Debates of 25 Feb 2016

PRAYERS 10:10 a.m.

Mr Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon Members, may I invite the Hon Majority Leader and the Hon Minority Leader to join me to receive His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana at the Central Lobby.
Mr Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon Members, the House is privileged to have the presence of His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces in the House. [Hear! Hear!]
His Excellency the President is here in accordance with article 67 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, to deliver a Message on the State of the Nation in this Honourable House.
On behalf of Leadership and Hon Members of this august House, it is my privilege and singular honour to welcome His Excellency the President of the Republic to the House to deliver his Message.

-- 10:10 a.m.

Mr. Speaker, in the Brong Ahafo Region the following roads are under construction 10:10 a.m.
Nsawkaw -Namase section of the Wenchi -Sampa road
Berekum - Sampa
Atebubu - Kwame Danso - Kwadwokrom;
Gaoso - Kukuom Junction
Prang - Kintampo
Dormaa Ahenkro -Nkrankwanta Roads are under construction.
Mr Speaker, if you remember, this is the road that has been there from “titi”. It is being engineered.
Mr. Speaker, in the Brong Ahafo Region the following roads are under construction 10:10 a.m.
Tuobodom - Offuman - Wenchi.
This is a very important road because, if you are coming from Techiman/ Kintampo and you want to go to Wenchi, instead of coming to Techiman and going this way, you go through Offuman. At Tuobodom you turn to Offuman and you come out at Wenchi. We are doing the road.

Work is also ongoing on the Gambia No. 2 - Kyeremasu. Former President Rawlings did it to a certain point and when he left office, it stayed there till now.

Tepa Junction - Goaso

Kofibadukrom Junction - Kofibadukrom

Dormaa Ahenkro - Nkrankwanta

Dormaa - Nkrankwanta

Atebubu Kwame Danso - Kojokrom

Bechem - Techimentia - Akomadan

Nkroanza -Jema

Yamfo - Asuadei - Ansin

Asumura —Tipokrom

Akrodie — Kanchiamoa.

The following are also on course:

Dadiesoaba - Twabidi

Dormaa - Ahenkro - Baabianiha

Asuadei Junction - Asuadei

Antwirifo - Danyame Feeder Roads

Sunyani town roads

At Sunyani, we are doing the outer ring road to ease congestion in Sunyani town:

Techiman town roads

Nkoranza Goaso town roads

Dorma Ahenkro town roads

Kade town roads.

Northern Region

Mr Speaker, as for this road, I can testify myself because when my father was a school boy, he used to walk from Bole to Tamale to go to school and that road from colonial time was never engineered.

Mr Speaker, last year, I inaugurated commissioned this road. It was a very beautiful road. [Hear! Hear!] It was financed by the African Development Bank. It was successful inaugurated after completion last year. Significant progress has been made on the Buipe-Tamale road and work has started on the Busunu- Daboya road.

The following roads are at various stages of completion:

D a b o ya - M a n k a r i g u - Wi a s e including the Oti Damanko-Bimbila- Yendi road

Yendi - Nakpanduri on the eastern corridor

Nyankpala - Tolon

Tamale- Salaga - Makango (Awarded)

Chereponi - Yendi

Busunu - Daboya

Yendi - Tamale

Tamale - Kumbungu

Tamale - Karaga - Gushegu (Awarded).

Over the last two years, 30 kilometres of roads have been rehabilitated in the Tamale Municipality with work on another 25 kilometre underway.

Roads in Yendi, Savelugu, Damongo and Bole have also been worked on. We are also in negotiation for funding for the construction of a bridge over the White Volta between Daboya and Tolon. This will allow easy access from Tamale straight to Daboya onto the Sawla-Fufulso road.

Upper East

Mr. Speaker, in the Upper East Region, the following have either been completed or are on going:

10 kilometres of roads in the Bolgatanga Municipality --

Navrongo and Bawku town

Navrongo - Tumu

Bolgatanga - Bongo

Wikongo - Tongo

Navrongo - Tono

Mr Speaker, Queiroz Galvo Construction Company was working on the Tamale Airport. They have

substantially finished the work at the Airport. So, we have asked them to demobilise part of their construction gang to the Bolgatanga-Bawku Road.

I am sure Hon Ayanga and all Members of Parliament from that corridor and everybody will be happy about this.

Bolgatanga- Bawku

Misiga - Kulungugu

Sandema - Wiesi.

Upper West Region

Mr. Speaker, seven kilometres of town roads have been completed in the Wa Municipality. The Wa campus of the University for Development Studies has also seen improvements in the road network.

