want First Schedule to be repeated. But for our purposes, (3) is only relevant to the extent that it is linked
    Mr Terkper 1:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, it appears to me that subparagraph (1) talks about the income of an approved unit trust scheme, or mutual fund. Subparagraph (3) talks about the interest and dividends paid or credited to the holder or member of an investment in an approved Unit Trust Scheme or Mutual Fund. So, we are talking about two different things.
    In seeking to delete whatever exemption is given to the unit trust, it is not being extended to whoever is earning the income from the trust. I think that it is the essence of the deletion. Therefore, the income of that person would be subject to tax under the First Schedule.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:50 p.m.
    Hon Minister for Finance, I think that it is clear?
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
    Mr Avedzi 1:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Sixth Schedule, paragraph 7, subparagraph (3), line 3, delete “the exemption period” and insert “period specified in subparagraph (1)”
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read;
    “a loss incurred by a qualifying venture capital financing company may be carried forward for five years of assessment following the end of the period specified in sub- paragraph (1).
    Mr Speaker, this is to make reference to the exemption period stated in subparagraph 7(1).
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 1:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Sixth Schedule, paragraph 7, subparagraph (4), line 4, delete “exemption”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 1:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Sixth Schedule, paragraph 7, sub- paragraph (7), lines 2 and 3, delete “exempt from tax for as long as the qualifying venture capital financing company is exempt under” and insert the following:
    “subject to tax at the rate charged to that company under the First Schedule for the period specified in”
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition would be;
    “The interest and dividends paid or credited to a person on a qualifying investment in the company are subject to tax.”
    Mr Speaker, as explained by the Hon Minister for Finance, this is to agree with the earlier one we did under 6 (3).
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    The Sixth Schedule as amended,
    ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 1:50 p.m.
    Hon Members, having regard to state of business, I direct that Sitting be held outside the prescribed period, in accordance with Standing Order 40 (3).
    Hon Chairman of the Committee, we are on the Seventh Schedule, number (xii). Have we not already taken number (xii)?
    Mr Avedzi 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I took number (xi), so, I am moving to (xii).
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2 p.m.
    Hon Chairman of the Committee, I think we did (xii). So, if we are not sure, then we should take (xii) again.
    Mr Avedzi 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 14 (4 (1), subparagraph 14, delete “of documents”
    Question put and amendment agreed
    to.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, on the amendment that the Hon Chairman just proposed in respect of the paragraph 14 (1) (c), he called on us to delete the words “of documents” and I do not understand. We are talking about electronic filing of documents and electronic service of documents. Payment for same is what we are talking about. So, rather, it should have been “electronic payment for documents” and the Hon Chairman is saying we should delete “of documents”.

    Why are you shaking your head? Is the

    payment for the documents by persons?
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2 p.m.
    You make payments. Is there the need to a reference to documents?
    Mr Avedzi 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the payment is not for the documents; you are paying your tax through electronic means.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2 p.m.
    The Hon Minority Leader has agreed.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I appreciate it now.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2 p.m.
    Thank you.
    Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
    Mr Avedzi 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 14, subparagraph (3), limed 2, delete “a tax law” a d insert “this Act”
    Question put and amendment agreed
    to.
    Mr Avedzi 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 15, delete “15” and insert “14”
    Question put and amendment agreed
    to.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2 p.m.
    These are very minimum amendments.
    Mr Avedzi 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (4), line 1, delete “Commissioner-General” and insert “person”
    “The person shall retain the records referred to in this paragraph…”
    The reference being made here is “The person” who is the taxpayer and has been asked to keep this record for at least, six years.
    Question put and amendment agreed
    Mr Avedzi 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 16, subparagraph (5), line 2, delete “shall include” and insert “includes”.
    It will read:
    “For the purposes of this paragraph, the records to be maintained by the business includes a record of all receipts.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 18, subparagraph (2), line 4, “delete “relates” and insert “relate.
    Question put and amendment agreed
    to.
    Mr Avedzi 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 18, subparagraph (4), line 2, delete “relates” and insert “relate”
    Question put and amendment agreed
    to.
    Mr Avedzi 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 20 (1), subparagraph (b), line 2, delete “the provision of”
    “The new rendition reads:
    “.. shall not disclose any document or information except in accordance with this Act…”
    Question put and amendment agreed
    to.
    Mr Avedzi 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 21

    (1), subparagraph (b), line 1, delete “117” and insert “122”

    Question put and amendment agreed

    to.
    Mr Avedzi 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 21, subparagraph (‘4), line 2, before “”part” insert “in”
    The new rendition reads:
    “After the determination of the objection, the Commissioner- General may allow the objection in whole or in part…”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 2 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 2 sub-paragraph 2, lines 1 and 2, delete “a notice of appeal” and insert the following:
    “five copies of the notice of appeal together with five copies of all relevant documents”
    The new rendtion reads:
    “An appeal under subparagraph (1) shall be made by lodging five copies of the notice of appeal together with five copies of all relevant documents which the Registrar of the High Court…”
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2 p.m.
    Hon Chairman, what is the purpose of this? We have rules that deal with civil procedure, which tells us the number of copies that we must lodge. So, what is the purpose of this, Hon Majority Leader?
    Hon Majority Leader, you have been practising at the Bar for so many years. Why are we saying “five copies must be lodged”, what is the purpose of this in this Act? They are saying that one must lodge
    five copies of the notice of appeal and five copies of all relevant documents with the High Court. What is the purpose of this in this Act?
    While we have rules that deal with appeals specifically provided for, we have civil procedure rule.
    Mr A. S. K. Bagbin 2:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I believe this is just to make this known to the ordinary people who might not have knowledge of our laws on civil procedure. But at the same time, on the court they are talking about I believe it is the High Court. I do not know why they are inserting this because there are rules already governing - [Interruption]Is it the Court of Appeal? [Pause]
    If you look at the clause Yes, I can see that paragraph 22 (2) says;

    We are talking about the number - “five copies of the notice of appeal together with five copies of all relevant documents”.
    Dr A. A. Osei 2:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in these instances, I believe we were guided by the advice of the lawyers at the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Attorney- General's personnel to specify the rules. So, we thought this was the norm because the lawyers were there and they suggested this. That is why we took their advice.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2:10 p.m.
    Then they made a mistake.
    Hon Members, we know that there are civil procedure rules that determine - When we look at all our laws, they say “we shall appeal to this”. They do not say “the number of the procedure”. They just say” we shall appeal.” The Constitution, for example, said that if one is dissatisfied under article 23, one shall appeal.
    Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah, what is
    your view on this?
    Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah: Mr Speaker, I agree with you generally. But when it comes to tax, the idea is to ensure that the processes are clearly stated in the enactment, so that there are no doubts whatsoever.
    If what is stated here is in conflict with the civil procedure rules, which deal generally with the procedure in the High Court, the court may then interpret it to mean that the civil procedure rules may prevail.
    This is an enactment and not a regulation like the civil procedure rule. So, this would supersede the ordinary rules of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. I believe that is why it is expressly stated. Whether it is in conflict with existing rules of court, I am not in a position to say.
    If there is any conflict, the provisions of this enactment shall prevail and that is the intention of the Bill. Parliament, in its own wisdom, may decide that since we have rules, they need not specify. But I am of the view that, when it comes to tax law and procedure for challenging, assessing or whatever, it is important that they are expressly provided for in the law. That is what these provisions so intend, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2:10 p.m.
    Having been persuaded, I will put the Question.
    Hon Majority Leader, I saw that you wanted to make a comment.
    Mr Bagbin 2:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to ask what if we are called upon to file our taxes electronically. That is where we are moving. Electronic - you file them and you file five copies. You just click and it goes - [Interruption] That is what I have said. That is where we are moving to. So, there is no need to mention the number of copies. That is the issue. [Interruption] No! That is governed by the civil procedure rules. It is already governed by that.
    In fact, the advice we got from the Attorney-General's Department is to make this in consonance with those rules. But those are rules; this is an Act. So, why not allow the rules which deal with the nitty- gritty to prevail than to now enact it? I do not think it is necessary. I do not think so.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, I will put the Question. We have heard both sides of the argument and I do not know whether this is necessary.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2:10 p.m.
    The Speaker cannot get involved but I was more persuaded to the “no”. But nobody said it. I looked at Hon Isaac Osei and I hoped that he would say “no” so that I will say “the Noes have it” but he did not say “no”.
    Mr Isaac Osei 2:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, no! I thought the Hon Majority Leader took a contrary position but I did not hear him say “no”.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2:10 p.m.
    So, even the Hon Majority Leader who was taking a contrary view did not say “no” he abstained.
    Mr Avedzi 2:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 22, subparagraph (3), line 1, after “appeal”
    insert “within three months”
    The new rendition will read:
    “A person may lodge a notice of appeal within three months after the date specified in subparagraph (2)”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 2:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 24, subparagraph (1), line 2, delete “22” and insert “21” and in line 4, delete “and an appeal”.
    We are doing cross-referencing. We are correcting the figure. We are saying that the sentence should end at “under subparagraph(1)”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 2:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 24, subparagraph (2), line 2, delete “23” and insert “21” and in line 4, delete “of this paragraph”
    Mr Speaker, the same reason as in subparagraph (1) applies.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 2:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 24, subparagraph (3), line 1, delete “a” and in line 3, delete “or objection on appeal” and further in line 5, after “or” insert “where the decision has been appealed against, within thirty days from”
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition will read 2:10 p.m.
    “Where the payment of tax has been held over pending an objection, any tax outstanding under the assessment as determined by the
    Commissioner-General is payable within thirty days from the date of service of the notice of the decision of the Commissioner-General where the decision has been appealed against, within thirty days from the date of the decision of the Court”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 2:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 24, sub-paragraph (4), line 4, delete “penalty” and insert “interest”
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read 2:10 p.m.
    “in addition to tax payable, interest at the minimum prevailing bank rate…”,
    It should not be penalty.
    Dr A. A. Osei 2:20 p.m.
    If the Hon Chairman of the Committee is deleting “penalty” because it is interest, he cannot say “a interest”. So, he has to make the consequential amendment. It should be “an interest.”
    Mr Avedzi 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we are deleting “a penalty” and substituting it with “an interest”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 27(3), subparagraph (a), line 1, delete “with”
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read;
    “Submit to the other person a statement of the reasons”.
    It should not be “submit to the other person with a statement of the reasons”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 28, subparagraph (7), line 2, after “Act” delete “under which the return is to be filed”
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read;
    “The grant of an extension under this paragraph does not alter the date for payment of tax as specified in this tax as specified in this Act”.
    And it ends there.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 29, subparagraph (2), line 2, delete “28” and insert “19”
    Mr Speaker, this is also cross- referencing.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 29, subparagraph (4), line 3, delete “any”
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read;
    “A commissioner-General including information obtained in accordance with…”
    Not “including any information”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 30, subparagraph (1), line 3, delete “19 and 20” and insert “18 and 19”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 31, subparagraph (3), line 1, delete “or an authorised tax officer”
    The new rendition would read;
    “The Commissioner-General may adjust an assessment.”
    We are deleting “or an authorised tax officer”. The reference made here for assessment is the Commissioner- General. The CommissionerGeneral could authorise anybody to do that on his behalf, but the officer being referred to here, is the Commissioner General.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2:20 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 2:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we have gone beyond paragraph 30 (2), but what is the import of paragraph 30(2)? A person may amend or correct a tax return with the permission of the Commissioner- General. - [Interruption] - Yes, I am just relating to that --
    “A person may amend or correct a tax return with the permission of the Commissioner-General”.
    Mr Speaker, in the negative, it means he cannot do that.
    If he opts to do that, then certainly, he shall obtain the permission of the Commissioner-General.
    So, I would think that in this form, it should rather read.
    “A person shall not amend or correct a tax return without the permission of the ...”
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2:20 p.m.
    Hon Members, Mr Speaker will now take the Chair as we continue.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 2:30 a.m.
    So, I propose that it should rather be “shall”. If he had said that “a person may amend or correct a tax return with the permission of the Commissioner-General, that is correct. But in the negative, as he has stated, if he has to do that, then certainly, he must obtain the permission, in which case, the rendition should be;
    “A person shall not amend or correct a tax return without the permission of the Commissioner-General.”
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2:30 a.m.
    Hon Akoto Osei?
    Dr A. A. Osei 2:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is similar to the Supreme Court case where “may” means “shall”. This is because the current formulation is certainly correct.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2:30 a.m.
    Are we arguing about the amendment we have already taken?
    Dr A. A. Osei 2:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, actually, that is why I got up to indicate that we have taken the decision. I think the current rendition is correct.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2:30 a.m.
    So, we will move on.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2:30 a.m.
    Have we taken that?
    What number are we on, Hon Member? Chairman of the Committee? I will put
    the Question on item number 33 (xxxiv).
    Hon Minority Leader, what item number is yours? [Laughter]I will recall the Hon Minister -
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 2:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is in respect of paragraph 30 (2).We have gone beyond that but I submitted a special application. The Hon Minister is here and if he does not agree with me - Does he want to support it? I think that is how it should be.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2:30 a.m.
    All right.
    Hon Minister?
    Mr Terkper 2:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I tend to agree with the Hon Minority Leader because filing is a very important obligation of the taxpayer, which in itself, is obligatory and one has to file when the period comes.
    Therefore, if one wants to amend or correct a return, which one has filed, the option to accept should remain with the Commissioner-General. So, it shall read “should not amend without the permission of the Commissioner-General”.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 2:30 a.m.
    They want to take us back to paragraph 30 (2).
    Mr Avedzi 2:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I disagree with their proposed amendment because this is not the filing of the returns itself. This is an amendment or correction to the returns that one has filed. So,one may decide to use that option that one wants to amend one's returns, so, one needs the permission of the Commissioner-General. I may decide not to amend it and allow it to go that way.
    This is because it is not an obligation or mandatory -to amend it at all cost. That is why we are using “may”. That lies on the one who filed to use that option to say that the Commissioner-General should permit him or her to amend or correct. However, if it is the filing of the original return, “shall” should be the word. So, I
    would oppose that amendment.We should use “may”.
    MR SPEAKER
    Mr Speaker 2:32 a.m.
    Hon Majority Leader?
    Mr Bagbin 2:32 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we are now continuing with the Consideration Stage of the Income Tax Bill, 2015. But I would want to plead that we stand that down and proceed to handle item number 16 at page 4 of the Order Paper.
    Mr Speaker 2:32 a.m.
    Hon Members, we will suspend the Consideration Stage of the Bill to pave way for item number 16.
    Hon Member, item 16 on the Order Paper: Motion
    MOTIONS 2:32 a.m.

    Chairman of the Committee (Mr Ebo Barton-Odro) 2:32 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee on Privileges on alleged contemptuous remarks made against Hon Members of Parliament by Prof. Alex Dodoo in the media following comments by Members on the suspended phase I Ebola vaccine trial exercise in the Hohoe Municipality of the Volta Region.
    In doing so, I would like to present the Report of your Committee on the matter.
    Introduction
    The Hon Member for Ho West, Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah, pursuant to Standing Order 73, drew the attention of the Rt Hon Speaker and the House on Tuesday, 16th June, 2015, to some alleged contemptuous remarks made against Hon Members by Prof. Nii
    Nana Amoakoh (NPP - Upper Denkyira East) 2:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to second the Motion on the Report read by the Hon First Deputy Speaker.
    The Committee met on this issue and it was debated thoroughly. After we had come to some of those things, Prof. Dodoo also went on a few radio stations and apologised. When somebody makes certain remarks and the person apologises on the issues, the best thing to do is take the apology in good faith.
    As it has been indicated, we have the powers to do a lot of things to Prof. Dodoo. But because of his apology and
    a lot of things that went on, we came to the conclusion that the best thing that the House should do was to do enquiries. The enquiries have been done, and we have to come here to give our Report. Based on the Report that we have given, we are asking the House to accept it in good faith because of what was said.
    So, we would urge the House to give this Report a chance, so that it would not seem like we are using the powers that we have arbitrarily. But as we have said, we are being fair to the case that was presented. Even though the case was in contempt of Parliament, we also have to look at the context in which it was used.
    With this, I would urge Hon Members to vote for this Motion and accept it in honesty.
    Question proposed.
    Mr David Tetteh Assumeng (NDC - Shai-Osudoku) 2:40 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
    Mr Speaker, may I personally thank you very much for accepting the Statement presented earlier by Hon Kwasi Bedzrah, a Member of Parliament (MP) for Ho West. I also want to thank the Hon Chairman of the Privileges Committee and the Committee members for detailed and good work done.
    Mr Speaker, there are a number of options that this House could take to address this issue. However, for the Committee to recommend that we should “tamper mercy” with justice. I believe that it could be - [Interruption] - Tamper justice with mercy - [Uproar.] The value is the same.
    Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah 2:40 p.m.
    On a point of order!
    Mr Speaker 2:40 p.m.
    Hon Members, let us have order and listen to the Hon Deputy Minority Whip.
    Mr Awuah 2:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague said in his contribution, that “for once, let us agree to accept the recommendations of the Committee”.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to believe that -
    Mr Speaker 2:40 p.m.
    Hon Members, order!
    Mr Awuah 2:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, my point is, my Hon Colleague who is on his feet just said that, “for once, let us agree to accept the recommendations of the Committee”.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to believe that we have been working here and we adopt committees' reports, I do not want to believe that this is the first time we are going to have such an experience. So, I do not know what he means by “for once, let us agree to accept the Report of the Committee”. He should withdraw that and state the exact fact -
    Mr Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Hon Member for Shai- Osudoku, what did you say?
    Mr Assumeng 2:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I just appealed to the House to accept the recommendation of the Committee.
    Mr Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Hon Member, did you say “for once” or it was a slip of tongue?
    Mr Assumeng 2:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the basic issue is for the House to accept the Committee's recommendation.
    Mr Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Hon Members, the Hon Assumeng says that that is what he wants to say, so -
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, please -
    Mr Nitiwul 2:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think that the impression he is creating outside -
    Remember in this case, a lot of people are watching and listening to us and for him to create that impression, he should withdraw that phrase if he does not mean it.
    Mr Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Did you use the phrase “for once”? [Interruptions]
    Hon Members, let us have order; one thing at a time.
    Mr Assumeng 2:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, “meanings are in people” and so, maybe, what I said may not be the same thing as he says. But in my view, what I said was to ask the House to accept the recommendations. That is all. [Uproar.] If there is any other word that he thinks I said which he is not appropriate, I am saying that all that I said was for the House to adopt the recommendation of the Committee. That is it.
    Mr Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, my attitude is that if an objection is taken to a statement made by a Member, I give an opportunity to the Member to see whether he will repeat the same thing. But once the Member tried not to repeat it, then it means that he is using the process to correct himself and we should take it as such, so that we can make progress. But he says that what he meant was that we should accept the Committee's Report.
    That is what he is now telling the House and - [Interruption] - Whichever way he put it, he is now putting it properly. So, let us make progress.
    Mr Nitiwul 2:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we have called somebody before this House for the usage of language. So, that is why we are saying that to say that “for once we should accept the Committee's Report” is not appropriate. It is not good and it speaks badly of us. He should withdraw it. Why is he failing to withdraw it?
    Mr Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, you are absolutely right but we have always worked here on consensus basis. On a few occasions, we disagreed among ourselves. So, I gave an oppor- tunity to the Hon Member to repeat what he said. He did not repeat those words. So, [Interruption] - Hon Members, that was the reason I also tried to ask him if it was a slip of tongue and he said what he meant to say was that the House should accept the recommendation of the Committee.
    Hon Members, unless you feel strongly about what he said, let us make progress.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 2:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for this space that you have given me.
    Mr Speaker, I believe honestly that we should call on our Hon Colleague to withdraw the statement. The reason being that at the heart of the matter that we are dealing with -- That is the reason I am surprised at the interjection of my Hon Colleague, the former Majority Leader.
    Mr Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, address the Chair.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 2:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am addressing the Chair. [Laughter.]
    The pivotal issue is, a person makes a statement, his own Attorney comes to this House to tell us that the person who
    Mr Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, is it the use of the phrase “for once”?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 2:50 p.m.
    Precisely.
    Otherwise, we do not have any justification in dealing with this matter.
    Mr Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Hon Member for Shai- Osudoku, they have taken objection to the use of the phrase “for once”, withdraw, so that we make progress.
    Mr Assumeng 2:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, just as I said “meanings are in people”[Uproar.] “Meanings are in people” and the way -
    Mr Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Hon Member for Shai- Osudoku, did you hear me say that you should withdraw it?
    Mr Assumeng 2:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, by your advice, I withdraw it.
    Mr Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Hon Members, the
    Member has withdrawn the words, so, let us make progress.
    Hon K. T. Hammond?
    Mr K. T. Hammond 2:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I realise that there are two Motions to be debated on -
    Mr Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Hon K. T. Hammond, we are dealing with item number 16 on

