Debates of 15 Mar 2017

MR SPEAKER
PRAYERS 10:20 a.m.

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT 10:20 a.m.

Mr Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Hon Members, item numbered 2, on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report.
Correction of Votes and Proceedings dated Tuesday, 14th March, 2017.
Page 1, 2…18 --
Mr Ras Mubarak 10:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the Public Accounts Committee met yesterday, Tuesday, 14th March, 2017. I do not see that captured in the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 14th of March,
2017.
Mr Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Thank you.

Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 14th March, 2017 as amended are hereby admitted as the true record of proceedings.
  • [No correction was made to the Official Report of Wednesday, 1st March, 2017.]
  • Mr Speaker 10:20 a.m.
    No Statement bas been admitted.
    At the Commencement of Public Business -- item numbered 4 -- Presentation of Papers --
    Hon Majority Leader and Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs
    PAPERS 10:20 a.m.

    Mr Speaker 10:20 a.m.
    Item listed 4(b) -- Hon Chairman of the Committee.
    By the Chairman of the Committee --
    a) Report of the Finance Committee on the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
    b) Report of the Finance Committee on the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
    c) Report of the Finance Committee on the Special Import Levy (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
    d) Report of the Finance Committee on the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Repeal) Bill,
    2017.
    Mr Speaker 10:20 a.m.
    Item numbered 5 -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills -- Hon Minister for Finance?
    Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance is on his way to Parliament, and he is ferrying to the House, the Bill listed as item numbered 5 on the Order Paper.
    Mr Speaker, in the event, I propose and indeed, do suggest that we step down item numbered 5 until the arrival of the Hon Minister for Finance in the Chamber, when the Table Office would be served copies of the Bill. We would stand it down, and go to the next item.
    Mr Speaker 10:20 a.m.
    The item is stood down accordingly.
    Item numbered 6 -- the debate on the Budget Statement would continue.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
    MOTIONS 10:20 a.m.

    Mr James K. Avedzi (NDC -- Ketu North) 10:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise this morning to contribute to the debate for the approval of the Government Budget Statement and Economic Policy for the year 2017.
    Mr Speaker, before I go to my main contribution, I would want to draw the attention of the House to some of the inconsistencies in the figures as contained in the Budget Statement.
    At paragraph 95, page 19 of the Budget Statement, they talk about petroleum receipts, and Mr Speaker, if you would permit me, I would read --
    Mr Speaker 10:20 a.m.
    The time is 10:45 a.m. -- You have 15 minutes.
    Please, continue.
    Mr Avedzi 10:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to quote:
    “Mr Speaker, total Revenue and Grants for the period amounted to GH¢33,678.2 million, equivalent to 20.0 percent of GDP, against a target of GH¢37,889.3 million, or 22.7 per cent of GDP. Of this amount, total petroleum receipts were 49.2 per cent below target and amounted to GH¢711.1 million…”
    Mr Speaker, my emphasis is on the figure, “GH¢711.1 million”. Paragraph 110 on page 23 also states that:
    Mr Avedzi 10:20 a.m.


    “Receipts from crude oil liftings for 2016 included revenues from the sale of 4,824,417 barrels of oil from the 30th (lifted in December, 2015) and the 34 th Jubilee liftings, which amounted to US$207.79 million (GH¢811.68 million)…”
    Mr Speaker, there are two figures here 10:40 a.m.
    US$711.1 million and US$811.68 million; which of these two figures is the correct one? I believe the Hon Minister for Finance should take note and tell the House which of them is the correct figure because both refer to petroleum receipt for 2016.
    Mr Speaker, again, there is another issue on paragraph 849. It reads 10:40 a.m.
    “Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 921)”. Mr Speaker, this is very important. Then the “Public Procurement (Amendment) Act”, 2016 (Act 914)”.
    Mr Speaker, how can the Act in 2003 be 921 and the amended Act in 2016 be 914? Mr Speaker, that is something that has to be corrected in the Budget Statement.
    Thank you.
    Mr Speaker, I will go to my main contribution. I would like to talk about revenue measures that we have in the Budget Statement.
    Total revenue as estimated in the Budget Statement is supposed to grow by 33.9 per cent, which is the tax revenue, from 2016 outturn of GH¢25.7 million to GH¢34.4 million.
    Mr Speaker, in the Budget Statement, the outturn for 2016 tax on oil companies was GH¢42 million; this can be found at page 20, table 6. Tax realised by
    Government in 2016 from oil companies was GH¢42 million. Mr Speaker, expected tax revenue from oil companies for 2017 is zero, while in 2016, Government realised GH¢42 million tax revenue from oil companies.
    Mr Speaker, one thing that struck me is on paragraph 176, page 40 and it states that expected petroleum receipt is GH¢2.358 billion, representing 231.2 per cent increase over 2016 revenue. So, if the revenue from petroleum receipts will increase by 231.6 per cent, how come they do not expect any tax on the oil companies? Does it mean that the companies would not make any profit from which tax will be derived?
    The Hon Minister for Finance must take note of this, and make the appropriate correction, and tell us how much tax is expected from the petroleum companies.
    Mr Speaker, the Budget Statement also talks about broadening of the tax base. If we talk about broadening of the tax base, it involves two or three items -- one, making sure that more people are brought into the tax net. People who earn income but do not pay tax are now brought into the tax net. This is what we call taxable population. So, broadening the tax base means that they would increase the taxable population.
    Mr Speaker, another one is to make sure that they bring in more products. Products that hitherto were not taxed are also brought on board. This is called taxable goods. They would be broadened by increasing the number of taxable goods and taxable population. This can also be done in terms of lowering the income tax threshold. Once the threshold is lowered, it covers more people.
    Mr Speaker, but is there anything in the Budget Statement to ensure that the tax base is broadened? No! There are two things that are said in the Budget
    Statement. On paragraph 170, page 39, the Government would complete the National Identification Scheme (NIS), and also the National Digital Address System (NDAS).
    Now, Mr Speaker, the emphasis of this Budget Statement is on paragraph 170, which says that, once they complete the NIS and the NDAS, they will broaden the tax base. When are these two things going to be completed, before they based their calculation in terms of broadening, and, for that matter, increasing their tax revenue? This is because, if they complete these systems before they can know whether they would capture more people to pay tax.
    They will do all these this year. Whether they will complete the process this year, they do not know they based their estimation on this assumption that they would complete the NDAS and the NIS, and for that matter, they would broaden the tax base. Mr Speaker, that is something that we cannot achieve.
    Mr Speaker, paragraph 796 on page 136 talks about abolishing one per cent Special Import Duty. Import duty for 2016 yielded about GH¢4.1 billion. They estimate to increase this by 63 per cent to GH¢6.7 billion, yet they are abolishing some of the import duties. They are abolishing duties, and they would not earn that income or revenue, and yet they estimate that they would increase the import duty by 63 per cent. Mr Speaker, this can never be achieved.
    Mr Speaker, again, the Budget Statement wants to abolish import duty on spare parts. This is to decrease taxable goods. Once taxable goods are decreased, the base is not broadened. Mr Speaker, there are questions that we need to ask.

    Mr Speaker, if the consumer is the target beneficiary, what is the mechanism put in place to ensure that the importer who does not pay the duty does not transfer this on to the price of the spare parts, so that the consumer benefits? What is the mechanism in place? There is nothing in the Budget Statement to show that there is a mechanism in place.

    Mr Speaker, another question is, what type of spare parts are involved? Are they used ones, the new ones or both? Mr Speaker, we do not know whether the target is for used spare parts, new ones or both. That is not clear in the Budget Statement.

    Again, Mr Speaker, why is it only spare parts? What went into the selection of spare parts? Why is it not any other product, but spare parts?

    Mr Speaker, the Government in 2016 made a balance of payment surplus of US$247 million. This was as a result of reduction in import duty by 7.2 per cent, and an increase in export duty by 5.3 per cent. Mr Speaker, this is gradually turning the country from import dependent to export-led economy. Once they remove the import duty on these products, they will make sure that Ghana becomes a dumping ground for these imports. So, they are bringing the country back to import dependency.
    Mr Avedzi 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, all these measures are negative in nature and they will not yield any good result for revenue generation.
    Mr Speaker, as for the issue about kayayei -- I believe it is something that we should not even talk about because there is no law in this House that imposes tax on kayayei. Are we using the Parliament of Ghana to take back the power from the Local Government? We are talking about decentralisation of power and we give power to the local authorities to enact their by-laws and we want to use Parliament to take the power back from them. Mr Speaker, I believe that no Bill should even come to this House about that.
    Mr Speaker, let me talk about expenditure. There are allocations to a number of government agencies, and let me mention them; Parliament of Ghana, Judicial Service, Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, Ministry of Works and Housing, Ministry of Roads and Highways, Ministry of Communi- cation, Ministry of Railway Development, Ministry of Aviation, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General's Department, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Develop-
    ment, Ghana Audit Service, Electoral Commission, National Development Authority -- Mr Speaker, these are 25 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and the total budget allocated to them under GoG for their goods and services totalled GH¢381 million.
    Mr Speaker, I compared this total for 25 MDAs with how much was allocated for the Government Machinery; Office of the President under GoG - GH¢388 million. Mr Speaker, one Department, Government Machinery, has been allocated GH¢388 million, meanwhile 25 MDAs have been allocated less than that amount. What department is under Government Machinery that their allocation should be more than that of 25 MDAs?
    Mr Speaker, I also looked at the allocation to infrastructure Ministries for their capital expenditure. These are Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, Ministry of Works and Housing, Ministry of Roads and Highways, Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Railway Development, Ministry of Aviation and Ministry of Transport. The total amount allocated to them for their capital expenditure is GH¢10.08 billion.
    How much is allocated to Government Machinery -- Office of the President under CAPEX? It is GH¢10.082 billion. Just one!
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Order!
    Dr A. A. Osei 10:50 a.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, I do not know if my Hon Friend -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, some of these neophytes have not even read the Standing Orders.
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Hon Members, shall we have decorum?
    Dr A. A. Osei 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, my Hon Friend mentioned an amount of GH¢10.08 billion, but I am not sure - either he is having an optical illusion --
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, you would respectfully take your seat. You would have plenty opportunity to contradict him. Let us have order.
    Hon Member, you may continue.
    Dr A. A. Osei 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, that was why I said that he had optical illusion. He said GH¢10.08 billion. I knew that he wanted to say GH¢1.08 billion, so I have been kind enough to correct him because he is my Hon Friend. He should correct himself.
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Hon Leader, do you take the point of correction and proceed?
    Mr Avedzi 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much.

    Mr Speaker, the correct amount is GH¢1.082 billion and not GH¢1.5 billion as he mentioned, and the total for all these other Ministries is GH¢1.038 billion.
    Dr A. A. Osei 10:50 a.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, I thought that my good Hon Friend would thank me for correcting him. As a gentleman and an Hon Member, he should thank his Hon Friend for correcting him.
    Mr Speaker, but he tried to mislead the House by going further.
    Yesterday, I reminded this House that when we are doing trend analysis, we compare apples to apples and not apples to oranges. The reason is that, there is a new initiative not known before, and it is called -- [Interruption.] --
    No! I am not debating. I am correcting the information that he is giving.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to refer to page 178 -- Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme has never existed and so, that alone has a budget of GH¢1.045 billion. So, he should not compare apples to oranges, otherwise he would be misleading everybody.
    Mr Avedzi 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Minister could choose to compare apples to apples, and I would also compare apples to apples and not oranges.
    What I am saying is that they are all infrastructure expenditure for seven infrastructure Ministries, and it is less than what is allocated to Government Machinery. That is the point, and it is a fact.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to talk briefly about --
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    And in conclusion.
    Mr Avedzi 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, he has taken all my time.
    We are talking about capping of Statutory Fund to 25 per cent of tax revenue. As we are all aware, the Constitution talks about not less than gfive5 per cent of total revenue.
    Yesterday, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation debated and argued that, because in the past Government used tax revenue, they have also used tax revenue.
    Mr Speaker, those of us on this Side of the House are saying that the Constitution says non-tax revenue but total revenue. So, if we use total revenue to complete the figure and net off Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) allocation and Value Added Tax (VAT) refund, then we would have not less than two billion Ghana cedis but not GH¢1.5 billion.
    That is the point. So, he should take it on board and the Hon Minister for Finance would come to that.
    Mr Speaker, I believe if you look at what has been budgeted for revenue and what has been budgeted for expenditure, it gives us a deficit of 6.5 per cent. Per my computation, that cannot be achieved. The best that could be achieved would be a deficit of more than 10 per cent by the end of the year.
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Members, I will be very grateful if I do not have some of those rather unnecessary interjections when I make pronouncements as to time.
    The Hon Deputy Minority Leader would let his group know that they had agreed on fifteen minutes for the first speaker and 30 minutes for the second speaker. The records show clearly that the Hon Deputy Minority Leader spoke for more than twenty minutes before I told him to conclude.
    Please, know that I do my work fairly, and I do not appreciate that.
    I thank you.
    Hon Majority Leader, is there anyone who would speak for your side?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am informed by my Whips that it is the Hon Member for Madina who is programmed to speak. Unfortunately, he sent word that he was on his way. Parliament cannot wait for him. We may grant space to the Hon Minority Leader to start his contribution, then we would take it from there.
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, what is your view on that?
    Minority Leader (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion, that this Honourable House
    approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana (GoG) for the year ending 31st December, 2017, which was moved by the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Kenneth Ofori-Atta and seconded by the Hon Member for New Juaben South and Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee, who is Dr Mark Assibey- Yeboah.
    Mr Speaker, in doing so, first of all, I wish to refer you to the first page of the Budget Statement. You would see that the Hon Minister said “2017 Budget Statement and Economic Policy”, yet in his very first paragraph, he moves the Motion for the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana. I do not believe that an economic policy and a financial policy are one and the same. Therefore, probably, while he says economic policy, the Motion was for a financial policy.
    Mr Speaker, what is even more intriguing is that, the Hon Minister came to this House, supported with the document “Ghana Beyond Aids”. Let us remind the Hon Minister that, Ghana has long gone beyond aid. Indeed, Ghana was declared to a middle-income country with dwindling resources from grants, and that is a fact. We have survived as a country based on our own sacrifices, and tax revenue and not based on aids.
    Probably, I am sure he should have said, and that is what he should have been doing, “Ghana beyond imports”, so that we would know whether he is committing to fight the ever increasing import bill and wanting to improve the performance of the economy, but not to mislead the people of this country that Ghana is beyond aid. Which aid?
    Mr Speaker, and in his Budget, he should show us a portion of what is
    dedicated. Even for the education sector, aid has declined from 4.9 per cent to 4.2 per cent. That is very significant for us.
    Mr Speaker, I have heard arguments, and debates. This Budget is weak on infrastructure development. Infrastructure development undoubtedly stimulates economic growth, and we are told that Ghana as a country suffers from a two billion United States dollars infrastructure deficit every other year.
    Mr Speaker, may I refer you to paragraph 14 of the Hon Minister's Statement, where he stated that, in his view, commitment is however hampered by fives constraints which we need to overcome. He says low revenue collection, expenditure overruns and corruption, high wage bill, rigidity of fiscal structure caused by heavy earmarking of tax revenue and high debt service payment.
    Mr Speaker, what the Hon Minister failed to do was to address the two major twin challenges of the economy of Ghana today -- employment, and related to it is unemployment. It is one of the major constraints we should address as a country, and one would add that to his five to make it six.
    Mr Speaker, addressing our energy insecurity and its challenges and effect on industry, on personal life and the performance of the growth of the economy must also be added on.
    Mr Speaker, what is even more intriguing -- I beg to quote the Hon
    Minister in paragraph 15. He says 11 a.m.
    “This budget presents a proposal to address these issues per- manently and I hope I can secure the support of this august House in that regard.”
    Minister in paragraph 15. He says 11 a.m.