Other road works in the region include:

Tumu roads,

Nadowli - Lawra -Hamile,

Wa - Bulenga, and


Construction of steel bridges on the

Yala - Sombisi,

Tantale - Tuvuu,

Tuvuu - Lzabisi,

Wa - Walewale,

Jeffisi - Gwolu, and


Mr. Speaker, many of these roads have been in a bad state for many years. There are a good number of roads crying for
Mr. Speaker, in the Brong Ahafo Region the following roads are under construction 10:10 a.m.
attention. It is not practically possible for us to commence work on all roads in Ghana at once. I urge Ghanaians to exercise patience. As we have finished with these roads, we will commence work on other equally important ones.
As a result of directives I gave to the Roads and Highways Ministry to ensure that projects to be financed from Government of Ghana's budget are awarded to local contractors, I am proud to announce that roughly 95 per cent of contractors working on GoG awarded roads and the Cocoa Roads Improvement Programme are Ghanaians. [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, one of such young Ghanaian contractors is Mr Emmanuel Aboagye.
Mr Aboagye is at the back there and this is very interesting. He represents a new crop of young and dynamic road contractors. His firm MMNAB Company Limited employs 73 people and he is working on the Bekwai town roads under the COCOBOD Roads Improvement Programme.
Mr. Speaker, he started his construction company in 2009 and he is only 32 years old. He graduated from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Engineering and then he also did Petroleum Engineering.
The interesting thing is that he is a youth member of the NPP and he was a Polling Station Chairman for NPP. [Uproar] This is the Government that opens up the opportunities of this country to everybody without political prejudice.
Mr Speaker, let me say, I cut the sod for the Ashanti segment of the Cocoa town road in New Edubiasi and Bekwai; and the site where we cut the sod for the

Mr Speaker, Ghanaian contractors can do well as foreign contractors and I will make sure that we raise indigenous Ghanaian construction firms that would not only do roads in Ghana but in future, will also go to other countries and construct roads for them.

Through this massive road construction effort, we are creating thousands of jobs for our youth who have been engaged by the local contractors working on these roads. It also means the profit earned from these public works is retained and invested in this country.

I do not know how many of you know Swedru Contractors who did the Accra Nsawam road. He had an asphalt plant and since then no Ghanaian had owned an asphalt plant. Only 6 foreign companies had asphalt plants. Under our watch, 22 Ghanaian companies have acquired asphalt plants and are carrying out asphalt works in the country.

In order to address the perennial problem of debts owed to contractors, a portion of the Energy Sector Levy, which you so graciously passed, will be used to defray about GH¢323 million owed them by the Road Fund. This will also enable the Road Fund amortise another GH¢300 million, borrowed from SSNIT in 2008 and 2010, to support its activities.

Additionally, it will enable the Road Fund to scale up road maintenance and repairs to ensure longer lifespans for our roads.

Mr Speaker, the massive investment we are making in road construction is making life easier for our people. It is facilitating movement of people as well as goods and services. It is boosting economic activities and giving motorists greater options while cutting down travel time significantly.

Today, it is not unusual to go to bed having driven on a bad road only to wake up to find that the road has been re- asphalted and covered with beautiful road markings.[Hear! Hear!] Many have also left for work in the morning driving on poor roads only to return in the evening to find their roads re-done beautifully.

The savings for motorists in terms of money that would have been used to fix broken-down vehicles due to bad roads cannot be underestimated. The savings for commercial drivers who can now ply certain roads multiple times because they can move quicker and more easily on the smooth roads, can also not be underestimated.

Ask Mohammed Hissan who has been driving since 2004 and plies the Wa toTamale route. He drives Mercedes Benz Sprinter bus. Before the completion of the Sawla-Fufulso road, Mohammed says he and other drivers spent between 8 and 9 hours travelling from Wa to Tamale. With the road completed now, an excited Mohammed says they now spend a maximum of 4 and a half hours doing the same journey and that now, travelling across the two regional capitals is much safer. Mr Speaker, his bus is subject to less maintenance.

Ghana has the most extensive engineered roads in West Africa. I intend by the time I leave office in 2021, Ghana should be among countries with the best road networks in Africa.

Let me appeal to drivers to strictly observe road safety regulations to save lives and halt the carnage on our roads. It was heart wrenching to see the severe injuries sustained by the survivors of the Metro Mass Transit bus accident, many of them children.

I wish to salute the doctors and staff, especially of the Kintampo Hospital, who, on that day, were overwhelmed and the other health facilities which helped to save the lives of the survivors.

Mr Speaker, pedestrian and passenger- related fatalities account for nearly 63 per cent of all road traffic related deaths. The National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) is strengthening the “Speak Up” passenger campaign launched in 2015, and putting in place a new campaign on pedestrian safety.