    the Order Paper.
    Mr Hammond 2:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I realised that and I will come to that.
    I was not really going to make a submission on it. There is an issue that I am asking Mr Speaker to kindly clarify, so that we would know really what we are doing. I am looking at page 15 of the Committee's Report, which reads as follows:
    “Accordingly, the Committee recom- mends that the House accepts his unqualified apology and discharge him.”
    Mr Speaker, in view of that, I thought that he would be somewhere here, so that following the acceptance of the apology, he could be discharged but we cannot find him. So, Mr Speaker, I am not so sure.
    Mr Speaker 2:50 p.m.
    Hon K. T. Hammond, is that your contribution?
    Mr Hammond 2:50 p.m.
    Sorry, I cannot hear you Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 3 p.m.
    Is that your contribution?
    Mr Hammond 3 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am reserving my fire for the wee one. So, I will sit down for the time being. I reserve my fire. [Laughter.]
    Mr Speaker 3 p.m.
    Hon Members, the procedure is simple. The Committee found that the statement is in contempt of the House and made a certain recommen- dation. I will come in after the Report has been accepted or rejected. So, at the end of the debate, I will put the Question.
    Based on what the House decides, I will come in and then, maybe, the issues that you have raised will then come to the fore.
    Mr K. T. Hammond 3 p.m.
    Thank you Mr
    Speaker -
    rose
    Mr Speaker 3 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Minister? [Interruption] -
    Hon Members, please, take your seats.
    I called Hon K. T. Hammond and he says he is holding his fire as far as this particular Motion is concerned.
    Hon Member for Manhyia South - [Interruption] -
    Very well. I have resolved your problem.
    Mr K. T. Hammond 3 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is right.
    Thank you.
    Mr Speaker 3 p.m.
    Hon Member for
    Manhyia South?
    Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh (NPP--Manhyia South) 3 p.m.
    Thank you, Hon Speaker.
    I rise to support the Motion to adopt the Report presented by the Committee on Privileges.
    The reason I rise in support of the
    Report is simply that, to err is human. But even more importantly, if somebody recognises his or her error and proceeds to apologise, who are we not to try and rethink how much we have been faulted?
    Mr Speaker, when President Barrack Obama told this nation that we should build strong institutions, I think this is just one example. To speak against the whole Parliament of Ghana or to generalise, is an unpardonable thing, for even an Hon Member of Parliament to do against Parliament.
    But again, if the person apologises, what can we say? It should be a lesson for all of us who communicate to our constituents, ourselves or even our opponents, that the fundamental thing we should understand
    is what I term respect for one another. If you respect somebody, you would think before you insult the person; if you respect somebody, you would think of how the person is going to fit in every situation.
    You can disagree and if you have a problem, pick out the Hon Member who has made the mistake and criticise him and not Parliament.
    Parliament cannot go on air. So, if you are a Ghanaian and you insult Parliament, you are insulting yourself and you must be punished. But if you apologise -
    Mr Speaker, I would encourage all Hon Members here, that in the spirit of tolerance, forgiveness and brotherliness that we have here, we should accept - [Laughter] - [Interruption] -
    We should accept Prof. Dodoo's apology. The apology has been aired and all Ghanaians have heard and felt it and I believe that it is right for Parliament to be magnanimous enough to accept it in good faith and caution other Ghanaians that we should be careful in generalising when we speak.
    Mr Speaker, the problem I have is the generalisation that is characterising our dialogues in this country. This one is from here, so, the person generalises it. I believe, as far as people start generalising, there would be no evidence most times to back it and we fall into that -
    If one generalises and insults the Judiciary, one gets punished. If one generalises and insults the whole Presidency without basis, one must be punished and if one generalises and insults Parliament, one must be punished. But let us tamper justice with mercy like an Hon Colleague said - [Interruption] - [Laughter] - And caution Ghanaians, through Prof. Dodoo, that they should be mindful when they speak against the institution of Parliament.
    Parliament is the only institution that
    Mr Speaker 3 p.m.
    Hon Members, it seems I am getting the sense of the House. I will want to call on the two Leaders on this matter, so that I can put the Question.
    Hon Minority Leader - [Interruption] - Very well. Then, Hon Yieleh Chireh and Hon Joe Ghartey, then the two Leaders.
    Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh (NDC--Wa West) 3 p.m.
    Mr Speaker. I support the Motion as recommended by the Committee on Privileges but I would look at the laws that have been cited in this Report.
    If you look at the emphasis in these provisions, including the 1965 Act, it specified that if anybody, including even all of us here, impedes or obstructs the work of Parliament or offends the dignity of Parliament, I think beyond this, this House should find a way of elaborating -- bringing out specific cases where when somebody is doing something, we could know even before then, that this is what he has done, which is in contempt of Parliament --
    Mr Speaker 3 p.m.
    Hon Yieleh Chireh, I think I will make this point very clear. When we talk about contempt of Parliament, there is no definition for “contempt of Parliament”. It is Parliament,

    through its Committee, recommend to the House that a certain conduct is contempt of Parliament and when the House accepts it, the matter is settled.

    I will refer you to one of the authorities -- Robert Rogers and Rhodri Walters, How Parliament Works: Sixth Edition. One of the authors is somebody I have met personally. One of them has been the Clerk of the House of Commons for a very long time until he retired sometime last year. If you look at page 184 of the book, he says and I beg to quote;

    “There is no automatic definition of whether something is a contempt or not. Only if the Committee of Standards and Privileges [that is their equivalent in the House of Commons] finds that a contempt has been committed, and its view is endorsed by the House, is the matter decided..

    So, once they go and decide that a particular conduct - So, even if one looks at the 1965 Act very well, it is not exhaustive what constitutes contempt of Parliament. It is the Committee that determines and once that recommendation is endorsed by the House, the matter is settled.

    It is important to put that issue at the fore as you debate these Motions.

    Yes, Hon Yieleh Chireh?
    Mr Chireh 3 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I said that I supported the Motion, which means that, I have accepted the findings of this Committee. But to ask us to clarify for everybody's guidance because we are talking about precedent --
    We are also a House of democracy. I have heard a few of us talked about being like the Supreme Court. We have
    rose
    Mr Chireh 3 p.m.
    If I cannot be allowed to speak on how I feel about an issue on the floor and it is for future guidance - It is for us to develop the culture of tolerance, but if it is so -
    Mr Speaker 3 p.m.
    Hon Member for Wa West, let us get the point again clear. Once the House has approved this Report and the recommendation of the Committee, then this becomes the precedent.
    That is why when you started, I said there is no automatic definition for what constitutes contempt of Parliament. So, you cannot talk about guidelines and all those things. I even referred you to the 1965 Act, which says that they are not exhausting all the conducts that constitute contempt of the House and that should guide us.
    Hon Members, we have a lot of work to do and I do not want us to create any controversy, where there is none.
    Hon K.T. Hammond - rose -
    Mr Hammond 3 p.m.
    On a point of Order.
    Mr Speaker, he said that we speak in this House and even insult the President. When did we do that? Is that what we do here?
    Mr Speaker, please, call his attention to it and let him withdraw it. We do not speak like that.
    Mr Speaker 3 p.m.
    Hon Yieleh Chireh, what
    is your response to his point of order?
    Mr Chireh 3 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I said that we make derogatory remarks about people, which include the use of the word “stealers”, -- This person is a thief and all that. If we can criticise people and have the right to do so, why could the people who we represent not criticise us? That is my point.
    Mr Speaker, so, if it is that I should not say what I am saying, we all know what we have been saying here. If the Hansard captures them, they can be found there. [Interruption] - What am I supposed to be proving to anybody?
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
    Mr Hammond 3 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we all heard it; he was very specific. There is a difference between criticisms -- no matter how trenching the criticism is. That is a different matter altogether. He said that, among others, we insult the President of the Republic of Ghana in this House.
    Mr Speaker, we are saying that is completely untrue, and so, his attention should be called to that, to withdraw it, so that we can proceed. We do not do that in this House.
    We discuss issues on the Order Papers and all that; that is what we do. We do not get in here and insult the Presidents of the Republic. He should attend to that. He has evaded that issue; he should sort it out.
    Mr Speaker 3 p.m.
    Hon Yieleh Chireh, they are taking an objection to the statement that we insult Presidents.
    Mr Chireh 3 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, what did I say? I said that we make derogatory remarks about people in this House, including the President. I even cited the example of when we talked about
    Mr Chireh 3 p.m.


    What is the indication of that? We have platforms, and people can even raise placards to say the Government is corrupt and this person - When one says the Government is corrupt, what does that mean?

    If they define that to be democracy, then anybody who also finds our conduct bad or wants to criticise us has the right to do so. We are elected representatives, and everywhere in the world, when you elect somebody, the people have the right then to say things to guide us and to tell us what we are doing is fair or not.

    So, if he said that I do not have the right to say what I said, that is his democracy.

    Thank you very much.
    Mr Joe Ghartey (NPP-- Esikadu- Ketan) 3 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the view should not be held that because we are going along a path that is not usually charted, we are not guided by rules.
    Mr Speaker, paragraph (a) to (n) of Order 30 defines what is breach of privilege or the contempt of Parliament. Our Standing Orders are clear, and Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote:
    “30. The following acts or conduct shal l cons t i tu te a breach of privilege or contempt of Parliament.”
    Mr Speaker, it goes from paragraph (a) to (n). So, nobody should go away feeling that we are walking on some chart and deciding to do what we want to do in a manner that is not governed by orders.
    In any effect, apart from the clear definition in Order 30 (a) to (n), Order
    30 (2) says that, and Mr Speaker, I beg to quote,
    “(2) Any act or omission which affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends either directly or indirectly to bring the name of Parliament into disrepute.”
    Mr Speaker, that is also contempt.
    Mr Speaker, if you go to a court of law and your telephone rings, for example, the Judge can come to the conclusion that it is contempt in the face of the court; contemptu in facie curiae. Contempt is any matter that brings any institution into disrepute.
    Mr Speaker, some time ago, just when he became President, the current President of the United States of America came to Ghana and he talked about strong institutions and not strong persons. All we are doing here, Mr Speaker, is to protect the democracy that we have in this institution.
    Indeed, Mr Speaker, I would have gone on and on, but having made that point, and not to waste the time of the House, I would quickly say that, I also agree with the conclusion of the Committee.
    Mr Speaker, in so doing, I would want to bring our minds to Matthew Chapter 5 verse 25. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I may read:
    “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.”
    I saw Prof. Dodoo's lawyer speaking in Committee. At the first opportunity, he
    started apologising. He talked about the fact that they were in sackcloth and ashes. Mr Speaker, the fable, Merchant of Venice, tells us to be merciful.
    Indeed, if Prof. Dodoo has shown such level of remorse, who are we to insist on our pound of flesh? The fable, Merchant of Venice tells us that we should be merciful. Mr Speaker, if Prof. Dodoo has shown such level of remorse, who are we to insist that we should punish him. Does the good book not say in the Ten Commandments that we should forgive as we are forgiven? [Interruption] - Sorry, Mr Speaker, it is in the Lord's Prayer.
    Mr Speaker, it was the way the Hon Minority Leader was staring at me, that is what confused me. It is the Lord's Prayer; it is not the Ten Commandments. It tells us to forgive.
    Mr Speaker, so in a nutshell, I do not think that there is any reason for us to be so insistent on our pound of flesh.
    I would end by saying that, Mr Speaker, to forgive is divine.
    Thank you very much.
    Minority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 3:20 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to also add my voice in support of the Report submitted to us by the Committee on Privileges.
    Mr Speaker, we are here because of a comment on the proceedings of this House made by Prof. Dodoo. When the comment is paraphrased, it says that “Hon Members who were commenting on issues did so out of ignorance, and if Hon Members had no knowledge on the subject matter, they should shut up.”
    Mr Speaker, that was certainly
    disparaging enough and the effects of the comment, I agree, sought to put a bar on the right of Hon Members to interrogate matters before us freely without let or hindrance.
    Mr Speaker, clearly, the comments by Prof. Dodoo was most inappropriate. Perhaps, if he had said that, the comments or some of the comments were borne out of insufficient knowledge or perhaps, some Hon Members lacked relevant information, certainly, such a comment would not have stirred the hornets' nest but the language that he elected to employ, was very harsh.
    Mr Speaker, having said that, one would say that that language undermines the authority of the House. As elaborated, on the broad expanse of the landscape of what constitutes contempt, I think we should be clear in our minds that nobody is saying that Parliament as an institution or Hon Members of Parliament cannot be criticised, and that the conduct of business in this House cannot be critiqued.
    Nobody is saying that. Rulings and judgements that emanate from the courts are critiqued and commented on even in this House; it depends on the choice of language and that is all what this discourse is about.
    Mr Speaker, our Standing Orders are clear. Standing Order 28 and with your indulgence, I beg to quote:
    “An act or omiss ion which obstructs or impedes Parliament in the performance of its functions or which obstructs or impedes a Member or officer of Parliament in the discharge of his duties or affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends either directly or indirectly to produce such a result shall be contempt of Parliament.”
    Clearly, the statement falls within the
    Majority Leader (Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin) 3:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, a lot has been said and I do not intend to repeat what my Hon Colleagues have said about the privileges of Parliament and particularly, the law on contempt of Parliament. But it is important I try to add a few things, particularly so, as some members of the academia seem to have swam in unknown waters.
    Mr Speaker, the law on parliamentary privileges and the power of Parliament to commit on contempt has evolved over the centuries and there is a lot of literature on it, both theory and practical and they hinge on two things -- the protection of the individual Hon Members of Parliament or officers of Parliament and Parliament as an institution.
    Mr Speaker, the law, in some instances, is unclear, but there are agreements on various areas and instances of privilege and of contempt and those are not open to dispute.
    Mr Speaker, it is important we get to know that Hon Members do not just get up on the floor and make statements.
    In fact, the Hon Emmanuel Kwasi
    Bedzrah who made the Statement is a professional. He is one of our very distinguished Surveyors in this country. He is consulting as of today, and before
    he made the Statement, according to the procedure of the House, he had to seek clearance from Leadership and that was done. We did our homework before he was permitted to make the Statement.
    So, Mr Speaker, even before he came to the floor, he had gone through all the statements of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences. He had gone beyond that and listened to others. So, he knew what he was saying -- and the contributions of Hon Members -- and what is very important was to use the House as a safety valve. That is what we are here to do. When our constituents know that they have people over here in the House, fighting on their behalf, they would not go to the streets. That is why I used the term “safety valve.”

    That statement alone was a breach of one of the key privileges of Hon Members of Parliament -- the freedom of speech. It is important for people to know that the privileges are not additional rights. In fact, there is clear conclusion that they are minimal exemptions that will clothe representatives with the authority that they have been given by the electorate, so that they can efficiently and effectively represent them in Parliament. So, they are not additional rights, they are exemptions.

    The law is not restricted to only strangers, that is, those outside Parliament. It also applies in equal measure to those inside Parliament, including Hon Members of Parliament who can also be punished for contempt of this House. And so, democracy is not an event, it is a process and we learn every day and every second,

    that we embark on this long journey.

    We are saying this because we have had a number of occasions to do so. We have had the Privileges Committee presenting a number of Reports and I recall many of them were rejected by this House and the Committee was asked to report back but they failed to do so. And so, we did not get the opportunity to try and highlight these things for all of us in the country to learn. If you can pick an Hon Member of Parliament and do what you like with him, even though he represents a large group of people, what about the people themselves?

    So, Mr Speaker, I think it is important that our colleagues in the academia could also take this up. Some have tried - Ayensu and Darkwa have written a book on how Parliament functions in Ghana and some of these issues are highlighted there. So, it is important that we all apprise ourselves of this new development. I hear and listen to the discourse in the media and completely, many of them lack information. Somethings were said; Parliament was being compared with the Executive and so many things.

    People even think that Hon Members of Parliament are inferior to some authorities. I beg to differ. If that were so, there is no need for us to always choose a day and get so many people to go and vote for a person to represent them. It is very important we realise that the special group of people I call them “special” because of the authority that they are given - who are here doing everything to satisfy the person or group of people that elected their representatives, should at least, have these minimum rights.

    Mr Speaker, yes, the law is there but we know that we are also cautioned not to go the extra mile. It is written, in theory and in practice, unless in extreme cases, Parliament does not proceed to usually sanction. We can commit but we do not proceed to exact punitive action.
    Mr Speaker 3:40 p.m.
    Hon Members, that brings us to the end of the debate.
    I would now put the Question.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr Speaker 3:40 p.m.
    Hon Members, basically, that brings us to the end of the matter with regard to Prof. Alex Dodoo. I think that he has purged himself of the contempt.
    Yes, Hon Minister for Defence?
    Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor 3:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to get some guidance on this matter and the effect of the decision that we have taken. This is because this is a Motion based on a Report, which was asking for some consequences. And as we listened to the debate from both the Minority and Majority Leaders, the idea is that, he should go and sin no more.

    All right, thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 3:40 p.m.
    Hon Members, at this stage, I direct that the Clerks-at-the-Table communicate the decision of the House to Prof. Alex Dodoo.
    Yes, Hon Member for Suhum?
    Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah 3:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, due to the gravity of the issue which has just been discussed and the conclusion which has -
    Mr Speaker 3:40 p.m.
    What issue?
    Mr Opare-Ansah 3:40 p.m.
    The one which we just dealt with.
    Mr Speaker 3:40 p.m.
    Hon Members, we have finished with Prof. Alex Dodoo. We will communicate the position of the House to him.
    Hon Members, the Motion has been carried, and any other matter would be out of order.
    Hon Majority Leader?
    Mr Bagbin 3:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I propose that we move to item number 15 on page 4 of the Order Paper.
    Mr Speaker 3:40 p.m.
    Hon Members, item 15, Hon Chairman of the Committee.
    Report on alleged contemptuous remarks made against Hon Members of Parliament (MPs) by Mr Abubakar
    Ahmed, (a.k.a) Blackk Rasta
    Chairman of the Committee (Mr
    Ebo Barton-Odro): Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Committee on Privileges on alleged contemptuous remarks made against Hon Members of Parliament by Mr Abubakar Ahmed, a.k.a. Blakk Rasta, on Hitz FM Entertainment News that ‘eighty per cent (80 per cent) of Members of Parliament smoke ‘wee'.
    Introduction
    The Hon Member for Afigya-Sekyere East, Mr David Hennric Yeboah made a complaint on Thursday, 18th June, 2015, in which he drew the attention of the Hon Speaker and the House to some remarks allegedly made by Mr Abubakar Ahmed, a.k.a. Blakk Rasta, on Hitz FM Entertainment News programme which was reported in the Wednesday, 17thJune, 2015 edition of the Daily Searchlight Newspaper with adomonline.com as its source, that “80 per cent of Parliamen- tarians smoke ‘wee' “ (Indian hemp).”
    The Hon Member maintained that in his view, the alleged remarks were in contempt of Parliament and as to the best of his knowledge, the statement was untrue. He, therefore, prayed the Hon Speaker to refer the conduct of Mr Abubakar Ahmed to the Committee on Privileges for investigation and report.
    Having regard to the complaint and the sentiments expressed by Hon Members, including the fact that, “wee” smoking constitutes an offence under the laws of the Republic, the Hon Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 31, referred the conduct of Mr Abubakar Ahmed to the Committee on Privileges for investigation and report.
    Reference documents/materials
    The Committee, in discharging its
    mandate, referred to the following documents and materials:
    i. The 1992 Constitution
    ii. The Parliament Act, 1965 (Act
    300)
    iii. Interpretation Act, 2009 (Act
    792)
    iv. The Standing Orders of Parlia- ment
    v. Erskine May, Parliamentary Practice, The Twenty Fourth Edition
    vi. The Official Report of Procee- dings of the House for Thursday, 18th June, 2015
    vii. T h e We d n e s d a y , 17thJune, 2015 Edition of the Daily Searchlight Newspaper
    viii. Documents and materials tendered in evidence:
    Methodology
    The Committee adopted the under- listed as methodology for the enquiry:
    i. Study and examination of material evidence in relevant newspaper publication audio recordings on the alleged contemptuous remarks.
    ii. Summoning of and attendance by the principal witness and other witnesses to give evidence in relat ion to the al leged contemptuous remarks.
    iii. Examination of written and oral evidence led by witnesses.
    iv. Cross examination of witnesses on account of evidence led.
    Mr Speaker 3:40 p.m.
    vi. Re-examination of principal witness on account of summary of evidence from entire procee- dings.
    Proceedings of the Committee
    The Committee held a total of three (3) sittings to consider the referral. Even though members of the Press were not invited to cover the evidence session, the Committee, having regard to the nature of the allegation and the concerns it had generated, permitted members of the Press who were in attendance to cover the proceedings.
    The witnesses who took turns to subscribe to the oaths administered by the Committee, prior to giving their respective evidence were as follows:
    i. Hon David Hennric Yeboah - Complainant (Member of Parliament for Afigya-Sekyere East).
    ii. Abubakar Ahmed, a.k.a. Blakk Rasta -- Principal witness
    iii. Mr George Mbea - Witness (Corporate Human Resource Manager, Multi-Media Group).
    iv. Mr. Ken Kuranchie - Witness (Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Searchlight Newspaper).
    v. Mr Mark Okraku Mante - Witness (Programmes Coordinator, Hitz
    FM).
    Materials/evidence tendered before the Committee
    The underlisted materials were tendered in evidence by witnesses summoned before the Committee:
    i. Daily Searchlight newspaper (Wednesday, 17thJune, 2015 Edition) (Exhibit A).
    ii. Audio Recording of Hitz FM Entertainment news (Exhibit B).
    Evidence
    The evidence session of the Committee was held on Thursday, 25th June, 2015, during which session the complainant, the principal witness and the other witnesses, at the request of the Committee, took turns to lead evidence and were cross- examined as considered appropriate.
    Evidence of complainant
    In his evidence, Hon David Hennric Yeboah informed the Committee that he read from the Wednesday, 17th June, 2015 edition of the Daily Searchlight newspaper in which Mr. Abubakar Ahmed, a.k.a. Blakk Rasta was reported to have said that eighty per cent (80 per cent) of Members of Parliament smoke “wee” (Indian hemp). Hon David Hennric Yeboah indicated that the remarks, in his view, constituted contempt of Parliament.
    He indica ted fur ther tha t the
    contemptuous remarks by Mr Abubakar Ahmed sought to bring the name of Parliament into disrepute and also thwart Ghana's efforts at fighting narcotics in the global community.
    He drew attention of the Committee to Standing Order 30 (2) relating to conduct constituting breach of privilege or contempt of Parliament to include --
    “any act or omission which affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends either directly or indirectly to bring the name of Parliament into disrepute.”
    He, therefore, submitted that the principal witness was in contempt of
    Parliament since in his view, Mr Abubakar Ahmed's comment was an “affront to the dignity of Parliament and sought to bring the name of Parliament into disrepute.” He therefore, called for Mr Ahmed's punishment in accordance with the rules of the House.
    He finally tendered in evidence the Wednesday, 17th June, 2015 edition of the Daily Searchlight newspaper to sub- stantiate his case against the principal witness.
    Cross -examination of the complainant by Counsel for principal witness
    Counsel for the principal witness, Mr Thaddeaus Sory, at the invitation of the Committee, cross-examined the com- plainant. Counsel asked the complainant whether he did his checks from the Publishers of the Daily Searchlight newspaper and adomonline.com before lodging his complaint on the floor of the House and the complainant answered in the negative.
    Following up on the response of the complainant, Counsel sought initially to refute the entire publication referred to by the complainant and emphatically stated that the publication could not be attributed to his client.
    Counsel subsequently back-tracked from his initial stance by confirming that some portions of the publication were indeed, attributable to his client. Counsel, however, did not specifically state the portions he believed were attributable to his client. Neither did he indicate the aspects of the publication not attributable to his client.
    Evidence of principal witness
    The principal witness, Mr Abubakar Ahmed was apologetic in his testimony.
    He stated that he did not intend to denigrate Members of Parliament nor impugn the integrity of the House. He was only alluding to the fact that legalising Indian hemp could be a very profitable venture, which could earn the country enough resources. He stated further that he did not actually accuse MPs of smoking “Indian Hemp”.
    The Committee deferred further hearing of his testimony until the audio recording of Hitz FM Entertainment News was played to the hearing of all for the substantiation or otherwise of the claim for or against the principal witness.
    Evidence of other witnesses
    i. Editor-in-Chief, Daily Searchlight Newspaper
    Mr Ken Kuranchie, a Journalist and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Searchlight newspaper, in his evidence, confirmed that his newspaper published the alleged contemptuous remarks attributed to Mr Abubakar Ahmed and cited adomonline. com as his source.
    Responding during cross-examination on whether he crosschecked from the principal witness about the factual accuracy of the alleged contemptuous remarks, prior to publishing same in his newspaper, he responded in the negative.
    He explained that he did not cross- check his source prior to publishing because he relied on the mutual credibility between his outfit and other partners such as adomonline.com.
    He accordingly apologised to the Committee and the principal witness about his inability to crosscheck his sources.
    Mr Kuranchie also drew the attention of the Committee to an editorial he published on the matter in the same edition of the paper containing the alleged contemptuous remarks. He indicated that in his editorial on the alleged remarks, he chastised Mr Abubakar Ahmed for those comments, even though he had not contacted him to confirm or deny.