    Mr Speaker, which issues were addressed permanently in this Budget Statement? Wait. Firstly, on high wage bill, what in this Budget Statement addresses the high wage bill? We have a wage bill of about GH¢14 billion to GH¢16 billion, and every other year, we would go to the Public Services joint to negotiate pay, and obviously, one would not expect that labour, as its partner, would say zero per cent increase, particularly when one has trotro and transport fares, and fuel prices going up.

    Therefore, there would be a commitment to increase the compensation expenditure of Government. They should make room for it in January before they have a crisis. In any case, they have thirty-four thousand nurses who are waiting to be employed and added onto the payroll. He says he would want to address high wage bill.

    Mr Speaker, on rigidity of fiscal structure caused by heavy earmarking of tax revenue and high debt service payment, with your indulgence, I have heard the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation referred to the fact that -- He whispered that “go to court”.

    Mr Speaker, may I refer you to article 252 of the 1992 Constitution. I am now on capping of earmarked funds at 25 per cent. This is what article 252 of the 1992 Constitution provides. It reads:

    “(1) There shall be a fund to be known as the District Assemblies Common Fund.”
    Mr Speaker, for my emphasis 11 a.m.
    “(2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament shall annually make provision for the
    allocation of not less than five per cent of the total revenues of Ghana to the District Assemblies for development, and the amount shall be paid into the District Assemblies Common Fund in quarterly instalments.”
    Mr Speaker, my emphasis is on “of Ghana to the District Assemblies for development.” It is not the total tax revenue.
    Mr Speaker, if they chose to sleep on their rights -- you are a good lawyer; we on this side would not accuse on that right; we would not sleep on that right. We are wide awake and we would legitimately demand that the letter and spirit of the Constitution be respected. If they were deep asleep, let them be awake now.
    Mr Speaker, let us go to the numbers. Mr Speaker, I take you to page 41 of the Budget Statement. Total revenue of Government is GH¢44,962 billion. Tax revenue is GH¢34,382 billion.
    Mr Speaker, my mathematics have not been as strong as the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation. But even that, if we compute five per cent of the total revenue, we would get GH¢1.7 billion. If we compute it to tax revenue, we would get GH¢1.5 billion in the District Assemblies Common Fund. He is simply not meeting the minimum requirement of five per cent of total revenue to be dedicated to the District Assemblies Common Fund.
    rose
    Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
    Hon Minister, do you stand on a point of order?
    Mr A. A. Osei 11 a.m.
    On a point of order.
    An Hon Member 11:10 a.m.
    Which Order?
    Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Hon Member, if you do not know the Order, please, that is not the way to ask.
    Hon Minister, please continue.
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, my good Friend whom I met back in 1997 and who is now an astute lawyer, knows the conventions of Ghana.
    Mr Speaker, his Government was from 1993 to 2000 and from 2009 to 2016 -- He should tell this House what formula he used, whether total revenue or -- The framers of the Constitution were fully aware that the Ministry of Finance would operationalise that Constitution, and in operationalisation, the tax revenue is what has been used since 1993, including when he was an Hon Deputy Minister.
    Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Order! Order!
    Dr A. A.Osei 11:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the logic is that some of these other revenues are not subject to Government's interference.
    Mr Speaker, we cannot legislate on grants which we cannot predict. It is logical. We cannot legislate on aid and project grants which we cannot predict. The only tool available to any Government is tax revenue. That is at the domain of the Government and that is why logically, all Governments have operationalised it by using tax revenue; anybody who has followed the fiscal history of Ghana can attest to it.
    Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Thank you very much.
    In fact, the Hon Minority Leader is very capable of answering whatever may be said. Let us have a decent debate. In fact, Hon Members would have interruption time if necessary.
    Mr Iddrisu 11:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
    I trust that you would duly compensate me for time lost as a result of this needless intervention.
    Mr Speaker, the aspiring Hon Senior Deputy Minister knows about acquies- cence in law, when one sleeps on his or her rights. We would not sleep on that right. We would insist that the Constitution is respected and upheld and that this Government is held responsible and accountable for showing respect to the letter and spirit of article 252 of the 1992 Constitution.
    Mr Speaker, what is even worse is that, I have the Hansard of 27th July, 2007 and with your permission, this is what they said: “Increase in District Assembly Common Fund allocation from five per cent to 7.5 per cent.”
    Mr Speaker, in the Chair then was Mr E. W. A. Blay, and with your permission listen to what they said:
    “Article 252 (2) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and the District Assemblies Common Fund Act, (1993) Act 455, mandates Parliament to make provision for the allocation of not less than 5 per cent of the total revenue of Ghana to the District Assemblies Common Fund, for development programmes in the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies. The Fund, having been in existence for more than 13 years and with the expanding roles of the Assemblies…”

    “It is felt that there is the need for an upward review”.

    In pursuance of article 252 of the 1992 Constitution and a bid by Government to allocate more resources to local authorities to ensure accelerated rural development and rural poverty reduction, the former Hon Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr Kwadwo Mpiani on behalf of the former Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr F. K. Owusu-Adjapong laid this before Parliament.

    So when the Constitution says “. . . not less than five per cent”, mathematically, it means it could be more than five per cent.

    They recognised that. At that time, how many District Assemblies were in Ghana? Today, we have 216 District Assemblies and they are reversing this. The people of Ghana voted for change and progress, not backwardness or reversed governance.

    Mr Speaker, they even mentioned 7.5 per cent. So, if I were to insist on the numbers, total revenue and less grants, by his economics and mathematics, it would be GH¢44,961,635,655 billion, less grants of GH¢1.5. The total revenue would come to GH¢43 billion. The five per cent of it should be GH¢2,171,000,000. That should be the least, which should be awarded to the District Assemblies Common Fund, not capped, not earmarked, not 25 per cent. They have hurriedly come to Parliament today to lay what is known as Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Bill of 2017.

    Mr Speaker, they know what is right. Let them do what is right. They should bring the District Assemblies Common Fund Act and the new Local Government Service Act here for review. They must bring the GETFund Act here for review.

    Mr Speaker, they know that a certain percentage of revenue was dedicated to GETFund. We built consensus with the Ghanaian people because they wanted education to be funded, yet we are doing “cut and paste”. They cannot use the District Assemblies Common Fund or GETFund, yet they seek to use the Annual Budget Funding Amount to finance education and health. What a contradiction? In one breath, it is less; in another breath, it is more.

    Mr Speaker, we are serving notice that we in the Minority would not accept the use of oil revenue for consumption. We would not accept its use for the payment of allowances. We would not -- [Interruption.] --
    Mr Iddrisu 11:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Budget -- [Interruptions]
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:10 a.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, I am very surprised at this categorical statement.
    Mr Speaker, we were in this House when the other side used --
    Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Hon Members on my right, do you want Hon Dr Akoto Osei to sit down? At least, listen.
    Order!
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thought I heard the Hon Minority Leader say that they would not allow oil money to be used for consumption.
    Mr Speaker, this is strange to me. It was this same NDC Government that spent GH¢3.6 billion on bus rebranding. Is that consumption or capital expenditure? He should explain it to the public.
    Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Order! Order!
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:10 a.m.
    They should explain to the public why they spent it on rebranding, which is consumption and now --
    Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Hon Dr Akoto Osei, please, wait a moment. When there is silence I would ask you to continue -- [Pause.]
    Dr Akoto Osei, you may continue.
    Dr A. A. Osei 11:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to remind my dear friend and Hon Colleague, that he was in this House when his Government spent GH¢110 million of oil money on capacity building. That is consumption. I would want to know whether he is for real when he made that categorical statement.
    Mr Speaker, they spent GH¢110 million and GH¢ 3.6 million on consumption. So, there is a contradiction, which he should try to explain.
    [Interruption.] --
    Mr Speaker has asked me to speak. You are a Chief Whip --
    Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, you may continue.
    Mr Iddrisu 11:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to continue. I have said that I would not under the circumstance acquiesce on this right. I shall uphold that right.
    Mr Speaker, I may refer you to paragraph 796 of the Budget, where the Hon Minister announced his major policy objectives. My emphasis is on two areas -- “abolish duty on the importation of spare parts, and then abolish levies imposed on “kayayei” by local authorities.”
    Mr Speaker, we are waiting for the Hon Minister to come with the Bill on waiving the levy for the kayayei, so that this Parliament would repeal it, because nothing of that nature exists. There is nothing like kayayei levy and so if he came to present the kayayei budget, then he could have said so, but there is nothing like kayayei levy.
    Mr Speaker, when they say they would abolish duty on the importation of spare parts, we on the Minority side would demand that it is regulated because these days even new vehicles can be cannibalised to become spare parts. [Hear! Hear!] Therefore, it must be regulated. Would it be used? Would it be unused? Or would it be old spare parts? We need to know.
    Mr Speaker, they know that import prohibition -- In economics, we know why we put levies on imports -- to discourage it. They encourage imports, yet they would want to discourage imports. They know that. How could they have an improved balance of payments with this attitude?
    Ms Alima Mahama 11:10 a.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader is misleading the House. We all know that in the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), including the Hon Member's constituency, they have levied some rates on kayayei. Some have made it fifty pesewas, and some have made it one Ghana cedi. A lot of us feel the one Ghana cedi is unnecessary to the rates of District Assemblies and the MMDAs.
    Mr Speaker, meanwhile, the one Ghana cedi means a lot to the kayayei. The Hon Minister for Finance, in the Budget Statement, refers to the fact that these MMDAs are part of the country, and they do indeed, take direction for fee fixing from the Government, which is done by
    the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. So, it is a direction to the MMDAs. Indeed, I have already sent that directive to the MMDAs following the Government's Budget Statement and Economic Policy. My emphasis is on the Government's Budget Statement and Economic Policy.
    Mr Speaker, we have sent directives to the District Assemblies to take note and prepare, organise District Assembly meetings subsequently, to review their levies and take away the levies that they have put on kayayei. We consider that levy as wicked and unnecessary.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Hon Minority Leader?
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 11:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is interesting that even long before the Budget is approved, the Hon Minister is in a hurry or she is in motion, and she has already issued directives to District Assemblies to take over the rate. [Interruption.]
    Mr Speaker, I know that the Hon Minister for Finance does not walk to this House on his own. He comes on the mandate and authority of His Excellency the President.
    Mr Speaker, we were in this House, when he came and the President shared with us that seven billion Ghana cedis of some money -- I would refer you to paragraph 101, and with your permission, it reads:
    “…The total outstanding obligations amounted to GH¢5,035.6 million, or 3.0 per cent...”
    Mr Speaker, where is the two billion Ghana cedis? They told the people of Ghana that seven billion Ghana cedis was missing -- to quote someone. Later on, they said it was arrears or commitments.
    Mr Speaker, we should go to Appendix 4C of the Budget Statement -- outstanding obligations. With your indulgence, I would take the House through that. [Pause] --
    Mr Speaker, I refer to table 4C of the outstanding government obligations. It is no longer seven billion Ghana cedis; it is five billion Ghana cedis. From 2017 to 2019, they have left it as “000”, as if there would be no pipeline projects and no pipeline commitments. That is why the deficit went high.
    Mr Speaker, I would give you another example. We went through a consti- tutional imperative of conducting Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in this country. The Special Budget Committee of Parliament came to this House and said that GH¢ 800 million was not enough for the Electoral Commission, and that GH¢ 1.2 billion be dedicated to the Electoral Commission (EC) to conduct free and fair elections.
    The Hon Member referred to bus branding and that is why this Government has changed it for them. So, this Government should do better. They should not walk back to those dark old days.
    Mr Speaker, we insist that with the Electoral Commission, Government ended up spending GH¢1.6 billion and that contributed to the deficit. Mr Speaker, was GH¢1.6 billion not what was budgeted for?
    Hon Majority Leader, you were then a member of the Special Budget Committee. Your Committee came here and recommended it to be increased from GH¢800 million to GH¢1.2 billion.
    The actual is GH¢1.6 billion. So when you explain the fiscal deficit to the Ghanaian people, let them know that we needed to conduct a free, fair and transparent election and that is what gave birth to them.
    In any case, birth is a messenger of death. You would soon come back here. [Hear! Hear!] Birth is a messenger of death, so, the opposition can only give birth to Government.
    Mr Speaker, may I now conclude.
    Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu 11:30 a.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, my Friend, the Hon Minority Leader apportioned or gave reasons to explain the deficit. He mentioned the Electoral Commission (EC) and left the rest. Mr Speaker, we would want him to tell us all the other items that constituted that huge deficit.
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, you may conclude.
    Mr Iddrisu 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I referred to the EC's budget because in the Inter- national Monetary Fund (IMF), negotiations -- I have heard them say they asked for fiscal space. Even when the previous Government asked for fiscal space for the purpose of conducting the elections and to increase the deficit from five per cent to 5.5 per cent, it was declined.
    Do you think that the IMF all of sudden will lose its credibility and become a partisan group to honour your partisan promises and that they would give you fiscal space because you have won an
    Mr Iddrisu 11:30 a.m.
    election? We are watching the IMF; its credibility is at stake.
    If they could not give the John Mahama Administration fiscal space even for the conduct of elections, which was necessary for good governance, we would see what space the new Administration would be given.
    In any case, Mr Speaker, the other time I reminded the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation that this is not a football match where the number two would just go to number three and then number three would go to number two. No! They must come with expenditure re- prioritisation. They have not come with the introduction of any instrument to increase revenu, yet, they say that the economy is good.
    Mr Speaker, this assault on the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), our position will be uncompromised for this Government to increase it in their time in 2007 from five per cent to 7.5 per cent to come today to even do less of tax revenue.
    Our problem is, whatever numbers they have, they should calculate the five per cent of tax revenue properly. They should calculate five per cent of total revenue. Even with the tax revenue, they have fallen short of that requirement and that is of a major concern to us, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker, there is the Ghana Infrastructure Fund (GIF), which this Budget is conspicuously silent on. What happened to the 2.5 per cent of the GIF? We would want to know. It would accrue some GH¢1.6 billion to this economy.

    At least, not in anybody's pocket. Where is the 2.5 per cent GIF?