It is implementing a plan to construct and install 968-lollipop crossing stands at strategic locations, to aid the use of the roads, especially by children and vulnerable adults.

We will continue to support the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD) with logistics, such as speed radar guns and alcohol meters in order that they can keep our road safe.

Mr. Speaker, as part of its mandate of promoting good driving standards and the use of roadworthy vehicles on our roads, the Driver Vehicles and Licensing Authority (DVLA) automated 15 of its offices to improve the delivery of service to the public.

The Authority is in the process of digitising vehicle records to pave way for other stakeholders, such as the MTTD and insurance companies, to have real time access to vehicle records.
Mr. Speaker, in the Brong Ahafo Region the following roads are under construction 10:10 a.m.

Transport -- Mr Speaker, we have chalked major successes in our drive to aggressively modernise and expand our transportation system. Today, Ghanaians and foreigners alike travelling through Kotoka International Airport's Terminal II arrival lounge transit through a beautifully refurbished arrival hall that meets all international standards. The new arrival hall gives travellers a most favourable impression of our country.

Work is currently ongoing on an ultra- modern international terminal building to be known as Terminal 3. It is designed to accommodate 5 million passengers a year and process 1,250 passengers an hour. It will have six boarding bridges when I talked of boarding bridges -- I mean air bridges. One would no longer get down and walk in a bus and be driven to a stairs and climb upstairs.

One might walk through modern air bridges straight to the plane and I am sure my friend on the other side would appreciate that. It will also have a large retail area and three main business lounges, among others.

The Turkish construction company has taken possession of the site and has already started working feverishly. I will have the honour to be joined on the 1st of March 2016, by the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to cut the sod for official commencement of work on this monumental project. This project will surely make Ghana the preferred hub for transit passengers in West Africa.

I am pleased to note that this project is being financed by credit raised by the Ghana Airport Company Limited on its own balance sheet with no sovereign guarantee or charge to the public debt

stock. This is in line with our new public debt management strategy that compels public companies to borrow using their own financial muscles.

To further enhance the operations of the airport and cater for the needs of importers and exporters, construction of a new state-of-the-art Import, Export and Transit Cargo Centre Office Complex and Aircraft Ramp Handling Operation is almost complete.

The Centre will be equipped with the latest cargo handling equipment, including automated storage and retrieval systems accommodating 2,800 pallet positions, mini­shipment tower, cold stores, bullion stores, x-ray scanners and the highest level of security controls and CCTV monitoring for safety and security of goods and counter-narcotics purposes.

Mr Speaker,work is progressing steadily on converting the Kumasi and Tamale Airports into international airports. Last year, work was completed on the first phase of the Kumasi International Airport that involved resurfacing the runway, installing runway lights and then installing an instrument landing system.

Mr Speaker, it has eased air travel to Kumasi and many of my colleagues and friends here are very happy about being able to catch the last flight.

As I said last year, to be able to get home on time to meet the fufu still not -- [Laughter] -- Hon Matthew O. Prempeh (Napo) uses that flight a lot.

Work on the Tamale International Airport will also be completed soon. These will inject greater flexibility into air travel and two airports will become growth poles around, which the economy of the middle and northern parts of our country will revolve.

Work will also be completed on the Aerodrome at Ho to give Ghanaians more air travel options. They prefer to call it Ho Airport. The procurement process for the temporary terminal to allow commercial flights to commence operations into Wa is underway.

So for the Upper West Members of Parliament, procurement has started for the constitution of a company terminal to allow the airstrip to accept commercial flights into Wa. There is a land that has been identified for an airport that we shall construct later.

Mr Speaker, in the Maritime sector, the expansion works on both Tema and Takoradi Harbours are moving steadily. The Phase I expansion works in Takoradi are expected to be completed in May this year. The expansion of these two ports will create approximately 10,000 new jobs for our people.

The following projects are also ongoing at the Tema Port:

The Bulk Cargo Handling Jetty project which will provide a jetty for the off-loading of bulk cargo- clinker, cement and related products to free the other berths for other commercial cargo vessels to reduce waiting time of vessels.

The development of four (4) container terminals at the port, including an access road from the port to the motor way and the expansion of the Accra-Tema motor-way from four (4) to six (6) lanes.

The reconstruction of the Net- Mending Wharf at the Tema Fishing Harbour to support the artisanal fishing industry and to enhance environmentally safe fish handling.

An even bigger expansion project aimed at increasing the size of the Tema Harbour to four times its current size, to respond to increasing container volumes will begin shortly.

The US$1.5 billion project will be the largest private sector investment in the transport sector in recent years; and will result in the provision of a modern harbour with state of the art equipment that is able to take on increasing trade which is vital for economic development. I must add that this financing is done by Meridian Port Services (MPS).