    i i . Corporate Human Resources Manager, Multi-Media Group

    Mr George Mbea, Corporate Human Resources Manager of the Multi- Media Group, also appeared before the Committee on behalf of the C.E.O. of the Group, who had then travelled out of the jurisdiction.

    He accordingly tendered in evidence an audio recording (Exhibit B) containing the alleged contemptuous remarks made by the principal witness as his evidence.

    In his response to cross-examination on whether he had read the publication of the Daily Searchlight newspaper on the alleged contemptuous remarks made by the principal witness, Mr Mbea responded in the negative. On a further question about whether he had listened to the tape he tendered in evidence to the Committee, he again, replied in the negative.

    He explained that he did not listen to the tape, because he was attending upon the Committee, together with the Programmes Co-ordinator of Hitz FM, who was in a better position to speak to the contents of the audio recording.

    Regarding the question of whether the Multi-Media Group had laid down rules to regulate the conduct of its staff, particularly their show hosts, he indicated that the Group had comprehensive rules to that effect.

    On the issue of ensuring that the right content is put on the air waves, Mr Mbea indicated that every programme on the Group's platform had Programmes Co- ordinator and a Producer, who ensure that all the programmes complied with the ethics of broadcasting.

    Mr Mbea also drew the attention of the Committee to an apology rendered by

    the Programmes Co-ordinator of Hitz FM Entertainment News on Adom FM for the alleged contem-ptuous remarks.

    Responding to a question by Counsel for the principal witness, on whether he was aware that his client, the principal witness had contacted the Editor of Adom FM, to cause the Editor of adomonline. com to “drop the news story”, Mr Mbea responded in the negative.

    iii. Programmes Coordinator, Hitz FM

    The evidence of Mr Mark Okraku Mantey, the Programmes Co-ordinator of Hitz FM confirmed that the contemptuous remarks were made on the Hitz FM Entertainment News and not the Taxi Driver show, and were indeed, attributable to Mr Abubakar Ahmed, a.k.a. Blakk Rasta.

    He confirmed to the Committee during cross-examination his role in Hitz FM as the Programmes Co-ordinator. He also confirmed that it was his duty to ensure the broadcasting of right content for all the programmes aired on Hitz FM.

    Mr Mantey again, during cross- examination, intimated that Mr Abubakar Ahmed was indeed, the host of Hitz FM programme dubbed “TAXI DRIVER”, which the Daily Searchlight newspaper cited as the platform on which Mr Abubakar Ahmed made those contemp- tuous remarks against Parliament. He however, categorically denied that the said contemptuous remarks were made during the Hitz FM programme dubbed “Tax Driver”.

    According to Mr Mantey, the contemptuous remarks were indeed, made by Mr Abubakar Ahmed rather in an interview Mr Abubakar Ahmed granted as a reggae musician and not as a member of staff of Hitz FM.

    Mr Mantey informed the Committee about the audio recording which was tendered in evidence by the Corporate Human Resources Manager of the Multi- Media Group containing the “Taxi Driver” programme and the interview the principal witness granted on Hitz FM entertainment News for the information of the Committee.

    Accordingly, the audio recording was played back to the hearing of all present to ascertain the truthfulness or otherwise of the claim against the principal witness.

    The case against the principal witness

    The Committee, after playing back the audio recordings to the hearing of all present, confirmed that:

    a. the testimony of the Programmes Co-ordinator that the alleged contemptuous comments made by the principal witness were not made on the “Taxi Driver” programme on Hitz FM, but rather in an interview he granted on Hitz FM Entertainment News.

    b. Mr Abubakar Ahmed, indeed, made the alleged contemptuous remarks against Parliament, that 80 per cent of Members of Parliament smoke “wee'” (Indian hemp).

    Although the principal witness was offered the opportunity to cross-examine the Programmes Co-ordinator and the Corporate Human Resources Manager of the Multi-Media Group on the content of the audio recordings, neither he nor his Counsel did so.

    Cross-examination of principal witness by the Committee

    Counsel for the principal witness, having listened to the content of the audio recording, admitted that the remarks made by his client were indeed, contemptuous and at that point, rendered an unqualified apology on behalf of his client to the House.

    The Committee also granted audience

    to the principal witness, who broke down and unreservedly apologised for his comments against the august House.

    Before he was discharged, the Committee drew the attention of Mr. Abubakar Ahmed to the following contemptuous statements he had allegedly made on other social media platforms against Parliament, following the complaint against him on the floor of Parliament:

    “Ghana should get wiser like other countries that have legalised the use of “marijuana”.

    “I am not afraid of Parliament”.

    “Ghana's Parliament is too small for me”.

    “The work I currently do is bigger than the work of an MP”.

    The principal witness, however, denied making the above statements.

    Findings

    Principal witness

    The Committee, considering the totality of evidence adduced by the complainant, the other witnesses and having regard to the content of the exhibits as well as
    Mr Speaker 3:40 p.m.


    the principal witness's own subsequent admission of liability for the contem- ptuous remarks, concluded that indeed, a case of contempt of Parliament has been established beyond doubt against Mr Abubakar Ahmed, a.k.a. Blakk Rasta. Hitz FM Radio and Multi-Media Group

    The Committee found that the conduct of Hitz FM Radio and the Multi-Media Group, on whose platform the contemp- tuous remarks were made against Parliament, amounted to editorial indiscretion.

    The Committee held the view that, basic ethics and standards in journalism require that when an allegation is made on a particular media platform against another person, especially where that person is not present to raise a defence or provide explanation, the person making the allegation is immediately requested to retract, failing which a journalist “worth his or her salt” would distant himself or herself from such remarks by officially making a pronouncement to that effect.

    In the particular case in point, the Committee was reliably informed that the principal witness, on noticing that his response to the interviews on Hitz FM Entertainment News on “legalisation of marijuana” had raised concerns in the public domain, immediately called for his responses to the interview to be “pulled down” from the adomonline.com website.

    There was, however, no indication

    that the Multi-Media Group ever publicly cautioned the principal witness vis-à-vis the wide publicity the contemptuous comments of Mr. Abubakar Ahmed against Parliament had gained.

    Sanctions regime for contempt of Parliament

    The Committee, having established a prima facie case of contempt of Parliament against Mr Abubakar Ahmed, also examined the available options in terms of sanctions, which the House could impose as punishment for the conduct. In this regard, the Committee had recourse to the provisions of the Constitution and the Parliament Act, 1965 (Act 300), which provide for the case of contempt of Parliament and the requisite sanctions regime as applicable to Members, officers and strangers.

    Articles 122 and 123 of the Consti- tution provide as follows:

    “122. An act or omission which obstructs or impedes Parliament in the performance of i ts functions or which obstructs or impedes a member or officer of Parliament in the discharge of his duties, or affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends either directly or indirectly to produce that result, is contempt of Parliament.

    “123. Where an act or omission which constitutes contempt of Parliament is an offence under the criminal law, the exercise by Parliament of the power to punish for contempt shall not be a bar to the institution of proceedings under the criminal law.

    The Parliament Act, 1965 (Act 300) also provides as follows:

    a. Section 26 of Act 300 provides

    generally for contempt as follows:

    “An act which impedes or tends to impede Parliament in the

    performance of its functions, or affronts the dignity of Parlia- ment, is a contempt of Parliament, and the setting forth in this Act of particular contempts shall not be taken to affect the generality of this section.”

    b. Section 41 of Act 300 relates specifically to sanctions applicable to strangers found to be in contempt of Parliament and states that:

    “When a s t r ange r i s f ound by Pa r l i amen t t o be gu i l t y of con tempt o f Pa r l i amen t , P a r l i a m e n t m a y o r d e r t h e s t r a n g e r t o a p p e a r a t t h e Bar of Par l iament a t a t ime specif ied in the order to be reprimanded by the Speaker.”

    c. Order 7 of the Standing of Orders of Parliament defines a “stranger” as “any person other than the President, Vice-President, Mr. Speaker, Ministers and Deputy Ministers who are not Members of the House, a member, or an officer of the House.”

    d. Section 43 of Act 300 also provides for the criminal prosecution of strangers in contempt of Parliament as follows:

    “(1) A stranger who is guilty of

    contempt of Parliament is liable to a fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty penalty units or a term of imprisonment for one year or both the fine and the imprisonment.

    (2) Proceedings taken in respect of an act under one or more of sections 34 to 42 of this Act shall not affect the liability of a person to prosecution and punishment in respect of that act under this

    section or any other enactment.

    (3) Subject to article 88 of the Constitution, Parliament may order the Attorney-General to prosecute a person whom it suspects to have committed a contempt of Parliament which constitutes an offence undert his section or any other enactment.”

    Recommendation and conclusion

    The Committee, having carefully considered the totality of the evidence gathered, concluded that Mr Abubakar Ahmed was indeed, in contempt of Parliament for the remarks he made that “eighty per cent (80%) of Members of Parliament smoke “wee” (Indian hemp).

    The Committee, pursuant to sections 41 and 43 (1) and (2) of the Parliament Act, 1965 (Act 300) as stated above, recommends for the consideration of the House, the following sanctions to be administered against Mr Abubakar Ahmed:

    a. That Mr Abubakar Ahmed be ordered to appear at the Bar of the House for reprimand.

    b. That Mr Abubakar Ahmed, while at the Bar of the House, render an unqualified apology to the House, purging himself of the contempt.

    The Committee calls on the Multi- Media Group and indeed, all media houses, both print and electronic, to ensure that their respective platforms are not used to denigrate Parliament as such conduct would be made to attract appropriate sanctions.

    Furthermore, media practitioners are admonished to be very responsible in their coverage and reportage and should take reasonable steps to maintain sanity on their
    Mr Speaker 3:40 p.m.
    Any seconder?
    Nana Amoakoh 3:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion on the Report of the Committee.
    The Commit tee had reference documentary materials. We referred to the 1992 Constitution, the Parliament Act of 1965, Interpretation Act 2009, the Standing Orders of Parliament, Erskine May Parliamentary Practice, the Official Report of the proceedings of the House, and the Wednesday, 17th June, 2015 edition of the Daily Searchlight Newspaper and all such documents and materials were tendered in evidence.
    Mr Speaker, after carefully studying the whole documents, we found out that the remarks made by Blakk Rasta were indeed, in contempt of Parliament. So, the Committee met and the evidence that was presented to us was so much that we could not do anything about it but to find him in contempt.
    Even though we had sat through it, there were a lot of people who wanted to speak to the Report. So, we did not have to go through or analyse the whole thing since we would also give Hon Members the chance to speak to it.
    So Mr Speaker, I am seconding the Motion.
    Question proposed.
    Several Hon Members - rose -
    Mr Speaker 3:50 p.m.
    Once I sought how many Members are going to speak from the Leadership, let me hear from the Hon Minister for Defence and the Hon Member
    for Subin.
    Minister for Defence (Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor)(MP) 3:50 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to register one or two points in support of the Motion.
    Mr Speaker, I guess what we are witnessing today is a small aspect of a general malaise or disease that is beginning to emerge in this country. I believe that after this process and the exercise, both we, as Hon Members of Parliament and those outside Parliament, would begin a new type of conversation how we engage our institutions that we ourselves by law, have constituted.
    Mr Speaker, there are more practical aspects to this issue and I would want to register that it is not always useful in a democracy to want to hear one's voice all the time. There seems to be a problem, that when a microphone is put in front of somebody, the sky seems to be the limit. And the idea, wrongly, sometimes, is that one is exercising his freedom of expression.
    I say that implied in that freedom of expression, is the freedom too to be silent. Sometimes, one makes a point better when one is silent than when he decides to express himself and does it in a manner in which it has been done.
    Mr Speaker, I can appreciate that as one gets himself imbibed in the culture of reggae music, the temptation is to uncritically transpose the Reggae music into more serious matters. So, I can imagine from the testimony and evidence from the person that this just transposes what Peter Tosh had said about legalising things and would advertise them.
    Even in those lyrics, Peter Tosh makes
    it very clear that judges love it and lawyers too do and that even ants love it. Fortunately, no mention had been made about Hon Members of Parliament in those lyrics.[Laughter.] And I think Peter Tosh was wiser for it.
    An Hon Member 3:50 p.m.
    Yea man! [Laughter]
    Dr Kunbuor 3:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, on a more serious note, this aspect of contempt has a very serious implication, particularly when almost all the laws on narcotics have been passed by this House. In fact, it was in this House that the possession of India hemp was added to the list of non-bailable offences.
    So, if a statement like this was allowed to go when we all know that crimes do not abate, it means, if we were really in a functioning democracy, 80 per cent of Members of Parliament should be rounded up and prosecuted. That is the seriousness of the import of the statement that was made.

    Well, I have been reminded by Hon Colleagues that he also said he was actually on heat. But I would want to say that no matter the level of the heat he was on, Parliament is not a playground for that heat to be cooled and I think it is important.

    Mr Speaker, I also hope that this would be sending a bigger signal, that we must be measured in our choice of words when we are dealing with institutions. All of us as Hon Members, might in the future, phase out of this House but this House would remain and we never know who would one day come and occupy these Chairs.

    Mr Speaker, just for posterity, it should be our solemn duty to make sure that if not, as individual Members of Parliament, this House, as an institution and an arm of Government, must be preserved for posterity.

    Mr Speaker, it is in this context that Parliament is going through this process. I have had the opportunity of listening to people indicate how Parliament itself is becoming over bearing and over sensitive. And I am saying that something has to start somewhere. If people have got away with this, whether within Parliament or outside, Parliament is beginning the process to say that the rules of this House would be implemented to the letter, which I believe is a useful thing.

    Having said that, the stakes for constitutional democracy and this House and its Members are beginning to be very high. That is why we must also be in tandem with that tempo and the lengths of the stakes that we are beginning to experience because of the vibrant press that we have in this country.

    I believe, when the ethics and standards of this House are completed and adopted, it would go in a long way to actually complement how we conduct ourselves as well.

    We are getting into a situation in which I am saying that very soon Hon Members would become an endangered species. I say so because watching the intensity with which Parliament primaries are contested these days, the vile language that is used as a bid to come and serve the people in this House, it should begin to tell us that something is beginning to happen in relation to our parliamentary representation and what we do here.

    So, Mr Speaker, without wanting to take much time, I would want to indicate that I endorse the recommendations in this
    Mr Isaac Osei (NPP-- Subin) 4 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to this Motion.
    First, let me state that I support the Motion and the seriousness of this offence, I think it is exemplified by the recommendation which has been made by the Committee to bring Blakk Rasta to the Bar of Parliament.
    I think it is important for us not only to emphasise the role that Parliament plays but also to emphasise that Parliament is a very important Institution of State.
    First, this matter is serious because Blakk Rasta imputes criminality to 80 per cent of Hon Members of Parliament. We all know that possession and use of marijuana are criminal offences. And to suggest that so many Members of Parliament use it, is not only an affront to the dignity of the people he is accusing but also the people who elected us into this House, and it is good that we are taking a very serious view of it.
    Secondly, if we look at the Report very carefully, we would notice that not only did he talk about this but he went further to even make statements:
    “I am not afraid of Parliament. Ghana's Parliament is too small for me. The work I currently do is bigger than the work of a Member of Parliament.”
    These are serious statements for an individual to make. I understand that he denied these, but these were put to him.
    Mr Speaker, the other matter that I would like to talk about is something which Hon Barton-Odro referred to. I think that if Blakk Rasta had made these comments in his House or in his bedroom, he may not have been contemptuous of Parlia- ment, talking in his own private capacity somewhere. But it is because of the platform that he was given that makes this contemptuous of this House and therefore, it is important for us to look at the media houses who give opportunities to people to speak.
    People cannot speak, as one of my friends said, “any howly”. First of all, in the previous one, there was the TV3 matter, which I believe Mr Speaker did not make any orders what should be done, but I think in this one, the Committee has clearly stated what we should do with respect to Multi-media, what we should do with respect to the Searchlight Newspaper and so on and so forth.
    I think it is important that these media houses take a cue from what is happening to the people who have come to talk on their platforms. Perhaps, this House should send a very strong signal to them.
    We know that in certain cases, where contemptuous remarks are made or things which impugn the integrity of people are made on radio, sometimes they are cut-off by the presenters who clearly show that it is not the policy of their media houses to impugn the integrity if other people.
    Mr Speaker, I think, in this particular case, warnings were given to the gentleman and opportunities offered for him to retract, and he did not.
    Mr Speaker, in view of some of the points that I have made, I support fully the decision to bring the gentleman to the Bar of the House, bearing in mind, of course, that Act 300 suggests that there could be a one year imprisonment plus a fine. So,
    it is a very lenient view that this House is taking of this matter and we hope that this is not repeated again. Certainly not by Blakk Rasta, because more serious consequences could follow if he pursues that path.
    Once the Committee has taken a full view of this and accepted that he has tried to purge himself of this contempt, I agree that he should be reprimanded before the Bar of the House.
    Thank you.
    Mr James Agalga (NDC-- Builsa North) 4:10 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    I rise to support the Motion ably moved by the Hon First Deputy Speaker.
    Mr Speaker, I intend to dwell very much on the position of the law on contempt of Parliament. I express this intention because when Parliament took the decision to refer the issue - the alleged contemptuous remarks made by Blakk Rasta to the Privileges Committee, journalists and even lawyers made arguments in the media to the effect that Parliament was embarking on an exercise in futility because Parliament was not clothed with the jurisdiction to punish for contempt.
    Mr Speaker, those arguments are misleading, they are untenable in law and I intend to demonstrate how untenable those views are in law.
    First of all, the starting point is the Constitution, and with your kind permission, I would refer this House to articles 122 and 123. If we read those provisions together, with your kind permission, let me take us through article
    123.
    It reads as follows:
    “Where an act or omission which constitutes contempt of Parliament is an offence under the criminal law, the exercise by Parliament of the power to punish for contempt shall not be a bar to the institution of proceedings under the criminal law.”
    Mr Speaker, what this provision means is that Parliament on its own can punish for contempt, but when Parliament exercises its power to punish for contempt under that provision and that particular act or conduct which constitutes contempt of Parliament also constitutes a crime under any enactment, maybe, the Criminal and Other Offences Act, the fact that Parliament exercises its power to punish would not be a bar to the institution of criminal proceedings against the contemnor.
    Mr Speaker, in those circumstances, the Parliament Act 1965 elaborates on the issue in section 43. Under section 43, the law says as follows, and for the sake of emphasis, I would refer us to section 43(3). It says:
    “Subject to article 88 of the Constitution, Parliament may order the Attorney-General to prosecute a person whom it suspects to have committed a contempt of Parliament which constitutes an offence under this section or any other enact- ment”.
    It is this provision, which has been misread by those who argue that Parliament has not got the power to punish for contempt, this is because if we read the rendition, the drafting, I dare say, was not properly done, and so, they are tempted to think that what is envisaged under the provision is that whenever Parliament convicts for contempt, Parliament must
    Mr James Agalga (NDC-- Builsa North) 4:10 p.m.
    order the Attorney-General to prosecute. Mr Speaker, with the greatest respect,
    that is not the intendment of Parliament so far as this particular provision is concerned.
    What it seeks to do is to reinforce the constitutional provision which draws a clear distinction between what constitutes contempt of Parliament, which is punishable by Parliament itself and what constitutes a crime after Parliament has so found and convicted, that yes, a particular act or omission or conduct infringes upon the dignity of the House, and so, Parliament then decides that after punishing the person, it is referring the person for further punishment.
    So Mr Speaker, this is the true position of the law and if anybody is in doubt, Erskine May puts matters beyond doubt for the attention of all.
    Mr Speaker, Erskine May and I am referring to the 24th Edition, page 191. It talks about the “Penal jurisdiction of both Houses”. Here, reference is being made to the House of Commons and the House of Lords in England.
    Mr Speaker, with your kind permission, I would like to read the relevant portion of the literature:
    “The power of both Houses to punish Members and non-Members for disorderly and disrespectful acts has much in common with the authority inherent in the superior courts ‘to prevent or punish conduct which tends to obstruct, prejudice or abuse them' while in the exercise of their responsibilities. By this means, the two Houses are enabled to safeguard and enforce their necessary authority without the compromise or delay to which
    recourse to the ordinary courts would give rise.”
    My emphasis is on “…to which
    recourse of the ordinary courts will give rise”. So, Mr Speaker, the position is very clear.
    This House is clothed with the
    jurisdiction to punish for contempt and so, the recommendation of the Privileges Committee is in order; it is proper and should be carried out.
    Mr Speaker, having said that, I would want to say that Blakk Rasta's apology came very late in the day. But there is a saying that “it is better late than never”.
    All said and done, we cannot run away from the fact that after the tape was played back to Blakk Rasta's hearing, he came back to his senses and said he was sorry.