    Mr Speaker, there is 2.5 per cent of VAT dedicated to GIF. We would want to find space in this Budget Statement where provision has been made for that 2.5 per cent VAT and what Government intends to do with the money. We need to know.
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, just to remind you, you have had 35 minutes. [Interruption.] Those who do not understand may just keep quiet because the Hon Minority Leader understands. No shouting will help. The Hon Minority Leader fully understands that I have given him five minutes of interruption time plus --
    Mr Iddrisu 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, for the purposes of my conclusion, there is GH¢1.56 billion allocated to the Office of Government Machinery. [Interruption]
    Did my Hon Colleagues ask about what is in the Budget Statement? It is GH¢1.5 billion.
    Mr Speaker, a careful analysis of Appendix 4B of the Budget Statement reveals some astonishing figures as my Hon Deputy shared with you -- GH¢388,478,545 for Government Machinery and this exceeds the request for 27 Ministries, Departments and Agencies. Their goods and services will suffer.
    Again, on the same thing; they would deny Ministries water to be able to run effectively. They would deny District Assemblies money to run efficiently.
    Mr Speaker, even in the wake of creating new Ministries, they peg the exchange rate at 4.3 per cent. Mr Speaker, even if we are to use the epileptic fall of the Ghana cedi today as the basis for the depreciation of the economy described by
    Bloomberg, they have no Budget Statement. The Budget Statement is dead.

    I am being economical with them -- It is not GH¢4.70; it is GH¢4.50.

    At least, Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister was generous enough to appreciate the fact that inflation was on the decline. The primary surplus is doing well. Mr Speaker, balance of payment is doing well.

    Mr Speaker, we do not belong to the generation of Members of Parliament (MPs) who do not recognise any good in a Budget Statement. The introduction of National Identification System, if effectively completed, can help the banking system and all of us.

    Again, when they say “Sowing Seeds of Growth”, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) sowed the seeds. They are only applying fertiliser -- [Laughter.] They have just come to put fertiliser -- Mr Speaker, which seeds have they sown? They only came in to apply fertiliser.

    For instance, in the education sector, over GH¢1.6 billion was budgeted in 2016. We saw GH¢896 million and they want us

    to clap for them. Mr Speaker, that brings me to my final issue.

    Education -- Senior High School. Mr Speaker, we are in tandem with them with the principle to improve quality education, but we have a problem when they want to reduce basic education to SHS. It is a wrong direction and we will stop them with brakes.

    Throughout the world, free compulsory basic education is the most fundamental because that is where the foundation for literacy and numeracy is laid. That is where our resources must go. We have not attained Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE). They say they are going to add SHS to basic education.

    Mr Speaker, we support the principle of more resources going into the educational sector. As I said, we sowed the seeds: We expanded access with electronic schools and electronic blocks. Those were the seeds. Free school uniforms were the seeds.

    Mr Speaker, yesterday, I heard my Hon Colleague MP and Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development -- The School Feeding Programme was cited as part of DACF in your debate --
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    In conclusion?
    Mr Iddrisu 11:30 a.m.
    Do you have a problem with the School Feeding Programme being financed from the DACF? Do not let the basic school pupils of Ghana weep over your head, that this is a dedicated thing.
    I thank you for the opportunity. [Hear! Hear!] We will fight the unconsti- tutionality --
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Order!
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.


    11. 40 a. m.
    Majority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity to contribute to the Motion before the House, that this honourable House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2017, which Motion was moved on Thursday, 2nd of March, 2017 by the Hon Minister responsible for Finance, and which was seconded on Wednesday, the 8th of March, 2017 by the Hon Member for New Juabeng South and Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah.
    Mr Speaker, even before we start, a contrived argument is being made about the Motion that was moved by the Hon Minister, that the Motion is inappropriate.
    Mr Speaker, can I direct attention to the rules of procedure in this House, that is Standing Order 140 (3). Standing Order 140 (3) provides and with your permission, I beg to quote:
    “Whenever a motion “That this House approves the financial policy of the Government for the year endin…19....” has been moved by the Minister responsible for Finance, the debate on it shall stand adjourned for not less than three days.”
    Mr Speaker, the Motion that was moved by the Hon Minister is in synch with Standing Order 140 (3). Indeed, that has been the standard of all Motions that have been moved in this House. Today, we find ourselves in a wonderland at the instance of the Hon Minority Leader, who wants to send us to another island.
    Mr Speaker, I do not know what he is up to. He says to us that they are not going to participate or be partakers in any attempt to reduce the five percentage point
    allocation to the District Assemblies Common Fund. And Mr Speaker, he generously quotes for us, article 252 of the Constitution. Article 252 of the Constitution provides --
    Mr Speaker, may I appeal to the Hon Minority Leader to have patience? We are just analysing his own statements.
    Mr Speaker, article 252(2) of the Constitution provides and with your permission, I beg to quote:
    “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament shall annually make provision for the allocation of not less than five per cent of the total revenues of Ghana to the District Assemblies for development; and the amount shall be paid into the District Assemblies Common Fund in quarterly instalments.”
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader is a lawyer of considerable standing. It is not for nothing that this provision has been made subject to the Constitution -- [Interruption] -- Would Hon Minority Leader have patience to listen?
    Mr Speaker, it is subject to other provisions in this Constitution.
    May I draw attention to article 36 (1)? Mr Speaker, article 36 (1) of the Constitution provides -- He says it is not justifiable. Is it for nothing that we have the Directive Principles of State in the Constitution?
    Mr Speaker, article 36 (1) of the Constitution provides -- and if they have a little patience. Article 36 (1) provides and I beg to quote:
    “The State shall take all necessary action to ensure that the national economy is managed in such a
    manner as to maximize the rate of economic development and to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every person in Ghana and to provide adequate means of livelihood and suitable employment and public assistance to the needy.”
    -- [Interruptions] --
    Mr Speaker, I am talking about other relevant provisions in the Constitution. It is not for nothing that the provision begins with “subject to the Constitution”. So, I am utterly amazed at the simplistic interpretation being given to article 252 (2)
    -- 11:30 a.m.

    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Yes, Hon Member?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, and we are told --
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, if you would hold your horses.
    Hon Member?
    Mr James Agalga 11:30 a.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader has made reference to articles 252 (2) and 36 (1) of the Constitution and sought to place a certain interpretation on article 36 (1) that if you read them together, the import of article 252 (2), which says that, and with your permission, I beg to quote:
    “Subject to the provision of this Constitution, Parliament shall annually make provision for the allocation of not less than five per cent of the total revenues of Ghana to the District Assemblies for development; and the amount shall be paid into the District Assemblies Common Fund in quarterly instal- ments.”
    He said this would mean that the “subject to” in relation to article 36 (1), will water down the import of article 252 (2). --[Interruption]-- Mr Speaker, with all due respect, that kind of interpretation is unconstitutional and misleading.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, people could choose or could elect to wallow in what kind of definition they give to it. So, let that be their own judgement.
    Mr Speaker, article 34 (1) provides further elucidation and with your permission, I beg to quote:
    “The Directive Principles of State Policy contained in this Chapter shall guide all citizens, Parliament, the President, the Judiciary, the Council of State, the Cabinet, political parties and other bodies and persons in applying or interpreting this Constitution….”
    Mr Speaker, even when I have not finished, see the allergy being displayed. Mr Speaker, that is why I keep saying that they always want to listen to themselves. They should not listen to themselves alone -- [Interruption] --
    It shall be used to interpret -- They cannot pick and choose, that is gratuitous lessons in constitutional interpretation.
    Mr Speaker, we are told --
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Order!
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
    We are told that revenue -- Mr Speaker, revenue is at the centre of what is meant by total revenue in article 252 (2) of the Constitution. Mr Speaker, the Business Dictionary defines revenue for us as follows and with your permission, I beg to quote:
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.


    “Revenue is income, profit and loss statement from which all charges, costs, expenses are subtracted to arrive at net income.”

    Mr Speaker, so, when people begin to talk about gross, if “A” spends GH¢100.00 and collects GH¢80.00, there is no net revenue for the person. This is simple, commonsensical. It is commonsensical.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Order! Order!
    Hon Minority Chief Whip?
    Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka 11:50 a.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    The use of the word “commonsensical” is to impugn wrong motives and our Standing Orders frown on it. The Hon Majority Leader has simply indicated that some Hon Members are not using common- sense. Today, the Hon Majority Leader, I am surprised, is running to a dictionary for the definition of “total revenue”.
    Mr Speaker, it is out of order and against the Standing Orders of this House for the Hon Majority Leader to use those words that are very unparliamentary. Clearly, this flaunts on Standing Order 92. We would be grateful if you would draw his attention and make him withdraw those words. This is because he cannot impugn
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Order! Order!
    The lawyers in the House would quickly tell you that the “commonsensical approach” in the law of interpretation is often applied in the Supreme Court of Ghana.
    Hon Member, proceed.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, in speaking to the policy and principles underpinning the Budget Statement, one would have to appreciate exactly what situation this country finds herself in, in terms of the major indicators of economic growth before one would be able to offer appropriate remedies.
    The broadest measure of economic activity, the GDP in 2016 grew by 3.49 per cent. Provisionally, I agree but what we have is 3.49 per cent, that is, if the figure of 3.6 per cent is adjusted to cater for inflation. It would give us 3.49 per cent. So, we need to know.
    Consistently in 2013, when the GDP grew by 6.65 per cent, GDP growth rate averaged 3.5 per cent consistently. This was between 2014 and 2016. In fact, in 2014, we had 3.3 per cent, 2015, 3.8 per cent, and 2016, 3.49 per cent, almost 3.5 per cent.
    These growth rates include oil proceeds. That is why it is simply inconceivable for the Hon Ranking Member for the Committee on Finance to say that GDP growth rate under the Mills/ Mahama regime had gone higher than under Kufuor's. In that case, one would be comparing apples with oranges.
    Mr Speaker, indeed, we are witnessing a rebase economy, an oil propelled economy post 2010. So, it is inconceivable for them to attempt to do any comparison, unless one intends that, for purposes of mischief. That indeed, is the gospel truth.
    The only time the economy was rebased under former President Kufuor was in 2008. At the time, even though oil proceeds had not been added to our economy, the economy grew at 9.1 per cent -- without oil.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Ranking Member, do you have a point of order or correction?
    Mr Forson 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I have a point of order.
    The Hon Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs raised certain issues. What he tried to say was that obviously in 2013, oil contributed part of the GDP growth. It is in the same vein that in 2016, with the projected GDP of 3.6 per cent, oil grew to negative 13.5 per cent.
    Mr Speaker, the non-oil GDP growth was 4.6 per cent. It was in the same vein. The same oil he mentioned has contributed to a total GDP of 3.6 per cent. So, he should take it in a holistic view and not take 2013 and 2016 seperately. Most importantly, the Hon Majority Leader also mentioned the dictionary definition of revenue.
    Mr Speaker, in accounting, we have International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) on revenue, International Accounting Standard (IAS) 18 and IFRS 20. So, his dictionary definition of revenue does not qualify under revenue recognition. Therefore, he should recognise the revenue as and when GRA collects it, and not when certain deductions are made from it.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is really a point of debate. For the elucidation of the Hon Member, let us go to the enabling Act, the Local Governance Act -- sorry the District Assemblies Act. It defines total revenues to mean all revenue collected by or accruing to Central Government other than foreign loans, grants -- Would he have the patience to listen? [Laughter.]
    It includes “non-tax revenue, grants and revenues already collected by or for the District Assemblies under any enactment in force”. That is the law. [Interruption.] He says that is unconstitutional. Did I hear Hon Ato say that is unconstitutional? I do not want to say “shame on his forehead” and I would not say that. [Laughter.]
    Mr Speaker, they want to pick and choose. [Interruption] Now, I am told to look at the definition of revenue in the Constitution. There is no such definition -- [Laughter.] We should be consistent.
    As I indicated, the average GDP growth under the Mills/Mahama regime comes to about 6.8 per cent. Mr Speaker, of that, the revenue content is significant. For instance, in 2011 when we registered 14.1 per cent, the component of oil was in excess of five per cent and he knows that.
    Mr Speaker, I urge them to be consistent. The average growth rate was 6.8 per cent. The only time under former President Kufuor when the economy was rebased, was in 2009. The growth rate without oil was 9.1 per cent. That is what we should figure. So, if we are looking at consistency, in terms of GDP growth rate, we would see the consistency in the trend of GDP growth rate in the Kufuor Administration and not somersaults under the Mills/Mahama regime.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Minority Leader?
    Mr Iddrisu noon
    Mr Speaker, I am compelled to come on a point of order since it is your ruling that we use commonsensical sense in interpreting article 252 (2) of the Constitution.

    Mr Speaker, you are a seasoned respected lawyer and you k now that when the Constitution says in article 252 (2), “Subject to this Constitution”, it opens a law commonsensically as a limitation to the exercise of that power, and therefore Parliament --
    Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote article 252 (2) which says noon
    “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament shall…”
    Mr Speaker, it means that Parliament in exercising this right of allocation, must have respect to the provisions of this Constitution. That is why Parliament in passing the District Assemblies Common Fund Act and the Local Government Service Act, ensured that it was consistent with the provisions of this Constitution in order that it does not sit away from the provisions of article 2 of the Constitution.
    Mr Speaker, I so submit, but he should give us the Act he read on total revenue plus his mathematics.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noon
    Mr Speaker, when people do not follow the laws of this country, they may have the liberty to jump and somersault as and when they choose.
    Mr Speaker, section 2 of the District Assemblies Act -- [Interruption] -- would the Hon Minority Leader have the patience to listen? The section 2 of the Act provides, and with your permission, I beg to quote;
    “Parliament shall annually allocate not less than five per cent of total revenues of Ghana to the District Assemblies for development”.
    Mr Speaker, that in essence is a rehash of the constitutional provision. Then it goes further in section 17 [Interruption] -- it is not the Local Government Act.
    Would the Hon Minority Leader have patience? I quoted the District Assemblies Act and he said it is the Local Government Act.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader is a yesterday man as far as these issues are concerned, and I do not believe I would have to waste my time on that again.
    Mr Speaker noon
    Hon Leaders, the debate would flow.
    Hon Majority Leader, would you combine the two slots?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noon
    Mr Speaker, their interruptions alone have taken more than 15 minutes from my time. I have spoken for less than 10 minutes. I do not know what is even hurting them. I am in the first gear and so, they should have patience. [Interruption.]
    Mr Speaker noon
    Hon Majority Leader, you have time to continue; you have spoken for only 20 minutes and I am very much aware. But I just want to know whether you would combine -- [Interruption.] I
    would be glad if we do not have a mob action here. The Hon Leaders know what we talked about and I will want to seek --
    Mr Speaker noon
    Hon Members, what is the “No” for?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noon
    Mr Speaker, as we agreed in your Lobby, you were to allot 30 minutes to us and I have already done 20 minutes. But the interruptions alone amount to more than 10 minutes and that was why I said that I am in the first gear. If they would allow for smooth flow, they would hear. [Interruption]
    Mr Speaker noon
    Hon Majority Leader, I would want to be guided by what you would say with regard to the allotted times, then there would be no unnecessary interruption. Would you combine the two, so that nobody else would be called from your side? I will want to know.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noon
    Mr Speaker, we have three slots. It was for the Hon Minister to wind up. The first Hon Member was unavailable and I am the only one who would speak. The Hon Minister has sent word to me that he had been summoned to the Jubilee House by H. E. the President.
    Mr Speaker, if you allow just 10 more minutes to my allotted time, I would be able to speak to everything. I do not know why they would not even have the ears to listen.
    Mr Speaker noon
    Order! Order!
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noon
    Mr Speaker, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) inherited a
    growth rate of 3.45 per cent in 2000, and instantly, we -- [Interruption] --
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noon
    Mr Speaker, they have the liberty to go. They may go [Interruption.]
    Mr Speaker, just the following year, we were able to increase GDP growth rate to four per cent. In 2002, it was increased to 4.5 per cent, in 2003, it was increased to 5.2 per cent, in 2004, it was increased to 5.6, 5.9, 6.4 per cent and 6.3 per cent in 2007 and 9.1 per cent in 2008.
    Mr Speaker, in 2009, from 9.2 per cent, given the managerial competence of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) , they nosedived the economy and we only succeeded in growing at 2.90 per cent, which increased to 9.29 per cent. Since 2011, when we hit 14.10 per cent, in 2012, we came down to 12.94 per cent, 6.65 per cent, 3.30 per cent, 3.82 per cent and now, 3.49 per cent in 2016. It tells us how poorly they managed the economy and they have some pride to say that they are better managers.
    Mr Speaker, the underpinning policy for the Budget Statement that the Ex- Presidents Mills/Mahama Administrations have rolled out since 2009 -- that is for these eight years, have been one; ensuring and sustaining macroeconomic stability; two, enhance competitiveness of the Ghana private sector; three, accelerated agricultural modernisation and natural resource management; four, oil and gas development; five, infrastructure and human resource development; six, human development productivity and employment; seven, transparent and accountable governance.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:10 p.m.