Mr Speaker, the Ghana Urban Transport Project which is being implemented by the Ministry of Transport in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development is expected to provide scheduled passenger services along some designated routes within the Accra metropolis.

Private sector transport operators will own and manage the buses for these routes. Government is assisting them to procure buses for the Bus Rapid Transit System to improve on its service delivery.

Dedicated bus lanes are being constructed. The first one from Amasaman to the Central Business District has been completed. This is a lane that will be used only by buses to ensure the provision of regular and efficient mass transit services for passengers and also reduce congestion.

ICT and Telecommunications -- Mr Speaker, from the mid 1990's when we began the ICT revolution, Ghana has attained an enviable mobile and fixed telephony subscription record of 33,099,514 as at August 2015, as compared to 11million in 2008. Mobile and fixed Internet subscribers have also reached

Mr. Speaker, in the Brong Ahafo Region the following roads are under construction 10:10 a.m.

Last year, we established the National Emergency Response Number - 112, which allows callers in distress to access any of the emergency services. It proved extremely useful during the period of the June 3rd Fire and Flood Disaster. We have also established the Government Online Portal - the Services portal to provide Government services online.

This means, we are almost at the point of conducting paperless Cabinet sessions and other paperless transactions. Indeed, at our last Cabinet sitting, I indicated that I would soon give a deadline when hard copy Cabinet files would no longer be tolerated. Very soon, distinguished members of the House will also be conducting paperless parliamentary sessions. [Interruption.] Oh! you started? Thank you. Mr Speaker, it is good.

Mr Speaker, with expansion in mobile and fixed broadband including 4G LTE, the recently auctioned 800MHZ spectrum, the establishment of the National Data Centre among others, Ghana's digital economy has been strategically positioned to blossom. We are witnessing more software being developed locally by the youth.

Cash is finding its way gradually into the electronic realm through mobile money and other initiatives. More and more digital jobs are being created with every click of the button. This is why we continue to train more girls in ICT to ensure digital inclusion. Last year for the pilot programme, we trained about 900 girls in the Volta Region in ICT. This year 1,000 more will be trained in other parts of the nation.

Mr Speaker, a growing telecommunications industry requires a dynamic regulatory framework, which ensures customer

satisfaction, good return on investment and adequate participation of the private sector.

To this end, in August 2014, Cabinet approved four policies to establish:

the Mobile Virtual Network Operating Licence

the Interconnect Clearing House Licence

the International Wholesale Carrier Licence; and

the Unified Telecom License.

Transparent and Accountable Gover- nance -- Mr. Speaker, the canker of corruption and its negative impact on development is well known. It continues to pose a big threat to every society, in both developed and developing nations. While the canker spares no country, its effects are felt more in developing and the poor countries, as it exacerbates poverty and hinder development. It eats into the moral fabric of society and undermines the foundations of democracy and good governance.

Corruption is a disease, which when left unchecked can choke and kill a nation. It is an enemy of progress and development and a threat to peace and security. It is therefore an obligation on all of us to mobilise our efforts in the fight to eradicate corruption.

Mr Speaker, we have tackled corruption with determination and fortitude, in an effort to stamp out systematic indiscipline in the fabric of public and social service. We have refuse to bury our heads in the sand like the ostr ich or to adopt a defensive posture. The indifference of the past has given way to a refreshing blast

of sunlight, a proven potent and enduring disinfectant for the canker. This firm position and commitment has heightened public hope and confidence that the fight against corruption is winnable.

Mr Speaker, we decided in 2009 that a ten-year action plan that addresses corruption in a more strategic, scientific and sustainable manner is the right way to go and that the plan should be integrated into national development planning.

The nation was unanimous in support of the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACAP). This is partly why the nation was united, through our honourable representatives in Parliament, in adopting the NACAP.

Following its adoption, I have commissioned the High Level Imple- mentation Committee, as one of the structures to facilitate implementation of the plan.

The Committee is responsible for providing strategic policy direction and advice to implementing bodies, and assisting CHRAJ and the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), in monitoring and coordinating the implementation of NACAP. The Committee consists of representatives from key state institutions, the Private Sector and Civil Society Organisations.

Mr Speaker, the ‘progress report' presented by the Ag. Commissioner of CHRAJ reveals that significant progress has been made in the first year of the implementation of NACAP despite some challenges. Government is determined to play its role under NACAP and will sanction heads of institutions that do not comply with the directives on the implementation of NACAP.

Mr Speaker, the country is doing its best to combat money laundering and Terrorist financing after establishing the required legislative framework. Three (3) successful convictions involving money laundering have been secured, following continuous analysis of intelligence of over 200 Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs).