    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin (NPP -Effutu) 4:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this Motion.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to precede my contribution with a quote from article 12 (2) of the 1992 Constitution.
    Mr Speaker, with you kind permission, I beg to read 4:10 p.m.
    “Every person in Ghana, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinion, colour, religion, creed or gender shall be entitled to the fundamental human rights and
    freedoms of the individual contained in this Chapter but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest.”
    Mr Speaker, ordinarily, Mr Abubakar
    Ahmed is entitled to say anything he wants to say, but in so long as same amounts to disrespect of other members of the Ghanaian society and in this case Parliament, I believe that same is unacceptable.
    Mr Speaker, I have taken note of the interest that Hon Members have expressed and it appears that because the man made a sweeping statement, that over 80 per cent or 80 per cent of Hon Members of Parliament are “wee” smokers or smoke marijuana, perhaps, it has ignited our collective interest.
    Let me emphasise, Mr Speaker, that there are times that people use the print and the electronic media to attack individual Hon Members of Parliament, either through publications, which are wholly untrue or partially true, et cetera.
    Mr Speaker, my humble submission is that where a person willfully or out of some mistake, makes certain statements which affect an Hon Member of Parliament, per my reading of article 12 (2), same constitutes contempt of Parliament.
    This is because such a person is an Hon Member of the House and anything that brings down the image of an Hon Member of Parliament, an officer of this House and a cleaner of this House, affects the entire Parliament as a constitutional body.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to cite an example, whereupon, on Saturday 11th July, 2015, a newspaper published, “Afenyo-Markin arrested for fraud and granted bail”.
    Mr Speaker, if you read what the newspaper said, on page 3, it talks about
    my arrest, when I have not been arrested in any way. It was not something that was affecting me. But anybody reading it will come to the conclusion that, a Member of Parliament or somebody who is engaged in some fraudulent act and has been arrested, when in fact, it is not true.
    Mr Speaker, I believe that we must not wait for all of us to be collectively put in a state that impugns the dignity of this Parliament. But when an individual Hon Member is attacked in a manner that brings the dignity of Parliament into question, we must put up same reaction, so that anybody out there, will know that if you touch one, you touch all.
    It is within the person's right to express his or her view. But in doing so, such a person must ensure that he or she exercises same within the limited mandate allowed by the Constitution.
    Mr Speaker, before I conclude, a further point.
    Mr Speaker 4:10 p.m.
    Conclude.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 4:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would also want to urge my Hon Colleagues in this House, that not only are we supposed to wake up when there is a collective attack in the print or in the electronic media, but we must also forcefully respond to deliberate rumours which are aimed at attacking the integrity of Hon Members of Parliament with wild and vicious allegations that are aimed at destroying people's reputation.
    Mr Speaker, in Ghana today, we have situations where people can use a software to record people and play it as if same is real and true. We must not wait for it to become a collective attack before we react.
    Mr Speaker, I fully endorse the work of your Committee; their effort
    Mr Speaker 4:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, I have a list before me from the Hon Leaders. I will exercise my discretion and call two people whose names are not on the list.
    I will call the Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations and Hon Samuel Atta Akyea.
    I will start with the Hon Minister.
    Minister for Employment and Labour Relations (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) (MP) 4:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to associate myself with the Report of the Committee on Privileges on the alleged contemptuous remarks made by Mr Abubakar Ahmed, also known as Blakk Rasta -
    Mr Speaker 4:20 a.m.
    Hon Members, let us
    be brief and go straight to the point, so that one or two people who may want to express their views, can get the opportunity, because we have a lot of business to do today.
    Hon Minister?
    Mr H. Iddrisu 4:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, in asso- ciating myself with this Motion and the Report of your Privileges Committee, I intend to deal with three issues. One, what constitutes the dignity of Parliament and how members of the public must be seen at times respecting and preserving the honour and dignity of Parliament.
    Mr Speaker, related to it, I would also accept the Committee's recommendations to admonish not just the Ghanaian public but in particular the media, to be overly circumspect and more responsible in their report of the activities of Parliament, on Hon Members of Parliament and on your goodself, Mr Speaker, and what role the media must be seen doing.
    Mr Speaker, it is a truism that Parliament is the citadel of democracy anywhere in the world - indeed, the centre of it and at the heart of it. It is not for nothing that in the Prime Ministerial System, we had what we called “primus inter pares” (the first among equals).
    The Prime Minister could be among Hon Members of Parliament so elected. Therefore, any comment that any member of the public is purported to make must be measured at all times in order that the dignity and honour of Parliament is not necessarily scandalised.
    Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, the Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice dealt with an aspect of it. But may I refer us to the Parliament Act of 1965, in particular, section (33) of the 1965 Constitution. It reads:
    “It is a contempt of Parliament for a person to make a statement
    or otherwise publish a matter which falsely or scandalously defames Parliament or the Speaker, a Member or an Officer in that capacity, or which contains a gross or scan-dalous representation of any proceedings of Parliament.”
    Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, the Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice dealt with it. But for emphasis, the Ghanaian media practitioners must know that this Parliament has teeth to bite when we choose to bite, in accordance with the Constitution.
    Mr Speaker, I am talking about the combined effect of articles 122 and 123 of the Constitution and the provisions of the Act that I referred to. Probably, to put it more succinct as my Hon Colleague did, this is what section 43 says in respect to criminal proceedings and Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I beg to quote. It says:
    “Subject to Article 88 of the Constitution Parliament may order the Attorney-General to prosecute a person whom it suspects to have committed a contempt of Parliament which constitutes an offence under this section or any other enact- ment.”
    Mr Speaker, therefore, those who willfully are failing to appreciate the power of Parliament to punish for contempt - And Mr Speaker, your goodself have heard even spurious arguments to the extent that the Attorney-General - Mr Speaker, you know whether in the face of it or out of the face of the court, contempt is same. That is why we do not even need to adduce evidence in order for somebody to be punished for contempt.
    But be as it may and as human as he
    is, I am sure that Mr Speaker, we may want to tamper justice with mercy. But let this send a strong signal to the Ghanaian media and the Ghanaian public alike, that at all times, they must respect the sanctity of this institution and Hon Members of Parliament.
    Mr Speaker, it is not for nothing that “Hon” is attached to our title. It is to give honour and dignity, having gone through that rigorous exercise to get elected. This is because Hon Members represent their constituents who have vested their fate in them to come and represent them in the national assembly.
    Mr Speaker, for someone repeatedly to say that Parliament has no power, the media by that comment were encouraging a free for all insult for Parliament -- If one says Parliament has no power to punish or to charge for contempt, then it is itself an invitation to the public that they should abuse the honour and dignity of Hon Members of Parliament and walk away free with it. We cannot accept that as a good practice.
    Mr Speaker, my final comment is on the medium. Let a warning through your directive go to the Ghanaian media, whether television or radio - interviews of Hon Ministers of State, interviews of Hon Members of Parliament and Mr Speaker your goodself, to especially the print media -- they should attach importance to what they do, and they should be circumspect.
    Some of the questions they ask, the things they print and write about us, do not only defame or dishonour our standing, Mr Speaker, but they also affect the view of one's constituents on their Hon Members as persons. They could also affect their re-election chances, if constituents are so deceived by those conclusions.
    So, Mr Speaker, mine is just to emphasise that the media should not allow
    Mr Samuel Atta Akyea (NPP - Abuakwa South) 4:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity to contribute to the debate on the floor.
    Mr Speaker, I was a bit surprised to hear so called intellectuals trying to urge upon the generality of the public that Parliament does not have the powers to contempt. Even from a commonsense perspective, there are three arms of Government. If one misbehaves towards the Executive via the Attorney-General, that person could be held before court of law and be punished. The Executive can exercise that power.
    When you come to the Judiciary, if one's behaviour lowers the esteem of the Judiciary and one comes out with matters which would offend the dignity of the Judiciary, they can commit one for contempt and it is spelt out in the Constitution. So, why on earth should somebody come out with the argument that another arm of Government - Parliament, has not got contempt powers? I do not
    know whether they were trying to further lower our esteem and take us for granted.
    I would not have said one word about what has happened, but the attempt to sort of make us an appendage of Government is very offensive to me. This House is not an appendage of Government. In fact, this House is an arm of Government. What that means is that we are inseparable from the business of Government.
    Any time that Parliament is subordinated to the governance system of Ghana - I mean I feel that people have not made time to read the Constitution properly. There is a bit of argument that was made - That we cannot punish and that is what is encouraging the impunity. They claim that what we can do is to make a referral to the Attorney-General for her to prosecute people. I think my learned Friend and also the Deputy Hon Minister for the Interior explained it.
    But there is the necessity to show that while one has committed contempt against this House and one is being investigated, one can commit another contempt of criminal dimension. When that contempt is on a criminal dimension, then that is when a referral is made to the Attorney- General.
    Mr Speaker, with your kind permission, if I could read article 123 of the Constitution for them to know and understand that there is a world of difference between the contempt against this House. When one is being investigated and one commits contempt, which is of criminal dimension, then the referral to the Attorney-General is appropriate. With your permission, I beg to read.
    “Where an act or omission which constitutes contempt of Parliament is an offence under the criminal law, the exercise by Parliament of
    the power to punish for contempt shall not be a bar to the institution of proceedings under the criminal law.”
    We know that it is not Parliament that will institute any proceedings under the criminal law. It is the Attorney-General - under article 88. What is being said here is that when one commits contempt against Parliament and one's contumacious behaviour has criminal dimensions, the matter can be referred to the Attorney- General.
    Somebody said that will amount to double jeopardy, which is to say that this House cannot punish one for contempt and then the Attorney-General will take one to the court of law to get one punished for contempt. That is not double jeopardy.
    Double jeopardy is a situation in which one is punished and then sentenced and then for the same offence, one suffers a similar fate. That is what double jeopardy is about. Here is a situation in which our Standing Orders have outlined how the criminal contempt can come about.
    Mr Speaker, I would not detain this House with these legalese. Let us have some regard to Standing Order 30. Acts which constitute a breach of privilege or contempt of Parliament and then other dimensions in which a referral could be made to the Attorney-General.
    If you look at paragraph (d), it states:
    “presenting to Parliament frivolous, false, scandalous, groundless or fabricated documents or such allegations in a petition;”
    Will be the subject matter for contempt before the court of law via the Attorney- General. Therefore, if one came to Parliament and one had fabricated material, the Attorney-General can take
    one on, on our recommendation. The distinction should be very clear , so that we do not confuse the public.
    Mr Speaker, paragraph (e) states 4:30 p.m.
    “any act or conduct calculated or intended to deceive Parliament or any of its Committees;”
    If one came to a Committee of this House and one had rehearsed one's lies and presented documents which were false to deceive the House or the Committee, it is a criminal contempt referable to the Attorney-General who can send one to court on that basis.
    Mr Speaker, paragraph (h) states 4:30 p.m.
    “publication of false, perverted, misleading, distorted, fabricated or scandalous reports, books or libels reflecting on the proceedings in Parliament;”
    When one think's we can give a twist or a spin on what happened in this Chamber, to secure some advantage, the effect of which will embarrass this House, the Attorney-General can take one on.
    Mr Speaker, paragraph (k) states and I beg to quote 4:30 p.m.
    “attempts by improper or corrupt means to influence Members or officers in their parliamentary duties;”
    The rest of them are all contained here. The two are not the same.
    Mr Speaker, what I find very serious about what has happened to another citizen of Ghana, Abubakar Ahmed, a.k.a Blakk Rasta, is that, I have never in the whole life that I have lived so far, seen any audacious and contumacious behaviour more than
    Mr Speaker 4:30 p.m.
    Hon Members, I will want to call my Second Deputy, then after that, I will call the Leaders.
    Mr Joe Ghartey (NPP-- Esikadu/ Ketan) 4:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for this opportunity.
    Mr Speaker, indeed, if I were to state the legal position, I would just be repeating what has already been said. So, as far as the legal position is concerned, in the manner of what Judges say, when one Judge has spoken before them, I have nothing useful to add. I agree to the legal position.
    But Mr Speaker, even before these laws were made, or were introduced in our land through colonial rule, under customary law, one could not say anything one wanted to say. Ghanaian customs under customary law, before 1876, when the English law was introduced to Ghana under the Supreme Court Ordinance, our custom did not allow one to say anything one wanted.
    This is because if one was allowed to say anything one wanted, we could imagine what kind of society we would have? The chaos in the society, where everybody could get up in the morning and say anything to his mother, father, his brother, friend or his enemy, customary law takes a very serious view of it especially saying what is not true.
    Mr Speaker, our Constitution guaran- tees freedom of speech. All of us in this House fought for this Constitution to come into force, otherwise, we would not be seen sitting here. And we support the Constitution.
    Indeed, Mr Speaker, before our constitutional dispensation, I had the opportunity, as a humble legal practitioner,
    to even defend journalists in court based on freedom of speech. Our Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. But Mr Speaker, freedom cannot be limitless.
    Mr Speaker, when you look at article 21 of the Constitution, I would not read but paraphrase it. It says that these fundamental freedoms are guaranteed to the extent, proviso, that it does not infringe public order, it does not infringe public safety; it does not infringe this and it does not infringe that.
    How can we have unbridled freedom of speech, that I can wake up in the morning and insult anybody? Indeed, when I heard it, I could not believe that such a thing could have been said. Mr Speaker, the power of life and death lies in the tongue. That is what the Bible says, not Joe Ghartey.
    Therefore, if somebody can get up and make such a serious statement, that 80 per cent of Hon Member of Parliament are guilty of a criminal offence. Mr Speaker, 10 per cent is 27. 27+27=54. So, it means that, apart from the 54, and I do not know who the 54 are, who are innocent of this crime It is a crime, and the rest of them are guilty.
    I am prepared to go for a blood test and I am sure my Hon Colleagues are also prepared to go with me. Why does he say something that he cannot prove and when they asked him why, he said he was on heat? Why, what kind of heat, Mr Speaker? He said something that he could not prove.
    Mr Opare-Ansah 4:40 p.m.
    On a point order.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker did some beautiful arithmetic and managed to arrive at the conclusion, that the 20 per cent of 275 is 54. Mr Speaker,
    Mr Ghartey 4:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I said at the beginning that, I am just a humble lawyer. I am not mathematically inclined as much as he is. But I have seen that, the margin of error is so small, that if it were in a court of law, he would be ignored 54 and 55, the margin is too small. They are the same; the value is the same.
    But Mr Speaker, I was saying that, this matter is indeed, a serious one. We come from different walks of life -- from different professions, from all parts of the country and we put ourselves forward for election, a rigorous process to serve our people and what we get is insult.
    The only crime perhaps, we have committed in the eyes of some people, is to decide to become Members of Parliament. What would Ghana be without democracy? What crime have we committed for people to say all manner of things against us? Mr Speaker, is it not said in Proverbs that if you do not have anything to say, you should keep quiet?
    Is it because a microphone had been put in front of you that you have to speak? Do we all not have microphones in front of us? Do we all speak all the time? Is it because we have microphones, every Hon Member of Parliament will start speaking at the same time? What kind of chaos would we have in this Parliament?
    Mr Speaker, this matter is a serious one but even though it is serious -- [Interruption]-- Serious matter, and even though the Hon Members are shouting “No” and telling me I should not go there, I would want to respectfully draw your attention and the attention of my good Friend, Hon Attah Akyea and the attention of this House to the Beatitudes and this time, I would not make a mistake.
    Mr Speaker, I would refer you to -

    Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor rose
    Mr Speaker 4:40 p.m.
    Hon Minister for Defence, do you have a point of order?
    Dr Kunbuor 4:40 p.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Ghartey 4:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we know that there are many versions of the Bible. My version is the New International Version and I am prepared to lay it on the Table.
    But Mr Speaker, I would respectfully refer to the Beatitudes, that is the Gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter 5 verse 7. Mr Speaker, the Beatitudes talks about those who would be blessed. It is my wish among other things, that every Hon Member of this House be blessed; that the Speaker be blessed, the Parliament be blessed and that Ghana be blessed. And one of the ways by which we can be blessed, according to St Matthew, chapter, verse 7, it states;”Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.”
    Mr Speaker, I am done.
    Mr Speaker 4:40 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader?
    Minority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 4:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I express my gratitude to you for the opportunity to also contribute to this Motion.
    The Report is on the alleged remarks made by Mr Abubakar Ahmed, also known
    as Blakk Rasta on Hitz FM Entertainment News, that 80 per cent of Members of Parliament (MPs) in Ghana smoke weed That statement is most bizarre, out- rageous, disparaging and contemptuous of this House. The procurement, possession and smoking of weed are all criminal offences and the implication of this statement is that 80 per cent of MPs are criminals.
    Fortunately, I know from the very bottom of my heart that I am not part of the 80 per cent but the statement casts a slur on all of us in this House. The man we are told, when he appeared before the Committee, indicated that he was on “heat” when he said so. What heat he was on, the Committee elected not to inquire into.
    It would have served this House good purpose if the Committee had inquired into the heat that he was in when he made that statement, and that would have been most revealing to us. Why they opted not to inquire into the heat, I cannot understand.
    Mr Speaker, that would have opened a window for us into the mindset of this person and with all due respect to the Chair, it amounts to some disservice to this House, why they opted not to inquire into that heat. I would also have been most pleased if the man had been asked to give the names of the 80 per cent of MPs that he knows apply themselves to weed. They should have asked him and at least, he would have given us a few names, which would have been most instructive.
    The language of the man called Abubakar Ahmed, a.k.a. Blakk Rasta, certainly, was not only very scathing and vicious but he must be told in plain language that that language he used is most pedestrian and some of us do not belong there. Such comments only go to denigrate Parliament and worse, the authority of Parliament, which authority has been
    invested in this House by the people of this country and he, in that respect, is standing against the people of this country by such comments.
    Mr Speaker, when he thought that this House was powerless in dealing with him, it was proved to him that articles 122 and 123 of the Constitution clothe us with authority to deal with him the next time he makes such comments. What is even more offensive was his conduct when he left the Committee.
    The triumphalism that he sought to display even after leaving the Committee, is most outrageous and I do not know what affliction came onto him even after leaving the Committee room. I do not know what he wanted to portray to the rest of this country or his admirers, whoever they are.
    I do not intend to go on and on because so many people have spoken before me and the resort and vehicle that we could use to further litigate or punish him are open to us. The Committee has proposed to us that we order Abubakar Ahmed to appear at the Bar of the House to be seriously reprimanded and that while he is at the Bar, he should render an unqualified apology to the House to purge himself of the contempt. I do not want to preempt whatever he might want to do or say but by his conduct, as I said, even after he left the Committee room, as far as I am concerned, he has demonstrated that he is not remorseful and that the apology that he tended was a make-believe one. This is because after the event, he went back to square one to let people know that he was a champion or some sort of hero.
    Mr Speaker, we should abide by the collective decision of this House. So, I would want to suggest that whatever the outcome of today's events in respect of the breach of privileges of this House, today's event should mark a watershed in the conduct of business in this House and the attack of this House. We would not allow ourselves to be reduced to rabble.
    Majority Leader (Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin) 5 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the constraint I have is that, I have not eaten the whole day, so, I do not have the energy to say a lot of things I wanted to.
    Mr Speaker, it is important for us as Leaders of this country to show the way. I stated early on that, contempt is for both Members as strangers, that is, non- Members of this House.
    Mr Speaker, this particular case is unique and it is good that we are using it to give notice to all, what could be done within the ambit of the law in this country. Clearly, the statement is imputing criminality to 80 per cent of Hon Members, and so, it is unlike the comments of Prof. Dodoo.
    Mr Speaker, the second part is the conduct. When confronted at the Committee level, he denied it. And that is another area that as a country, we have to look at. The culture of falsehood, the lack of humility, the lack of acceptance of the fact that we are humans. To err is human. So, when one errs, one should be able to come down to the level to accept that he or she has erred and apologise.
    That was lacking in this case. The young man decided to fight on until he was confronted with the audio of his own voice, then he collapsed and threw in the towel.
    Mr Speaker, that conduct does not
    show any regret. [Interruption] - It is important for me to emphasise that, elected representatives are not placed above the law by way of parliamentary privileges. They are simply awarded certain basic exemptions from the law in order that this House, Parliament, may function independently and efficiently. This is in the interest of the whole nation. It is not for Hon Members who are presently in the House.
    Mr Speaker, when we talk of the powers and the right of Parliament, it is important that I mention a few. We have the power to regulate our own internal affairs. That is why the courts do not interfere in that area and that is why it is guaranteed in our Constitution. Parliaments all over the world have this power.
    Mr Speaker, we have the authority to maintain the attendance and service of our Hon Members. That is why there is a privilege against arrest. There is a privilege against it and it is only done under some circumstances and Mr Speaker is immediately informed.
    Mr Speaker, we have the power to expel our own Hon Members if they misconduct themselves. That is why the Marshal is there. The process is there. We can do it. We have the right to institute and compel the attendants of witnesses and also to demand documents. We have that power and no authority can deny us that power that is given by the people. It is through our own. It is a gift that the people have showered on the institution of Parliament.
    Mr Speaker, we have the power to administer oath to witnesses and when a witness is on oath and lies through the teeth, until confronted with the document, the other offence is there and that is perjury.
    Mr Speaker, we have the power to punish and that has been explained
    copiously by my Hon Colleagues. Now, there is a constraint to the exercise of this power, particularly the power to punish. We have been advised by many political leaders and writers and I would also mention some regulations that we should exercise this power sparingly. So, all the writers would always caution against exercising the power.
    That is why when contempt is committed and the person shows remorse and purges himself or herself, we make the statement, “Go and sin no more”. It is not for nothing. It is because of this caution that we do so. There is nothing wrong with what the Hon Second Deputy Speaker stated. You get more blessings for forgiving when the person shows remorse.
    Mr Speaker, there is another restraint I would want to draw the attention of the House to. We have the Latimer House Guidelines, which we all, as members of the Commonwealth adopted. Those guidelines are very clear what we could do in this circumstances. So, I agree with those who believe that, yes, we should not just say, “Go and sin no more”, but we should not also go the full hop of bringing in criminal process. For these reason, I support the recommendation of the Committee, that let us give him the last chance for him to come before us and render a proper apology.
    Mr Speaker, when as Leaders, we see a threat to even aberrations, it is our duty to crack the whip. I think Parliament has given sufficient notice that from now on, we would have to crack the whip. This is to save our democracy. It is not for the benefit of individual Hon Members or Parliament but for the whole nation. We cannot continue to go along this path. Not at all.
    Mr Speaker, it is important that
    Members be made to understand that, by undermining the authority and dignity of Parliament and Hon Members, they are undermining the basis of our democracy. There would be no democracy without Parliament. We talk about fundamental human rights Take away Parliament and see whether there would be fundamental human right.
    This, I believe, is enough but it is proper for the young man to come before the House and be seen at the Bar of the House, and to render the proper apology and then Hon Members would then advise ourselves to see whether he is the man that he is and whether he would now carry himself shoulder high and give the impression outside that he is mightier than Parliament.
    Mr Speaker, my last point is that, we
    all know that the pen is mightier than the sword. We fought against the sword and I believe we decided that we do not want the sword again to reign supreme. Now, the pen, which is mightier than the sword is rearing its ugly head and as a country, we are running away. Please, it is worse than the sword. The pen is worse than the sword and the pen is referred to the media.
    M r S p e a k e r , t h r o u g h o u t m y political life, I have sponsored so many media men and I continue to sponsor them [Interruption] Oh women -- No [Laughter] The women did not come around. It is the gentlemen who came.
    Mr Speaker, I regret to say that those same members, even on daily basis, without crosschecking facts about me or anything, say things with impunity and they believe that God would bless them. It is not true. It would not happen. I say it and I would repeat it. This is part of nature; one does not bite the hand that feeds him or her.
    It is important. But again, if this country decides to run away from the pen, we would live to regret one day. It is time
    Mr Speaker 5:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, that brings us to the end of the debate. I will now put the Question.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr Speaker 5:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, at this
    Mr Speaker 5:20 p.m.
    Mr Abubukar Ahmed, the Parliament of Ghana has convicted you of the offence of contempt. Before I move further, do you have anything to say? [Pause.]
    Mr Abubakar Ahmed (a.k.a. Blackk Rasta) 5:20 p.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker; I have something to say.
    Mr Speaker 5:20 p.m.
    May you proceed to say whatever you would want to say?
    Mr A. Ahmed 5:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much for this opportunity.
    I would say that while sitting up there for the several hours that I was here, I have been crying in my stomach very, very much because I have been so, so ashamed for the fact that there are important things happening in this country, which ought to be looked at but I have wasted almost everybody's time here to discuss things like this, which in my view, are very trivial because of what I brought home.
    Mr Speaker, I heard a number of Hon Members say “until the tape was played back to me” - I would like to say that I brought the tape myself and said that this is the tape.
    Mr Speaker 5:20 p.m.
    Mr Abubakar Ahmed, you were there in the public gallery and I was watching you. You are supposed to render an apology. We will want to listen to the text of your apology.
    Mr A. Ahmed 5:20 p.m.
    All right.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to say that if, there was an art to read the minds construction on the face, you would have known how much my face is bleeding by now -- honestly. This is because
    Mr Speaker 5:20 p.m.
    Order! Order!
    Yes, continue.
    Mr A. Ahmed 5:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, all I would want to say is that, very honestly, if I could take a slap from everybody here, I would willingly do it. I am very sorry for those utterances. I have never stood for anything like that and unequivocally, I would say I am very, very, to the umpteenth time, sorry.
    I am very sorry, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 5:20 p.m.
    Now, proceed.
    Mr Speaker 5:20 p.m.
    Hon Members, before I proceed to reprimand him, I will want to find out from the two Leaders of the House whether they have anything to say.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 5:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, on my part, I believe I have said enough. He was in the public gallery as he himself attested to; he heard us. He said to us today that indeed, he was the person who submitted the recording to us; that is quite revealing.
    I believe that if he was the person who brought the recording to us and he knew the content before he brought it to us, why was he disputing before the Privileges Committee that he never said so? It is another matter but I do not want us to go back.
    If he is sincere and genuine with what he has told us, from now on, we shall
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 5:20 p.m.


    be watching and as the good Book says, “By their fruits ye shall know them”. By the fruits that he begins to bear from now on, we shall know whether he is truly remorseful and purpose not to further undermine the Parliament of Ghana.

    Mr Speaker, as far as I am concerned, let us take him by his word even though I was not really convinced and persuaded by his body language. But I have heard him. [Interruption] I did not ask of the “heat”. Mr Speaker, we cannot litigate the “heat” now. So, I think that I have spoken enough and he has spoken. Let us take him by his words and we should continue from here to observe and listen to him.

    I understand he is a musician. Perhaps, we would listen to the lyrics that would be coming from him in his next testament and we would see whether he has sufficiently purged himself. For now, what he has done is enough, in my view, even though I am not totally persuaded. Let us take him by his word and we see how he behaves from now on.

    Thank you.
    Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin 5:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to, again, say that it is a learning process. Today, is a landmark and being the first, I am sure the impact on him is heavy. But the lack of everything can lead to the display of some mannerism or conduct. I saw the contemnor, in trying to even comport himself, did not know how to behave before this august House.
    So, I can say that “to err is human”, to forgive is divine”. So, the good Lord would forgive him and we would follow that example. So, we should forgive him and as we said, observe the aftermath of this whole exercise and then Parliament can then advise itself better.
    Thank you.
    Mr Speaker 5:30 p.m.
    Mr Abubakar Ahmed, I will want to start by saying that we in this House are not saying that we are perfect. But we have faith and I have faith in this House with its imperfection. [Hear! Hear!].
    Your statement that 80 per cent of Hon Members of this august House smoke wee, is very reprehensible and you are aware of the publicity that it has received in both print and electronic media. You know that to smoke “wee” is a criminal offence. In other words, you are saying that 80 per cent of your Members of Parliament are criminals.
    Some of us are great believers in the freedom of the media. Having served the mandatory six years on the National Media Commission (NMC), and being a Member of this House that unanimously agreed to repeal criminal libel laws in this country, I have always believed in the media.This is because if you take away the media, our own democracy would be in crisis.
    It is in that same vein that if you take away Parliament, as the point has been made by many Hon Members of this House, our democratic experiment for the fourth time in this country would be at risk.
    A number of Hon Members of Parliament have come to me, that let us punish those who are saying Parliament has no power, even under article 123 -- let us punish and let them go to the Supreme Court for interpretation. We tried to restrain them. - [Pause]. We have restrained ourselves because we represent Ghanaians including you.
    We do not come here to mark English Language. We come here to represent
    Some Hon Members 5:30 p.m.
    Se woanya biribi amma wo ase a, mmo no kroon - [Laughter] - [Uproar.]
    Mr Speaker 5:30 p.m.
    For today, the House has decided that you render an apology, which you have done. We have accepted your apology, but we shall be watching you - [Uproar].
    Until you made that statement, I was one of your fans - [Uproar] - But after it, I am no longer your fan - [Laughter.]
    Hon Members, we should not allow this country to descend into anarchy. The point has been made that no freedom is absolute, and therefore, we hope that this would be your first and the last in making statements that affect and undermine the dignity of this House.
    Go and sin no more. All Hon Members: No more!
    Mr Speaker 5:30 p.m.
    The Marshal may match him out of the Chamber. [Hear! Hear!]
    Mr Speaker 5:30 p.m.
    Hon Members, that brings us to the end of the consideration of the matters dealing with the Privileges Committee.
    Hon Majority Leader?
    Mr Bagbin 5:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, may we now consider item 17?
    Mr Speaker 5:30 p.m.
    Hon Members, item number 17 on the Order Paper - Motions.
    MOTIONS 5:40 p.m.

    Chairman of Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi) 5:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion, that this Honourable House approves the sum of GH¢865,789,380.00 as supplementary estimates for the 2015 financial year, which was moved on Tuesday, 21st July, 2015 by the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Seth Emmanuel Terkper.
    Mr Speaker, in doing so, I present your Committee's Report.
    Introduction
    The mid-year review of the budget and supplementary estimates of the Govern- ment of Ghana for the 2015 financial year were presented to Parliament by the Hon Minister for Finance on Tuesday, 21stJuly, 2015 in accordance with article 179 (8) of the Constitution and Order 143 of the Standing Orders of the House. Mr Speaker referred the supplementary estimates to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the House.
    The Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson and a technical team from the Budget Division of the Ministry of Finance assisted the Committee in its deliberations. The Committee is grateful to the Hon Deputy Minister and the technical team for the assistance.
    References
    The underlisted served as additional
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    MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 4:43 p.m.
    Hon Members, order!
    The Hon Members who have turned their back to the Chair, do you want to be dragged to the Privileges Committee? I do not want to mention names; please, let us have some order.
    Hon Members of Leadership, today is the last day for this Meeting; how many contributors each? How many Hon Members have you agreed on to contribute to the Motion? Please, advise me and give me the names.
    Hon Assibey-Yeboah?
    Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah (NPP-- New Juaben South) 5:50 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion.
    Mr Speaker, on page 2 of the Committee's Report, bullet point 3 - Background information. The Report says, and Mr Speaker, I beg to quote:
    “…Ghana's economy has experienced a number of pressures, including domestic and global developments which have affected key assumnp- tions underpinning the budget as well as projections made in the budget.”
    Mr Speaker, as the Hon Chairman listed, the Report goes further to list a number of items which has contributed to the economic decline and I beg to quote:
    “i. Depreciation of the cedi…” Mr Speaker, “depreciation of the cedi” does not happen in a vacuum. The cedi would
    depreciate when a number of things occur -- when you keep on printing money, and when inflation is so high, the cedi is bound to depreciate.
    So, if we list here that there have been developments on the local scene that have contributed to the economic decline, the impression is being created as though it was not within our power to arrest the depreciation of the cedi.
    Again, we are told here that the decline of the economy is as a result of the fall in the crude oil prices. Time and again, when crude oil prices fall, we are supposed to suffer an economic decline. In the past, when prices of crude oil rose, it was passed on to consumers.
    Minister for Employment and Labour Relations (Mr Haruna Iddrisu)(MP) 5:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to associate myself with the Motion, and to urge Hon Colleagues to support the approval of the Supplementary Estimates of Government for the 2015 financial year, and the mid-year policy decisions that the Hon Minister for Finance has apprised this House of.
    Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague on the opposite side has made reference to some hard facts, that there are revisions in some of the macroeconomy targets originally set out in the 2015 Budget Statement projection of growth rate, even the International Monetary Fund
    rose
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 5:50 p.m.
    Hon K. T. Hammond, do you have a point of order?
  • [MR AVEDZI SPACE FOR TABLE , PAGES 7&8 CONT. - 5.40 P.M
  • Mr K. T. Hammond 5:50 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I do have a very serious point of order. I suspect my Hon Colleague anticipated that I would respond.
    My Hon Colleague is simply misleading the House. Yesterday, or was it the day before yesterday, or was it three days ago, the Hon Minister for Finance made the statement, and I had the opportunity of also explaining that he may have said that, or indeed, Cabinet may have approved or given the Hon Minister and the relevant institutions, indeed, through the Hon Ministers for Finance or Petroleum, to ensure that deregulation is put into effective place?
    Mr Speaker, that is different from suggesting that the laws of the country should be breached. The point that we made consistently in this country on the back of this so-called deregulation exercise, is that there is nothing so-called deregulation in the country at the moment, whatever purports to be de-regulation breaches all the laws in the country.
    Mr Speaker, there are two laws. One is the Act itself -- The National Petroleum Act (NPA) of 2005 itself and the other one is the Legislative Instrument (L.I.) 2168. Mr Speaker, both these statutory instruments put the onus on National Petroleum Authority. So, what is going on without changes in the law is unlawful.
    Mr H. Iddrisu 6 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I was saying that it is true that Government is taking some bold, hard and difficult decisions, but there are the decisions which would inure to the benefit of the country in the foreseeable future.
    Mr Speaker, to my Hon Colleague who just spoke, I am holding a document dated 19th May, 2005. It was signed by
    Prof. Mike Ocquaye, the then Minister for Energy, and I am sure my Hon Colleagues supported him in that capacity as Deputy Minister when the deregulation regime itself was introduced.
    Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I beg to quote 6 p.m.
    “The purpose of this Bill then was a policy on deregulation of the petroleum downstream sector.”
    It also spoke about a regulatory body and others as we are told. When I stated that this policy would benefit the country and it is in the best economic interest, I just want to share some statistics.
    On petroleum subsidy alone, in 2008, Government spent GH¢214, 000,000, which could build many other hospitals or basic schools. In 2009, Government spent GH¢59,000,000 on petroleum subsidy alone, and for 2014/2015, GH¢189 and GH¢119 alone. It means that with this major policy, subject to us encouraging the Hon Minister for Finance and his colleagues to allow for some social protection measures to take care of the poor, who because of the inelastic nature of petroleum and its prices, may be affected by this decision. But it saves the State these resources, which otherwise, can be channeled into other develop- ments of the economy.
    Mr Speaker, as we speak today, I am reliably informed that for Bulk Oil Distribution Companies (BDCs) alone, there is an outstanding, subject to the Ernst and Young verification, which I know my Hon Colleague, the Hon Ranking Member asked for. Forex loses amounts to GH¢181,500, 000.00. Undoubtedly, this would contribute to distortions and this would contribute to fiscal problems in the management of the economy. So, I thought that we should commend the Hon Minister for a bold decision.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6 p.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Hon Member for Dormaa Central?
    Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu (NPP - Dormaa Central) 6 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am hearing some noise and I do not know whether they are coming from nowhere, that lights would go off, as if I put off the lights. But I have nothing to do with anybody putting off the light. If anything at all, we should ask the President, not me.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity, that I have to add my voice to the debate and to urge my Hon Colleagues, though reluctantly, to support the supplementary estimates.
    Mr Speaker, what is amazing is the fact that in this same Report, the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee is telling us that we are reducing expenditures from where they were in the initial estimates down by about GH¢1.2 million. And in the same Report, the Hon Minister for Finance is asking us to spend more GH¢865,789, 380.00 without any indication of where that money is coming from. In the process, we are ending up extending our deficit by close of the year. So, where are we? There is the need -
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6 p.m.
    Hon Member, we are in Parliament. What do you mean by where are we?
    Mr Agyeman-Manu 6 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    rose
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6 p.m.
    I recognise the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee.
    Mr Avedzi 6 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member made a statement, which needs to be corrected.
    If he is saying that in the Report - The Report is indicating that there is a general reduction in expenditure from GH¢39 billion to GH¢37 billion by an amount of GH¢1.2 billion and “yet the Hon Minister is also asking for additional spending, where is that money coming from?”
    Mr Speaker, I think that the Hon Member has the Report. If he goes to page 8 of the Report, in fact, starting from page 7 of the Report, you would see the --
    “Table - 2015 revenue revised expenditure lines.”
    He would see it clearly. Those items that are coming down in terms of reduction and those that are going up in terms of increase. At the end, the chunk of the money is as a result of amortisation, which is increasing from GH¢2.7 billion to GH¢4.6 billion, which is an additional amortisation. It is -
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6 p.m.
    Hon Chairman, I think that you are on the same page with me. You would agree with me that today is the last day and we would want to come to some conclusion. And so, this is not a point of order -
    I think the Hon Minister for Finance would wrap up and you are sitting next to him, you can -
    Mr Agyeman-Manu 6 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I do not know when amortisation became a revenue. It is an expenditure. And it is increasing. So, what have I got wrong? Look at page 6 of your own Report; you
    are bringing down expenditure from one level to another with a difference of GH¢1.2 billion and you are asking us to allow you to go and spend GH¢865,789, 380.00 more. Is that not an expenditure? Why would amortisation not increase? When they are borrowing and we are telling you to stop borrowing, they would not listen. A very large portion of our debt stock is denominated in dollars and therefore, anytime our currency devalues, it would bring on it more debt to be paid. Why would amortisation not go up? I understand what I am saying, please. So, leave me alone.
    Mr Speaker, like I said about three days ago in this Chamber, “when the little mouse in the kitchen decides to do bad things, no matter what, it will fall into the palm oil in the kitchen.” So we would talk but at the end of the day, somebody would have his way. We need rather to talk. Mr Speaker, the irony of it And I would still be quoting from the Report:
    “Prominent among the develop- ments that have necessitated the revision of the targets in the 2015 Budget are:
    i. Depreciation of the cedi with its adverse effect on econo- mic activity, public sector debt and other macro-economic variables.
    ii. Fall in the price of crude oil.
    iii. Rising inflation . . .”
    When crude oil prices are falling on the world market and we have a large chunk of import bills in dollars coming from the oil sector, Ghana sees inflation going up. How do these things tally? Mr Speaker, there are certain things that are not tallying at all, but we are not taking note of these issues.
    Oil prices are falling on the world market; Ghana's inflation is rising; interest rates are rising because the Government is borrowing so much and the private sector does not even know
    rose
    Mr Agyeman-Manu 6:10 p.m.
    When all things are equal and things are going so well, nobody would ask for withdrawal of subsidies. [Interruption] -
    I would conclude. Ask Hon Haruna to sit down.
    Mr H. Iddrissu 6:10 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, it is just to let my Hon Colleague not do further harm to my designation and portfolio, and to know that it is the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations.
    I heard him say “whatever”. Mr Speaker, it is a determined portfolio and he added something,”manpower” which does not belong to it. I think that he should know that this House deals with institutions and persons representing those institutions. I am not sure he would be happy if I said -
    I would end it there, Mr Speaker.
    So, he was violently misleading this House with those
    Mr Agyeman-Manu 6:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would ignore my Hon Colleague from Tamale and I would not conclude.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:10 p.m.
    Why would you ignore him? It is not the “Ministry of whatever.”
    Mr Agyeman-Manu 6:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, all
    that I wanted to say is that
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:10 p.m.
    Is it the Ministry of whatever”?
    Mr Agyeman-Manu 6:10 p.m.
    I will. We withdraw subsidies
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:10 p.m.
    Hon Member, there is no “Ministry of whatever.” You will not ignore him. Just take it on board and let us go on. There is not the “Ministry of whatever”.
    Hon Member, continue.
    Mr Agyeman-Manu 6:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, what I was saying was that, immediately we begin to withdraw subsidies, it is a signal of some distress in our system. Subsidies are proposed to support the poor. Subsidies are supposed to help the poor. We go through one window to try to assist the poor, and then we withdraw subsidies. We withdraw subsidies when we are in distress.
    All things being equal, revenues are flowing and the economy is doing very well; we do not think of withdrawing subsidies. What is the sense of withdrawing the subsidies, on petroleum if we have money? That is one way we could spend money to ginger our economy to grow and grow well. And so, do not let us pride ourselves and think that when we withdraw subsidies, we have achieved so much.
    We achieve nothing by withdrawing subsidies. We rather unleash hardships on citizens of our country --
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:10 p.m.
    Thank you.
    Mr Agyeman-Manu 6:10 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:10 p.m.
    Thank you for respecting the Chair.
    Hon Minister for Finance, do you not have anything to say? I will put the Question then.
    We said we will take two contribu- tions from each side. I took the Hon Chairman, then we went to Hon Assibey- Yeboah, then to Hon Haruna Iddrisu and then to the Hon Member for Dormaa Central. So, that is two from each side.
    I can give the Hon Minister the opportunity. If the Hon Minister does not want to speak, I will put the Question. I am putting the Question on the Motion. The Hon Minister does not want to speak.
    Yes, I have recognised you, and you did not want to speak.
    Hon Minister for Finance.
    Minister for Finance (Mr Seth E. Terkper) 6:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would endeavour to be as brief as possible.
    Mr Speaker, as my Colleague, the Hon Haruna indicated, I have before me the importance that it is both fiscal and macroeconomically prudent to revise figures, and there should be nothing untoward about it.
    Mr Speaker, I have before me the Business and Financial Times edition of July 10th, not too long ago, in which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given a global alert. Mr Speaker, if I may just read a few. The IMF reduced the growth projection for 2015 to 3.3 per cent from 3.5 per cent for the global economy.
    Mr Speaker, the IMF also said nonetheless next year, some would be valued at 3.8 per cent. But most impor- tantly, the IMF has indicated that it is important that we and let me quote, it added:
    “Timely action policy action should help to manage such risks if they
    were to be materialised.”
    Mr Speaker, we have been monitoring and we have been revising the figures based on this global trends.
    Therefore, Mr Speaker, all I wish to say is that Ghana is consistent in revising its policies anytime global trends change. This is prudent fiscal and economic policy.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who contributed first indicated that he wondered how we could attribute foreign exchange depreciation to the drop in
    Mr Speaker, let me just explain. The economy went through significant shocks. The impact is this; when there was a disruption in gas supply from the West Africa Gas Pipeline, we used scarce foreign exchange to import light crude oil, which is more expensive. This had an effect on our reserves and it had an effect on the supply side of foreign exchange and therefore, could lead to the depreciation of the Ghanaian cedi.
    Mr Speaker, we experienced cocoa and gold price falls and lately crude oil price falls. These again moved in the opposite direction in reducing our reserves. Once our intake of foreign exchange reduces, it also means that our reserves decline and the supply decline relative to demand. This again, explains the reason for the depreciation of the Ghanaian cedi.
    Mr Speaker, therefore, when these factors also affect growth, we are right in reducing our forecast. But the growth forecast that we use was based on the Ghana Statistical Service's forecast and on our forecast at the end of last year. It is based on the quarterly performance, which showed that the economy would do a certain growth.
    Mr Speaker, let me use one figure. The first quarter's performance has since improved, which means that
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 6:20 p.m.
    On a point of order. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is misleading the House.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister indicated that the first quarter's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth has been revised, and so, we should look forward to the other quarters doing very well.
    He came to the House to tell us that he was revising his GDP forecast from an earlier figure to a non-oil growth of 2.6 per cent. So, if he had this information, why did he not factor it into the GDP figures that he gave to the House?
    Mr Terkper 6:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the answer is quite simple. The answer is that I have the figure for only one quarter and I cannot base my projections on one quarter estimates and that is why I am stating that we should wait.
    Mr Speaker, if I may just wind up.
    I wish that we focus more on the strategies that this Government is proposing -- policies of Sinking Fund, policies of EXIM, policies of de- regulation, as has been said, and policies in the revision of the IGFs and the statutory Funds, policies that are transformational.
    Mr Speaker, with these few words, I
    would urge Hon Members to vote for the supplementary estimates.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr Agbesi 6:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we have to take the items on the Order Paper Addendum. There is a Paper to be laid.
    PAPERS 6:20 p.m.