    This has been the policy that underpinned all the Budget Statements that we have seen under ex-Presidents Mills/Mahama Administration.

    Mr Speaker, by the NDC's own programme from their medium-term growth targets, the highest GDP growth rate was expected to be recorded in 2016/2017 -- That was their medium-term. They expected to have the highest growth rates in 2016/2017 when the full impact for gas productions as well as production from the Tweneboa, Enyenra, Ntomme (TEN) Fields were expected to be recorded. But what did we see? A nosedive -- a complete departure from their own medium-term expectations.

    Mr Speaker, the key sector to lead the overall GDP growth rate was industry -- principally petroleum -- which was projected to grow at an average annual rate of about 13.2 per cent, followed by the services sector with 10 per cent and agriculture with 6 per cent.

    Mr Speaker, how have we, as a nation performed in these areas in pursuit of the policy underpinning the Budget Statement read to us between 2009 and

    2016?

    Mr Speaker, let us now consider the nominal GDP in billions of US dollars in the year 2000. The nominal GDP was US$4.983 billion in 2000. In 2001, under ex- President John Agyekum Kufuor, it rose to US$5.315 billion. In 2002 — and that economy was not rebased — It was US$6.166 billion, US$7.632 billion; US$8.881 billion, US$10.732 billion in 2005, US$20.409 billion in 2006; US$24.79 billion in 2007 and US$28.527 billion in 2008.

    Mr Speaker, what it means is that, under President Kufuor, for eight years, the nominal GDP grew by close to 500 per cent. That is from US$5.3 billion to US$28.5 billion.

    Mr Speaker, this is done by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) with the statistics from the Ghana Statistical Service. Let us now consider the exchange rate of the Cedi to one US dollar in 2001. It was about GH¢0.72 in current redenominated figure. By January 2009, the cedi indeed, had depreciated from ,one US dollar to

    GH¢1.15.

    Mr Speaker, by January 7, 2017, the exchange rate to the dollar was GH¢4.30 to one US dollar representing a depreciation of over 280 per cent, using the 2009 figure as the base rate, whereas under President Kufuor, the depreciation was 53 per cent. And they claim to be better managers of the economy. That is what the people of this country would understand.

    Mr Speaker, there is a huge debt overhang and rising interest payment caused by unbridled borrowing, which somebody said he would continue to do, because he would not borrow to drink beer or chew chinchinga with it.

    Mr Fiifi Fiavi Franklin Kwetey — on a point of order.

    Mr Speaker, I just need to correct the records.
    Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Order!
    Hon Members, the Hon Member is entitled to make a point of correction. We have to listen.
    Mr Kwetey 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader, in making his submission, claimed that the NPP Government, in eight years, performed better than the NDC as far as real GDP growth is concerned. And he sought to claim that in non-oil performance, our performance was nowhere near that of the NPP. I would want to straighten the records.
    Mr Speaker, in the eight years of the NPP, from 2001 to 2008, the average GDP, which was non-oil stood at 5.8 per cent. Let us take the non-oil performance of the NDC from 2009 to 2016 and see what the record is.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, you see where he falls flat on his face. These figures are in a rebased economy — [Interruption] — The economy got rebased since 2008. And so, when I tell them that they are comparing apples to oranges —
    But I will go on. They are yesterday men.
    Mr Speaker, as a consequence of the debt stock, I mean the huge debt burden, the mountainous arrears, the fiscal indiscipline, excessive sole-sourcing and weak controls in the system, the country is haemorrhaging. We are bleeding internally, as a consequence of the very little capital investment due to the huge debt servicing. As I said, for this year, we would require over GH¢14 billion for debt servicing alone; no thanks to what the NDC did.
    Mr Speaker, when they were comparing allocations to Ministries, GH¢14 billion required for debt servicing; no thanks to their mismanagement.

    Mr Speaker, I did not know that the Hon Minority Leader is on short circuit.

    Mr Speaker, paragraphs 9 and 10 — We are debating the principles and policy. They are veering off and that is why people are talking about energy. I am not going to talk about energy. This is because, when we were debating on the State of the Nation Address, I spoke eloquently to that. What additions have been made to the stock that we have now are all emergency plants.

    It is completely different from what President Jerry John Rawlings and President John Agyekum Kufuor introduced. They were not emergency
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:10 p.m.


    Alhaji Inusah A. B. Fuseini — rose --
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I have not even said what I am going to say and he gets up.
    Mr Speaker, it is on record that, the total road network that President Kufuor met in this country was 37,000 kilometres.
    By the time he was leaving, the total road network had increased to 67,000 kilometres. In spite of the hugeness of the allocation to the Ministry under the watch of Mills/Mahama Administratiion, they only expanded the road network from 67,000 to 72,000, an addition of a mere 5,000 kilometres. [Interruption.] Yes!
    Ask the former Minister if I am lying. He is directly behind you.
    So, I am saying to us that the policies and principles are encapsulated in paragraphs 9, 10 and 13. This was what was required of us to be debating. People veered off and were discussing and debating estimates. We are not there yet.
    Next time, Mr Speaker, I guess we shall all learn useful lessons just like if a Bill is placed before us, and we are debating the principles, we would confine ourselves to the Memorandum, which would provide for the principles and policies. That is what is done. That is how to conduct the debate on the Budget Statement and Economic Policy. Now, we are on the economic policy and not the estimates.
    Mr Speaker, the goal of this Budget Statement and Economic Policy finds expression in paragraph 22, and I will read that to conclude my debate:
    “Mr Speaker, Government will implement measures that will unleash the creative abilities of Ghanaians, and facilitate increased economic activity which will lead to the improvement in people's lives.”
    The President told us when he came to deliver the State of the Nation Address, that going round, the number one problem of this country is joblessness.
    Mr Speaker, what is being done now is to boost agriculture to feed industry to create jobs for the people of this country. That is the policy and principle underlying this Budget Statement and Economic Policy. That is what people should ponder. It is purposed to bring change to the lives of the people of this country. That is what the Budget Statement stands for.
    Mr Speaker, people should learn and reposition this country.
    Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Hon Minister for Finance, you may want to make some few remarks to conclude the debate. [Pause.]
    Order!
    Hon Minister, your winding up remarks would be appreciated.
    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 12:20 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speakeron 2nd March, 2017, I had the privilege to present on behalf of the President, the Financial Policy. Though I could not sit through all the sessions of the debate due to other critical Government business, I did monitor and followed with keen interest, and my colleagues from the Ministry have been here throughout.
    I found some of the issues interesting and enriching. The debates have been robust, revealing and may I humbly say, very educational. It also clearly illustrates to me the pulse of Hon Members of this House on how our people in this country feel. I would wish to really thank all the contributors for the passion and the contributions to the debate.
    Let me take this time to make a few comments and maybe, clarify some concerns raised during the debate.
    With regard to revenue targets, which is key to the success of this Budget, Government is optimistic that the revenue projections in the Budget Statement are achievable, notwithstanding the under- performance last year, mainly as a result of reduction of income and property tax revenues and non-realisation of proceeds from non-tax categories.
    Mr Speaker, with the broad spectrum of policies that we, however, intend to implement, including plugging the leakages and loopholes in revenue administration, as well as ensuring compliance, we should be able to achieve the targets in 2017.
    Government is also committed to uphold the constitutional provision regarding the statutory funds and would ensure that adequate allocations are made to these funds.
    Mr Speaker, as we have indicated in this Budget Statement and Economic Policy, this Government would take deliberate and strategic steps to fundamentally change the structure of the economy bequeathed to us 60 years ago and we are committed to implementing this Budget.
    My understanding is that, since the Budget Statement and Economic Policy was laid on the principles on which we brought the Budget to the House, we expect detailed debate to go on next week on the Appropriations Bill, et cetera.
    So, Mr Speaker, we look to restore and sustain micro-stability; we look to provide the environment for private sector to grow and thrive; we look to improve public services and to tackle corruption; and we look to support small businesses in rural and deprived areas. We have a clear stimulus for agriculture and industry and to create the most business friendly environment for both domestic and external investors.
    Mr Speaker, with regard to taxes, the principal philosophy of the NPP is a firm belief in the entrepreneurial genius of our people to respond to the elimination of these taxes and to become even more productive. That is, the appropriate supply side response could occur and therefore, a pro-growth economy can be supported to create jobs, instead of the traditional constructs of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies that we have inherited.
    As I conclude, Mr Speaker, let me emphasise that our aim is to restore hope, and steer the country onto a sustainable and inclusive growth path. As I indicated earlier, we believe that, with the help of Almighty God, we can deliver on all these well thought out programmes and policies and build a business friendly, a job creation and prosperous economy.
    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 12:20 p.m.


    I would want to urge Hon Members of the House to approve this Asempa Budget Statement and Economic Policy.

    I thank you most sincerely for this opportunity and for the work that you have done towards this.
    Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Hon Minister. [Interruption]
    Order!
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved:
    That this Honourable House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December,
    2017.
    rose
    Some Hon Members 12:20 p.m.
    Sit down!
    Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Order! Order!
    Hon Members, there is a communi- cation from the President, dated 14th
    March, 2017
    SPACE FOR 12:40 p.m.

    SPACE FOR 12:40 p.m.

    SPACE FOR 12:40 p.m.

    Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, at the time when we needed to present some Papers to the House, the Hon Minister responsible for Finance was not in the Chamber. As I indicated, he sent word to me that the President had summoned him to the Flagstaff House. He is with us now and so, he may be permitted to present the Bill to us in respect of item numbered 5 on page 2 of the Order Paper. Mr Speaker, thereafter, we could go to the Motion numbered 7 on page 3 of the Order Paper.
    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, Motion numbered what?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we would now take item numbered 5 -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills.
    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Item numbered 5 --Hon Minister for Finance?
    BILLS -- FIRST READING 12:40 p.m.