In the case involving ghost names on the payroll of the National Service Scheme (NSS), the Attorney General has commenced the prosecution of a number of persons. Thirty-five (35) officials including a former Executive Director and his Deputy have been arraigned before court and four have already been convicted. 130 others are being processed for court. 163 Other officers, some of whose careers in the Scheme span several Governments, and were neck deep in the fraudulent enterprise have been dismissed.

Following the passage of the Youth Employment Agency Act, Act 887 of, 2015, we have taken measures to install strong systems to ensure probity, transparency and accountability in that agency's work. Measures are being taken to ensure that transactions take place on electronic payment platforms.

I have no doubt that these measures will strengthen the systems and procedures in the Agency to avoid a recurrence of the challenges its predecessor encountered. In the meantime, over fifty million Ghana Cedis has been recovered from the Agency's debtors.

Mr Speaker, I share the sentiments and, sometimes, the impatience of the public concerning the pace at which some of the investigations are proceeding, but our commitment to constitutional governance
Mr. Speaker, in the Brong Ahafo Region the following roads are under construction 10:10 a.m.
and the rights of persons, enjoin us to be patient with the judicial processes.
As I said last month, “we cannot be adherents of constitutional democracy, and be admirers of arbitrary justice”. I wish to emphasise the commitment of my administration to expose and take action on allegations of corruption that are brought to our attention.
Mr. Speaker, the new Board and Management of the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) have comprehensively addressed the concerns raised in the 2013 audit report regarding the use of resources. The financial accounts of SADA from 2012 to date have been audited, and the 2014 accounts will be published as part of SADA's annual report.
A comprehensive report on the audit, including recommendations to address financial malpractices, is ready and will be published in due course. In addition, an external independent body has conducted a comprehensive institutional assessment of SADA and steps outlined to strengthen the institution's performance and accountability.
Last year, following concerns about the re-spraying and branding of 116 Metro Mass Transit buses, the Chief of Staff promptly asked the Attorney General to look into the matter. The Attorney-General (AG) concluded that if proper procedures had been followed the State would have saved about GH¢1.5 million.
The Chief of Staff subsequently directed the A-G to pursue the recovery of the excess amount. The contractor, following meetings with the A-G and without prejudice to their legal rights, agreed to refund the amount in three installments by the end of next month.

Mr Speaker, as you would recall, ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, conducted some underground investigations and presented my office with a petition accusing some judges and other judicial officers of corruption. As required by the Constitution, I referred the petition to the Chief Justice for investigation. On the recommendation of the inquiring panel, I approved the dismissal of 23 judges from the bench.

Mr. Speaker, in this fight against corruption, there is a need for us to combine law enforcement with an approach that also emphasises national integrity as an important component of NACAP. In connection with this, I take note of the role assigned to the Office of President to institute a National Integrity Awards Programme to motivate honest people in the country.

I am determined to have the awards programme established within the time frame prescribed by the NACAP. The criteria to be developed for this important programme will be transparent and participatory. I urge you all to take interest in it and at the appropriate time, submit proposals to assist us institute the scheme.

Mr. Speaker, we are working tirelessly to encourage citizens to report corruption without fear of victimisation. Here again, the Anas' expose, and the debate surrounding it, suggests that though there is a favourable and enabling environment for investigative journalism to thrive, robust measures to further strengthen mechanisms for safe reporting of corruption and crime are needed.

Let me take this opportunity to inform you that 10 persons have been convicted in relation to Anas' expose on smuggling of cocoa, while two were acquitted by the court. The Attorney General and other relevant stakeholders are working together to bring the Witness Protection Bill to Parliament soon, for consideration.

I also urge Parliament to expedite work on the Conduct of Public Officers Bill, which is currently in Parliament and also the Right to Information Bill, which is also still in Parliament.

Indeed, I think the Right to Information Bill by the time it is passed, will go down in the history of this country as the longest bill ever under Parliamentary considera- tion.

The Whistleblower (Amendment) Bill, which is already before Parliament, I am told, will be passed soon.The anti- corruption and law enforcement agencies have meanwhile begun discussions on how to coordinate their activities in a manner that facilitates effective investigations and prosecution of corruption and crime.

I am happy to announce that the first in a series of Citizens Complain Centres that I announced has been set up here in the national capital. The Centre is located in Room 209 on the 2nd floor of the Public Services Commission Building in the Ministries Area. In addition to walk-ins, the Centre receives and processes voice complaints using hotlines and via its website,

The Citizens Complaint Unit will collate data and will produce quarterly reports based on the type, nature and sources of complaints received. The report will also include recommended action, resolution of

complaints as well as trend analysis. It is expected that reports by the Unit will help promote the fight against corruption as well as improve service delivery in the public sector. If it proves successful, the Citizens Complaint Unit will be replicated in all the regional capitals. District Assemblies are also encouraged to establish their own units in their district capitals.