    Mr Agbesi 6:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we go to item 4 on page 2 of the Order Paper Addendum.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:20 p.m.
    Item 4, Motions.
    Hon Minister for Finance?
    MOTIONS 6:20 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Seth E. Terkper) 6:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least, forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the Second Reading of the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2015 may be moved today.
    Mr James K. Avedzi 6:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:20 p.m.
    Item number 5.
    Hon Minister for Finance?
    BILLS - SECOND READING 6:20 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Seth E. Terkper) 6:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker I beg to move, that the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2015 be now read a Second time.
    Question proposed.
    Mr James K. Avedzi 6:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion and by doing so, I present your Committee's Report.
    Introduction
    The Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was presented to Parliament and read the first time on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance by the Hon Deputy Minister For Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson on Friday, 19thJuly 2015 in accordance with article 174 (1) of the 1992 Constitution. Mr Speaker referred the Bill to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with and Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana.
    Pursuant to the referral, the Committee met with the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson and officials from the Ministry of Finance and Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and deliberated on the referral.
    The Committee is grateful to the Hon Deputy Minister and the officials for the assistance.
    Reference
    Mr James K. Avedzi 6:20 p.m.


    The Committee referred to the following additional documents during its deliberations:

    The 1992 Constitution of Ghana

    The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana

    Excise Duty Act, 2014 (Act 878).

    Background

    The Government as part of measures to consolidate fiscal stability and promote growth introduced a number of revenue measures in the 2015 Economic Policy and Budget Statement of the Government. These measures among others, were to correct the imbalances in the tax administration and to increase tax revenue.

    Some of the measures include the expansion of the tax base to robe in many people and activities and increase in the percentage of some existing tax rates on specific commodities and activities.

    One of the commodities is tobacco products which current excise duty rate is one hundred and fifty per centum of the ex-factory price.

    It is, therefore, to give effect to the measures outlined in the 2015 Economic Policy and Budget Statement of the Government that the proposed Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2015 which seeks to increase the Excise Duty on tobacco products from the current one hundred and fifty per centum of the ex-factory price to one hundred and seventy-five per centum of the ex-factory price is being introduced.

    Purpose of the Bill

    The Bill seeks to amend the First Schedule of the Excise Duty Act, 2014 (Act 878) to increase the Excise Duty on cigarettes and cigars from one hundred and fifty per centum of the ex-factory price to one hundred and seventy-five per centum of the ex-factory price.

    Provisions of the Bill

    The Bill is a single Clause Bill which seeks to amend the First Schedule of Act 878 by the substitution for the ad-valorem rate of duty in the third column relating to tobacco products.

    Observations

    Rationale for the Bill

    The Committee was informed during its deliberations that the Bill constitutes one of the policy measures outlined in the 2015 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government. The primary objective is to increase prices of tobacco products to serve as a disincentive to reduce the consumption of tobacco products.

    It was explained that Ghana's Excise tax as a percentage of cigarette price is one of the lowest in the region and in an effort to reduce the consumption of tobacco and its related health hazards, there was the need to increase the excise duty on tobacco products to bring it in tandem with the average for Africa.

    Urgency of the Bill

    The Committee in its deliberations considered the Bill to be of an urgent nature which must be taken through all the stages in a day in accordance with article 106 (13) of the Constitution and Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House. The Committee noted that the Bill is one of the revenue Bills proposed in the 2015 Budget Statement which should have come into effect in January, 2015.

    The delay in the presentation of the

    Bill, the Committee observed is negatively affecting the tax revenue generation and further delays in the implementation could have adverse impact on revenue performance and the Ministry's ability to meet its 2015 revenue projections.

    The Committee registers its dis- pleasure about the undue delay in presenting the Bill to Parliament. The Committee cautions and also urges the Ministry to be proactive in tracking all revenue Bills outlined in future Budget Statements to ensure timely presentation to Parliament.

    Conclusion

    The Committee upon a thorough examination of the Bill recommends to the House to adopt its Report and take theExcise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2015 through all the stages in accordance with article 106 (13) of the Constitution and Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House.

    Respectfully submitted

    Question put and Motion agreed to.

    The Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was accordingly read a Second time.
    Mr Agbesi 6:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, item 6.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:20 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Minister for Finance?
    Minister for Finance (Mr Seth Terkper) 6:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of
    Standing Order 128(1) which require that when a Bill has been read a Second time, it shall pass through a Consideration Stage, which shall not be taken until at least, forty-eight hours have elapsed, the Consideration Stage of the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2015 may be taken today.
    Mr James K. Avedzi 6:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr Agbesi 6:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, item 7.
    BILLS - CONSIDERATION 6:20 p.m.

    STAGE 6:20 p.m.

    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:20 p.m.
    That brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage.
    Item 8, Hon Minister for Finance?
    MOTIONS 6:20 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Seth E. Terkper) 6:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 131 (1) which require that when a Bill has passed through the Consideration Stage, the Third Reading thereof shall not be taken until at least, twenty-four hours have elapsed, the Motion for the Third Reading of the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2015 may be moved today.
    Mr James K. Avedzi 6:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 6:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I notice the alacrity with which the Hon Minister for Finance is moving this Motion, but would he apply himself to Order 3 (2) of our Standing Orders?
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    He has, Hon Minority Leader.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 6:30 p.m.
    He is applying that we suspend some provisions of the Standing Orders. Would he tell us why he is doing that? This is because Order 3 (2) provides that;
    “The Order or part of the Order proposed to be suspended and the reason for the proposed suspension shall be distinctly stated.”
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    We agree with you, Hon Minority Leader.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 6:30 p.m.
    Yes, so, let him tell us.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    But Hon Minority Leader, today is a day of mercy, so, let us have mercy on the Hon Finance Minister.
    BILLS -- THIRD READING 6:30 p.m.

    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    Hon Members, where is the Chairman of the Committee on Sports?
    I intend to recognise him to make
    a short Statement for Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio -- One contribution from each side.
    Mr Agbesi 6:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we have a Paper to be laid under Order Paper Addendum 2.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    Which one, please?
    Mr Agbesi 6:30 p.m.
    By the Hon Minister for Finance.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    Which Paper?
    Mr Agbesi 6:30 p.m.
    Order Paper Addendum 2.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    Order
    Paper Addendum 2, item 2, it is a Motion.
    MrAgbesi 6:30 p.m.
    No! Item 1 (a) and (b).
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    Presentation of Papers, Hon Minister for Finance?
    PAPERS 6:30 p.m.

    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    Item 1 (b), Chairman of the Committee?
    Dr A. A. Osei 6:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is very
    strange. The Paper has just been laid by the Hon Minister. Do they want to lay 1 (b)? It cannot be ready.
    MrAgbesi 6:30 p.m.
    Item 1 (b) is not ready.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    Nobody has said - Sorry, when I got to item 1 (b), I was advised by the Clerk -
    Mr Agbesi 6:30 p.m.
    I am informing the House that item 1 (b) is not ready to be laid. We laid item 1 (a).
    Dr A. A. Osei 6:30 p.m.
    The point is, the Paper on item 1(a) was just laid and then they are purporting to lay the Report of the Committee in ten seconds.
    That is impossible. So, it should not even have been put here, unless of course -
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    Hon
    Akoto Osei.
    rose
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    It is nothing. I am just appreciating you - [Pause.]
    Hon Minority Leader?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 6:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker,
    I think for the avoidance of doubt, you have just referred this Paper which has been laid by the Hon Minister for Finance to the Finance Committee.
    Mr Speaker, we hear from the rumour mill that even before the Committee goes to consider the issue, the Report is being

    Mr Speaker, this Paper cannot be considered. Nobody should assume that something is going to happen.

    Mr Speaker, all the kangaroos have been arrested - [Laughter] -- All the kangaroos have been arrested. So, no kangaroo business would go anywhere.

    Mr Speaker, I am just sounding a note of caution to the Committee.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, you remember that in the 1970s, I am told there was this law against rumour mongering, that if you had a rumour and you kept it, you had not committed a crime. If you mongered it, that was when you had committed a crime.
    And you said there is this rumour. Keep your rumour or are you mongering it?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 6:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, just for the avoidance of doubt, we cannot proceed beyond this point as far as this one is concerned. The Hon Minister knows all the kangaroos have been caged.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:30 p.m.
    Chairman of the Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture?
    Is he not here?
    Mr Agbesi 6:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we would go back to the main Order Paper. On page 2 we have item number 7, Presentation and First Reading of Bills by the Hon Minister for Finance.
    BILLS -- FIRST READING 6:30 p.m.

    Mr Agbesi 6:30 p.m.
    Now to item number 23, page 7 on the main Order Paper.
    MOTIONS 6:30 p.m.

    Chairman of the Committee (Alhaji Amadu B. Sorogho) 6:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least, forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the joint Committee on Finance and Mines and Energy on the Deed of Sovereign Guarantee between the Government of the Republic of Ghana (as Guarantor), ENI Ghana Exploration and Production Limited and Vitol Upstream Ghana Limited (as Contractors) in support of the develop- ment of the Sankofa and Gye- Nyame Oil and Gas Project in respect of the Offshore Cape Three Points Petroleum Agreement (OCTP PA) may be moved today.
    Mr K. T. Hammond 6:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Multi-Party Deed between GoG
    and GNPC, BoG, ENI Ghana Exploration and Production and Vitol
    Upstream Ghana Ltd. and Deed of Sovereign Guarantee between the GoG and ENI Ghana Exploration and Production Limited and Vital
    Upstream Ghana Limited
    Chairman of the Committee (Alhaji Amadu Bukari Sorogho) 6:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the joint Committee on Finance and Mines and Energy on the Deed of Sovereign Guarantee between the Government of the Republic of Ghana (as Guarantor), ENI Ghana Exploration and Production Limited and Vitol Upstream Ghana Limited (as Contractors) in support of the development of the Sankofa and Gye Nyame Oil and Gas Project in respect of the Offshore Cape Three Points Petroleum Agreement (OCTP PA).
    Mr Speaker, in so doing, I present your Committee's.
    Introduction
    The requests for approval of the Multi- Party Deed between the Government of the Republic of Ghana, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, the Bank of Ghana, ENI Ghana Exploration and Production Limited and Vitol Upstream Ghana Limited in support of the development of the Sankofa and GyeNyame Oil and Gas Project in respect of the Offshore Cape Three Points Petroleum Agreement (OCTP PA) and Deed of Sovereign Guarantee between the Government of the Republic of Ghana (as Guarantor), ENI Ghana Exploration and Production Limited and Vitol Upstream Ghana Limited (as Contractors) in support of the development of the Sankofa and Gye Nyame Oil and Gas Project in respect of the Offshore Cape Three Points Petroleum Agreement (OCTP PA) were respectively
    presented to the House by the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Seth Emmanuel Terkper on Tuesday, 21st July, 2015 in accordance with article 181 of the 1992 Constitution.
    The Rt Hon Speaker referred the two requests to the joint Committee on Finance and Mines and Energy for consideration and report in accordance with Orders 169 and 188 of the Standing Orders of the House.
    The joint Committee was assisted in its deliberations by the Hon Ministers for Finance and Petroleum, Mr Seth Emmanuel Terkper and Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah respectively and Hon Deputy Ministers of Finance and Petroleum, Mrs. Mona K. Quartey and Messrs. Cassiel Ato Baah Forson and Ben Dagadu, as well as officials from the Ministries of Finance and Petroleum.
    The Committee is grateful to the Hon Ministers, the Hon Deputy Ministers and officials from the two Ministries for the assistance.
    Reference
    The Committee referred to the following documents during its delibera- tions:
    The 1992 Constitution of Ghana
    The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana
    Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815)
    Petroleum Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, ENI Exploration and Production Limited and Vitol
    Upstream Ghana Limited in respect of the Offshore Cape Three Points Petroleum Agreement
    Background
    The Sankofa and Gye Nyame Oil and Gas Project is Ghana's first gas-to-power project with the capacity to satisfy the gas requirements of the thermal plants currently installed in the country. Due to its strategic significance, Government requested that the Offshore Cape Three Points (OCTP) partners sell the gas to the domestic market to meet local energy demand. This position is in line with article 14.16 of the Offshore Cape Three Points Petroleum Agreement (OCTP PA), which provides that where the contractor identifies a domestic market, it shall negotiate a gas Sale Agreement with GNPC for domestic gas sales to the local market.
    Since the OCTP gas was to be sold in the domestic market, GNPC and GoG were required to put in place a robust security package to support GNPC's payment obligations under the Gas Sales Agreement. This is to mitigate the downstream payment risk and provide the necessary comfort for the investments to be made by the OCTP contractor. The Security Package documents streamline and document the payment processes for the off-take of gas by downstream purchasers and payments into and from the Petroleum Holding Fund to GNPC, established under the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011, (Act 815).
    The Deed of Sovereign Guarantee and Multiparty Deed were subsequently negotiated with technical support from the World Bank. In addition to the Gas Supply Agreement (GSA), the negotiating parties have also executed an amendment to the Head of Agreement and concluded

    negotiations on the Multi-Party Deed and the Deed of Sovereign Guarantee. The Trust and Escrow Deed and the Calculation Deed are in the final stages of negotiation.

    Justification for the project

    Parliament in December 2014 approved the Petroleum Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, ENI Exploration and Production Limited and Vitol Upstream Ghana Limited in respect of the Offshore Cape Three Points Petroleum Agreement to enable GoG to fully negotiate the project documents with the OCTP contractor. After the approvals in December 2014, GoG negotiated the Multi-Party Deed and Deed of Sovereign Guarantee with the OCTP partners to allow for project implementation. The project can only fully commence after parliamentary approval has been obtained in accordance with article 181 (5) of the Constitution.

    Project description

    The Sankofa and Gye Nyame Oil and Gas Project is a joint development project to be undertaken by ENI Ghana Exploration and Production Limited and Vitol Upstream Ghana Limited in respect of development of commercial discovery of Oil and Gas in the Offshore Cape Three Point Contract Area. The project is Ghana's first gas-to-power project expected to produce about 171 million cubic feet of Gas per day to support power generation in ghana. Gas volumes from the Sankofa gas field alone can satisfy the gas requirement of all thermal plants currently installed in the country.

    The project, estimated to cost US$7.9 billion, would be an integrated oil and gas project. Phase 1 for the production of oil, with first oil from the Sankofa and Gye Nyame Fields is expected in August

    2017. Phase-2 which is the production of gas is expected to deliver first gas in February 2018.

    The project is expected to be financed by the OCTP operators namely ENI Ghana Exploration and Production Limited and Vitol Upstream Ghana Limited through a combination of equity and shareholder loans.

    Key terms of the Agreement

    Amendment to the Heads of Agreement for Commercial isat ion of Non- Associated Gas

    The Heads of Agreement (HoA) essentially commits the parties to ensuring that all other related key commercial and security Agreements, fiscal interventions and critical project milestones are executed within agreed timelines. It also defines the roles to be played by each party to the Agreements across the entire gas value chain including the development of infrastructure and approvals.

    The milestones have been amended to allow the parties more time to finalise negotiations of the relevant documents and prepare for the project. Some time lines were made more realistic, including those for GoG to finalise a World Bank Partial Risk Guarantee (PRG) as part of the security structure and ensure that the relevant infrastructure to receive and transport the gas is put in place.

    OCTP security package

    The security package comprises the attached Multi-Party Deed and Deed of Sovereign Guarantee. It also includes a Trust and Escrow Deed and a Calculation Deed, which are purely operational Agreement between GNPC and the OCTP contractor.

    The security package is premised on the fact that GoG requires the OTCP contractor to sell all its gas produced to GNPC, and is as such structured on a “take or pay” basis. It sets out the basis for a gas payment structure to ensure that gas supplied by the OTCP contactor to GNPC for the domestic market, is paid for. It also ensures that GNPC as a buyer, performs its obligations to ENI and Vitol, the suppliers.

    These obligations will be backstopped by GoG through, among other things, a World Bank Partial Risk Guarantee cover of US$500 million and a sponsor's shareholder loan guarantee of US$200 million, which encumbers IDA allocation to Ghana in the amount of US$175 million to cover the risk of payment default by GNPC. The Sovereign Guarantee will cover any further payment shortfalls that may occur. A World Bank security will be negotiated and signed between Ministry of Finance and the World Bank, prior to the effectiveness of the PRG.