    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, is there any further indication?
    Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we could go to item numbered 7 on page 3 of the Order Paper.
    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, are we proceeding with the item numbered 8? [Pause.]
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am advised by the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee that the accompanying Report to these Motions that must be moved by the Hon Minister for Finance are yet to be served to Hon Members of the House. That being the case, I believe we might have to suspend Sitting for a while. I plead that we suspend Sitting for one hour and come back at 2.00 o'clock to continue business. So, we should suspend Sitting for the Report to be served to Hon Members, and come back to consider same.
    Mr Speaker, in that case, I beg to move, that this House be now suspended until after one hour, and indeed, to recommence at 2.00 p.m.
    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader?
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we have been labouring to catch your eye, and in the Minority -- This House has two sides, and our real privilege which we would jealously safeguard is the privilege and the right to have our say as a Minority.
    Mr Speaker, before you put the Question on the important Economic Policy Statement, the Hon Minority Chief Whip was on his feet. I had risen earlier, and I do not want to believe that we could not catch your eye. That is why we are in the front bench and in Leadership. We demand that we are accorded the respect. When it has to do with backbenchers, one could understand, but not when our Leadership would stand on their feet, more importantly, to draw your attention to a matter on the Standing Orders. This House is governed by the Standing Orders.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, on many occasions, I have risen up to catch your eye, and I have not caught your eye. I have not taken offence, even though I might have my own misgivings.
    Mr Speaker, it is important to state the fact. I would always stand for the right of the Minority. I would join ranks with the Hon Minority Leader to seek assurance for the protection of the rights of the Minority.
    Mr Speaker, having said so, as I have said, on many occasions, I have risen up and I have not been recognised. Equally so has it happened to the Hon Minority Leader. When I was in the Minority, on countless occasions, we had a Speaker who would just turn his head to one direction. But what is bad should not be continued.
    Mr Speaker, when an Hon Member gets up, especially the Hon Minority Leader who should be assisting the Chair, to say that the Chair is showing disrespect, that language is very offensive, and I would entreat my Hon Colleague to be minded to moderate his language in this House.
    Mr Speaker, these are early days yet, and on occasions when we have come to putting Questions and responding to same, we have seen Hon Members on the other side of the House deliberately walk out. If that is the new rule of engagement, we are prepared for that.
    Mr Speaker, to draw attention to Order
    93 (5);
    “The conduct of Mr. Speaker, Members, the Chief Justice and Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature shall not be raised,
    except upon a substantive motion, and in any amendment, Question to a Member or remarks in a debate on a motion dealing with any other subject, any reference to the conduct of the person mentioned shall be out of order.”
    Mr Speaker, I had moved the Motion for suspension of the House, and I thought that the duty of my Hon Colleague was to either second the Motion or not. He gets up and he alludes to other matters other than seconding the Motion.
    Mr Speaker, on the basis of Order 93(5), respectfully to my Hon Colleague, the words that he used were very offensive to the Chair. I would plead with him that these are early days and he must withdraw those words that the Speaker was showing disrespect to him and his Colleagues in Leadership in the Minority.
    Mr Speaker, I would plead with him to withdraw those words and then we can move on.
    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    It is on record, and it would be borne out by the Hansard, that the Minority had more time than the Majority in the debate that ensued.
    This should be verified by the Clerk and reported to this Honourable House.
    It is also a fact that, while in closed patch with my staff, at the time I put the Question, Majority membership was 134 and Minority was 20. I am being guided, and I am doing the work as I should do it accordingly.
    Hon Majority Leader, any further indication?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I have already moved the Motion for suspension, and if they would not second it, we can get a Colleague to second it for suspension of the Sitting. [Interruption.]
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Order!
    Mr Harima Iddrisu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Order!
    Hon Majority Leader, your Motion has been moved. Any secondment?
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion, and to note the declaration of the numbers which came from the Rt Hon Speaker, and we repeat that the Standing Orders of this House must be respected.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Motion has been moved and seconded.
    As for the issues of respect, when we come to it, we shall properly litigate it.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    1.03 p.m. -- Sitting suspended.
    4.05 p. m. - Sitting resumed
    MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Agbodza, you are the only person on the Minority side, so I believe that you are the most available Leader. Do you not desire to take the leadership role?
    All right.
    Hon Majority Leader, any indication?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker, we suspended to a certain period. We indicated to ourselves that we would recommence at 2.00 p. m., but it is after 4.00 p. m. now, so we are two hours behind schedule.
    Mr Speaker, because many of these things are at the instance of the Hon Finance Minister, who has some other serious engagements outside the precincts of the House, he could start in earnest with Motion listed as item numbered 7 on page 3 of the Order Paper.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 p.m.
    All right, item numbered 7 -- Motion.
    MOTIONS 1 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Kenneth Ofori-Atta) 1 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 Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 may be moved today.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is a procedural Motion so --
    Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah) 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Members, item numbered 8 -- Motion.
    BILLS -- SECOND READING 1 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 be now read a Second time.
    Mr Speaker, the objective of the Bill is to amend the Income Tax Act, 2015 (Act 896), to exempt the gain on realisation of securities of companies listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange from income tax, for the period 2017 to 2021.
    Mr Speaker, the Ghana Stock Exchange was established to provide investors with a secured platform on which to raise long- term capital and trade in securities.
    Mr Speaker, the Government has outlined measures to deepen the capital market, and to draw more investors onto the market. The measures include offloading a portion of government's holdings onto the market, and to remove the tax on gains from realisation of securities on the market.
    Mr Speaker, the Income Tax Act 2015 (Act 896) is amended in subsection 1 of section 7.
    Thank you Mr Speaker.
    Question proposed.
    Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah) 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion, and in doing so, present the Report of your Committee.
    The Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017, was presented to Parliament by the Minister for Finance, Hon Ken Ofori- Atta and read the First time on Tuesday 14th March, 2017. The Bill was subsequently referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with article 174 of the 1992
    Constitution and Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana.
    The Committee also determined that the Bill is of an urgent nature and has to be taken through all the stages in one day in accordance with article 106(13) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House.
    The Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta and other officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Ghana Revenue Authority assisted the Committee in its deliberations on the Bill.
    The Committee is grateful to the Hon Minister and the officials from the Ministry of Finance and GRA for attending upon the Committee.
    Urgency of the Bill
    The Committee determined that the Bill is of an urgent nature and must be taken through all the stages of passage in one day in accordance with article 106(13) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House.
    References
    The Committee referred to the following documents inter alia during its deliberations on the Bill:
    a. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
    b. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana.
    c. Income Tax Act, 2015 (Act 896)
    d. Interpretation Act, 2009 (Act 792)
    Background
    The Ghana Stock Exchange was established to provide investors with a secured platform on which to raise capital and trade in securities.
    The Government has outlined measures to deepen the capital market and to draw more investors into the market. The measures include off-loading a portion of Government holdings onto the market, and removing the tax on gains from realisation of securities on the market.
    Purpose of the Bill
    The Bill seeks to amend the Income Tax Act, 2015 (Act 896), to exempt the gain on realization of securities of companies listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange from income tax for the period 2017 to 2021.
    Content of the Bill
    The Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 contains one clause.
    The clause amends section 7(1) of Act 896, to exempt from tax the gains from the realisation of securities traded on the Ghana Stock Exchange up to 31st
    December, 2021.
    Observations
    Boost to the stock market
    The Committee was informed that recently, there is not much activity going on at the Ghana Stock Exchange due to the illiquidity situation on the Stock Exchange. There is therefore the need to introduce this measure to attract more investment onto the Stock Exchange, especially the ever-growing pension funds in the economy.
    Sunset clause
    The Minister for Finance, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta informed the Committee that the tax exemption is programmed to last till the end of December 2021 by which time the stock market is expected to have picked up significantly. Again, Govern-
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Members, we shall move on to the Consideration Stage.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Members, item numbered 9 -- Motion.
    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move that notwithstanding the provision 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 Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017, may be taken today.
    Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah) 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:15 p.m.
    The Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 at the Consideration Stage.
    BILLS -- CONSIDRATION STAGE 4:15 p.m.

    Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah) 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, there is no advertised amendment.
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:15 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, I see you on your feet.
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
    I have just seen the Hon Chairman of the Committee move section 7 of Act 896 amended and I see you to be in a hurry.
    Mr Speaker, our rules provide that having moved it, that he justifies why he wants that amendment. So if he can proceed to explain -- [Interruption.] He moved it. He should speak to the clause.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, respectfully, there is no amendment to the Bill before us.
    This is the amendment Bill and the justification of it is provided for in the Memorandum.
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in one breath, he said there is no amendment; in another, he justifies it for the Hon Chairman.
    Is he the Hon Chairman? He should allow the Hon Chairman to do his work.
    Mr Speaker, the Bill, as I have it, says section 7 of Act 896 amended.
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, as stated earlier, there is no advertised amendment.
    Mr Speaker, but to respond to the Hon Minority Leader's question, I would refer him to Standing Order 67 (1) (h).
    Mr Speaker, with your permission, I read 4:15 p.m.
    “a Question shall not be asked the answer to which is readily available in official publications;”
    Section 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:15 p.m.
    Now, the Long Title.
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:15 p.m.
    Before we proceed, Hon Avedzi.
    Mr Avedzi 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, this Bill was laid and referred to the Finance Committee yesterday, and the Report of the Committee is here.
    We are taking the Bill through the Consideration Stage and the rest but we do not have copies of the Bill. [Interruption.] Copies of the Bill were given to the Committee, which it used--
    They are now bringing a copy to me. Mr Speaker, why?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, on the Minority benches, there are only five Hon Members. Out of the five, he alone is the one who complained that he did not have a copy of the Bill. The rest of them have copies. So, he cannot say that “we do not have copies”. Everyone has been given a copy, and this copy that has been sent to him was fished from his own pigeon-hole.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:15 p.m.
    Has the Hon Deputy Minority Leader been given a copy?
    All right. We will proceed.
    Long Title ordered to stand part of the Bill.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:15 p.m.
    That brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage of the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
    MOTIONS 4:15 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move that notwithstanding the provision of Standing Order 131(1) which require that when a Bill has passed through the
    Chairman of the Committee (Dr Assibey-Yeboah) 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly
    BILLS -- THIRD READING 4:15 p.m.

    MOTIONS 4:15 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 4:15 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 Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017, may be moved today.
    Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah) 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    BILLS -- SECOND READING 4:15 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 be now read a Second time.
    Mr Speaker, the object of the Bill is to amend the Special Petroleum Tax Act, 2014, (Act 879) to reduce the rate of Special Petroleum Tax on petroleum products specified in the schedule to Act 879 from 17.5 per cent to 15 per cent.
    This is to reduce the tax burden imposed on taxpayers and to provide some relief to the users of petroleum products.
    Mr Speaker, the Special Petroleum Tax Act, 2014 (Act 879), is amended by the substitution for section 2 of rate of tax.
    Thank you Mr Speaker.
    Question proposed.
    Chairman of Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah) 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to associate myself with the Motion on the floor of the House, and in so doing, I present the Committee's Report;
    Introduction
    The Special Petroleum Tax (Amend- ment) Bill, 2017, was presented to Parliament by the Minister for Finance, Hon Kenneth Ofori-Atta and read the First time on Tuesday 14th March, 2017. The Bill was subsequently referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report, in accordance with article 174 of the 1992 Constitution, and Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana.
    The Committee determined that the Bill was of an urgent nature and should be taken through all the stages in one day in accordance with article 106(13) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House.
    The Hon. Minister for Finance, Mr Kenneth Ofori-Atta and other officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Ghana Revenue Authority attended upon the Committee and assisted in its deliberations on the Bill.
    The Committee is grateful to the Hon Minister and officials from the Ministry of Finance for attending upon the Committee.
    Urgency of the Bill
    The Committee determined that the Bill is of an urgent nature and must be taken through all the stages of passage in one day, in accordance with article 106(13) of the Constitution, 1992 and Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House.
    Reference
    The Committee referred to the following documents inter alia during its deliberations on the Bill:
    a. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
    b. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana.
    c. Special Petroleum Tax Act, 2014 (Act 879)
    d. Interpretation Act, 2009 (Act 792)
    Background
    The Special Petroleum Tax Act, 2014 (Act 879) was passed in 2014 to help shore
    up government revenue from taxation. Presently, Government intends to reduce the tax burden imposed on taxpayers and to provide some relief to the users of petroleum products in the country, hence the introduction of this Bill.
    The object of the Bill is to amend the Special Petroleum Tax Act, 2014 (Act 879), to reduce the rate of the Special Petroleum Tax on petroleum products specified in the Schedule to Act 879 from seventeen and a half per cent (17.5%) to fifteen per cent (15%).
    Content of the Bill
    The Special Petroleum Tax (Amend- ment) Bill, 2017contains one clause. The clause amends Act 879 by the substitution for section 2 thereof of the following:
    “Rate of tax
    2. The rate of the tax is fifteen per cent, to be calculated on the ex- depot price of the petroleum product.”
    Observations
    Revenue Impact
    How much this reduction of tax would impact revenue generation, the Minister for Finance informed the Committee that, the Ministry estimates a revenue loss of about two hundred and forty-three million Ghana cedis (GH¢243 million). He further explained that Government intends to make up for this loss through enhanced method of revenue collection.
    Conclusion
    The Committee upon carefully examining the Bill, finds that its passage would reduce the tax burden on petroleum
    Chairman of Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah) 4:15 p.m.


    consumers and give impetus to Government's policy of directing petroleum prices in the downward direction.

    The Committee, therefore, recommends to the House to adopt this Report and pass the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 into law in accordance with Article 106 of the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House.

    The Committee, further recommends that the Bill be taken through all the stages in one day in accordance with Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House.

    Respectfully Submitted.
    Mr Cassiel Ato Forson (NDC-- Ajumako/Enyan/Essiam) 4:15 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion, and in doing so, I would like to look at the observations.
    Mr Speaker, we were told at the Committee meeting that, as a result of the reduction of the tax measure from 17.5 per cent to 15.5 per cent, the country is going to lose approximately GH¢243million. We were also told that, approximately, the remaining 15 per cent is going to yield total revenue of about GH¢1.5 billion.
    Mr Speaker, the Committee had raised a concern, which was the fact that, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, of which the Government of Ghana signed with -- In 2015, the Government of Ghana committed to the IMF Programme, of which at the time, we would recall that one of the prior actions
    that the Government of Ghana was asked to implement, as part of the programme, was a Special Petroleum Tax.
    Mr Speaker, I bring this to our attention because, since the country has shown clear indications that we intend to stay within the IMF Programme, my concern is that, what sort of signal are we sending to the market? If care is not taken, and we do not communicate this very well to the financial market, the financial market may react inappropriately.
    It is of that reason, that I ask the Hon Minister for Finance to couch his communications around this carefully, so that Ghana does not stand to lose as a result of the reduction of this tax measure from 17.5 per cent to 15 per cent.
    Mr Speaker, it is important we do not politicise this matter. This is because if the cedi depreciates, obviously, we would see the value of our currency coming down.
    It is for this reason that I ask the Hon Minister for Finance to tailor his communication in a way that it would not go out in a bad manner to affect the stability of the economy.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:15 p.m.
    Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
    Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation (Dr A. A. Osei )(MP) 4:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I appreciate the advice of the former Deputy Minister, but first, I would want to remind him that, this House is officially not aware of the IMF programme. This is because they refused to bring it here for our approval.
    Mr Speaker, that notwithstanding, this Government has spoken directly to the IMF on this matter. The Government team
    held discussions -- they are fully aware, and the market is fully informed of this.
    So, he should not worry at all. We are aware of our commitment to the Fund, they are aware and all investors are aware.
    I would want to assure him that we would bring the IMF to this House, unlike them.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr James Klutse Avedzi (NDC -- Keta North) 4:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to speak to the Motion for the House to adopt the Committee's Report to approve the principle behind this Bill.
    Mr Speaker, the Committee, under paragraph 6.0; Observations, talks about revenue impact. In fact, the Committee mentioned, specifically, GH¢243million as a revenue loss, which would come as a result of the reduction in the rate from 17.5 per cent to 15.0 per cent.
    Mr Speaker, now, this GH¢243 million loss, according to the Hon Minister for Finance, Government will in turn make up for the loss through enhanced methods of revenue collection.
    Mr Speaker, what are the enhanced methods of revenue collection? It is just a matter of making a statement that they will make up for the loss through enhanced methods of revenue collection. What are the methods?
    Mr Speaker, what are the enhanced methods of revenue collection? It is just a matter of making the statement, that, “I would make up for the loss through enhanced methods of revenue
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:35 a.m.
    Hon Member, hold on.
    Hon Chairman of the Committee?
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 4:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader is misleading the House. He stated categorically that, the Committee members are not aware of the revenue enhancing methods.
    This afternoon we approved the Budget Statement of the Akufo-Addo Govern- ment. These policy initiatives have been stated clearly here. I do not know if the Hon Deputy Minority Leader has read the Budget in its entirety. He has to withdraw what he said, that the Committee members were not apprised of the revenue enhancing methods. In any event, we did not have to ask because they are clearly stated in the Budget.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Avedzi 4:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am surprised that the Hon Chairman of the Committee, who knows very well that the enhanced methods are in the Budget Statement --
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:35 a.m.
    Hon Kwaku Kwarteng?
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, please, hold your fire.
    Mr Kwaku K. Kwarteng 4:35 a.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Under the current petroleum pricing regime, we have only a ceiling with the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), the space to determine their own prices. Put in another way, we are operating a liberalised price regime. It is, therefore, strange for anybody to suggest that, because Government has reduced its contribution to the price build-up, we should be able to say by how much all the various outlets would reduce their prices by.
    It is up to them. What Government has done, which is commendable, is that, it has reduced its contribution to the price build-up. I just hope that the vendors would follow. However, do not ask Government to say by how much each Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) would reduce its prices.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:35 a.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader, please, conclude.
    Mr Avedzi 4:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I did not say that Government should fix the price. I said the impact, if he does not understand. What is the positive level of impact? Would the impact of this be two per cent? Would it be GH¢2.00? He should tell us, so that the OMCs would factor that into the pricing, so that each of them would fix their own prices. I am only talking about the impact. He told us how much we would lose as a result of this tax reduction. How much benefit would the one buying the fuel enjoy? That is what the Report failed to mention. That is the point I am raising.
    Thank you.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:35 a.m.
    I will put the Question now. There appears to be very little disagreements on this matter.
    Leadership wants to talk on the matter?
    Very well.
    Minority Leader (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) (MP) 4:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, if you could recognise one other person, we would appreciate it. Bear in mind that we have had to suspend our Standing Orders because of the urgency of this particular Bill. So, as we relax the rules, it would be important that we engage further. I do not know if I can proceed. I would keep my comments very brief on this particular one.
    Mr Speaker, at least, the Hon Minister for Finance was candid, and I am referring to paragraph 92 of the Budget Statement -- Fiscal Developments in 2016. This is what the Hon Minister said;
    “Mr. Speaker, the main objectives of fiscal policy, as envisioned in the 2016 Budget, was to consolidate Government's finances by reducing the fiscal deficit from 6.3 per cent of GDP in 2015 to 5.0 per cent of GDP in 2016. The ultimate goal was to progressively reduce the fiscal deficit to 3.0 per cent of GDP by 2018. Fiscal policy objectives for 2016 were, therefore, set against the backdrop of the following:
    continued implementation of revenue and expenditure measures which began in 2013;
    strengthening of on-going revenue administration reforms;
    improving public financial management and expenditure rationalisation to enhance the efficiency of public spending; and
    implementation of new debt management strategies.”
    So, at least, this revenue measure is a good tax instrument inherited. When In the morning I said that there had been seeds sown for the NPP Government to put fertiliser on, this is one of such seeds, that they can recoup GH¢1.5 billion from a tax regime which was introduced by this Act in 2014, Act 879.
    Mr Speaker, in response to two other Hon Colleagues of ours, the Hon Deputy Minister-designate -- at least, now his
    anxiety has ended to remind him of paragraph 3.0 of the Committee's Report.
    The Hon Majority Leader knew what he was doing to add to people's blood pressure and anxiety. Speaking on paragraph 3.0, just for him to appreciate what the Hon Deputy Majority Leader raised. It says:
    “The Special Petroleum Tax Act, 2014 (Act 870) was passed in 2014 to help shore up government revenue from taxation.”
    For my emphasis, I beg to quote;
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:35 a.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, hold on.
    Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?
    Dr A. A. Osei 4:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, my Hon Friend said the Hon Deputy Majority Leader. I believe he meant to say the Hon Deputy Minority Leader. He should not give people titles they do not have.
    Mr Iddrisu 4:35 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, Hon Avedzi related to it but just for emphasis --
    You would recall it was Rt Hon Speaker who closed us. I stated that in assessing this Budget Statement, we needed to be mindful of whether we would reduce the burdens of Ghanaians or seek to postpone some of the burdens.
    You have a tax administration system, and somewhere in the Budget Statement, the Hon Minister agrees to the difficulty with tax mobilisation. Sometimes, the economists know why you tax goods
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 4:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, not really much because the issues raised by the Hon Minority Leader really bore no relevance to the issues that were at stake. So, I would not want to make any further comment, except to say that, consistently, he has alluded to certain powers that I have, of making people overly anxious about whatever.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader had the penchant to overly exaggerate my own powers. I do not have the power that he alluded to me, and I believe he should get it clear just so that he does not cause further apprehensions in certain circles.
    Question put and Motion agreed to
    The Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was accordingly read a Second time.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:45 p.m.
    Hon Members, Motion numbered 15 on the Order paper.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 4:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I believe you mean Motion captured as item numbered 15 on the Order Paper?
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:45 p.m.
    Hon Members, item numbered 15 on the Order Paper Motion.
    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 4:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provision 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 Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 may be taken today.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:45 p.m.
    Hon Members, the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 at the Consideration Stage.
    BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE 4:45 p.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:45 p.m.
    Hon Members, that brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage.
    Hon Members, item numbered 17, Procedural Motion.
    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 4:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provision 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 Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017 may be moved today.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:45 p.m.
    Hon Members, item numbered 18, the Third Reading of the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
    Yes, Hon Minister for Finance?
    BILLS -- THIRD READING 4:45 p.m.