Mr. Speaker, the Sole Commissioner on Judgment Debts concluded his work and presented his report. Since then a White Paper has been published for implementation. The Sole Commissioner's report reveals the weaknesses in our systems and also shows how some persons in collusion with public officers deliberately fleeced Government of hundreds of billions of Ghana cedis and in some cases US dollars.

Even before the presentation of the report, the Attorney-General upon my directive, commenced a robust defence of several cases of judgment debts. This action has paid off with massive savings recorded. In 2015 alone, the Attorney- General as a result of defending judgement debt cases saved as much as US$900 million in claims against the State.

These were successfully and effectively defended both locally and internationally. In domestic cases, last year alone, the Attorney General's Department successfully resisted claims of over US$100 million in our courts.

Our greatest success in the fight against corruption must be based on preventing it. We must speed up the use of technology to remove much of human discretion in our public service transactions. We must move from a cash- based society into a cashless one where transactions are handled using electronic settlement platforms rather than lugging
Mr. Speaker, in the Brong Ahafo Region the following roads are under construction 10:10 a.m.
huge amounts of cash about. I have discussed with the Governor of the Bank of Ghana and asked for a road map to achieve this target by the year 2020.

Mr Speaker, this is a Pandora box my government has opened and we are determined never to shut it. -- [Hear! Hear!] This is a risk my government has accepted to take and a challenge we are willing to confront.

I wish to strongly restate the political will of my Government, working with you Hon Memebers with our internal and

external partners, in the fight against corruption.

Legislature and Judiciary -- Mr Speaker, good governance and the fight against corruption rest not only on the Executive and the general public, but also the Legislature and the Judiciary. In the course of their duties, the second and third arms of Government are called upon to perform tasks that will advance the frontiers of democratic practice in our nation.

The Chief Justice and her team have worked hard to try to restore the image of the institution. We will work with her to ensure that we implement any other structural, institutional or human reforms required to make the Judiciary an institution Ghanaians can be proud of.

Mr Speaker, the provision of adequate security to Parliament and Hon Members is of utmost priority to Government.

The recent murder of our Hon Colleague raises again the discussion in respect of what the suitable accommodation for an MP should be -- concentrated or scattered?

Concentrated accommodation in, say, a Parliamentary village ensures better protection and security. Scattered is more difficult to secure.

Mr Speaker, I know Parliament is working with the security agencies to identify where MPs' live across the city so that increased police patrols can ensure and guarantee their security.

With respect to the security of the precincts of Parliament, I have authorised the release of the Western Gate Security Post of the State House to Parliament for use as a Police Station. The facility has been refurbished with modern policing equipment and is ready for use.

We have also installed a Digital Surveillance System with over 400 CCTV cameras and it is currently being manned by a detachment from the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service.

I encourage the Leadership of Parliament to liaise with the Security Agencies to fashion out appropriate arrangements to ensure the safety of members of this august House.

Enhancing Rule of Law and Justice -- Mr. Speaker, with the challenge to the constitutionality of the constitutional review procedure dismissed by the Supreme Court, we will work to ensure that the constitutional review process is brought back on track and that the Constitution Review Implementation Committee is able to proceed with its mandate.

With the commissioning of both “Job 600” and the Courts Complex, we can all rest assured that all the three arms of

Let us always remember however that, “to whom much is given, much is expected”. Our people expect much from us. My understanding also is that, this year we will design and start construction of a new block to cater for the extra 23 Members of Parliament who cannot be accommodated in the tower block complex.

Mr Speaker, the late President John Evans Atta Mills is our first and only President to have died in office. It is important that fitting memorials are established in his honour. The Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) has established the John Evans Atta Mills Centre for Law and Governance. This year, the John Evans Atta Mills Memorial Library of the University of Cape Coast will also become operational.

Government will support these two institutions to ensure that the vision and the ideals of this great academic and political leader are not lost.

Mr. Speaker, this year is an election year and all of us must give the utmost support to the Electoral Commission to carry out its work.

Mr Speaker, our Electoral Commission has gained commendation all over the world for the good work -- [Interruption] -- that it has done over the years since the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution.

Mr Speaker, we have held six successful elections and I have absolutely no doubt that our Electoral commission will rise to the occasion to deliver a seventh successful election come November this year.