    The security package

    The security package is primarily based on revenue flows from domestic gas sales through a main escrow GNPC Disbursement Account that is backed by an escrow reserve holding account that GNPC will fund with a minimum balance of 4.5 months of gas sales. The escrow reserve holding account is also backed by a sovereign guarantee for up to US$100 million in the event of a shortfall in the account.

    The payment security arrangement

    The payment security arrangement have been structured on a mechanism that assumes payment first from GNPC's net carried and participating interest out of petroleum revenues generated from the Sankofa Gye Nyame, Tweneboa-Enyenra- Ntomme and jubilee fields, followed by

    the Escrow Reserve fund and the World Bank Letter of Credit. This is backstopped, among other interventions, by a sovereign guarantee from the govern-ment.

    The OCTP contractors may also seek Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) insurance in addition to the guarantees provided by GoG and backed by the World Bank and will encumber GoG's International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) allocations in the amount of US$200 million.

    Multi-Party Deed (MPD)

    The MPD is an umbrella Agreement among the State, GNPC, BoG and the OCTP Contactors. The purpose of the MPD is to clarify and streamline the process of payment into the Petroleum Holding Fund (PHF) and from the PHF to GNPC, as GNPC's flow serve primarily as security for the gas payments. The MDP therefore, sets out the timing and process of the payments from downstream purchase of gas, as well as how compliance may be verified by the contractor.

    The Deed defines the respective roles of the various parties to the Agreement in ensuring the uninterruptible flow of funds to pay for gas off-take by GNPC. Under the MPD, for example, the BoG is responsible for ensuring timely payments into the Escrow and Offshore Disburse- ment Account, into which some petroleum funds will be lodged and disbursed under the project.

    Bank on Ghana must also facilitate currency convertibility, approve the sale and purchase of domestic gas in US dollars and guarantee the transferability of funds, all of which are already provided for by law. Failure to comply with this process will be deemed a credit default that would expose GNPC and the State to suspension of OCTP gas supply and/or the liability of

    termination payments.

    Observations

    Urgency of the facility

    The Committee was informed that the approval of the two Deeds which are intended to restore the OCTP Contractor's expected return over the OCTP license period is urgently required. It was explained that the negotiations which started immediately after the approval of the facility in December, 2014 was only concluded on 14th June, 2015.

    And as part of the negotiations, the Government and the OCTP contractor agreed on certain critical milestone events that are expected to be in place by agreed timelines, failing which the State would suffer consequences including increase in the price of gas, or suspension or termination for the project by the contractor. It was further added that termination of the Agreement may also lead to damages to the contractor.

    The expiry date for the Partial Guarantee from the World Bank was indicated as 31st July, 2015. It is therefore important for parliamentary approval to be obtained before the expiry date indicated.

    Justification for the project

    Commenting on the need for the project, the Minister for Finance indicated that gas is of a strategic importance for the long- term transformation of Ghana's economy. The Hon Minister added that the current power crisis the nation is facing presents a host of economic challenges that require an urgent rebalancing of Ghana's energy mix to include the use of domestic gas to improve energy security.

    According to the Hon Minister, with the high costs associated with the use of Light Crude Oil (LCO) for power generation and the unreliability of gas supply from the West African Gas Pipeline, the development and access to long-term cheaper gas feedstock in Ghana would offer immense economic gains to the country and augment Government's efforts to increase Ghana's generation capacity by attracting the necessary investment into the energy sector.

    Ghana's total interest in the project

    Responding to the Committee's concern regarding the total interest of Ghana in the project, an official of the GNPC stated that Ghana stands to get more than 50 per cent of the income that would accrue from the project. He indicated that this would be in the form of revenues from Corporate Taxes, Royalties, Participation and Carried Interest and surface rentals. The estimated benefits to be derived by the State were given as stated below:

    i. Working interest -- participating and carried (20%) -- US$ 5.45 billion

    i i . S t a t e r o y a l t y ( 1 0 % ) -- US$1.74 billion

    i i i . S t a t e i n c o m e t a x e s -- US$3.60 billion

    iv Addi t iona l o i l en t i t l ement -- US$ 325 million

    The Committee was informed that these estimates were based on a long-term average oil price of US$ 90 per barrel and an initial gas price of US$ 9.80 per mmBtu. Gas from the project is estimated to generate a total of 800MW of power from a simple cycle power plant and 1,200MW where combined cycle power plant is used.

    It was further indicated that though the project has a life span of 18 years, there is the potential for more reserves after the lifespan of the project. Cost Control Measures

    On the measure to control possible inflation of cost in respect of the execution of the project the Committee was informed that adequate measures have been put in place to prevent the possible inflation of cost by the operators of the project. Officials from the Ministry of Petroleum informed the Committee that the Offshore Cape Three Point Petroleum Agreement contains explicit provisions that give approval rights to the GNPC as partner which will be duly exercised to keep cost within limits. Additionally, guidelines and regulations governing activities in the upstream petroleum industry issued by the Petroleum Commission will provide further checks on the expenses to be included as part of production/opera- tional costs.

    Payment of Security Arrangements

    The Committee was informed by the Minister for Finance that the payment of the security arrangements have been structured on a waterfall mechanism that places the utilisation of the Sovereign Guarantee as the last resort. The Minister explained that payments will be made first from GNPC's net carried and participating interest out of petroleum revenues generated from the Sankofa Gye Nyame, Tweneboa-Enyenra-Ntomme and Jubilee fields, followed by the Escrow Reserve fund and then the World Bank Letter of Credit.

    The Sovereign Guarantee from the Government will be the last intervention after other interventions have fully been exhausted. The Hon Minister was

    hopeful that with all parties comply with their obligations, the invocation of the Sovereign Guarantee may not be necessary.

    Meeting Payment Obligations by Power Off-taker

    The Committee was informed that to guarantee that GNPC meets its payment obligations to the contractors, there must be an effective collection of tariff along the gas utilisation value chain. To this end there is the need to restructure State institutions involved in the production, transmission and distribution of power. The Minister for Finance indicated that government has instituted measures such as opening of an escrow account into which revenue streams from the project when it becomes operational would be paid into for subsequent payment to the investors. The Minister cited the ongoing reforms at the ECG under the Millennium Compact II and the introduction of prepaid meter system as some of the measures to enhance efficiency in revenue generation.

    Economic and Social Impact

    The Committee was informed that the development of natural gas reserves from the Sankofa and Gye Nyame field will contribute immensely to the energy security of the nation and enhance the economic development of Ghana. The Minister for Petroleum explained that the project partners are expected to invest a total amount of US$7.9 billion in the project over the next three years with oil production starting in August 2017 and that of gas in the first quarter of 2018.

    In the view of the Hon Minister, the Sankofa and Gye Nyame Oil and Gas Project would secure a reliable supply of gas to augment supply from the Jubilee Field for power generation and gas supply from the Sankofa Gas Field alone could satisfy the total Gas requirement of all
    Mr K. T. Hammond 6:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I
    beg to second the Motion.
    Question proposed.
    Minister for Petro leum (Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah) (MP) 6:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion and in doing so, I would want to emphasise the importance of these projects. Mr Speaker, we know the importance of this project is to help address our power
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:40 p.m.
    I will put the Question.
    rose
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:40 p.m.
    Yes, is there a problem? Are you arresting the Motion?
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 6:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am not. But some people are expressing concerns that, for issues about energy, the speed, the level of co-operation is very high. That is what - So, I was wondering.
    They said the speed, the expeditious nature with which the energy people - I mean, they are wondering.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:40 p.m.
    I will take that into account.
    I will speak slowly.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 6:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, have you taken note of that?
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:40 p.m.
    I have taken note of my own speed. I cannot
    speak about anybody's speed.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:40 p.m.
    Let us go back to the speed because today is the last day.
    Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Chief Whip?
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 6:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we may take Resolution numbered 25 on pages 8 and 9 of the Order Paper.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:40 p.m.
    We just did item number 24.
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 6:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we have taken Motion number 24, so, we are taking Resolution numbered 25.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:40 p.m.
    Hon Minister for Finance?
    RESOLUTIONS 6:40 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Seth E.Terkper) 6:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that
    WHEREAS by the provisions of article 181(5) of the Constitution, the terms and conditions of any international business or economic
    transaction to which the Govern- ment of Ghana is a party shall not come into operation unless the said terms and conditions have been laid before Parliament and approved by Parliament by a Resolution supported by the votes of a majority of all Members of Parliament;
    PURSUANT to the provisions of the said article 181(5) of the Constitution, and at the request of the Government of Ghana acting through the Minister responsible for Finance, there has been laid
    THIS HONOURABLE HOUSE 6:40 p.m.

    H E R E B Y R E S O LV E A S 6:40 p.m.

    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:40 p.m.
    Yes, Leadership?
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 6:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we may go back to item number 33, that is the Income Tax Bill, 2015.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:40 p.m.
    Hon Members, is Hon Isaac K. Asiamah present?
    Hon Members, I will recognise Hon I. K. Asiamah.
    As he is speaking, somebody should invite Hon Woyome into the Chamber. This is because I am recognising the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture and the Hon Ranking Member to make a Statement in paying tribute to Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio.
    So, I will start with Hon I. K. Asiamah while Hon Woyome is encouraged to enter the Chamber.
    STATEMENTS 6:40 p.m.

    Mr Isaac K. Asiamah (NPP - Atwima-Mponua) 6:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is tribute in memory of Sir Cecil Jones
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:40 p.m.
    Thank you.
    Hon Woyome?
    Mr Kobena Mensah Woyome(NDC - South Tongu) 6:40 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to make this short
    Statement in honour and in memory of the hero - the departed. Of course, today happens to coincide with his burial.
    The late Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, a former player of the Black Stars, a coach, and a football administrator, was such a fantastic person that in actual fact, if one had the opportunity to work with him, one would have realised that he was such a wonderful person to work with --
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 6:40 p.m.
    Hon Member, could you raise your voice a little?
    Mr Woyome 6:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, today would go down as one of the solemn days in Ghana football as we mourn and bid farewell to Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, an illustrious son of the land, who, not only excelled as a footballer, a coach and an administrator, but who also contributed immensely to the development of football in Ghana and in Africa.
    Mr Speaker, coach Attuquayefio was a captain of Accra Great Olympics and a proud member of the Black Stars team that won the 1965 African Cup of Nations in Tunisia. As Vice President and Deputy Secretary of the Ghana Football Association, he assisted greatly in laying the foundation of the Association. Undoubtedly, Coach Attuquayefio could be described as one of the most successful coaches of our time.
    He coached clubs like Accra Great Olympics, Accra Hearts of Oak, Okwahu United, Ashanti Gold, Liberty Professionals, and Stade d' Abidjan of Ivory Coast, as well as the Benin national team.
    Mr Speaker, he served our national teams so well with great commitment, having coached the Black Starlets to win the Federation Internationale de Football
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Hon Woyome.
    We wi l l not take any fur ther contributions on this matter. But let me also just say that as a youngman, I had the opportunity of witnessing Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefioin action or working several times. In fact, I was in the stadium when Accra Hearts of Oak won the Champions League. I was in the stadium when they won a lot of their Premier Leagues.
    The way he managed to transform players -- one such player was Emmanuel Kuffour, formerly of Abusua Dwarfs, whom he transformed from a defender into an attacker. The discipline, the way he controlled his players, the way he ensured that there was discipline, and indeed -- Hon Members, there is one clip that they show on television quite a lot with Sir Cecil Attuquayefio dashing from the bench and giving direction with gesticulations
    and using his forefingers to touch his head, telling the players that they should use their brains - that they should think.
    Indeed, he was a great man. He was a legend and Ghana would forever be grateful to him.
    I was at the stadium when he used a virtually Hearts of Oak side to hold a star- studded side of Nigeria's Green Eagles. In fact, that match - I think Kano played that match.

    There was one player in addition to him in Hearts of Oak side. He was a great man and it would not be out of place if I respectfully ask all of you, including those in the Gallery, to rise, so that we observe a minute's silence for this legend of Ghana football.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7 p.m.
    May the soul of Sir Cecil Jones Atuquayefio and the soul of all the faithfully departed rest in perfect peace. Amen!!!
    Leadership?
    Mr Agbesi 7 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we were on the Income Tax Bill. So, if we can go back to that.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7 p.m.
    The Income Tax Bill at the Consideration Stage;
    Hon Chairman of the Committee?
    BILLS -- CONSIDERATION 7 p.m.

    STAGE 7 p.m.

  • [Resumption of debate from Column 3756]]
  • Mr James K. Avedzi 7 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, Income Tax Bill-- we were at the Consideration Stage of page 17 of the Order Paper, we have finished with (xxxiv), so the Question is to be put for (xxxiv).
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (32), subparagraph (1), line 1, delete “27(6)” and insert “26(6)”
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7 p.m.
    Basically, we are just re-numbering.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (33), subparagraph (1), line 1, delete “such” and insert “a”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule paragraph 33, subparagraph (33), line 2, delete “or reduced”.
    Mr Speaker, the phrase “or reduced” here, is redundant because of the word “adjusted”. So “adjusted” could be up or down.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7 p.m.
    We understand.
    Thank you.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (35) (2), sub-paragraph (a), line 1, delete “30” and insert “31” and in line 3, delete “35” and insert “34”.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7 p.m.
    Re-
    numbering.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7 p.m.


    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh schedule, paragraph 35(2), subparagraph (b), line 4, delete “35” and insert “34”
    Seventh Schedule - Amendment proposed - Paragraph (35) (2), sub- paragraph (c), line 3, delete “35” and insert “34”.
    Seventh Schedule - Amendment proposed - Paragraph (38), sub- paragraph (2), line 1, delete “37” and insert “39”.
    Seventh Schedule, paragraph (39) (3), subparagraph (d), delete “15” and insert
    “14”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (43), subparagraph (1), line 1, delete “person, referred to as the”.
    “Subject to subsection (2), where a tax debtor…”
    Mr Speaker “a person referred to” is redundant. So, we seek to amend that.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (46), Headnote, before “Receiver” insert “Duties of a”
    The new Headnote would be “Duties of a receiver”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (46), subparagraph (2), lines 1 and 2, delete “in respect of which that person is a receiver”
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition reads 7 p.m.
    “A receiver shall not distribute assets unless the receiver has accounted for the assets to the Commissioner-General”.
    Mr Avedzi 7 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (46), add the following new subparagraph:
    “(3) The executor of an estate of a deceased individual or the legal representative of a person who is incapacitated shall complete and submit any returns required under this Act on behalf of the deceased or incapacitated person with respect to matters occurring prior to the appoint-ment of the executor or legal representative.”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (46) (8), sub-paragraph (e), line 1, after “estate” insert “of”
    It will read: “…the estate of…”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule - paragraph (47), delete.
    Paragraph 47 is redundant because we have already dealt with “Duties of a receiver”.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    Paragraph (47) deals with “Duties of a receiver”. We have already dealt with it. So, it is redundant.
    Hon Member for Wenchi, you agree that I put the Question?
    Prof. Gyan-Baffour 7:10 p.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule - paragraph 50(1), sub-paragraph (b), line 1, after “case” insert “of”
    It read: “…case of…”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 51 (3), subpagraph (b), line 1, delete “22” and insert “21”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (51), subparagraph (4), line 3, delete “may”and insert”shall”.
    Mr Speaker, we want this to be
    mandatory for the agent not to recover the interest from the person subject to withholding tax.We are just changing it to mandatory - changing “may” to “shall”.
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, my Hon Chairman referred to paragraph (51), subparagraph (4) but in the Bill, there is no subparagraph (4). There is subparagraph (1), (2) and (2). So, which one is he referring to?
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    In fact, that is also an amendment, which should have preceded what we just moved, but it was not done. He can move that amendment, then we take it. That we delete the subparagraph (2) and then substitute subparagraph--
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, I will put the Question on the amendment proposed by Hon A. A. Osei.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    Hon A. A. Osei, you do not support your own amendment?
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:10 p.m.
    Yes.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 52, subparagraph (4), line 2, delete “22” and insert “21”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move,
    Seventh Schedule, paragraph 53 (1), subparagraph((b), line 2, delete”matter or thing” and insert “thing or mater”
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    Delete
    “matter or thing” and insert “thing or matter”.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    We are rearranging the position that “thing” should come before “matter” instead of “matter” before “thing”.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    This is not substantial.
    Hon Chairman, is this not a matter that we should refer to the draftspersons? They have their way of drafting. I am not sure, sitting here, whether they say “matter or thing” or “thing or matter”.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the drafts- persons with us before this amendment.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (54), Head- note, delete “and” and insert “or”.
    So, it will read “aiding or abetting” not “aiding and abetting”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (54), lines 2 and 3, delete “57 and 62” and insert “48 and 52”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (55), subparagraph (1), line 2, delete “57 and 62” and insert “48 and 53”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (55), subparagraph (2), line 1, delete “57 and
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.


    62” and insert “48 and 53”.

    Question put and amendment agreed to
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 55, subparagraph (3), line 1, delete “57 and 62” and insert “48 and 52”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (56), Head- note, after “with” and insert “this”.
    The new rendition will read “failure to comply with this Act”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (56) (1), subparagraph (a), line 2, delete “more” and insert “less”.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    What is the new rendition?
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition is:
    “Where the failure results or may result if undetected, in an under- payment of tax in an amount of not less than two hundred penalty points to a fine of not less than two hundred penalty units and not more than four hundred penalty units”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    Hon Chairman, there are about six amendments that are all just paragraph (59). Take all of them.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move,
    Seventh Schedule, paragraph (59) (3)(a), subparagraph (iii), line 2, delete “19” and insert “18”.
    lxii. Seventh Schedule, paragraph 59(3), subparagraph (b), line 2, delete “20” and insert “19”
    lxiii. Seventh Schedule, paragraph 59(3)(e), subparagraph (ii), line 1, delete “42” and insert
    “41”.
    lxiv. Seventh Schedule, paragraph 59 (3), subparagraph (f), line 2, delete “19” and insert “18” and in line 3, delete “43” and insert “42” and further in line 4, delete “42” and insert “41”.
    lxv. Seventh Schedule, paragraph (59) (3), subparagraph (j), line 3, delete “63” and insert “62”.
    7. 20 p.m.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, I will put the Question on the amendments proposed in items advertised as (lxii) to (lxv).
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 60(1), closing phrase after subparagraph (b), line 2, after “units” insert “and not more than two hundred and fifty penalty units” after “penalty units”.
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read 7:10 p.m.
    “commit an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than fifty and not more than two hundred and fifty penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than one year and not more than three years or to both”.
    And you delete the “fine and imprison- ment.”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    Chairman of the Committee, the amendment is carried.
    Take lxvii, lxviii, lxix, lxx and lxxi.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (61), subparagraph (a), line 2, delete “53” and insert “57”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (63), subparagraph (1), line 2, delete “58” and insert “59”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Seventh Schedule para- graph 63, subparagraph (4), line 3, delete “50 to 62” and insert “48 to 60”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Seventh Schedule, para- graph 66, subparagraph (2), line 2, delete “50 to 56” and insert “48 to 54” and in line 5, delete “57 to 63” and insert “55 to 60”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 7:10 p.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, my own is in respect of item number lxx. What I notice is that, usually, when the Hon Chairman of Committee calls for deletion of certain spans, the commensurate insertion is the same number. For instance, when you say “50 to (62) in paragraph 69”, the same finds expression in “48 to 60”. You are talking about 3.
    But in item number lxx, it is from “57 to 63” for instance, the span is seven, then you come to the insertion, it is “55 to 60”. The span is six and I am wondering if he had not missed anything.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, actually, it is not the range that we are looking at. We are looking at the specific clauses that we are referring to.That is why we are correcting them.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 7:10 p.m.
    I appreciate it. I just wanted to know whether the range is correct. If it is correct, then I have nothing against it.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    Hon A. A. Osei?
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to crave your indulgence.
    I think there is one on item (lx), paragraph (2), that is not advertised. It looks like you may have missed that. And (lx),m paragraph 2, instead of paragraph (20), it should be paragraph (9). I have it in my notes.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    Where is that?
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:10 p.m.
    Page 177, paragraph (60), subparagraph 2. It is not advertised

    but it appears that we missed it.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    Is it not advertised?
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:10 p.m.
    It should have been advertised.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    So, let me take what I have, then when I finish , you can -
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (67), subparagraph (2), line 1, delete “52” and insert “50”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph 67, subparagraph (3), line 3, delete “minimum”
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (67), sub- paragraph (7), delete and insert the following:
    “(7) For the purpose of this paragraph, refunds due under this Act shall be paid out of the Ghana Revenue Authority General Refund Account after certification by the Commissioner-General.”
    Mr Speaker, the amendment seeks to correct the rendition as captured in the Bill to make it better. So, the one captured in the Order Paper is replacing the one in the Bill.
    Question put and amendment agreed
    to.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    Hon Akoto Osei?
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if the Hon Chairman of the Committee would advert his mind to paragraph (60), subparagraph (2), on the Bill. It is not advertised. That is why. It should have been advertised.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    Propose the amendment.
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, subparagraph (2), line 1, delete 20 and insert 19.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Seventh Schedule, paragraph (60), subparagraph (2), line 5, delete all the words after “both”.
    Question put and amendment agreed to
    Seventh Schedule as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:10 p.m.
    That brings us to the end of the second Consideration Stage of the Income Tax Bill.
    Hon Majority Leader?
    Mr Bagbin 7:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if we may now look at Order Paper Addendum 1, item number 2, that is to let us complete the Income Tax Bill.
    MOTIONS 7:30 a.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Seth E. Terkper) 7:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 131(1) which require that when a Bill has passed through the Consideration Stage, the Third Reading thereof, shall not be taken until at least, twenty-four hours have elapsed, the Motion for the Third Reading of the Income Tax Bill, 2015, may be moved today.
    Mr Speaker, the reason being that the
    House rises today and has already had a very intense discussion of this Bill.
    Mr James K. Avedzi 7:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I
    beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly
    Mr Bagbin 7:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, Order Paper Addendum, page 2, item number 3.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:30 a.m.
    Item 3; Hon Minister for Finance?
    BILLS - THIRD READING 7:30 a.m.