    MOTIONS 4:45 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 4:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80(1), which require that no Motion shall be debate 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 Special Import Levy (Amendment) Bill 2017 may be moved today.
    Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah) 4:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:45 p.m.
    Hon Members, item numbered 20 on the Order Paper.
    BILLS -- SECOND READING 4:45 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 4:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Special Import Levy (Amendment) Bill, 2017 be now read a Second time.
    Mr Speaker, the object of the Bill is to amend the Special Import Levy Act 2013, (Act 861), by the removal of the one per cent special import levy on goods specified in the Second Schedule to the Act.
    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 4:45 p.m.


    Mr Speaker, the Government, in 2013, introduced the Special Import Levy to show up dwindling revenues. The levy which was to last up to 2015, was however extended to 2017.

    Mr Speaker, Government has decided that, as part of the current measures, it would remove taxes that increased the cost of production, to free up capital for use by industry.

    Thank you Mr Speaker.

    Question proposed.
    Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah) 4:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Motion on the floor of the House and in so doing, present the Report of the Committee -- [Interruption]
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 4:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I heard the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee associate himself with the Motion, that by our rules — [Interruption.] — The Hon Minister has moved the Motion and we expect him to second it. I submit —
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:55 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, I suppose you have dropped your objection.
    Hon Chairman, please continue.
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 4:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, has the Hon Minority Leader abandoned that line of argument?
    Mr Iddrisu 4:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, my attention has been drawn to Standing Order 81. So we can proceed.
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 4:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I could not have associated myself if I was not well aware of Standing Order 81 well grounded there.
    Nelson E. K. Dafeamekpor — rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:55 p.m.
    Hon Chairman of the Committee, please, hold your fire.
    Mr Dafeamekpor 4:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in the Report under reference, we have two paragraphs labelled 4.0; first 4.0 — Purpose of the Bill and the second 4.0 — Structure of the Bill. So, if the Hon Chairman may amend it and then proceed.
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 4:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the first 4.0 would be amended to read, 3.0.
    Thank you.
    Mr Speaker, the Committee noted that the removal of the one per cent special import levy forms part of Government's efforts to remove taxes that increase cost of production in order to free up capital for use by industry.
    The Minister for Finance informed the Committee that, the impact of removing this tax amounted to GH¢71 million revenue loss. However, Government hopes to recover the amount through better management of other revenue sources.
    Conclusion
    The Committee, after carefully examining the Bill, and finding it to be in the right direction, respectfully re- commends to the House to adopt this Report and pass the Special Import Levy (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
    The Committee further recommends that the Bill be taken through all the stages in one day in accordance with Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House.
    Respectfully submitted.
    Ranking Member of the Committee (Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson): Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion on the floor of the House and in doing so, I refer you to the third paragraph under paragraph 5.0 — Observation.
    Mr Speaker, it says, and I beg to quote 4:55 p.m.
    “The Committee noted that the removal of the one per cent special import levy forms part of Government's efforts to remove taxes that increase cost of production in order to free up capital for use by industry.”
    Mr Speaker, it says, and I beg to quote 4:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, this very phrase is also in the object of the Bill.
    Mr Speaker, the Special Import Levy is of two categories -- the one per cent and the two per cent. The one per cent is projected to yield about GH¢71 million. It is the one the Hon Minister for Finance has proposed before this House, that we exempt or remove that tax handle.
    Mr Speaker, strangely, the two per cent component would yield about GH¢568 million. Therefore, in general, if we are to look at how much the Special Import Levy would have yielded for the 2017, it would have yielded an amount of GH¢639 million.

    Mr Speaker, clearly, if indeed the object is to free up capital for industry —
    Yeboah — rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:55 p.m.
    Hon Ranking Member, please hold on.
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 4:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, respectfully, the Hon Ranking Member seems to be setting his own question and answering.
    Government brought a reduction in the abolishment of the one per cent Special Import Levy. He is suggesting that the two per cent too should go. Then by the same stretch, all taxes must be removed.
    Government intends to take away the one per cent Special Import Levy for now, and we should applaud the efforts of
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:55 p.m.
    Hon Ranking Member, please, continue.
    Mr Forson 4:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am afraid my Hon Colleague, the Hon Chairman has said nothing. My point was for us to look at the weight. If indeed, the intention of Government is to free up capital for production and to encourage production, we look at the weight.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 4:55 p.m.
    Hon Members, Order!
    Mr Forson 4:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if indeed, we want to reduce the burden on Ghanaians, then they should remove the GH¢568 millio,n and not the GH¢71 million and create the impression that Special Petroleum Tax has been removed.
    Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion.
    Mr Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah (NPP — Ofoase/Ayirebi) 4:55 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion before the House at the moment, and in doing so, there are about two quick things I would like to say.
    Mr Speaker, the object of fiscal policy is not just to be taxing the people at every single opportunity. But it is also to inject efficiency in Government expenditure management. That is why this Government, under President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is of the view that, we are very well able to bring about a lot of efficiency in expenditure management.
    Therefore, if there are some tax handles that we are of the view, are just nuisances to particularly business people, then they ought to be removed to allow private capital to flow and increase productivity.
    Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, Hon Ato Forson suggests that the one per cent is not weighty enough and that perhaps, we should go to weighty items. Why did his Government impose it in the first place if it is not weighty enough? Because they were hoping to raise some revenue from it and in so doing, imposed some burden on Ghanaian business people.
    We are of the view that, if this particular handle is lifted, capital would be free, people would have the opportunity to invest their money in productive ventures, and rather, on the incomes that they make using the current rate, we would be able to tax them some more.
    This is the mark of a Government that is intent to lift the burden off business people, so that the economy can flourish. This is also a very strong signal to many other persons in the business community that, we intend to partner with them to grow this economy.
    Finally, Mr Speaker, I know this Government would have abolished more if there was more fiscal space to do. But the kind of economy that we have inherited, means that today, we are
    constrained even in the reliefs we can give. Even in the midst of these constraints, we would remove these tax handles and it is my expectation that, as things get better, we would offer more reliefs to Ghanaian business people.
    Mr Kwame Govers Agbodza (NDC-- Adaklu) 5:05 p.m.
    Thank you Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to support the Motion.
    Mr Speaker, ordinarily, I am happy, that any attempt Government makes to reduce the burden on businesses and consumers is acceptable. But I believe what my Hon Colleague said, that if Government intended to actually reduce the burden of businesses, they have two options -- reduce the two per cent one, and keep that of the one per cent. [Uproar] But this Government has attempted to confuse everybody by saying that, they would reduce --
    Mr Speaker, the truth is this 5:05 p.m.
    If the Hon Minister for Finance really wanted this to work, what is killing all of us, is his inability to tame the depreciation of the cedi. [Uproar] Hold on.
    By the time we finish this, all that we would have achieved -- the guy who is trying to clear goods at the port, would have no impact because the cedi is shooting through the sky and he is unable to do something about it.
    Mr Speaker, the truth is this 5:05 p.m.


    Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh -- rose
    -- 5:05 p.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:05 p.m.
    Hon Minister for Education, do you rise on a point of order?
    Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh 5:05 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, just this last Parliament, we passed the Bank of Ghana Bill. When we talked about curtailing the powers we give to the Governor, he was on this side of the House jumping that we should even give him more powers.
    In one month, he has turned round to tell the Hon Minister for Finance to halt the depreciation of the cedi. When we were talking about Bank of Ghana - But Mr Speaker, that is not the issue. He belonged to a Government which put taxes on condoms, sachet water, cutlasses and akpeteshie. How does he then come and sit here --
    He cannot see anything but taxes. They are a Government of taxes and taxes and taxes. We have an Hon Minister who is coming to lighten the load of taxes and he says, what? He should have given that advice to the former Government, so that the taxes would not have overburdened the people of Ghana.
    Thank you.
    Mr Agbodza 5:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I can understand my Hon Friend. He is hot. He needs money to pay for free senior high school (SHS) and cannot find it. So, he is hot. [Uproar!]
    Mr Speaker, it is very important that in this House, anyone that comes here to treat anything about taxes should be able to tell us the impact on all of us. If the Hon
    Minister for Finance cannot tell us what the impact of this would be on me, if I go to the port tomorrow to clear goods, then, what is the point?
    He tells us we would lose GH¢ 71 million. I am telling him that what the importers are more worried about today, and everybody watching us knows. is his inability to arrest the cedi. So, he should come to this House and tell us how he would make the cedi stronger. Otherwise, to be honest, we would sit here up to 5.00 p.m. and this Bill would not have any positive impact on this country. It is not good enough.
    This is not what they promised us. They promised us significant improve- ment of our conditions. All these cosmetic taxes will not take us anywhere. They should arrest the cedi and we would all be happy.
    Dr A. A. Osei 5:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I need your guidance here. [Interruption]
    My Hon good Friend used the words, “arrest the cedi”. Can he explain to this House what “arrest the cedi” means?
    Is he a cop? Arrest the cedi?
    Mr Agbodza 5:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is very simple. The current Vice President used the word -- I am borrowing from Dr Bawumia.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:05 p.m.
    Hon Agbodza, I have not given you the floor.
    Yes -- [Interruption] -- Very well,
    Hon Majority Leader?
    Majority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 5:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, just a few observations.
    If a Bill comes before the Finance Committee, it is for the Committee as regards Standing Order 169 to determine and report to this House the impact of the Bill on the economy generally. I guess my Hon Colleague knows that. So, he would not burden the Hon Minister for Finance that he has failed to do this. It is our own Committee that is required to submit a report on that. May I draw his attention to that?
    Mr Speaker, in any event, that had been factored in the Budget Statement and if he reads it, he would certainly find it. The Budget Statement and Economic Policy is an official publication.
    Mr Speaker, it is interesting listening to my Hon Colleagues on the other side of the House insisting that, if indeed, the Hon Minister for Finance wants to reduce the “burden of Ghanaians” -- and I quote their own words -- So, they admit that there is a burden that they imposed on the people of this country?
    Mr Speaker, he went on to say that he should be bold and remove the two per cent imposition. So, he admits that, that was a burden. So, Mr Speaker, you see them?

    Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:05 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
    Minority Leader (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) 5:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
    I speak in support of the Motion and trust that the consequence of this would be a lessened burden.
    The Hon Majority Leader should not struggle to know that everywhere in the world, when one imposes taxes, one inflicts burdens on citizens; that is why Parliaments must be guided. He should not go to the world of pretence, as if he does not know that in imposing taxes --
    But Mr Speaker, what we must note is that, listening to both the President and the Hon Minister for Finance --To paraphrase them, we have no fiscal space. By this action, they are further eroding the fiscal space available to them.

    Thank you.

    Question put and Motion agreed to.