Mr Speaker, it is important for all of us to support the Commission to be able to put in place the processes that will make
Mr. Speaker, in the Brong Ahafo Region the following roads are under construction 10:10 a.m.
this election successful. I call on all political parties to do exactly that.
Mr Speaker, I pledge as President to do everything in my power to work for a free, fair and transparent election -- [Hear! Hear!] -- Every support that can be given to the Electoral Commission by Government, we will give to ensure that they are able to carry out their mandate. Let the election be clean and devoid of insults -- [Interruption]
Mr Speaker, I would want, on behalf of all Ghanaians, to salute the media for the good work they have been doing in communicating our voices to the electorate. I believe that as they have done in the last six elections, this year, again, they would be a useful conduit for sending the messages of political parties to the electorate.
I wish to ask the media to be circumspect in the use of language, and to avoid insults. Let us tell the Ghanaian people what we intend to do for them and let them make their choice.
Decentralisation -- Mr Speaker, having decentralised our governance system to this point where functions, functionaries and funds have been deployed to the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), Government and the citizenry expect the local authorities to reciprocate by being more responsive to the needs of their communities.
We expect the MMDAs to work towards financial independence through innovation and application of efficiency measures. We expect them to go beyond the naming of the streets, which they have done creditably well, to numbering the
houses and developing a comprehensive database for policy planning and emergency response.
The street naming policy has largely been implemented; we need to speed up the next phase of numbering all houses and creating Geographic Information System (GIS) maps of all our communities. District Assemblies should be able to create a database of all this information for the purposes of effective revenue mobilisation and provision of social services.
Mr Speaker, this year will be the second year of implementation of a five-year phase two of the Decentralisation Policy Framework and National Decentralisation Action Plan (2015-2019). We remain committed to implementing the activities agreed upon this programme.
Mr. Speaker, bills to decentralise the following Departments by devolution and converting them into Departments of District Assemblies have been finalised and will be placed before Parliament in the first quarter of 2016:
1. Registry of Births and Deaths
2. Ghana Library Board
3. National Youth Authority
4. National Sports Authority
5. Department of Cooperatives
6. Department of Town and Country Planning
7. Ghana Education Service
8. Ghana Health Service
The Consolidated Decentralised Local Governance Bill will also be laid before Parliament in the course of this year. A

Security agencies -- Mr Speaker, over the past few years we have embarked upon a progressive retooling of our security agencies. We have provided them with vehicles, accommodation, logistics and resources that enable them to fulfill their constitutional mandate.

We will continue to place priority on their needs in order to place them in a favourable position to carry out their duty of confronting and defeating crime, including cross border crime, narcotics, arms trafficking and terrorism.

Lately, the Ghana Police Service has earned the admiration of the nation for the dexterity with which they tracked down and arrested Mr Arthur Simpson Kent, who fled from Britain to Ghana after allegedly committing murder. The speed with which the suspect in the J. B. Danquah Adu murder was nabbed has also earned the Service plaudits.

We hope the Police will deepen this investigation to unravel all the unanswered questions surrounding this case. In the meantime, I will urge the public to desist from making wild, unsubstantiated allegations in respect of the case.

Mr Speaker, Ghana continues to participate in peacekeeping efforts in the West Africa sub-region and on the African continent as well as other parts of the world, as her contribution to ensuring peaceful resolution of disputes and

elimination of threats to international peace and security posed by conflict zones round the world.

We have deployed infantry battalions to Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire and aviation units in Mali and Cote d'Ivoire. An engineering company has been deployed in Mali, and we are participating in UN peacekeeping missions in DR Congo, South Sudan and Lebanon.

The Police deployed 170 personnel from the Formed Police Unit to South Sudan in August 2015. Due to the high performance of the contingent, the UN has requested for an additional 100 personnel from the Unit who are to be deployed in the first week of March, 2016.

Mr Speaker, as I said, 2016 is an election year and we are confident that all our security agencies will join hands once again to secure the peace and stability of our nation before, during and after the November 7 General Elections.

Mr Speaker, the world we live in today is a world that has become a more integrated and connected place, that creates both challenges and opportunities for our dear nation. It is important as we seek to build stronger relations with our friends and allies that we take this into consideration.