    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 7:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I do not really have anything against it, except to remind the Chair, that there are some outstanding matters that must be dealt with. He said he was going to do some consultations in order for it to affect what we have done. We are not through with it. So, let him speak to it, whether those consultations have been done in respect to the Income Tax Bill. If it has
    been done, otherwise, we could leave it to - There are some areas that we said we were going to leave to the draftspersons -- the realignment and others.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:30 a.m.
    They have been done.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 7:30 a.m.
    We have no assurance that they have been done. Even this afternoon, in respect of one. But if you can provide assurance that they would do further checks, I have nothing against it subject to that.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:30 a.m.
    I direct that the draftspersons take into account the various amendments dealing with numbering et cetera, to make sure that a good job is done.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 7:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, given the importance of the Income Tax Bill and the haste in which we have conducted business relating to it, I would plead that the Table Office related to both the Committee and those of us who have been working on it, to ensure that the final product is what is intended before its transmission, so that we do not run into problems. There are so many areas that need to be realigned. That is my plea, so that we have a good product.
    Mr Bagbin 7:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I do not disagree with what the Hon Minority Leader has said, but most of what we did are for the draftspersons to clean up the Bill. So, if you could kindly direct that if we might have overlooked any of them, the draftspersons should do the cleaning and then give it to the Winnowing Committee to finalise it. They must capture the decision of the House. But those that are secretarial, printer's devil and the rest, the draftspersons should clear them with your order. They do not need to

    be moved as amendments.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:30 a.m.
    Hon Members, we are treading on very thin ice, in my view.
    Let us have some order.
    I appreciate the comments made by both the Hon Majority Leader and Hon Minority Leader, but I wonder whether I have the power to give such directions because the House, as a whole, has passed this Bill.
    We have gone through the Conside- ration Stage, gone through the various Motions and it has been duly read the Third time. The House is functus officio as far as I am concerned. How can a draftspersons resubmit it to Leadership or anybody to look at it? Where does the person's power derive from?
    We could have gone to second Consideration Stage, but we did not go. So, I do not know how I could make this order. As we went along, we continuously made the order that the draftsperson should take note. I could make the omnibus order that the draftsperson should take note of all the concerns that have been raised, but the draftspersons cannot insert anything. We pass the laws and have the right to make a mistake. I do not know whether the Leadership wants me to make orders after the Third Reading and the passing of the Bill.
    The Bill has been passed and now, the constitutional provisions come into effect. It would go to the President and he could return it.
    Anyway, I make the omnibus direction. This was not a ruling but just a comment. The Income Tax Bill, 2015 has been passed and the draftspersons should take into account the concerns that have been raised and act accordingly.
    Hon Member for Abuakwa North, throughout the Bill, several amendments were proposed, which we sometimes did not think should have been amended. For example, in one of the amendments, they said remove “semicolon” and insert
    Mr Bagbin 7:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, Order PaperAddendum 3, Presentation of Papers.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:40 p.m.
    Which one, please?
    Mr Bagbin 7:40 p.m.
    The issue on the Contingency Fund.That is item number 1 -- Presentation of Papers.
    PAPERS 7:40 p.m.

    Mr Bagbin 7:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Report has been distributed and if we could take item number 2, on the Order Paper Addendum 3.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:40 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
    Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi) 7:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80 (1), which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least, forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of
    the Motion is given, and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Finance Committee on the request for parliamentary approval on proposed emergency expenditure to be charged to the Contingency Fund, may be moved today
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:40 p.m.
    I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly
    Mr Bagbin 7:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, item number 3, at page 2, of Order Paper Addendum 3.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:40 p.m.
    Thank you.
    Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?
    MOTIONS 7:40 p.m.

    Chairman of the Committee (Mr James KlutseAvedzi) 7:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the request for parliamen-tary approval on proposed emergency expenditure to be charged to the Contingency Fund.
    Mr Speaker, in doing so, I present your Committee's Report. Introduction
    The Hon Minster for Finance sub- mitted a request for parliamentary approval on proposed emergency expenditure, to
    be charged to the Contingency Fund to Parliament for consideration and approval. Mr Speaker referred the request to the Finance Committee for consideration and report, in accordance with article 177 (1) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 170 (1) of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana.
    The Committee met with the Minister for Finance, Mr Seth E. Terkper, the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson and officials from the Ministry of Finance and deliberated on the request.
    The Committee is grateful to the Hon Minister and the Deputy Minister and Officials from the Ministry of Finance for attending upon it.
    Reference
    The Committee referred to the following additional documents during its delibera- tions:
    The 1992 Constitution of Ghana
    The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana.
    The Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government for the 2015 financial year
    Mid-year review and of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy and Supplementary Estimates for the 2015 financial year.
    Background
    The request from the Minister of Finance is on the backdrop of the twin disaster that occurred on Wednesday, 3rd June, 2015 and the outbreak of Avian Influenza in some parts of the country. Hon Members would recall that, the flood and fire disaster that effected Accra on Wednesday, 3rd June 2015, claimed over 150 lives and destroyed infrastructure worth millions of Ghana

    cedis. The flooding was mainly as a result of continuous deposit of sand and plastic waste in the Odaw River, and the impact of climate change.

    Again, Ghana reported the re- emergence of the deadly Avian Influenza disease on a farm in the Greater Accra Region on 12th May, 2015. Thereafter, there have been confirmed cases in two other regions, namely Volta and Ashanti.

    The rainy season is still on and the effect of global warming coupled with poor sanitation practices and inadequate sewage infrastructure could result in more floods and the outbreak of cholera and malaria if remedial actions are not taken to forestall their reoccurrence.

    Also, the outbreak of the Avian Flu has already led to the destruction of over 33,143 birds resulting in loss of millions of Ghana cedis to poultry famers. There is the need to contain and prevent the spread of the virus to other farms across the country. However, due to logistical constraints, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture could not control the spread of the virus to other farms and sustain post-disease control surveillance to ensure a total eradication of the disease.

    There is therefore the need to provide additional resources to avert future disaster, and to control the spread of the flu to other parts of the country. Based on the above, it has become necessary for the Government to draw on the Contingency Fund to address these emergencies for which no provisions were made in the 2015 Budget.

    Request by the Ministry

    A total sum of forty million Ghana

    Cedis (GH¢4O,000,000.00) is being requested by the Ministry to be charged on the Contingent Fund to meet these emergencies. The amount is to be expended as follows:

    Observations

    Constitutional requirement

    The Committee noted that, the request is in line with the provisions in article 177 (1) of the 1992 Constitution which states that “There shall be paid into the Contingency Fund moneys voted for the purpose by Parliament and advances may be made from that Fund which are authorised by the committee responsible for financial measures in Parliament whenever that committee is satisfied that there has arisen an urgent or unforeseen need for expenditure for which no other provision exists to meet the need”.

    Replenishment of the Fund

    The Committee noted that, though article 177 (2) of the Constitution provides for the Contingency Fund to be as soon as possible replaced with the amount so advanced from the Fund, no direct provision has been made in the 2015 Supplementary Estimates to replenish the Fund.

    Clarifying the situation, the Minister for Finance agreed to the importance of replenishing the Fund and to allow it to grow. The Hon Minister explained that even though there were no direct allocations in the 2015 Supplementary Estimates aimed at replenishing the Fund, a number of proposals were being considered to ensure the continuous payment into the Fund. He indicated that, the proposed new cap on the Stabilisation Fund was one of the means to ensure continuous flow of resources into the Contingency Fund and the purposes of Sinking Fund.

    Touching on the need to allow the Fund to grow, the Minster indicated that though the Constitution does not allow the Fund to be invested, it would be in the interest of the nation for the Fund to grow. He

    mentioned that, the Fund in real terms has devalued and to minimise this and allow the Fund to grow, the Controller and Accountant-General, the Director of Budget at the Ministry and the Bank of Ghana, have been tasked to come out with a workable investment proposal for the Fund.

    Recommendations by the Committee

    The Committee having regards to the importance and urgent nature of the activities for which the request was made, recommends for the sum of GH¢40,000,000.00 to be disbursed from the Contingency Fund to be expended as follows:

    The Committee further recommends that allocation for the implementation of the Avian Influenza related expenditures be expended as follows:

    Conclusion

    The Committee, after its deliberations of the request, recommends to the House to adopt its Report and approve the sum of forty million Ghana cedis (GH¢40, 000,000.00) to be issued from the Contingency Fund to meet the above- mentioned emergency expenditures as proposed by the Committee in accordance with article 177 (1) of the Constitution and Order 170 (1) of the Standing Orders of the House.

    Respectfully submitted
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I did not hear him speak about anything.
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:40 p.m.
    He has moved item 3.
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:40 p.m.
    I beg to second the Motion, and in so doing, take Hon Members' attention to the first issue. Perhaps, the most critical issue here is the allocation that is going to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture's emergency plan.
    The Flu is with us; if nothing is done, the spread could be fatal. So, I think it is important that we adopt the Report to ensure that we assist the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to continue what they are doing now. We do not know what is happening in all the regions, but we know definitely that in the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Volta Regions , there is some work going on, especially with compensation that needs to be paid.
    Some of us on the Committee are of the opinion that, if farmers know that they are going to be compensated, they are more likely to disclose that they have a problem. But if there are issues with money for compensation, then they are not likely to disclose and we would have a difficulty.
    The budget of GH¢11million, we find a bit alright for now. We are told the Hon Deputy Minister, who is not here, but I think his Hon Colleague is here and he can confirm that the project is in effect -- a two-year project. What do I mean by that? We are told that there is a one -year active surveillance. Is that correct? And there is a second year of passive surveillance. So, we should be looking at this hopefully, as a two-year budget, so that they are not stuck.
    We are also aware that they are in discussion with the donor partners, particularly Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and World Bank. We are informed that some moneys have already been given by the World Bank to pursue this agenda.
    What is informing our decision is also influenced by the fact that, the donors would not disburse quickly until they see the Government's commitment. So, it is crucial that the signal be given to them that a decision has been taken, so that they can
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:40 p.m.


    begin to commit. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I

    urge Hon Members to adopt the Report of the Committee.

    Question proposed.
    Mr Joseph .B. A. Danquah (NPP - Abuakwa North) 7:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, as you look at this Report, the item number 4 -- Waste Management Related Expenditures - GH¢18,000,000.00, and there are no descriptive activities. Just a blanket of GH¢18,000,000.00. What would it be used for? It just says ”Waste Management Related Expenditures.”
    Mr Speaker, how do they present such a Report to the House? How are they going to work on such figures, and there is no description of activities? At least, on the table 2, we can see the description for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. But on the Waste Management Sanitation, it is just a blanket GH¢18,000,000.00.
    Even with the compensation for farmers, we just hope that the Ministry would do proper due diligence, so that the moneys are not wasted. This is because it is very difficult for the House, just to pass a blanket figure of GH¢18,000,000.00 for waste management related expenditures and no expenditure is given. How do you pass and how do you give such a blanket figure?
    Dr Ahmed Y. Alhassan (NDC - Mion) 7:40 p.m.
    Thank you very much Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to lend support to the Report presented by the Finance Committee. And to say that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is extremely grateful to the august House for giving serious
    consideration to the request made to such a serious emergency situation.
    I have to add that it is a regional problem, that is why the FAO is requesting up to US$20 million, to take care of the entire Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region, in fighting this particular dangerous Flu. And I believe that the way Parliament has handled the issue, would arm, encourage and motivate our development partners to look into both the regional issue and the country's specific fight against this Flu.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to say that we would not take this support for granted and we would get ourselves worked up, so that we can approach the issues as seriously as possible, to ensure that it does not travel too far.
    Mr Speaker, in fact , since the discussions started in Parliament, some other observations of the Flu have been made in the field, particularly in the Greater Accra Region. It was mainly those who refused to respond to the Ministry's call to restrict the movement of live birds, to the extent that some of these birds are still being moved. I would like to urge all of us, that as we go to our respective constituencies, we should try to urge poultry farmers and others who are in the poultry chain to restrict the movement of live birds in particular, until such time that clearance would be given after we have really put measures in place to restrict the continuous flow of this bird flu.
    M r s U r s u l a G . E k u f u l (NPP Ablekuma West): Mr Speaker, in paragraph (3), the background for the request, the Report merely indicates that and I beg to read:
    “The flooding was mainly as a result of continuous deposit of sand and plastic waste in the Odaw River and the impact of climate change.”
    Mr Speaker, it goes on in the next paragraph to say 7:40 p.m.
    “The rainy season is still on and the effect of global warming coupled with poor sanitation practices and inadequate sewage infrastructure could result in more floods and the outbreak of cholera.”
    Mr Speaker, it rains every year and we are aware that drains need to be desilted before the rains come. We have sat down for the disaster to strike and have waited until the day when Parliament is rising, to present this request for funds from the Contingent Fund to deal with another blanket provision, for flood disaster related expenditure, which includes relief items, medical treatment for victims, construction and desilting of sewage systems without more.
    No details are provided; no assessment has been given to the House to indicate exactly what investigations have been conducted to know what quantity of drains, what number of victims, the
    amount which is going to be expended on the relief items, and medical treatment, without more -

    Mr Speaker, the point I am making is that, sometimes, it is wise to make haste slowly, make the necessary enquiries and seek the proper background information, which would enable us to do a thorough work, which would inure to generating much more confidence in the electorate in the exercise of our duty of oversight.

    Mr Speaker, we are not just here to rubberstamp whatever is put before us without -- I say that this Report has just been distributed. We have just read it and we are required to pass this before we rise.
    SPACE FOR TABLE - PAGE 7:40 p.m.

    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 7:40 p.m.
    I do not know whether I should take the Hon Majority Leader first or the Hon Minority Leader before the Hon Minister, because the only people from both sides are the Leaders. It must go from one side to the other side.
    Hon Majority Leader, is there anybody on your side to contribute apart from you?
    Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin 7:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I wanted to share information on the issue that has been raised. It is true that as a House, we should be given enough time to go through some of these issues. But we all recognised that, it is an emergency and we discussed [Interruption]
    Mr Speaker, I am not the one who said it. The House discussed the issues and agreed that it was an emergency -- the Avian Flu and the flood -- and referred it to the Committee on Finance. The Committee on Finance was given enough information but truly, they have not captured it here. I said I agree with the point the Hon Member raised and I would want to add that information. Even when we look at the Report, on page 3, we would see that the request for the waste management related expenditure is GH¢27,000,000.00 and the Committee did not accept it.
    The reason they gave for requesting for the GH¢27,000,000.00 was same to that of the Odaw River I should say, the Odaw drain. The river is dead now and so, it is left with the drain. They thought
    that, that amount was on the high side, and from the discussion, it was reduced to the GH¢18,000,000.00. So, all these information is not captured here. It is not that they are just accepting it as a rubber- stamp. No! That is not the issue. I think they delved into it but did not share that information with us in this Report. It is quite scanty, and that is
    SPACE FOR TABLE 1 - PAG-
    ES 4&5 - 7.40P.M.
    the reason they are objecting to it.
    Dr A. A. Osei 7:40 p.m.
    On a point of information.
    Mr Speaker, just further information.
    SPACE FOR TABLE 2 - PAG-
    ES 7&8 - 7.40P.M.
    This House was given a request by the Committee on Food and Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs a week and a half ago and this is why that has more information. The letter addressed to the Clerk to Parliament is dated 23rdJuly, 2015 that was yesterday. So, the Committee met the Ministry just today.
    Mr Speaker, the Ministry had earlier informed us that, the Executive had announced a GH¢50,000,000.00 emergency package for this disaster. In our view, from what we got yesterday, items 1 and 4 are almost the same. In
    Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto (NPP - Kwadaso) 8 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I find it unfortunate that the Committee on Finance would lump together a biological time bomb waiting to explode, which is the Avian Flu, with the disaster which has come and gone and destroyed 150 of our citizens and it is more preventative. I mean what is being proposed here is to prevent a repeat of the disaster, which we just saw with the loss of huge lives.
    The Avian Flu issue has not been here for ten days, it has been here for more than three weeks. The Chairman of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs actually made a statement based on the information from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture about the incident of this flu, which is the second time in the history of this country that it has happened. The first time the Avian influenza happened was in 2007 and it took the intervention of the international community to assist the Government of Ghana to control it in a matter of nearly two years.
    It has reared its head again in the West African region. Everybody is doing something about it -- Nigeria, la Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali and other countries are seriously working on it. Ghana is sitting, folding her arms waiting for money to fall from heaven in order to deal with this threat.
    Mr Speaker, it is a threat, in the sense that it is not only birds that are being affected but it could be transferred to humans because it is a virus. We are the only country, so far in this region, waiting for money and resources to be able to go out. Veterinarians do not even have gloves or boots to even touch the affected birds neither do they have motor bicycles and cars to even visit farms.
    So, this emergency is a true one and lumping that request together with a disaster which has happened, is what is endangering the facilitation of the disbursement in order to start work on its control. I agree with my Hon Colleagues on the fact that there is a waste management related expenses to the tune of GH¢27 million and all that.
    So, I would have wished that the Committee on Finance would have dealt with these two issues separately with two separate reports, so that we do not get entangled into all this argument about having to go and find more information.
    The Ministry provided very compre- hensive information - the budget and the activities required to control and eliminate this threat of the bird flu. So, there is no any additional information required. The Committee worked for three days including a Monday, which is not a Sitting day for us and have come out with specific recommendations.
    So Mr Speaker, there is an urgency for
    this House to approve the GH¢11 million required to control the Avian Influenza. I would suggest that while we are arguing about preventing another flood and fire in the Odaw drain, that immediately today, whatever it takes, we approve the GH¢11 million required by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to start work in controlling this potential disaster which is rearing it head in Ghana.
    Mr Speaker, on that note, I would support -
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 8 p.m.
    Hon
    Members, the debate cannot go on ad infinitum. I have been advised by the Hon Minority Leader that I should recognise Hon Quaittoo and after him, I will recognise the Hon Majority Leader and then Hon Minority Leader and then the Hon Minister.
    Thank you.
    Mr William Agyapong Quaittoo (NPP - Akim Oda) 8 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am only disappointed in the budget that was given on page 3, in the sense that when we raised the issue on Avian Influenza in this House through the Chairman of the Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Committee, we sat for three days and we had all the information, just like the last Hon Member who spoke just said, and we came into this Chamber with the total budget that we needed.
    Many people made comments about the fact that we were taking advantage or maybe, the Ministry wanted to take advantage of the fact that there is a disaster to go and purchase cars.
    The media picked it up. I think that it is the same thing that the Ministry of Finance is trying to do here. Who knows about any sanitation related problems? What is happening to the huge amount of moneys
    Mr Alfred K. Agbesi (NDC-- Ashaiman) 8 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, this Report was premised on the fact that there is an emergency situation which has arisen in this country. Whether it is flooding or an influenza, it is an emergency. Nobody here can say that under these circumstances, no emergency provisions should be made.
    Minority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 8 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to also add my voice to that.
    Mr Speaker, indeed, we all recognise that we are in an emergency situation but it is unfortunate that the Minister responsible for Finance is not in the Chamber.
    Mr Speaker, because I want to raise - [Interruption] - Oh, he is here.

    Federick Opare-Ansah -- rose --
    Mr Second Deputy Speaker 8:10 p.m.
    Hon Member for Suhum, do you have a point of order?
    Mr Opare-Ansah 8:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order, which is in line with the procedure being adopted in this particular instance. I believe this is the first time the House is confronted with making appropriation out of the Contingency Fund, and the Constitution is very clear on the procedure to adopt.
    In article 177 (1), it requires that the amount - with your kind permission, let me quote,
    “(1) There shall be paid into the Contingency Fund moneys voted for the purpose by Parliament; and advances may be made from that Fund which are authorised by the committee responsible for financial measures in Parliament whenever that committee is satisfied that there has arisen an urgent or unforeseen need for expenditure for which no other provision exists to meet the need.
    (2) Where an advance is made from the Contingency Fund a supple- mentary estimate shall be presented as soon as possible to Parliament for the purpose of replacing the amount so advanced.”
    Mr Speaker, what this means and the practicality of it is that, a situation could arise in this country where funds are needed so urgently that it is not even practically possible to assemble the whole House at plenary to consider the application. So, the Committee on Finance has the competence in this particular regard to authorise the advances, and come back to this House to report its activity.
    We cannot reject it because it is a constitutional provision. Indeed, if you go through the Constitution, this is the
    only time that a committee of Parliament is so authorised to act outside of the remit or reference to plenary. It does not exist anywhere else in the Constitution and it is clear that it is for a special purpose.
    So, Mr Speaker, since this is the first time we are doing it, I think it is right and proper for us to do the right thing, so that we do not set the wrong precedent. If we go through this process, in future, whe