    The Special Import Levy (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was accordingly read a Second time.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:05 p.m.
    Hon Members, item numbered 23 -- [Interruption.]
    We have not moved item numbered 21 yet.
    Dr A. A. Osei 5:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I know you are in a hurry but we are now at item numbered 21 on the Order Paper.
    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 5:15 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 Special Import Levy (Amendment) Bill, 2017 may be taken today.
    Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah) 5:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE 5:15 p.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:15 p.m.
    That brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage.
    Item numbered 23 on the Order Paper?
    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 5:15 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 Special Import Levy (Amendment) Bill, 2017 may be moved today.
    BILLS -- THIRD READING 5:15 p.m.

    MOTIONS 5:15 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Kenneth Ofori-Atta) 5:15 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 Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Repeal) Bill, 2017 may be moved today.
    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 5:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    BILLS -- SECOND READING 5:15 p.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 5:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Repeal) Bill, 2017 be now read a Second time.
    Mr Speaker, the object of the Bill is to remove the rates of excise duty on petroleum products and to repeal the Act. This is to reduce the cost of fuel for domestic consumers and industry and to augment disposable income for investment.
    Mr Speaker, clause 1 of the Bill repeals the Act, and clause 2 outlines the transitional provisions
    Thank you Mr Speaker.
    Question proposed.
    Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah) 5:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Motion on the floor, and in so doing, I present the Committee's Report.
    Introduction
    The Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Repeal) Bill, 2017, was presented in the House and read the First time on Tuesday, 14 March, 2017 and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report, in accordance with the 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House.
    The Committee determined that the Bill was of an urgent nature and has to be taken through all the stages of passage in one day.
    To consider the Bill, the Committee met with the Minister for Finance, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta and his team of officials from the Ministry and reports as follows:
    Urgency of the Bill
    The Committee determined that the Bill is of an urgent nature and must be taken through all the stages of passage in one day in accordance with article 106 (13) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House.
    Reference Documents
    The following documents served as reference materials:
    (i) The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana
    (ii) The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana
    (iii)Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related levies) Act, 2005 (Act 685).
    Purpose of the Bill .
    The purpose of the Bill is to repeal the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) Act, 2005 (Act
    685).

    Structure of the Bill

    The Bill has two sections:

    1. Section 1 -- Act 685 repealed

    2. Section 2 -- Transitional provision to save any rights, liabilities and obligations in existence immediately before the repeal of the Act.

    Observation

    The Committee was informed that the main object of the Bill is to remove the rates of excise duty on petroleum products by repealing the Act.

    The Minister for Finance, Hon Ofori- Atta explained that, the reason for the removal is to reduce the tax overlays in the petroleum industry. He said Government is trying to build faith with the people and would not impose tax where it is not necessary.

    The Minister for Finance further informed the Committee that, the impact of the tax is estimated at eighty four million Ghana cedis (GH¢84 million). He indicated that the Ministry intends to find means of driving down the prices of petroleum products and provide some moral suasion in the efforts to build faith with the transport sector.

    Conclusion

    The Committee, after carefully examining the Bill, and found it to be in the right direction, respectfully recommends to the House to adopt this Report and pass the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Repeal) Bill, 2017.

    The Committee further recommends that the Bill be taken through all the stages in one day, in accordance with Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House.

    Respectfully submitted.
    Mr Cassiel Ato Forson (NDC -- Ajumako/Enyan/Essiam) 5:15 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor.
    Mr Speaker, in doing so, I refer you to the Observations of the Report. The Hon Chairman of the Committee read and said that, and I beg to quote:
    “The Minister for Finance further informed the Committee that the impact of the tax is estimated at eighty four million Ghana cedis (GH¢84 million)…”
    Mr Speaker, he further went on to indicate that 5:25 p.m.
    “He indicated that the Ministry intends to find means of driving down the prices of petroleum products and provide some moral suasion in the efforts to build faith with the transport sector”.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to say that unfortunately, the Ministry of Finance alone cannot drive down the prices of petroleum products. I have just gone to the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) website. You would notice that, petroleum prices have three major indicators. One is the forex; the rate of the cedi to the US dollar. Secondly, it is the world market price of the petroleum products, be it gas oil or gasoline.
    Mr Speaker, again, the next one is the issue relating to taxation. What the Hon Minister has done today is, first, an attempt to remove the taxes imposed on some of the petroleum products. He has
    been successful in reducing the Special Petroleum Tax from 17.5 per cent to 15 per cent.

    Mr Speaker, by doing so, it means that an amount of GH¢243 million may have been lost. Secondly, with this very tax handle, the Government of Ghana is giving away about GH¢84 million. What I notice here is that, the world market price of petroleum products -- the Free on Board (FOB) price is coming down.

    Mr Speaker, you would notice that, in terms of petroleum products, the price of diesel has declined by approximately one per cent and the price of petrol has also declined on the world market, but because the Ghana cedi is actually depreciating, the effect on the pump price may not be as we all anticipate.

    I say this because, if we look at the NPA website again, we would notice that the last pricing window -- the average pricing used -- the Price Build Up (PBU), effective 1st May, 2017, the Bank of Ghana forex used at the time was GH¢4.3945. Mr Speaker, when we look at the second window, effective 16th March, 2017 we would notice that the Price Build Up used in terms of the Ghana cedis was GH¢4.533.

    Per the calculations that I have done, I have come to the conclusion that, in terms of the average price at the pump, diesel may not go down; it may still go up because of the impact of the Ghana cedi. On average, diesel price would go up by about 0.58 per cent; kerosene price would still go up by about 0.53 per cent and the petrol price would indeed, go down by about 1.53 per cent.
    Mr Francis K. A. Codjoe 5:25 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, I wanted to respond to what my Hon Colleague said.
    Government is taking away taxes, it is rather building confidence in the economy for businesses to come in. Mr Speaker, the levy on the tax is eventually passed to the consumer. So, when the levy is taken away, it is taken away from the consumers and this would demonstrate to the people who voted for the Government to come into power, that it is a listening Government.
    Previously, people were complaining and businesses were suffering but the Government never responded and it kept imposing taxes. When people complained, they kept introducing more taxes but the
    Dr Abdul-Rashid H. Pelpuo (NDC -- Wa Central) 5:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you.
    I rise to contribute to the Motion, but also to suggest that we are in very uncertain times and we have seen the new Government make promises about reduction in taxes in a varied way. We have seen the Government also make comments about the difficulty that they are facing -- and an economy that has a very small fiscal space to operate. We have seen the same Government making attempts to consolidate the fiscal space, so that eventually, they could fulfil some of their promises.
    Mr Speaker, tax reductions in the way that they are doing it, is admirable. The reason is that, if they genuinely reduce taxes and have an economy that is resilient for people and the international community to have confidence in it and for investors to go out there to invest and make money, then you would see a booming economy.
    However, the challenge is that, if we have such an economy, where people believe that promises made were only political in nature, then there would be a problem.
    Therefore, I am entreating the Government and the Hon Minister for
    Finance, especially the Hon Ranking Member to listen to us.
    There are areas that he could adjust to make sure that he is in a safe sailing ship and we could join him. Mr Speaker, otherwise, we are not going to be a part of a situation where only surface promises meant to win an election are made other than promises made to have a real impact on the economy. This is because, if there is a successful economy, we would all be happy and if there is a failed economy, we would all suffer. So, the understanding is that, we are even going to have more reduction in taxes, so that businesses could grow.
    We promise to continue to ask questions about the reduction. We would continue to urge them to reduce more taxes in accordance with their own manifesto because that is what they promised the people. Our duty is to make sure that they fulfil it to the very letter, so that in the end, they further reduce the two per cent and they go ahead to reduce fuel prices and make sure that people are happy and they would not pay for transportation fares as they are paying now.
    Mrs Abena Osei-Asare (NPP -- Atiwa East) 5:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Motion on the floor.
    My Hon Colleagues on the other Side are behaving as if the Ghana cedi started depreciating only when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) came to power, but that is not true. So, these and some other measures --[Interruption] -- Listen --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:25 p.m.
    Order!
    Mrs Osei-Asare 5:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleagues on the other side are behaving as if the Ghana cedi started depreciating only when the NPP was declared the winner of the elections. Mr Speaker, but this has been going on for some time. So, let us all try as much as possible to help the NPP Government and the people of Ghana to solve this problem and not whine over this -- [Interruption]
    Alhaji Inusah A. B. Fuseini 5:25 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, indeed, the Minority Side has always known that the Ghana cedi has always been under pressure and it has been falling.
    Mr Speaker, when the Ghana cedi starts falling like dry leaves in the harmattan, then it becomes a cause for concern and this is what we have seen since January. We have always known that the Ghana cedi would be under pressure and fall.
    In fact, it is because the Ghana cedi fell so drastically, that was why the former President, His Excellency J. A. Kufuor, did the redenomination exercise. The Ghana cedi is the worst performing currency as we speak today and that is why the Hon Minister is being invited to take steps to engender confidence in the Ghana cedi by stabilising same.
    So, if we have asked for this, we are not closing our eyes to the falling of the Ghana cedi.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:25 p.m.
    Hon Osei- Asare, continue.
    Mrs Osei-Asare 5:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is a people-centred government. It is sensitive to the plight of Ghanaians.
    Mr Speaker, in contributing to the Motion on the floor, I would like to go to paragraph 5.0 of the Report, under Observations. We are told that the object of this Bill is to completely remove rates of excise duty on petroleum products. By doing so, the Akufo-Addo-led Govern- ment is going to lose GH¢84 million. The Government is so humane that it is not looking at the revenue that it is going to lose, but it is rather looking at how it is going to help to make things better for all Ghanaians.
    Following this repeal, fuel prices would go down, transportation fares would go down, and this would affect the living standards of the people.
    So, Mr Speaker, in my opinion, we would have to applaud the Akufo-Addo- led Government for fulfilling its campaign promise. We could see that he is a man of his words. He has shown to the people of Ghana that, whatever he says, he would do. So we should all support this Motion to help the Government realise these important achievements.
    Mr Fifi Fiavi Franklin Kwetey (NDC -- Ketu South) 5:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Motion. In so doing, let me indicate that we endanger the future of our country when we create the impression that reduction of taxes per se
    Mr Fifi Fiavi Franklin Kwetey (NDC -- Ketu South) 5:25 p.m.


    is going to bring about an expansion of our economy and the transformation of our country.

    Countries where the highest welfare of citizens have been attained, are countries that have proved that they do so by what is called substantial contribution in taxation. With personal income tax contribution, sometimes, it is in the range of 45 per cent to 50 per cent while corporate income tax contribution is in the region of 45 per cent to 50 per cent.

    Mr Speaker, it is important to appreciate what we are doing. This path that we are on is a path that is going to lead us to even a greater economic difficulty. This exercise is nothing short of an exercise in subterfuge. That is really what it is; where one gives an impression to the people and comes to do what is called “cosmetic policies”, which brings no real effect.

    As established amply, this repeal and the previous reductions, in real terms, are not going to change the conditions of our people. This is because what we have done is to do some cosmetic reduction, hoping to use that to deceive the people. But the people would wake up to the realisation because the persons at the pump are not going to see any change.
    -- 5:25 p.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:25 p.m.
    Hon Majority Leader?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 5:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, respectfully, I believe the use of the words “deceive the people”, that the purpose of this is to deceive the people, really tries to impute improper motives to the Hon Minister. Again, Mr Speaker, it offends Order 93(2) of our Standing Orders and I would plead the Hon Colleague to withdraw those words.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:25 p.m.
    Hon Fifi Kwetey, it is an objection that the word “deceive” or the phrase “to deceive” offends the rules of our House. Order 93(2) says:
    “It shall be out of order to use offensive, abusive, insulting, blasphemous or unbecoming words or to impute improper motives ….”
    The objection is that, “to deceive” imputes improper motives. I direct that you withdraw and rephrase it.
    Mr Kwetey 5:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I withdraw the word “deceive”. To simply explain that, what I sought to say was that, we could claim we are relieving the people of their burden when the real truth is that we are actually adding to their hardship. That was the point I sought to make. So, if the word “deceive” does not sit well, I apologise and withdraw it.
    However, Mr Speaker, the point I wanted to make was that, the call I made is not partisan; it is a national call. I really wish the Hon Minister for Finance well. Genuinely, I do. I know the seat he is in, is important for the country; and I do know deep down, he appreciates that some of these populists measures that he is making
    would become a difficulty for himself down the road --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:25 p.m.
    Hon Fifi Kwetey, “populist” is another un- acceptable word. Kindly withdraw it and proceed.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 5:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:25 p.m.
    I thought I had already ruled that he is out of order with that word?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 5:25 p.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker, but after the door has been shut on the use of the word “deceive”, he now says “populist”.
    Mr Speaker, I believe that word is both offensive and seeks to impute improper motives. It offends Order 93(2).
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:25 p.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, I have already ruled that he replaces the word, “populist”.
    Mr Kwetey 5:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
    Anyway, the long and short of what I am saying is that the Hon Minister needs to appreciate that it is not always that, we could achieve the economic objectives of this country by increasing the fiscal space, bringing an economic expansion and creating jobs. By actually taking some of these very cosmetic policies, at the end of the day, we are going to cause problems to our economy.
    We just would want to say as a caution, that down the road, we would not be surprised when the same Hon Minister comes here and starts talking about re- imposition of taxes because he realises that he has bitten far more than he could chew.
    Mr Joseph Cudjoe (NPP--Effia) 5:45 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to support the Motion on the floor.
    I believe we just have to take note of the fact that, as the previous Hon Member who contributed said, the tax reduction comes on the back of three factors; namely, world market price, which we do not have control over; foreign exchange, which a central bank governor conducts the monetary policy and the appointed governor is in charge of, and the third, which a Minister for Finance whom we appointed is in charge.
    It is the only variable we could influence easily by adjusting the direction upwards or downwards.
    Ghanaians know that, if the previous Government had been in place, by now, we would be here increasing the taxes. Today, as we speak, we are making an effort to rather reduce them, in conformity with a manifesto policy we gave.
    Mr Speaker, a US$243 million reduction is more than four times the money given to Alfred Woyome, and this would at least, make life easier for Ghanaians.
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:45 p.m.
    Hon Member, please, hold on.
    Hon Ranking Member?
    Mr Forson 5:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Colleague is grossly misleading this House.
    Alhaji Collins Dauda (NDC- Asutifi South) 5:45 p.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this Motion.
    Mr Speaker, the expectation of Ghanaians is that, with the repeal of the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies and the Special Petroleum Tax (Amendment) Act, fuel prices may go down and thereby give some relief to Ghanaians, and indeed, to my constituents.
    Mr Speaker, as we speak now, petrol per litre sells at GH¢4.3. Diesel also sells at GH¢4.32 per litre. With the amendment to the Special Petroleum Tax Act and the
    repeal of the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) Act, the expectation is that, petrol per litre would come down, and the same would apply to diesel.
    Mr Speaker, the passenger in my constituency travelling from Dadiesoaba to Goaso is charged three Ghana cedis. Therefore, if Parliament approves of these two actions, the expectation of the passenger in Dadiesoaba, who would be travelling to Goaso on Friday, would be that, lorry fares would come down because they are interrelated.
    Mr Speaker, at the Committee level, we tried to find out from the Hon Minister for Finance the impact of this on petroleum prices and related lorry fares. However, no answer was given, and I am very sure that in the House this evening, the Minister for Finance would do well and show his face to Hon Members of Parliament, and to the whole country, how much of the petrol price per litre would be slashed as a result of the decision we are going to take now.
    Mr Speaker, those of us on this side are very much concerned; I am sure all Ghanaians are concerned, because as a result of these two actions, we are going to lose as much as GH¢318 million.
    Mr Speaker, when I did a check in respect of the Special Petroleum Tax, which is already approved, it is going to cost this country GH¢243 million; and the Customs and Excise one is also going to cost us GH¢84 million. Mr Speaker, if we put the two together, they would give us GH¢318 million.
    When I checked from the Community Water and Sanitation Agency in Sunyani, the cost of one borehole drilled in the Brong Ahafo Region was GH¢15,000. Therefore, if this money were to be