We must also, as a leading nation on the West Coast of our continent, live up to our principles and our ideals that have
Mr. Speaker, in the Brong Ahafo Region the following roads are under construction 10:10 a.m.
informed our foreign policy since our independence and continue to do so, because those ideals are as relevant today as they were at our independence.
Our First President charged that Africa should unite because in unity lies strength, we are far from that but there are steps we can take as a country that can bring Africa closer to us, and create economic opportunities as we do so for our citizens.
Earlier this year, at the Executive Council Meeting of the African Union, it was decided that AU Member States should review their internal and external security situations with a view to putting in place the mechanisms that would allow for the issuance of visa's on arrival for citizens of AU Member States, with the option to stay in the country for up to 30 days.
Mr Speaker, we believe creating opportunity for the mobility of people on our continent is key to unlocking our economic potential. Today, within some of our regional organisations, in our case the ECOWAS and in a number of countries such as Kenya, Seychelles, Mauritius, Rwanda, it is possible to travel without having to obtain a visa before visiting another member State.
But by and large, travelling across our continent is a hassle. Indeed, for those African businessmen and women trying to do business on our continent, it is actually easier for them to operate within the Schengen Area of the European Union than it is to travel around our continent.
Africa has a growing and dynamic middle class that is both entrepreneurial, forward looking and has purchasing power and we intend to make it easier for them to enter our country.
Mr Speaker, with effect from July this year, we will be allowing citizens of AU member States to enter into our country and obtain visas on arrival with the option to stay for up to thirty days and experience what our country has to offer. This measure, with time should stimulate air travel, trade, investment and tourism.
We have managed movement within and out of our country with citizens of the ECOWAS member States, so, we have the capacity to manage this new regime we are introducing. We also know that there may be persons from our continent who we may not want to admit into our country, and hence the provision for obtaining visas on arrival and not visa-free entry.
This will enable the Ghana Immigration Service to make a determination as to whether to allow them entry or not into our country.
Mr Speaker, in doing this, we are taking up the needed leadership of our Founder's dream of bringing the citizens of the African continent closer together.
Mr Speaker, this year, we will also commence negotiations for the creation of a Continental Free Trade Area by 2017, and we will be actively participating in the negotiations with a view to creating the economic basis for a more united and integrated continent.
The target we set ourselves as a continent here in Accra in November, 2011, during the African Trade Ministers meeting, is an ambitious one, but is certainly not beyond our capability and we will continue to play a leading role towards realising our goal of promoting an integration of the States and people of this great continent.
Last year, just before the UN General Assembly, the world saw the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals. The goals set an ambitious agenda for the development of all the countries of the world so that for the next fifteen years, we will collectively work together to create the world that we want to see. We also, at the COP 21 Summit in Paris, came to a historic agreement on reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change.
Mr Speaker, the two are not mutually exclusive and we look forward to incorporating the elements of these two important multilateral and global policy initiatives into our national planning and programme implementation.

But this is not just an honour for me; it is an honour to our country in recognition of our leadership in peacekeeping, in managing crisis, such as the Ebola outbreak that hit our region two years ago, our leadership on our continent in promoting democracy and good governance and our leadership in positively transforming the lives of our people over the period of implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.

It is important that we draw our continent's attention to the need to incorporate the SDG's into our National Development Plans as we think and plan for the future we want to create for the next generation.

I will be working with other members of the advocacy group and roping in other advocates from our continent with an emphasis on bringing on board young people and women so that the SDG's become part of our discourse and engage

our collective attention as we plan towards the development of the continent.

Mr Speaker, we will begin the implementation of our linguistic pact with La Francophonie, and through this process encourage our citizens at all levels to become bi-lingual in French and English.

Mr Speaker, I encourage the Leadership of Parliament to introduce French courses for our Members of Parliament, so that we will set the examples.

When we consider that with our immediate neighbours our combined populations create a market of about 33 million people and we already engage in trade and social interactions with each other both formally and informally, it is time for us to make an extra effort to be able to engage them and the other francophone states within our ECOWAS region more effectively to promote trade in goods and services, tourism and investments within our region.

Mr. Speaker, this year, we will continue to play an active role within our ECOWAS region, on the continent, within the Commonwealth under the leadership of our new Secretary-General -- Patricia Scotland -- and within the United Nations and its various agencies, especially the Human Rights Council and UNESCO, where we are members of the Executive Board. We will play an active leadership role in creating the world we want.

Mr Speaker, in conclusion -- [Interruption] -- I began this Address with an admission that politicians talk a lot -- As I have, no doubt, proved here today -- but that our words sometimes fail us because they do not always accurately reveal the human faces that
  • [Mr Speaker received the State of the Nation Address from the President.
  • Mr Speaker 1:55 p.m.
    Hon Members, in accordance with Standing Order 58, I wish to convey to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana, the gratitude of the House.
    Hon Members, again, in accordance with the practice of this House, a formal communication would be forwarded to H. E. the President after the House has thoroughly debated this Address.
    Hon Majority Leader, any indication regarding adjournment?
    Mr Alban S. K Bagbin 1:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the time now is a few minutes after 2.00 p.m. and by the rules, I do not need to move a Motion for adjournment. We are entirely in your hands.
    Mr Speaker 1:55 p.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, thank you very much for drawing my attention to the Standing Orders of the House.
    ADJOURNMENT 1:55 p.m.

  • The House was adjourned at 2.05 p.m. till Friday, 26th February, 2016 at 10.00 a.m.