    Mr Augustine Collins Ntim -- rose
    -- 5:45 p.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:45 p.m.
    Hon Member for Offinso North?
    Mr Augustine Collins Ntim 5:45 p.m.
    On a point of order.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member speaking on the other side keeps saying that with the reduction, Ghanaians are going to lose an amount of GH¢243 million and an additional GH¢84 million.
    Mr Speaker, Ghanaians voted for President Nana Akufo-Addo to bring relief to everybody, including his constituents. This GH¢243 million is a major relief to Ghanaians and it would inure to the benefit of the people in his constituency.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:45 p.m.
    Hon Member, conclude. Wind up.
    Alhaji Dauda 5:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, our concern therefore is that, we cannot lose this much money that could be used to provide 21,200 boreholes and continue to pay lorry fares as we had been paying with these two actions.
    Mr Speaker, so, the Hon Minister for Finance must be forthright with us. He should tell us in this House how much of the petrol price per litre would be taken as a result of the approval of this Bill.
    Mr Speaker, indeed, it is my hope that these two Bills, when approved, would give some relief to my constituents.
    Thank you very much.
    Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation (Dr A. A. Osei) 5:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, wonders shall never cease. This is because the party of social democrats is now against reduction in taxes. A party of social democrats? Wonders would never cease.
    Mr Speaker, I have always wondered --
    rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:55 a.m.
    Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
    Mr Avedzi 5:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation says that the party of social democrats is against the reduction in taxes.
    Mr Speaker, what we are doing is just a comparison of the two options. We say that the GH¢ 243 million and the GH¢ 84 million, could provide over 21,000 boreholes for over thousands of people who live in the rural areas to have good drinking water, rather than provide this one for people who drive in big cars and enjoy, while people in the rural areas cannot even have access to good drinking water. That makes us social democrats. That is what we would want to do.
    So, the two options are available; we believe that to provide boreholes for people to have good drinking water, is the best choice than to do this one. That is the point we would want to make.
    Dr A. A. Osei 5:55 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, he is a former Chairman of your Committee and an Hon Deputy Minority Leader. So, we should allow him to talk. But let me remind him that, this document, the National Democratic Congress's (NDC) Manifesto for a “Better Ghana” 2008 -- social democrats -- on page -- [Interruption] -- They should not be afraid.
    Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would want to quote, and it reads 5:55 a.m.
    “…prepare and present to Parliament legislation on various tax and tariff measures, designed to provide relief for Ghanaians…”

    Mr Speaker, that is why I reminded them that they are social democrats. It is stated here and so, they should not change for the sake of changing. That notwithstanding, I would like to go back to his point.

    Mr Speaker, if we have read this Budget carefully, we would realise that the Hon Minister responsible for Finance, even after giving all these reliefs worth US$700 million, has been able to save five billion Ghana cedis in this Budget. That is the innovation of the Hon Minister responsible for Finance.

    So, if we give a relief of -- He said GH¢318; and Ghanaians are able to save fire billion Ghana cedis do they think that is better? Ghanaians would decide on that.

    Mr Speaker, we have Collins Dauda Junction at Spintex -- [Interruption] -- This one is not near Goaso; it is at Spintex. The Hon Member should go and tell the people there that he is against tax reliefs. Tomorrow, I would meet him there and announce it.

    Hon Fifi F. F. Kwetey -- rose --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:55 a.m.
    Hon Minister, hold on, I have recognised Hon Fifi Kwetey.
    Mr Kwetey 5:55 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker, this is just to correct the Hon Member, who claim --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:55 a.m.
    Hon Member, we have often been advised that when an Hon Member intervenes, he should either say that the one on the floor is out of order, with regard to any of the rules. There is no room for correction. If you do not say that he has breached any of our rules, then I will -- Kindly tell me which rule he has breached, so that
    - - 5:55 a.m.

    Mr Kwetey 5:55 a.m.
    The Hon Member is misleading the House and it is important for him to come clear. [Interruption.]
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
    The Hon Member is misleading the House, and it is important, is for the sake of this House and its records, that the truth be told. When the Hon Member stated that social democracy presumes reduction of taxes, that statement was not the truth.
    Mr Speaker, social democracy is not against taxes going up. Social democracy is to make sure that taxation is implemented to bring about the wellbeing of people.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 5:55 a.m.
    Hon Fifi Kwetey, you just finished making your argument, so, kindly resume your seat.
    I often ignore Hon Members on their feet, because invariably, they get up to repeat arguments, or their alternatives. They do not get up to intervene to show that somebody breaches the rules. But when I see that they stand persistently, I give them the option, but in fact, my intuition is right.
    Hon Member, you have had the opportunity and so, if somebody would want to respond to him, there is one more opportunity. Unless you demonstrate to me that the Hon Member is in breach of any of these rules, please --
    Hon Akoto Osei, please, continue.
    Dr A. A. Osei 5:55 a.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for protecting me.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Member told us that the Ministry of Finance should prove to him that this policy would result in change in petroleum prices.

    Mr Speaker, what the Hon Minister could do is to adjust taxes; and he has done so. When you and I approve it, it could lead to a change in price. But as the former Deputy Minister for Finance said -- the Hon Member for Adjumako is here
    -- 5:55 a.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 6:05 p.m.
    Now we are at Leadership.
    Hon Minority Leader?
    Minority Leader (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) 6:05 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I speak in support of the Motion -- Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Repeal) Bill, 2017.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to emphasise that, we are deeply concerned that the Hon Minister for Finance is denying himself fiscal space -- a fiscal space that he could take advantage of to pursue many of the policy initiatives that he himself announced.
    Mr Speaker, we are not old enough yet; we are only a few days in opposition from Government. We remind them that they cannot have an omelette without breaking an egg. Sometimes, when you want to enjoy an omelette, you break an egg.
    As a Government, we took major and monumental decisions, including deregu- lation - the removal of subsidies on petroleum in order that we should free and improve the general performance of the economy. So, if we keep giving advice, like the Hon Fifi Kwetey stated, and he is reminded that his Government, which is social democratic -
    Mr Speaker, the deer does not laugh at its daughter's teeth. If a deer gives birth, that deer will grow as a deer. They will grow as a Government and they would appreciate that they have compensation, which will grow; they would need to service it and labour will make demands. They would grow to appreciate that they would need service infrastructure. They would need resources to do that.
    It is not sufficient to come and earmark and just declare that they are doing well because they rely on what the economists call an efficiency tax. We will see what yields the efficiency tax will bring, because for that one, we are not able to put a number like petroleum taxes where they can say they can raise GH¢1.5 billion or GH¢250 million. They are relying on this, that through discipline and prudence, they would have saved money. We are all in this Ghana.
    Mr Speaker, to conclude, I would like to remind the Hon Ranking Member when he said that -- [Interruption] To remind the Hon Ranking Member behind me that his point is lucid and I share it.
    Mr Speaker, with these few comments, let them be -- Some of the cautions we

    Fiscal space? They should go to the World Bank or the IMF website and find the meaning of “fiscal space” or consult the Hon Minister for Finance for a better definition of it.

    Mr Speaker, in principle, we are not against any effort by Government to reduce the burdens of the Ghanaian people. But when the consequence is negligible, we are concerned. That is where we draw their attention to. Yes, they are taking these decisions; what are their impacts? Whether that will result in reduction in petroleum prices, we look forward to seeing it with the Ghanaian people.
    Majority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 6:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, just a few observations.
    Mr Speaker, issues have been made about the stability of the cedi and yesterday, the former Hon Minister for Roads and Highways composed a song about the upward trending of the cedi.
    Mr Speaker, the true story about the debt stock of this country would have an effect on the stability of the cedi. Mr Speaker, unveiling the plague on the undeclared arrears, certainly, would have an effect on the stability of the cedi. Mr Speaker, over expenditure, as incurred in 2016, certainly, when the plaque is unveiled, would have an effect on the stability of the cedi.
    Mr Speaker, as has been told, the competence of the Bank of Ghana would also have an effect on the stability of the
    cedi. Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader indicated to us that, and I quote his words “instead of reducing the cost of petrol to allow people in big cars to enjoy, as social democrats, we will rather drill boreholes in the rural areas.”

    It is well said. Mr Speaker, that should tell that he recognises that there is some benefit, except that they would rather apply them in drilling boreholes. The same group of company tells us that it is cosmetic; it is not going to yield any dividends. Now, he says that they would rather apply it in the drilling of boreholes.

    Mr Speaker, when people begin to say that it is cosmetic and mere populace and claim to provide relief, that indeed, is what the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation has told us, that they committed to do the same thing in 100 days in their Administration. They woefully failed to achieve that. Today, they say it is not good. So, it should not be pursued. It is double standards. It is not good.

    Mr Speaker, we attempt to remove some taxes -- to remove the burden imposed -- [Interruption.] That is it. Incrementally, we shall get there. Mr Speaker, doing this would liberate businesses to grow and when businesses are liberated to grow, they would compensate for the otherwise lost revenue. Mr Speaker, this is commonsensical.

    Mr Speaker, I am told now that nobody is against it; we are for it. - [Interruption.] -- That is good news for a modern man. If we are sincere, it is good news for a modern man.
    Majority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 6:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, on that basis, I would urge my Hon Colleagues to lend support for this otherwise, very noble project, which would place us on the path to Canaan.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much.

    Question put and Motion agreed to.

    The Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Repeal) Bill, 2017 was accordingly read a Second time.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 6:15 a.m.
    Item numbered 27?
    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 6:15 a.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 Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Repeal) Bill, 2017 may be taken today.
    BILLS --CONSIDERATION STAGE 6:15 a.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 6:15 a.m.
    Hon Members, this brings us to the end of the Consideration Stage of the Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Related Levies) (Repeal) Bill, 2017.
    MOTIONS 6:15 a.m.

    Minister for Finance (Mr Ken Ofori- Atta) 6:15 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 Customs and Excise (Petroleum Taxes and Petroleum Related Levies) (Repeal) Bill, 2017 may be moved today.
    Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah 6:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Resolved accordingly.
    BILLS --THIRD READING 6:15 a.m.

    Mr First Deputy Speaker 6:15 a.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, any indications?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 6:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is long past 2.00 p.m. and we have really ended what we set out to do. We have worked so hard and have passed these four Bills in just one day. I must commend the Finance Committee members in particular, and in general, the entire House including the prodigal sons, who went away and came back.
    Mr Speaker, I thank everybody and the time reading 21 minutes after 6.00 o'clock, adjournment rests with you. But I urge Hon Colleagues in the Business Committee, that tomorrow, at 8.30 a. m. we have a meeting.
    I thank you very much.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 6:15 a.m.
    Hon Minority Leader?
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 6:15 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, it appears we are done because we all agreed that these are matters which ought to have been taken urgently. We look forward to the burdens of Ghanaians being relieved and I am sure that those who would travel from Jinijini to Tuobodom may probably, look forward to some reduced prices of petroleum products following the decision now.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance today, will now be well baptised. When he appeared he kept saying “we will reduce”. Now, he can say “we have reduced”. This is a country governed by laws; now, he can say “I have reduced.” They have so reduced.
    But we thank you once again, for the indulgence and we will meet at the Business Committee meeting and continue tomorrow.
    Mr Speaker, we are in your hands now, given the time.
    Thank you.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 6:25 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, since the Hon Minority Leader is talking about appropriateness, may I remind him that, even after Parliament has done its job, it is for the President to assent to the Bills. So, he cannot say to the Hon Minister that, he can now say that, “I have reduced”. This is because it is still for the President to assent.
    Mr Speaker, I just wanted to also plead that, in respect of these referrals that have come to the Appointments Committee, although I am not dictating what the Committee should do, I am urging that, given the circumstances of the times, they could begin to consider, as part of those they first listed for consideration, the Deputy Ministers for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
    Mr Speaker, it is a mere suggestion.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 6:25 a.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, at this stage, I thought you had moved the Motion for adjournment, which has been seconded. So, all other discussions would be curtailed.
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 6:25 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, since you are in the Chair and you are the Hon Chairman of the Appointments Committee, and the Hon Majority Leader, after he had contributed to the delays in the list getting here, is now urging you to work with speed --
    Mr Speaker, may I remind him that next week, our focus would be the Budget Statement. We would do what is proper in

    law, to invite public memoranda on the affected nominees. We would work diligently guided by you, even if it means working till midnight. Considering the long list of 54 nominees, how can we finish before we rise? We would do our utmost best. Our primary focus next week would not be the Appointments Committee but the Budget.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 6:25 a.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, address the Chair.
    Any discussion on the Appointments Committee is only for exchanges between the Leaders. When we meet at the Appointments Committee, any represen- tations made to the Committee would be considered there.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 6:25 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I woould want to believe that these things that the Hon Minority Leader has been saying are in a lighter vein. However, to the extent that they would be captured in the records, it is something that I must address. He keeps insisting -- If he would have to withdraw the Statement, he should do that.
    There is nothing that I have done by way of adding to or subtracting from the list from the President. I do not have that
    authority at all. It has become his pet subject for the past three days, when the list was not forthcoming. He had been insisting that I have been interfering.
    Mr Speaker, I am not clothed with that authority. He has gone to the extent of saying that I was wielding some red pen and cancelling and inserting some names. It is not possible. The former Majority Leader would bear testimony that he did not have that authority at all.
    Mr Haruna Iddrisu 6:25 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I do not intend with those comments to impugn bad motives on the Hon Majority Leader. I am assuming, and if he thinks my assumption is rebuttable and that he was not consulted and he is telling us that his consultation did not affect what came here, Mr Speaker, I would not use the words that “he interfered” but he was consulted.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 6:25 a.m.
    Hon Members, it is past 2.00 p.m. and in accordance with Standing Order 41 (2), 2 p. m. is our reference point.
    This House is adjourned till Thursday, 16th March, 2017 at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
    ADJOURNMENT 6:25 a.m.